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Author: Huneker, James, 1860-1921
Title: Promenades of an Impressionist
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): velasquez; cezanne; goya; manet; degas; monet; painter; portrait; paris; museum
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Title: Promenades of an Impressionist

Author: James Huneker

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PROMENADES OF AN IMPRESSIONIST


By JAMES HUNEKER


1910




BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

     Published by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


     Promenades of an Impressionist. 12mo, (_Postage_ 15 cents_),
       _net_, $1.50.

     Egoists: A Book of Supermen. 12mo, _net_, $1.50.

     Iconoclasts: A Book of Dramatists. 12mo, _net_, $1.50.

     Overtones: A Book of Temperaments. 12mo, _net_, $1.50.

     Mezzotints in Modern Music. 12mo, $1.50.

     Chopin: The Man and His Music. With Portrait. l2mo, $2.00.

     Visionaries. 12mo, $1.50.

     Melomaniacs. 12mo, $1.50





TO: FREDERICK JAMES GREGG

     -"Let us promenade our prejudices."--Stendhal(?)




CONTENTS


   I. PAUL CEZANNE

  II. ROPS THE ETCHER

 III. MONTICELLI

  IV. RODIN

   V. EUGENE CARRIERE

  VI. DEGAS

 VII. BOTTICELLI

VIII. SIX SPANIARDS:

      "EL GRECO"

      "VELASQUEZ"

      GOYA

      FORTUNY

      SOROLLA

      ZULOAGA

  IX. CHARDIN

   X. BLACK AND WHITE:

      PIRANESI

      MERYON

      JOHN MARTIN

      ZORN

      BRANGWYN

      DAUMIER

      LALANNE

      LEGRAND

      GUYS

  XI. IMPRESSIONISM:

      MONET

      RENOIR

      MANET

 XII. A NEW STUDY OF WATTEAU

XIII. GAUGUIN AND TOULOUSE-LAUTREC

 XIV. LITERATURE AND ART

  XV. MUSEUM PROMENADES:

      PICTURES AT THE HAGUE

      THE MESDAG MUSEUM

      HALS OF HAARLEM

      PICTURES IN AMSTERDAM

      ART IN ANTWERP

      MUSEUMS OF BRUSSELS

      BRUGES THE BEAUTIFUL

      THE MOREAU MUSEUM

      PICTURES IN MADRID

      EL GRECO AT TOLEDO

      VELASQUEZ IN THE PRADO

CODA




PROMENADES OF AN IMPRESSIONIST




I. PAUL CEZANNE



After prolonged study of the art shown at the Paris Autumn Salon you
ask yourself: This whirlpool of jostling ambitions, crazy colours,
still crazier drawing and composition--whither does it tend? Is there
any strain of tendency, any central current to be detected? Is it
young genius in the raw, awaiting the sunshine of success to ripen its
somewhat terrifying gifts? Or is the exhibition a huge, mystifying
_blague_? What, you ask, as you apply wet compresses to your weary
eyeballs, blistered by dangerous proximity to so many blazing
canvases, does the Autumn Salon mean to French art?

There are many canvases the subjects of which are more pathologic than
artistic, subjects only fit for the confessional or the privacy of the
clinic. But, apart from these disagreeable episodes, the main note of
the Salon is a riotous energy, the noisy ebullition of a gang of
students let loose in the halls of art. They seem to rush by you,
yelling from sheer delight in their lung power, and if you are rudely
jostled to the wall, your toes trod upon and your hat clapped down on
your ears, you console yourself with the timid phrase: Youth must have
its fling.




PROMENADES



And what a fling! Largely a flinging of paint pots in the sacred
features of tradition. It needs little effort of the imagination to
see hovering about the galleries the faces of--no, not Gerome, Bonnat,
Jules Lefevre, Cabanel, or any of the reverend _seigneurs_ of the old
Salon--but the reproachful countenances of Courbet, Manet, Degas, and
Monet; for this motley-wearing crew of youngsters are as violently
radical, as violently secessionistic, as were their immediate
forebears. Each chap has started a little revolution of his own, and
takes no heed of the very men from whom he steals his thunder, now
sadly hollow in the transposition. The pretty classic notion of the
torch of artistic tradition gently burning as it is passed on from
generation to generation receives a shock when confronted by the
methods of the hopeful young anarchs of the Grand Palais. Defiance of
all critical canons at any cost is their shibboleth. Compared to their
fulgurant colour schemes the work of Manet, Monet, and Degas pales and
retreats into the Pantheon of the past. They are become classic.
Another king has usurped their throne--his name is Paul Cezanne.

No need now to recapitulate the story of the New Salon and the
defection from it of these Independents. It is a fashion to revolt in
Paris, and no doubt some day there will arise a new group that will
start the August Salon or the January Salon.

"Independent of the Independents" is a magnificent motto with which to
assault any intrenched organisation.




PAUL CEZANNE



If riotous energy is, as I have said, the chief note of many of these
hot, hasty, and often clever pictures, it must be sadly stated that of
genuine originality there are few traces. To the very masters they
pretend to revile they owe everything. In vain one looks for a
tradition older than Courbet; a few have attempted to stammer in the
suave speech of Corot and the men of Fontainebleau; but 1863, the year
of the _Salon des Refuses_, is really the year of their artistic
ancestor's birth. The classicism of Lebrun, David, Ingres, Prudhon;
the romanticism of Gericault, Delacroix, Decamps; the tender poetry of
those true _Waldmenschen_, Millet, Dupre, Diaz, Daubigny, or of that
wild heir of Giorgione and Tiepolo, the marvellous colour virtuoso who
"painted music," Monticelli--all these men might never have been born
except for their possible impact upon the so-called "Batignolles"
school. Alas! such ingratitude must rankle. To see the major portion
of this band of young painters, with talent in plenty, occupying
itself in a frantic burlesque of second-hand Cezannes, with here and
there a shallow Monet, a faded Renoir, an affected Degas, or an
impertinent Gauguin, must be mortifying to the older men.

And now we reach the holy precincts. If ardent youths sneered at the
lyric ecstasy of Renoir, at the severe restraint of Chavannes, at the
poetic mystery of Carriere, their lips were hushed as they tiptoed
into the Salle Cezanne. Sacred ground, indeed, we trod as we gazed and
wondered before these crude, violent, sincere, ugly, and bizarre
canvases. Here was the very hub of the Independents' universe. Here
the results of a hard-labouring painter, without taste, without the
faculty of selection, without vision, culture--one is tempted to add,
intellect--who with dogged persistency has painted in the face of
mockery, painted portraits, landscapes, flowers, houses, figures,
painted everything, painted himself. And what paint! Stubborn, with an
instinctive hatred of academic poses, of the atmosphere of the studio,
of the hired model, of "literary," or of mere digital cleverness,
Cezanne has dropped out of his scheme harmony, melody,
beauty--classic, romantic, symbolic, what you will!--and doggedly
represented the ugliness of things. But there is a brutal strength, a
tang of the soil that is bitter, and also strangely invigorating,
after the false, perfumed boudoir art of so many of his
contemporaries.

Think of Bouguereau and you have his antithesis in Cezanne--Cezanne
whose stark figures of bathers, male and female, evoke a shuddering
sense of the bestial. Not that there is offence intended in his badly
huddled nudes; he only delineates in simple, naked fashion the horrors
of some undressed humans. His landscapes are primitive though suffused
by perceptible atmosphere; while the rough architecture, shambling
figures, harsh colouring do not quite destroy the impression of
general vitality. You could not say with Walt Whitman that his stunted
trees were "uttering joyous leaves of dark green." They utter, if
anything, raucous oaths, as seemingly do the
self-portraits--exceedingly well modelled, however. Cezanne's
still-life attracts by its whole-souled absorption; these fruits and
vegetables really savour of the earth. Chardin interprets still-life
with realistic beauty; if he had ever painted an onion it would have
revealed a certain grace. When Paul Cezanne paints an onion you smell
it. Nevertheless, he has captured the affections of the rebels and is
their god. And next season it may be some one else.

It may interest readers of Zola's L'Oeuvre to learn about one of the
characters, who perforce sat for his portrait in that clever novel (a
direct imitation of Goncourt's Manette Salomon). Paul Cezanne bitterly
resented the liberty taken by his old school friend Zola. They both
hailed from Aix, in Provence. Zola went up to Paris; Cezanne remained
in his birthplace but finally persuaded his father to let him study
art at the capital. His father was both rich and wise, for he settled
a small allowance on Paul, who, poor chap, as he said, would never
earn a franc from his paintings. This prediction was nearly verified.
Cezanne was almost laughed off the artistic map of Paris. Manet they
could stand, even Claude Monet; but Cezanne--communard and anarchist
he must be (so said the wise ones in official circles), for he was
such a villainous painter! Cezanne died, but not before his apotheosis
by the new crowd of the Autumn Salon. We are told by admirers of Zola
how much he did for his neglected and struggling fellow-townsman; how
the novelist opened his arms to Cezanne. Cezanne says quite the
contrary. In the first place he had more money than Zola when they
started, and Zola, after he had become a celebrity, was a great man
and very haughty.

"A mediocre intelligence and a detestable friend" is the way the
prototype of Claude Lantier puts the case. "A bad book and a
completely false one," he added, when speaking to the painter Emile
Bernard on the disagreeable theme. Naturally Zola did not pose his old
friend for the entire figure of the crazy impressionist, his hero,
Claude. It was a study composed of Cezanne, Bazille, and one other, a
poor, wretched lad who had been employed to clean Manet's studio,
entertained artistic ambitions, but hanged himself. The conversations
Cezanne had with Zola, his extreme theories of light, are all in the
novel--by the way, one of Zola's most finished efforts. Cezanne, an
honest, hard-working man, bourgeois in habits if not by temperament,
was grievously wounded by the treachery of Zola; and he did not fail
to denounce this treachery to Bernard.

Paul Cezanne was born January 19, 1839. His father was a rich
bourgeois, and while he was disappointed when his son refused to
prosecute further his law studies, he, being a sensible parent and
justly estimating Paul's steadiness of character, allowed him to go to
Paris in 1862, giving him an income of a hundred and fifty francs a
month, which was shortly after doubled. With sixty dollars a month an
art student of twenty-three could, in those days, live comfortably,
study at leisure, and see the world. Cezanne from the start was in
earnest. Instinctively he realised that for him was not the rapid
ascent of the rocky path that leads to Parnassus. He mistrusted his
own talent, though not his powers of application. At first he
frequented the Academie Suisse, where he encountered as fellow-workers
Pissarro and Guillaumin. He soon transferred his easel to the
Beaux-Arts and became an admirer of Delacroix and Courbet. It seems
strange in the presence of a Cezanne picture to realise that he, too,
suffered his little term of lyric madness and wrestled with huge
mythologic themes--giant men carrying off monstrous women.
Connoisseurs at the sale of Zola's art treasures were astonished by
the sight of a canvas signed Cezanne, the subject of which was
L'Enlevement, a romantic subject, not lacking in the spirit of
Delacroix. The Courbet influence persisted, despite the development of
the younger painter in other schools. Cezanne can claim Courbet and
the Dutchmen as artistic ancestors.

When Cezanne arrived in Paris the first comrade to greet him was Zola.
The pair became inseparable; they fought for naturalism, and it was to
Cezanne that Zola dedicated his _Salons_ which are now to be found in
a volume of essays on art and literature bearing the soothing title of
Mes Haines. Zola, pitching overboard many friends, wrote his famous
eulogy of Manet in the _Evenement_, and the row he raised was so
fierce that he was forced to resign as art critic from that journal.
The fight then began in earnest. The story is a thrice-told one. It
may be read in Theodore Duret's study of Manet and, as regards
Cezanne, in the same critic's volume on Impressionism. Cezanne
exhibited in 1874 with Manet and the rest at the impressionists'
salon, held at the studio of Nadar the photographer. He had earlier
submitted at once to Manet's magic method of painting, but in 1873, at
Auvers-sur-Oise, he began painting in the _plein air_ style and with
certain modifications adhered to that manner until the time of his
death. The amazing part of it all is that he produced for more than
thirty years and seldom sold a canvas, seldom exhibited. His solitary
appearance at an official salon was in 1882, and he would not have
succeeded then if it had not been for his friend Guillaumin, a member
of the selecting jury, who claimed his rights and passed in, amid
execrations, both mock and real, a portrait by Cezanne.

Called a _communard_ in 1874, Cezanne was saluted with the title of
anarchist in 1904, when his vogue had begun; these titles being a
species of official nomenclature for all rebels. Thiers, once
President of the French Republic, made a _bon mot_ when he exclaimed:
"A Romantic--that is to say, Communist!" During his entire career this
mild, reserved gentleman from Aix came under the ban of the critics
and the authorities, for he had shouldered his musket in 1871, as did
Manet, as did Bazille,--who, like Henri Regnault, was killed in a
skirmish.

His most virulent enemies were forced to admit that Edouard Manet had
a certain facility with the brush; his quality and beauty of sheer
paint could not be winked away even by Albert Wolff. But to Cezanne
there was no quarter shown. He was called the "Ape of Manet"; he was
hissed, cursed, abused; his canvases were spat upon, and as late as
1902, when M. Roujon, the Director of the Beaux-Arts, was asked by
Octave Mirbeau to decorate Cezanne, he nearly fainted from
astonishment. Cezanne! That barbarian! The amiable director suggested
instead the name of Claude Monet. Time had enjoyed its little
whirligig with that great painter of vibrating light and water, but
Monet blandly refused the long-protracted honour. Another anecdote is
related by M. Duret. William II of Germany in 1899 wished to examine
with his own eyes, trained by the black, muddy painting of Germany,
the canvases of Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne, and Manet, acquired
by Director Tschudi for the Berlin National Gallery. He saw them all
except the Cezanne. Herr Tschudi feared that the Parisian fat would be
in the imperial fire if the Cezanne picture appeared. So he hid it. As
it was his Majesty nodded in emphatic disapproval of the imported
purchases. If he had viewed the Cezanne!

At first blush, for those whose schooling has been academic, the
Cezanne productions are shocking. Yet his is a personal vision, though
a heavy one. He has not a facile brush; he is not a great painter; he
lacks imagination, invention, fantasy; but his palette is his own. He
is a master of gray tones, and his scale is, as Duret justly observes,
a very intense one. He avoids the anecdote, historic or domestic. He
detests design, prearranged composition. His studio is an open field,
light the chief actor of his palette. He is never conventionally
decorative unless you can call his own particular scheme decorative.
He paints what he sees without flattery, without flinching from any
ugliness. Compared with him Courbet is as sensuous as Correggio. He
does not seek for the correspondences of light with surrounding
objects or the atmosphere in which Eugene Carriere bathes his
portraits, Rodin his marbles. The Cezanne picture does not modulate,
does not flow; is too often hard, though always veracious--Cezannes
veracity, be it understood. But it is an inescapable veracity. There
is, too, great vitality and a peculiar reserved passion, like that of
a Delacroix _a ribbers_, and in his still-life he is as great even as
Manet.

His landscapes are real, though without the subtle poetry of Corot or
the blazing lyricism of Monet. He hails directly from the Dutch: Van
der Near, in his night pieces. Yet no Dutchman ever painted so
uncompromisingly, so close to the border line that divides the rigid
definitions of old-fashioned photography--the "new" photography hugs
closely the mellow mezzotint--and the vision of the painter. An
eye--nothing more, is Cezanne. He refuses to see in nature either a
symbol or a sermon. Withal his landscapes are poignant in their
reality. They are like the grill age one notes in ancient French
country houses--little caseate cut in the windows through which you
may see in vivid outline a little section of the landscape. Cezanne
marvellously renders certain surfaces, china, fruit, tapestry.

