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Title: Fromentin
Author: Beaume, Georges
Language: English
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    MASTERPIECES
    IN COLOUR
    EDITED BY--
    M. HENRY ROUJON

    FROMENTIN
    (1820-1876)


    _IN THE SAME SERIES_

    REYNOLDS
    VELASQUEZ
    GREUZE
    TURNER
    BOTTICELLI
    ROMNEY
    REMBRANDT
    BELLINI
    FRA ANGELICO
    ROSSETTI
    RAPHAEL
    LEIGHTON
    HOLMAN HUNT
    TITIAN
    MILLAIS
    LUINI
    FRANZ HALS
    CARLO DOLCI
    GAINSBOROUGH
    TINTORETTO
    VAN DYCK
    DA VINCI
    WHISTLER
    RUBENS
    BOUCHER
    HOLBEIN
    BURNE-JONES
    LE BRUN
    CHARDIN
    MILLET
    RAEBURN
    SARGENT
    CONSTABLE
    MEMLINC
    FRAGONARD
    DÜRER
    LAWRENCE
    HOGARTH
    WATTEAU
    MURILLO
    WATTS
    INGRES
    COROT
    DELACROIX
    FRA LIPPO LIPPI
    PUVIS DE CHAVANNES
    MEISSONIER
    GÉRÔME
    VERONESE
    VAN EYCK
    FROMENTIN
    MANTEGNA
    PERUGINO


    [Illustration: PLATE I.--A HALT

    (Collection of M. Sarlin)

    It is hardly necessary to call attention to the art with which
    Fromentin has succeeded in arranging his masses of colour so as
    to secure a harmonious distribution of light. Could anything be
    more perfectly balanced, in point of composition, than this
    alluring canvas?]



    FROMENTIN

    BY GEORGES BEAUME

    TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
    BY FREDERIC TABER COOPER

    ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT
    REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR


    [Illustration: IN SEMPITERNUM.]


    FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
    NEW YORK--PUBLISHERS


    COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY
    FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY


    _Printed in the United States of America_



CONTENTS


                                  Page

    The First Steps                 11

    The Promised Land               29

    An Evolution                    45

    The Master and His Destiny      58



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    Plate

       I. Halt of Horsemen                  Frontispiece
             M. Sarlin’s Collection

      II. The Arab Encampment                         14
             Musée du Louvre

     III. Thirst                                      24
             M. Jacques Normand’s Collection

      IV. The Sirocco in the Oasis                    34
             Musée du Louvre

       V. An Arab Fantasia                            40
             M. Sarlin’s Collection

      VI. Egyptian Women on the Bank of the Nile      50
             Musée du Louvre

     VII. Hunting with the Falcon                     60
             Musée du Louvre

    VIII. Halt of Horsemen                            70
             Musée du Louvre



I.--THE FIRST STEPS


Eugène-Samuel-Auguste Fromentin-Dupeux was born at La Rochelle on the
twenty-fourth of October, 1820. His family was a very old one and held
in high honour throughout Aunis and Saintonge.

Aunis, one of the ancient provinces of France, glows languidly beneath
the caresses of a humid sun, enveloped in a thin veil of ocean mists,
and at times she seems to float in the midst of her waves and her
sands, beneath a sky bounded by remote and indeterminate horizons,
vague and immense, like some vast wreckage overgrown with gardens and
oases. For more than a century, she was downtrodden by the English.
But if she owes them the pain and humiliation of defeat, they at least
inspired her with a passion for commercial greatness and a desire for
wealth. Through her shipowners and bankers, she amassed riches that
permitted her to devote a goodly share of her days to leisure and
festivities, for the betterment of her material welfare and the
embellishment of her mind. Thus in the midst of this industrious
community, faithful to its duties, jealous of its liberty, there was
slowly formed a powerful and cultured bourgeois class, eager for all
forms of intellectual improvement.

Eugène Fromentin’s family was, on the father’s side, attached by
ancient roots to the soil of Aunis. His ancestors were nearly all
of them lawyers and judges, and as far back as they can be traced,
even to the beginning of the eighteenth century, formed a part of this
bourgeois class, which, in that region of ardent Protestantism,
constituted a sort of aristocracy.

    [Illustration: PLATE II.--THE ARAB ENCAMPMENT

    (Musée du Louvre)

    Against the sombre verdure of the oasis, the whiteness of the
    tent stands out in sharp relief. The Arabs are resting:
    meanwhile their horses, untethered, roam at will. This
    essentially simple scene, undoubtedly drawn straight from life,
    owes its charm to Fromentin’s admirable art, and his ability to
    throw some gleam of light even into his densest masses of
    shade.]

His father was a physician of great ability, and for thirty-three
years was director of the Lafond insane asylum, which he had founded
not far from La Rochelle. He had a reputation for wit, but indecision
and suspicion stifled the better impulses of his nature. Fromentin’s
mother, whose educational advantages had been slight, had by contrast
a sensitive and warmhearted disposition. It was she whom the painter
resembled in all the details of his physical nature and in all the
qualities of his moral nature, while Charles, his elder brother,
practical and taciturn, resembled their father, whose vocation he
followed.

The mentality of Eugène Fromentin developed early. At school, he
surprised all his instructors by his ability to assimilate knowledge
and to think things out for himself, and he was loved by them all.
Later on, he confessed that “his childhood had been very lively,
almost boisterous.” But somewhere during his fifteenth year, a marked
change took place in him. “I had involuntarily formed the habit,” he
confessed further, “of reserve and silence, a habit that was often to
my disadvantage, and which was respected quite as much through pity as
through tolerance. Yet it is to this habit that I owed the chance to
develop in accordance with my nature; otherwise, I should have grown
up warped and unfit.” And M. Pierre Blanchon, from whose admirably
documented volume[1] these details are borrowed, adds further: “His
views upon art and poetry clashed with the bourgeois ideas of his
environment; the doctor looked upon them as mere nonsense, while his
mother feared that they would lead him into temptation.” As a matter
of fact, at the very period when he was passing through the moral
crisis of adolescence, a romantic attachment shook his soul to its
very depths with the emotions of love.

    [1] Eugène Fromentin, _Lettres de Jeunesse_.

