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Title: American Masters of Sculpture
Author: Caffin, Charles H. (Charles Henry)
Language: English
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                     AMERICAN MASTERS OF SCULPTURE

                          By the same author:


                     AMERICAN MASTERS OF PAINTING
                       PHOTOGRAPHY AS A FINE ART

                  [Illustration: THE SHERMAN MONUMENT

                      By Augustus Saint-Gaudens]



                          AMERICAN MASTERS OF
                               SCULPTURE

                                 BEING
                 BRIEF APPRECIATIONS OF SOME AMERICAN
                     SCULPTORS AND OF SOME PHASES
                        OF SCULPTURE IN AMERICA

                                  BY
                           CHARLES H. CAFFIN

               Author of “American Masters of Painting”

                            [Illustration]

                       GARDEN CITY      NEW YORK
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                                 1913


                          Copyright, 1903, by
                       Doubleday, Page & Company



INTRODUCTION


The year 1876, the date of the Centennial Exhibition, is a landmark in
the progress of American sculpture as it is in that of American
painting. Not to be fixed too definitely, and yet serving approximately
as a starting-point of new conditions which have transformed what had
been a sporadic and largely exotic product into a lusty, homogeneous and
thoroughly acclimatised growth. I speak of the gradual improvement and
spread of taste in the community; the steady trend of students to Paris
and the habit of American sculptors to make their own country the scene
and inspiration of their labours.

The earlier tendency had been toward Italy; to Rome and Florence,
especially, where American colonies existed. Here the student adopted
the Canova tradition of sweetened classicism, or the infusion of
naturalism into the classic vein, represented in the work of a few
romanticists; and, having learned his craft, remained in Italy to
practise it. His sources of instruction had not been of the best and he
worked in an atmosphere tainted with artistic and political decadence.
It is not surprising that much of the sculpture of this period, though
considerably admired in its day, strikes us now as coldly and
pedantically null, unconvincing and grandiloquent or, at best,
innocuously sentimental. Only once in a while is there a statue of such
moment as “The Greek Slave,” by Hiram Powers, which very closely follows
and attains to the purity of Canova’s style. The more memorable works of
this period came chiefly from those sculptors who, although living
abroad, kept in touch with home. Of these the most distinguished was
William Henry Rinehart; yet his classical pieces will not compare in
force and dignity with his sitting statue of Chief Justice Taney at
Annapolis, reproduced in Mount Vernon Square, Baltimore, which still
remains one of the most impressive monuments in this country. In like
manner Thomas Crawford’s best works were the bronze doors for the
Capitol, illustrating events in the Revolution, the colossal “Liberty”
which crowns the dome and an equestrian statue of Washington at
Richmond. Equally it was in another equestrian statue of Washington, the
one which stands in the Boston Public Gardens, that Thomas Ball reached
his best achievement. But it is inferior in ease and dignity to the same
subject executed by Henry Kirke Brown, whose equestrian statue of
General Scott at Washington also stands out conspicuously among the
best we have. Brown, too, studied in Italy, but with the conviction that
Americans should occupy themselves upon American subjects returned home
and established his studio in New York. It would be going too far to
attribute the excellence of these two statues to the fact of their
having been conceived and executed in the American environment, the more
so as Brown’s work was uneven in quality and did not in other subjects
reach the dignity of these. Yet his deviation from the custom of the
time was the outcome of a very individual force of character, and the
influence of the latter upon his work may very well have been reënforced
by the environment. At any rate, his action was considered notable in
his own day and has always been remembered since, and undoubtedly marks
the beginning of the reaction against self-expatriation.

It will not, however, escape the thoughtful student of this period how
natural such self-expatriation was. A stout heart, indeed, was needed to
bear up against the dearth of artistic incentive at home. Necessarily
the time was devoted mainly to material expansion and building up,
especially calling for the heroic qualities of brain and muscle, and
accompanied inevitably by a spirit of materialism. It was not until the
conscience and soul of the nation had been re-awakened by a great moral
question and chastened by the stern discipline of a tremendous struggle
that it began to return to the higher enthusiasms of its youth.
Hero-worship was reborn--or, rather, took a nobler, more spiritualised
form--for a nation will always have its heroes. But now, instead of the
hero of the market or the stump, whose service to the public is
subordinate to self-aggrandisement, there had sprung up in every
State--indeed, from every village and most firesides--heroes of
sacrifice. The hero-worship which ensued was bound up with a fuller,
deeper sense of national life, eager to express itself. It found vent in
the spoken and written word, it sought to free itself in visible,
tangible expression. As the birth of the Republic had been identified
with the erection of noble buildings, so the rebirth of national
conscience and soul found in a revived architecture the means of
expressing its national state and civic pride, and in sculpture its
worship of heroes. And it is a remarkable coincidence that the beginning
of this esthetic demand fitted in with the appearance in America of a
band of trained artists, returning from their studies abroad. The
Centennial Exhibition opened the eyes of the country to the wonders of
foreign art, and here were Americans on the spot trained in those
foreign schools.

With only a few exceptions all our sculptors of the present generation
have acquired their training, either wholly or in part, in Paris; that
is to say, in the best school in the world. For France, ever since the
Middle Ages, has never been without a succession of great sculptors.
When the Gothic spirit had spent itself, that of the late Italian
Renaissance was imported; and the art, continually adjusting itself to
the changing conditions of national life, has been held in uninterrupted
honour to the present time. It is in this branch of the fine arts that
the French genius has found its most individual expression.
Corresponding with the maintenance of fine traditions is the excellence
of the system of teaching. The Institute and the École des Beaux Arts
perpetuate a standard, characterised by technical perfection and
elegance of style, while the tendency to academic narrowness is offset
by the influence of independent sculptors; for there is not a
thought-wave in modern art that does not emanate from or finally reach
Paris. It is the world’s clearing-house of artistic currency.

The attractions of a city so rich in artistic resources, so generous to
artists, have allured many to extend their sojourn there beyond the
years of studentship, and Paris has been in these days, only in a still
greater degree, what Florence and Rome were half a century ago--a resort
for self-expatriated Americans. But, with a few exceptions, the
sculptors have escaped this tendency; not so much perhaps from
inclination as from circumstances. For commissions have been plentiful
in America, and the need of being on the spot in order to secure them
drew the sculptors home--on the whole to the betterment of their art.
For it is the same with Paris, a university of the arts, as with
Harvard, Yale or any other university of letters and science. The
atmosphere is most congenial to the quick development of student years;
but, for the further, more gradual development that grows out of the
stuff which a man has in him, not to be compared to the rough-and-tumble
contact with the larger world.

For there are some elements of technique which can be imparted; others,
however, are of personal growth. It is a distinction largely of manners
and feeling. Manners can be imparted and acquired; feeling, at best,
mainly guided. Its finer manifestations are the outcome of
self-development. Thus in the matter of modelling, in which the Parisian
student usually excels, the hand can be trained to express with
exquisite precision and delicacy the surface of flesh and fabric, the
form and texture of each; and the feeling for the esthetic charm of
these things can be aroused and refined. So, too, can that larger
feeling for the construction of the form and the organic relation of its
parts, up to the point at least of securing accuracy and truth to
nature. But the still larger feeling, which finds in the structure and
organic arrangement an expression of emotion and manifests itself most
amply in composition, cannot be taught. To certain general principles
the student may be directed, just as any school of manners may lay down
rules of conduct, which will be admirable in securing propriety and
decorum. So far can feeling be instilled and regulated; but the freer,
deeper, really significant feeling has its origin in character, in the
moral and mental _ego_ of the individual, to be further deepened and
broadened by the experiences of life. In sculpture this significant
feeling manifests itself appropriately in the large field of the general
design; in the weight, stability and harmonious unity of the mass, which
make the composition monumental; and in the manifestation of character
and sentiment, sustained through every part of the whole, which renders
the composition expressional. For convenience one separates the
disposition of the form from the expression, but really they are one
and the same act, the sculptor composing his plastic material as the
musician does his chords and harmonies, to give expression to the
character or sentiment that supplies the theme of his work.

Now, given this natural gift, the reënforcement of it must come from the
theme itself, from the degree to which it has laid hold of and possessed
the sculptor’s imagination. And it is for this reason that, when he is
executing American themes, the true environment for him is America. It
ought to give him direct incentive, and, even if it does not, should at
least save him from being enticed into a more specious attitude of mind.
For I think one may note traces of this speciousness in the sculpture of
Americans working in Paris; a _parti pris_ for the smaller elegancies of
design as opposed to the salient and the large.

On the other hand, the working upon American themes in the American
environment can draw nothing out of the artist that is not in him; and
this higher mastery over form and composition, being a gift of the gods,
is necessarily rare. Perhaps only in a few American sculptors, as only
rarely in other countries, will you discover it; while skill in
modelling, elegance of design and a generally sensitive taste will be
found more diffused through American sculpture than through that of any
other country except France. The reason, unquestionably, is the peculiar
aptitude of the American to impressions and his study in the best of
modern schools.


PUBLISHERS’ NOTE

Thanks are due to the Sculptors, to the Century Company and to Charles
Scribner’s Sons, whose assistance has made possible the inclusion of the
illustrations in this edition.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

      INTRODUCTION                                                     V

   I.    AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS                                        1

  II.   GEORGE GREY BARNARD                                           19

 III.  JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD                                         37

  IV.   DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH                                         53

   V.    FREDERICK MACMONNIES                                         71

  VI.   PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT                                         87

 VII.  HERBERT ADAMS                                                  97

VIII. CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS                                          117

  IX.   OLIN LEVI WARNER                                             129

   X.    SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM                                      147

  XI.   VICTOR DAVID BRENNER                                         163

 XII.  THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE                                         173

XIII. THE IDEAL MOTIVE                                               209

      INDEX                                                          233



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


THE SHERMAN MONUMENT. BY AUGUSTUS
  SAINT-GAUDENS                                            _Frontispiece_
                                                             FACING PAGE

GRIEF. BY AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS                                       8
  A Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington,
  D. C.

THE LINCOLN STATUE. BY AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS                          9

RELIEF PORTRAIT OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
  BY AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS                                           16

PAN. BY GEORGE GREY BARNARD                                           28

THE HEWER. BY GEORGE GREY BARNARD                                     29

TWO FRIENDS. BY GEORGE GREY BARNARD                                   34
  A Memorial Monument.

THE GREELEY STATUE. BY JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
  WARD                                                                46

THE BEECHER STATUE. BY JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
  WARD                                                                47

DEATH AND THE SCULPTOR. BY DANIEL
  CHESTER FRENCH                                                      60
  The Milmore Monument in Forest Hills Cemetery
  near Boston.

DETAIL OF THE CLARK MONUMENT. BY
  DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH                                               61
  Forest Hills Cemetery.

ALMA MATER. BY DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH                                  68
  Columbia University.

DIANA. BY FREDERICK MACMONNIES                                        76

BACCHANTE. BY FREDERICK MACMONNIES                                    77

MICHELANGELO. BY PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT                                92
  Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

MADONNA. BY HERBERT ADAMS                                            104
  Tympanum  for St. Bartholomew’s Church,  New
  York.

PORTRAIT-BUST. BY HERBERT ADAMS                                      105

BUST OF THE ARTIST’S WIFE. BY HERBERT
ADAMS                                                                110

THE DRILLER. BY CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS                                122
From the Drake Monument, Titusville, Pennsylvania.

THE HAHNEMANN STATUE. BY CHARLES HENRY
  NIEHAUS                                                            123
  From the Hahnemann Memorial, Washington, D. C.

BUST OF DANIEL COTTIER. BY OLIN LEVI
  WARNER                                                             136

CUPID AND PSYCHE. BY OLIN LEVI WARNER                                137

DIANA. BY OLIN LEVI WARNER                                           144

COWBOY MOUNTING. BY SOLON HANNIBAL
  BORGLUM                                                            152

LOST IN A BLIZZARD. (Marble.) BY SOLON HANNIBAL
  BORGLUM                                                            153

TAMED. BY SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM                                     160

PORTRAIT OF C. P. HUNTINGTON. BY VICTOR
  DAVID BRENNER                                                      168

RECUMBENT FIGURE. BY J. MASSEY RHIND                                 192
  From the Tomb of Father Brown in the Church of
    Saint Mary-the-Virgin, New York.

PUMA. BY A. PHIMISTER PROCTOR                                        193
  From Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

CHARIOT RACE. BY F. G. R. ROTH                                       202

BUST OF A CHILD. BY BIRTLEY CANFIELD                                 214

THE STONE AGE. BY JOHN J. BOYLE                                      215



I

AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS


If we value the gift of imagination in an artist over that of technique
it is not because we undervalue the latter. Without technique a work of
art is not to be thought of; it is as essentially the visible expression
of the inward grace as the human form is the casket of the human spirit.
But the quality in man or woman of purest delight and most enduring
significance is less the body and its acts than the thought that
animates them. And is it not so with a work of art?

It is as an artist of superior imagination that we regard Saint-Gaudens;
as one who can give to the facts of our knowledge a fresh form and
significance, attracting us toward the idea contained within the actual,
the idealisation of character or of sentiment. And such imagination in
an artist must have a twofold working. It fills him with a fine idea and
it discovers to his hand a fine manner of embodying it; it penetrates
his technique.

To appreciate fully a sculptor’s worthiness in this respect one should
realise the peculiar relation in which he is placed with regard to
facts. While the painter has a wide range of resources for creating an
illusion the sculptor is limited to a comparatively strict and naïve
realism. Even if he introduces an ideal figure, such as that of an
angel, he is compelled to give it the clear-cut contours, substance and
actuality of a distinctly visible and tangible form. His only means of
idealising are the abstract beauty of line and form, the character of
expression in face and gesture and the general feeling of nobility and
sweetness that he can impart to his work through the degree to which the
thought that is in him inspires his hand. He may, indeed, attempt a more
obvious trick of idealising, as when Greenough represented Washington in
the rôle of Olympian Zeus by the device of baring the body and placing a
mimic thunderbolt in the hand. But to modern taste, at any rate, such a
procedure seems ridiculous. The truth is, that the highest form of
imagination--indeed, the only tolerable one to the modern mind--is that
which illumines the facts of our common knowledge and expression; in a
word, which bases itself on facts.

But this demands of the sculptor a very high degree of creative
imagination, in all probability a proportionately higher one than the
painter’s; for if the latter is confronted, for example, with a subject
of ill-made coat and trousers, he can by merging the costume in
atmosphere and by toning it with the background so gloss over its
inartistic appearance as to produce a handsome _ensemble_. But, compared
with the sculptor’s problems, this is an evasion of the difficulty. To
repeat, the sculptor is limited in his presentment to the actual facts.
But, though it may seem to be a paradox, it is almost a truism in art,
that the limitations of a medium are its most characteristic sources of
power--at least, when knowingly and courageously admitted. And, I
believe, it can scarcely be doubted that the quality in Saint-Gaudens’s
imagination which has most conduced to his greatness as an artist is
this: it is kindled by contemplation of the facts, and it finds in the
facts its keenest and truest impulse.

Moreover, it has been his good fortune to be confronted with large and
impressive facts. The panorama of American civilization, and especially
one episode of tremendous import--the Civil War--has spread itself
behind his work; and the latter, as in the case of one of his own
reliefs, has grown out of and in harmony with the background. Other
sculptors, also, have had the same high incentive, but many have failed
to respond to it. Saint-Gaudens has had the force of imagination which
could not only grasp the magnitude of his opportunity but interpret its
impressiveness.

The conditions in America have demanded that his work should be largely
of a memorial character--monuments to those that are honoured in public
or mourned in private, and in both directions his achievements have
placed him in the foremost ranks of modern sculptors. This was
demonstrated at the Paris Exposition of 1900, where he was represented
among other works by the statue of General Sherman and the “Shaw
Memorial.” A comparison of these, respectively with Dubois’s “Joan of
Arc” and with Bartholomé’s “Monument to the Dead,” helped one to divine
the special qualities of Saint-Gaudens’s style.

He himself had a Paris training. Son of a French father and an Irish
mother, brought to this country when a child, he displayed early an
aptitude for art, and in course of time went through the usual regimen
of a student in Paris. Thus he came under the influence of the best
academic traditions and of the modern naturalistic movement, and imbibed
both to the degree that his own temperament and the conditions of his
inspiration demanded.

So in the direction of tradition--that is to say, of more or less
consecutive descent from an original classic type--we may compare his
“General Sherman” with Dubois’s “Joan of Arc”; both equestrian statues,
monumental in design, full of decorative dignity yet so different in
character. The latter, noble in every particular, has a choice propriety
of feeling that separates it by an ocean of motive from the freer spirit
of the other. It is at once mannered, more consciously correct and
studiously discreet and has an air of _hauteur_ and aloofness, as
becomes its aristocratic descent in the direct line from Verrocchio’s
“Colleoni.” The “Sherman,” however, is of only collateral descent,
modified by a larger environment and a fresher inspiration. The typal
form has yielded to the individual, abstract dignity to the force of
character, the fundamental suggestion to that of vivid, immediate
actuality.

In its naturalistic tendency and expression of profound emotion the
“Monument to the Dead,” by Bartholomé, is at one with Saint-Gaudens’s
work; but I found myself comparing it with the latter’s figure of
“Grief” in the Rock Creek Cemetery, near Washington. Then its degree of
naturalism is found to be less. It shows some influence of the classic
tradition in the use of nude figures and in their elaborate disposition
along the background of masonry; while the single figure by
Saint-Gaudens is draped and presented with an unaffectedness of
arrangement and with an intimacy of appeal that is at the same time more
naturalistic and more poignant.

So may we not deduce from these comparisons one quality inherent in
Saint-Gaudens: that of daring to be free from conventional restraint, or
rather the daring to adapt, with a freedom only limited by his sense of
artistic fitness, the academic traditions which his early life
experienced? For the means by which he has wrought out his freedom are
in no sense revolutionary. He does not, for example, go as far as Rodin
in the latter’s disregard of symmetry in composition. His own have
always a monumental character, studied for their effect in the mass, as
seen from various points of view. Moreover, they are always extremely
reserved: as far as possible removed from the floridness indulged in by
many students of the academic traditions. A similar reserve controls his
naturalistic tendencies. Evidently it is not naturalism of itself which
attracts him; indeed, all his leaning is primarily toward the
sculpturesque side of sculpture, as a self-contained mass,
proportionately impressive, equable in outline, decorative and
structural in _ensemble_. These principles of technique are at the
service

[Illustration: GRIEF

By Augustus Saint-Gaudens

A Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D. C.]

[Illustration: THE LINCOLN STATUE

By Augustus Saint-Gaudens]

of--perhaps it would be truer to say that they have been adapted to--an
imagination, which reverences the character in man and can picture and
suggest the individual in relation to the larger issues of his time;
with a capacity of emotional expression that has the added poignancy of
compression. It has been, indeed, continually reënforced by the grandeur
of the themes that have confronted him, and the result upon his
technique is a gravity of distinction which represents the finest kind
of style. In that smaller kind of style which is limited to the actual
technique of modelling it would be possible to mention sculptors who far
excel Saint-Gaudens; but in those qualities of broader and deeper
reference wherein brain and sensibility coöperate with hand for high
creative and poetic ends I doubt if he has any superior among modern
artists.

Let us trace the gift of idealising as it appears in several of his
works, selected because they represent a descending scale from the
purely ideal to the idealised fact. And first the statue of “Grief” in
the Rock Creek Cemetery. I made the pilgrimage from Washington one sunny
autumn afternoon with a companion. The gatekeeper directing us, we
threaded our way along the labyrinth of paths, among the chaos of
conflicting monuments, so many of which testify to impotence of taste.
Finally a glance behind a hedge of cypress--we are indeed on holy
ground! Within the little enclosure of solemn greenery a bench, marble
and of Greek design, invites to sit; the world is all outside, and here
before us, raised upon a slight pedestal, enough to lift it above the
level, but not too high for close and intimate communion, is the
Presence: a woman’s seated figure, wrapped about in coarse drapery that
shrouds her head and falls in long, loose, heavy folds at her feet. We
have heard the story: That a husband, robbed of his wife with shocking
suddenness, called upon the sculptor to express in plastic shape the
void in his life, enjoining him to ignore all symbols of hope and to
give utterance only to the consuming hopelessness of loss. And here
before us--in the isolation of the figure, in the uncompromising
sternness of the drapery, in the majestic agony of the face, the eyelids
lowered in pain, the lips full and set in the effort of endurance and
also in a protest as proud as it is despairing--there is expressed a
universality of grief that sums up the sorrow of the modern world, as
well as the eternal question of the why and to what end. Under the spell
of it a wife and husband sit on into the golden afternoon, chastened,
purified, elevated, drawn closer to each other by the realisation of the
mystery of grief, and with a renewed sense of the sanctity of happiness
ere the shadow falls. Here indeed is an idealisation, complete and
absolute; no helping out with wings and symbols, but the rendering of a
simple, natural fact--a woman in grief; yet with such deep and embracing
comprehension that the individual is magnified into a type. The
emotional appeal is universal.

In this statue the sculptor could give free rein to his imagination.
Observe how in the “Shaw Memorial” he meets the problem of an actual
fact of history; the youthful leader riding forth to war with his
marching regiment of Negroes. What a boundless zest he displays for the
realism of the scene! He portrays the humble soldiers with varying
characteristics of pathetic devotion, and from the halting uniformity of
their movement, even from the uncouthness of their ill-fitting uniforms,
from such details as the water-bottles and rifles, secures an
impressiveness of decorative composition, distinguished by virile
contrasts and repetitions of line and by vigorous handsomeness of light
and shade. Mingled with our enjoyment of these qualities is the emotion
aroused by the intent and steadfast onward movement of the troops, whose
doglike trustfulness is contrasted with the serene elevation of their
white leader.

Behind this group looms up the tremendous issues of the war; they were
present to the imagination of the sculptor and he has suggested them to
ours. Hence the work is big with fatefulness, with a reference reaching
beyond the fate of the personages represented to the fate of a nation
trembling in the balance. Ah! it is a great gift, this power to touch
upon the fundamental, the essentially and genetically vital aspect of a
matter, and by means so simple and of common knowledge. As he worked
upon the memorial it would seem as if Saint-Gaudens distrusted somewhat
his possession of this faculty, for to increase the idealisation he has
introduced a figure of Victory floating above the head of the leader. It
was not necessary and is scarcely in accord with the rest of the
composition, introducing into the energy and concentration of the whole
a somewhat quavering note. Yet, to judge by my own experience, the sense
of jar yields to indifference; one loses consciousness of this figure in
the grandeur and elevation of the whole. But, if this is the experience
also of others, it tends to prove how unnecessary was its introduction;
and, further, one is inclined to resent it as partaking of the
obviousness which would occur to a smaller sculptor.

A similar attempt to reënforce the ideal suggestion contained in the
realistic parts of the group with the direct introduction of a symbolic
figure reappears in the equestrian statue of General Sherman. But the
figure in this case is more intrinsically a part of the general design
in perfect harmony of character and feeling, and the group as it stands,
while almost the latest, is probably the most completely grand example
of Saint-Gaudens’s art. Sherman leans a little forward in the saddle
with a handling of the reins that keeps in control the impetuosity of
his big-boned, powerful charger, an action of the hands very
characteristic of an accomplished horseman. His head is bare and his
military cloak floats from his back in ample folds. Victory moves ahead
of his left stirrup, palm branch in hand, her drapery buoyed up with
air; the horse’s tail streams behind; throughout the whole composition
is a single impulse of irresistible advance. From every point of view
the mass is compact with dignity, ornamental in line and bulk, alive
with elevated and inspiring energy. At closer range one may discover the
big simplicity and pregnant generalisation of the modelling, also the
meaningfulness of the characterisation. The horse in build and gait is a
serviceable beast, bred for courage and endurance; the rider, a man of
iron purpose, indomitable in face and carriage; while the woman’s
figure in the grand spirit of the flowing lines and in the lofty sadness
of her mien touches a chord of triumph and pathos, of the glory and the
tragedy of victory.

I compared this statue with Dubois’s “Joan of Arc,” and found it so much
less mannered, so far more vital in the immediateness of its import; or,
shall we state it in this way: less consciously a work of art, more
spontaneously the expression of an overpowering sentiment. This, if I am
not mistaken, contains the gist of Saint-Gaudens’s art. While
traditional in its origin, it is a living art, rooted in the realities
of its environment, modified in its growth--that is to say, in its
technique--by the necessity of responding to its conditions.

But how does Saint-Gaudens fare when he confines himself to a factual
representation of his subject? Let his statue of Lincoln at Chicago
testify. No grace of line or grandeur of mass; only a chair behind the
standing figure to eke out the stringiness of the legs and in a measure
to build up the composition. Nor could the sculptor snatch an easy
triumph through any heroic rendering of the figure, spare and elongated,
in clothes uncompromisingly ordinary. But the man as he was, and just
because he chanced to be the man he was, was great, and in the fearless
acceptance of this fact the sculptor has seized his opportunity. The
statue is planted firmly on the right foot--not every statue really
stands upon its feet--the right arm held behind the back--these are the
characteristic gestures of stability, tenacity and reflection; while the
advance of the left leg and the grip of the left hand upon the lapel of
the coat bespeak the man of action. With such completeness are these
complex qualities suggested and then crowned with the solemn dignity of
the declined head, so aloof in impenetrable meditation, that the homely
figure has a grandeur and a power of appeal which are irresistible.
True, our imagination, reënforced by knowledge, goes out to reach the
artist half-way, thereby lessening the space he has to travel in his
idealisation of facts. Behind this isolated figure looms up the scene in
which he played so great a part. It was precisely because this scene was
present to the sculptor’s imagination, and he knew it would be to ours,
that he set himself to the most realistic rendering of his subject and
thereby triumphed.

But once more, turn to his statue of Peter Cooper. There is no
background here of heroism, or any environment of a nation roused to
highest sacrifice; only the background of a building, ugly in itself,
though we know it to be the habitation of a great educational movement.
Homely also is the general appearance of the founder and benefactor,
yet the figure in its loose, slovenly costume, seated in a chair,
presents in its solid mass a suggestion of fundamental force; the left
hand grasps a walking-cane with a gesture of fine decision, and the
head, with its long hair and fringe of beard, by sheer force of genial,
manly directness, so earnest and unsophisticated, compels us to realize
this man to be more than ordinary. He is the prophet of a cause, the
leader of a peaceful revolution. In a word, if one has the mind and
sympathy to note it, this old and yet alert man, of ungarnished
simplicity and indomitable confidence, is an embodiment of the same sure
uplifting of the people to which he contributed so largely.