Slowly grew his fame as a sober, sincere, unaffected workman of art.
Disciples rallied around him. He accepted changing fortunes with his
accustomed equanimity. Maurice Denis painted for the Champ de Mars
Salon of 1901 a picture entitled Homage a Cezanne, after the
well-known _hommages_ of Fantin-Latour. This _homage_ had its uses.
The disciples became a swelling, noisy chorus, and in 1904 the Cezanne
room was thronged by overheated enthusiasts who would have offered
violence to the first critical dissident. The older men, the followers
of Monet, Manet, Degas, and Whistler, talked as if the end of the
world had arrived. Art is a serious affair in Paris. However, after
Cezanne appeared the paintings of that half-crazy, unlucky genius,
Vincent van Gogh, and of the gifted, brutal Gauguin. And in the face
of such offerings Cezanne may yet, by reason of his moderation,
achieve the unhappy fate of becoming a classic. He is certainly as far
removed from Van Gogh and Gauguin on the one side as he is from Manet
and Courbet on the other. Huysmans does not hesitate to assert that
Cezanne contributed more to accelerate the impressionist movement than
Manet. Paul Cezanne died in Aix, in Provence, October 23, 1906.

Emile Bernard, an admirer, a quasi-pupil of Cezanne's and a painter of
established reputation, discoursed at length in the _Mercure de
France_ upon the methods and the man. His anecdotes are interesting.
Without the genius of Flaubert, Cezanne had something of the great
novelist's abhorrence of life--fear would be a better word. He
voluntarily left Paris to immure himself in his native town of Aix,
there to work out in peace long-planned projects, which would, he
believed, revolutionise the technique of painting. Whether for good or
evil, his influence on the younger men in Paris has been powerful,
though it is now on the wane. How far they have gone astray in
imitating him is the most significant thing related by Emile Bernard,
a friend of Paul Gauguin and a member of his Pont-Aven school.

In February, 1904, Bernard landed in Marseilles after a trip to the
Orient. A chance word told him that there had been installed an
electric tramway between Marseilles and Aix. Instantly the name of
Cezanne came to his memory; he had known for some years that the old
painter was in Aix. He resolved to visit him, and fearing a doubtful
reception he carried with him a pamphlet he had written in 1889, an
eulogium of the painter. On the way he asked his fellow-travellers for
Cezanne's address, but in vain; the name was unknown. In Aix he met
with little success. Evidently the fame of the recluse had not reached
his birthplace. At last Bernard was advised to go to the Mayor's
office, where he would find an electoral list. Among the voters he
discovered a Paul Cezanne, who was born January 19, 1839, who lived at
25 Rue Boulegon. Bernard lost no time and reached a simple dwelling
house with the name of the painter on the door. He rang. The door
opened. He entered and mounted a staircase. Ahead of him, slowly
toiling upward, was an old man in a cloak and carrying a portfolio. It
was Cezanne. After he had explained the reason for his visit, the old
painter cried: "You are Emile Bernard! You are a maker of biographies!
Signac"--an impressionist--"told me of you. You are also a painter?"
Bernard, who had been painting for years, and was a friend of Signac,
was nonplussed at his sudden literary reputation, but he explained the
matter to Cezanne, who, however, was in doubt until he saw later the
work of his admirer.

He had another atelier a short distance from the town; he called it
"The Motive." There, facing Mount Sainte-Victoire, he painted every
afternoon in the open; the majority of his later landscapes were
inspired by the views in that charming valley. Bernard was so glad to
meet Cezanne that he moved to Aix.

In Cezanne's studio at Aix Bernard encountered some extraordinary
studies in flower painting and three death heads; also monstrous
nudes, giant-like women whose flesh appeared parboiled. On the streets
Cezanne was always annoyed by boys or beggars; the former were
attracted by his bohemian exterior and to express their admiration
shouted at him or else threw stones; the beggars knew their man to be
easy and were rewarded by small coin. Although Cezanne lived like a
bachelor, his surviving sister saw that his household was comfortable.
His wife and son lived in Paris and often visited him. He was rich;
his father, a successful banker at Aix, had left him plenty of money;
but a fanatic on the subject of art, ceaselessly searching for new
tonal combinations, he preferred a hermit's existence. In Aix he was
considered eccentric though harmless. His pride was doubled by a
morbid shyness. Strangers he avoided. So sensitive was he that once
when he stumbled over a rock Bernard attempted to help him by seizing
his arm. A terrible scene ensued. The painter, livid with fright,
cursed the unhappy young Parisian and finally ran away. An explanation
came when the housekeeper told Bernard that her master was a little
peculiar. Early in life he had been kicked by some rascal and ever
afterward was nervous. He was very irritable and not in good health.

In Bernard's presence he threw a bust made of him by Solari to the
ground, smashing it. It didn't please him. In argument he lost his
temper, though he recovered it rapidly. Zola's name was anathema. He
said that Daumier drank too much; hence his failure to attain
veritable greatness. Cezanne worked from six to ten or eleven in the
morning at his atelier; then he breakfasted, repaired to the "Motive,"
there to remain until five in the evening. Returning to Aix, he dined
and retired immediately. And he had kept up this life of toil and
abnegation for years. He compared himself to Balzac's Frenhofer (in
The Unknown Masterpiece), who painted out each day the work of the
previous day. Cezanne adored the Venetians--which is curious--and
admitted that he lacked the power to realise his inward vision; hence
the continual experimenting. He most admired Veronese, and was
ambitious of being received at what he called the "Salon de
Bouguereau." The truth is, despite Cezanne's long residence in Paris,
he remained provincial to the end; his father before becoming a banker
had been a hairdresser, and his son was proud of the fact. He never
concealed it. He loved his father's memory and had wet eyes when he
spoke of him.

Bernard thinks that the vision of his master was defective; hence the
sometime shocking deformations he indulged in. "His _optique_ was more
in his brain than in his eye." He lacked imagination absolutely, and
worked slowly, laboriously, his method one of excessive complication.
He began with a shadow, then a touch, superimposing tone upon tone,
modelling his paint somewhat like Monticelli, but without a hint of
that artist's lyricism. Sober, without rhetoric, a realist, yet with a
singularly rich and often harmonious palette, Cezanne reported
faithfully what his eyes told him.

It angered him to see himself imitated and he was wrathful when he
heard that his still-life pictures were praised in Paris. "That stuff
they like up there, do they? Their taste must be low," he would
repeat, his eyes sparkling with malice. He disliked the work of Paul
Gauguin and repudiated the claim of being his artistic ancestor. "He
did not understand me," grumbled Cezanne. He praised Thomas Couture,
who was, he asserted, a true master, one who had formed such excellent
pupils as Courbet, Manet, and Puvis. This rather staggered Bernard, as
well it might; the paintings of Couture and Cezanne are poles apart.

He had, he said, wasted much time in his youth--particularly in
literature. A lettered man, he read to Bernard a poem in imitation of
Baudelaire, one would say very Baudelairian. He had begun too late,
had submitted himself to other men's influence, and wished for half a
century that he might "realise"--his favourite expression--his
theories. When he saw Bernard painting he told him that his palette
was too restricted; he needed at least twenty colours. Bernard gives
the list of yellows, reds, greens, and blues, with variations. "Don't
make Chinese images like Gauguin," he said another time. "All nature
must be modelled after the sphere, cone, and cylinder; as for colour,
the more the colours harmonise the more the design becomes precise."
Never a devotee of form--he did not draw from the model--his
philosophy can be summed up thus: Look out for the contrasts and
correspondence of tones, and the design will take care of itself. He
hated "literary" painting and art criticism. He strongly advised
Bernard to stick to his paint and let the pen alone. The moment an
artist begins to explain his work he is done for; painting is
concrete, literature deals with the abstract. He loved music,
especially Wagner's, which he did not understand, but the sound of
Wagner's name was sympathetic, and that had at first attracted him!
Pissarro he admired for his indefatigable labours. Suffering from
diabetes, which killed him, his nervous tension is excusable. He was
in reality an amiable, kind-hearted, religious man. Above all, simple.
He sought for the simple motive in nature. He would not paint a Christ
head because he did not believe himself a worthy enough Christian.
Chardin he studied and had a theory that the big spectacles and visor
which the Little Master (the Velasquez of vegetables) wore had helped
his vision. Certainly the still-life of Cezanne's is the only modern
still-life that may be compared to Chardin's; not Manet, Vollon, Chase
has excelled this humble painter of Aix. He called the Ecoles des
Beaux-Arts the "Bozards," and reviled as farceurs the German
secessionists who imitated him. He considered Ingres, notwithstanding
his science, a small painter in comparison with the Venetians and
Spaniards.

A painter by compulsion, a contemplative rather than a creative
temperament, a fumbler and seeker, nevertheless Paul Cezanne has
formed a school, has left a considerable body of work. His optic nerve
was abnormal, he saw his planes leap or sink on his canvas; he often
complained, but his patience and sincerity were undoubted. Like his
friend Zola his genius--if genius there is in either man--was largely
a matter of protracted labour, and has it not been said that genius is
a long labour?

From the sympathetic pen of Emile Bernard we learn of a character
living in the real bohemia of Paris painters who might have figured in
any of the novels referred to, or, better still, might have been
interpreted by Victor Hugo or Ivan Turgenieff. But the Frenchman would
have made of Pere Tanguy a species of poor Myriel; the Russian would
have painted him as he was, a saint in humility, springing from the
soil, the friend of poor painters, a socialist in theory, but a
Christian in practice. After following the humble itinerary of his
life you realise the uselessness of "literary" invention. Here was
character for a novelist to be had for the asking. The Crainquebille
of Anatole France occurs to the lover of that writer after reading
Emile Bernard's little study of Father Tanguy.

His name was Julien Tanguy. He was born in 1825 at Pledran, in the
north of France. He was a plasterer when he married. The young couple,
accustomed to hardships of all kinds, left Saint-Brieuc for Paris.
This was in 1860. After various vicissitudes the man became a colour
grinder in the house of Edouard, Rue Clauzel. The position was meagre.
The Tanguys moved up in the social scale by accepting the job of
concierge somewhere on the Butte Montmartre. This gave Pere Tanguy
liberty, his wife looking after the house. He went into business on
his own account, vending colours in the quarter and the suburbs. He
traversed the country from Argenteuil to Barbizon, from Ecouen to
Sarcelle. He met Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, all youthful and
confident and boiling over with admiration for Corot, Courbet, and
Millet. They patronised the honest, pleasant pedlar of colours and
brushes, and when they didn't have the money he trusted them. It was
his prime quality that he trusted people. He cared not enough for
money, as his too often suffering wife averred, and his heart, always
on his sleeve, he was an easy mark for the designing. This supreme
simplicity led him into joining the Communists in 1871, and then he
had a nasty adventure. One day, while dreaming on sentry duty, a band
from Versailles suddenly descended upon the outposts. Pere Tanguy lost
his head. He could not fire on a fellow-being, and he threw away his
musket. For this act of "treachery" he was sentenced to serve two
years in the galleys at Brest. Released by friendly intervention he
had still to remain without Paris for two years more. Finally,
entering his beloved quarter he resumed his tranquil occupation, and
hearing that the Maison Edouard had been moved from the Rue Clauzel he
rented a little shop, where he sold material to artists, bought
pictures, and entertained in his humble manner any friend or luckless
devil who happened that way. Cezanne and Vignon were his best
customers. Guillemin, Pissarro, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Oller,
Messurer, Augustin, Signac, De Lautrec, symbolists of the Pont-Aven
school, neo-impressionists, and the young _fumistes_ of schools as yet
unborn, revolutionaries with one shirt to their back, swearing at the
official _Salon_ and also swearing by the brotherhood of man (with a
capital), assembled in this dingy old shop. Tanguy was a rallying
point. He was full of the milk of human kindness, and robbed himself
to give a worthless fellow with a hard-luck story some of the sous
that should have gone to his wife. Fortunately she was a philosopher
as well as an admirable housekeeper. If the rent was paid and there
was some soup-meat for dinner she was content. More she could not
expect from a man who gave away with both hands. But--and here is the
curious part of this narrative of M. Bernard's--Tanguy was the only
person in Paris who bought and owned pictures by Cezanne. He had
dozens of his canvases stacked away in the rear of his
establishment--Cezanne often parted with a canvas for a few francs.
When Tanguy was hard up he would go to some discerning amateur and
sell for two hundred francs pictures that to-day bring twenty thousand
francs. Tanguy hated to sell, especially his Cezannes. Artists came to
see them. His shop was the scene of many a wordy critical battle.
Gauguin uttered the paradox, "Nothing so resembles a daub as a
masterpiece," and the novelist Elemir Bourges cried, "This is the
painting of a vintager!" Alfred Stevens roared in the presence of the
Cezannes, Anquetin admired; but, as Bernard adds, Jacques Blanche
bought. So did Durand-Ruel, who has informed me that a fine Cezanne
to-day is a difficult fish to hook. The great public won't have him,
and the amateurs who adore him jealously hold on to their prizes.

The socialism of Pere Tanguy was of a mild order. He pitied with a
Tolstoyan pity the sufferings of the poor. He did not hate the rich,
nor did he stand at street corners preaching the beauties of torch and
bomb. A simple soul, uneducated, not critical, yet with an instinctive
_flair_ for the coming triumphs of his young men, he espoused the
cause of his clients because they were poverty-stricken, unknown, and
revolutionists--an aesthetic revolution was his wildest dream. He said
of Cezanne that "Papa Cezanne always quits a picture before he
finishes it. If he moves he lets his canvases lie in the vacated
studio." He no doubt benefited by this carelessness of the painter.
Cezanne worked slowly, but he never stopped working; he left nothing
to hazard, and, astonishing fact, he spent every morning at the
Louvre. There he practised his daily scales, optically speaking,
before taking up the brush for the day's work. Many of Vincent von
Gogh's pictures Tanguy owned. This was about 1886. The eccentric,
gifted Dutchman attracted the poor merchant by his ferocious
socialism. He was, indeed, a ferocious temperament, working like a
madman, painting with his colour tubes when he had no brushes, and
literally living in the _boutique_ of Tanguy. The latter always read
_Le Cri du Peuple_ and _L'Intransigeant_, and believed all he read. He
did not care much for Van Gogh's compositions, no doubt agreeing with
Cezanne, who, viewing them for the first time, calmly remarked to the
youth, "Sincerely, you paint like a crazy man." A prophetic note! Van
Gogh frequented a tavern kept by an old model, an Italian woman. It
bore the romantic title of The Tambourine. When he couldn't pay his
bills he would cover the walls with furious frescoes, flowers of
tropical exuberance, landscapes that must have been seen in a
nightmare. He was painting at this time three pictures a day. He would
part with a canvas at the extortionate price of a franc.