About half a league from town, just before entering the village of
Saint-Maurice, the Fromentins owned a country place. The country
roundabout is nothing but a level plain, fertile and bare, stretching
away to the coast, where the sea, harnessed by Richelieu, loses, among
its encroaching capes and islands, all its grandeur and poetry. Among
their country neighbours there happened to be a certain Madame X.,
left, at the age of forty-three, the widow of a captain in the
merchant marine. She spent her winters at La Rochelle and her summers
at Saint-Maurice. She had a daughter, born at Port Louis, in the
island of Martinique, in 1817, and consequently three years older than
Eugène Fromentin. Madeleine--let us, from a feeling of pious respect,
refer to her only by the name she bears in _Dominique_--Madeleine,
being of Creole blood on her mother’s side, had the darkest of hair
and eyes, combined with a fair and almost colourless complexion. We
know next to nothing about her. He had conceived for her a violent
attachment. Brusquely, she was snatched from the heaven in which the
secret hopes and dreams of his fifteen years had framed her. She
became the wife of an assistant collector of taxes. Fromentin suffered
impotently from jealousy, and all the more because his passion was
sincere and ingenuous. His light-heartedness vanished, together with
his self-assurance; he mistrusted his own sentiments, he probed and
analyzed his thoughts. To retire to the comforting privacy of his
fireside and bury himself in literary work, poetry, critical essays,
fragments of drama, such was his way of healing his wounds.

Some of these productions of his adolescence reveal him as a student
well grounded in rhetoric, very serious-minded and painstaking,
nurtured on the solid substance of the best classics, and possessed of
an uneasy spirit, in which there had already awakened a taste for
big, fundamental ideas, together with a goading ambition to achieve,
through his own unaided efforts, some creative work of beauty.
Furthermore, these early efforts show a great facility of expression,
an abundant and substantial eloquence that seeks distinction, not by
affecting strange mannerisms, but by frankly employing the simplest of
methods.

Having completed his college course, Fromentin lived for a year
somewhat at haphazard. His literary efforts became known in La
Rochelle, and before long won him the esteem of the numerous men of
letters who, in those days, to us the legendary days of the
post-chaise and stage-coach, were drawn to a city where the social
life was so distinctive and so intense. From time to time, he would
steal out in the evening and furtively slip a manuscript in prose or
verse into the letter-box of the _Journal de La Rochelle_. The next
morning the poem or story or critical paragraph would appear, without
signature, in the columns of the journal. But everyone who read it
would, without hesitation, mentally sign the name of Fromentin.

He was now beginning to sketch and paint. The morose doctor, his
father, who was himself an amateur artist of no mean ability,
initiated him into the rudiments of the craft. The hour had come,
however, for choosing some serious career for the lad. Charles was in
Paris, studying medicine. Eugène was piloted in the direction of the
law. He left La Rochelle in November, 1839, not without some pangs,
for he was leaving behind him, perhaps forever, the woman whom he had
worshipped with all his soul; and, sensitive and nervous as he was, he
experienced a genuine dread of invading unknown territory, the huge
city of Paris, so far away from his own kindly province, which had
been so indulgent to his early efforts, so tender to the first dreams
of his heart. At this time, his figure was slender and well
proportioned, save that he was somewhat too short in the leg. His head
was comparatively a trifle large. His pale complexion was at times
tinged with a faint flush. His long brown hair fell upon his
shoulders. His cheeks were full, the contour of his face formed a
fine, elongated oval. His lips, surmounted by a budding moustache,
were heavy; his forehead high and rounded and very handsome. His nose,
which in later years filled out and assumed an aquiline form, was at
that time perfectly straight. His eyes, beneath well-formed eyebrows,
were brown, and perhaps somewhat too large, but very attractive and
very gentle, far more so than they were later on; in moments of
enthusiasm, which in those days were fairly frequent, or when under
the influence of astonishment or sadness, he would raise them towards
heaven with an expression of profundity.

In Paris, he lived at first by himself and in seclusion. His aversion
to vulgarity and extravagances of speech or manners was ridiculed by
some of his comrades, who nicknamed him “little Monsieur
Comme-il-faut.” He followed the courses in the law school only
halfheartedly, but was assiduous in his attendance at the lectures of
Michelet, Quinet, and Sainte-Beuve, in the Sorbonne.

As a connoisseur of the beautiful in human handiwork, Fromentin soon
learned to love Paris and to appreciate, in her environs, Versailles,
Saint-Germain, Montmorency, those picturesque landscapes that combine
the charm of nature with the glorious high-lights of history. Although
without a teacher, he spent more and more time in sketching the
changing forms of life, and strove, so far as it lay in him, to retain
in his drawings the secret tremors of the soul. “These are his first
stumbling utterances as a landscape painter,” wrote M. Louis Gonse in
his extensive and admirable work, critical as well as biographical, in
which he has reproduced the earliest known sketch by Fromentin, a
scene from _Chatterton_, drawn the morning after a performance of De
Vigny’s drama at the Théâtre Française. This pen-and-ink sketch, dated
April 2, 1841, shows facility, sureness of touch, and a certain
felicity in composition.

    [Illustration: PLATE III.--THIRST

    (Collection of M. Jacques Normand)

    Fromentin, who was a precise observer as well as a brilliant
    artist, noted all the picturesque scenes of the desert. How many
    times he must have witnessed such halts as this beneath the
    burning African sun, which parches the throat! It is worth while
    to note the truth of the native’s attitude as he greedily drinks
    the water of the oasis. One should also notice the art with
    which the painter has grouped his figures and garments in this
    unfinished work, in such a way as to fling a violent and joyous
    note across the sombre monotony of the desert.]

Far from relinquishing his literary efforts, Fromentin applied
himself, from this time onward, with increased ardour, and, throwing
off the trammels of romanticism, produced poems, critical studies, and
even a comedy, written in collaboration with his friend, Emile
Deltrémieux.

From this time onward, Fromentin held firmly to a conviction on which
all his efforts as painter and author were destined to be based:
namely, that an artist, instead of imitating the masters, should draw
his inspiration solely from himself, from his own emotions and
memories, and that, if he aspires to speak sincerely, in a new and
original language, he ought to belong to some one country, to reflect
its image and to repeat its accent. As a matter of fact, he himself
was not, excepting in appearance, uprooted from his native soil. In
the depths of his inmost consciousness, there always resounded the
echo of his province.

But for the time being, while he amused himself in studying the
reasons for things and administering to himself doses of his own keen
analysis, he suffered from that curious affliction of dual personality
which, twenty-five years later, he described in _Dominique_: “That
cruel gift of being able to look on at one’s own life as at a
performance given by someone else. Sensibility is an admirable gift;
in the order of creation it may become a rare power, but on one
condition: namely, that one does not turn it against oneself.”