I have chosen these examples to illustrate Saint-Gaudens’s ability to
idealise his subject, to reach through the fact to the soul within the
fact. But his sensibility to impressions is not only moved by the larger
aspects of life; it is also exquisitely sweet and subtle. Study his
numerous low-relief portraits--for example, the children of Prescott
Hall Butler, those of Jacob H. Schiff, and the single portraits of Miss
Violet Sargent and of Robert Louis Stevenson. In all these and in many
others his sensibility is exhibited, not only in the sympathetic
comprehension of character, but also in the extraordinary _finesse_ of
the execution.

[Illustration: RELIEF PORTRAIT OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

By Augustus Saint-Gaudens]

The figures are not merely set against the background; they grow out of
it, forming with it an enclosed parterre of beautiful design, of
delicately differing planes of elevation, of subtle tones of gray in
between the extremes of light and dark. The effect is not unlike that
revealed at early morning when the landscape is flattened in appearance
by the mist, and, as the latter is loosened and dispersed by the sun,
the patterned forms take on infinitesimal degrees of definition and
mysteriousness behind the intervening veils of lighted vapour. Through
such a simile one may, perhaps, suggest the essential quality of
loveliness in these low reliefs.

Yet they are qualities shared to-day by several sculptors in France,
sufficient to reveal an artist of rare sensibility, but not to measure
the grander characteristics of Saint-Gaudens’s art. In the conditions of
American civilization he has come within a range and depth of
inspiration denied to modern Frenchmen, and it is in the degree to which
he has responded to those opportunities that his preëminence consists.
His position is unique, for no other sculptor of our time has so attuned
the traditions of his art to the key of the modern spirit for the
expression of grand conceptions.



II

GEORGE GREY BARNARD


While Saint-Gaudens, an American of European descent and training, has
caught the outspoken voice of our national life, George Grey Barnard, of
American parentage and practically self-taught, expresses its underlying
force. To the former came a congenial opportunity in the demand for
memorial sculpture. He turned it to great account through his gift of
penetrating to the central fact of the subject and of illuminating it
with a generous imagination. Instead of facts, however, it is rather
with ideas that Barnard’s imagination has been concerned. They preceded
his study of sculpture, and he sought the latter as an expression for
them, influenced in his self-instruction by the work of Michelangelo.

He is from the West, that huge quarry out of which a new order of ideas
is being gradually dug and shaped. The echoes of the clang of tool upon
inchoate material, of sharp wits and keen purpose carving anew at the
problems of existence, reach us from time to time in this more
conventional East. We may smile at the crudeness of some of the results
achieved, but cannot disregard the import of the endeavour. The force
which animates it is the craving for larger, fuller liberty than mankind
has yet attained; a titanic force, often brutal in its material
manifestation, but with inherent mightiness of spirit. It is this spirit
which has enveloped Barnard’s imagination since his childhood, and
forms, as it were, the basis of his art. Its keynote is humanity, the
elemental relationship of man to man and of men to the universe; a
liberty of life and art, that would shake off the trammels devised for
narrower theories and conditions and adjust itself to the perspective of
a wider horizon. A boyhood nourished on literature and nature-studies
sowed the seed from which these matured ideals were to spring.

He was born at Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1863, the son of a
Presbyterian minister; but his early years up to the age of twelve were
spent in Chicago, after which the family moved to Iowa. When only nine
years old he began to learn something of shells and minerals from a
retired sea captain; later he studied birds and animals, taught himself
to draw them and by fifteen was an expert taxidermist with as many as
1,200 specimens in his collection. Then for nearly two years he earned
his living as an engraver and worker in gold and silver ornaments,
learning meanwhile to model, until, having saved a little sum of money,
he returned to Chicago, determined to become a sculptor. He was now
seventeen and had not yet seen a statue.

There is a hint in this of the instinct that draws would-be artists
toward sculpture rather than painting. It is an instinct for form, a
passion for its tangible bodiliness, a prepossession so strong that it
seems to transpose the senses of touch and sight; giving to the flat and
round-topped thumb of the sculptor’s strong, square hand a sense
equivalent to sight, keen and sensitive as is the touch of the blind,
and giving to his eye a touch-consciousness. He feels with his eye and
sees with his thumb. It is by the touch that in childhood we all assure
ourselves of the reality of things, and it is the stimulation of the
tactile imagination, as Mr. Bernard Berenson calls it, which is one of
the chief sources of pleasure in the illusion of a picture. But touch to
the sculptor is not an illusion. While a painter only imagines the form
of an arm through his sense of sight, the sculptor actually gets his
sensation through his hands, as he feels it growing in form and
character, substance and subtlety of surface under his manipulation.
With him the physical delight is added to the mental. I imagine,
indeed, that the degree to which he expresses this twofold delight is
largely the measure of his ability as a sculptor.

Barnard thus early had experienced it; but, we should notice, so far
only through an experience of minute work. Yet his communing with
himself and with nature along the shores of the great lake and of the
Father of Waters was only waiting to discover its effects in a larger
field of sensations.

This awakening did not come to him at once in Chicago. There was then no
Art Institute with its array of sculpture casts; no flourishing school
with its accompanying enthusiasms. Yet, possibly that was well for the
slow, silent development of this youth, a dreamer of dreams, already a
student of philosophy and occultism, fervently religious, with a
religion that felt after the mysteries of life and included such dawning
notions as he had of art.

He chanced upon a teacher whose stock in trade consisted of four casts
of the antique statues in reduced size, which he drew in every possible
position, until he had completely mastered the representation of an
object on the flat. This, it will be observed, was a temporary
suspension of his study of solid form, being indeed, a transposition
from actual depth and distance to the _illusion_ of a third dimension;
and the intense application in this direction, with the fascination of
it, affected his work for some time. I think a comparison of “The Boy”
with one of his later works will show this. The early work displays more
feeling for light and shade than for form, and is, in fact, rather a
study of planes of varying value than of bulk. While this may appear a
somewhat fine-drawn distinction, it does involve an important principle,
because it affects the way in which the subject has been considered, the
conception, indeed, which inspired the work. In his later work Barnard
is not oblivious to the charm of subtle modelling, but the larger motive
is present in his mind, that of the constructional, organic character of
the mass, and it becomes the distinctive direction in which his genius
expresses itself.

He grew to consciousness of this large aspect of sculpture through the
influence of Michelangelo. Hearing that there were some casts of the
master’s work stored away in a room under lock and key he sought
admission. It was at first denied; students by acts of vandalism had
abused their privileges; the exhibition had been closed to them, and no
exception could be made in his case. “But I must see them,” was his
simple answer. “Michelangelo lived and worked for me as much as Jesus
did; his works belong to me--I must see them.” In presence of such a
fervour of conviction the director yielded, and Barnard was allowed to
come and go as he pleased.

If one could really know the boy’s emotions, what a revelation it would
be! To most of us, if we can recall our youth, the impressions that
counted most came gradually, finding us often unprepared for them, and
through circumstances or our own levity of soul unable to receive due
profit at the time. But to the young Barnard, with a seriousness beyond
his years, peering into the mystery of life, feeling after expression in
form, the revelation of Michelangelo’s genius must have been like sudden
light to a blind man, who, hitherto, had had but vague imaginings of
light and form. There, in the quiet afternoons, until daylight faded
into twilight, alone with these sublime beings, the boy would sit and
sit. Tired on one occasion, he sat himself in the lap of the
“Moses”--for he was small and boyish-looking despite his seventeen
years--and resting his curly head against the statue’s beard fell fast
asleep, his young, eager spirit, wrapped around and absorbed by the
influence of the mighty dead. Do you not perceive in this little story
another proof of the boy’s physical joy in form, so that after drawing
from it sustenance to his spirit he nestled into contact with the feel
of it, as a baby, surfeited with nourishment, lies close to the mother’s
breast?

And it was with a good deal of a baby’s unconsciousness, I suspect, that
Barnard sucked in nourishment from the experiences of this time. He was
not as yet deliberately studying these statues, was still ignorant of
the technical problems which they offered; but, himself a dreamer of
dreams, he lost himself in the magnitude of the conception, and little
by little grew to realise how dreams may shape themselves into form. He
began to have an inkling of the majesty of form in the round, as
something not to be translated into the flat, but to be felt in the
bulk; a realisation of the wonder of palpable structure, when it has
become the plastic expression of noble thought. It was several years
later, and much discipline had to be undergone, before the impressions
of this lonely communing were to become part of his conscious equipment
as a sculptor.

But I wonder whether the scarcity of artists, as compared with the great
number of skilful practitioners of painting and sculpture, is not due,
in part at any rate, to the fact that few students enjoy a period of
subconscious reception of impressions. In place of it they are
surrounded by the clatter of the classroom, share in the smart little
theories of their fellow-students and for the influence of the great
masters substitute adulation for some teacher who professes to know a
short cut to success. Most modern education, indeed, is a bustling after
results, that allows no space for the slow, steady, silent growth, such
as prepares the sapling to take its place among the giants of the
forests. Yet in our study of the lives of all true artists we shall find
that the period of communing, either with nature or with the
masterpieces of art, has intervened. Happy for the student to whom it
comes early!

At the end of his eighteenth year he received a commission for the
portrait bust of a child, and discovered for himself the manner of
executing it in marble. With the sum received, he went to Paris,
studying for a time under the academician, Cavelier, and then
establishing himself in a humble studio. Twelve years he lived in Paris,
enduring the extreme of privations, until the patronage of an American,
Mr. Alfred Corning Clark, relieved the pressure of want; and the
acceptance of seven of his works at the Champ de Mars in 1894 and his
election as an associate of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts crowned
his struggles with artistic recognition. During

[Illustration: PAN

By George Grey Barnard]

[Illustration: THE HEWER

By George Grey Barnard]

the intervening years he had shunned the influence of modern Paris,
drawing nutriment in the museums from Phidias and Michelangelo, from the
divine repose of the one and from the other’s conflict of soul,
conscious of great strivings within himself that craved utterance.

All his early works were so completely in response to an impulse from
within, that they seem to me to reveal themselves as confessions of his
soul, as manifestations not only of his artistic but of his spiritual
development.

The earliest was “The Boy”: a nude figure seated, asleep, with arched
back and with head drooping on the breast; a supple form, with that
mingling of firmness and languor which a child presents in sound,
healthy sleep; a composition, very fresh in conception and beautiful in
its rhythmical compactness; expressive, moreover, in every part, of the
character of profound slumber. This single theme of feeling flows
through the whole figure in measured bars of melodious movement. I like
to think of it as an artist’s expression, not of a boy, but of boyhood;
his own boyhood, in its unalloyed purity and freshness, which even in
his manhood is “not dead but sleepeth”; abiding with him in its
beautiful quiescence, perpetual testimony to the living on of the child
in the artist’s soul.

Then may we not see in “Pan” an embodiment of his experiences of
passionate youth? Truly it is also the reincarnation of the spirit of
the old golden legend of the world, before it was burdened with
seriousness, still irresponsible and sportive; when the woods and
streams were haunted by creatures close akin to the animals, but gifted
also with something of man’s higher opportunities: lazy, sensuous and
luxuriously content. But this is only to refer back to a mythological
type the perennial characteristics of the birth of passion in a youth.
It seems to me quite one with the philosophic bent of Barnard’s mind
that he should have comprehended both intentions in his “Pan.” It is as
if he had analysed himself and then exorcised his vagrant desires by
imprisoning them in bronze. As an artist he takes his opportunity in the
recumbent figure of enforcing the sensuous charm of the long, sinuous
limbs, and once more indulges in the luxuriousness of firm, soft
fleshiness; this time, however, with muscles not relaxed in sleep but
unstrung in the sweet lassitude of lazy ease. Then what a subtle
insinuation of contempt for the type as he conceives it! He sets one
long asinine ear acock, and lets the other droop ridiculously, while in
the slanting eye there is a leer of mischievous, foolish wantonness. I
do not forget that this is later work, executed after Barnard’s return
to America; yet his point of view is so subjective that he can scarcely
fail sooner or later to express the struggles of his own soul.

But apart from these psychological considerations the statue is one of
extraordinary artistic interest; the composition highly original and to
a grand degree sculpturesque. It has, that is to say, qualities peculiar
to sculpture; the impressiveness of bulk, of form in the round, with
vigorous appeal to our tactile sense in its bossy elevations and deep
hollows, and with that aptitude for changing effects of light and
shadow, bold in parts, in others mysteriously subtle. Moreover, it is
remarkable in its expression of character in pose and gesture; for
subtle expressiveness could scarcely be carried further in the line of
this conception and it is continuous throughout the figure and
harmoniously complete. These, moreover, are the traits conspicuous in
all Barnard’s work.

We shall find them in the group “I Feel Two Natures Struggling Within
Me,” which, perhaps, more than any other of his works breaks away from
the usual canons of composition. I can remember that when I first saw it
the abruptness of the composition startled me unpleasantly; but this
feeling has worn off and I recognize an inherent reasonableness in the
arrangement, a harmony of fitness in the conception. It illustrates, in
fact, the liberty of the western spirit, which dares to free itself from
formula; it is not to be taken as a subversion of old principles, but as
a justification of the right of freedom of will, where the originality
of thought demands some freer method of expression. For, as a matter of
fact, the salient feature of this group is the expression of character;
and by the time that you fall under the spell of its intention, you are
reconciled to the abruptness of the composition. It may interest those
who are distrustful of “literary” expression in a work of art to know
that the metaphysical title of this group was an afterthought. It had
its inception in the chance grouping, afterward slightly modified, of
two models, and the idea was to reproduce the character of pose and
gesture. Then the standing figure suggested the notion of a conqueror;
not one of the theatrical sort with action of defiance, but one who
through defeat has reached an ultimate victory; and so by degrees the
group began to partake of the fulness of the sculptor’s own thinkings
and conclusions, until it finished by presenting in generalized form the
conflict of the two natures of man.

The evolution of this group very fairly illustrates the balance of
impulses in Barnard’s work. He is by natural instinct a sculptor; one
whose imaginings inevitably shape themselves in form. On the other hand
he is a thinker of thoughts and a dreamer of dreams that press for
utterance, and he finds the utterance in plastic expression; but there
is no confusion in his own mind between the mode of expression and the
thought expressed. He recognizes both the possibilities and the
limitations of his art, and in the working out of his thought confines
himself to those aspects of it which lend themselves to plastic
interpretation. At the same time his nature is so earnest and intense
that it would seem impossible and horrible to him not to use his art to
some serious end. But, be sure, it is less the bigness of his purpose
than his power as a sculptor, or, shall we say, the happy adjustment of
the two, that gives ultimate importance to his work.

In further proof of this let me refer to two more of his statues, one of
which had its origin in chance, the other in deliberation: The former is
“Maidenhood” which was primarily suggested by the pose of a model,
spontaneously assumed. It had character and was evidently characteristic
of this individual type of girlhood. He studied the figure, first in its
_ensemble_ and then in the correlation of its parts, and as he worked
the floodgates of sentiment were gradually lifted, until there poured
into the work his pent-up feeling and convictions concerning female
beauty, his personal ones as a man and the abstract devotion that he
felt for it as an artist. The result is a statue, lovely as a piece of
technique, lovely also in its inspired interpretation of beauty of form
and soul; a figure that has the allurement of individual personality, as
well as that higher quality of abstract loveliness which belongs to an
ideal conception, rendered with exquisite reverence and a spirit of
purest poetry.

The other statue, “The Hewer,” was begun with the deliberate purpose of
embodying in a series of figures the gradual evolution of mankind and, I
fancy also, of the human soul toward higher possibilities. There is
nothing unusual in the theme, but much in the way in which Barnard has
comprehended and expressed it. He has felt it in its elemental
significance and set it forth with monumental simplicity. The background
of his imagination, and he makes it part of ours, is the nebulous
immensity out of which primitive man emerges toward the light. The step
is won by putting forth of strength; but tentatively, gropingly, with
only partial consciousness of strength; there is an exertion of power,
but a

[Illustration: TWO FRIENDS

By George Grey Barnard

A Memorial Monument]

reserve far greater of unexpended power. In correspondence with the
controlled bigness of this conception is the generalized method of the
actual modelling, so that the eye is not deflected to this or that part,
but compelled to embrace the figure as a whole. It is in this respect
that Barnard’s work differs from that of Rodin, to which at a first
glance we might feel disposed to liken it, in consequence of the
expression of character in both and the freedom from conventional
restraint. But each has his separate method of attack; for while Rodin
reaches his _ensemble_ through an elaboration of the parts, Barnard is
possessed first and foremost of the conception in its entirety and keeps
the parts subordinate. The one entices you to follow the play of subtle
expression that winds through the figure, while the other arrests your
eye to its structural significance as a unity.

In a brief summary of this sculptor’s art the thing to be noted is that
it is distinguished as much by breadth of conception as by expression of
character, and always with an instinctive regard for the simplest form
of plastic interpretation. It is this which separates him from the
hypersensitive tendencies of the old world and proves him to be a
prophet of the new. His vision is less penetrating than embracing; his
methods more constructive than analytical; his emotions ample, sane. His
genius indeed has not grown with the sinuous convolutions of a sapling
that enforces its existence in a thicket, but like one that stands alone
in virgin soil with spaciousness around it.



III

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD


Born in Urbana, Ohio, in 1830, Ward is still an active force among
American sculptors. His career connects the past with the present,
spanning the long interval like a bridge: one pier, embedded in the old
condition of things when American sculptors first began to make America
the scene and inspiration of their art, its arch mounting above the
indifference to, and ignorance of, things artistic which prevailed
before the influence of European art began to be felt here, and its
other pier firmly incorporated into the new order. And there is
additional fitness in the simile, for Ward’s career has presented the
logical reasonableness of an architectural structure; built up of
character, stout as granite, shaped by experience and tempered by local
necessities; a structure modified by practical as well as by esthetic
considerations, which has been invaluable in its day and embodies some
features of permanent worth among others that time has superseded. For
the architect of his own life cannot proceed like the builder of a
material bridge--establish simultaneously his hither and nether pier,
and then by ingenious underpinning support the weight of the arch until
he reaches the keystone, which finally locks all into a compact whole.
He can but start with good, firm basis of intention, hew the stones as
faithfully as he knows and set them in cement of honest endeavour,
lifting his arch by personal force, while the force of gravity, acting
outside himself, gradually determines the direction of its curve. He
will be shrewder than most if he guesses when he has reached the
keystone--generally will only discern it after long years by looking
back; and when he gains the farther bank of the stream and once more has
the firm ground beneath his feet, if he turns round to view the work he
will be conscious of parts which disturb the symmetry of the whole: here
a bit of inferior craftsmanship which his later knowledge detects, there
some result of untoward circumstances. He is happy if his life presents
a constancy of purpose and has been of service to his fellows.

Such happiness may fairly be enjoyed by Ward. His share in establishing
the National Sculpture Society, of which he has been president since its
foundation, would alone entitle him to the permanent consideration of
his colleagues, while to the sum total of American sculpture he has made
some very notable contributions. That his work includes examples which
fall short in artistic conception and in technical skill, is undeniable.
They are the result partly of the circumstances of his development and
partly of his own determined, straightforward character; a combination
of meager artistic experiences at the start and of a predisposition to
the objective point of view.

One imagines that he has always been powerfully attracted to the facts
of things: the facts of American life and the facts of the subjects
which he has portrayed in his art. If there was any fiber of
transcendentalism in his mind--and few of us are altogether without some
vision of what is beyond the bounds of actual experience--it took the
form of speculating upon the future of American civilisation, which
facts have subsequently indorsed, or, if it entered into his feeling
toward his subject, made him realise something of the spirit embedded in
the fact, as in his early statue representing the Negro breaking loose
his fetters. But the various theories concerning art which study in
Paris might have taught him, and which in a measure are the shibboleth
of people whose faith in facts has dwindled, and, unless reallied to
actual facts, are but “vacant chaff well meant for grain,” he had no
means of learning in his youth, and throughout his manhood, I suspect,
has had little patience with. Still at the bottom of all theories is the
principle that it is not in the subject but in the manner of presenting
it that a work of art is proclaimed; that technique and motive should be
indissolubly wedded--to their mutual perfection if each is choice, and,
if either is inferior, to a mutual loss. This was not recognised in
America in Ward’s youth, nor until much later; and none of his work, it
is probably true to say, reveals that particular kind of craftsmanlike
facility which distinguishes the work of the sculptor who has been
trained abroad, and by the side of this more accomplished modelling
Ward’s statues often appear crude. But if they lack the stylistic
quality, the best of them have a force which more than compensates. It
results from a strong feeling for design, the general accumulative
effect of the whole composition, which itself results from a strong
antecedent feeling for form. The latter seems to characterise all
self-taught students, whether sculptors or painters; and, although, as
their experience broadens, there may be increased subtlety of
expression, the primary characteristic of their work will continue to
be a very strong sense and enjoyment of the structural facts of the
figure or landscape, and most frequently in their simplest and directest
manifestations. And in the case of sculpture this is an especially
valuable gift of vision, since the most sculptural quality in sculpture
is unquestionably that of form: its solidity, stability and natural
grace or dignity of movement. It is precisely in these particulars that
some of our foreign-taught sculptors, while easily excelling Ward in
refinements of detail, fall short of him.

As a boy he had been devoted to fashioning with his fingers, and, at the
age of nineteen, entered the studio of Henry Kirke Brown. The latter,
after practising as a sculptor at Albany, had spent some five years in
Europe, chiefly in Italy; but, feeling strongly that an American should
occupy himself with American subjects, and to that end should work in
his own country, resisted the tendency among sculptors of that day to
join the American colony in Rome or Florence. He therefore returned and
engaged upon the equestrian statue of Washington, now in Union Square,
New York. Ward assisted him in the work and gained thereby a fine
experience of what makes for nobility in design. He must have profited
also by companionship with a man of such large and generous mind. But
his stay in the studio was short, and for the rest he has been the
architect of his own career.

A fragment remains of his student work, a study for a high-relief in
which an Indian is represented breaking and burning his arrows--an
episode of the voyage of Hendrik Hudson. One cannot help noticing the
_naïveté_ of the composition, the simple intention of representing the
action just as it might have happened; the apparent unconsciousness that
any academic considerations were involved. It, no doubt, represents the
attitude of his mind at that time, and to a very considerable extent
prefigures the lines along which his development was to proceed. Thus a
year or two later, while he was working in Washington and executing
busts of many leading men of the time, and the whole country began to
seethe with passion over the slave question, Ward’s contribution to it
is “The Freedman.” It shows simply a Negro, in an entirely natural pose,
who has put forth his strength and is looking very quietly at the broken
fetters. The whole gist of the matter is thus embodied in a most terse
and direct fashion, without rodomontade or sentimentality, but solely as
an objective fact into which there is no intrusion of the sculptor’s
personal feeling. But of his personal point of view toward his art there
is abundant testimony. This figure, which was never reproduced larger
than statuette size, but in that form had a wide popularity, proves how
keen and true was Ward’s instinct for the sculpturesque qualities of
sculpture and for the limit to which it is safe to go in the
interpretation of sentiment. The latter is simply enforced by the action
of the figure.

In order that he might have opportunities of studying form in the
freedom of movement, he visited the western frontier and lived for a
while among the Indians. A statue of this period is “The Indian Hunter,”
which now stands in bronze in Central Park, New York. Again it is a
strikingly vivid realisation of actual facts; of the racial
characteristics of both the man and his dog, and of their respective
kinds of movement: the man’s, stealthy and powerfully controlled; the
dog’s, more keen and alert and needing to be checked. Again, too, one
feels, I think, the absence of any preconceived theories of technique,
so that the group has something of a primitive, almost barbarous
feeling; which, however, seems strangely appropriate to the subject.

Yet it is easy to understand that for a young sculptor, so resolutely
facing natural facts and untrained in academic teaching of what is right
and what is wrong, a table of doctrines which may easily lead to dry
formalism, but which yet holds many directions and warnings of value,
there will be shoals ahead. The actual may readily drift into the
commonplace; and that some of Ward’s portrait-statues should be of small
account was to be expected from the circumstances of his self-wrought
development and peculiar personal point of view. They were the
stepping-stones by which he gradually rose to higher things. For the
thing to be noticed is that he eventually reached the power that is
exhibited in such works as the “Greeley,” “Washington,” “Lafayette,”
“General Thomas,” and in that masterpiece, the “Beecher” statue, by
following with undeviating persistence the promptings of his youth; only
that with matured experience came a clearer discrimination of the
salient facts, and a deeper understanding of what they truly signified.
In a word, he reached beyond the fact to its significance.

It may be mainly the significance of clothes, as in that remarkable
statue of “Lafayette” at Burlington, Vermont, in which he represents the
hero of two revolutions as a middle-aged dandy. I cannot say whether he
saw behind Lafayette’s support of liberty, as Carlyle did, but at any
rate the figure has simply the easy dignity of a well-bred man, whose
_embonpoint_ has modified but

[Illustration: THE GREELEY STATUE

By John Quincy Adams Ward]

[Illustration: THE BEECHER STATUE

By John Quincy Adams Ward]

not effaced his debonair demeanour and whose clothes set gracefully to
his person. Yet the person is unmistakably enforced. The man is not lost
in the millinery, as one may have noticed in some costume statues; and
it is in this respect that Ward has shown his true appreciation of the
significance of clothes. They not only envelop the figure as naturally
as a skin, and with no hindrance to the imagining of the body inside
them, but they adapt themselves completely to the character of the man
as shown in the pose of the body and expression of the head. They have
been reduced, in fact, to an abstraction corresponding to the sculptor’s
conception of the man.

In the “Washington” statue, which stands upon the steps of the
Sub-Treasury Building in Wall Street, the sculptor had the advantage of
a picturesque costume, and he has treated it with the same masterful
ease. Yet on this occasion our attention is not divided between the
significance of the clothes and that of the figure. The latter
represents Washington in the ceremony of taking the oath of office in
1789, an event which happened near the spot now occupied by the statue.
The pose is entirely free from heroics: that of a noble, true-hearted
gentleman, conscious of the dignity and responsibility of the occasion.
One could have wished that the legs were planted more squarely on the
ground, as it would have increased the statuesque assertiveness of the
figure; but it is quite possible that the sculptor intentionally avoided
this, in the desire to suggest that it was at the call of duty and not
of personal ambition that Washington accepted office. So he has taken
the weight off the right foot and advanced it slightly, thus giving a
pliant, curving motion to the body, and with it a touch of hesitancy to
the pose. Backed by the classic façade of the Sub-Treasury Building the
statue is very happily placed, and amid the turmoil of the neighbourhood
strikes a note which is refreshingly true and noble.