Tanguy was the possessor of a large portrait by Cezanne, done in his
earliest manner. This he had to sell on account of pressing need. Dark
days followed. He moved across the street into smaller quarters. The
old crowd began to drift away; some died, some had become famous, and
one, Van Gogh, shot himself in an access of mania. This was a shock to
his friend. A second followed when Van Gogh's devoted brother went
mad. Good Father Tanguy, as he was affectionately called, sickened. He
entered a hospital. He suffered from a cancerous trouble of the
stomach. One day he said to his wife, who was visiting him: "I am
bored here... I won't die here... I mean to die in my own home." He
went home and died shortly afterward. In 1894 Octave Mirbeau wrote a
moving article for the _Journal_ about the man who had never spoken
ill of any one, who had never turned from his door a hungry person.
The result was a sale organised at the Hotel Drouot, to which
prominent artists and literary folk contributed works. Cazin,
Guillemet, Gyp, Maufra, Monet, Luce, Pissarro, Rochegrosse, Sisley,
Vauthier, Carrier-Belleuse, Berthe Morisot, Renoir, Jongkind,
Raffaelli, *Helleu, Rodin, and many others participated in this noble
charity, which brought the widow ten thousand francs. She soon died.

Van Gogh painted a portrait of Tanguy about 1886. It is said to belong
to Rodin. It represents the naive man with his irregular features and
placid expression of a stoic; not a distinguished face, but
unmistakably that of a gentle soul, who had loved his neighbour better
than himself (therefore he died in misery). He it was who may be
remembered by those who knew him--and also a few future historians of
the futility of things in general--as the man who first made known to
Paris the pictures of the timid, obstinate Paul Cezanne. An odd fish,
indeed, was this same Julien Tanguy, little father to painters.




II. ROPS THE ETCHER



I

That personality in art counts, next to actual genius, heavier than
all other qualities, is such a truism that it is often forgotten. In
the enormous mass of mediocre work which is turned out annually by
artists of technical talent seldom is there encountered a strong,
well-defined personality. Imitation has been called the bane of
originality; suppress it as a factor, and nine-tenths of living
painters, sculptors, etchers would have to shut up shop. The stencil
is the support of many men who otherwise might have become useful
citizens, shoemakers, tailors, policemen, or vice-presidents. For this
reason the phrase "academic" should be more elastic in its meanings.
There are academic painters influenced by Corot or Monticelli, as well
as by David, Gros, or Meissonier. The "academic" Rodin has appeared in
contemporary sculpture; the great Frenchman found for himself his
formula, and the lesser men have appropriated it to their own uses.
This is considered legitimate, though not a high order of art;
however, the second-rate rules in the market-place, let the genius
rage as he will. He must be tamed. He must be softened; his divine
fire shaded by the friendly screens of more prudent, more conventional
talent. Even among men of genius up on the heights it is the
personality of each that enters largely into the equation of their
work. No one can confuse Whistler the etcher with the etcher
Rembrandt; the profounder is the Dutchman. Yet what individuality
there is in the plates of the American! What personality! Now,
Felicien Rops, the Belgian etcher, lithographer, engraver, designer,
and painter, occupies about the same relative position to Honore
Daumier as Whistler does to Rembrandt. How seldom you hear of Rops.
Why? He was a man of genius, one of the greatest etchers and
lithographers of his century, an artist with an intense personal line,
a colossal workman and versatile inventor--why has he been passed over
and inferior men praised?

His pornographic plates cannot be the only reason, because his
representative work is free from licence or suggestion. Giulio
Romano's illustrations to Aretino's sonnets are not held up as the
representative art of this pupil of Raphael, nor are the vulgarities
of Rowlandson, Hogarth, George Morland set against their better
attempts. Collectors treasure the engravings of the eighteenth-century
_editions des fermiers-generaux_ for their capital workmanship, not
for their licentious themes. But Rops is always the Rops of the
Pornocrates! After discussing him with some amateurs you are forced to
realise that it is his plates in which he gives rein to an
unparalleled flow of animal spirits and _gauloiserie_ that are the
more esteemed. Rops the artist, with the big and subtle style, the
etcher of the Sataniques, of Le Pendu, of La Buveuse d'Absinthe and
half a hundred other masterpieces, is set aside for the witty
illustrator, with the humour of a Rabelais and the cynicism of
Chamfort. And even on this side of his genius he has never been
excelled, the Japanese alone being his equals in daring of invention,
while he tops them in the expression of broad humour.

In the Luxembourg galleries there is a picture of an interesting man,
in an etcher's atelier. It is the portrait of Rops by Mathey, and
shows him examining at a window, through which the light pours in, a
freshly pulled proof. It depicts with skill the intense expression
upon his handsome face, the expression of an artist absolutely
absorbed in his work. That is the real Rops. His master quality was
intensity. It traversed like a fine keen flame his entire production
from seemingly insignificant tail-pieces to his agonised designs, in
which luxury and pain are inextricably commingled.

He was born at Namur, Belgium, July 10, 1833, and died at Essonnes,
near Paris, August 23,1898. He was the son of wealthy parents, and on
one side stemmed directly from Hungary. His grandfather was Rops
Lajos, of the province called Alfod. The Maygar predominated. He was
as proud and fierce as Goya. A fighter from the beginning, still in
warrior's harness at the close, when, "cardiac and impenitent," as he
put it, he died of heart trouble. He received at the hands of the
Jesuits a classical education. A Latinist, he was erudite as were few
of his artistic contemporaries. The mystic strain in him did not
betray itself until his third period. He was an accomplished humourist
and could generally cap Latin verses with D'Aurevilly or Huysmans.
Tertullian's De Cultu Feminarum he must have read, for many of his
plates are illustrations of the learned Bishop of Carthage's attitude
toward womankind. The hot crossings of blood, Belgian and Hungarian,
may be responsible for a peculiarly forceful, rebellious, sensual, and
boisterous temperament.

Doubtless the three stadia of an artist's career are the arbitrary
classification of critics; nevertheless they are well marked in many
cases. Balzac was a romantic, a realist, a mystic; Flaubert was
alternately romantic and realist. Tolstoi was never a romantic, but a
realist he was, and he is a mystic. Dostoievski, from whom he absorbed
so much, taught him the formulas of his mysticism--though Tolstoi has
never felt the life of the soul so profoundly as this predecessor.
Ibsen passed through the three stages. Huysmans, never romantic, began
as a realistic pessimist and ended as a pessimistic mystic. Felicien
Rops could never have been a romantic, though the _macabre_
romanticism of 1830 may be found in his designs. A realist, brutal,
bitter, he was in his youth; he saw the grosser facts of life, so
often lamentable and tender, in the spirit of a Voltaire doubled by a
Rabelais. There is honest and also shocking laughter in these early
illustrations. A _fantaisiste_, graceful, delicate--and
indelicate--emerged after the lad went up to Paris, as if he had
stepped out of the eighteenth century. Rops summed up in his book
plates, title-pages, and wood-cuts, illustrations done in a furious
speed, all the elegance, the courtly corruption, and Boucher-like
luxuriousness that may be detected in the moral _marquetrie_ of the
Goncourts. He had not yet said, "Evil, be thou my Good," nor had the
mystic delirium of the last period set in. All his afternoons must
have been those of a faun--a faun who with impeccable solicitude put
on paper what he saw in the heart of the bosk or down by the banks of
secret rivers. The sad turpitudes, the casuistry of concupiscence, the
ironic discolourations and feverish delving into subterranean moral
stratifications were as yet afar. He was young, handsome, with a
lithe, vigorous body and the head of an aristocratic Mephistopheles, a
head all profile, like the heads of Hungary--Hungary itself, which is
all profile. Need we add that after the death of his father he soon
wasted a fortune? But the reckless bohemian in him was subjugated by
necessity. He set to work to earn his bread. Some conception of his
labours for thirty-five years may be gleaned from the catalogue of his
work by Erastene Ramiro (whose real name is Eugene Rodrigues). Nearly
three thousand plates he etched, lithographed, or engraved, not
including his paintings or his experiments in various mediums, such as
_vernis mou_ and wood-engraving.

The coarse legends of old Flanders found in Rops their pictorial
interpreter. Less cerebral in his abounding youth he made Paris laugh
with his comical travesties of political persons, persons in high
finance, and also by his shrewd eye for the homely traits in the life
of the people. His street scenes are miracles of detail, satire, and
fun. The one entitled Spring is the most noted. That legacy of hate,
inherited from the 1830 poets, of the bourgeois, was a merry play for
Rops. He is the third of the trinity of caricature artists, Daumier
and Gavarni being the other two. The liberal pinch of Gallic salt in
the earlier plates need not annoy one. Deliberately vulgar he never
is, though he sports with things hallowed, and always goes out of his
way to insult the religion he first professed. There is in this
Satanist a religious _fond_; the very fierceness of his attacks, of
his blasphemies, betrays the Catholic at heart. If he did not believe,
why should he have displayed such continual scorn? No, Rops was not as
sincere as his friends would have us believe. He made his Pegasus plod
in too deep mud, and often in his most winged flights he darkened the
blue with his satyr-like brutalities. But in the gay middle period his
pages overflow with decorative Cupids and tiny devils, joyful girls,
dainty amourettes, and Parisian _putti_--they blithely kick their legs
over the edges of eternity, and smile as if life were a snowball jest
or a game at forfeits. They are adorable. His women are usually
strong-backed, robust Amazons, drawn with a swirling line and a
Rubens-like fulness. They are conquerors. Before these majestic idols
men prostrate themselves.

In his turbulent later visions there is no suspicion of the opium that
gave its inspiration to Coleridge, Poe, De Quincey, James Thomson, or
Baudelaire. The city of dreadful night shown us by Rops is the city
through whose streets he has passed his life long. Not the dream
cities of James Ensor or De Groux, the Paris of Rops is at once an
abode of disillusionment, of mordant joys, of sheer ecstasy and morbid
hallucinations. The opium of Rops is his imagination, aided by a
manual dexterity that is extraordinary. He is a master of linear
design. He is cold, deadly cold, but correct ever. Fabulous and
absurd, delicious and abominable as he may be, his spirit sits
critically aloft, never smiling. Impersonal as a toxicologist, he
handles his poisonous acids with the gravity of a philosopher and the
indifference of a destroying angel. There is a diabolic spleen more
strongly developed in Rops than in any of his contemporaries, with the
sole exception of Baudelaire, who inspired and spurred him on to
astounding atrocities of the needle and acid. This diabolism, this
worship of Satan and his works, are sincere in the etcher. A relic of
rotten Romanticism, it glows like phosphorescent fire during his last
period. The Church has in its wisdom employed a phrase for frigid
depravity of the Rops kind, naming it "morose delectation." Morose
Rops became as he developed. His private life he hid. We know little
or nothing of it save that he was not unhappy in his companionships or
choice of friends. He loathed the promiscuous methods by which some
men achieve admiration. But secret spleen there must have been--a
twist of a painter's wrist may expose his soul. He became a solitary
and ate the bitter root of sin, for, cerebral as he is, his discovery
of the human soul shows it as ill at ease before its maker. Flaubert
has said that "the ignoble is the sublime of the lower slope." But no
man may sun himself on this slope by the flames of hell without his
soul shrivelling away. Rodin, who admires Rops and has been greatly
influenced by him; Rodin, as an artist superior to the Belgian, has
revealed less preoccupation with the ignoble; at least, despite his
excursions into questionable territory, he has never been carried
completely away. He always returns to the sane, to the normal life;
but over the volcanic landscapes of Rops are strewn many moral
abysses.


II

He had no illusions as to the intelligence and sincerity of those men
who, denying free-will, yet call themselves free-thinkers. Rops
frankly made of Satan his chief religion. He is the psychologist of
the exotic. Cruel, fantastic, nonchalant, and shivering atrociously,
his female Satan worshippers go to their greedy master in *fatidical
and shuddering attitudes; they submit to his glacial embrace. The
acrid perfume of Rops's maleficent genius makes itself manifest in his
Sataniques. No longer are his women the embodiment of Corbiere's
"Eternel feminin de l'eternel jocrisse." Ninnies, simperers, and
simpletons have vanished. The poor, suffering human frame becomes a
horrible musical instrument from which the artist extorts exquisite
and sinister music. We turn our heads away, but the tune of cracking
souls haunts our ear. As much to Rops as to Baudelaire, Victor Hugo
could have said that he had evoked a new shudder. And singularly
enough Rops is in these plates the voice of the mediaeval preacher
crying out that Satan is alive, a tangible being, going about the
earth devouring us; that Woman is a vase of iniquity, a tower of
wrath, a menace, not a salvation. His readings of the early fathers
and his pessimistic temperamental bent contributed to this truly
morose judgment of his mother's sex. He drives cowering to her corner,
after her earlier triumphs, his unhappy victim of love, absinthe, and
diabolism. Not for an instant does he participate personally in the
strained voluptuousness or terrific chastisements of his designs. He
has all the old monachal contempt of woman. He is cerebrally chaste.
Huysmans, in his admirable essay on Rops, wrote, "Car il n'y a de
reellement obscenes que les gens chastes"; which is a neat bit of
special pleading and quite sophistical. Rops did not lead the life of
a saint, though his devotion to his art was Balzacian. It would be a
more subtle sophistry to quote Paul Bourget's aphorism. "There is," he
writes, "from the metaphysical observer's point of view, neither
disease nor health of the soul; there are only psychological states."
The _etats d'ames_ of Felicien Rops, then, may or may not have been
morbid. But he has contrived that his wit in its effect upon his
spectators is too often profoundly depressing and morbid and
disquieting.

The triumphant chorus of Rops's admirers comprises the most critical
names in France and Italy: Barbey d'Aurevilly, J.K. Huysmans,
Pradelle, Josephin Peladan--once the _Sar_ of Babylonian fame--Eugene
Demolder, Emile Verhaeren, the Belgian poet; Camille Lemonnier,
Champsaur, Arsene Alexandre, Fromentin, Vittorio Pica, De Heredia,
Mallarme, Octave Uzanne, Octave Mirbeau, the biographer Ramiro and
Charles Baudelaire. The last first recognised him, though he never
finished the projected study of him as man and artist. In the newly
published letters (1841-66) of Baudelaire there is one addressed to
Rops, who saw much of the unhappy poet during his disastrous sojourn
in Brussels. It was the author of Les Fleurs du Mal who made the
clever little verse about "Ce tant bizarre Monsieur Rops... Qui n'est
pas un grand prix de Rome, mais dont le talent est haut, comme la
pyramide de Cheops."

A French critic has called Rops "a false genius," probably alluding to
the malign characters of the majority of his engraved works rather
than to his marvellous and fecund powers of invention. Perverse
idealist as he was, he never relaxed his pursuit of the perfection of
form. He tells us that in 1862 he went to Paris, after much
preliminary skirmishing in Belgian reviews and magazines, to "learn
his art" with Bracquemond and Jacquemart, both of whom he never ceased
praising. He was associated with Daubigny, painter and etcher, and
with Courbet, Flameng, and Therond.

He admired Calmatta and his school--Bal, Franck, Biot, Meunier,
Flameng. He belonged to the International Society of Aquafortistes. He
worked in aquatint and successfully revived the old process, _vernis
mou_. A sober workman, he spent at least fourteen hours a day at his
desk. Being musical, he designed some genre pieces, notably that of
the truthfully observed Bassoonist. And though not originating he
certainly carried to the pitch of the artistically ludicrous those
progressive pictures of goats dissolving into pianists; of Liszt
tearing passion and grand pianos into tatters. He has contributed to
the gaiety of nations with his celebrated design: Ma fille! Monsieur
Cabanel, which shows a harpy-like mother presenting her nude daughter
as a model for that painter. The malicious ingenuity of Rops never
failed him. He produced for years numerous anecdotes in black and
white. The elasticity of his line, its variety and richness, the
harmonies, elliptical and condensed, of his designs; the agile, fiery
movement, his handling of his velvety blacks, his tonal gradations,
his caressing touch by which the metal reproduced muscular crispations
of his dry-point and the fat silhouettes of beautiful human forms,
above all, his virile grasp which is revealed in his balanced
ensembles--these prove him to be one of the masters of modern etching.
And from his cynical yet truthful motto: "J'appelle un chat un chat,"
he never swerved.