Having taken his licentiate’s degree, Fromentin pursued his studies
for the doctorate. He entered the law office of M. Denormandie. There
he met, as fellow clerks, the future lawyer, M. Nicolet, and Forcade
de la Roquette, destined later to become minister. Here Fromentin
spent his time chiefly in drawing sketches on the desk pads, the
margins of legal pleadings, and even the panels of the doors. One day
he descended into the courtyard and covered the coach-house, stable,
and party-wall with his artistic efforts. He paid long and frequent
visits to the Louvre. The Italian school left him wellnigh
indifferent. In the French school he ranked Chardin above all the
rest. But already his chief enthusiasm was reserved for the Dutch.
_The Ford_, by Wynauts, with figures by Berchem, and Ruysdaël’s
_Sunstroke_ and _Dyke beaten by the Sea_ fascinated him. At times, he
conceived a fine passion for Rubens. Rembrandt, however, from first to
last, was very nearly, if not quite, incomprehensible to him. “He
reproached Ingres,” records M. Louis Gonse, “for being an imitator of
Raphael; nevertheless, he declared, after seeing one of Ingres’
sketches, that he was a _sculptor of the first order_. As regards
music, he knew Mozart and Beethoven only by reputation; he loved
Bellini, Donizetti, etc., and the entire sensualistic school of
Rossini.”

Apparently Fromentin was now hesitating between two paths, that of the
fine arts and that of belles-lettres. It is my own deep conviction
that his choice had already been made. He knew that literature,
worthily conceived and liberally practised, cannot become a career
capable of supporting the man who follows it. He saw daily, with his
wise and prudent judgment, that painting, on the contrary, can
guarantee bread and fuel to an artist of real talent, respectful of
his art and loyal in his efforts. Accordingly, he wrote henceforth in
his leisure hours, and when the mood was on him, economizing his
strength and hoping only that the art of his written word might
attract attention and perhaps awaken sympathy.

At last, unable to endure any longer the legal dust of M.
Denormandie’s office, he boldly confided to a friend of the family his
horror of judicial procedure, and confessed his desire to devote
himself wholly to painting. This friend, Charles Michel, promptly went
to La Rochelle, to open negotiations with Dr. Fromentin; and the
latter, after a vigorous protest, ended by yielding. But, priding
himself on his knowledge of such matters, he insisted upon choosing
Eugène’s instructor, and selected the painter Rémond, who at that
time represented the academic school of landscape painting.
Fortunately for him, Eugène did not remain long in Rémond’s studio,
but left it to enter that of Cabat. A correct and careful artist, and
one of the best, next to Dupré and Rousseau, Cabat had opened a new
path for landscape painting--a path in which it would not be very hard
to discover the influence which this celebrated master of the
landscape exerted over the earlier manner of his pupil, through his
sympathetic understanding of his subjects and the grace and
distinction of his art.



II.--THE PROMISED LAND


In the month of March, 1846, Fortune suddenly smiled upon Eugène
Fromentin. His friend, Charles Labbé, the orientalist-painter, was
starting to attend his sister’s wedding at Blidah. Fromentin, in whom
an ardent curiosity regarding the lands of sunshine had been awakened
by an exhibition of aquarelles, brought back from the East by Labbé
himself, by Delacroix, Decamps, and notably by Marilhat,
enthusiastically accepted his friend’s invitation to accompany him.
Had he some intuition that a new world of sensations and of colours
awaited him in Algeria? He set forth, without even notifying his
family, light of pocketbook, but buoyant with hope and faith. To his
dazzled eyes, to his soul seething with ambition, it proved to be
literally the promised land. Within two days after his arrival at
Blidah, he wrote: “Everything here interests me. The more I study
nature here, the more convinced I am that, in spite of Marilhat and
Decamps, the Orient is still waiting to be painted. To speak only of
the people, those that have been given us in the past are merely
bourgeois. The real Arabs, clothed in tatters and swarming with
vermin, with their wretched and mangy donkeys, their ragged,
sun-ravaged camels, silhouetted darkly against those splendid
horizons; the stateliness of their attitudes, the antique beauty of
the draping of all those rags--that is the side which has remained
unknown.... In short, from the point of view of my work, I have
nothing to complain of, and at the rate at which I am progressing, I
can promise you that I shall bring back a fairly interesting
sketch-book.”

He was especially appreciative of Marilhat and Decamps; the absolutely
new brilliance of their works haunted him constantly, in the midst of
his own labours. “That talented pair, Marilhat and Decamps, so
Théophile Gautier writes me, are oddly close neighbours, yet they do
not trespass on each other’s ground; where the one has the advantage
in fantasy, the other offsets it in character.”

Reinstalled in Paris, Fromentin painted with desperate zeal, lacking
the gift, so he said, of inventing what he had not seen. He forced
himself to escape from that spirit of imitation which is at once a
pleasure and a danger, and up to the present he had accomplished
nothing save to rid himself of those borrowed qualities which he had
acquired, without succeeding in gaining others which he could call his
own. He had, however, learned--and this knowledge is an essential
virtue of every artist--that the real masters have never attempted to
reproduce any object actually, but only the spirit which animates it
to the point of rendering it a treasury of life and of beauty; he
learned, day by day, more thoroughly, that poetry is everywhere, like
the spark in the flint; that the artist must study technique from the
masters and truth from nature, but that he can find nowhere, except
within himself, the innate image of beauty. In 1847, he sent to the
Salon, which at that time was held in the Louvre, three little
pictures, which were unanimously accepted: _A Farm in the Outskirts of
La Rochelle, A Mosque near Algiers, The Gorges of Chiffa_. “The first
of the pictures,” says M. Gonse, “is characteristic of Fromentin’s
earliest manner. Looked at only from the surface, it is heavy and
pasty. It was a timid work, but in nowise silly or vulgar. _The Gorges
of Chiffa_ forms the curtain-raiser to Fromentin’s Algeria.” But
Fromentin was exercising more and more his power of self-analysis;
he knew that his paintings were nothing more than a certain
equilibrium of secondary qualities, approximately correct in design
and agreeable in colour, but destitute of motive power. He had also
learned the cause of alteration in certain tones; the colours which he
had been employing were not susceptible of combination. “He had
learned that mineral blue and indian yellow, combined with white,
especially with white of lead, turned black and produced a leaden tone
... also that paint was less enduring on white canvas than on canvas
already prepared with a ground colour.”