No less turmoil surrounds the Greeley monument in Newspaper Row and,
outwardly at any rate, of a less savoury character. Moreover, its
pedestal abuts upon a narrow sidewalk, and the figure, seated in an
armchair, has the unhelpful background of a large plate-glass window. It
is itself, too, of shambling build, uncouthly costumed, the large, round
face, oddly fringed with a rim of whiskers. The legs are wide apart; one
arm rests on the back of the chair, the other lies upon the thigh, its
hand holding a sheet of paper; the round shoulders droop forward, and
the head is inclined so as to bring into view the flat, dome-like
skull. Yes, the whole composition is the very reverse of what we usually
understand by statuesque, and thousands pass and repass it daily without
any recognition, so occupied are they in threading their way through the
swarm of loud-lunged sellers of chronic “specials.” Yet if you will step
back into the roadway, at the risk of being demolished by trolley-cars
or wagons full of mile-long rolls of paper, you cannot fail to be
impressed by the very strangeness of the figure. How full of character
it is! Sitting back almost in a heap, pondering some point, the figure
yet suggests that it is about to rise and put its resolve into action,
so remarkable is the mixture of downrightedness and alacrity. It is
indeed a representation of character truly original and of a convincing
force, that bears the stamp of genius. Let us place it in our respect
alongside of Saint-Gaudens’s “Peter Cooper,” as equally a triumph of art
over uncompromising material, and, indeed, along similar lines of
unflinching acceptance of the actual facts of the problem, and of broad,
ample sympathy with nobility, though it does not lie upon the surface.

For the convenience of analysing Ward’s methods I have ventured to
regard these three statues as examples of the significance,
respectively, of clothes, form and character. Not quite accurately, I
admit, because the three motives unite in all in various proportions;
but perhaps I am right in feeling a preponderance of the one in each.
However that may be, we shall find a completely balanced union of all
three in the Beecher monument. The sculptor had particularly in mind the
episode of Henry Ward Beecher’s visit to England in 1863, on a special
mission from President Lincoln, for the purpose of bringing to English
public notice the true position of the North. He was met by noisy
opposition, but bore it down by indomitable endurance and intellectual
force. In the strongly marked, mobile features; in the intellectuality
of the head, carried so resolutely above the broad chest; in the
striking simplicity of the quiet, stalwart pose, no less than in the
absence of all rhetorical gesture in the arms, which are suspended at
the sides; even to such a detail as the right hand, not clenched
aggressively or held in indecision, but with the fingers drawn up to the
thumb, a gesture that mingles alertness with poise, the figure expresses
character, rocklike will and mental preëminence. The Inverness cape
serves to give increased weight and breadth to the form; one arm being
restrained within its folds, the other free for a fling of action if the
occasion require it. The figure bears down upon its pedestal,
column-like, monumental in the highest degree. It is a portrait-statue
of most extraordinary impressiveness.

The equestrian statue of General Thomas at Washington, District of
Columbia, is a spirited and arresting composition. The rider presents a
portrait study of considerable power, but the sculptor in his zeal for
the actual has seized upon the fact that Thomas was not a practised
horseman. He does not move in his seat with the motion of the horse, his
bridle-hand lacks control, and the action of the horse’s head proclaims
it. One may enjoy a detail so minute as that of the hand in the Beecher
statue, because it is contributory to the total effect, and equally
regret this insistence upon a personal peculiarity of the General, since
the total effect is thereby diminished. Such a detail is local and
insignificant, only to be appreciated by a few of his comrades; but the
statue will endure and be judged for what it presents; a general and his
horse--do they move as one? is the personal supremacy of the rider
maintained?

The pedestal of the “Beecher” is embellished with figures. On one side a
woman and on the other a little girl is depositing a wreath, and a boy
is steadying the latter figure. They are well modelled in natural and
graceful movement, but they impart a touch of sentimentality, so alien
to Ward’s habit and, indeed, to the spirit of the statue, that I wonder
whether they were not a concession to the wish of the subscribers.
Figures again adorn the pedestal of the Garfield monument in Washington,
and among them is to be found a most successful treatment of the nude.
“The Student” is an admirable example of Ward’s knowledge of form and of
his discretion in rendering it. His ability as a decorative sculptor was
shown in the group of “Sea-horses and Victory” which crowned the
temporary Naval Arch in 1899, though executed many years before. Equally
pronounced were the joyous elevation of the forms against the sky and
the harmonious unity of the whole as a mass. It proved that Ward’s
management of composition was as thorough in a complicated group as in a
single figure. He is now engaged upon the pediment for the recently
erected Stock Exchange Building in New York. As I have seen only the
model--and that has been subjected to various modifications--it would be
premature to discuss it. But it bids fair to be a most memorable work,
fitly crowning by its magnitude and importance a long and honourable
career.



IV

DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH


Among the earlier works of Daniel C. French is a bust of Emerson, a
truly admirable rendering of the mingled nobility and sweetness of the
well-known face, of the human kindliness which warmed the pure and
abstract elevation of his mind. It reminds us that in his youth French
enjoyed acquaintance with the philosopher of Concord and came under the
influence of other famous spirits who formed the little group of high
thinkers and plain livers, with whom it was also an axiom, of more than
incidental importance, that Americans should shake their minds free of
the European point of view and develop a culture for themselves out of
the genius of their own conditions.

French, himself of New England stock, born at Exeter, New Hampshire, in
1850, came under these influences at the impressionable age of eighteen,
when he began to model under the instruction of a member of the Alcott
family, the head of which, Amos Bronson, had been one of the leading
writers in _The Dial_. Moreover, his own nature, one may suspect,
furnished congenial soil for the germination of the seeds which it
received during this time, since the fruit of his maturity savours
unmistakably of these conditions. And this, notwithstanding that he
spent many subsequent years in Florence, where his master was Thomas
Ball, a blithe, sweet nature, gentle, refined, and full of _bonhomie_.
Here again was a continuance of, at least, the gracious influences which
had surrounded French’s growth from the beginning, and it was in the
light of these that he sucked in nourishment from the environment of
Florence. To judge by the tenor of his afterwork, the treasures of the
city did not affect him very directly; here and there we may find a hint
of assimilated style, notably in the angels for the Clark monument in
the Forest Hills Cemetery; but for the most part, apparently, the
impressions of these days served to give artistic indorsement to the
gracious elevation of the earlier literary ones. Even the work upon
which he engaged himself at that time, a statue of “Endymion,” was a
following of the Canova tradition, still lingering in Italy, rather than
of the beckonings of the older art, and chiefly characteristic of
himself by reason of the calm, passionless purity of the emotion
involved.

The degree and quality of emotion which enters into an artist’s work
must constitute one of the most important elements in his art and will
even affect that other essential element, the character of his
technique. How his work will affect ourselves will largely depend upon
the extent to which we respond, either by nature or by a habit of
cultivation, to the particular kind of emotion which he portrays. On the
other hand, a great number of people seem unable to appreciate the
emotional quality in a work of art and look only for the intellectual,
while more than a few artists display little or nothing of the latter
quality and exaggerate the sensuous. Especially are they apt to limit
the range of the emotions to one kind, that of love, and to regard it
exclusively in its sexual manifestation. In this way the word passion,
with its deep significance of an emotion so strong as to bring
suffering, has been belittled. Some art is the product of this nobler
kind of passion, a good deal is only a tiresome reiteration of the lower
kind, and, again, there is art which emanates from a tranquillity of
spirit undisturbed by either kind of passion. It is in this last
category that French’s art seems to belong.

My own appreciation of it recalls the memory of a certain mountain pool.
I had made an early start on a summer’s day, rising in the cheerless
glimmer before the dawn and spending some two hours as one of many
sleepy passengers in a stuffy train. Alighting at a drowsy little town,
where small farmers congregate to pursue their petty barterings, I began
the ascent by a bridle path, steep, stony and dusty, winding frequently
as it steadily mounted. By noon I had reached an elevation midway
between the last belt of trees and the snow-line and could look down
upon the cloud-mists that clung like patches of wool to the forest, and
farther down to the green bowl of the valley, with its flashes of river
and thin spirals of gray smoke. Above me was a more venturesome climb,
to have accomplished which would have entailed stouter endurance and
more painful effort, crowned, it may be, with a keener, fiercer
exaltation. But, as it was I felt exalted. The spacious prospect, the
crystalline purity of the air, a labour that had fully taxed my natural
strength, combined to produce a condition of most perfect spiritual
exhilaration, stealing over me so unconsciously as at last to be
realised with surprise. The memory of it represents to me the clearest
comprehension of passionless emotion and of the mental atmosphere in
which a work of art that has not been conceived in the throes of passion
may spring forth and be matured.

Full to the brim of this sensuous elation, I wandered from the path and
found myself beside a pool that caught within its deep hollow something
of the sky’s blue and the glint of a passing cloud; otherwise mirroring
only the surrounding banks and my own figure, bending over to peer
through the cold, clear water to the bottom. Quite near it was to the
dusty, beaten track, yet secluded, cradled within its own niche of the
great mountain, placidly exhaling its water to the sky, whence it was in
turn to receive its sustenance. Again I am helped to understand the
beautiful reasonableness of art; although it may not be of the kind
which mirrors the wide experiences of life, holds within it the mystery
of impenetrable depth, or stirs the soul to loftiest heights of sensuous
and intellectual comprehension. For, if the artist sets his art at the
highest spot that his powers permit, keeps it secluded from the passing
traffic of the world, unsullied, fresh, that it may give clear
reflection to the figures of the imagination which, in the calm elation
of this upper air, he brings to its margin, then he has done something
for which the world is infinitely better.

It is an art of this kind which French, if I mistake not,
represents--elevated, but passionless; always true to its noblest and
sweetest promptings; mingling intellectual grace with the graciousness
of pure emotion.

His first statue was the “Minute Man,” erected on the old battle-field
at Concord in 1875. The young farmer is standing with one hand upon the
plow and in the other grasping a musket, his head alert, as if he were
waiting for a summons, the body held ready to advance. Though a work of
immaturity and giving little promise of its author’s subsequent
accomplishment, it yet has something of the sweet uplifting of sentiment
that will reappear later with more assurance of conviction and with
maturer technical expression. The next important work was the seated
figure of John Harvard, unveiled at Cambridge in 1884. During that
interval of nine years French had made extraordinary progress. Whether
we consider the conception of the personality or the character of the
technique, this statue is the work of a man who has attained to a
realization of his true bent and to a freedom and force of
craftsmanship. The dignity of quietude, a self-contained aloofness, the
tender graciousness of a refined spirit, a gentle, unforced
sincerity--these are the qualities

[Illustration: DEATH AND THE SCULPTOR

By Daniel Chester French

From the Milmore Monument, Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston]

[Illustration: DETAIL OF THE CLARK MONUMENT

By Daniel Chester French

Forest Hills Cemetery]

in himself which the sculptor has imparted to this figure. He has
represented in it the fine flower of Puritan scholarship and devotion to
the higher claims of humanity. It is impossible not to detect in this
characterisation an echo of the sculptor’s own early memories, and more
or less they abide with him up to the present time. In correspondence
with the development of his own ideals is that of his technique. It has
acquired a breadth and unity of feeling, a regard for the mass and a
tact of choice in the selection of details, a mingling of suavity and
monumental stability, a disposition of the drapery, natural and yet
enriched with elegant surprises. The statue is at once imposing and full
of grace.

During the next decade French had opportunities for developing the
imaginative tendencies which had already shown themselves during his
student days. The chief works of this period are the “Gallaudet
Memorial” in Washington, District of Columbia, the Milmore monument in
Forest Hills Cemetery, better known as “Death and the Sculptor,” the
“John Boyle O’Reilley Memorial,” and the “Statue of the Republic” at the
Chicago Exposition. The “Gallaudet” represents the great teacher of deaf
and dumb mutes in the act of instructing his first pupil. He has his arm
around the girl, and each raises a hand to fashion the silent talk,
while they gaze into each other’s faces in the rapt effort of mutual
comprehension. The group is thus realistic in its conception, but
developed with a degree of sympathy that passes into lovely
imaginativeness as the sculptor penetrates the mystery of communication
between these two creatures. Purely imaginative, however, is the
following work: The untimely death of the sculptor, Martin Milmore, is
here commemorated by an allegory of Death arresting the hand of a
sculptor as he is engaged in perfecting his work. He is scarcely more
than a youth, well-knit and lithe in figure, with a sweet seriousness of
face; and as he plies the mallet and chisel, carving anew at the
world-old problem of the Sphinx, putting forth his brave young strength
in pursuit of a yet undimmed ideal, a gentle touch interposes between
his hand and work. He turns his head from the enigma to face the reality
of a Presence--a female figure, her head tenderly bowed in the shadowed
obscurity of a heavy veil, mighty wings calmly folded at her back, a
bunch of poppies in her grasp. The youth has not yet comprehended who
and what she is, only the ineffable sadness of her face rivets his
questioning gaze. He is face to face with another enigma--that of
Death.

This memorial has won more admirers than perhaps any other of the
sculptor’s works, and the reason is not far to seek. The allegory
conveys a human story with such precision and tender sincerity that all
can read it and few can fail to be affected. Moreover, the story is told
with artistic propriety, the character of the memorial being
sculpturesque. The dignity of form in the round has been boldly
asserted; the device of clothing the youth’s figure in a tightly fitting
suit permits a contrast of vigorous, clean-cut form with the drowsy,
sensuous suggestion of the sweeps and folds of drapery on the other
figure, and these again are relieved by the strong, simple modelling of
the wings. Moreover, the varied emphasis of these figures in the round,
placed against the quiet, smooth levels of low-relief in the background,
results in a colour-scheme of striking handsomeness; the gradations from
dark to light mingling richness and delicacy of tone, while the passages
are distributed with such variety of bold and subtle contrasts as to be
exceptionally decorative. And it is by these devices, as well as by the
action of the two figures and the expression of their faces, that the
sentiment of the subject is conveyed.

The quality of the sentiment in this particular group is fairly
characteristic of French’s range of emotional expression. It has more
of elevation than of breadth and depth. Not that it is lacking in either
candour or sincerity, but, like Truth at the bottom of the well, it
exists in a cool, clear, undisturbed element, its gaze concentrated on
the circle of sky above, a glimpse of abstract inspiration, checkered by
the occasional passage of a bird or by some wayfarer’s shadow. Separated
from the turmoil of human passion it touches the theme of humanity with
a gracious tenderness that leans toward an elegant idealisation and to
an attitude of feeling that is far less human than artistic. I would
cite, as an illustration of what I am trying to express, the fact that
Death has been symbolised by a woman of noble and inviting mien, whose
arms might fold themselves around the young sculptor’s form as with a
mother’s caress, while she pressed the poppies on his brow and wooed him
to eternal sleep. It is a beautiful idea, which touches our fancy, but
not the heart that has experienced the pain of loss; and in its lyrical
melodiousness we miss the snapping discord that would hint at the
tragedy of a career of promise abruptly cut.

Similarly, a delicate fancy rather than imagination pervades the
monument erected to the memory of the poet O’Reilley. This group of
three figures may be felt also to establish a doubt, aroused by the
previous work, as to whether the sculptor is fortunate in the treatment
of a composition which involves more than one figure. Neither of them is
conspicuous for organic unity or for relational value in the parts. It
is, indeed, in the management of a single figure that French produces
the most complete _ensemble_. Among these the colossal “Statue of the
Republic” at the Chicago Exposition marks, if I mistake not, a
turning-point in his art. Here, for the first time, his matured powers
came into direct contact with the influence of architecture.

Hitherto his imagination had played around the subject represented; now
it became absorbed in the architectonic significance of the statue
itself, as a feature of isolated and conspicuous emphasis in a great
scheme of monumental architecture. Removed from the surroundings for
which it was conceived, the “Republic” is scarcely beautiful, the
contours being rigid, the pose monotonous; yet these qualities became in
its appointed place the very source of its indubitable stateliness; of
its value as a focus-point in the long vista of the Court of Honour and
as an expression in heroic shape of the dignity of the Republic.

At this time French came into close contact with the architect, Charles
F. McKim, and the intimacy has ripened into very frequent
collaboration, so that, although he has executed other commissions, such
as that clever character-study, the statue of Rufus Choate, and, in
coöperation with E. C. Potter, a spirited and impressive equestrian
statue of Washington, his work has become more and more identified with
sculpture in its relation to architecture. To a mind like his, that
seems always to have leaned toward the abstract, this alliance with an
art so free from direct human allusion must have followed quite
naturally. Yet we may be disposed to regret a transition which has in a
measure, if I may use the word, dehumanised his art, which broke off his
development when it had acquired a charm of poetical expression not too
usual in this country, and would appear to have curtailed the freedom
and individuality of his manner. Certainly, the series of figures for
the Capitol at St. Paul, Minn., lack the distinction and vital
worthiness of some of his earlier work; and even the latest statue of
“Alma Mater,” beautiful as it unquestionably is, I can hardly feel
belongs among his best.

In the centre of the spacious paved court that forms the southern and
chief approach to Columbia University, at the foot of the steps which
lead up to the library--one of McKim’s most choice and impressive
designs--she sits enthroned; clothed in a loose robe and college gown, a
volume open on her knees, the arms extending upward from the elbows
which rest upon the chair, one hand holding a scepter, the other open
with a gesture of welcome. The face is of a familiar type of American
beauty, corresponding with the very modern suggestion of the whole
figure. Yet the sculptor has invested the head with an air of
dispassionate refinement which gives it a certain aloofness; scarcely
more, however, than the self-possession, consciously unconscious, with
which the American woman can carry her beauty. It is almost as if one of
them had mounted the pedestal and, with a ready wit embracing the
situation, were enacting the part of patroness to the university. Every
student will love her and her influence will be altogether one of sweet
nobility; but whether he will receive any inspiration in the direction
of the highest art and scholarship is less sure. The immediate
fascination of the statue is that in feeling it is thoroughly modern and
American; and, if it fails to comprehend the complex elements drawn from
all sources and times which mingle in our highest civilisation, it is
precisely because it is limited in character to the local and
contemporary.

We recall that French in his youth came under the influence of Emerson,
one of whose tenets was, as far as possible, to ignore European
traditions, and to draw his illustrations from the society and manners
of the United States; that French himself lived some time in Florence
without assimilating its influence directly, has habitually confined
himself to rendering types of American character and has gradually
discovered for himself a personal form of technical expression. To this
personal isolation may be traced both the excellence and the limitations
of his technique.

It is distinguished by a pure and poignant serenity, by a monumental
feeling penetrated with a sort of gentle sprightliness; for the
expression which he puts into the modelling of the limbs can scarcely be
characterised by a word of more sensitive application. In his handling
of an arm or hand, still more of the articulation of a wrist, his method
is so dispassionate as to betray little fascination in the loveliness of
form and movement. In this respect his technique, as compared with
modern French sculpture, is deficient in the stylistic quality, lacking
the raciness and the suggestive piquancy of craftsmanlike precision. As
to the finer quality, that of style, in which thought is wedded to
technique in a union choicely

[Illustration: ALMA MATER

By Daniel Chester French

Columbia University]

appropriate, indefinably distinguished, one may detect it in his angels
for the Clark monument, particularly in the treatment of the head and
wings. But these panels are, perhaps, the only examples of his work in
which a direct influence of his sojourn in Florence can be traced. They
are imbued with the spirit of the Renaissance. When, as usually, he
works in an atmosphere circumscribed by local considerations, I doubt if
we shall find this added savour of style. He handles drapery with
evident delight, but scarcely with an independent control of the
material. Having arranged it upon the model with perfect taste, he
copies the folds and volumes. They seldom display that touch of artistic
arbitrariness which a master of style would give them, compelling them
to yield to the precise shade of expression demanded by the subtle union
of his hand and brain. In the “Death and the Sculptor” the drapery
reaches a measure of style, but scarcely in the “Alma Mater”; and this
is precisely one of the reasons of the suggestion that a woman has been
suddenly metamorphosed into a statue. The drapery is not idealised.

Yet, if it is only on rare occasions that French’s work evinces style,
it is never without a very rare and fine distinction--the impress of a
man who reverences his art and has yielded her the devotion of a
refined and elevated spirit. If the localness of its range may have been
at the expense of some desirable qualities, it has endeared it to the
greater number of people and presented an invaluable incentive to many a
young artist to seek his ideals in his own country. If it fails to touch
the deeper chords of human emotion, it is always purifying and
uplifting. With maturity it has lost nothing of its original freshness,
and has had an abiding influence for good upon American art and life.



V

FREDERICK MACMONNIES


Penetrating the American temperament is a strong vein of boyishness,
alertness, elasticity of mind, a happy disregard of difficulty and a
buoyant hopefulness; a predisposition to humour and a refusal, except in
really serious matters, to take life seriously; a national grace of
gaiety. It is this phase of Americanism that is reflected in the
sculpture of Frederick Macmonnies.

He is himself a remarkable example of maturity in youth. To-day, in this
year 1903, he is but forty, yet in variety and quality the work
accomplished has been prodigious, and he has long since reached a
notable eminence both at home and in Paris. The latter has been pretty
constantly his place of sojourn since 1884, and he has proved himself
fully in touch with its spirit, at least with that exhalation of elegant
materialism which hovers over its deeper qualities. For, except in the
statues of Nathan Hale and James S. T. Stranahan, and possibly in his
“Shakespeare” of the Congressional Library, Macmonnies has shown
himself more alive to the external charm of form than to its expression
of underlying qualities of deeper significance.

At the age of seventeen he had the good fortune to be received into the
studio of Saint-Gaudens as an apprentice-pupil, where he worked for some
four years, meanwhile attending the life classes at the Academy of
Design and the Art Students’ League. Even in those days he developed an
extraordinary manual skill, and his drawings also are remembered by his
fellow-students as being quite unusually graceful and true. He had,
moreover, the privilege of working under the master, at the time of his
greatest productivity, when his studio was the resort of the best
architects, sculptors and painters; so that he grew up under the most
favoured conditions, corresponding in kind to those experienced by
apprentices of the fifteenth century in the _bottegas_ of the Florentine
masters.

Accordingly, when Macmonnies went to Europe, in 1884, his experience and
knowledge were far beyond what students of his age usually possess.
However, the first visit to Paris was abruptly terminated by the
cholera, before which he retreated to Munich, and for some months
studied painting. Then followed a tour on foot over the Alps, when a
summons from Saint-Gaudens recalled him home. For a year he assisted the
master and then returned to Paris, this time entering the École des
Beaux Arts and studying under Falguière; with such success that he twice
won the Prix d’Atelier, which ranks next to the Prix de Rome and is the
highest prize open to foreigners. Then, taking a studio of his own, he
executed his first statue, a “Diana,” which gained an Honourable Mention
at the Salon. A commission for three angels in bronze for the Church of
St. Paul in New York was followed in 1889 and 1890 by orders for the
Hale and Stranahan statues, for the latter of which he received a Second
Medal at the Salon, the only instance of an American sculptor being thus
honoured. After executing two small fountain designs, for which he
modelled a “Pan of Rohallion” and a “Faun with Heron,” he found himself
confronted with the big problem of the Columbia fountain, the most
important sculptural group at the Chicago Exposition. Since then, in
addition to many statuettes, medallions, busts and low-relief portraits
he has accomplished such notable works as the “Bacchante,” the statue of
Sir Harry Vane, the “Shakespeare,” pediments for the Bowery Savings Bank
and spandrils for the Washington Arch in New York, a quadriga for the
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Brooklyn and horse groups for
the entrance to Prospect Park, a “Victory” for the battle monument at
West Point and colossal groups for the Indiana State Soldiers’ and
Sailors’ Memorial at Indianapolis. The mere enumeration of this
incomplete list of works, representing a period that scarcely exceeds
ten years, testifies to the artist’s energy and inventiveness. That such
an exuberance of output should affect the quality of his work was almost
inevitable. The precise way in which it seems to have done so is
interesting, in relation not only to Macmonnies’s career, but to the art
generally. It has, indeed, a reference to the artist’s manner of using
his model, to the degree in which his imagination maintains a control
over or succumbs to the facts of the living subject.

It is true the model will frequently suggest an idea to the artist. Some
arrest of action, momentary gesture, or the movement of relaxation, as
the figure, tired with posing, extends itself, will supply the artist’s
eye, ever on the alert for impressions, with the hint of a motive which
his imagination will develop into a serious and beautiful work. He will
use the model to build up the structural fabric of his ideas, and, if
need be, to elaborate the facts, but unless he

[Illustration:

     _By permission of Theodore B. Starr, New York_

DIANA

By Frederick Macmonnies]

[Illustration:

     _By permission of Theodore B. Starr, New York_

BACCHANTE

By Frederick Macmonnies]

can modify the facts of the figure by elimination or accentuation and
invest his rendering of them with that intangible something which does
not exist in the model, but in the impression which the latter has made
upon his imagination, the result will scarcely fail to bear the earmark
of being a copy. Doubtless the artist will lessen the probability of
this, indeed, may entirely remove it, by his absorption in the technical
subtleties of obtaining an illusion of actual facts out of his inert
material; but this, after all, is one of the active forms of his
artistic imagination. If he exercises it with enthusiasm he is still
maintaining his ascendency over the objectivity of the model. This is
the kind of realism in which the Japanese carver indulges on his sword
hilt. The facts are for him merely an excuse for revelling in the
enjoyment of his skill--the closer his rendering of them the greater his
triumph over the medium--and we ourselves in examining his work lose
cognisance of the facts in our wonder at the skill of craftsmanship.

This is a very different kind of realism from that exhibited in the
statue which crowned the principal entrance of the recent Paris
Exposition. The figure presumably was to symbolise modern Paris. Perhaps
it was in a spirit of mischief, certainly without much sense of humour
and with no imagination, that the sculptor sought his model in a
well-known _magazin des modes_, selecting the most famous of the young
ladies, on whose beautiful figure the mantles and cloaks are set, that
the patronesses of the establishment may see by a supreme effort of the
imagination how they will set upon themselves. He represented her in a
costume _à la mode_. The statue stood against the sky, a monument of
commonplace, trivial and ridiculous.

But, without going to any such lengths in demeaning his imagination, the
artist may still allow it to become hypnotised by his model. I was very
much struck by the remark of a painter, whose nudes are exquisitely pure
and poetical in type, that it was his habit as soon as he had secured
the facts of the figure to discontinue the model, since he found that
otherwise he was apt to become possessed by it. And is it not a fact
that in very many statues and pictures one detects the evidence of this
possession? Is it absent in Macmonnies’s later work?