A student and follower of Jean Francois Millet, several landscapes and
pastorals of Rops recall the French painter's style. In his Belgian
out-of-doors scenes and interiors the Belgian heredity of Rops
projects itself unmistakably. Such a picture as Scandal, for example,
might have been signed by Israels. Le Bout de Sillon is Millet, and
beautifully drawn. The scheme is trite. Two peasants, a young woman
and a young man holding a rope, exchange love vows. It is very simple,
very expressive. His portraits of women, Walloons, and of Antwerp are
solidly built, replete with character and quaint charm. Charming, too,
is the portrait of his great-aunt. Scandal is an ambitious design. A
group of women strongly differentiated as to types and ages are
enjoying over a table their tea and a choice morsel of scandal. The
situation is seized; it is a picture that appeals. Ghastly is his
portrait of a wretched young woman ravaged by absinthe. Her lips are
blistered by the wormwood, and in her fevered glance there is despair.
Another delineation of disease, a grinning, skull-like head with a
scythe back of it, is a tribute to the artist's power of rendering the
repulsive. His Messalina, Lassatta, La Femme au Cochon, and La Femme
au Pantin should be studied. He has painted scissors grinders, flower
girls, "old guards," incantations, fishing parties, the rabble in the
streets, broom-riding witches, apes, ivory and peacocks, and a notable
figure piece, An Interment in the Walloon Country, which would have
pleased Courbet.

It is in his incarnations of Satan that Rops is unapproachable. Satan
Sowing the Tares of Evil is a sublime conception, truly Miltonic. The
bony-legged demon strides across Paris. One foot is posed on Notre
Dame. He quite touches the sky. Upon his head is a broad-brimmed
peasant's hat, Quaker in shape. Hair streams over his skeleton
shoulders. His eyes are gleaming with infernal malice--it is the most
diabolic face ever drawn of his majesty; not even Franz Stuck's Satan
has eyes so full of liquid damnation. Scattering miniature female
figures, like dolls, to the winds, this monster passes over Paris, a
baleful typhoon. The moral is not far to seek; indeed, there is
generally a moral, sometimes an inverted one, in the Rops etchings.
Order Reigns at Warsaw is a grim commentary on Russian politics quite
opportune to-day. La Peine de Mort has been used by Socialists as a
protest against capital punishment. Les Diables Froids personifies the
impassible artist. It is a page torn from the book of hell. Rops had
read Dante; he knew the meaning of the lines: "As the rill that runs
from Bulicame to be portioned out amid the sinful women"; and more
than once he explored the frozen circles of Gehenna. Victor Hugo was
much stirred by the design, Le Pendu, which depicts a man's corpse
swinging under a huge bell in some vast and immemorial, raven-haunted,
decaying tower, whose bizarre and gloomy outlines might have been
created by the brain of a Piranesi. An apocalyptic imagination had
Felicien Rops.




III. MONTICELLI



I

Poor "Fada"! The "innocent," the inoffensive fool--as they christened
that unfortunate man of genius, Adolphe Monticelli, in the dialect of
the South, the slang of Marseilles--where he spent the last sixteen
years of his life. The richest colourist of the nineteenth century,
obsessed by colour, little is known of this Monticelli, even in these
days when an artist's life is subjected to inquisitorial methods. Few
had written of him in English before W.E. Henley and W.C. Brownell. In
France eulogised by Theophile Gautier, in favour at the court, admired
by Diaz, Daubigny, Troyon, and Delacroix, his hopes were cracked by
the catastrophe of the Franco-Prussian war. He escaped to Marseilles,
there to die poor, neglected, half mad. Perhaps he was to blame for
his failures; perhaps his temperament was his fate. Yet to-day his
pictures are sought for as were those of Diaz two decades ago, though
there was a tacit conspiracy among dealers and amateurs not to drag
his merits too soon before the foot-lights. In 1900 at the Paris
Exposition a collection of his works, four being representative,
opened the eyes of critics and public alike. It was realised that
Monticelli had not received his proper ranking in the
nineteenth-century theatre of painting; that while he owed much to
Watteau, to Turner, to Rousseau, he was a master who could stand or
fall on his own merits. Since then the Monticelli pictures have been
steadily growing in favour.

There is a Monticelli cult. America can boast of many of his most
distinguished specimens, while the Louvre and the Luxembourg are
without a single one. The Musee de Lille at Marseilles has several
examples; the private collections of M. Delpiano at Cannes and a few
collections in Paris make up a meagre list. The Comparative Exhibition
in New York, 1904, revealed to many accustomed to overpraising Diaz
and Fromentin the fact that Monticelli was their superior as a
colourist, and a decorator of singularly fascinating characteristics,
one who was not always a mere contriver of bacchanalian riots of
fancy, but who could exhibit when at his best a _justesse_ of vision
and a controlled imagination.

The dictionaries offer small help to the student as to the doings of
this erratic painter. He was born October 24, 1824. He died June 29,
1886. He was of mixed blood, Italian and French. His father was a
gauger, though Adolphe declared that he was an authentic descendant of
the Crusader, Godefroy Monticelli, who married in 1100 Aurea Castelli,
daughter of the Duca of Spoleto. Without doubt his Italian blood
counted heavily in his work, but whether of noble issue matters
little. Barbey d'Aurevilly and Villiers de l'Isle Adam, two men of
letters, indulged in similar boasts, and no doubt in their poverty and
tribulations the oriflamme of aristocracy which they bravely bore into
the cafe life of Paris was a source of consolation to them. But it is
with brains, not blood, that painters mix their pigments, and the
legend of high birth can go with the other fictions reported by Henley
that Monticelli was an illegitimate offshoot of the Gonzagas; that he
was the natural son of Diaz; that Diaz kept him a prisoner for years,
to "steal the secret of his colours."

Like many another of his temperament, he had himself to thank for his
woes, though it was a streak of ill-luck for him when the Prussians
bore down on Paris. He was beginning to be known. A pupil of Raymond
Aubert (1781-1857), he was at first a "fanatic of Raphael and Ingres."
Delacroix and his violently harmonised colour masses settled the
future colourist. He met Diaz and they got on very well together. A
Southerner, handsome, passionate, persuasive, dashing, with the
eloquence of the meridional, Monticelli and his musical name made
friends at court and among powerful artists. In 1870 he started on his
walk of thirty-six days from Paris to Marseilles. He literally painted
his way. In every inn he shed masterpieces. Precious gold dripped from
his palette, and throughout the Rhone valley there are, it is
whispered--by white-haired old men the memory of whose significant
phrases awakes one in the middle of the night longing for the valley
of Durance--that if a resolute, keen-eyed adventurer would traverse
unostentatiously the route taken by Monticelli during his Odyssey the
rewards might be great. It is an idea that grips one's imagination,
but unfortunately it is an idea that gripped the imagination of others
thirty years ago. Not an _auberge_, hotel, or hamlet has been left
unexplored. The fine-tooth comb of familiar parlance has been
sedulously used by interested persons. If there are any Monticellis
unsold nowadays they are for sale at the dealers'.

In him was incarnate all that we can conceive as bohemian, with a
training that gave him the high-bred manner of a seigneur. He was a
romantic, like his friend Felix Ziem--Ziem, Marcellin, Deboutin, and
Monticelli represented a caste that no longer exists; bohemians, yes,
but gentlemen, refined and fastidious. Yet, after his return to his
beloved Marseilles, Monticelli led the life of an August vagabond. In
his velvet coat, a big-rimmed hat slouched over his eyes, he patrolled
the quays, singing, joking, an artless creature, so good-hearted and
irresponsible that he was called "Fada," more in affection than
contempt. He painted rapidly, a picture daily, sold it on the
_terrasses_ of the cafes for a hundred francs, and when he couldn't
get a hundred he would take sixty. Now one must pay thousands for a
canvas. His most loving critic, Camille Mauclair, who, above any one,
has battled valiantly for his art, tells us that Monticelli once took
eighteen francs for a small canvas because the purchaser had no more
in his pocket! In this manner he disposed of a gallery. He smoked
happy pipes and sipped his absinthe--in his case as desperate an enemy
as it had proved to De Musset. He would always doff his hat at the
mention of Watteau or Rubens. They were his gods.

When Monticelli arrived in Marseilles after his tramp down from Paris
he was literally in rags. M. Chave, a good Samaritan, took him to a
shop and togged him out in royal raiment. They left for a promenade,
and then the painter begged his friend to let him walk alone so as not
to attenuate the effect he was bound to produce on the passersby, such
a childish, harmless vanity had he. His delight was to gather a few
chosen ones over a bottle of old vintage, and thus with spasmodic
attempts at work his days rolled by. He was feeble, semi-paralysed.
With the advent of bad health vanished the cunning of his hand. His
paint coarsened, his colours became crazier. His pictures at this
period were caricatures of his former art. Many of the early ones were
sold as the productions of Diaz, just as to-day some Diazs are palmed
off as Monticellis. After four years of decadence he died, repeating
for months before his taking off: "Je viens de la lune." He was one
whose brain a lunar ray had penetrated; but this ray was transposed to
a spectrum of gorgeous hues. Capable of depicting the rainbow, he died
of the opalescence that clouded his glass of absinthe. _Pauvre Fada!_




II

It is only a coincidence, yet a curious one, that two such dissimilar
spirits as Stendhal and Monticelli should have predicted their future
popularity. Stendhal said: "About 1880 I shall be understood."
Monticelli said in 1870: "I paint for thirty years hence." Both
prophecies have been realised. After the exhibition at Edinburgh and
Glasgow in 1890 Monticelli was placed by a few discerning critics
above Diaz in quality of paint. In 1892 Mr. Brownell said of
Monticelli in his French Art--a book that every student and amateur of
painting should possess--that the touch of Diaz, patrician as it was,
lacked the exquisiteness of Monticelli's; though he admits the
"exaggeration of the decorative impulse" in that master. For Henley
Monticelli's art was purely sensuous; "his fairy meadows and enchanted
gardens are that sweet word 'Mesopotamia' in two dimensions." Henley
speaks of his "clangours of bronze and gold and scarlet" and admits
that "there are moments when his work is as infallibly decorative as a
Persian crock or a Japanese brocade." D.S. MacColl, in his study of
Nineteenth-Century Painting, gives discriminating praise:
"Monticelli's own exquisite sense of grace in women and invention in
grouping add the positive new part without which his art would be the
mannerising of Rousseau," while Arthur Symons in his Studies in Seven
Arts declares all Monticelli's art "tends toward the effect of
music... his colour is mood ... his mood is colour."

It remained, however, for Camille Mauclair, a Parisian critic in
sympathy with the arts of design, literature, and music, to place
Monticelli in his proper niche. This Mauclair has done with critical
tact. In his Great French Painters, the bias of which is evidently
strained in favour of the impressionistic school, in his
L'Impressionisme, and in his monograph on Watteau this critic declares
that Monticelli's art "recalls Claude Lorraine a little and Watteau
even more by its sentiment, and Turner and Bonington by its colour...
His work has the same subtlety of gradations, the same division into
fragments of tones (as in Watteau's 'Embarkment for Cythera'), the
same variety of execution, which has sometimes the opaqueness of china
and enamel and sometimes the translucence of precious stones or the
brilliancy of glass, metal, or oxides and seems to be the result of
some mysterious chemistry... Monticelli had an absolutely unique
perception of tonalities, and his glance took in certain shades which
had not been observed before, which the optic and chromatic science of
the day has placed either by proof or hypothesis between the principal
tones of the solar spectrum thirty years after Monticelli had fixed
them. There is magic and high lyric poetry in his art." I wrote of the
Monticellis exhibited at the Comparative Exhibition in New York: "At
the opposite end of the room there is A Summer Day's Idyll, upon which
Monticelli had squeezed all his flaming tubes. It seems orchestrated
in crushed pomegranate, the light suffusing the reclining figures like
a jewelled benediction. Marvellous, too, are the colour-bathed
creatures in this No Man's Land of drugged dreams... Do not the walls
fairly vibrate with this wealth of fairy tints and fantasy?" But it
must not be forgotten that he struck other chords besides blazing
sun-worshipping. We often encounter landscapes of vaporous melancholy,
twilights of reverie.
8888
Monticelli once told an admiring young amateur that in his canvases
"the objects are the decorations, the touches are the scales, and the
light is the tenor," thereby acknowledging himself that he felt colour
as music. There was hyperaesthesia in his case; his eyes were
protuberant and, like the ears of violinists, capable of
distinguishing quarter tones, even sixteenths. There are affiliations
with Watteau; the same gem-like style of laying on the thick pate, the
same delight in fairy-like patches of paint to represent figures. In
1860 he literally resuscitated Watteau's manner, adding a personal
note and a richness hitherto unknown to French paint. Mauclair thinks
that to Watteau can be traced back the beginnings of modern
Impressionism; the division of tones, the juxtaposition of tonalities.
Monticelli was the connecting link between Watteau and Monet. The same
critic does not hesitate to name Monticelli as one of the great
quartet of harmonists, Claude, Turner, Monet being the other three.
Taine it was who voiced the philosophy of Impressionism when he
announced in his Philosophie de l'Art that the principal personage in
a picture is the light in which all things are plunged. Eugene
Carriere also asserted that a "picture is the logical development of
light." Monticelli before him had said: "In a painting one must sound
the _C_. Rembrandt, Rubens, Watteau, all the great ones have sounded
the C." His C, his key-note, was the magic touch of luminosity that
dominated his picture. Like Berlioz, he adored colour for colour's
sake. He had a touch all Venetian in his relation of tones; at times
he went in search of chromatic adventures, returning with the most
marvellous trophies. No man before or since, not even those
practitioners of dissonance and martyrs to the enharmonic scale,
Cezanne, Gauguin, or Van Gogh, ever matched and modulated such widely
disparate tints; no man before could extract such magnificent
harmonies from such apparently irreconcilable tones. Monticelli
thought in colour and was a master of orchestration, one who went
further than Liszt.

The simple-minded Monticelli had no psychology to speak of--he was a
reversion, a "throw back" to the Venetians, the decorative Venetians,
and if he had possessed the money or the leisure--he hadn't enough
money to buy any but small canvases--he might have become a French
Tiepolo, and perhaps the greatest decorative artist of France. Even
his most delicate pictures are largely felt and sonorously executed;
not "finished" in the studio sense, but complete--two different
things.

Fate was against him, and the position he might have had was won by
the gentle Puvis de Chavannes, who exhibited a genius for decorating
monumental spaces. With his fiery vision, his brio of execution, his
palette charged with jewelled radiance, Monticelli would have been the
man to have changed the official interiors of Paris. His energy at one
period was enormous, consuming, though short-lived--1865-75. His lack
of self-control and at times his Italian superficiality, never backed
by a commanding intellect, produced the Monticelli we know. In truth
his soul was not complicated. He could never have attacked the
psychology of Zarathustra, Hamlet, or Peer Gynt. A Salome from him
would have been a delightfully decorative minx, set blithely dancing
in some many-hued and enchanted garden of Armida. She would never have
worn the air of hieratic lasciviousness with which Gustave Moreau
inevitably dowered her. There was too much joy of the south in
Monticelli's bones to concern himself with the cruel imaginings of the
Orient or the grisly visions of the north. He was Oriental _au fond_;
but it was the Orientalism of the Thousand and One Nights. He painted
scenes from the Decameron, and his _fetes galantes_ may be matched
with Watteau's in tone. His first period was his most graceful;
ivory-toned languorous dames, garbed in Second Empire style, languidly
stroll in charming parks escorted by fluttering Cupids or stately
cavaliers. The "decorative impulse" is here at its topmost. In his
second period we get the Decameron series, the episodes from Faust,
the Don Quixote--recall, if you can, that glorious tableau with its
Spanish group and the long, grave don and merry, rotund squire
entering on the scene, a fantastic sky behind them.