    [Illustration: PLATE IV.--THE SIROCCO IN THE OASIS

    (Musée du Louvre)

    Fromentin was not only a past-master of colour. The _Sirocco_
    proves, by the prodigious cataclysm that it represents, how
    supple and varied was this painter’s talent. And one must marvel
    at such evidence of power in the author of so many works of
    exquisite and lyric charm.]

Algeria had won him once and forever. It was decreed by fate that he
should understand that African land which offered certain points of
resemblance with the land of Aunis and of Saintonge. The same flat,
level stretch, abandoned to the rages of the sun, or lashed by the
fury of the tempests, or shivering beneath the shadow of clouds; the
same voice of silence and of solitude to which he had so often
listened with beating heart in the habitually melancholy fields
surrounding La Rochelle, he heard again in these desolate reaches of
the desert, across the burning sands, whose infinite extent is
rendered almost sad by the excessive ardour of the light of heaven.
Africa became the second land which he wished to cherish with all his
heart and which belonged to him: he made it his own by the right of
his genius, through the works of his brush and the works of his pen.
From a new journey which he undertook in 1852, a wedding journey,
radiant with every promise of happiness--since he had just wedded the
sister of his friend, Dumesnil, who understood him and whom he
loved--he brought back two volumes, _A Summer in the Sahara_ and _An
Army in Sahel_. The first of these appeared in the _Revue de Paris_
and the second in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_. In the world of letters
these two works produced a great sensation. With what finished and
majestic simplicity Fromentin painted his white page with colours
which his poet’s eyes had unerringly retained! “The weather is
magnificent. The heat is augmenting rapidly, but so far its effect
upon me has been stimulating rather than exhausting. For the past
eight days not a cloud has appeared on any part of the horizon. The
sky is an ardent and sterile blue that gives promise of a long period
of drought. The wind, fixed in the east and almost as hot as the air
at rest, blows intermittently, morning and evening, but always very
lightly, and as if only for the purpose of keeping up a gentle swaying
of the palm trees, similar to that of the Hindoo _panwa_ dance. For a
long time past, everyone has worn the thinnest of clothing and
broad-brimmed hats, and no one ventures out of the shade. I cannot,
however, bring myself to adopt the siesta.”

Thus, through two masterpieces, a new writer, of strong and pure
French stock, suddenly revealed himself. The most distinguished
novelists and critics of the day, George Sand, Théophile Gautier,
Sainte-Beuve, sent him their heartiest congratulations and sought his
friendship. In both of these books, Fromentin showed himself to be not
only a curious and close observer, but a subtle and trained
psychologist. He studied not only the outward forms of people and of
things, he probed the depths as well, the underlying spirit; and
having found it, he revealed it to others with keen and original
discernment. What he saw in those tribes and peoples, as new to him as
they are to us, was not merely the picturesqueness of their attitudes
and the exuberant brilliance of their land, but the whole predestined
history of the race from its origins, as revealed in the practice of
their strange customs and the passionate intensity of their instincts.
For Fromentin was not one of those who find satisfaction solely in the
contemplation of beauty. He was above all one of the kind that wants
to understand the meaning and the cause of beauty, in order to enjoy
more keenly its possession.

It is interesting to compare with Fromentin the painter, who paints
best of all with his pen, a poet of the highest rank, who came
later than he in this same region of Saintonge: Pierre Loti. Roving,
restless, concerned solely with the misery of his own soul and the
beauty of the world, Loti carries his dreams with him to the remotest
shores, and in order to distract his thoughts from life which bores
him, he has gathered together extraordinary colours, the brilliant
dust of picturesque ruins, and has created for himself a capricious
and sensual world, in which nothing, perhaps, is real excepting his
own melancholy, yet which amuses and enchants him with its prodigious
fund of poetry. Like Loti, Fromentin also had an eye for rich and
dazzling hues and knew how to render them with his pen. But being less
feverish, more self-controlled in heart and mind, he did not write
merely for the sake of depicting faces and backgrounds; he developed
his robust and harmonious phrases for the purpose of interpreting, and
preferably in their most vivid aspects, the dominant impulse of a
race, the art with which a picture is composed, the design of a
landscape, the emotion of an hour, or the spirit of an epoch.

    [Illustration: PLATE V.--AN ARAB FANTASIA

    (M. Sarlin’s Collection)

    Movement, life, colour, an eddying cloud of brilliant fabrics,
    beneath the luminous vault of an African sky: such are the
    ingredients of this magnificent composition, as beautiful and as
    vigorous as any that the artist ever produced.]

“To Fromentin,” writes Gabriel Trarieux, “the function of an adjective
is to appeal, not to the eye or ear, but to the moral sense. Nature,
to this psychologist, is not an inert colour, but an inner voice. He
shows us Africa, and more especially his own heart. Is such
conscientiousness, such self-revelation, a distinctive mark of the
native of Charente? For my part, I think it is.”

His offerings to the Salon continued uninterruptedly, year after year.
Only the more famous need be mentioned: _The Moorish Burial_ (1850);
_The Negro Boatmen_ (1859); _Horsemen returning from a Fantasia_,
_Couriers from the Land of the Ouled Naïls_ (1861); _The Arab Bivouac
at Daybreak_, _The Arab Falconer_, _Hunting with the Falcon in
Algeria, The Quarry_ (1863); _Windstorm in the Plains of Algiers_
(1864); _Heron Hunting_, _Thieves of the Night_ (1865); _A Tribe on
the March through the Pasture_ _Lands of Tell, A Pool in an Oasis_
(1866); _Arabs attacked by a Lioness_ (1868); _Halt of the Muleteers_
(1869); and his last five pictures, _The Grand Canal_ and _The
Breakwater_ (1872); _The Ravine_ (1874); _The Nile_ and _View of
Esneh_ (1876).

With the second picture that he exhibited, _The Place of the Breach in
Constantine_, the talent of the painter was officially recognized by
the bestowal of a Second Class Medal. Fromentin, nevertheless, knew
his weaknesses. What distressed him the most was that he still saw
what was _pretty_, rather than what was _great_; a defect of instinct
which is particularly conspicuous in _The Moorish Burial_ (1850) and
_The Gazelle Hunt_ (1859). He strove, by consulting nature
ceaselessly, to rid himself of this _almost-but-not quite_ tendency,
of which he could never have been cured by mere studio work. He soon
began, as a matter of fact, to acquire a truer and broader vision. He
grasped this singular fact, peculiar to tropical lands: namely, that,
howsoever discordant the details of a landscape may be, they form a
sum total that is always simple and easy to transcribe upon a canvas.
Since he never played false, either with himself or with nature, he
mirrored back accurately, through the crystal clearness of his mind,
the form and colour of the objects before him. Looking to-day at such
pictures as _An Audience before the Caliph_, _The Negro Boatmen_, and
a host of others, we breathe in, just as we do in reading his books,
that indefinable odour of the Orient which comes from the smoke of the
camp fires and the tobacco, from the orange trees and from the persons
of the natives themselves; we delight our eyes with the venerable
olive trees of the sacred grove at Blidah, with the plain bounded on
the north by the long chain of the hills of Sahel, low-lying, gray in
the morning, ruddy at noon, with just one white spot toward the
northeast, at Coléah, where there is a vast gap, formed by the
course of the Mazapan River, through which we get a glimpse of the
sea.