The earlier is alive with spontaneous, creative energy, which shows
itself most characteristically in works like the “Cupid on Ball,” “Boy
with Heron,” and the “Diana.” The last has been criticised for being
“nervous and strained” in manner. Not quite justly, perhaps, since the
long, lean limbs are precisely those of one accustomed to swift
movement; the movement in this case is free and elastic, and the whole
gesture of the body expressive of keen and practiced energy; no antique
type, it is true, but its modern antithesis, the girl whose graceful
lines have been strung and whose grace of action liberated by physical
activities. The figure has the buoyancy and poise of mass and charm of
living lines which distinguish the work of Macmonnies as much as the
actual beauty of modelling. These traits reappear in a most fascinating
way in the artless grace of the “Cupid,” bounding along with head and
shoulders thrown back, as he discharges an arrow behind him. The action
of the body is quick with naturalness, and yet the disposition of every
part, even to such a detail as the fingers, reveals the shrewd
arrangement of a choicely refined taste--an instinctive taste, operating
almost unconsciously, with a frank, boyish impulsiveness, high spirited
and not without a spice of mischievous humour. For note the redoubtable
struggle between the “Boy with Heron”; the youngster planted firmly and
putting forth his strength so stubbornly, the bird thrashing the air
with its wings and writhing its body angrily. How will it end? Is it
only a tumble of sport, or will the young creature of the earth not let
go until the creature of the air is subdued, perhaps maimed, killed?
Or, again, in the “Pan of Rohallion” the boy stands upon a ball
supported by miniature dolphins, which spout their streams of water and
look up as if listening, while he blows the two reeds that issue at a
broad angle from his impish mouth, leaning back to inflate his chest
until his body describes an arc. It is the attitude of a saucy child
that has taken the measure of its little self from the affectionate
indulgence that surrounds it; again, not an antique type, nor rustically
impish like a Puck, but with the engaging elegance and self-conscious
roguery of a certain kind of modern urchin.

Yes, modernity is the key to which all Macmonnies’s work is pitched; an
echo not of the modern mind, but of the modern temperament. So we may be
disposed to prefer the earlier ones, while his temperament was still
fresh and frank and exuberant with the _insouciance_ of youth. Later on
the exuberance is at once more conscious and less spontaneous. In the
“Diana” there was an abounding healthfulness of liberated energy; in the
“Bacchante” a suggestion of energy, reënforced with champagne. Truly,
this is not an inapt suggestion for a bacchante to make; but we are a
long way from the anthropomorphic tendency of the antique mind which
personified the power of wine in its social and beneficent aspects, and
saw in Bacchus the god of civilisation and in his devotees the frenzy of
divine inspiration. Moreover, there is no suggestion of this in the
statue. The figure is of modern type, rendered with undisguised
naturalness. After being declined by the trustees of the Boston Public
Library, it is now in the Metropolitan Museum, where among the variety
of impressions it loses its startling emphasis and takes its place
naturally as one of the cleverest pieces of modern sculpture. For of its
exceeding cleverness there can be no doubt. The action is such as no
model could maintain in its vivacity for more than a moment; the artist
has seized it in all its flow and suppleness of movement and held it in
his imagination to the finish. It is a statue which we can almost accept
as an example of the predominance of technique over the facts of the
living model, except for a certain look-at-me-ishness which seems to
result from the artist’s consciousness that his problem was a daring
exhibition of skill. There is just a little too much protestation of
skill in the whole conception, just as there is too much protestation of
hilarity in the girl’s face. Her gaiety is hysterical, the composition
lacking in artistic sanity.

Both the Nathan Hale and the Stranahan statues were completed when the
artist was only twenty-eight years of age. The former, since no portrait
of Hale exists, is an effort of imagination, the latter of observation
and by far the finer work. For, while Macmonnies is gifted with a very
delightful imaginativeness, he has not so far shown himself possessed of
the deeper qualities of imagination. The Hale scarcely rises above a
graceful and touching sentimentality; there is a point-device nicety in
the carriage of the figure; it stands well upon its feet, but with an
air of debonair primness and too conscious rectitude. The point of view
is a little immature. In the Stranahan, however, the frankness of youth
has helped the artist. He had seen many a sculptor go down before the
difficulty of a figure in modern civilian garb, but he had also seen his
master, Saint-Gaudens, triumph over it in his “Lincoln.” So, as a boy to
prove he is not afraid, grasps the nettle tightly and is not stung,
Macmonnies grasped his problem and succeeded. He contrives no ingenious
arrangement nor extenuates any detail of the costume, but actually makes
it interesting by the charming handling of the masses and textures. With
equal directness he has represented the character of the figure: stable,
composed, yet animated, while to the observation of the head he has
brought a sympathetic and reverent study, which results in a singular
nobility and sweetness of expression. The statue, in fact, has a very
considerable measure of monumental dignity, is full of vitality and
touched all over with fineness of human and artistic feeling.

Full of vitality also, and of artistic feeling is the “Sir Harry Vane”
in the Boston Library. The costume, a beaver with rolled brim and plume,
doublet and cloak, and breeches tucked into riding-boots, offered
opportunities of picturesqueness of which Macmonnies has taken full
advantage. The gesture, too, as the figure stands firmly with one leg
advanced, drawing on a glove, is manly and of winning courtliness.
Indeed, the elegance may be felt to be in excess; the conception of the
personality being scarcely more than that of a fine gentleman engaged in
the unimportant occupation of putting on his gloves. The costume also
plays a conspicuous share in the statue of “Shakespeare” at Washington.
The doublet, trunks and surcoat are stiff with embroidery, most
cunningly modelled, and the set of the silk hose upon the strong,
shapely legs is admirable. The head, too, is admirably constructed, the
bony portions having been copied from the bust in Stratford-on-Avon
Church and the features from the Droeshout portrait, commended by
Jonson for its fidelity. Thus the external facts have been very
conscientiously compiled, and edited with much mastery of craftsmanship;
but the soul of the facts, the inspired poet inside them, is scarcely
suggested. The statue illustrates again that Macmonnies does not display
imagination; that he only approximates to it with a certain charm of
imaginativeness, finding fittest expression in subjects of a decorative
character, of which the very beautiful central doors of the Library of
Congress remain the most successful example.

For the larger compositions, while full of exuberant invention and charm
of detail, lack unity and dignity of _ensemble_. The best of them was
probably the short-lived fountain for the Court of Honour at Chicago.
Its central feature, the “Ship of the Republic,” presented a handsome
silhouette, whereas the quadriga on the Brooklyn Arch, when viewed from
the back, does not. Considering also the necessary haste involved in the
preparation of the fountain, it was a fairly maintained composition,
reasonably balanced and homogeneous. In spirit, however, it represented
the _verve_ and gaiety which the Parisian seeks in exposition sculpture,
and scarcely conformed to the graver, more monumental character of the
architectural scheme at Chicago; while the naturalistic rendering of a
Parisian model to symbolise the Republic, presented a curious and not
uninstructive contrast to French’s “Republic” at the other end of the
basin.

For in this figure Macmonnies revealed perhaps for the first time,
certainly in most marked manner, his tendency to lose himself in the
natural facts of the model. Some extenuation might be found in the haste
with which the work was bound to be completed; and a similar
insufficiency of time--as commissions piled upon him in unexampled
profusion--may account for his subsequent addiction to bare naturalism.
Yet it scarcely excuses it, and still less that the naturalism should
take a grosser form, until in the colossal groups at Indianapolis it
reached a degree of coarseness in the female figures which is very far
indeed from the exquisite feeling of the artist’s early work.

In the freshness of his youth he reflected the national grace of gaiety.
God forbid that the grossness of type and orgy of action displayed in
these latter groups should be indicative of anything American!



VI

PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT


In the Metropolitan Museum of New York there is a group, called “The
Bohemian,” which represents a man leaning over a young bear,
endeavouring by voice and gesture to encourage it to antics. The
attitude and play of movement are very true to life.

One knows the action of a trained bear at the end of its keeper’s chain;
how it balances from foot to foot, moves its body up and down like a
huge, slow piston rod, while its head turns this way, that way, keeping
rude time to the rhythm, half chant, half howl, of the man’s voice. The
latter seemed to our childhood’s imagination to have some affinity with
the bear; both strange creatures appearing in the village, whence no one
knew; performing their uncouth antics, silent but for the man’s
mournful, monotonous dirge or an occasional burst of gibberish as he
rattled the chain; then disappearing, whither?

In the posturing of the man in this group we can anticipate what will be
the movement of the bear when it is trained, and feel the suggestion
also of an animal kinship between them and of their outcast, vagrant
fellowship. Not only is the technique sure and facile, the observation
of form and action just, but the conception is one in which imagination
has played a distinct part.

It is an early work of Paul Weyland Bartlett, executed shortly after he
had studied with Frémiet. One may fancy that he, too, had come under the
spell of these strange travelling companions, and the absorbing question
to his boy’s mind had been: How was the bear taught? Then, in after
years, when his interest in animals, quickened by the example of his
master, took artistic shape, he bethought him of his old-time wonder and
set himself to solve it. However that may be, it is clear that
Bartlett’s preoccupation in the subject extended beyond mere deftness of
craftsmanship, and that in some way or other his imagination had been
roused.

I urge this point because some of his subsequent works might lead one to
suppose that he is lacking in imagination and absorbed exclusively in
the exercise of a very accomplished, graceful and refined technique.
Thus his statue of “Law” in the rotunda of the Library of Congress at
Washington reveals no higher conception than that of a refined young
woman in classic draperies, holding a scroll and resting one hand upon
a table of the law; a personification entirely superficial and only
redeemed from mediocrity by the tactful elegance of the modelling.

But, while he was engaged on this, he was pondering another statue which
hit his interest closely. The artist in him that could not be aroused to
enthusiasm by an abstraction, such as “Law,” awoke to the personal
matter of portraying the greatest master of his own craft. His
imagination was enlisted, and after much delay--for his conscience was
very truly involved in this work and he had an ideal that to his utmost
ability he would reach--the “Michelangelo” was completed; a work of
sincere imagination; of most arresting and moving appeal.

Then followed a commission for an equestrian statue of Lafayette; and,
after making the preliminary sketch for it in New York, he returned to
Paris to execute it. It was there, too, that he had conceived and
executed the “Michelangelo”; but with this “Lafayette” his imagination
again failed him. Through lack of interest in the subject, I wonder, or
lack of incentive in the environment, or lack of stability in himself?
For from this statue which stands in the Place du Carrousel, a gift from
the children of America, judged at least from the full-sized model
temporarily erected for the ceremony of presentation in 1900, one
receives mainly an impression of elegance. An elegance certainly
monumental; raised to the dignity of a motive and incorporated into a
fine structure of form, yet a little bit pretentious. It is as if the
sculptor had no higher purpose than to prove his capability as a
stylist. He has certainly succeeded; but the statue is more than a
trifle modish.

Bartlett had no need, however, to protest his possession of stylistic
qualities. The “Michelangelo” sufficiently proclaimed it, rivalling the
skill of technique displayed in Macmonnies’s “Shakespeare” in the same
rotunda, and displaying even greater accent of mastery, since it is the
expression of a more forceful and imaginative characterisation. It is
worth while to notice how keenly the sculptor has anticipated the
material in which the statue was to be finished. For, while marble
permits a great variety of surface effects and delicate contrasts of
light and shade, the essential suggestion of bronze is its hardness, and
consequently its special capacity is to express structure and action,
bone and muscle. In this “Michelangelo” one will find no superfluities
of detail, little insistence upon qualities of surface. A few salient
lines of planes, with incisive depth of shade here and there, suffice
for the drawing of the figure. The

[Illustration: MICHELANGELO

By Paul Weyland Bartlett

Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.]

main concern is structural, even the leather apron playing no
inconsiderable part in the strong, stalwart frugality of the whole
treatment.

This instinct for the special qualities of bronze has led Bartlett to
make experiments in what is a thoroughly characteristic method of
securing surface effect, the colouring of the metal with _patina_ of
various kinds. On several occasions he has exhibited little objects,
such as frogs and turtles, in which he seemed to have recovered some of
the secrets of Japanese art, so rich and varied were the tones of red
and brown and green, so exquisite the silky smoothness of the not too
highly polished surface. Compared with the crude effects of commercial
pickling the colour and texture of these objects was a revelation.

As to the conception of character in the “Michelangelo,” opinions seem
to differ, some finding it deficient in suggestion; as if any statue
were likely to convey to our imagination the full suggestion of the
master’s genius. Such can only be found in his own works. For myself, I
find abundance of suggestion in the rugged grandeur of the head (which
in the accompanying illustration has been unfortunately reduced in
size); a ruggedness, scarred by time and spiritual conflict with the
fever heat of supreme, unsatisfied passion; a rugged, mountain-like
head, with deepset eyes, two craters communicating with the inner
volcanic fire. I am happy in the possession of a cast of this head, have
lived with it several years, turned to it constantly with a sense of
being strengthened and purified thereby. I find, too, in the figure a
fair amount of correspondence to the character of the head. Structurally
it is strong and the attitude is that of a man completely absorbed in
the thoughts that occupy his brain. Indeed, one of the most notable
things in the composition is the entire absence of any suggestion of
preconceived pose; the figure stands in complete, unconscious isolation.
When the illusion from the front is so satisfactory it is with
repugnance that one pries behind the scenes; but this statue in its
position has to be viewed also from the rear and, so viewed, is less
dignified. The coat, fitting trimly to the waist and finishing in a
stiff skirt, again with a hint of modishness, belies the stern
simplicity of the front view. Some smaller motive has here intervened,
of historical accuracy to a little period of costume, quite out of place
in one who belongs to all subsequent ages; unreasonable, too, for we
fancy that the old hewer of marble would never have encumbered himself
with such sartorial gear, when, as here represented, he stood with
chisel in hand meditating some great conception.

But there is no satisfaction in dwelling on this point. The happier
thought is that a sculptor, still young, could have given us a work so
distinguished in technique, of so sincere and strong appeal.



VII

HERBERT ADAMS


The delicately refined sentiment of Herbert Adams, product of a
naturally sweet and modest temperament, has discovered its fittest
expression in flowers and in the flower-like forms of women and
children, influenced in its manner by decorative feeling. For he seems
to have the instinct that leads men to be naturalists; of the kind whose
gentle mind draws them into intimacy with nature’s nurslings and
frequently as well toward very tender sympathy with what is most fresh
and fragrant in humanity. Such a one studies and loves form, but less
for its organic and structural import than for its visible expression of
the spirit with which his imagination invests it; a very sensitive kind
of imagination, that must play freely or suffer some impairment of its
delicate elasticity.

From his earliest years Adams had desired to be a sculptor. He came of
an old family of good New England stock and was born at West Concord,
Vermont, in 1858, but passed his boyhood in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A
general education at the local grammar and high school was supplemented
by special studies at the Worcester Institute of Technology and the
Massachusetts Normal Art School. Then followed a period of five years in
Paris, where he studied under Mercié, the pupil of Falguière. Among the
many sculptors with whom he came in contact, he felt most strongly the
influence of these two, both natives of Toulouse, in whose art the
poetry of the south mingles with academic elegance and technical
perfection. During these years, too, he studied in the galleries and
frequented the Louvre, not only for the sculpture, but also for the
paintings.

That the latter should have attracted him may seem at first sight hardly
worth mentioning; since, indeed, no student of art, whatever his
_metier_ would be likely to escape the fascination of the paintings. But
Adams seems to have been very conscious of it then, and to look back
upon it now as one of the distinct influences of his student days. And
that painting had an influence, and a very marked one, upon his
technique and motives as a sculptor, one can scarcely doubt. His early
work shows more feeling for the harmonic rendering of light and shade
and for the decorative treatment of the surface than for the structure
and character of the form. It reveals also, especially in his busts,
that specialisation of sentiment, limited in range, very quietly intense
in kind, tinctured frequently with enigmatic suggestion, which is so
often found in Italian sculpture and painting of the fifteenth century.
That he had felt that influence has occurred to many observers of
Adams’s work; yet it was not until five years ago that he visited Italy.
Accordingly, it must have been to his studies at the Louvre that he owed
his acquaintance with Italian art; and the paintings as well as the
sculpture, perhaps as much as it, must have shaped his impressions. And
the work of the marble sculptors of the fifteenth century, of men like
Mino da Fiesole and Maiano, is strongly pictorial in character,
frequently with more of the painter quality than the sculptor, with
great regard for highly finished surfaces and delicate richness of light
and shade. They represented the higher tendencies of the thought of
their time: subtle and refined and elegantly Platonic. To some
corresponding partiality is apparently due the inclination of Adams’s
mind toward this particular expression of sculpture. For, while
sculpture responds to the most vigorous conceptions of the artist, it
lends itself also to the most sensitive idealisation; more so in a
measure than painting, since the absence of the realism of colour makes
a greater demand upon the imagination and keeps the representation more
nearly within the region of the abstract.

In order to increase the sensitiveness of the idealisation by merging it
in the vague, the refuge of the modern world from the too exacting
claims of the actual, Rodin often leaves part of his statues in the
rough. So did Michelangelo. But the Italian mind of the fifteenth
century, wedded to perfection and finish as an essential of its creed,
carried to further sensitiveness the tactile suggestion of the marble by
bringing its surface to a smoothness of polish akin to that of jade or
ivory, materials which are of peculiarly caressing appeal to the sense
of touch. The effect was also heightened by the use of colour.

The practice of colouring sculpture dates back to the earliest times
which archeological research has been able to embrace. Continuing
without interruption to the present times in Oriental countries, it was,
however, abandoned in the West. Yet the Greeks and Romans, the Gothic
artists, and those of the Italian Renaissance up to the sixteenth
century resorted to it freely. Then the practise, for some reason, fell
into disuse, and by degrees the strong prejudice against it resulted in
forgetfulness that it had ever existed among the greatest artists of
antiquity, and it was accepted as a matter of course that one of the
chief beauties of a marble statue was its whiteness, and that the
colouring of a statue was a habit only of barbarians. But in
comparatively recent times we have learned to appreciate the use of
colour by the Indians, Chinese and Japanese upon their statues and to
understand its motive, and have discovered, as I have said, that the
practice was at one time universal. Yet even now the prejudice against
it continues. Some artists object to it because the colour tends to make
less obvious to the eye their skilful nicety of technique, while among
laymen there exists a very general misunderstanding of the motive in
using colour.

They suppose that colour is added to a statue to increase its
resemblance to nature; as, indeed, would seem to be the motive in the
cheap images commercially produced for churches. But the motive of the
best artists has never been a realistic one. They have added colour,
either for decorative purposes or to enforce the idea of the statue, the
meaning that was uppermost in the artist’s mind as he fashioned it. Thus
the statue of the god and the _cella_ in which it stood were brought
into a unity of effect by colouring both, so that the divine presence
permeated the shrine. Or it might be that the latter was dimly lighted
and the greater part of the statue was plunged in mysterious obscurity,
when the artist would gild the lips and eyes that the benign smile and
the composure of the glance might shine with soft conspicuousness amid
the gloom. In both these examples artistic fitness would regulate the
use of colour both to unify the effect and to enforce the idea. So, too,
in the case of a bust, the artist may feel that there is an expression
in the eyes of the woman whose portrait he is modelling or latent in the
curve of the lips, which summarises the impression of her character as
he feels it. In his desire to emphasise the idea which he has in his
mind, he will resort to colour in the eyes or lips; he may then feel the
need of balancing notes of colour elsewhere, as in the shadows of the
hair or in the fillet which binds it or in some ornament of jewelry;
and, having gone so far, may find it desirable to complete by further
enrichments of colour the general decorative feeling that has been
produced. Very probably he will be influenced in his use of colour by
the larger decorative intention of making the bust more conformable to
its place in a room, so that instead of standing out in cold
distinctness it may merge into the warmth of surrounding colour.

[Illustration: MADONNA

By Herbert Adams

Tympanum for St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT BUST

By Herbert Adams]

Evidently actuated by such intentions, Adams has frequently resorted to
colour in portrait reliefs and busts, with so choice a feeling that they
have a quality of very rare distinction. In one case, while the form is
marble of a pinkish, creamy hue, the bodice of the dress and full-puffed
sleeves are carved in wood of a pale-cedar colour and an embroidered
band across the bosom is sprinkled with gems of lapis lazuli and green.
This last feature is handled with exquisite _finesse_, while the
character of the rest of the design is large and simple. Two of his
busts are illustrated here, and in one case there is colour treatment
and in the other the marble has been left in its purity. The former
suffers by reproduction, since the photographic process has altered the
relation between the coloured portions and the rest, giving a sharpness
of contrast to the eyes and mouth; and it is at a further disadvantage,
for the sake of comparison, because the other is an exceptionally fine
example of Adams’s work. A portrait of the artist’s wife reveals an
intimacy of sympathetic comprehension and a loving reverence of
expression that make it a quite unusual work. It is pervaded also with
an exquisite mystery of feeling, as of something beyond the artist’s and
the husband’s knowledge hidden behind the veil of the woman’s separate
existence, but a mystery the quality of which his knowledge comprehends.
For there is mystery also in the face of the other bust, but more
enigmatic; only a partial reading of the character and to the rest no
clue. While the one portrait reveals a character matured and
comprehensible, notwithstanding that its outlines merge into conjecture,
the other leaves one guessing, as do many of the old Florentine women’s
portraits.

The “Bust of the Artist’s Wife” in its melodious rendering of light and
shade illustrates very pointedly the predominance of the colour or
painter feeling over the sculptural, of expression over structure. It is
more or less felt in all Adams’s busts, and is very noticeable in low
reliefs, such as the “Hoyt Memorial” and the “Pratt Memorial” tablets,
where he followed his own promptings. But when he works in coöperation
with an architect, the latter’s influence disturbs the oneness of his
motive and draws him to considerations of the architectonic use of form,
which results in some impairment of the expression.

In the “Hoyt Memorial” two angels, floating in the air, support a tablet
with inscription. Emphasis is given to the heads and arms and, in a less
degree, to the wings; but the rest of the form is indicated little more
than is necessary to explain the arrangement of the streaming folds of
light drapery. The result is a delicate pattern of light and shade, a
decoration of sweetly refined imagination, corresponding with the
gracious refinement of the expression in the faces. A similar
appreciation fits the “Pratt Memorial Angel” which he modelled for the
Baptist Emmanuel Church in Brooklyn, although the figure is in the
round. In the “Pratt Memorial” tablet, executed some years later, Adams
reveals how exquisitely he can use flower forms as motive for
decoration. The design forms the border of a long, narrow panel. At the
top is a winged head, symbolising the Angel of the Resurrection, and at
the foot a head without wings, representing the Sleep of Death. The
latter is enfolded with poppy-flowers and leaves, these forms being
carried up the sides of the panel, until at the middle distance they
become interspersed with lily-forms which finally assert themselves at
the top. The modelling is in very low relief with the exception of the
heads, to the lower of which a modest emphasis is given, while to the
upper a much stronger one. Both these faces are very beautiful, the
expression being chiefly centred in the eyes. The lids in the one case
are half-raised, as in the act of awakening before consciousness has
fully dawned; in the other lying as softly over the eyeballs as folded
petals. The exquisite chastity and serenity of these ripe, rounded faces
are echoed in the floral borders; so richly patterned, yet with such
reserve and tender piquancy. And, in contrast with the usual tedious
reiteration of time-wearied ornamental motives, how refreshing the
novelty and imagination in these borders! The artist has gone to nature
for his models, and, while reproducing the character of Renaissance
ornaments, has used the natural forms with so delicate an exuberance of
fancy that no motive is repeated, the whole being quick with fragrant
and fresh appeal. Indeed, so far as my knowledge goes, no plastic
decoration has been produced in this country which can approach it in
beauty; perhaps not even in the actual beauty of the ornamental forms,
certainly not in the sentiment of pure and holy calm which it exhales.

Nor even in other decorations by Adams shall we find, I think, such
perfect harmony between the form and feeling, for in his other examples
he was working with divided mind. While the floral borders upon the pair
of bronze doors which he executed for the Library of Congress are
intrinsically as beautiful as these, displaying the same freshness of
invention and loving insight into the decorative suggestion of flowers,
they have not the same perfectly balanced relation to the character and
feeling of the whole design. The artist was dragged from his own poise
by two outside influences. The doors had been commenced by Olin Warner,
and before his death the figures in the panels had been planned and
partly executed. Adams was called upon to complete the work and strove
loyally to preserve as much as possible of the dead artist’s intention.
Consequently, the figures are neither his nor Warner’s. Moreover, the
planning of the doors had been originally the architect’s, and he, too,
made his influence felt in the direction of a predilection for the
profuse exuberance of Roman ornament. With this Adams has absolutely no
sympathy, his own tendency being toward an ardent nature-study purified
by the influence of the antique which prevailed among Florentines of the
fifteenth century. Therefore, again he was twisted from what he would
have done instinctively. Compared with his independent work in the
“Pratt Memorial” tablet, these doors are overloaded and lacking in
singleness and unity of motive. Yet with what devotion Adams worked! The
process of casting in the bronze could only reproduce the front surface
of his decoration; the undercutting of the leaves and tendrils had to
be executed afterward with a graving tool, and for weeks he
superintended the work. Viewed in detail, the borders in these doors are
unusually alive with beauty, but, as I have said, the _ensemble_ is
lacking in the crowning beauty of harmony of form and feeling.

He has recently completed a tympanum in marble and two bronze doors for
the Vanderbilt Memorial Entrance, which has been added to St.
Bartholomew’s Church in New York. Here, again, he coöperated with the
architect. Such coöperation necessarily imposes certain conditions upon
the sculptor’s imagination; I had almost written limitations or
restrictions, except that the necessity of having to conform to an
architectonic plan need be no bar to the freedom of imagination, but
merely directs it into a certain channel. It permits, indeed, a liberty
within the law; but this is not the sort of coöperation that has existed
between the sculptor and architect on the present occasion. The latter
has not only established the architectural plan of the design--a
geometrical arrangement of bands and spaces which presents a very
agreeable _ensemble_ and nice apportionment of graduated emphasis--but
has also imposed upon the sculptor the character of his decoration. The
church is a modern rendering of the Romanesque style;

[Illustration: BUST OF THE ARTIST’S WIFE

By Herbert Adams]

therefore, the architect has sought the models for the decoration in
medieval sculpture of the eleventh or early twelfth century. It is a
characteristic example of the way in which the American architectural
mind frequently works. Such a course is so obvious and reasonable, yet
what a meagerness of imagination it displays! It has mastered the
“styles” and lives up to its tables of laws and formulas as rigidly, as
literally and with as little regard for their spirit as the Jews of old
clung to their Decalogue. It dare not, or cannot, rekindle the spirit of
the past with an infusion of the present, as has been done in all living
periods of architecture, but to commemorate a New Yorker of the
nineteenth century, reproduces the ungainly types of figures, fashioned
at a time when architecture was better understood than sculpture. So in
the principal panels of the doors the architect has arranged four
apostles--rude, formalistic figures, too short in the leg--and filled
the subordinate ovals with dry little rigid groups; succeeding in his
desire to remind us of the past and failing utterly to affect us in the
present. For what possible appeal, religious, emotional or esthetic, can
these groups make to the modern imagination? Yet, from the point of view
of the subject we are discussing, the saddest thing is that a sculptor
of “delicately imagined sensations” should be so distorted from the
true bent of his genius and compelled to exert ingenuity in lieu of
imagination. It is an incredible waste, for only in the borders can we
discover Adams’s real self; yet, if he had been permitted to work in a
reasonable liberty of imagination, he might have made the groups
conformable to the style of the building and possessed also of some
vital elements of beauty and of beautiful appeal.