Painted music! The ruins, fountains, statues, and mellow herbage
abound in this middle period. The third is less known. Extravagance
began to rule; scarlet fanfares are sounded; amethysts and emeralds
sparkle; yet there is more thematic variety. Voluptuous, perfumed, and
semi-tragic notes were uttered by this dainty poet of the carnival of
life. The canvas glowed with more reverberating and infernal lights,
but lyric ever. Technique, fabulous and feverish, expended itself on
flowers that were explosions of colours, on seductive marines, on
landscapes of a rhythmic, haunting beauty--the Italian temperament had
become unleashed. Fire, gold, and purple flickered and echoed in
Monticelli's canvases. Irony, like an insinuating serpent, began to
creep into this paradise of melting hues. The masterful gradations of
tone became bewildered. Poison was eating the man's nerves. He
discarded the brush, and standing before his canvas he squeezed his
tubes upon it, literally modelling his paint with his thumb until it
almost assumed the relief of sculpture. What a touch he had! What a
subtle prevision of modulations to be effected by the careless scratch
of his nail or the whip of a knife's edge! Remember, too, that
originally he had been an adept in the art of design; he could draw as
well as his peers. But he sacrificed form and observation and
psychology to sheer colour. He, a veritable discoverer of tones--aided
thereto by an abnormal vision--became the hasty improviser, who at the
last daubed his canvases with a pasty mixture, as hot and crazy as his
ruined soul. The end did not come too soon. A chromatic genius went
under, leaving but a tithe of the gleams that illuminated his brain.
Alas, poor Fada!




IV. RODIN



I

Rodin, the French sculptor, deserves well of our new century; the old
one did so incontinently batter him. The anguish of his own Hell's
Portal he endured before he moulded its clay between his thick
clairvoyant fingers. Misunderstood, therefore misrepresented, he with
his pride and obstinacy aroused--the one buttressing the other--was
not to be budged from his formulas and practice of sculpture. Then the
world of art swung unwillingly and unamiably toward him, perhaps more
from curiosity than conviction. Rodin became famous. And he is more
misunderstood than ever. His very name, with its memory of Eugene
Sue's romantic rancour--you recall that impossible and diabolic Jesuit
Rodin in The Mysteries of Paris?--has been thrown in his teeth. He has
been called _ruse_, even a fraud; while the wholesale denunciation of
his work as erotic is unluckily still green in our memory. The
sculptor, who in 1877 was accused of "faking" his life-like Age of
Brass--now at the Luxembourg--by taking a mould from the living model,
also experienced the discomfiture of being assured some years later
that, not knowing the art of modelling, his statue of Balzac was only
an evasion of difficulties. And this to the man who had in the interim
wrought so many masterpieces.

To give him his due he stands prosperity not quite as well as he did
poverty. In every great artist there is a large area of self-esteem;
it is the reservoir which he must, during years of drought and defeat,
draw upon to keep his soul fresh. Without the consoling fluid of
egoism, genius must perish in the dust of despair. But fill this
source to the brim, accelerate the speed of its current, and artistic
deterioration may ensue. Rodin has been called, fatuously, the second
Michael Angelo--as if there could ever be a replica of any human. He
has been hailed as a modern Praxiteles. And he is often damned as a
myopic decadent whose insensibility to pure line and deficiency in
constructional power have been elevated by his admirers into sorry
virtues. Yet is Rodin justly appraised? Do his friends not overdo
their glorification, his critics their censure? Nothing so stales a
demigod's image as the perfumes burned before it by his worshippers;
the denser the smoke the sooner crumble the feet of their idol.

However, in the case of Rodin the fates have so contrived their
malicious game that at no point of his career has he been without the
company of envy, chagrin, and slander. Often, when he had attained a
summit, he would find himself thrust down into a deeper valley. He has
mounted to triumphs and fallen to humiliations, but his spirit has
never been quelled, and if each acclivity he scales is steeper, the
air atop has grown purer, more stimulating, and the landscape spreads
wider before him. He can say with Dante: "La montagna che drizza voi
che il mondo fece torti." Rodin's mountain has always straightened in
him what the world made crooked. The name of his mountain is Art. A
born non-conformist, Rodin makes the fourth of that group of
nineteenth-century artists--Richard Wagner, Henrik Ibsen, and Edouard
Manet--who taught a deaf and blind world to hear and see and think and
feel.

Is it not dangerous to say of a genius that his work alone should
count, that his life is negligible? Though Rodin has followed
Flaubert's advice to artists to lead ascetic lives that their art
might be the more violent, nevertheless his career, colourless as it
may seem to those who better love stage players and the watery
comedies of society--this laborious life of a poor sculptor--is not to
be passed over if we are to make any estimate of his art. He, it is
related, always becomes enraged at the word "inspiration," enraged at
the common notion that fire descends from heaven upon the head of the
favoured neophyte of art. Rodin believes in but one
inspiration--nature. He swears he does not invent, but copies nature.
He despises improvisation, has contemptuous words for "fatal
facility," and, being a slow-moving, slow-thinking man, he admits to
his councils those who have conquered art, not by assault, but by
stealth and after years of hard work. He sympathises with Flaubert's
patient toiling days, he praises Holland because after Paris it seemed
slow. "Slowness is a beauty," he declared. In a word, Rodin has
evolved a theory and practice of his art that is the outcome--like all
theories, all techniques--of his own temperament. And that temperament
is giant-like, massive, ironic, grave, strangely perverse at times;
and it is the temperament of a magician doubled by that of a
mathematician.

Books are written about him. De Maupassant describes him in Notre
Coeur with picturesque precision. He is tempting as a psychologic
study. He appeals to the literary, though he is not "literary." His
modelling arouses tempests, either of dispraise or idolatry. To see
him steadily, critically, after a visit to his studios in Paris or
Meudon, is difficult. If the master be there then you feel the impact
of a personality that is as cloudy as the clouds about the base of a
mountain and as impressive as the mountain. Yet a pleasant,
unassuming, sane man, interested in his clay--absolutely--that is,
unless you discover him to be more interested in humanity. If you
watch him well you may find yourself well watched; those peering eyes
possess a vision that plunges into your soul. And the soul this master
of marbles sees as nude as he sees the human body. It is the union of
artist and psychologist that places Rodin apart. These two arts he
practises in a medium that has hitherto not betrayed potentialities
for such almost miraculous performances. Walter Pater is quite right
in maintaining that each art has its separate subject-matter;
nevertheless, in the debatable province of Rodin's sculpture we find
strange emotional power, hints of the art of painting and a rare
musical suggestiveness. But this is not playing the game according to
the rules of Lessing and his Laocooen.

Let us drop this old aesthetic rule of thumb and confess that during
the last century a new race of artists sprang up from some strange
element and, like flying-fish, revealed to a wondering world their
composite structures. Thus we find Berlioz painting with his
instrumentation; Franz Liszt, Tschaikowsky, and Richard Strauss
filling their symphonic poems with drama and poetry, and Richard
Wagner inventing an art which he believed to embrace the seven arts.
And there is Ibsen, who used the dramatic form as a vehicle for his
anarchistic ideas; and Nietzsche, who was such a poet that he was able
to sing a mad philosophy into life; and Rossetti, who painted poems
and made poetry that is pictorial. Sculpture was the only art that had
resisted this universal disintegration, this imbroglio of the arts. No
sculptor before Rodin had dared to break the line, dared to shiver the
syntax of stone. For sculpture is a static, not a dynamic art--is it
not? Let us observe the rules, though we preserve the chill spirit of
the cemetery. What Mallarme attempted to do with French poetry Rodin
accomplished in clay. His marbles do not represent but present
emotion, are the evocation of emotion itself; as in music, form and
substance coalesce. If he does not, as did Mallarme, arouse "the
silent thunder afloat in the leaves," he can summon from the vasty
deep the spirits of love, hate, pain, despair, sin, beauty, ecstasy;
above all, ecstasy. Now the primal gift of ecstasy is bestowed upon
few. In our age Keats had it, and Shelley; Byron, despite his passion,
missed it, and so did Wordsworth. We find it in Swinburne, he had it
from the first; but few French poets have it. Like the "cold devils"
of Felicien Rops, coiled in frozen ecstasy, the blasts of hell about
them, Charles Baudelaire can boast the dangerous attribute. Poe and
Heine knew ecstasy, and Liszt also; Wagner was the master adept of his
century. Tschaikowsky followed him close; and in the tiny piano scores
of Chopin ecstasy is pinioned in a few bars, the soul often rapt to
heaven in a phrase. Richard Strauss has shown a rare variation on the
theme of ecstasy; voluptuousness troubled by pain, the soul tormented
by stranger nuances.

Rodin is of this tormented choir; he is master of its psychology. It
may be the decadence, as any art is in decadence which stakes the
parts against the whole. The same was said of Beethoven by the
followers of Haydn, and the successors of Richard Strauss will be
surely abused quite as violently as the Wagnerites abuse Strauss
to-day--employing against him the same critical artillery employed
against Wagner. That this ecstasy should be aroused by pictures of
love and death, as in the case of Poe and Baudelaire, Wagner and
Strauss, must not be adjudged as a black crime. In the Far East they
hypnotise neophytes with a bit of broken mirror, for in the kingdom of
art, as in the Kingdom of Heaven, there are many mansions. Possibly it
was a relic of his early admiration and study of Baudelaire that set
Wagner to extorting ecstasy from his orchestra by images of death and
love; and no doubt the temperament which seeks such combinations--a
temperament commoner in mediaeval days than ours--was inherent in
Wagner. He makes his Isolde sing mournfully and madly over a corpse
and, throwing herself upon the dead body of Tristan, die shaken by the
sweet cruel pains of love. Richard Strauss closely patterns after
Wagner in his Salome, there is the head of a dead man, and there is
the same dissolving ecstasy. Both men play with similar counters--love
and death, and death and love. And so Rodin. In Pisa we may see
(attributed by Vasari) Orcagna's fresco of the Triumph of Death. The
sting of the flesh and the way of all flesh are inextricably blended
in Rodin's Gate of Hell. His principal reading for forty years has
been Dante and Baudelaire. The Divine Comedy and Les Fleurs du Mal are
the key-notes in this white symphony of Auguste Rodin's. Love and life
and bitterness and death rule the themes of his marbles. Like
Beethoven and Wagner he breaks the academic laws of his art, but then
he is Rodin, and where he achieves magnificently lesser men would
miserably perish. His large tumultuous music is for his chisel alone
to ring out and sing.



II

The first and still the best study of Rodin as man and thinker is to
be found in a book by Judith Cladel, the daughter of the novelist
(author of Mes Paysans). She named it Auguste Rodin, pris sur la vie,
and her pages are filled with surprisingly vital sketches of the
workaday Rodin. His conversations are recorded; altogether this little
picture has much charm and proves what Rodin asserts--that women
understand him better than men. There is a fluid, feminine, disturbing
side to his art and nature very appealing to emotional women. Mlle.
Cladel's book has also been treasure-trove for the anecdote hunters;
all have visited her pages. Camille Mauclair admits his indebtedness;
so does Frederick Lawton, whose big volume is the most complete life
(probably official) that has thus far appeared, either in French or
English. It is written on the side of Rodin, like Mauclair's more
subtle study, and like the masterly criticism of Roger Marx. Born at
Paris in 1840--the natal year of his friends Claude Monet and
Zola--and in humble circumstances, not enjoying a liberal education,
the young Rodin had to fight from the beginning, fight for bread as
well as an art schooling. He was not even sure of a vocation. An
accident determined it. He became a workman in the atelier of
Carrier-Belleuse, the sculptor, but not until he had failed at the
Beaux-Arts (which was a stroke of luck for his genius) and after he
had enjoyed some tentative instruction under the great animal
sculptor, Barye. He was never a steady pupil of Barye, nor did he long
remain with him. He went to Belgium and "ghosted" for other sculptors;
indeed, it was a privilege, or misfortune, to have been the
"ghost"--anonymous assistant--for half a dozen sculptors. He learned
his technique by the sweat of his brow before he began to make music
upon his own instrument.

How his first work, The Man With the Broken Nose, was refused by the
Salon jury is history. He designed for the Sevres porcelain works; he
made portrait busts, architectural ornaments for sculptors,
caryatides; all styles that are huddled in the yards and studios of
sculptors he had essayed and conquered. No man knew his trade better,
although we are informed that with the chisel of the _practicien_
Rodin was never proficient--he could not or would not work at the
marble _en bloc_. His works to-day are in the leading museums of the
world and he is admitted to have "talent" by the academic men. Rivals
he has none, nor will he have successors. His production is too
personal. Like Richard Wagner, Rodin has proved a Upas tree for many
lesser men--he has reflected or else absorbed them. His closest
friend, the late Eugene Carriere, warned young sculptors not to study
Rodin too curiously. Carriere was wise, but his own art of portraiture
was influenced by Rodin; swimming in shadow, his enigmatic heads have
a suspicion of the quality of sculpture--Rodin's--not the mortuary art
of so much academic sculpture.

A profound student of light and of movement, Rodin, by deliberate
amplification of the surfaces of his statues, avoiding dryness and
harshness of outline, secures a zone of radiancy, a luminosity, which
creates the illusion of reality. He handles values in clay as a
painter does his tones. He gets the design of the outline by movement
which continually modifies the anatomy--the secret, he believes, of
the Greeks. He studies his profiles successively in full light,
obtaining volume--or planes--at once and together; successive views of
one movement. The light plays with more freedom upon his amplified
surfaces--intensified in the modelling by enlarging the lines. The
edges of certain parts are amplified, deformed, falsified, and we see
that light-swept effect, that appearance as if of luminous emanations.
This deformation, he declares, was practised by the great sculptors to
snare the undulating appearance of life. Sculpture, he asserts, is the
"art of the hole and the lump, not of clear, well-smoothed, unmodelled
figures." Finish kills vitality. Yet Rodin can chisel a smooth nymph
for you if he so wills, but her flesh will ripple and run in the
sunlight. His art is one of accents. He works by profile in depth, not
by surfaces. He swears by what he calls "cubic truth"; his pattern is
a mathematical figure; the pivot of art is balance, _i.e._, the
oppositions of volume produced by movement. Unity haunts him. He is a
believer in the correspondences of things, of the continuity in
nature; a mystic as well as a geometrician. Yet such a realist is he
that he quarrels with any artist who does not see "the latent heroic
in every natural movement."