The entire series of sketches and notes which, from Constantine to
Biskra, by way of Lambessa, Fromentin collected during his journey
into the heart of Algeria, he was destined to make use of later on, to
guard himself from ever falsifying. And if the colours of his
paintings are often timid, it is precisely for the reason that in the
seclusion of his studio, remote from Africa, he lacked that pulsation
of generous light, with which he needed to be enveloped, in order to
kindle his palette to the required glow.



III.--AN EVOLUTION


Eugène Fromentin will be remembered as the painter of Algeria, or at
least as one of the first who revealed it in such a way as to make it
beloved. Not the Algeria of the South, lost amid a furnace of sunshine
and of sand, but the Algeria which is accessible to all, that of the
Arabs, with peaceful cities set in the midst of ruins, and grateful
palm groves forgotten, like baskets after a festival, on the border of
the desert; the Algeria of ceremonious and brilliant fantasias, of
mosques, of battle-fields still smoking, and of vagabond tribes. It
may be regretted that he contented himself with seeing the Arab
exclusively outside his tent, in the open light of sand and sky, and
that, instead of confining his studies to external phases of life, he
never ventured to penetrate to his hearthstone, in the intimacy of his
family life. Yet who would reproach the artist for his scrupulous
delicacy and discretion?

Jules Claretie was quite right in declaring that Marilhat brought back
from the Orient landscapes imbued with profound melancholy, Decamps
scenes distinguished for their dazzling brilliance, Delacroix
spectacles of majestic grandeur, and that Fromentin in his turn
discovered in that land of light a personal note which his
predecessors would have sought in vain, since he carried it within
himself. The colour scale of Fromentin is a subdued one; his favourite
shades are the half-tones.

In the presence of that brilliant land, ennobled by centuries of
history, Fromentin remained, nevertheless, a Parisian of the purest
stock. His Arabs are all keenly alert, down to the very folds of their
burnooses. He could not bear to behold ugliness; he transformed it
through the golden warp of his imagination. Although his pictures lack
the harsh vibration of the desert and a sense of its far-reaching
monotony, the desert nevertheless loses nothing of its grandeur;
because his poet’s understanding, more infinite than the expanses of
the dunes, passed of its own accord beyond the bounds of a horizon
which, unlike that of the sea, is not void save for the passerby who
is incapable of emotion and comprehension. Beneath his sober brush,
the Arabs retain all their strange attractions, which he amply
indicates by a single dash of light, just as in his books he evokes a
landscape or an individual by a single word. His eyes took in the
outward form of things as completely as his mind penetrated the minds
of others. His unwearied power of observation neglected nothing that
pertained to light; consequently the accuracy of his paintings,
comparable to that of historic documents, is attested by every
traveller.

_The Fantasia_, for example, gives an admirable presentment of the
open country around Algiers and of one aspect of Arab manners and
customs. It shows us a numerous cavalcade galloping at headlong speed,
with clamorous shouts and discharge of guns, across a broad plain
toward a knoll on which the mounted emir sits in judgment. This
mingling of motley garments and of horses galloping in all directions
produces a scene of extraordinary animation and a liveliness of tone
that contrasts sharply with the bare immensity of the plain and the
uniformity of the sky.

Suddenly, in 1861, Fromentin’s manner was marked by a complete
evolution. Not that he abandoned the fine and delicate methods
habitual with him, the methods of a poet seeking to interpret his
visions and his sentiments through his skill in animated
composition. Nothing of his originality was sacrificed. His power, on
the contrary, was increased, because he had learned, in regard to the
inspiration of his works, how to see reality more truly, and in regard
to the resources of his art, how to understand better the superior
methods of his compeers and his masters. But he had seen Corot, and
his admiration of him increased day by day; it was the influence of
the painter of _The Farm Wagon_ that induced him to render the value
of colour tones in accordance with their harmonies rather than their
contrasts.

    [Illustration: PLATE VI.--EGYPTIAN WOMEN ON THE BANK OF THE NILE

    (Musée du Louvre)

    In this attractive, verdant nook, lighted by a luminous patch of
    brilliant fabrics, the artist has harmoniously placed a group of
    women. While some of them, stretched at length beneath the
    shade, gossip together while they rest, two of their number are
    standing, and watch the flow of the sacred river, the mysterious
    Nile, witness of so many things, contemporaneous with so many
    illustrious civilizations. This picture is a masterpiece of
    composition and colour.]

Beginning with _The Verge of an Oasis during the Sirocco_, one can see
how Corot’s dexterous and delightful gray came to life again under
Fromentin’s brush. “It was a rare distinction,” writes M. Louis Gonse,
“in that period of ardent romanticism, to have realized instinctively
the value of gray, its caressing softness, its modest yet insistent
appeal. Silver gray, amethystine and turquoise gray, these were the
tones of which Fromentin was soon vaunting the delicate and tender
charm. I remember an interview which I had with him one morning, in
his studio, regarding the painter of that unique masterpiece, a
_Souvenir of Marissal_. Fromentin was in fine good humour and buoyant
spirits. All that he said to me about Corot, his place in art, his
daring innovations, his inimitable feeling for light, his exquisite
sense of the exact tone, was well worth remembering. It was a
marvellous offhand estimate, the substance of which summed up
deep-seated convictions. Beneath that flashing, swift-winged flight of
words, I felt the earnestness of opinions born of long reflection.”

From 1861 onward, Fromentin deserted the Sahara in favour of Sahel,
exchanged the consuming heat of summer for a milder sunshine. “He
sought,” recorded Louis Gonse, “to paint in lighter, fresher colours:
his instinct counselled him to avoid black as a mortal enemy--that
black which certain painters deliberately affect, thinking that in
this way they are imitating the old masters. All those soft grays,
which are luminous half-tones of white, appeared imperceptibly beneath
his brush. After having won distinction as a colourist, he became and
remained to the end a master of tonal harmony in the subtlest sense.
According to the opinion of Sainte-Beuve, ‘he attained his greatest
effects by combining the simplest methods in a marvellous manner.’ And
since his ambition was of steady growth, his progress in his craft was
uninterrupted.”