One effect, however, of this unequal coöperation with the architect
which may bring some compensating benefit to Adams’s art has been that
his mind has been directed more than previously to the architectonics of
decoration and to the sculptural value of form. For, while the figures
in these doors have no individual interest, the sum total of the whole
decoration has a very marked structural dignity, which arouses one’s
respect, if it does not warm one to enthusiasm. And this enforcement of
the structural quality reappears even more conspicuously in the
tympanum, both in the increased sense of force which the figures convey,
and in the organic relation of the forms to the shape of the space and
to its architectural function.

For, as I have said before, Adams’s work does not usually impress one
by its qualities of form, but rather by its sentiment and expression.
Even in the portrait-statue of Joseph Henry in the Library of Congress
and the “Channing,” recently unveiled at Boston, one does not feel the
form and character of the bodies. Both figures are represented in gowns
and count mainly as decorative masses. In the statue of Richard Smith,
however, which is one of his latest, he has shown the professor in his
laboratory, clad in shirt and trousers, with no accessory except an
apron caught up on one side; and in the treatment of the head and body
and more especially in the carriage of the hands, as one holds a
specimen and the other a magnifying glass, has obtained a considerable
measure of structural character.

Nor do I forget the tympanum, executed in 1896, for the Senate
Reading-Room in the Library of Congress, a design of two mermaids
supporting a cartouche. The nude forms display a thorough knowledge of
the figure and a truly sculptural appreciation of the charm of muscular
movement rippling over firmly constructed bodies. It seems to prove, if
it were necessary, that the preference which Adams has shown for the
pictorial possibilities of sculpture is due only to his particular
temperament; to a reticence of feeling that shrinks from too exact an
expression of the idea, around which in his own imagination also he
preserves a certain zone of vagueness.

So, in the tympanum for Saint Bartholomew’s Church, illustrated on an
accompanying page, he is divided between the motives of expressing a
sentiment of tender adoration and of giving the figures at the same time
an architectonic force. In the latter direction we may feel that he has
been the more successful; for in the attention paid to form he seems to
have become preoccupied in the model. The same face appears in each of
the three figures and with a self-consciousness in the eyes that
contradicts the devotional expression of the mouth; a self-consciousness
that I find myself connecting with the little niceties of arrangement
with which the hair is prinked. I conclude by wondering if this tympanum
will prove a turning-point in the artist’s career!

For when one studies the beauty of form, so strongly realised beneath
the draperies, its fine expression and functional propriety, it is to
feel that this work, despite a certain lack of Adams’s usual
spirituality of sentiment, is the most important in a sculptural sense
that he has yet done. For, regarded from the point of view of an
architectural decoration it is unusually distinguished with admirable
appropriateness of lines and masses to the space, a truly architectural
feeling, and a distribution of light and shade, characterised alike by
richness and by delicacy. It has the choiceness of style of his best
portraits, reënforced by virility. And, if this latter quality, called
into play by his coöperation with the architect, is maintained in future
work, the result can scarcely fail to be a betterment of his art. For he
will find a way of bringing it into complete harmony with the expression
of his sentiment, since there is no necessary incompatibility between
virility of style and delicacy of feeling. Indeed, the offspring of
their union is a very special poignancy.



VIII

CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS


Charles Henry Niehaus is a conspicuous exception to the general rule
that our sculptors are Paris-trained. After working as a youth at
wood-engraving, stone-cutting and carving in marble, he became a student
in the McMicken School of Design, in his native city, Cincinnati, Ohio,
and thence proceeded to Munich. His German training was supplemented by
extensive travel and later by a prolonged visit to Rome, during which he
devoted himself to the study of the nude under the influence of the
antique.

But before the latter interlude in a life otherwise filled with the
execution of commissions, he returned to America. For him the time was
auspicious. President Garfield had recently been assassinated, and the
State of Ohio had appropriated funds for a statue to be placed in the
Capitol at Washington, and by public subscription another was to be
erected in Race Street, Cincinnati. Both these commissions were awarded
to the young Ohio sculptor. Each statue commemorates Garfield’s gift of
oratory, but the one at Cincinnati in a more informal way, so that it
probably represents very fairly Niehaus’s particular tendency at this
time.

There is a dramatic touch in the pose of the figure; the weight firmly
on the left foot, the other energetically advanced; both arms extended;
one holding a sheaf of paper, the other raised slightly in a gesture of
maintaining the attention of the audience; the handsome head well
carried above the broad, arched chest. But this dramatic suggestion does
not pass beyond the limit of tolerably natural characterisation; the
balance between energy and controlling force, manifested in the studied
carriage of a speaker accustomed to move his hearers; and the naturalism
is completed by the absence of all affectations of arrangement in the
costume. It comprises simply a frock coat and trousers and an overcoat
unbuttoned and drawn clear of the chest. The figure, indeed, is
represented in the guise and attitude in which it might be familiar to
the greatest number of people. So, too, is that of William Allen, for
which Niehaus shortly afterward received the commission from the State
of Ohio; yet with even greater simplicity and naturalness, with an
absence of the heroic or dramatic which had been fitting enough in the
“Garfield,” considering the circumstances. The “Allen” is an intimate
portrait of an incisive speaker and clear, close reasoner, in an
attitude entirely unstudied, full of natural resolution.

From these two statues one may get a very fair impression of the
sculptor’s natural bent as influenced by Munich training. Its prime
feature is a vigorous realism that makes straight for character in the
subject, finding it as much in pose and gesture as in the head, and
giving expression to it in the simplest and directest fashion; if with
some dramatic play as we have seen, yet without any floridness. What we
do not yet observe is a feeling for the subtler expression of movement
in the figure, and, in consequence, of subtler feeling in the
disposition and texture of the draperies; qualities which entered into
his work after his protracted study in Italy.

For, having completed these commissions, Niehaus set out for Rome and
established himself in a studio just outside the Porta del Popolo, in
close proximity to the Villa Borghese, devoting himself, as I have said,
to the study of the nude. The only three statues which survive from this
period--an athlete scraping himself with a strigil, another binding on
the cestus, and a “Silenus,” pirouetting on one foot as he blows his
pipes--are quite remarkable examples of the modern interpretation of
the antique. Movement continuous through every part of the body and
absolutely adjusted to the action; a poise of balance in the disposition
of the torso and limbs, which combines the pleasure of repose with that
of movement; anatomical accuracy that includes the structure of the
figure and the varieties of tension according as the muscles are
separately employed; and throughout a salience of modelling which
imparts a dignity as well as naturalness to the whole--these are the
qualities so admirably attained. The knowledge of form and the feeling
for it thus perfected has naturally influenced all the sculptor’s
subsequent work. He exhibits them obviously in the colossal nude, “The
Driller,” executed for the Drake monument at Titusville, Pennsylvania;
but no less in numerous portrait-statues.

An American sculptor has unfortunately few opportunities for displaying
his ability in the treatment of the nude, the commissions which perforce
engage his time being almost exclusively problems of figures in modern
civilian garb or in the uniform of the army or navy. He may occasionally
introduce it into a piece of decorative sculpture, or fashion some ideal
subject for the pure love of doing it, since his chances of disposing

[Illustration: THE DRILLER

By Charles Henry Niehaus

From the Drake Monument, Titusville, Pennsylvania]

[Illustration: THE HAHNEMANN STATUE

By Charles Henry Niehaus

From the Hahnemann Memorial, Washington, D. C.]

of it are very limited. For while the old Puritan objection to the nude
may have almost died out in America, it has scarcely been succeeded by a
true appreciation of the abstract expression and beauty of the human
form when treated by an artist. An old-fashioned bluntness of vision
fails to see more in a nude than nakedness; may enjoy very thoroughly
the structural and muscular development, play of movement and texture of
skin in a horse, or the analogies of these qualities in a tree or plant,
and yet miss entirely their subtler manifestations when exhibited in the
freely exposed human form. Prejudice or lack of imagination obscures the
fact that it is the expression of these qualities in their highest
possible degree, that is the end and purpose of the artist; an
obscurity, however, which, it must be admitted, not a few nude paintings
and sculptures tend to perpetuate.

So Niehaus had to wait very many years before he could utilise frankly
the results of his studies at Rome. The opportunity came with the
erection of a monument to the memory of Colonel Edwin L. Drake, who sunk
the first oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859. The donor, who preserved his
incognito, but who is supposed to have been one of the officials of the
Standard Oil Company, demanded an architectural structure with planes
on which the story of Drake’s life and achievements might be inscribed,
and instead of a representation of himself a figure typical of his work.
Thus arose occasion for “The Driller.”

It would be well if public monuments were more frequently of this
typical character. Our cities and parks are peopled in bronze, not as
much as possible to their embellishment. By all means hand down the
effigies of great and worthy men; but why not with more regard for the
really salient thing, the head, introduced as bust or bas-relief, and
with less for the frock coat and trousers, the cut of which can be taken
on trust or, better still, forgotten? Instead of demanding such prosaic
record, how much better it would be to call upon the sculptor to create
out of his imagination some subject that may represent or symbolise the
greatness of the hero and appeal to the imagination of succeeding
generations, meanwhile gladdening all who pass and repass it daily with
its essential beauties. Have you not seen a trousered, frock-coated
statue against the pedestal of which are a row of seats and sitters with
their back to the man that is to be remembered? Substitute, however, for
example, a fountain to his memory; and in parched summer weather, at
least, all eyes would be turned toward its refreshment, and possibly
some hearts reminded of the man in whose honour it was placed; who, if
he were fit to be remembered, must have brought in his lifetime some
refreshment and stimulus of suggestion to his fellowmen. So with our
battalions of generals, mounted and unmounted, scattered over the
country. Great men they were, but there was greatness also in the
volunteers of the rank and file; and I for one shall continue to find
more incentive to enthusiasm in the recognition of this in the Shaw
Memorial than in dozens of solitary individuals. Once more, it is
imagination in which we are wont to be lacking; and the best that is in
our artists is seldom called forth because of our insistence upon the
obvious and trite.

“The Driller,” therefore, was an unusual opportunity for Niehaus, of
which he has made characteristic use. That is to say, the realism of the
figure as it kneels with hammer uplifted to drive the drill into the
ground, is admirably true, while the figure has a classic dignity of
composition; and its expression of control, as well as of the putting
forth of force, brings it within the domain of ideal beauty. In some
groups which were among the ephemeral sculpture of the Pan-American
Exposition he also freely introduced the nude, in a number of figures
symbolising various kinds of industry. Individually they were
excellent, but the combined effect was unfortunate. The composition as a
whole lacked cohesion and dignity, representing little more than an
aggregation of figures, separately employed; so that one missed the
idealising touch and found their realism of the crudely, story-telling
kind.

And this last characteristic--I do not know whether it is a symptom of
German _genre_ feeling derived from Munich--reappears elsewhere in his
work. While his statues are strongly sculptural, his bas-reliefs betray
not only a very pictorial feeling, but that particular _genre_ phase of
it which is mainly occupied with enforcement of the facts. Not, however,
in his earliest work of the kind, the historical doors of Trinity
Church, New York, in which the representation of incidents was demanded.
These he represented very realistically, but with a regard for the
decorative charm of full and empty spaces and of receding planes of
distance. Compared with the pictorial _nuance_ displayed in these six
panels, the treatment of the four which embellish the Hahnemann monument
is very deficient in artistic imagination. They represent the founder of
homeopathy in a series of scenes which are baldly illustrative and seem
to have little interest of subject and still less of decorative value.
Yet they are affixed to a monument setting off a portrait-statue which
is Niehaus’s finest work, and equalled by few others in the country. The
expression of benign dignity in the head flows through the whole length
of the figure, which is disposed in lines that are as suave as they are
noble. From every point of view it has the grandeur of monumental
repose, softened, one might almost say humanised, by this exquisite
winding movement. Among modern portrait-statues I can remember few that
make so sweet and serious an impression. In the composition of this
figure one can trace unmistakably the effect of the sculptor’s close
study of the antique, not only in the suppleness of movement and
statuesqueness of pose, but also in the abstract appeal to one’s
esthetic enjoyment that the composition of the figure yields. Moreover,
this freedom, force and sensitiveness extend to the handling of the
drapery, in which every fold has a grace of naturalness and also a value
of expression. These qualities are again happily united in the sitting
statue of Lincoln at Muskegon, Michigan. While it is neither so forceful
nor so persuasive as the “Hahnemann,” it yet has a liberal measure of
graciousness and dignity and a finely monumental feeling.

In these statues and in some others, as in the Gibbon in the Library of
Congress and, though perhaps by more apparently contrived means, in the
standing statue of Stephen Girard, Niehaus obtains from the composition
of the single figure a degree of decorative effect which seems to fail
him in treating groups. Thus the pediment of the Appellate Court, New
York, while good in detail, is without much unity or harmonious feeling.
It is, indeed, in the portrayal of character--as in his fine,
straightforward rendering of Farragut, or in those striking busts of
Rabbi Gottheil and of Ward, the sculptor, and in the statues already
noticed, wherein the pose and drapery, besides contributing to the
character, yield an additional suggestion of monumental dignity--that he
is at his best.



IX

OLIN LEVI WARNER


In these days when we are trying to raise “artists,” as we do chickens,
by a process akin to incubation, we regard it as an anomaly if one
emerges to eminence from surroundings which, according to our system, do
not seem congenial. And people have expressed surprise that Warner, the
child of a New England Methodist minister, brought up in a community
which had no artistic inclinations, should have made up his mind to
become a sculptor before he had ever seen a statue. But the history of
art is full of such surprises; and the thoughts of youth are ever like
the wind, “which bloweth where it listeth; thou canst not tell whence it
cometh or whither it goeth.” The greater and more beautiful surprise is
that the boy had foundation of character on which to nourish the flowers
of his imagination, and that when in after years they were matured, it
was found that he had kept them so choicely select, that their fragrance
was not unlike that of the flowers which in old time bloomed on the
hills of Hellas. Something of the old Greek spirit had been revived in
this son of Connecticut: intellectual stability, moral balance and
spiritual serenity. Presently we shall consider how these qualities
became translated into terms of art in his work--into a feeling for
form, monumental rather than picturesque, a rhythmical and harmonious
reserve, a peculiar sensitiveness to the significance of the essential
facts in the design--but at the moment let us note how they affected his
early conduct.

By the time that he left school at the age of nineteen, the desire of
being a sculptor had so grown upon him as to press for a decision.
Accordingly he arranged for himself a test. He would attempt a bust of
his father, and thus determine once and for all the “to be or not to be”
of his ambition. So, in ignorance of the easier way by which sculptors
proceed, he bought some plaster of Paris, converted it into a block, and
set to work with a knife. His only notion of art was to produce a good
likeness, and in this he succeeded. The bust was exhibited and commended
at the State Fair, and Warner felt that his cherished wish was
justified. But the deliberation which had characterised the choice of a
profession was followed by an equal seriousness in determining the means
of attaining it. He could not have known that sculpture in America at
that time was in a poor way; he had, in fact, no acquaintance even with
the mediocre kinds of statue; but the old-fashioned, New England
conscience within him viewed the matter very earnestly. Already he felt
a reverence for the work to which he was to devote his life, and that
the best of preparations must be made. He would seek it in Paris. But he
had no funds nor could his father spare them, so he quietly laid aside
his longings and proceeded to earn the necessary money. Mastering the
trade of telegraph operator, he pursued it for six years, not, as may be
supposed, without some ultimate benefit to the facility and delicacy of
his manipulation. At length, with his savings of $1,500 he started for
Paris. This was in 1869, when he was twenty-five years of age.

Arriving in the great city without introduction, friends or knowledge of
the language, he made his way to the Louvre. Here were students busy
copying; fellows such as he meant to be, and he was drawn toward them,
wandering from easel to easel, until upon the woodwork of one he espied
a name, “Arthur Wilson.” He ventured to address the owner and tell him
of his quest, and was directed to a studio occupied by two young
sculptors, an American and an Englishman. With them he studied for nine
months, until, through the influence of United States Minister
Washburne, he was admitted to the École des Beaux Arts. Here he worked
in the studio of François Jouffroy, where he had the benefit of
associating with such artists as Falguière, an older pupil of the
master, and with Falguière’s pupil, Mercié, a man of his own age. Both
of these artists had broken away from the master’s severely academic
style and were tempering their own with the life and movement of the new
naturalistic tendencies. Warner also in modelling from nature incurred
the old master’s strictures, because his sturdy individualism refused to
lend itself to conventional methods; but, on the other hand, his studies
from the antique were commended. In time, however, his funds were
exhausted, and, having to find employment, he entered as an ordinary
workman the studio of Carpeaux, the strongest decorative sculptor in
France since Rude, whose pupil he had been. Warner’s ability was
recognised by the master, and he received the great compliment of an
invitation to remain and study in the studio. But he declined, being
eager by this time to return home.

The years of studentship had been diversified by the thrilling events of
the Siege of Paris and the Commune. Warner in his own country had
experienced the war-fever, and, eager to join the Army of the Republic
as a drummer-boy, had been dissuaded by his father, who during the
stormy days of the Civil War carried him off to a quiet spot among the
Vermont hills, that he might continue his studies. So, when the empire
fell and a republic was established, he regarded the action of the
Germans in continuing the war as an attack upon liberty, and enlisted
with many of his comrades in the Foreign Legion. But his duties were
confined to mounting guard upon the fortifications.

When, in 1872, Warner returned to New York it was to suffer the hard
experience of disillusionment. In Paris he had found art occupying a
prominent position in the public and private life of the community,
artists honoured and encouraged by the State and his own ability
acknowledged by some of the masters of his craft. He returned to his
native country to find a prevailing ignorance concerning art; to find
the trained artist competing for jobs with the commercial stonecutter
and metal-worker, the competitions decided more by political favoritism
and wire-pulling than by artistic merit; to find, indeed, that he was
transplanting the delicate growth of his ideals from a congenial soil to
what was, artistically speaking, very much of an arid and howling
wilderness. These words are scarcely too strong to express the
conditions of the field of art in this country more than a quarter of a
century ago, before the Centennial Exhibition had sounded the tocsin of
an improved taste; before the students of art had begun to return in
numbers from the foreign schools, and schools of art in this country had
been put upon a better basis; before the importation of all sorts of
works of art from Europe and the East, and the travel of our own people
abroad had become so extensive; before the spread of interest and
knowledge which all these causes operated to produce. Even now the slime
of politics is very apt to foul the fair working of competitions, and it
is often difficult for a sculptor, unless he is at the very top of his
profession, to secure a public commission without some degree of
wire-pulling. But in 1872, when the factories kept on hand a stock of
military statues, complete in every particular except the number of the
regiment--which was riveted on to suit the requirements of the intending
purchasing committee--the outlook for an unknown artist with high
ideals, clean of purpose, who reverenced his profession as his life, was
dark indeed. Warner held hunger and despair at arm’s length for four
years, and

[Illustration: BUST OF DANIEL COTTIER

By Olin Levi Warner]

[Illustration: CUPID AND PSYCHE

By Olin Levi Warner]

then decided that he had better return to his trade of telegraph
operator.

So he wrote to Mr. Plant, the president of the Southern Express Company,
with whom he had previously been employed, asking for a position. This
gentleman, however, learning the circumstances of the case, met them
with a commission for a portrait-bust of himself, followed by one of
Mrs. Plant. About this time, too, Warner made the acquaintance of Mr.
Daniel Cottier, who had recently opened a gallery for the display of the
objects of art which he was importing, and now invited the sculptor to
make an exhibition of his works. This proved to be the turning-point of
his affairs; commissions began to come in with increasing frequency,
until he was fully engaged upon a number of important works. He was
elected a full member of the National Academy, and was one of the
original group of painters and sculptors who founded the Society of
American Artists.

In the too short period left to him before his sudden death in 1896,
which resulted from a bicycle accident in Central Park, New York, he
produced a variety of works of high merit. They comprise portrait-busts,
among the best of which are those of Daniel Cottier, Alden Weir, W. C.
Brownell and Miss Maud Morgan; three heroic statues, representing,
respectively: Governor Buckingham of Connecticut, William Lloyd Garrison
and General Devens; fountains for Union Square, New York, and for
Portland, Oregon; many medallion portraits, including some of Indian
Chiefs; ideal subjects, “Twilight,” “The Dancing Nymph” and “Diana”; an
alto-relievo of “Cupid and Psyche” and one of the sets of bronze doors
for the Library of Congress at Washington. In all these works, covering
so wide a range of motive, there is present a union of monumental
feeling with extreme sensitiveness, which gives them in a marked degree
the sculpturesque character and invests them with a singular
individuality.

I shall never forget the impression made on me by a memorial exhibition,
held in 1897, of a considerable number of his busts and medallions and
of the “Psyche.” It may sound a little incongruous, but they suggested
the impression that a highly bred, finely trained race-horse makes upon
the imagination; an intensity of force and suppleness, nothing
superfluous, everything expressive of its function, the whole an
embodiment of keen vitality, of power and grace. There was a similarly
high-bred feeling in these heads, the sign-manual of an unusually keen
perception of facts and of a most refined sensibility in the rendering
of them. I doubt if anywhere in modern art, except in that of Rodin,
will you find busts of such vital power. They exhibit the same regard
for the structural significance of the head; something more than the
suggestion of form and bulk--a rich, strong, jubilant recognition of
these facts as the ones of peculiar interest to the sculptor, offering
him the opportunity of indulging his especial delight. They exhibit
also, as do Rodin’s, the same delicately precise handling of details:
like the obligato which a musician composes upon his basic theme, yet
with a different range of motive. Warner’s work does not reveal the
psychological analysis of Rodin’s; the penetrating, almost troublous
intensity of his bust of Dalou, for example. He is scarcely less keen or
subtle in his analysis than the French master, but studies the ripple of
flesh above the muscles, the tremor or fold of an eyelid, the curves of
nose or mouth, the disposition of the hair, with a pure delight in their
expressional force or grace. He views the head as a type rather than as
an individuality, and seeks to extract from it the essence of its
character. It is in this respect, among others, that he shows himself to
be imbued with the kind of spirit that animated the Greeks. As compared
with Rodin, whose vision grasps the complexities of modern emotion and
the underlying sadness of an age that has come late in time and whose
energy is enclosed in a frail web of nerves, Warner is a child-man, with
a man’s reserve and poise, and a child’s unsophisticated eagerness of
eye and its pure delight in beauty and the joy of living.

And this strain of the Greek temperament in sculpture is a very
different thing from the motive of the so-called “classic” school. The
latter drew its primary inspiration from Roman sculpture, in a search
for something supposedly heroic, that would fit the genius of the new
republicanism which had arisen out of the chaos of the Revolution. It
was at first grandiloquent, but, growing senile, fell to babbling of the
abstract beauty of line and form, always without direct reference to
nature and gradually with the increased formalism that grew from the
perpetuation of certain arbitrary rules and precedents. Such “classic”
statues, when they are the work of a master, have their beauty, but it
is inert, without the thrill of life; when the work of a mere
practitioner, they are unspeakably jejune and paltry. Both kinds are
alike in their divorce from nature-study, from the inspiration which it
gives to an intimate appreciation of line and form. They will not show
the fluidity of line, the delicate surprises of curve, the infinite
subtleties of modelling that invite caress, the texture and quality of
flesh, nor the mingling of firm and supple in the form, the pliant
movement adjusted to the action of the figure--in a word, the stir of
life within the material. Warner gives us this sensation and with so
choice an instinct for the exact point at which the naturalism should
melt into plastic immobility, with a love so keen and unalloyed for the
manifestations of nature and in a spirit so seriously jocund, that we
recognise, as I have said, his affinity with the old Greek ideal.

We may trace it also in his feeling for the monumental rather than for
the picturesque; for those qualities in sculpture which belong to it
preëminently, as opposed to those which it derives by analogy from
painting. It appears in the alto-relievo, “Cupid and Psyche,” most
conspicuously, because the subject might have been treated differently.
The modern sculptor, working from the background to the front plane by
repeated superlayers of clay, can introduce a variety of subtly
differentiated planes, and may become absorbed in this composition of
light and shade, producing an effect which we can describe as full of
colour and which is exceedingly beautiful. The artist of old time,
however, graving the marble, wood or metal, started with the form of
the figures under his hand, absorbed himself in them and regarded the
open spaces of his composition, when he reached them, simply as a
background. Instead of a quasi-pictorial subtlety of light and shade he
strove for a purely sculptural tangibility of modelled form. It is this
insistence upon form which is so conspicuous in the “Psyche”; in the
contrast between the child’s podgy softness and the maiden’s long,
lithe, firm figure.

This principle, applied to decoration, is most successfully represented
in the artist’s last completed work, the bronze doors of the Library of
Congress. In the lunette-shaped spaces above the doors the figures are
in very high relief, and the background is modelled with forms of
mountains and clouds, producing an effect of great richness, while upon
each valve of the door is a single figure in low relief; the flesh parts
having an emphasis of roundness, the draperies being flattened, yet
amply indicating the dignity of the form beneath. The left-hand figure
with the lyre (how I wish that it were possible to reproduce it here!)
is supremely beautiful in its poise between life and art, in its
exquisite rhythm of lines and in the alternate ebb and flow of the
planes of surface.

But it was in his rendering of the nude that Warner exhibited the
loveliest qualities of his art. He viewed it, as one views a flower,
with single vision for its exquisite abstract beauty. Flower-like and
fragrant, the “Psyche,” the “Dancing Nymph” and “Diana,” have the
quivering sensibility of contour that one finds in the free growth of
nature; united, however, to a firmness of texture and strength of
structure and to a conscious play of movement, responding to the play of
spirit, which in their perfect alliance are only to be found in the
human form. The spirit which animates these figures is, of course, the
sculptor’s, and it reveals itself most choicely in the serenity of the
“Diana,” in the suspense between absolute repose and projected movement.
For the figure seems about to rise; the carriage of the head and body
alike suggest the activity inherent in the languor. One may believe that
in the precision of beauty displayed in this statue, in the complete
adjustment, that is to say, of every one of its qualities of beauty to
the supreme idea of discovering that imaginary line upon which life
merges into art, the mobile into the immobile, Warner reached most
nearly his ideal. For in his busts and heroic statues, as in the
fountains and decorative subjects, he was more or less constrained to a
point of view. But in his nudes, and particularly in this one, the
product of his maturity, he could work in the full liberty of his
imagination. And the latter is found to be the ideal expression of those
qualities of character which I have already attributed to him:
intellectual stability, moral balance and spiritual serenity.

The singularly choice discretion which governed Warner’s appreciation of
form is shown equally in his Portland fountain: a circular bowl with
broad, flat brim, supported upon a rectangular pedestal and balanced by
two caryatides. The design is almost severely simple, yet tempered with
a grace of fitness in every detail, so chaste and noble as to produce an
impression of perfect repose. It has, indeed, just that suggestion of
being firmly rooted, of strong growth upward and of natural spread at
the top, which exactly befits its architectural character, while in the
contour and details it is as delicate as a lily.