Therefore he does not force the pose of his model, preferring
attitudes or gestures voluntarily adopted. His sketch-books, as
copious, as vivid as the drawings of Hokusai--he is very studious of
Japanese art--are swift memoranda of the human machine as it dispenses
its normal muscular motions. Rodin, draughtsman, is as surprising and
original as Rodin, sculptor. He will study a human foot for months,
not to copy it, but to possess the secret of its rhythms. His drawings
are the swift notations of a sculptor whose eye is never satisfied,
whose desire to pin on paper the most evanescent movements of the
human machine is almost a mania. The French sculptor avoids studied
poses. The model tumbles down anywhere, in any contortion or
relaxation he or she wishes. Practically instantaneous is the method
adopted by Rodin to preserve the fleeting attitudes, the first shiver
of surfaces. He draws rapidly with his eye on the model. It is a mere
scrawl, a few enveloping lines, a silhouette. But vitality is in it;
and for his purposes a mere memorandum of a motion. A sculptor has
made these extraordinary drawings not a painter. It will be well to
observe the distinction. He is the most rhythmic sculptor of them all.
And rhythm is the codification of beauty. Because he has observed with
a vision quite virginal he insists that he has affiliations with the
Greeks. But if his vision is Greek his models are Parisian, while his
forms are more Gothic than the pseudo-Greek of the academy. As W.C.
Brownell wrote years ago: "Rodin reveals rather than constructs
beauty... no sculptor has carried expression further; and expression
means individual character completely exhibited rather than
conventionally suggested." Mr. Brownell was also the first critic to
point out that Rodin's art was more nearly related to Donatello than
to Michael Angelo. He is in the legitimate line of French sculpture,
the line of Goujon, Puget, Rude, Barye. Dalou did not hesitate to
assert that the Dante portal is "one of the most, if not the most,
original and astonishing pieces of sculpture of the nineteenth
century."

This Dante Gate, begun more than twenty years ago, not finished yet,
and probably never to be, is an astounding fugue, with death, the
devil, hell, and the passions as a horribly beautiful four-voiced
theme. I saw the composition a few years ago at the Rue de
l'Universite atelier. It is as terrifying a conception as the Last
Judgment; nor does it miss the sonorous and sorrowful grandeur of the
Medici Tombs. Yet how different, how feverish, how tragic! Like all
great men working in the grip of a unifying idea, Rodin modified the
old technique of sculpture so that it would serve him as plastically
as does sound a musical composer. A deep lover of music, his inner ear
may dictate the vibrating rhythms of his forms--his marbles are ever
musical; not "frozen music" as Goethe said of Gothic architecture, but
silent swooning music. This gate is a Frieze of Paris, as deeply
significant of modern aspiration and sorrow as the Parthenon Frieze is
the symbol of the great clear beauty of Hellas. Dante inspired this
monstrous and ennobled masterpiece, but Baudelaire filled many of its
chinks and crannies with writhing ignoble shapes; shapes of dusky fire
that, as they tremulously stand above the gulf of fears, wave
ineffectual desperate hands. Heine in his Deutschland asks:

     Kennst du die Hoelle des Dante nicht,
       Die schreckliche Terzetten?
     Wen da der Dichter hineingesperrt
       Den kann kein Gott mehr retten.

And from the "singing flames" of Rodin there is no rescue.

But he is not all tragedy and hell fire. Of singular delicacy, of
exquisite proportions are his marbles of youth, of springtide, and the
desire of life. In 1900, at his special exhibition, Paris, Europe, and
America awoke to these haunting visions. Not since Keats or Swinburne
has love been sung so sweetly, so romantically, so fiercely. Though he
disclaims understanding the Celtic spirit, one could say that there is
Celtic magic, Celtic mystery in his work. He pierces to the core the
frenzy and joy of love and translates them in beautiful symbols.
Nature is for him the sole theme; his works are but variations on her
promptings. He knows the emerald route and all the semitones of
sensuousness. Fantasy, passion, even paroxysmal madness there are; yet
what elemental power in his Adam as the gigantic first _homo_
painfully heaves himself up from the earth to that posture which
differentiates him from the beasts. Here, indeed, the two natures are
at strife. And Mother Eve, her expression suggesting the sorrows and
shames that are to be the lot of her seed; her very loins seem crushed
by the ages that are hidden within them. You may walk freely about the
burghers of Calais, as did Rodin when he modelled them; that is one
secret of the group's vital quality. About all his statues you may
walk--he is not a sculptor of one attitude, but a hewer of men and
women. Consider the Balzac. It is not Balzac the writer of novels, but
Balzac the prophet, the seer, the great natural force--like Rodin
himself. That is why these kindred spirits converse across the years,
as do the Alpine peaks in that striking parable of Turgenieff's. No
doubt in bronze the Balzac will arouse less wrath from the
unimaginative; in plaster it produces the effect of some surging
monolith of snow.

As a portraitist of his contemporaries Rodin is the unique master of
character. His women are gracious, delicious masks; his men cover many
octaves in virility and variety. That he is extremely short-sighted
has not been dealt with in proportion to the significance of this
fact. It accounts for his love of exaggerated surfaces, his formless
extravagance, his indefiniteness in structural design; possibly, too,
for his inability, or let us say lack of sympathy, for the monumental.
He is essentially a sculptor of the intimate emotions; he delineates
passion as a psychologist; and while we think of him as a cyclops
wielding a huge hammer destructively, he is often ardent in his search
of subtle nuance. But there is breadth even when he models an eyelid.
Size is only relative. We are confronted by the paradox of an artist
as torrential, as apocalyptic as Rubens and Wagner, carving with a
style wholly charming a segment of a baby's back so that you exclaim,
"Donatello come to life!" His slow, defective vision, then, may have
been his salvation; he seems to rely as much on his delicate tactile
sense as on his eyes. His fingers are as sensitive as a violinist's.
At times he seems to model tone and colour. A marvellous poet, a
precise sober workman of art, with a peasant strain in him like
Millet, and, like Millet, very near to the soil; a natural man, yet
crossed by nature with a perverse strain; the possessor of a
sensibility exalted, and dolorous; morbid, sick-nerved, and as
introspective as Heine; a visionary and a lover of life, very close to
the periphery of things; an interpreter of Baudelaire; Dante's alter
ego in his vast grasp of the wheel of eternity, in his passionate
fling at nature; withal a sculptor, always profound and tortured,
translating rhythm and motion into the terms of sculpture. Rodin is a
statuary who, while having affinities with both the classic and
romantic schools, is the most startling artistic apparition of his
century. And to the century he has summed up so plastically and
emotionally he has also propounded questions that only the unborn
years may answer. He has a hundred faults to which he opposes one
imperious excellence--a genius, sombre, magical, and overwhelming.




V. EUGENE CARRIERE



Death has consecrated the genius of three great painters happily
neglected and persecuted during their lifetime--Manet, Monticelli, and
Carriere. Though furiously opposed, Manet was admitted to the
Luxembourg by the conditions of the Caillebotte legacy. There that
ironic masterpiece, Olympe--otherwise known as the Cat and
Cocotte--has hung for the edification of intelligent amateurs, though
it was only a bequest of triumphant hatred in official eyes. And now
the lady with her cat and negress is in the Louvre, in which
sacrosanct region she, with her meagre, subtle figure, competes among
the masterpieces. Yet there were few dissenting voices. Despite its
temperamental oscillations France is at bottom sound in the matter of
art. Genius may starve, but genius once recognised, the apotheosis is
logically bound to follow. No fear of halls of fame with a French Poe
absent.

Eugene Carriere was more fortunate than his two famous predecessors.
He toiled and suffered hardship, but before his death he was
officially acknowledged though never altogether approved by the Salon
in which he exhibited; approved or understood. He fought under no
banner. He was not an impressionist. He was not a realist. Certainly
he could be claimed by neither the classics nor romantics. A
"solitary" they agreed to call him; but his is not the hermetic art of
such a solitary as Gustave Moreau. Carriere, on the contrary, was a
man of marked social impulses, and when in 1889 he received the Legion
of Honour, he was enabled to mingle with his equals--he had been
almost unknown until then. He was the most progressive spirit among
his brethren. Nowadays he is classed as an Intimist, in which category
and with such men as Simon Bussy, Menard, Henri le Sidaner, Emile
Wery, Charles Cottet, Lucien Simon, Edouard Vuillard, the Griveaus,
Lomont, Lobre, and others, he is still their master, still the
possessor of a highly individualised style, and in portraiture the
successor to such diverse painters as Prudhon, Ricard, and Whistler.

Gabriel Seailles has written a study, Eugene Carriere, l'Homme et
l'Artiste, and Charles Morice has published another, Eugene Carriere.
The latter deals with the personality and ideas of one of the most
original thinkers among modern French painters. We have spoken of the
acerbity of Degas, of his wit, so often borrowed by Whistler and
Manet; we have read Eugene Fromentin's delightful, stimulating studies
of the old masters, but we doubt if Fromentin was as profound a
thinker as Carriere. Degas is not, though he deals in a more acid and
dangerous form of aphorism. It is one of the charms of the eulogy of
M. Morice to find embalmed therein so many phrases and speeches of the
dead painter. He was both poet and philosopher, let us call him a
seer, for his work fully bears out this appellation. A grand
visionary, he well deserves Jean Dolent's description of his pictures
as "realities having the magic of a dream."

Carriere's career was in no wise extraordinary. He fled to no exotic
climes as did Paul Gauguin. His only tragedy was the manner of his
death. For three years previous he suffered the agonies of a cancer.
His bravery was admirable. No one heard him complain. He worked to the
last, worked as he had worked his life long, untiringly. Morice gives
a "succinct biography" at the close of his study. From it we learn
that Eugene Carriere was born January 29, 1849, at Gournay
(Seine-Inferieure); that he made his first steps in art at the
Strasbourg Academy; in 1869 he entered the Beaux-Arts, in Cabanel's
class. Penniless, he earned a precarious existence in designing
industrial objects. In 1870 he was made prisoner by the Prussians,
with the garrison of Neuf-Brisach, and taken to Dresden, where he was
confined in prison. After peace had been declared he resumed his
studies at the Beaux-Arts. In 1877 he married--an important event in
his art; thenceforward Madame Carriere and the children born to them
were his continual models, both by preference and also by force of
circumstances--he was too poor in the beginning to hire professional
models. He spent six months in London, which may or may not account
for his brumous colour; and in 1879, when he was thirty years old, he
exposed in the Salon of that year his Young Mother, the first of a
long series of Maternities. He was violently attacked by the critics,
and as violently defended. During the same year he attempted to win
the "prix de Rome" and gained honours for his sketch. Luckily he did
not attain this prize; and, still more luck, he left the school.

In 1884 he received an honourable mention for a child's portrait; in
1885 a medal for his Sick Child, bought by the State; in 1886 Le
Premier voile was bought by the State and he was proposed for a medal
of honour and--singular dream of Frenchmen--he was decorated in 1889.
He died March 27, 1906. Not a long, but a full life, a happy one, and
at the last, glory--"_le soleil des morts_," as Balzac said--and a
competence for his dear ones. And it is to the honour of such writers
as Roger Marx, Anatole France, Hamel, Morice, Mauclair, Verhaeren,
Geffroy, that they recognised the genius of Carriere from the
beginning. In 1904 Carriere was made honorary president of the Autumn
Salon and was the chief guest of these young painters, who really
adored Paul Cezanne, and not the painter of an illusive psychology. I
wrote at that time: "Carriere, whose delicately clouded portraits, so
intimate in their revelation of the souls of his sitters, was not seen
at his best. He offered a large decorative panel for the Mairie of the
Thirteenth Arrondissement, entitled Les Fiances, a sad-looking
betrothal party ... the landscape timid, the decorative scheme not
very effective... His tender notations of maternity, and his heads,
painted with the smoky enchantments of his pearly gray and soft
russet, are more credible than this _panneau_." Was Carriere a
decorative painter by nature--setting aside training? We doubt it,
though Morice does not hesitate to name him after Puvis de Chavannes
in this field. The trouble is that he did not make many excursions
into the larger forms. He painted a huge canvas, Les Theatres
Populaires, in which the interest is more intimate than epical. He
also did some decorations for the Hotel de Ville, The Four Ages for a
Mairie, and the Christ at the Luxembourg and a view of Paris.
Nevertheless, it is his portraits that will live.

Carriere was, first and last, a symbolist. There he is related to the
Dutch Seer, Rembrandt; both men strove to seek for the eternal
correspondence of things material and spiritual; both sought to bring
into harmony the dissonance of flesh and the spirit. Both succeeded,
each in his own way--though we need not couple their efforts on the
technical side. Rembrandt was a prophet. There is more of the
reflective poet in Carriere. He is a mystic. His mothers, his
children, are dreams made real--the magic of which Dolent speaks is
always there. To disengage the personality of his sitter was his first
idea. Slowly he built up those volumes of colour, light, and shadow,
the solidity of which caused Rodin to exclaim: "Carriere is also a
sculptor!" Slowly and from the most unwilling sitter he extorted the
secret of a soul. We speak of John Sargent as the master psychologist
among portraitists, a superiority he himself has never assumed; but
that magnificent virtuoso, an aristocratic Frans Hals, never gives us
the indefinite sense of things mystic beneath the epidermis of poor,
struggling humanity as does Eugene Carriere. Sargent is too
magisterial a painter to dwell upon the infinite little soul-stigmata
of men and women. Who can tell the renunciations made by the Frenchman
in his endeavour to wrest the enigma of personality from its abysmal
depths?

As Canaille Mauclair says: "Carriere was first influenced by the
Spaniards, then by Ver Meer and Chardin ... formerly he coloured his
canvas with exquisite delicacy and with a distinction of harmonies
that came very near to Whistler's. Now he confines himself to bistre,
black and white, to evoke those dream pictures, true images of souls,
which make him inimitable in our epoch and go back to Rembrandt's
chiaroscuro." Colour went by the board at the last, and the painter
was dominated by expression alone. His gamut of tones became
contracted. "Physical magnetism" is exactly the phrase that
illuminates his later methods. Often cavernous in tone, sooty in his
blacks, he nevertheless contrives a fluid atmosphere, the shadows
floating, the figure floating, that arrests instant attention. He
became almost sculptural, handled his planes with imposing breadth,
his sense of values was strong, his gradations and degradation of
tones masterly; and he escaped the influences of the new men in their
researches after luminosity at all hazards. He considered
impressionism a transition; after purifying muddy palettes of the
academics, the division-of-tones painters must necessarily return to
lofty composition, to a poetic simplicity with nature, to a more
rarefied psychology.

Carriere, notwithstanding his nocturnal reveries, his sombre
colouring, was not a pessimist. Indeed, the reverse. His philosophy of
life was exalted--an exalted socialism. He was, to employ Nietzsche's
pithy phrase, a "Yes-Sayer"; he said "Yes" to the universe. A man of
vigorous affirmations, he worshipped nature, not for its pictorial
aspects, but for the god which is the leaf and rock and animal, for
the god that beats in our pulses and shines in the clear sunlight. Nor
was it vague, windy pantheism, this; he was a believer--a glance at
his Christ reveals his reverence for the Man of Sorrows--and his
religious love and pity for mankind was only excelled by his hatred of
wrong and oppression. He detested cruelty. His canvases of childhood,
in which he exposes the most evanescent gesture, exposes the
unconscious helplessness of babyhood, are so many tracts--if you
choose to see them after that fashion--in behalf of mercy to all
tender and living things. He is not, however, a sentimentalist. His
family groups prove the absence of theatrical pity. Because of his
subtle technical method, his manner of building up his heads in a
misty medium and then abstracting their physical non-essentials, his
portraits have a metaphysical meaning--they are a _Becoming_, not a
_Being_, tangible though they be. Their fluid rhythms lend to them
almost the quality of a perpetual rejuvenescence. This may be an
illusion, but it tells us of the primary intensity of the painter's
vision. Withal, there is no scene of the merely spectral, no optical
trickery. The waves of light are magnetic. The picture floats in
space, seemingly compelled by its frame into limits. Gustave Geffroy
once wrote that, in common with the great masters, Carriere, on his
canvas, gives a sense of volume and weight. Whatever he sacrificed, it
was not actuality. His draughtsmanship never falters, his touch is
never infirm.