Among Fromentin’s productions of this period are: _The Shepherds on
the High Plateaus of Kabylia_, an austere spectacle witnessed on the
road from Medéah to Boghar; _The Bed of the Oued Mzi_; and the
charming canvas of _Turkish Houses in Mustapha-in-Algiers_. In 1863,
he produced _The Arab Bivouac at Daybreak_, which, by its presentment
of salient details and its sympathetic understanding of the slightest
gesture, sets before us the impressive melancholy of the nomad life;
he produced further _The_ _Arab Falconer_, one of the most brilliant
of his smaller works; and lastly, _Hunting with the Falcon in
Algeria_, which many of his admirers regard as his masterpiece, and
which, at all events, is his most famous painting. It may now be seen
in the collection in the Louvre.

Fromentin repeatedly duplicated, in crayon, in aquarelle, and in oil,
this scene which represents two Arab chiefs hunting, accompanied by
their attendants. The horseman in the middle of the picture, an old
man holding a falcon, resembles, on his motionless horse, an
equestrian statue. The second horseman, the one in the foreground, is
undoubtedly his son; he is as attractive as a pretty girl and young
like the horse he rides, a white horse, of a beautiful, silvery white,
the lower part of the legs shading off into an exquisite rose tint.
The rider is clad in blue, white, and gray, while a saddle of
turquoise blue, enriched with trimmings of glazed vermillion, adorns
the courser, which is distinguished by a luxuriant mane, an ample,
flowing tail tinged with ochre and amber, and a black eye, profound
and full of life. Two Arabs, kneeling in the pathway, have taken
possession of a hare which the falcons have just killed. The whole
effect is that of extreme distinction, marred perhaps by too much
embellishment.

In 1870, Fromentin found his way to Venice. At the first rumours of
war, however, he returned precipitately to France, to join his wife
and daughter in Paris and take them to Saint-Maurice, his beloved
village adjacent to La Rochelle. From Venice, he brought back _The
Grand Canal_ and _The Breakwater_, two canvases somewhat leaden in
tone, which some critics class in the number of Fromentin’s blunders.
The reason may be that they failed to recognize in them the Venice of
their dreams, the Venice of tradition, flamboyant and enchanted. But
there is another, a tranquillized Venice, which at times allows her
fireworks to burn out. Fromentin was not a romantic painter; it was in
their hours of repose that he beheld the Grand Canal, the Breakwater,
the houses leaning over the water’s brink; and he expressed what he
really saw in the midst of a silence that contains a special poetry as
well as truth. Fromentin exhibited for the last time in the Salon of
1876--two canvases brought back from Egypt, _The Nile_ and _A Souvenir
of Esneh_, canvases distinguished for their “cold, dull colouring,
ranging through a neutral scale of violet lights.”

The masterpiece of Fromentin, the picture in which his qualities of
composition, drawing, and colour are most clearly revealed, is, in the
opinion of all artists--who are alone capable of simultaneously
appreciating the art and the craftsmanship of a painting--_Crossing
the Ford_. This picture is now in the possession of Mme. Isaac
Péreire. Across a canvas measuring little more than two yards, a group
of horsemen are journeying through a waste of sand, stretching away in
long, pallid dunes, broken here and there by clumps of sombre growth;
a swarm of women surrounds them, as light of foot as bees upon the
wing. A stream, bordered on the right by tamarinds with sharp, narrow
leafage, displays its slender, mirror-like surface. Some of the horses
are reserved for the chiefs, while others are laden with burdens of
clothing and provisions. The sky, partly clear and partly overcast,
occupies the greater portion of the canvas: in the far distance, the
swelling curve of the horizon conveys a strong impression of infinity
and solitude. The central figures are drawn upon a scale hardly
exceeding eight inches in height. The horses, fired with that generous
pride which this painter always attributes to them, seem to know their
way even better than their riders. They proceed without haste,
enjoying the gentle breeze stirring fitfully across the vast expanse,
and the time of day, which is growing late. The colour scheme of the
picture is bold and conveys an exquisite savour of gold and gray,
flickering flames vanishing behind the leafage, as well as along the
horizon, as the dusk shuts down. In this picture, Fromentin has
produced, with the simplest and most adaptable resources of his
palette, a work in which, underneath all the surface charm, the
melancholy which abides in the heart of man, and above all in the
heart of the Arab, blends harmoniously with the beauty of the world.



IV.--THE MASTER: HIS PERSONALITY AND HIS DESTINY


One of the masters of to-day, of a generous and impulsive nature, who
does not wish to be quoted by name, but whose works may be admired in
the Luxembourg, consented to give me some information regarding
Fromentin, whose pupil he once was. I should like, as a conclusion to
this study, to be able to transcribe literally what he told; but at
least I shall draw a pious inspiration from his words.

Fromentin laid on his colours very thickly. His solid grounds were
always most carefully prepared and his composition calculated in
advance down to the smallest detail. At the start, he came under
the influence of Decamps, Marilhat, and more especially Delacroix, and
in consequence neglected line work, devoting himself solely to the
distribution of colours. Delacroix and the romantic school of his time
did not interpret Algeria well, because they failed to see it well.
They saw it through the black holes of windows, in all the violence of
its whites and reds, in the picturesqueness of its costumes and the
long stretches of its dusty streets. But Fromentin had visited Italy,
and during his excursions across this museum of diverse aspects he
made a special study of the effects of sunshine upon the handiwork of
man. It was while still saturated with the brilliance and with the art
treasures of Italy that he first saw the land of Africa, or rather
that he first conceived the desire to learn to know its secrets.
Fromentin never put upon his canvases the Africa of the desert, in
which there is nothing but the white of the burnoose and the gray of
the dune, but Algeria the Fair, Algeria already civilized. He was
enraptured by the sight of it and by the penetrating conception, full
of eager curiosity, which he had already formed of it. For Fromentin
does not command by the audacity of his colours; he commands by the
charm of his apportionment of light and shadow, and by the precision
of a style which seeks, irrespective of form, to show us the soul of
people and of things. He sees with the eyes of a poet, he expresses
himself in the manner of a philosopher, he forces us to reflect. He
detests all that is vulgar, superfluous, and extravagant. All that
pertains to reality has for him a significance, of which he seeks the
cause, and for which he frequently discovers a definitive expression.