We have traced this feeling for the monumental side of sculpture in
Warner’s reliefs, where it is revealed in the thoroughly plastic
treatment of form, so that it quivers on the edge between immobility and
life; in his fountain, that presents a conspicuous immobility quickened
with animation, and in his busts, wherein the form

[Illustration: DIANA

By Olin Levi Warner]

is made the foundation of lifelike character. It remains to note how
this last combination is carried to its highest conclusions in his
heroic statues.

A standing figure could scarcely be planted on its feet or mount with
more inevitableness of free, strong growth than the statue of General
Devens, while in the carriage of the whole body, more especially in that
of the alert, intellectual head, the type of the citizen-officer is
convincingly expressed. But a sitting figure offers a more complicated
problem, owing to the number and variety of planes which it presents and
to the necessity of harmonising these contrasted items into a completely
balanced _ensemble_. Warner, in the statue of Garrison, has united such
a variety of lineal directions and opposing planes into a stately,
stable mass; has mingled with the dignity of repose an energy of
character and gesture all the more impressive that it is kept in
control, and has made every detail of movement respond to the suppressed
fire of character in the head. The latter is modelled with a touch as
tenderly appreciative as will be found in any of his busts or reliefs,
so that this statue of the great abolitionist, perhaps the most
important work of his career, sums up the diverse characteristics of his
art.

How noble that was in sentiment and expression, how thoughtfully taken
up and with what a loving gravity pursued, even the least of his works
declare.



X

SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM


It was five years ago that Solon H. Borglum was first represented at the
Salon; he also received a silver medal at the Universal Exposition of
1900 and another at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo; quite
recently a fuller display of his work has been seen at the Keppel
Gallery in New York. Yet, although he is probably the most original
sculptor that this country has produced, he is still but little known to
the American public.

It may seem strange that a people with such eagerness for novelty should
in some cases be so slow to appreciate originality. But there is no
necessary connection between the two; indeed, the pleasure in novelty
may easily pass into a craving for it, as enfeebling to the mind as the
habitual use of drug or dram; whereas the recognition of originality
demands some independence and original effort on the part of ourselves.
Again, originality does not act by blind jumps in midair, as in that
species of dream with which some of us may be familiar, wherein we find
ourselves midway in a leap, and then, by successive contractions of the
muscles, seem to continue our leaps in the air until we fancy that we
are flying. The leap of originality must always commence from some
mental _terra firma_--conscious or unconscious experience; and,
according as there is in ourselves some degree of corresponding
experience, shall we appreciate or at least be impressed by the
originality of the inventor and the artist; of the creator, in a word,
whether he deals in facts or in ideas. For this reason the creator of
facts meets with readier recognition than the creator of ideas. Marconi,
for example, though he deals with matters far beyond the understanding
of most people, nevertheless appeals to their imagination through their
habitual, though it may be unscientific, acquaintance with the previous
methods of telegraphic communication. So, in the case of every creator
in the domain of practical experiment; either he meets a realised need
or quickly suggests a need through the analogy of our every-day
experience.

On the other hand, the creator of ideas must be satisfied with a smaller
following, at least at first, and at any rate with slower appreciation.
Yet here, too, there are degrees of slowness, according to the medium
of expression which he employs. Of all such artists, he who works in
words will reach the people most quickly, since this is an age of words,
especially of the written word.

The public eye is habituated to the printed page; though, truly, not so
much in search of ideas or for suggestive stimulus to thought, but
rather to the loss of independent thinking and to the smothering of the
imagination in a banal prodigality of detailed statements. In the palmy
days of painting and sculpture it was to them that the eye was
habituated, and the impressions thus received were informed with the
experience and the imagination of each observer. We, however, in the
superiority of our modern education, run our eye over a painting or
piece of sculpture to discover what there is in either that is
convertible into words, and overlook the qualities which affect the
senses abstractly, which are indeed the bones and marrow and very
physiognomy of the work of art, its distinguishing characteristics and
capacity to move us. And this powerlessness to enter into a work of art
from the artist’s point of view deprives us of all independence and
initiative of appreciation. When a gap has been made by some bell-wether
in the hedge of stubborn intolerance which public opinion had set round
the art of a Rodin, we take our turn in the long row of sheep that
follow each other’s tails through the gap and fancy that we are
discoverers and appreciators of genius. Small wonder, then, if one of
our own prophets, merely a young sculptor of America, should still be
waiting for honour in his own country.

Yet it is here, if anywhere, that Borglum’s work should be appreciated,
since it is American to the core, dealing with the incidents of cowboy
life on the western prairies. Others have essayed the same subject, but
rather from an outside standpoint with technical equipment derived from,
or at least inspired by, the teaching of the Parisian schools. Borglum,
on the other hand, knew from childhood the inside of the life, was
himself a cowboy, and for a long time with no thought of anything but
the joy and interest of the life itself. Least of all had he any notions
about art. The free, open-air existence amid spaciousness of earth and
sky; the recurring seasons, each with its separate routine of necessary
work, demanding the exercise of vigour, resourcefulness and courage;
intimacy with man and animal life, and sympathy begotten of mutual
hardships and frequent dangers--these things possessed him, and in the
vast silence of nature

[Illustration: COWBOY MOUNTING

By Solon Hannibal Borglum]

[Illustration: LOST IN A BLIZZARD (marble)

By Solon Hannibal Borglum]

penetrated silently the fibers of his being. He grew and grew
unconsciously; his manhood matured before the artist in him awoke; his
mind stored with experiences before the need came upon him of
expression.

The dormant artistic instinct was an inheritance from his father, a
Danish wood-carver, who had migrated to this country early in the
sixties. He settled in Ogden, Utah, where Solon was born in 1868; but he
found no encouragement for his craft and, resolving to become a doctor,
turned back to St. Louis, took a degree in medicine, and then
established himself in Fremont, Nebraska, where his practice soon
extended far into the prairies. He kept many horses, and the son grew up
among them, with little inclination for school studies and a keen desire
for the open-air life. At first he worked as a cowboy on a ranch of his
father’s; later assumed control of a larger one, where for a number of
years he lived in that close companionship with men and animals which
breeds sympathy as well as knowledge.

One of his elder brothers, Gutzon, had already become an artist, and it
was a visit that he paid to the ranch in 1890 which first aroused in
Solon’s mind a thought of trying to draw. He began to experiment with
the pencil, and gradually the fascination of representing form grew
upon him, so that sketching occupied all his leisure time with
continually increasing grip upon his desire, until by 1893 he made up
his mind to sell out his share in the ranch and go forth and study art.

First he sought his brother in the Sierra Madre Mountains of California
and studied painting with him for a few months; then drifted to Los
Angeles, and thence to Santa Anna. In the latter town he rented his
first studio at two dollars a month; but it was not long before he found
his clothes were getting shabby, and, moreover, the confinement of the
four walls was irksome. So he put a sign upon his door, “In Studio
Saturdays Only”; and under cover of the dusk started for the wild
country of the Saddleback Mountains. All through the week he lived among
the old Spanish Indians and Greasers--lawless people who have been left
stranded in the march of civilisation--eating with them, sleeping beside
them in the thicket, sketching everything he saw. On Friday he started
back for the town, and, sleeping on the outskirts, was early astir in
the morning and passed unobserved to his little room before the
towns-people were awake.

That first Saturday he was uninterrupted in his work, and at nightfall
again set out for the mountains. But the following week, to his
surprise, a visitor called, a school-teacher from the East, and the
result of the visit was first a commission to paint the stranger’s
portrait for five dollars, and secondly, the beginning of a valued
friendship. Next Saturday the teacher called again, accompanied by two
ladies, who wished to learn to paint. The lessons were continued weekly
at a dollar a visit, and thus for nearly a year he subsisted, one day of
each seven in his studio and during the others among the mountains;
until, encouraged by his friend, he made a sale of his drawings, netted
sixty dollars, and therewith packed up his blanket and oil-stove and set
his face toward Cincinnati.

Here he entered the day and evening classes in drawing and rented a
little room. Before long, however, he was heartsick for the old, free
life. It was beyond his reach; yet, as he went to and from his work, he
passed the United States mail stables, and the sight of the horses
stirred the old feeling of comradeship. The lights were kept burning at
night in the stables, so morning after morning before daybreak he lived
among them, drawing and studying. By degrees he turned to modelling and
executed the figure of a horse pawing a dead one. It was shown to Mr.
Rebisso, the head of the school of modelling, who, discovering the
young man’s ability, gave him encouragement and advice, permitting him
to work in his own studio and finally making it possible for him to
visit Paris.

Until Borglum’s fingers had found their way to clay he had been groping
in the half-light of unrealised purpose. Now, however, he discovered at
one stride the kind of subject nearest to his heart and the method of
expression best fitted to his experience and temperament.

For, look you, his experience had been of facts; facts, it is true, from
which in the aftermath of memory his temperament was to extract their
romance and sentiment; but, in the first place, facts of the most direct
and vigorous form. The subtleties, to which painting better lends
itself, were outside the habit of his mind; whereas the tangible shape
and more simple obviousness of sculpture exactly fitted his need. He had
reached it through the same natural, unpremeditated growth that had
characterised all his development. Such kind of growth is, perhaps, only
possible to one whose boyhood and early manhood have been spent in the
large vacancy of nature and the natural life. To those who are bred
within the crowded and conscious civilisation of cities the desire of
being an artist will probably come earlier; it will anticipate the
experiences of life; from the first will shape itself more definitely
and in its course conform to existing opportunities of instruction.
While still immature in character and manhood the student will be run
through the mould of a matured system which will turn him out at best an
inexperienced expert.

But with Borglum it was otherwise. The experience here preceded the
expertness, and the latter is not such as the schools can teach or
possibly should try to teach. His groups have little of the ordered
arrangement of traditional composition, nor does the modelling show
facile skill or elegant refinement. His work, indeed, is much more an
expression of nature than of art, the frank, untrammelled expression of
a natural artist giving utterance to the fulness of his thoughts. He
acknowledges with gratitude the great assistance that he received from
Mr. Rebisso, and when he went to Paris he enjoyed the critical
encouragement of Frémiet and Saint-Gaudens; but for the rest he is
self-taught. His visit to Paris lengthened into a sojourn of four years,
during which he took a short course in the study of the figure at
Julien’s Academy and frequented the Louvre and Luxembourg; otherwise
keeping very much to his studio, drawing inspiration from the memory of
his own experiences, and discovering for himself a technique that
should give substance to his ideas.

So Borglum’s work does not readily line up with that of other modern
sculptors. In its disregard of symmetrical composition, in the frequent
appearance of passages left suggestively in the rough and in the vivid
naturalness that characterises it we may for a moment fancy that we
detect the influence of Rodin. Yet it shows none of the latter’s feeling
for subtlety of modelling, and by comparison is crude; moreover, the
point of view of each is widely different. Rodin’s is profoundly
analytical and introspective at the same time; Borglum’s more
spontaneous and instinctive, aiming to interpret in a vigorous
_ensemble_ the vivid impression of an objective fact. Again, in breadth
of handling and in knowledge of animal structure and movement, we might
compare him with Barye; only to find, however, that the latter far
excels him in nobility of line and mass and falls as far behind him in
the expression of sentiment.

For Borglum’s work reveals in a remarkable degree the sentiment which
comes of intimate, habitual companionship. He does not, on the one hand,
invest his animals with any quasi-human sentimentality, or, on the
other, look at them from the outside standpoint of the hunter or
otherwise observant student. He has entered into the actual sentient
part which they play in the life they share with man. Hence the
sentiment that his work reveals is most poignantly affecting. I doubt,
indeed, if any sculptor of animals has ever represented with such
fidelity and convincingness their intelligence and emotions. Note, for
example, some of the phases of character-building in which he represents
the bronco. Here it is full-grown, though still untamed, but quiet as a
lamb, resting its muzzle on its dam’s back. It has not yet come in
contact with the disciplining force of man. Now it is confronted with a
saddle that lies upon the ground and recoils with a mixture of trembling
and curiosity. There it has been rounded up and thrown, at first
struggling with impotent fury, then stretched in utter exhaustion. Later
the saddle is on its back, and it is pitting its strength and cunning
against the knowledge and endurance of man; then finally tamed, and
coöperating with man in the taming of other horses, or sharing the night
watch, or meeting with him the mortal peril of the blizzard.

But Borglum’s power of stimulating our imagination includes in some
cases even a suggestion of the environment of the figures, as, for
instance, in the marble group of a mare and foal caught in a snowstorm.
The little one is unconscious of danger, content as it noses close up to
the mother’s side for shelter; but the gesture of the latter is full of
solicitude and anxiety. In the swish of her tail and the droop and
stiffening of the hind quarters, we are made to realise the force of the
blizzard; while, is it the little mass of piled-up snow, or the
whiteness of the marble, or the intensity of the sculptor’s imagination,
that conveys to our own a sense of white, snowy desolation all around
the two poor creatures? It is seldom in modern sculpture that one will
find an expression of sentiment so unaffected and affecting.

And the other notable element in his work is its rendering of movement.
It matters not what kind of movement--impetuous dash, sudden arrest of
action, alert repose, the vicious fling of body and heels as the beast
prepares to turn a somersault, the limp of pain, the submission of
exhaustion, the supple step to music in the circus, the pause of doubt,
the spasm of baffled rage--each and all and others are represented with
an intimacy of knowledge and an instinctive certainty of method. He
knows his subject so well and realises in his mind so vividly the
impression which he seeks to interpret, that all pettiness of
observation is swallowed up in a large

[Illustration: TAMED

By Solon Hannibal Borglum]

comprehension which disregards details, except in so far as they are
essential to the action or the sentiment. And how characteristic are the
details which he does introduce! Here, for example, is the figure of a
horse, “tamed.” A saddle lies upon the ground. It is the object which
excites, first the terror, then the anger of the untamed horse. But this
one is conquered and hangs his head submissively over the instrument and
badge of his defeat. He stands with front feet planted forward, the legs
trembling, the hind ones limp and sluggish; the line of the ribs exposed
as the flank heaves; the nostrils distended with the gasps of breath;
the eye listless, the ear fallen. But, keenest touch of all, note how
the saddle-cloth and girths have left a hot, glossy impress upon the
body, the hair around their edges being clotted with sweat. It is detail
such as this, full of character, that one finds in all these pieces of
sculpture; and, for the rest, the modelling is broadly suggestive, yet
always distinctly characteristic; not only rendering structure and
action, but offering varieties of flesh texture, according to the
condition and character of the horse represented.

Borglum, in a word, is an impressionistic sculptor, untrammelled by
formula or tradition, seeking nature direct, with an eye habituated to
essentials and with a degree of sympathetic comprehension that
corresponds with the range and reality of his life’s experiences. His
work is, thus, truly original; a product of his own manhood, fashioned
to artistic fitness.



XI

VICTOR DAVID BRENNER


In this country, as elsewhere, prior to the establishment of the French
Société des Amis de la Medaille, medal-making had sunk to a department
of trade; or, if something artistic were attempted, there was a divorce
between the designing and engraving. A sculptor or painter, with no
practical knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the cutting
process, would be commissioned to produce the design, while its
execution in the die was turned over to a more or less skilled
operative. The barrenness of the result may be seen in the majority of
medals produced during many years.

Recognising that the work of the medallist had been and should be a
special department of art, with very individual qualities of exquisite
expression, the National Academy two years ago established a class in
Coin and Medal Designing and put it in charge of Victor D. Brenner.

Ten years previously the latter had arrived in New York, an expert
die-sinker and engraver; now he had just returned from studying under
Roty in Paris. The story of his progress from artisan to artist is not
without a touch of romance.

To the student of personal accomplishment there is always a particular
satisfaction in the contrast between hard and strait beginnings and the
ultimate success. He forgets, as the artist himself perhaps does when
the sweets of victory are on his tongue, the long weariness of the
previous struggle, and is philosophically persuaded that the pain of
parturition must necessarily precede the birth of art as of life.
However that may be, Brenner has had his share of privations; and it is
well for him that he encountered them early and surmounted them before
the enthusiasm of youth dwindled.

He was born in 1871 at Shavly, in the north-west of Russia, and from his
sixth to his thirteenth year attended the Hebrew school. After three
years of apprenticeship to his father, who was a general mechanic and
seal-cutter, with considerable talent in carving, the youth, now sixteen
years old, travelled through the neighbouring towns, making seals. Then
he worked for a jewelry engraver in Riga, and subsequently migrated to
Mittau, where he found employment in a rubber stamp and type foundry,
cutting dies and illustrations for advertisements. In 1889 he
established himself in Kowno as a jewelry engraver and seal-cutter. By
this time he had saved nearly enough to pay his passage to New York, and
the following year he reached our shores. He was then scarcely nineteen,
without friends, knowledge of the language or ready funds. For a while
he sold matches on Fulton Street, and then graduated to the superior
opportunities of a sweat-shop in Brooklyn. He was rescued from this by
an advertisement through which he found employment with a jewelry firm.
Meanwhile his acquaintance with the language and with the local
conditions was improving, and it was not long before he obtained a
position as seal-cutter. Then followed an engagement with Mr. H. Popper
as die-cutter and jewelry engraver, during which he came to the notice
of Professor S. H. Oetinger, the numismatist, whose collection of medals
seems to have awakened in the young man a longing to be himself an
artist. In 1891 he first learned to handle clay at the Cooper Union
night class, but attended only for a month, and it was not until 1896
that he studied drawing under Ward in the night class of the Academy of
Design.

Meanwhile, in 1893, he had started for himself in business, working for
jewelry and silversmith firms; steadily improving his financial
conditions, but becoming more and more impatient under the restraints
which the exigencies of trade placed upon his desire to be an artist. I
should judge that these years of material comfortableness may have been
really more trying to him than the previous lean years. Then, work and
food and lodging seemed the only desirable things; now he was in labour
with a desire that exceeded all others. He had tasted of the sweets of
beauty and become conscious of having something beautiful within
himself, might he but learn how to express it; and all the while the
Gallios of trade “cared for none of those things.”

This period of probation at length came to an end in 1898, by which time
he had saved sufficient money for study in Paris. A little time before,
in connection with a medal for the Convention of Charities and
Corrections, he had made the acquaintance of Mr. Samuel P. Avery. But
the latter had for some time been acquainted with him, keeping watch
over his progress and secretly helping him to commissions. Of the value
and encouragement of Mr. Avery’s friendship Brenner speaks with warm
gratitude. Through him he obtained an introduction to Mr. George A.
Lucas, who befriended him in Paris and introduced him to Roty,
furnishing him with commissions while he was still studying in the
latter’s _atelier_. This he entered after preliminary studentship in
the

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF C. P. HUNTINGTON

By Victor David Brenner]

Julien school, and became the assistant as well as pupil of the master.
His progress was rapid, and examples of his work are already to be found
in the Paris Mint, Munich Glyptothek, Vienna Numismatic Society, the
Metropolitan Museum and the Numismatic Society, New York.

Up to the present time Brenner’s best work has been portrait-plaques and
the heads upon the obverse of medals. In designs which involve a
decorative treatment he has been less happy. As might be expected of one
whose period of study has been so short, he is weak in composition and
freehand drawing, nor does he display much inventiveness of fancy. On
the other hand, he has an extraordinarily direct vision, quickened by
experience in so exacting an occupation as die-cutting, and, moreover, a
very mobile sympathy. The latter helps him to be interested at once in
his subject, and with so much affection and reverence for the
personality that his portrayal exhibits a very unusual degree of
intimacy.

Among the best of his portraits are those of William Maxwell Evarts, J.
Sanford Saltus and George Aloysius Lucas, whom I place in one group; and
those of M. Vadé, Edward D. Fulde and M. Lacour in another. The
reasonableness of the separation is to be found in the difference of
motive, respectively, illustrated in the modelling; the more
distinctively sculptural as compared with the painter-like method.

For in all low-relief work one will find the artist to be showing a
preference either for form and the structural character of the subject,
or for its colour qualities, represented by delicate variations in the
planes, which produce a corresponding warmth of delicate light and
shade; in a word, he feels his subject either in the round or in the
flat. Which you yourself will prefer is a question of your point of
view. Among brother artists who are painters there will probably be a
verdict in favour of the second group, since it represents more closely
what they themselves strive for, and are therefore partial to. And its
pictorial quality may equally recommend it also to general approbation.
For, indeed, such a portrait as that of M. Vadé is unquestionably
fascinating. There is in it scarce any resort to lines, the modelling
being effected almost entirely by planes, at once broad and subtle, full
of a sense of colour and giving an expression of dreaminess to the face.
Yet, if one compares this portrait with either of the three included in
the former group, it is to find in the latter a compensating virility of
expression, a greater dignity of structure and of character.

It is not usual to find these two very opposite motives of technique
united in one artist. But in Brenner’s case it seems to result from an
absence of all artistic _parti pris_, and from the freshness of interest
with which he attacks each subject, so that the latter itself reveals to
him the more appropriate manner of presenting it. In the portrait shown
in the accompanying illustration the two motives seem to be combined.



XII

THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE


In all ages sculpture has been intimately allied with architecture,
somewhat as the blossom with the tree, reaching often its noblest
expression as an efflorescence of decoration upon the surface of a
building or as separate forms within it; springing up in statue, tomb or
pulpit like bursts of flowery growth in the forest. Nature in a
marvellous way adapts the colour and forms of the blossoms to the
character and structure of the tree and shapes of the woodland flowers;
for example, the foxglove spiring up amid the tree trunks to the
character of its environment. In the spirit of this example the sculptor
fashions his designs in conformity with that of the architecture,
whether it be for decoration of the building’s surface or for a separate
contributing feature.

Such coöperation with the architect demands at once fertility of
imagination and considerable self-restraint; an appreciation of the
larger qualities of design as displayed in the architecture, mingled
with a natural feeling for the charm of minute and exquisite
workmanship; a personal feeling, subordinated to the main design, yet in
this subordination finding an increase of force. For the modelled
ornament is itself enriched by its enrichment of the wall-surface; and
the statue which has fine architecture for its setting receives
therefrom additional dignity, provided always that the sculptor has
adapted the lines of his figure to those of the architecture. If he miss
the spirit of the latter and design his subject independently his statue
loses the benefit of the alliance and its importance is overpowered by
the necessary predominance of the architectural effect. Nor is the
failure to secure harmonious relation between the sculpture and the
architecture always to be laid to the sculptor. The architect’s design
may be lacking in taste and dignity; or, if good in itself, yet without
adequate or any provision for sculptural embellishment; the latter being
resorted to as an afterthought. Examples of this kind are not
infrequent.

The best opportunity that we have in this country of studying sculpture
in its relation to architecture is in the Library of Congress, for here
the design was deliberately planned to include sculpture and painted
decoration, and on a scale of unusual magnitude. Some critics are
disposed to complain of an overelaboration in the decorative scheme, but
at least every item of the sculpture was organic and structural in
intention. We may differ, that is to say, as to the propriety of
introducing so much embellishment, but the latter everywhere grows
naturally out of its position and has its closely planned function in
the general design.

The sculptural decoration of the staircase hall was entrusted to Philip
Martiny, except the figures in the spandrils over the main arch which
fronts you as you enter. These were executed by Olin L. Warner--whose
work has been reviewed in another chapter--and in their Greek-like
monumental simplicity and repose, their freedom from all accessory aids
to decoration and their avowal of the decorative value of pure form they
are in marked contrast to the French spirit of Martiny’s work. For the
latter, a naturalised Frenchman, represents the French training,
comparatively unaffected by the American environment. As a boy he was
employed with his father in modelling and carving ornamental designs;
thus gaining a familiarity with ornament before he proceeded to study it
systematically as a designer, from which stage he passed on to the
further studies of a sculptor of the figure. The feeling for decoration
is with him an instinct, cultivated in the best of all schools, that of
practical experience; his knowledge of historic forms a habit of memory,
and his versatility in adapting, skill in device and manipulative
facility, the product of habitual practice.

For the newel posts of the staircase he executed the female figures
holding a torch aloft; but these reveal mainly the results of good
teaching. They are not a personal expression of himself. In a seated
figure, however, designed as a Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial for
Jersey City, he reached a very considerable degree of monumental
dignity; yet it still appears to be true that his real bent is toward
decoration. In this he displays creative fancy and a most charming
faculty in the use of form. Witness this marble balustrade, divided into
compartments by a series of plain posts, between which are suspended
festoons of fruit and flowers, with baby forms astride them. Each in a
vein of playful fancy personifies some occupation, art or science, and
the emblems typifying them are introduced as accents of surprise in the
composition. The whole is alive with graceful animation and yet
preserves a rhythmical dignity, a variety in uniformity, like the play
of notes in succeeding bars of music.

Its freedom of fancy and rich effect recall the qualities shown in
Lorado Taft’s decoration of the Horticultural Building at the World’s
Fair; a decoration of rare distinction. Indeed the prime feature of this
artist’s work at its best is the decorative character of the
composition; as in “The Solitude of the Soul,” which involves an ideal
motive, but is perhaps happiest in the grouping of the nude figures
around the mass of unhewn rock.

The relief ornament in the ceiling of the dome and in the frieze of the
entablature was modelled by Albert Weinert. He was limited by the
architect to the well-known Roman forms revived by the sculptors and
painters of the Italian Renaissance, but has treated them with so much
individual feeling that one may regret he was denied the opportunity of
creating the designs. For one cause of the dearth of decorative
sculptors in America may very reasonably be attributed to the hesitation
of architects to permit the use of any forms except such as they can
find authority for in historic ornament. Martiny, we have seen, was
allowed to invent the design for the staircase; a quite unusual
privilege, which has resulted in a memorable work of art, almost unique
in the country. Usually the architect from books and photographs
indicates what forms shall be adopted, and these are reproduced by the
draftsmen in working drawings, which are handed over to a contractor to
be executed by journeymen modellers. Their business is to copy the
drawing exactly. If they have any individuality of feeling it is
suppressed; the divorce between design and craftsmanship is perpetuated,
and dry conventionalism results. In the degradation of design which
ensues from this slavish adherence to historic precedents, producing, be
it noted, not a revival of the precedent but, for the most part, a dead,
inert copy, a thing not to be taken seriously as decoration, the
sculptor is discouraged from associating himself with design. He may
have the gift of decoration, but it lies uncultivated, since he will not
work except with reasonable liberty. And he is right, for the only
decoration that is of any vital worth is such as grows under the hand of
a man whose brain has conceived it and is controlling continually its
growth. He may be influenced by historic precedent or be working in the
freedom of his fancy; in either case, his work has personal, vital
significance. Significantly bad it may be, and this I suspect is the
architect’s apprehension; yet, provided it have significance, there is
some prospect of improvement: just as we reach what measure of virtue we
have through our faults. For of all men the most exasperating is he who,
without character enough for fault or virtue, methodically maintains a
level of innocuous mediocrity. Equally exasperating is decoration of
this kind, and it is a kind that is prevalent everywhere.