I have seen his portraits of Verlaine, Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt,
Geffroy, of the artist himself and many others. The Verlaine is a
veritable evocation. It was painted at one _seance_ of several hours,
and the poet, it is said, did not sit still or keep silence for a
moment. He was hardly conscious that he was being painted. What a
head! Not that of the old faun and absinthe-sipping vagabond of the
Latin quarter, but the soul that lurked somewhere in Verlaine; the
dreamer, not the mystifier, the man crucified to the cross of
aspiration by his unhappy temperament. Musician and child, here is the
head of one of those pious, irresponsible mendicants who walked dusty
roads in the Middle Ages. It needed an unusual painter to interpret an
unusual poet.

The Daudet face is not alone full of surface character, but explains
the racial affinities of the romancer. Here he is David, not Daudet.
The head of De Goncourt gives in a few touches--Carriere is ever
master of the essential--the irritable pontiff of literary
impressionism. Carriere was fond of repeating: "For the artist the
forms evoke ideas, sensations, and sentiments; for the poet,
sensations, ideas, sentiments evoke forms." Never expansively lyrical
as was Monticelli, Carriere declared that a picture is the logical
development of light. And on the external side his art is a continual
variation with light as a theme. Morice contends that he was a
colourist; that the blond of Rubens and the russet of Carriere are not
monochromes; that polychromy is not the true way of seeing nature
coloured. Certainly Carriere does not sacrifice style, expression,
composition for splashing hues. Yet his illuminating strokes appear to
proceed from within, not from without. He interrogates nature, but her
answer is a sober, not a brilliant one. Let us rather say that his
colouring is adequate--he always asserted that a sense of proportion
was success in art. His tone is peculiarly personal; he paints
expressions, the fleeting shades that cross the face of a man, a
woman, a child. He patiently awaits the master trait of a soul and
never misses it, though never displaying it with the happy cruelty of
Sargent and always judging mercifully. Notwithstanding his humble
attitude in the presence of nature, he is the most self-revealing of
painters. Few before him ever interpreted maternity as he has done.

Carriere is not a virtuoso. He is an initiator--a man of rare
imagination. Above all, he escapes the rhetoric of the schools. His
apprehension of character is that of sympathetic genius. He divines
the emotions, especially in those souls made melancholy by sorrow;
uneasy, complex, feverish souls; them that hide their griefs, and
souls saturated with the ennuis of existence--to all he is interpreter
and consoler. He has pictured the _Weltschmerz_ of his age; and
without morbid self-enjoyment. A noble soul, an elevating example to
those artists who believe that art and life may be dissociated.
Carriere has left no school, though his spiritual influence has been
great. A self-contained artist, going his own way, meditating deeply
on art, on life, his canvases stand for his singleness and purity of
purpose. On the purely pictorial side he is, to quote M. Mauclair, "an
absolutely surprising painter of hands and glances."

In the sad and anxious rectitude of his attire the artistic interest
in modern man is concentrated upon his head and hands; and upon these
salient points Carriere focussed his art. Peaceful or disquieted, his
men and women belong to our century. Spiritually Eugene Carriere is
the lineal descendant of the Rembrandt school--but one who has read
Dostoievsky.




VI. DEGAS



Let us suppose that gay old misogynist Arthur Schopenhauer persuaded
to cross the Styx and revisiting the earth. Apart from his disgust if
forced to listen to the music of his self-elected disciple Richard
Wagner, what painted work would be likely to attract him? Remember he
it was who named Woman the knock-kneed sex--since the new woman is
here it matters little if her figure conforms to old-fashioned,
stupid, masculine standards of beauty. But wouldn't the nudes of Degas
confirm the Frankfort philosopher in his theories regarding the
"long-haired, short-brained, unaesthetic sex," and also confirm his
hatred for the exaggerations of poet and painter when describing or
depicting her? We fear that Schopenhauer would smile his malicious
smile and exclaim: "At last the humble truth!" It is the presentation
of the humble truth that early snared the affections of Degas, who has
with a passionate calm pursued the evanescent appearances of things
his entire life. No doubt death will find him pencil in hand. You
think of Hokusai, the old man mad with paint, when the name of Degas
is mentioned. He was born in Paris July 19, 1834--his full name is
Hilaire Germain Edgard (or Edgar)--and there is one phrase that will
best describe his career: He painted. Like Flaubert, he never married,
but lived in companionship with his art. Such a mania could have been
described by Balzac. Yet no saner art ever issued from a Parisian
atelier; sane, clear, and beautiful.

Degas is a painter's painter. For him the subject is a peg upon which
to hang superb workmanship. In amazement the public asked: How could a
man in the possession of his powers shut himself up in a studio to
paint ballet girls, washerwomen, jockeys, drabs of Montmartre,
shopgirls, and horses? Even Zola, who should have known better, would
not admit that Degas was an artist fit to be compared with such men as
Flaubert and Goncourt; but Zola was never the realist that is Degas.
Now it is difficult to keep asunder the names of Goncourt and Degas.
To us they are too often unwisely bracketed. The style of the painter
has been judged as analogous to the novelist's; yet, apart from a
preference for the same subjects for the "modernity" of Paris, there
is not much in Degas that recalls Goncourt's staccato, febrile,
sparkling, "decomposed", impressionistic prose. Both men are
brilliant, though not in the same way. Pyrotechnics are abhorrent to
Degas. He has the serenity, sobriety, and impersonality of the great
classic painters. He is himself a classic.

His legend is slender. Possessing a private income, he never was
preoccupied with the anxieties of selling his work. He first entered
the atelier of Lamotte, but his stay was brief. In the studio of
Ingres he was, so George Moore declares, the student who carried out
the lifeless body of the painter when Ingres fell in his fatal fit.
There is something peculiarly interesting about this anecdote for the
tradition of Ingres has been carried on by Degas. The greatest master
of pure line, in his portraits and nudes--we have forgotten his chilly
_pastiches_ of Raphael--of the past century, Ingres has been and still
is for Degas a god on the peaks of Parnassus. Degas is an Ingres who
has studied the Japanese. Only such men as Pollajuolo and Botticelli
rank with Degas in the mastery of rhythmic line. He is not academic,
yet he stems from purest academic traditions. He is not of the
impressionists, at least not in his technical processes, but he
associated with them, exhibited with them (though rarely), and is as a
rule confused with them. He never exhibited in the Salons, he has no
disciples, yet it is doubtful if any painter's fashion of seeing
things has had such an influence on the generation following him. The
name of Degas, the pastels of Degas, the miraculous draughtsmanship of
Degas created an imponderable fluid which still permeates Paris.
Naturally, after the egg trick was discovered we encounter scores of
young Columbuses, who paint ballet girls' legs and the heads of
orchestral musicians and scenes from the racing paddock.

Degas had three painters who, if any, might truthfully call themselves
his pupils. These are Mary Cassatt, Alexis Rouart, and Forain. The
first has achieved solid fame. The last is a remarkable illustrator,
who "vulgarised" the austere methods of his master for popular
Parisian consumption. That Renoir, Raffaelli, and Toulouse-Lautrec owe
much to Degas is the secret of Polichinello. This patient student of
the Tuscan Primitives, of Holbein, Chardin, Delacroix, Ingres, and
Manet--the precepts of Manet taught him to sweeten the wiriness of his
modelling and modify his tendency to a certain hardness--was willing
to trust to time for the verdict of his rare art. He associated daily
with Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Whistler, Duranty, Fantin-Latour, and the
crowd that first went to the Cafe Guerbois in the Batignolles--hence
the derisive nickname, "The Batignolles School"; later to the Nouvelle
Athenes, finally to the Cafe de la Rochefoucauld. A hermit he was
during the dozen hours a day he toiled, but he was a sociable man,
nevertheless, a cultured man fond of music, possessing a tongue that
was feared as much as is the Russian knout. Mr. Moore has printed many
specimens of his caustic wit. Whistler actually kept silent in his
presence--possibly expecting a repetition of the _mot_: "My dear
friend, you conduct yourself in life just as if you had no talent at
all." Manet good-naturedly took a browbeating, but the Academic set
were outraged by the irreverence of Degas. What hard sayings were his!
Poor Bastien-Lepage, too, came in for a scoring. Barricaded in his
studio, it was a brave man who attempted to force an entrance. The
little, round-shouldered artist, generally good-tempered, would pour a
stream of verbal vitriol over the head of the unlucky impertinent.

In 1860 or thereabout he visited America, and in New Orleans he saw
the subject of his Interior of a Cotton Factory, which was shown as an
historical curiosity at the Paris exposition in 1900. While it is
implacably realistic there is little hint of the future Degas. The
name of the painter was in every French painter's mouth, and the
brilliant article of Huysmans concentrated his fame. Huysmans it was
who first saw that Degas had treated the nude as Rembrandt would if he
had been alive--making allowances for temperamental variations. Degas
knew that to grasp the true meaning of the nude it must be represented
in postures, movements which are natural, not studio attitudes. As
Monet exposed the fallacy of studio lighting, so Degas revealed the
inanity of its poses. Ibsen said the stage should be a room with the
fourth wall removed; Degas preferred the key-hole through which we
seem to peep upon the privacy of his ugly females bathing or combing
their hair or sleeping, lounging, yawning, quarrelling, and walking.
The simian and frog-like gestures and sprawling attitudes are far from
arousing amiable sensations. These poor, tired women, hard-working
laundresses, shopgirls, are not alluring, though they are not as
hideous as the women of Cezanne or Edvard Muench; but the veracity of
the "human document" (overworked phrase!) is there. Charles Morice has
said that to Cezanne a potato was as significant as a human
countenance. The pattern interested him in both. For Degas the beauty
of life lies in the moving line. He captures with ease the swift,
unconscious gesture. His models are never posed. They are nature
caught in the act. There is said to be a difference between the
epidermis of the professional model and the human who undresses only
to go to bed. Degas has recorded this difference. What an arraignment
of the corset are the creased backs and gooseflesh of his nudes! What
lurking cynicism there is in some of his interiors! _Voila l'animale!_
he exclaims as he shows us the far from enchanting antics of some
girl. How Schopenhauer would laugh at the feminine "truths" of Degas!
Without the leer of Rops, Degas is thrice as unpleasant. He is a
douche for the romantic humbug painter, the painter of sleek bayaderes
and of drawing-room portraiture.

Pity is deeply rooted in his nature. He is never tender, yet there is
veiled sympathy in the ballet-girl series. Behind the scenes, in the
waiting-rooms, at rehearsal, going home with the hawk-eyed mother, his
girls are all painfully real. No "glamour of the foot-lights,"
generally the prosaic side of their life. He has, however, painted the
glorification of the danseuse, of that lady grandiloquently described
as _prima donna assoluta_. What magic he evokes as he pictures her
floating down stage! The pastel in the Luxembourg, L'Etoile, is the
reincarnation of the precise moment when the aerial creature on one
foot lifts graceful arms and is transfigured in the glow of the
lights, while about her beats--you are sure--the noisy, insistent
music. It is in the pinning down of such climaxes of movement that
Degas stirs our admiration. He draws movement. He can paint rhythms.
His canvases are ever in modulation. His sense of tactile values is
profound. His is true atmospheric colour. A feeling of exhilaration
comes while contemplating one of his open-air scenes with jockeys,
race-horses, and the incidental bustle of a neighbouring concourse.
Unexcelled as a painter of horses, as a delineator of witching
horsemanship, of vivid landscapes--true integral decorations--and of
the casual movements and gestures of common folk, Degas is also a
psychologist, an ironical commentator on the pettiness and ugliness of
daily life, of its unheroic aspects, its comical snobberies and
shocking hypocrisies; and all expressed without a melodramatic
elevation of the voice, without the false sentimentalism of Zola or
the morbidities of Toulouse-Lautrec. There is much Baudelaire in
Degas, as there is also in Rodin. All three men despised academic
rhetoric; all three dealt with new material in a new manner.

It is the fashion to admire Degas, but it is doubtful if he will ever
gain the suffrage of the general. He does not retail anecdotes, though
to the imaginative every line of his nudes relates their history. His
irony is unremitting. It suffuses the ballet-girl series and the nude
sets. Irony is an illuminating mode, but it is seldom pleasant; the
public is always suspicious of an ironist, particularly of the Degas
variety. Careless of reputation, laughing at the vanity of his
contemporaries who were eager to arrive, contemptuous of critics and
criticism, of collectors who buy low to sell high (in the heart of
every picture collector there is a bargain counter), Degas has defied
the artistic world for a half-century. His genius compelled the
Mountain to come to Mahomet. The rhythmic articulations, the volume,
contours, and bounding supple line of Degas are the despair of
artists. Like the Japanese, he indulges in abridgments, deformations,
falsifications. His enormous faculty of attention has counted heavily
in his synthetical canvases. He joys in the representation of
artificial light; his theatres are flooded with it, and he is equally
successful in creating the illusion of cold, cheerless daylight in a
salle where rehearse the little "rats" and the older coryphees on
their wiry, muscular, ugly legs. His vast production is dominated by
his nervous, resilient vital line and by supremacy in the handling of
values.

The Degas palette is never gorgeous, consisting as it does of cool
grays, discreet blues and greens, Chardin-like whites and
Manet-blacks. His procedure is all his own. His second manner is a
combination of drawing, painting, and pastel. "He has invented a kind
of engraving mixed with wash drawing, pastel crayon crushed with
brushes of special pattern."




VII. BOTTICELLI



The common identity of the arts was a master theory of Richard Wagner,
which he attempted to put into practice. Walter Pater in his essay on
The School of Giorgione has dwelt upon the same theme, declaring music
the archetype of the arts. In his Essays Speculative John Addington
Symonds said some pertinent things on this subject. Camille Mauclair
in his Idees Vivantes proposes in all seriousness a scheme for the
fusion of the seven arts, though he deplored Wagner's efforts to reach
a solution. Mauclair's theory is that the fusion can only be a
cerebral one, that actually mingling sculpture, architecture, music,
drama, acting, colour, dancing can never evoke the sensation of unity.
Synthesis is not thus to be attained. It must be in the _idea_ of the
arts rather than their material realisation. A pretty chimera! Yet one
that has piqued the world of art in almost every century. It was the
half-crazy E.T.W. Hoffmann, composer, dramatist, painter, poet, stage
manager, and a dozen other professions, including that of genius and
drunkard, who set off a train of ideas which buzzed in the brains of
Poe, Baudelaire, and the symbolists. People who hear painting, see
music, enjoy odorous poems, taste symphonies, and write perfumes are
now classed by the omnipotent psychical police as decadents, though
such notions are as old as literature. Suarez de Mendoza in his
L'Audition Coloree has said that the sensation of colour hearing, the
faculty of associating tones and colours, is often a consequence of an
association of ideas established in youth. The coloured vowels of
Arthur Rimbaud, which must be taken as a poet's crazy prank; the
elaborate treatises by Rene Ghil, which are terribly earnest; the
remarks that one often hears, such as "scarlet is like a trumpet
blast"; certain pages of Huysmans, all furnish examples of this
curious muddling of the senses and mixing of genres. Naturally, it has
invaded criticism, which, limited in imagery, sometimes seeks to
transfer the technical terms of one art to another.