    [Illustration: PLATE VII.--HUNTING WITH THE FALCON

    (Musée du Louvre)

    Falconry is an episode of African life which peculiarly
    attracted Fromentin. He has treated it in a number of different
    pictures, all equally remarkable. The collection in the Louvre
    possesses two: the one which we give here is distinguished by
    the cleverness of its composition, the way in which its
    component parts are distributed throughout the prospective, in
    accordance with the desired effect, thus lighting up the gray
    immensity with joyous and violent tints.]

Through his habit of studying the inner workings of the mind of man,
he reached a point, toward the end of his life, when he ceased to
compose, even in painting, any works other than those of a man of
letters. The keenest intellectual alertness was always ceaselessly
pulsating within him. Furthermore, he made a sort of religious cult
of life in all its forms, even the most humble, and imbued them with
an ennobling charm. And for the purpose of understanding the
psychology of a race which enwraps itself jealously in a pride of
attitude, the works of Fromentin offer testimony that bears the stamp
of rare sincerity and clear-sighted sympathy. His mind never wastes
time over the eccentricities of a tribe or a people, but bends its
whole effort to gathering up, through a choice of typical details, the
general idea, the embodiment of a human group.

Fromentin knew, better than anyone else, how great his lack was of
elementary training in painting. He knew that no natural gift can
replace those initial steps in craftsmanship in any and all forms of
production, and that works which are truly beautiful and worthy of
being held in honour through the centuries obtain their right to live
solely from having obeyed the laws of order and of clearness. These
laws, as related to pictorial art, are taught in the studio and the
school. A naturally gifted artist may undoubtedly evolve, out of his
own personal inspiration, an amusing or interesting work; but that
work, if not constructed according to the syntactic rules peculiar to
his art, will have merely an ephemeral charm, like the costly baubles
of a passing fashion. What proves the necessity of rules of technique
is that the masters themselves have not been contented with the
possession of genius or talent alone. They have learned their craft
down to its profoundest secrets; and the greatest of these masters are
the ones who have succeeded best in practising the methods transmitted
by past experience, and have even in their turn discovered new laws.

How many times, with touching modesty, Fromentin deplored his total
lack of the essential studies of apprenticeship! Beneath the colour of
forms and objects, he grasped the course and movement of life. But his
restless hands did not succeed completely, to his own satisfaction, in
transferring them to his canvas. Nevertheless, his pictures, because
imbued with an emotion, the contagion of which was communicated to
their colours, far from resembling, as so many others do, a sort of
clever and inert photograph, are evocations, and often magnificent
ones, of some historic hour, of the destiny of a race, or the soul of
a landscape.

Under the influence of the romantic school, as I have already said,
Fromentin’s brush sought at first chiefly to dazzle. But one day he
awoke to a comprehension of Corot. The inward emotion which he
underwent affected him like the discovery of a new light. A
transformation followed rapidly, not in his ability to feel, but in
his fashion of reproducing what he felt. Yielding joyfully to the
authority of Corot, he began to make use of gray, and before long it
became his dominant tone. Like a frail cloud interspersed with
invisible rays of red and azure, enveloping the atmosphere of his
scenes and characters, and blending into his minutely wrought skies,
this gray of his, which borrowed something of its hue from each of the
primary colours, pleased him by the very discreetness of its
opulence. Discreetness is one of the hallmarks of refinement; and
Fromentin was nothing, if not refined, in his manners, his thoughts,
and his speech. “Just as his painting was never heavy and his writing
never dull,” says Emile Montégut, “his physical build was slender,
graceful, delicate; yet his slenderness was in no way weakness, nor
his delicacy affectation. No objectionable professional mannerism
proclaimed the craft he practised; still less did he ape the manners
of the man of fashion, in order to hide the fact that he was a man of
toil. With all his frankness, he had the good taste to refrain from
betraying his intimate personality to the world at large.”

It was precisely this use which he made of gray that enabled him, by
its play of half-tones, to explore the mystery of souls. And quite
unconsciously he revealed his own, a noble soul, enamoured of all that
is great and eternal in civilization and in life. When face to face
with an actual scene, he frequently gave up the attempt to transfer
it with his brush. It was not until much later, after long reflection
over the material conditions of a scene whose beauty had delighted his
eye, that he was ready to begin work.

Consequently there are other artists who have more accurately rendered
the colour of this African land: there are, for instance, Guillaumet
and Regnault. With a somewhat austere, yet precise, touch, after the
fashion of an extremely well-informed commentator rather than a deeply
moved poet, Guillaumet shows us, in all their picturesque
authenticity, the history and architecture of buildings ravaged by the
sun, and outlined against them the stately silhouettes of Arabs to
whom silence appears to be a sort of religious rite. Yet the sublime
poetry of the desert has also touched his painter’s heart in _The
Evening Meal_, now in the collection in the Luxembourg; the thin blue
smoke, melting away into the calm atmosphere, is typical of the
immobility of the Sahara, the sullen oppressiveness of daytime amid
the sands. Henri Regnault, in works that are scarcely more than
sketches and have never been exhibited, transcribed, with all the
ardour of his age, during too brief a sojourn in Morocco, the symphony
of divine colours which exhales from the soil of Africa and from its
sky, that burns like living coals.

Fromentin did not always dare to undertake to paint his own
conceptions. His timidity is betrayed by the very modesty of his
canvases, which scarcely exceed two yards. Nevertheless, the painter
whom he loved the most was Rubens: Rubens, the prodigal dispenser of
light, who poured his inexhaustible and gorgeous imaginings, like the
waters of a mighty river, over canvases without number.

Fromentin did not find it easy to give forth the treasures of his
brain, excepting through the medium of writing. He delighted in
sumptuousness, and he found it in Rubens, whom he eulogized, in his
_Masters of Yesterday_, in a truly lyric strain. He did not understand
Rembrandt and despaired of ever understanding him. He studied him
constantly, with a sort of impatience, striving to glimpse, through
his veils of half-shadows, the spirit of a genius who was too alien in
nature, country, and race.

    [Illustration: PLATE VIII.--A HALT AT AN OASIS

    (Musée du Louvre)

    The weary caravan has halted, tempted by the verdure of the
    oasis. Faithful to his manner, Fromentin has taken advantage of
    this picturesque scene to throw a harmony of colour and light
    over the men and their surroundings. In all its simplicity, this
    picture is one of its author’s happiest efforts, because of the
    impression of life which emanates from this group, relatively so
    few in number.]