The dome of the Library is supported on eight piers, each formed of a
cluster of columns, one of which projects more prominently than the rest
and is surmounted by a figure personifying some department of civilised
life or thought. Its function seems to be to prolong the upright line of
the pier to the bottom of the triangular pendentive which connects the
spread of the arches; at any rate, those figures which most simply
suggest the vertical direction, with as little play of contour lines as
possible, appear most conformable to their position. The one that most
thoroughly fulfils this condition is the figure of “Philosophy,” by Bela
L. Pratt. One arm hangs down, the other is drawn up at the elbow
supporting a book; the line of the drapery on one side comes squarely
down to the feet and on the other is slightly varied by the drawing back
of the leg from the knee. The figure is of ample proportion, with a
sweet gravity of mien; the head, being slightly bowed, which, as it is
viewed from below, brings the face agreeably within the line of vision;
a point that has been overlooked in some of the other statues. Without
having any particular force, the figure nevertheless impresses by the
sobriety of its lines and mass and by its reserve of feeling. The value
of these qualities can best be appreciated when one is actually
standing in the dome and able to compare the figure with the other
corresponding ones, all of which by reason of more varied contours seem
inferior to it in decorative appropriateness.

This same sculptor was entrusted with the designs of the six spandrils
over the entrance doors. The forms are graceful and repeat with pleasant
variation the curve of the arch, but they do not adequately fill the
space, and are wanting in architectonic character. Just what I mean can
better be understood by comparing them with Warner’s spandrils,
mentioned above. Then one can scarcely fail to notice how much more
structural in feeling are the latter, organically related to the arches
and to the space, truly architectural in their character. Pratt’s
strongest point seems to be expression of sentiment, exemplified in his
busts of Colonel Henry Lee and of Phillips Brooks; in some low-relief
portraits of children and in the heroic figure of a soldier for St.
Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire. In all of these it is not so much
the characteristics preëminently sculptural that we are conscious of, as
the quality of the sentiment; and this same quality, portrayed with
graceful inventiveness, represents the measure of his architectural
decoration. It is, therefore, in such examples as the medallions in the
pavilions of the Library, personifying the four seasons, that he appears
at his best; for in these the sentiment is expressed not only by suavity
of line, but by a sensitive treatment of the various planes. Like his
low-relief portraits they have very strongly the pictorial quality. That
he has, however, a feeling as well for the sculptural quality of form is
evident from two nude female figures which he has executed in marble,
“Study of a Young Girl” and “Study for a Fountain,” in which the charm
of sentiment and form are very happily united.

It is not within the scope of this essay, which is considering the
principles of architectural sculpture, to note each of the remaining
seven statues in detail, especially since most of them are by sculptors
whose work has been reviewed elsewhere. And the same applies to the
sixteen bronze statues that stand below upon the marble balustrade of
the gallery. These represent real or imaginary portraits of men
illustrious in the departments of civilised life and thought,
personified above, and their function is to relieve by a series of
spiring forms the level lines of the balustrade. And here again, if I am
not mistaken, those which with least disturbance of contour conform to
the character of a simple shaft are the most effective. Thus we may be
disposed to feel that, viewed in relation to its position and function,
the “Solon” by F. Wellington Ruckstuhl protests too much its own
individuality, and that the greater reserve of C. E. Dallin’s “Newton,”
of John J. Boyle’s “Bacon” and “Plato,” of Paul W. Bartlett’s
“Michelangelo,” of Edward C. Potter’s “Fulton,” of Charles H. Niehaus’s
“Gibbon,” of George E. Bissell’s “Kent” and the “Henry” by Herbert
Adams, makes them more valuable as sculptural adornments to the
architecture. And, after all, this qualification is the most important
one in the interest both of the architecture and of the statue itself.

If it were possible to study the statues independently of their
surroundings we might find that some I have mentioned are intrinsically
inferior to some of those omitted; and I well remember that some which
now fill their present position with quiet effectiveness seemed less
interesting before they were put in place. For the ultimate test of the
statue, as a part of the architectural scheme, depends less upon its
intrinsic than its extrinsic value; not so much upon what it is as upon
how it coöperates with the architecture, lending it some accent of
piquancy or elaboration and drawing from it dignity and enforcement. Nor
is the truth of this weakened by the fact that you visit many a church
in Italy solely to study some piece of sculpture without one thought of
the architecture, unless it be a regret that the shrine is not worthy of
its treasure. In such a case the intention of the sculpture was not
architectonic; whereas in the Library of Congress, as in all other
buildings in which the coöperation of the sculptor has been deliberately
included, the ideal is to make the two arts mutually reënforcing. The
architecture being necessarily predominant, the sculpture which does not
conform to the limitations imposed upon it will suffer by comparison,
while, on the other hand, through conformity it will secure additional
measure of impressiveness.

Of the elaborate decoration of the rotunda clock by John Flanagan I
cannot speak from knowledge; and, without having seen it in place, it is
unfair to judge of the effect of the mingling of precise elegance in the
lower part with the florid arrangement above of Father Time and two
female figures. But before leaving the Library we may find in the
corridors of the entrance hall four relief-panels, by R. Hinton Perry,
personifying Greek, Roman, Persian and Scandinavian “Inspiration.” They
seem to me to represent this sculptor at his best, displaying a gift of
imagination and very charming treatment of form, regulated by reserve
and taste; for these last qualities are not so conspicuous in some of
his work. The fountain group, for example, which embellishes the terrace
in front of the Library, is a clever exhibition of technical skill in
the representation of form and movement, but pretentious. Its lack of
cohesion as a group may have been less the affair of the sculptor than
of the architect, since the latter had provided for the figures three
equal-sized niches; but on the other hand the sculptor seems to have
regarded them as features to be ignored. His central figure of Neptune
is entirely outside the arch, while the sea-nymphs on their restive
steeds seem to be trying to get clear of the architectural restraint.
Restiveness, indeed, is the chief suggestion of the whole; an uneasy
collocation of aggressive forms, out of keeping with the somewhat severe
character of the Library façades.

Yet one should not overlook the indubitable power and vigour of these
figures, especially of the Neptune; only regretting that imagination has
entered so little into its composition. In this respect the “Primitive
Man and Serpent,” a later statue, is much more acceptable. It also has
power, the more effective that its energy has been controlled, and the
sculptor, in thinking out this conflict between creatures of such
different forms, has produced a composition which is full of
imagination and very statuesque. Again he exhibits his mastery of form
in a statue of “Circe”; a finely poised, supple figure, with a superb
action of voluptuous invitation. Moreover, the conception is
satisfactorily idealised, a quality which does not always characterise
his treatment of the female form. The one, for instance, in the group of
“The Lion in Love” is a very ordinary reproduction of the model; nor can
I find in his Langdon doors for the Buffalo Historical Society’s
Building, the same imaginative control of form as in the Library
reliefs. Perry, in fact, seems to be an impetuous, forceful person,
drawing largely upon his temperament and with the unevenness of result
very usual in such cases. Yet he has a mastery of technique so much
above the average that, when he regulates it with reserve and kindles it
from his imagination, he produces work which is full of interest.

In this brief survey of the decorative sculpture of the Library of
Congress it has been possible to touch only upon some of the most
conspicuous features, but much else that is worthy of study upon the
spot will be found scattered over the big building, especially in the
private reading-rooms of the Senate and of the House of
Representatives. The scheming and supervision of this vast amount of
beautiful detail was the work of Edward Pearce Casey, an architect with
considerable knowledge of decoration and feeling for it. In some cases
he was coöperating with sculptors who had had no previous experience in
decorative work, and he was himself without practical experience, having
but recently returned from his studies at the École des Beaux Arts, and
the bias of his taste, if I mistake not, was toward the exuberance and
profuseness of Roman ornament. When, therefore, we take into
consideration the vastness and varied features of the undertaking, we
can scarcely avoid the conclusion that it has been upon the whole very
well carried out; probably quite as well as was possible under the
conditions of having to complete so huge a work by a given date. For one
of the difficulties with which our artists, architects, sculptors and
painters alike have to contend is the inexorable public demand that the
building with all its embellishments shall be “turned over” on contract
time. Very few men are sufficiently sure of their position, and likewise
possessed of sufficient conscience in the matter, to insist upon
adequate time for the development of their decorative scheme.

This insistence upon securing as far as possible an ultimate perfection
of detail, guided by a judgment and taste of unusual refinement, is a
notable characteristic of the architect, Charles F. McKim, as it is also
of the sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Hence to this day the pedestals
in front of the Boston Public Library are without the groups of statuary
that the latter is to execute. Again, as an example of choiceness and
reserve in the sculptural decoration of a building, one may cite McKim’s
treatment of the façades of the University Club, New York. Indeed, they
are quite too choice and reserved to satisfy the popular taste, and it
is the latter which unfortunately regulates in the majority of instances
the character of our public buildings, with an inevitable tendency
toward pretentiousness of mass and floridness of detail. On the other
hand, from the point of view of the sculptor, McKim’s influence has been
too personal, too exclusively along the line of reproducing the style
and feeling of antique art, to have been of much direct benefit to the
development of decorative sculpture in this country. He is, perhaps, too
intolerant of failure to venture upon experiments.

For certainly the development has been attended with some results to
which it is impossible to point with appreciation. Do we find an
example of this in the Appellate Court in New York? Its exterior is
profusely covered with sculpture; but can one truly feel that it is
decorative? On the contrary, it may occur to some that the building
would have had more dignity unadorned; that it is overloaded; its quiet
lines disturbed by the flutter of forms against the sky; that the
figures themselves lack the decorative quality, dryly formal in some
instances and in others without sufficient reserve of line and mass;
overpowering, in fact, the structure, while individually, at the
distance from which they are seen, of not much moment.

Civic pride, doubtless not uninfluenced by the discovery that there is a
commercial value in esthetics, has led to the embellishing of office
buildings and hotels with sculpture. With the former continually
increasing their vertical direction, it has been no easy matter to
devise for them a suitable kind of plastic decoration. Perhaps the most
appropriate has been the flat ornamentation, occasionally burgeoning
into rounded forms, which Louis H. Sullivan, a Chicago architect, has
used. He has the advantage of being his own designer for decoration as
well as for structure; and having a very logical mind he designs both
with a strict regard for organic propriety, while his fecund
imagination enables him to create freely forms of inexhaustible variety
and full of the charm of vital freshness.

In the case of many office buildings, especially those erected some
years ago, the sculpture has the appearance of being added as an
afterthought, so inadequate is the provision made for it. There is a
conspicuous instance of this on lower Broadway, New York, four colossal
figures in bronze by J. Massey Rhind being placed upon a projecting
cornice some twenty feet above the level of the street. They have no
structural relation to the building and thereby lose much of their
effectiveness.

This sculptor, a native of Edinburgh, where his family, as architects
and otherwise, have long been identified with the civic improvements
that have gradually made the modern city so conspicuously handsome, is
one of the most skilful of our architectural sculptors. He has not the
play of fancy nor the graceful facility in decorative forms displayed by
Martiny; but, instead, a strong instinct for big simplicity of design,
and for the constructional value of the figure as an adjunct to the
architecture. When, as in the spandrils for the Smith Memorial Arch at
Philadelphia, he is elaborating a part of the structure, he works with
as much of the feeling of an architect as of a sculptor, showing an
unmistakable appreciation of the material. In the case of these
spandrils it is granite, and the treatment of the drapery and wings has
been admirably adapted to the quality and character of the material and
to the exigencies of cutting. A similar recognition of the claims of the
material is displayed in some granite lions, designed for the Ehret
mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, and again in the caryatides, executed in
pink Tennessee marble for the Macy Building in New York. The latter,
moreover, are particularly successful in suggesting their architectural
function of carrying a superincumbent weight, rigidity of form and grace
of line being fortunately mingled. Among the varied subjects which have
occupied this sculptor is an elaborate fountain for “Georgian Court” at
Lakewood, New Jersey. The design comprises a male figure, almost nude,
standing in a chariot formed of a huge shell, these parts being in
bronze, while the sea-horses that he drives and the attendant Nereids
are of marble. The composition, enclosed within a circular basin and
rising pyramidally toward the centre, is full of spirit, with especial
force and freedom of movement in the marble portions. Yet it is probably
true that J. Massey Rhind discovers his best qualities as a sculptor

[Illustration: RECUMBENT FIGURE

By J. Massey Rhind

From the Tomb of Father Brown in the Church of Saint Mary-the-Virgin,
New York]

[Illustration: PUMA

By A. Phimister Proctor

Prospect Park, Brooklyn]

in less exuberant designs. Indeed, his most impressive work, within my
knowledge, I should take to be the recumbent portrait-statue of Father
Brown in the Church of Saint Mary-the-Virgin in New York. It is very
truly monumental, with an exquisite placidity and tender gravity of
feeling; the lines of the figure severely simple, the vestments,
notwithstanding some elaboration of delicate detail, subordinated so
completely to the form, and the latter in its supple fixity expressive
of the eternal calm of the head. It is a figure from which emanates a
very unusual atmosphere of spirituality.

I wonder if there is not more incentive to revere the memory of a man in
a memorial like this, representing him folded in the sleep of death,
than in one which figures him as he lived! Yet the latter is the more
usual method in this country, possibly because of the lack of space in
city churches. Saint-Gaudens has done some memorable work in this
direction, notably in the portrait-panels of James McCosh at Princeton,
and of Doctor Bellows in the Church of All Souls, New York; so too have
French and Herbert Adams. Again in mural tablets, bearing instead of a
portrait some ideal figure, work of technical merit and of very
beautiful spirit has been done by Clement J. Barnhorn of Cincinnati.
Especially would I mention an angel design of his for the Poland
Memorial and a “Madonna of the Lilies.” In both these low reliefs he
displays a quite exquisite appreciation of the beauty of simplicity of
design, of the expression of tender differences of plane, and of the
mingling of firm and vanishing lines. Nor in the refinement of treatment
is the structural character of the figure and drapery lost.


DOMESTIC DESIGN

Among the various decorative designs by Barnhorn is one for a cottage
piano, carved in wood. Conventionalised tree-forms compose the legs,
extend a bough from each side along the lower part of the keyboard and
then mount up the sides and spread their foliage in a canopy along the
top, a draped figure occupying the centre of the front. The design has
one good feature, that it grows out of and expresses the character of
the material. Yet it deviates from what experience suggests to be worth
regarding as an axiom: that in such objects as are actually a part of
the structure of a room, for instance a mantelpiece, or in those which
by their size and importance emphasise their structural character, the
contours should conform to the straight and curved lines, which
experience has found necessary in architecture. In a word, that the
structure of the object should be first attained and the decoration then
subordinated to it, instead of the latter being allowed to encroach upon
the structural lines. An ivy-mantled tower takes its place suitably in
an open-air setting; and, on the other hand, a small object indoors,
such as a clock on a shelf, may assume any variety of outline; but with
the larger, formal ones, whether built into, or detached within, the
room, you cannot indulge in irregular contours without making them
amorphous, more or less clumsy or else trivial. And this piano seems
open to the charge of cumbersomeness, which again offends the instinct
of the musician, who would feel in the instrument a suggestion of
yielding to the vibrations of the music--a feeling so prominent in the
delicate simplicity of the violin and to be desired in the form of all
instruments. Yet one welcomes in this piano the inventiveness of fancy
displayed, and the skill and individuality of the craftsmanship,
delighted to find an American sculptor applying his art to the
intimacies of domestic design.

Among the few sculptors who have used the figure decoratively in the
arts of minor design none has displayed a livelier imagination or a more
charming facility than Henry Linder. His little conceptions for
candlesticks, inkwells, electric-light stands and other objects of
domestic use are full of grace and spirit. Another decorative sculptor
of rare feeling and unusual technical resources is M. M. Schwarzott. I
remember well a panel of his representing fishes sporting in the waves,
which, as Mr. Hartmann fitly observes, is worthy of a Japanese
coppersmith.

That very few sculptors have devoted themselves to domestic design is
due as well to the dearth of really decorative genius among them as to
the claims of other commissions upon the time of those few who possess
it. Partly, perhaps, to a prevalence of “high-art” notions, which regard
a statue as, of itself, more worthy than a decorated object,
irrespective of the skill and craftsmanship or the beauty of the design
involved. Yet, I doubt if a prejudice of this sort would deter a man
really possessed of the decorative instinct. It is the lack of this and
of appreciation on the part of the public for personal work which forms
a bar to our advancement in the arts of design; this and the preference
of the architects for reproducing commercially the time-honoured forms.
Encouraged by them our rich people prefer a room in which every detail
is dryly imitated from a dead period to one animated by the art and
spirit of to-day. So they take their morning coffee _à la Louis Quinze_;
their luncheon in a Dutch kitchen; drop into an affectation of Japan
for a cup of afternoon tea; dine in the splendour of the _Grand
Monarque_; sip their liqueurs in Pompeii, and rest at length from this
jumble of inert impressions in a chamber _à l’Empire_. Small wonder if
their appreciation of art should be a pose and their actual
encouragement of it nearly null!


OPEN-AIR DECORATION

The first great opportunity in this country for sculptors to prove their
capacity in the larger field of outdoor decoration was presented by the
World’s Fair at Chicago, and it brought into prominence three animal
sculptors, E. C. Potter, Edward Kemeys and A. Phimister Proctor. The
first named collaborated with French in the quadriga above the
water-gate and in the groups of the “Bull” and “Farm Horse” in front of
the Agricultural Building, displaying in the one case a fine command of
spirited movement and in the other a feeling for large simplicity. These
qualities he combined most effectively in the equestrian statue of
Washington for the Place de Jéna in Paris, in which again his
collaborator was French. The “Wild Cats” by Kemeys, which stood upon the
ends of two of the bridges, were quite extraordinary examples of animal
sculpture. Their stealthy, supple movement, as, bellies low to the
ground, they advanced with that slow, clinging step which precedes the
spring, represented the closest study of the naturalist, while the
treatment of the lines and masses was altogether a sculptor’s,
monumental in a high degree.

Proctor also is a naturalist and ardent sportsman, camping alone for
weeks together in the forests and studying the big game at close
quarters. Perhaps his instinct is naturalistic rather than sculptural.
At any rate, the strongest feature of his work is its realism; yet his
“Pumas,” at one entrance of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, shows a fair
measure of monumental feeling. The quadriga which he modelled for the
United States pavilion at the Paris Exposition was dwarfed by the
structure, but when reproduced for the Ethnological building at the
Pan-American Exposition proved extremely effective. On this occasion,
however, it was only a part of the structure’s embellishment and not a
single emphatic note, for which purpose it was too slight in
composition, unduly stringy and deficient in cohesion. Proctor himself
had felt it to be so, and the lesson was not lost upon him, for in his
next opportunity of essaying an important composition he produced
something of much more sculptural import. This was a group executed for
the Pan-American Exposition, which embodied the idea of “Agriculture,”
representing a man at the plow-tail, while a boy urged on the team, a
horse and an ox. It was a very remarkable example of the force of
realism, when governed by the sculptural intention. The mass was most
imposing and full of variety of movement, through the contrast afforded
by the figures: the horse vigorously straining at the traces, the ox
exerting his slow, lumbering weight; the boy in free action, while the
man’s was concentrated and checked. Moreover, it told its story so
simply and directly, with such complete recognition of the essential
points. As a piece of artistic realism, it was alive with the spirit of
Millet--altogether a most memorable work.

At this exposition was also seen a quadriga by Frederick G. R. Roth. His
previous work had consisted of statuettes executed in bronze, revealing
a close study of unusual kinds of action, such as that of an elephant
balancing himself upon a tub. He modelled a pair of these in which the
mass is poised, respectively, upon the forelegs and the hind ones.
Although they are very small in size they are large in feeling, with
breadth of modelling and enforcement of the suggestion of bulk and
weightiness. The expression of movement is admirable: felt continuously
throughout the mass and varying so characteristically, according as each
part contributes to the action. Nor does he neglect to secure the
surface-charm of colour and texture in his bronzes; and these little
objects of art make very choice appeal to sight and touch. This charm of
surface is accompanied by a more vigorous display of movement in a
group, which represents “The Combat” between an elephant and a
rhinoceros. The latter, with hind legs planted as firmly as trees, is
ramming his horn into the belly of the other beast, who has rolled over
on his side and is lifting head and trunk in a spasm of pain. Again our
interest is divided between the extraordinary realism of the
representation and the beauty of the surfaces, shown especially in the
slabs and corrugations of the rhinoceros. The stress of movement is
carried still further in the quadriga. It is an incident of a “Chariot
Race”; the vehicle has been whirled on to one wheel, and the driver is
throwing his weight upon the opposite side to restore the balance, at
the same time holding back with all his force against the strength of
the four galloping horses. This group, of full size, executed in
plaster, cannot fail to impress one both by its daring and by the
knowledge and power displayed. Whether it completely convinces one’s
imagination is less certain. The figure of the man does, so also that of
the horse which is plunging in midair; but the hind legs of the others
and the chariot wheel seem rooted to the ground, thereby clogging the
impetus of movement. The group, in fact, raises an interesting point as
to the limitation of the sculptor. A painter could give the wheel an
appearance of revolving, could raise a cloud of dust around the heels of
the horses and by the introduction of atmosphere resolve the rigidity of
lines. Correspondingly, if this group were raised to an elevation so
that the juncture of the wheels and legs with the ground were not
observable, and the whole by distance were enveloped in atmosphere, the
effect upon the imagination would be vastly increased, probably
complete. But when it was seen at Buffalo, on a low pedestal close to
the eye, the deficiencies of illusion were as apparent as they are in
the accompanying illustration. However, granted that the illusion would
be complete, we may question the propriety of expressing in sculpture
such violent movement of progression. If stationary, an equal vehemence
might still be monumental; but can one imagine any structure upon which,
without detriment to its stability and impressiveness, this restless
mass, hurling itself forward from its position, could be placed?
Therefore, the sculptor seems to have landed himself in the predicament
of needing something which he has made it impossible for himself to
procure; due, if I mistake not, to his having forced the medium beyond
its characteristic limits.

Eli Harvey’s observation of wild animals in confinement has resulted in
some excellent statues of lions, jaguars and leopards, all of which
would be eminently suitable for the embellishment of public parks. In
two cases he has used lions as the motive for decorating pediments
intended for the lion house of the New York Zoölogical Society. His work
is at once very true to life and thoroughly sculpturesque.

In all probability, however, the finest animal group which has yet been
produced in this country is the “Buffaloes” by H. K. Bush-Brown. It has
been reproduced as a statuette in bronze, and in this form is a powerful
and impressive work, but to appreciate to the full its conspicuously
monumental character, the dignity of its bulk and of its massed and
rooted energy, one must have seen it in the original colossal size. Well
placed in the natural surroundings of a park, it would present a
spectacle of remarkable grandeur. This sculptor, like his uncle,

[Illustration: CHARIOT RACE

By F. G. R. Roth]

Henry Kirke Brown, the sculptor of the equestrian statues of Washington
and General Scott, is a horseman, and his own equestrian statues display
a thorough knowledge, but scarcely that imposing dignity of mass, which
the build of the buffalo made possible for this group.

Whereas at the Chicago Exposition the gaiety of the sculptural
embellishment, with the exception of the Macmonnies’s fountain, was
concentrated on the buildings, and the arrangement of statues and groups
about the grounds had been regulated with reserve, one motive of the
Pan-American was to demonstrate conspicuously how sculpture could be
used in the decoration of open spaces. There must have been many who
felt that this feature was overdone; that the dignity of the vistas was
disturbed by the multiplicity and variety of forms, and that what had
set out to be gay finished by being fidgety. The more so that there was
little relief of greenery, the whole scheme being too exclusively
architectural without the assuaging influence of landscape gardening. If
in lieu of so much sculpture trees had been imported into the scene, its
beauty would have been increased, and the discomfort of the visitor,
unsheltered from the sun, correspondingly diminished. The value of
greenery in displays of this sort is at once an esthetic and a practical
consideration.

The sculpture at this exposition was under the supervision of Karl
Bitter, and his equestrian “Standard Bearers,” surmounting the pylons of
the Triumphal Bridge, were the most arresting features of the scheme.
Ten years earlier he had modelled the colossal groups that stood at the
base of the dome on the four corners of the Administration Building.
They presented a fanfare of form against the sky; and these rearing
horses at Buffalo, with their riders holding aloft a draped flag, had
the same fling of action, only more controlled by experience. Instead of
an explosion of limbs and movement, there was a sustained and
concentrated energy, infinitely more impressive. It is in decorative
subjects of this sort, which permit a certain heroic exaggeration, that
Bitter seems at his best. An Austrian by birth and training, he has the
Teutonic exuberance, touched with the gaiety of the French influence,
and it is when the occasion warrants the exercise of both qualities that
he finds his best chance. When he is deprived of an excuse for festivity
he is liable to abandon himself to an excess of force, as in the
“Atlantes” of the St. Paul Building in New York, which are uniting their
titanic strength with contortion of limbs and muscles to support--one
little balcony! Or if, as in a memorial to the dead, he is constrained
to moderation and set toward the expression of sentiment, his work is
apt to be characterised by sentimentality and ineffectualness. Yet, in
the sitting statue of Doctor Pepper, he has made a sincere attempt to
render in straightforward fashion the personality of the subject. The
figure is realistically treated, even to the adoption of an awkward
pose, which, however, fairly corresponds with the meditative suggestion,
while the expression of the head unquestionably enlists our interest.
Nevertheless, it is in such a group as Bitter furnished for the Naval
Arch at the Dewey celebration, full of stirring action and heroic
suggestion, that he is to be seen most characteristically.

Isidore Konti’s groups at the Buffalo Exposition proved him to be a
decorative artist of unusual versatility. He does not show the same
varied familiarity with ornamental forms as Martiny, but his technique
is scarcely less facile and sure than the Parisian’s, while touched with
much of the Italian _naïveté_. Gay or serious, according to the subject,
his inventiveness of fancy inclines toward that slightly idealised
realism which characterises the work of many sculptors of the modern
Neapolitan school; a realism that is less the product of any theory of
art, than of the natural adaptability to impressions--a quick perception
coloured by temperament. Thus Konti seems to me at his best when his
fancy moves most simply. A first impression of his group, “The Age of
Despotism,” was very satisfactory. Bold and simple in design, it
represented a man seated in a chariot, erect and cold, with eyes fixed
sternly ahead, and at his side a woman (a courtesan, I took her to be)
lashing on the team of human cattle, while women were dragged in chains
behind. Amid so much trite symbolism here seemed to be a touch of very
naïve and forcible realism. But closer inspection discovered that the
realism was impaired by artifice and artfulness; the woman in the
chariot had wings, and one of the captives carried a pair of scales, a
lapse into abstractions that for myself, at any rate, lessened the value
of the group. On the other hand, in the group upon the Temple of Music,
while abstractions were introduced, they had no other meaning than a
decorative one. The youth with a lyre might represent Apollo, but there
was no need to recognise the fact; he was simply one of a joyous band of
figures, animated with the grace of gaiety, of music and the dance.
These groups were as refined in composition as they were exuberant,
exhibiting the genuine creativeness of an artist who has an instinct for
decoration and a lively delight in the pure expression of line and form,
regulated by an instinct also of artistic propriety. It is eminently a
Latin trait, in which the American is as deficient as the Anglo-Saxon or
Teuton.

Our tendency is to desire a motive in decoration beyond the decorative
one. So we make our statuary expressive of patriotism or what not. Well
and good; but we do so without that instinct of propriety which should
be as careful of the setting of the statue as of the statue itself. Thus
in city squares and public parks we multiply our memorials without
adding, as effectively as might be, to the beauty of their environment.
It was this fact which, by a display of the opposite, the Buffalo
Exposition was designed to enforce. In another chapter I have alluded to
our preference for portrait-statues with their prosaic accompaniment of
tailor-made trimmings to statues which, while commemorating the
individual, would be more essentially decorative. But it is equally to
be desired that better use should be made of such statues as we decide
to encourage; for a statue set down promiscuously in a public square or
thoroughfare, facing in no particular direction, forming the termination
of no vista of sight, supported and isolated by no architectonic
arrangement, loses the greater part of its impressiveness. Indeed it is
very generally forgotten that there is an element of formality in a
statue, which necessitates some formality in its placing, and that the
accompaniment of wriggling paths and of the haphazard sprinkling of
trees, such as we find in our New York smaller parks, is directly
opposed to the spirit of the statue. It is equally a violation of
propriety and a waste of good material to set a fine statue on the line
of a thoroughfare, where it is seldom seen from the front, but
continually passed by unnoticed. Yet these and similar incongruities are
only too frequent.



XIII

THE IDEAL MOTIVE


The value of the imaginative quality in a work of sculpture must depend
chiefly upon the degree to which it is governed and prompted by,
impregnated with, the sculptural feeling. This is, of course, true of
any other work of art: that it should be the offspring of a wedding of
the thought with the medium; a union in which the medium is not
compelled into alliance with the thought, or dallied with in a more or
less honourable concubinage, but fitly mated in the liberty of mutual
dependence. Yet it is so habitual with us to clothe our thoughts in
words, actually to think in words, that the artist finds it difficult to
shake himself free of the verbal subjection and to think in the language
of his particular medium. Some evade the difficulty by not burdening
themselves with thought; others succumb to it and force their medium and
technique to a literal rendering of their ideas, whether shallow ones or
deeper; while a few succeed in deriving motive from the medium, or in
so moulding their thought to it, that both become indissolubly blended
and mutually enforcing.

Thus in those signal examples of Michelangelo upon the Medici tombs, we
may call them “Night” and “Day,” “Dawn” and “Twilight,” for convenience
of reference, but it is because the conceptions embodied in them cannot
be captured into the precision of words that they have so profound a
significance. Consciousness grows upon us first of huge, bony structures
and elastic muscles; of torso and limbs contorted; more developed than
the normal; in attitudes impossible to it, or well nigh so. We derive
from this consciousness an impression of struggle; but no emblem or
visible cause for it is introduced; only it is borne in upon us by the
forms themselves. With this clue to understanding we note the more than
human strength, the superb sensuousness, the eternal fixity of these
supple figures and, again, their distortion, and the struggle which they
body forth is realised as one of spirit, a conflict of soul. But to have
discovered this is not to have captured the conception. It still eludes
all exact comprehension; vague, limitless, the lapping up upon our shore
of sense of an ocean that stretches to immensity.

This is to cite the example of a genius, beside whom the wits of most
other men seem petty; yet surely it contains the principle upon which
all truly imaginative work must be based. It is thus that Rodin bases
his; bodying forth in structure, modelling and expression of movement
his imaginings, just so far as they are to be made palpable to sight,
but with a residuum always of what the mind alone can conceive or
approximate to.

In every work of art there should be present the imagination of the
artist, arousing our own imagination, directing it and then leaving it
to its own unhampered speculation. This quality is not to be confined to
the so-called “ideal” subject, it must appear in every bust or statue to
make it vital. For while it is given to but few men to have creative
imagination, we have a right to expect in the artist that degree of
imagination which can penetrate beyond the outer integument of his
subject, and find inside the tailor-made or millinery outworks the man
or woman, the revelation in the flesh, however infinitesimally
fractional, whether divine or devilish, of infinity.

How many American sculptors have infused their work in portraiture with
this vital quality has been reviewed elsewhere. But the number is not
complete without mention, at least, of W. R. O’Donovan, Samuel Murray,
Charles Calverly, Henry H. Kitson and his wife, Alice Ruggles Kitson,
R. E. Brooks, A. A. Weinman and Birtley Canfield. The last named’s
treatment of the child in portraiture is full of tender imagination.

And elsewhere I have treated of some of our sculptors whose decorative
works have exhibited imagination; the sweet and gaysome kind of it that
plays like sunlight upon water; or, if occasion demands it, the kind of
deeper, serious import. But there is a kind of decorative sculpture for
which we can have little patience: the nude or draped inanities that
spread themselves over space, exploitations of brainless facility; or,
again, the figure which would be meaningless except for the added
symbols, and which we only recognise as a model, posturing with
something borrowed or stolen from the Old World property-room.

Yet one of the shibboleths glibly passed around the studio is “ideal
sculpture,” and it is largely applied to just such sculpture as this; to
works which are barren of ideas, or in which the subject of the statue
is declared only through some time-worn symbol. Not that the
introduction of a symbol is of itself objectionable, though it is a fact
that the works of finest imagination, as Saint-Gaudens’s “Grief,” to
quote a modern example, are free of such aids to suggestion. But I am
thinking of that vast majority of statues

[Illustration: BUST OF A CHILD

By Birtley Canfield]

[Illustration: THE STONE AGE

By John J. Boyle]

in which the figure would convey no hint to our imagination if it were
not for the symbol introduced. And how far, I wonder, does the symbol
succeed in leading us? We are apt to find it either trite or, as in the
case of some of the mystically symbolic work of modern times, abstruse.
With religious symbolism it is different. In old days, at least, the
artist and the public had a common starting-ground of knowledge, and the
symbol awoke a clear impression, invested by religious habit with a
weighty import.

But what of the frequent statues, representing “Law,” “Truth,” “Justice”
and the like by a draped model, alternately holding a tablet, serpent,
mirror, scale and swords, or what not; or that countless family of
undraped statues, clever studies merely of anatomy and academic
composition? Their only suggestion to the cultivated imagination is one
of weariness, yet they pass in the studios for “ideal.” Let us clear our
minds of cant and see these things for what they really are--more or
less skilful imitations of the model, but of creative imagination, of
the faculty to give expression to an idea, possessing nothing.

On the other hand, some sculptors, in their avoidance of the trite, run
to the opposite extreme of the abstruse--to that occult and mystic
symbolism, which has been sporadic for half a century in Europe and has
found at least two exponents in this country.

Here again, if the artist makes the figure the main source of
expression, establishing a chord of communication between his own
imagination and ours, and uses the symbolic object solely as an
accessory, the latter may possibly help our act of appreciation, or, at
least, will not hinder it. But, when it usurps the chief function in the
composition and we find in the figure no clue to any line of
imagination, having to turn to the symbol for assistance, it is then
that our distress begins. We may or may not recognise the object, and,
if we do, may be baffled in our attempt to discover its allusion in the
present case; haunted meanwhile by a disagreeable doubt as to whether it
was really intended to be allusive or only introduced for decorative
effect. It is not by such little stepping-stones to understanding,
slippery and insecure, that the truly creative imagination proceeds. It
takes its leap into the air, clear of obstructions, relying upon its own
power of flight. For, even if we comprehend the meaning of the symbol
and its allusion, how far, I wonder, does it carry us? When from the
mysteries of Egypt, for example, the modern artist borrows a symbol to
garnish his modern thought, I wonder if we are much impressed? He uses,
we will say, the device of the winged globe. We know that it once stood
to people as a sign of immortality; we recognise that much, but does it
touch our feeling--will it increase our belief in immortality or promise
anything to our yearning after it? The statue itself must do that, and
if it does, the symbol is likely to be felt intrusive.

I do not forget that Sargent in his Boston decoration has made noble use
of symbolism. Yet I feel strongly that the earlier part of the work
which involved Egyptian, Assyrian and Judaic symbolism is inferior to
the subsequent work, which is impregnated with the Byzantine. For in the
latter the artist has identified himself so completely with the medieval
mind, that he is thinking in it, while working in the modern technique;
consequently his work is veritably a reincarnation of the old thought.
Compared with this his earlier use of symbolism appears only scholarly
and ingenious. So, one may infer, it is not the use of symbolism that is
alien to the modern mind, but that use of it which borrows from the past
and does not reproduce the ancient spirit or incorporate the old with
modern thought.

In his “Fountain of Man” at the Pan-American Exposition, Charles Grafly
combined a cryptic motive with what was otherwise simply and
intelligibly sculpturesque. The crowning and most prominent feature of
the composition, to which the remainder served as an elaborate base, was
a draped mass, which on nearer view proved to be two figures back to
back, their heads covered with perforated casques, joined together over
the top by what had the appearance of a handle. The faces were visible,
but from the rim of the casques descended curtains of drapery,
enshrouding the figures, but leaving exposed the hands, which grasped
short cylinders. There can be no doubt of the general suggestion of the
symbolism, the twofold nature of man, the mystery of it; but I must
confess that I am baffled by the headgear and the cylinders. Yet the
mass was impressive as a finial to the fountain, having something of the
character of a low obelisk. Indeed, for decorative purposes it might
almost as well have been a shaft, the special aptitude of the human form
for the expression of ornamental design having been obliterated by the
drapery. Not so, however, in the lower part of the composition. The
pedestal on which the figure rested was surrounded by nude forms of
youths and maidens intended to represent the seasons, while the platform
on which they rested was supported by crouching male and female forms,
personifying, I believe, the virtues and vices. Yet with all Grafly’s
inclination toward symbolism, there is very little expressional
suggestion in his treatment of the nude. He becomes preoccupied with the
model and his imagination seems to leave him. However, in one statue at
least, “The Vulture of War,” he has shown what he can accomplish, when
he permits his imagination to control. Here the nude is made a vehicle
of emotional force: a male figure stooping forward, as if he were on
some lofty crag and about to hurl himself to earth; his face treacherous
and cruel; the limbs constricted like a beast of prey’s. There is a
largeness of design in this figure as well as expression; something
infinitely finer than mere close studies of anatomy, accompanied with
accessories of abstruse suggestion; a real incentive to one’s
imagination which is lacking, if I mistake not, in such compositions as
“Symbol of Life,” “In Much Wisdom” and “From Generation to Generation.”
On the other hand, in his busts Grafly exhibits a directness of insight
into character and a vigorous, very personal technique that make them
most distinguished.

Nor does the symbolism of F. E. Elwell, as shown for example, in his
“Goddess of Fire,” stir more in me than an interested curiosity. Why
should he have drawn the type of his figure and its accessories from the
art of ancient Egypt? Had he the intention of fashioning something
beautiful, or that should pique the appetite for surprise? Was his
motive to allure or tantalise our imagination? For my own part, I admit
the fascination of this spritish figure, so queerly bedizened, but am
not conscious of any appeal to the imagination. On the other hand, when
his work is not abstruse it is apt to be too obvious. The “Orchid
Dancer” is clearly posing for effect, looking for applause, and, I
should judge from the expression of her face, quite unable to understand
why any one could withhold it. However, while the movement of the figure
lacks expression, there is a very pleasing fancifulness in the treatment
of the drapery, curling across the body and upward from the feet in
petal-like volutes. I think I do not fail to appreciate the sentiment
which inspired this statue, and, if I speak of it as being too obvious,
it is because it seems to me that the sentiment stands out clear of the
sculptural feeling. Thought and technique are not wedded in such manner,
that you not only cannot feel them separately, but would find it
impossible to distinguish how much had been inspired by the one, how
much by the other.

Elwell’s work suggests a man of poetic and intellectual capacity who has
resorted to sculpture to express his ideas, and this is a different
thing from the sculptural instinct, influenced by intellect and poetry.
Accompanying this lack of a predominant feeling for form is a lack of
mastery of it, which becomes apparent when he confronts his model. The
latter does not act as stimulus to sculptural motive, but becomes
something to be reproduced, and his invention is absorbed in the details
which shall convey a suggestion of the intellectual and poetic motive.
One may even feel that this intellectual or poetic motive becomes an
obsession, which interferes with his receiving sculptural stimulus from
the model. For among his later works are two in which evidently the same
model has been used; but in one case he has been filled with an idea,
and the use he has made of the model is tame, whereas in the other case
it would appear to have been the model herself which engaged his
imagination. He has made a close study of her head and bust, producing
something in which the nobility of form and flesh are very apparent,
which, in fact, has very strongly the sculpturesque feeling. He calls
the finished work “Mary Magdalen,” but this, one feels sure, was a
convenient afterthought, and that the original intention, as I have
said, was simply a study of form and flesh; and his temporary escape
from the prepossession of an idea has given free course to the
sculptural purpose. Two earlier works, regarded as being his most
important productions, were the Dickens Memorial and a statue of General
Hancock at Gettysburg.

These two, Grafly and Elwell, are the only American sculptors within my
knowledge who have been drawn toward symbolic mysticism; for the
mysticism that appears in Barnard’s work, and must have been present in
the colossal “Spirit” by John Donoghue, a work known to me only by
report, is of a grander, deeper character, growing out of and
penetrating the form itself. This statue of Donoghue’s, a seated, winged
figure thirty feet high, represented the Spirit, the “Thou” of Milton’s
apostrophe, who

                            “from the first
    Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
    Dove-like, satst brooding on the vast abyss,
    And madst it pregnant.”

Described as a work of great impressiveness, with suggestion of
sublimity, benignity and mysterious power, it was executed in the
artist’s studio on the Roman Campagna and sent to this country for
exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair. But for some reason it never
reached its destination, and was allowed to crumble away in the
warehouse of a Brooklyn wharf. Other works of his also--“Sophocles,”
“Diana,” “Venus”--for lack of appreciation lie in storage.

Working fitfully and with painful hindrances from insufficient facility
in the handling of his medium, Theodore Bauer has produced some works
full of imagination. Nature gave him the gifts of music and of dreaming;
and, nursing these, he slipped on into middle life, without ceasing to
be a child. The grit of manhood, the practicality of the world and the
need of responding to it in kind, are outside his comprehension. He
lives within himself in a world of his own: a world of rosy lights and
purple shadows; soft, Æolian breezes, whose wailing arouses a rapture of
mild despair; distant mountains, whose inaccessible snows prompt sweet
imaginings of purity and high endeavour, while he meditates in his
valley of unlaborious delight and delicious, pleasurable pain. A world
of reverie, darkened, however, at times by storm-clouds and disturbed by
the deep moan of thunder along the distant heights.

For in Bauer’s work delicate fancy alternates with sadness, as one may
see in his two statues in the Library of Congress. “Religion” is
represented as a young girl peering into the far beyond with wistful,
visionary gaze and holding before her a poppy flower with leaves and
seed-pod. In her grasp is the pride of life and the narcotic with which
the world lulls its pain; but she looks beyond them to the ideal and to
the balm of spiritual ecstasy. In the “Beethoven,” however, is expressed
the world-wearied yearning of the artistic soul. The well-known face,
rugged and graven with the lines of time and suffering, is slightly
bowed, and the right hand is held to the ear as it listens intently for
the far-off strain of inspiration, while the other hand is poised as if
above a keyboard, the fingers searching to express the music in his
brain. A heavy cloak with high-standing collar gives breadth and
picturesqueness to the figure. It is, indeed, too picturesque, one may
feel--with too expanded a composition and too much play of movement, to
satisfy its architectonic function of relieving by a vertical line the
horizontal of the balustrade. But, however that may be, as the portrait
of a great musician and an idealisation of his art, it is a statue full
of suggestion--a work of imagination, elevated, tender, deep and true.

Bauer had long pondered a series of four groups, representing “The
Tragedy of the Sphinx”; her awakening to love, her passion, disillusion
and death; and in one of the buildings of the Chicago World’s Fair, amid
the chaos of the construction period and in a winter of unusual
severity, a winter of veritable discontent to him, he worked upon the
first of these, “The Sphinx and the Cupid.” During the exposition months
it stood in a retreat of foliage near the Art Palace unnoticed. Yet,
even unfinished as it was, it exerted an extraordinary fascination. The
little Love God was whispering in the creature’s ear, and as the honey
of his words sweetly melted her slow imagination, a smile of aroused
appetite began to play upon her lips, hunger shone in her eye; a passion
hot and cold, eager with desire, callous to everything but its own
satisfaction; a cruelty that would not be appeased until it had consumed
itself.

I have said that Bauer is painfully hindered by a lack of facility in
the handling of his medium; but I doubt if it is from lack of skill in
technique, as is sometimes said. He is, in fact, a very rapid and sure
worker up to a certain point, that of bodying forth his conception in
its broad, general aspect; and the subsequent embarrassment is due to
the subtlety of the expression for which he is striving; a kind of
subtlety, often alien, I expect, to the expressional capacity of his
medium. For Bauer has long wished that fate had made him a painter
instead of a sculptor, and there is no doubt that the quality of his
imagination is more suited to the medium of colour.

In contrast with the mysticism and subtlety of imagination, more or
less displayed in the work we have been considering, is that form of
imagination which turns to earth and to the facts of things for its
inspiration. How it has operated in the work of some of our sculptors
has been noticed elsewhere, as well as the fact that the Indian subject
has made frequent appeal to their imagination. A further example of the
latter is “The Medicine Man,” by C. E. Dallin, which was a prominent
feature on the grounds of the Paris Exposition. Mounted on a stringy
pony, the man himself lean and gaunt, the group counted very little as a
mass, yet compelled attention by the keenness of the characterisation.
Amid the extreme modernness of the scene and its variety of impressions,
the impassiveness of this figure, survival of an age so remote, was
strangely moving; a proud, stern figure, conscious of its dignity, in
pitiful, solemn protest against the inexorable march of destiny; the
last echo of an unrecorded epic. No sculptor has succeeded better in
combining with complete naturalism the poetry of the Indian subject.
Gutzon Borglum in his statuettes has represented with realism and vigour
its actualities, and H. A. MacNeil has reached inward into the thought
of the Indian; but Dallin has given us the realism, spirit and some
suggestion of the Indian environment, such as Brush did in his early
paintings.

In Philadelphia, however, is an Indian group representing “The Stone
Age,” which involves some further suggestion. A woman stands grasping a
hatchet and clutching her infant to her breast, as she looks into the
distance with wary, resolute courage, while a little child crouches up
to her on one side, and on the other a bear’s cub lies dead. It is by
John J. Boyle, one of his few ideal subjects, a work of powerful
imagination. This sculptor has essayed decorative subjects, but with
less success. His control of composition does not seem to extend beyond
the treatment of a single figure or of a group in which one is
predominant; and his strong point is the expression of character or
sentiment. Thus his seated statue of Benjamin Franklin is one of the
most interesting examples of portrait-sculpture in the country. It
possesses a considerable share of monumental dignity and a very
remarkable intimacy of feeling. The pose is informal, the expression of
the head and body quite natural, yet the conception has no trace of
obviousness, much less of commonplace. It is invested with just
sufficient idealisation to preserve the impression of a statue; that it
is not the counterfeit presentiment of a man, but a memorial of his
qualities and what they imply to his admirers. And the qualities are
expressed with admirable decision; the intellectual dignity of the head
well sustained by the erect torso and the broad, firm carriage of the
arms; the easy negligence of the costume according so well with the
benevolence and genial humanity of the face. Indeed, in this
portrait-statue Boyle reveals a penetrating and sympathetic insight and
a choice of treatment that are the products of an active imagination;
and when in a subject like the “Stone Age” his imagination can work as
it lists, it reaches to that point where the particular becomes merged
in the universal suggestion.

For in this group we pass from interest in the episode to a realisation
of the rude grandeur of the primitive nature, the physical grandeur of
untrammelled development and the natural instinct of the mother animal.
I recall another group of his: a modern peasant woman with her baby
folded in sleep upon her broad bosom and another child nestling at her
feet. Here, too, the mother is vigorous and ample, but rounded and
softened by more genial environment. Yet in the generousness of her form
as in the strenuousness of the other’s, we feel the same suggestion of
the earth-mother, the mother in closest affinity with nature. Only, as
nature progresses from rigour to amenity, the primal instinct of
preservation of her young has passed into the all-pervading tenderness
of maternal solicitude. It is, in fact, the typical conception of
motherhood, as compared with the merely individual representation that
appears in each of these groups.

The conception, moreover, is coloured with modern thought, not a
spiritualised abstraction, like Raphael’s, but enriched with the passion
and fecundity of earth. Raphael may have sought his models among the
girl-mothers of Trastevere or the Campagna; but his idea of motherhood
he brought down from the region of artistic and intellectual
speculation. On the other hand, the tendency of the modern artist is to
set back his model in her actual environment and to discover her
affinity thereto. Or, if his model be nature, he no longer attempts to
spiritualise it by arrangement of lines and forms that accord with his
abstract theories of beauty, or by investing it with atmosphere and
sunlight, drawn from his own imagination. Nor is he satisfied with the
objective nature-study of the Dutchmen of the sixteenth century; but,
observing nature no less closely than they, he peers further into it in
the search for a soul and heart within her that shall correspond to the
heart and soul within himself.

The main current of the poetic imagination in modern art is to find the
soul in the fact and it is a phase of the general tendency of modern
thought. Our gaze is earthward; to the beauty, poetry and desirable
goodness that are in nature and the natural life, and to the spiritual
suggestion in the actual.

There are minor currents, too, little streams of rebellion that flow
contrary to the general direction. The superesthetic and the
superintellectual, equally are protests against the trend toward
naturalism. The one responds to what there is in us of world-weariness,
of a jaded epicureanism that needs the subtlest stimulants to its
imagination; the other would emphasise the quality by which, it assumes,
we are differentiated from, and superior to, the natural world.
Disregarding the Universal Intellect which regulates the law of natural
growth and of natural habits, it would force the little unit of
intellect into premature development, into lifelong estrangement from
the wholesomeness of nature. For facts it would substitute names; words,
words and continually words, until they take the place of knowledge, of
ideas and of all religious, moral and esthetic consciousness.

In American art there is scarcely any trace of the superesthetic; but
more than a little of the superintellectual, a phase and product of our
infatuation for words, which binds the imagination with wrappings of
borrowed thought and checks the free flight of original ideas. For the
end of art is not to teach, but to make us feel; to refine and elevate
the operation of the senses, helping us through visible, tangible and
audible beauty to catch at something of the mysterious infinitude of
beauty. Even as man’s intellect reaches ever wider and further until
knowledge is merged in speculation; so by the promptings of the senses
we reach from appreciation of material things to that detachment of
feeling which exists in the ideal.



INDEX


Adams, Herbert, 99-115, 184, 193


Ball, Thomas, vi, 56

Barnard, George Grey, 21-36

Barnhorn, Clement J., 193, et seq.

Bartholomé, Albert, 6, 7

Bartlett, Paul W., 89-95, 184

Barye, Antoine Louis, 158

Bauer, Theodore, 223, et seq.

Bissell, George E., 184

Bitter, Karl, 204, 205

Borglum, Gutzon, 153, 154, 226

Borglum, Solon Hannibal, 149-162

Boston Public Library, 81, 83

Boyle, John J., 184, 227, et seq.

Brenner, Victor David, 165-171

Brooks, Richard E., 214

Brown, Henry Kirke, vi, 43, 203

Bush-Brown, H. K., 202, 203


Calverly, Charles, 213

Canfield, Birtley, 214

Canova, v, 56

Carpeaux, Jean Baptiste, 134

Casey, Edward Pearce, 188

Cavelier, Jules Pierre, 28

Centennial Exhibition, v, viii, 136

Chicago World’s Fair, 61, 65, 75, 84, 197, 203, 222, 224

Coloring Sculpture, 102, et seq.

Crawford, Thomas, vi


Dallin, Cyrus E., 184, 226

Donoghue, John, 222

Dubois, Paul, 6, 7, 15


Elwell, F. Edwin, 219, et seq.


Falguière, Jean Alexandre Joseph, 75, 100, 134

Flanagan, John, 185

Frémiet, Emmanuel, 90, 157

French, Daniel Chester, 55-70, 193


Grafly, Charles, 217, et seq., 222

Greenough, Horatio, 4


Harvey, Eli, 202


Jouffroy, François, 134


Kemeys, Edward, 197

Kitson, Alice Ruggles, 213

Kitson, Henry H., 213

Konti, Isidore, 205, et seq.


Library of Congress, 74, 83, 90, 113, 128, 142, 176, et seq., 223

Linder, Henry, 195


Macmonnies, Frederick, 73-85

MacNeil, H. A., 226

Martiny, Philip, 177, et seq., 179, 191, 205

McKim, Charles F., 65, 66, 189

Mercié, Marius Jean Antonin, 100, 134

Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, New York, 81, 89, 169

Michelangelo, 21, 26, 27, 102, 212

Murray, Samuel, 213


National Sculpture Society, 40

Niehaus, Charles Henry, 119-128, 184


O’Donovan, W. R., 213


Pan-American Exposition, 149, 203, 207, 217

Paris Exposition of 1900, 6, 77, 149

Perry, R. Hinton, 185, et seq.

Potter, Edward C., 66, 184, 197

Powers, Hiram, vi

Pratt, Bela L., 181, et seq.

Proctor, A. Phimister, 197, 198, 199


Rebisso, Louis T., 155, 157

Rhind, J. Massey, 191, et seq.

Rinehart, William Henry, vi

Rodin, Auguste, 8, 35, 102, 139, 158, 213

Roth, Frederick G. R., 199, et seq.

Roty, Louis Oscar, 168

Ruckstuhl, F. Wellington, 184

Rude, François, 134


Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 3, 17, 21, 49, 74, 75, 157, 193, 214

Schwarzott, M. M., 196

Sullivan, Louis H., 190


Taft, Lorado, 178


Ward, John Quincy Adams, 39-52, 167

Warner, Olin Levi, 109, 131-146

Weinert, Albert, 179

Weinman, Adolph A., 214

[Illustration:

THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS

GARDEN CITY, N. Y.]





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