Among Fromentin’s pupils was Cormon, an intractable pupil with a
marked individuality; yet while he ignored his professional authority,
he always proclaimed him, and with real feeling, the most intelligent
of masters and the most loyal of men. Fromentin did not exactly
conduct a regular art-school. He had gathered around him seven or
eight young artists, in whom he foresaw a prosperous future: Gervex,
extremely brilliant, Thirion, the most temperamental of them all,
Lhermitte and Humbert, who was the master’s favourite. Fromentin saw
in Humbert a second self, more fortunate in having a chance to learn
at the outset the indispensable rules of his craft, and therefore
capable later on of achieving works which he himself could never carry
out. Without effort, he won the adoration of his pupils. With an
eloquence which came from his heart quite as much as from his brain,
he preached to them the doctrine of sincere labour, of disinterested
ideals, and of reverence for the past because it has produced the
present. He had a combative spirit. He never hesitated to express his
opinion about works or about men, since the nobility of his character
forbade that he should be suspected of maliciousness or envy. Certain
works of his time, that are still discussed and that our own age has
consecrated, were displeasing to him: Millet’s, for example. He
professed a profound esteem for the man, but he did not admit the
technical value of the artist nor the importance of his ideas.

For a long time Fromentin’s rank as a painter was disputed. He
proceeded peaceably on his way toward fortune and glory. His literary
successes confirmed and enhanced his triumphs as a painter. Through
his books his pictures became known and admired by the general public.
In 1859, he obtained a First Class Medal and the Cross of the Legion
of Honor. The emperor, Napoleon III., invited him to Compiègne. In
1869, his election as Officer of the Legion of Honor followed upon his
exhibition of the _Fantasia in Algeria_ and _The Halt of the
Muleteers_. In 1868, he exhibited a very strange and disconcerting
picture: _Male and Female Centaurs practising at Archery_. He wished
to show by means of this work, which evoked much comment and
criticism, that “the equestrian statue is the last word in human
statuary.” “Mingle,” he wrote, “man and horse, give to the rest of the
body the combined attributes of alertness and vigour, and you have a
being which is supremely strong, thinking and acting, brave and swift,
free, and yet docile.” Fromentin’s aristocratic instincts extended
from men to things, and even to animals. It was he who in a certain
sense discovered the horse, the Arab horse, fine and free, poet of the
desert and the sun quite as much as his master. When Fromentin shows
him to us with his long silvery tail and his mane quivering like
waves, one would say that in the swift flight of his course the
artist had lent him wings. “Nevertheless,” writes one critic, “in
spite of his intimate acquaintance with the form and the varied coat
of the Arab horse, it is perhaps in the little inaccuracies of his
drawing of this animal that Fromentin betrays most obviously the
defectiveness of his early studies.”

What a pity, let us say once again, that he lacked the time to
acquire, while still young, that power and technique in painting which
he possessed in literature! Each one of his volumes evoked an outburst
of admiration and sympathy. He wrote only when he had something
definite to say. His novel, _Dominique_, fired with the spirit of
youth, burning with love and sorrow, was, from the date of its
publication, in 1862, in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, hailed as a
masterpiece.

Not everywhere, however. The poets alone, the born writers, those in
whom the habit of psychology and criticism had not extinguished that
personal flame which burns within the heart, Sainte-Beuve, for
example, and George Sand, recognized it as a work of genius. It was
much discussed and even disparaged, by professional writers and
critics, even in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ itself. Emile Montégut,
who combined absolute frankness with a wide range of knowledge and
keen understanding, while not disputing the literary value of
_Dominique_, did not hesitate to affirm that the book was not a novel,
but a series of faultily composed scenes and descriptions,
confessions, and memories.

At first, and for some time afterward, the public seemed to ratify
this opinion. The volume, issued by Hachette, was bought only at rare
intervals and out of curiosity. Later, after this initial failure, it
took a fresh start, and to-day is a recognized classic. For, while it
is true that this prose poem is lacking in intrigue and that its
characters are somewhat overwhelmed by the floods of light from its
stage-settings, it diffuses such a redolence of the soil teeming with
life, such a fragrance of warm and pure tenderness, that every
sensitive and ardent soul delights to yield itself to the harmonious
flow of its words and colours.

_The Masters of Yesterday_ has become a breviary for painters who are
studying the Flemish and Dutch schools. “The Fromentin revealed in
_The Masters of Yesterday_” asserts Emile Montégut, “is a second
Taine, minus the defects for which the latter is reproached, and minus
that sort of harshness which comes from the exclusive use of crude
colours and a disdain of half-tones. There is also this further
difference between them: that Taine puts his battalions of ideas and
facts through their manoeuvres with the imperiousness of a
general-in-chief commanding an action, while Fromentin assembles and
reviews his own with the ease of an orchestra leader directing the
instruments under his orders by the simple gesture of his bow.... Just
one word is applicable, in point of strict definition, to the
temperament and talent of Fromentin: that word is _perfection_. He
strove for it all his life. He deserves to be called the _classic_ of
that type of picturesque literature, whose ambition, at the outset,
looked toward a very different goal from that of gaining this title,
and whose enterprises and audacities the classic school of art could
not, as a matter of fact, have beheld without alarm.” This book is,
without doubt, Fromentin’s best. For, while the majority of art
critics are merely amateurs posing as craftsmen and judges, he knew
quite well whereof he spoke. While he understood as well as the
others, and even better, an author’s purpose, he could also see of
what material and by what means the work of this same artist was
composed. He was not a dilettante, endowed with a greater or less
amount of taste, but a fellow craftsman, who knew how to mix his own
colours and to analyze the palette of another.

His literary works entitled him to a seat in the Académie Française
considerably sooner than he could have dreamed of the Académie des
Beaux-Arts.

As a matter of fact, in 1874, he offered himself, at the urgent
entreaty of his friends, as a candidate for the Académie Française,
quite suddenly and when it was already too late to bring any influence
to bear, while solemn pledges had already been secured by his
competitors. In spite of this, the weight of his name secured him
thirteen or fourteen votes.

He was preparing a volume of critical studies on the French school and
planning another on the Italian school, when death abruptly cut him
short, at the age of fifty-five, in the midst of a steady ascension
into the light of fame. It was a misfortune for France. In the beauty
of his character, as lofty as that of his genius, he offered an
example of the most precious qualities of man and artist: uprightness,
charity, good taste in what he admired, and sincerity in what he tried
to do. The name of Eugène Fromentin grows greater day by day; clouds
may pass before him, as before a star, but without ever effacing him.





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+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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