Whistler with his nocturnes, notes, symphonies in rose and silver, his
colour-sonatas, boldly annexed well-worn musical phrases, that in
their new estate took on fresher meanings even if remaining knee-deep
in the kingdom of the nebulous. It must be confessed modern composers
have retaliated. Musical impressionism is having its vogue, while
poets are desperately pictorial. Soul landscapes and etched sonnets
are not unpleasing to the ear. What if they do not mean much? There
was a time when to say a "sweet voice" would arouse a smile. What has
sugar to do with sound? It may be erratic symbolism, this confusing of
terminologies; yet, once in a while, it strikes sparks. There is a
deeply rooted feeling in us that the arts have a common matrix, that
they are emotionally akin. "Her slow smile" in fiction has had marked
success with young people, but a "slow landscape" is still regarded
suspiciously. The bravest critic of art was Huysmans. He pitched
pell-mell into the hell-broth of his criticism any image that
assaulted his fecund brain. He forced one to _see_ his picture--for he
was primarily concerned not with the ear, but the eye.

And Botticelli? Was Botticelli a "comprehensive"--as those with the
sixth or synthetic sense have been named by Lombroso? Botticelli,
beginning as a goldsmith's apprentice (Botticello, the little bottle),
ended as a painter, the most original in all Italy. His canvases have
a rare, mysterious power of evocation. He was a visionary, this Sandro
Filipepi, pupil of the mercurial Fra Lippo Lippi and the brothers
Pollajuolo, and his inward vision must have been something more than
paint and pattern and subject. A palimpsest may be discerned by the
imaginative--or, let us say, fanciful, since Coleridge long ago set
forth the categories--whose secrets are not to be deciphered easily,
yet are something more than those portrayed by the artist on the flat
surface of his picture. He painted the usual number of Madonnas, like
any artist of his period; yet he did not convince his world, or the
generations succeeding, that this piety was orthodox. Suspected during
his lifetime of strange heresies, this annotator and illustrator of
Dante, this disciple of Savonarola, has in our times been definitely
ranged as a spirit saturated with paganism, and still a mystic.
Doesn't the perverse clash in such a complex temperament give us
exotic dissonances? All Florence was a sounding-board of the arts when
Botticelli walked its narrow ways and lived its splendid coloured
life. His sensitive nature absorbed as a sponge does water the
impulses and motives of his contemporaries. The lurking secrets of the
"new learning"--doctrines that made for damnation, such as the
recrudescence of the mediaeval conception of an angelic neuter host,
neither for Heaven nor Hell, not on the side of Lucifer nor with the
starry hosts--were said to have been mirrored in his pictures. Its
note is in Citta di Vita, in the heresy of the Albigenses, and it goes
as far back as Origen. Those who read his paintings, and there were
clairvoyant theologians abroad in Florence, could make of them what
they would. Painted music is less understandable than painted heresy.
Matteo Palmieri is said to have dragged Botticelli with him into dark
corners of disbelief; there was in the Medicean days a cruel order of
intelligence that delighted to toy with the vital faith and ideals of
the young. It was more savage and cunning when Machiavelli, shrewdest
of men, wrote and lived. A nature like Botticelli's, which surrendered
frankly to ideas if they but wore the mask of subtlety, could not fail
to have been swept away in the eddying cross-currents of Florentine
intellectual movements. Never mere instinct, for he was a sexless sort
of man, moved him from his moral anchorage. Always the vision! He did
not palter with the voluptuousness of his fellow-artists, yet his
canvases are feverishly disquieting; the sting of the flesh is remote;
love is transfigured, not spiritually and not served to us as a barren
parable, but made more intense by the breaking down of the thin
partition between the sexes; a consuming emotion not quite of this
world nor of the next. The barren rebellion which stirred Botticelli's
bosom never quite assumed the concrete. His religious subjects are
Hellenised, not after Mantegna's sterner and more inflexible method,
but like those of a philosophic Athenian who has read and comprehended
Dante. Yet the illustrations show us a different Dante, one who would
not have altogether pleased the gloomy exile. William Blake's
transpositions of the Divine Comedy seem to sound the depths;
Botticelli, notwithstanding the grace of his "baby centaurs" and the
wreathed car of Beatrice, is the profounder man of the two.

His life, veiled toward the last, was not a happy one, though he was
recognised as a great painter. Watteau concealed some cankering
secret; so Botticelli. Both belong to the band of the Disquieted.
Melancholy was at the base of the Florentine's work. He created as a
young man in joy and freedom, but the wings of Duerer's bat were
outstretched over his head: Melencolia! There is more poignant music
in the Primavera, in the weary, indifferent countenances of his lean,
neuropathic Madonnas--Pater calls them "peevish"--in his Venus of the
Uffizi, than in the paintings of any other Renaissance artist. The
veils are there, the consoling veils of an exquisite art missing in
the lacerated realistic holy people of the Flemish Primitives.
Joyfulness cannot be denied Botticelli, but it is not the golden joy
of Giorgione. An emaciated music emanates from the eyes of that sad,
restless Venus, to whom love has become a scourge of the senses.
Music? Yes, here is the "coloured hearing" of Mendoza. These canvases
of Botticelli seem to give forth the opalescent over-tones of an
unearthly composition. Is this Spring, this tender, tremulous virgin
whose right hand, deprecatingly raised, signals as a conductor at the
head of an invisible orchestra its rhythms? Hermes, supremely
impassive, hand on thigh, plucks the fruit as the eternal trio of
maidens with woven paces tread the measures of a dance whose music we
but overhear. Garlanded with blossoms, a glorious girl keeps time with
the pulsing atmospheric moods; her gesture, surely a divine one, shows
her casting flowers upon the richly embroidered floor of the earth.
The light filters through the thick trees; its rifts are as rigid as
candles. The nymph in the brake is threatening. Another epicene
creature flies by her. Love shoots his bolt in midair. Is it from
Paphos or Mitylene! What the fable! Music plucked down from the
vibrating skies and made visible to the senses. A mere masque laden
with the sweet, prim allegories of the day it is not. Vasari, blunt
soul, saw but its surfaces. Politian, the poet, got closer to the
core. Centuries later our perceptions, sharpened by the stations of
pain and experience traversed, lend to this immortal canvas a more
sympathetic, less literal interpretation.

Music, too, in the Anadyomene of the Uffizi. Still stranger music.
Those sudden little waves that lap an immemorial strand; that
shimmering shell, its fan-spokes converging to the parted feet of the
goddess; her hieratic pose, its modesty symbolic, the hair that
serpentines about her foam-born face, thin shoulders that slope into
delicious arms; the Japanese group, blowing tiny, gem-like buds with
puffed-out cheeks; the rhythmic female on tiptoe offering her mantle
to Venus; and enveloping them all vernal breezes, unseen, yet sensed
on every inch of the canvas--what are these things but the music of an
art original at its birth and never since reborn? The larger rhythms
of the greater men do not sweep us along with them in Botticelli. But
his voice is irresistible.

Modern as is his spirit, as modern as Watteau, Chopin, or Shelley, he
is no less ethereal than any one of these three; ethereal and also
realistic. We may easily trace his artistic ancestry; what he became
could never have been predicted. Technically, as one critic has
written, "he was the first to understand the charm of silhouettes, the
first to linger in expressing the joining of the arm and body, the
flexibility of the hips, the roundness of the shoulders, the elegance
of the leg, the little shadow that marks the springing of the neck,
and above all the carving of the hand; but even more he understood 'le
prestige insolent des grands yeux.'"

For Pater his colour was cold, cadaverous, "and yet the more you come
to understand what imaginative colouring really is, that all colour is
no mere delightful quality of natural things but a spirit upon them by
which they become expressive to the spirit, the better you like this
peculiar quality of colour." Bernard Berenson goes further. For him
the entire picture, Venus Rising From the Sea, presents us with the
quintessence of all that is pleasurable to our imagination of touch
and movement... The vivid appeal to our tactile sense, the life
communicating movement, is always there. And writing of the Pallas in
the Pitti he most eloquently said: "As to the hair--imagine shapes
having the supreme life of line you may see in the contours of licking
flames and yet possessed of all the plasticity of something which
caresses the hand that models it to its own desire!"

And after speaking of Botticelli's stimulating line, he continues:
"Imagine an art made up entirely of these quintessences of
movement-values and you will have something that holds the same
relation to representation that music holds to speech--and this art
exists and is called lineal decoration. In this art of arts Sandro
Botticelli may have had rivals in Japan and elsewhere in the East, but
in Europe never!... He is the greatest master of lineal design that
Europe ever had."

Again music, not the music nor the symbolism of the emotions, but the
abstract music of design. Botticelli's appeal is also an auditive one.
Other painters have spun more intricate, more beautiful scrolls of
line; other painters sounded more sensuous colour music, but the
subtle sarabands of Botticelli they have not composed. There is here a
pleasing problem for the psychiatrist. Manifestations in paint of this
species may be set down to some mental lesion; that is how Maurice
Spronck classifies the sensation in writing about the verbal
sensitivity of the Goncourts and Flaubert. The latter, you may
remember, said that Salammbo was purple to him, and L'Education
Sentimentale gray. Carthage and Paris--a characteristic fancy! But why
is it that these scientific gentlemen who account for genius by
eye-strain do not reprove the poets for their sensibility to the sound
of words, the shape and cadences of the phrase? It appears that only
prose-men are the culpable ones when they hear the harping of
invisible harps from Ibsen steeplejacks, or recognise the colour of
Zarathustra's thoughts. In reality not one but thousands sit listening
in the chill galleries of Florence because of the sweet, sick, nervous
music of Botticelli; this testimony of the years is for the dissenters
to explain.

_Fantastico, Stravaganie_, as Vasari nicknamed Botticelli, has
literally created an audience that has learned to see as he did,
fantastically and extravagantly. He passed through the three stages
dear to arbitrary criticism. Serene in his youthful years; troubled,
voluptuous, visionary during the Medicean period; sombre, mystic, a
convert to Savonarola at the end. He passed through, not untouched, a
great crisis. Certain political assassinations and the Pazzi
conspiracy hurt him to the quick. He noted the turbulence of Rome and
Florence, saw behind the gay-tinted arras of the Renaissance the
sinister figures of its supermen and criminals. He never married. When
Tommaso Soderini begged him to take a wife, he responded: "The other
night I dreamed I was married. I awoke in such horror and chagrin that
I could not fall asleep again. I arose and wandered about Florence
like one possessed." Evidently not intended by nature as a husband or
father. Like Watteau, like Nietzsche, grand visionaries abiding on the
other side of the dear common joys of life, these men were not tempted
by the usual baits of happiness. The great Calumnia in the Uffizi
might be construed as an image of Botticelli's soul. Truth, naked and
scorned--again we note the matchless silhouette of his
Venus--misunderstood and calumniated, stands in the hall of a great
palace. She points to the heavens; she is an interrogation mark,
Pilate's question. Botticelli was adored. But understood? An enigmatic
malady ravaged his being. He died poor and alone, did this composer of
luminous chants and pagan poems, this moulder of exotic dreams and of
angels who long for other gods than those of Good and Evil. A
grievously wounded, timid soul, an intruder at the portals of
paradise, but without the courage to enter or withdraw. He had visions
that rapt him up into the seventh heaven, and when he reported them in
the speech of his design his harassed, divided spirit chilled the
ardours of his art. And thus it is that many do not worship at his
shrine as at the shrine of Raphael, for they see the adumbration of a
paganism long since dead, but revived by a miracle for a brief
Botticellian hour. Madonna and Venus! The Christ Child and Bacchus!
Under which king? The artist never frankly tells us. The legends of
fauns turned monks, of the gods at servile labour in a world that had
forgotten them, are revived, but with more sublimated ecstasy than by
Heine, when we stand before Botticelli and listen to his pallid, muted
music.

He was born at Florence in 1446; he died May 27, 1510; in 1515,
according to Vasari. A study of him is by Emile Gebhart, late of the
French Academy. It is erudite, although oddly enough it ignores the
researches of Morelli and Berenson. Gebhart attributes to Alessandro
di Mariano Filipepi about eighty-five pictures, many of which were
long ago in Morelli's taboo list--that terrible Morelli, the learned
iconoclast who brought many sleepless nights to Dr. Wilhelm Bode of
Berlin. Time has vindicated the Bergamese critic. Berenson will allow
only forty-five originals to Botticelli's credit. Furthermore, Gebhart
does not mention in his catalogue the two Botticellis belonging to
Mrs. Gardner of Boston, a lamentable oversight for a volume brought
out in 1907. Need we add that this French author by no means sees
Botticelli in the musical sense? He is chiefly concerned with his
historic environment. Gebhart's authorities are the Memoriale of
Francesco Albertini; Anonyme Gaddiano, the manuscript of the
Magliabecchiana, which precedes the Vasari edition; the Life of
Botticelli, by Vasari, and many later studies, the most complete, he
avers, being that of Hermann Ulmann of Munich, whose Sandro
Botticelli, which appeared in 1893, is rigorously critical.
Nevertheless, it is not as critical as Morelli's Italian Painters.
Details about the typical ears, hands, and noses of the painter may be
found therein. The last word concerning Botticelli will not be uttered
until his last line has vanished. And, even then, his archaic
harmonies may continue to sound in the ears of mankind.




VIII. SIX SPANIARDS



"EL GRECO"



Large or small, there has been a Greco cult ever since the
Greek-Spanish painter died, April 7, 1614, but during the last decade
it has grown into a species of worship. One hears the names of
Velasquez and El Greco coupled. His profound influence on the greatest
of the realists is blithely assumed, and for these worshippers,
Ribera, Zurbaran, Murillo are hardly to be ranked with the painter of
the Burial of the Count of Orgaz. While this undiscriminating
admiration may be deplored, there are reasons enough for the
canonisation of El Greco in the church of art. Violent to exaggeration
in composition, morbidly mystic, there are power and emotional quality
revealed in his work; above all else he anticipated Velasquez in his
use of cool gray tones, and as a pupil or at least a disciple of
Titian he is, as his latest biographer, Senor Manuel B. Cossio, names
him, "the last epigone of the Italian Renaissance." But of the man we
know almost nothing.

We read his exhaustive study, a big book of over seven hundred pages
fortified by a supplementary volume containing one hundred and
ninety-three illustrations, poor reproductions of El Greco's
accredited works (El Greco, por Manuel B. Cossio). Senor Cossio has so
well accomplished his task that his book may be set down as
definitive. A glance at the bibliography he compiled shows that not
many writers on art have seen fit to pay particular attention to El
Greco. A few Spaniards, Senor Beruete heading them; Max Boehm, Carl
Justi (in his Diego Velasquez); Paul Lafond, William Ritter, Arthur
Symons, William Stirling, Signor Venturi, Louis Viardot, Wyzewa,
Havelock Ellis, and the inimitable Theophile Gautier--whose Travels in
Spain, though published in 1840, is, as Mr. Ellis truthfully remarks,
still a storehouse of original exploration. But the Cossio work,
naturally, tops them all. He is an adorer, though not fanatical, of
his hero, and it is safe to assert that all that is known to-day of El
Greco will be found in these pages. The origins of the painter, his
visit to Italy, his arrival at Toledo, are described with references
to original documents--few as they are.

Then follows a searching and vivid exposition of the pictures in
Madrid, Toledo, and elsewhere, a technical and psychological analysis
which displays vast research, critical acumen, and the sixth sense of
sympathy. No pictures, sketches, sculptures, or _retablos_ escape
Cossio. He considers El Greco in his relations to Velasquez and modern
art. He has all the authorities at his tongue's tip; he views the man
and artist from every angle.

"Domenico El Greco died at Toledo two years before his contemporary
Cervantes," says Cossio. Domenicos Theotocopoulos was his original
name, which was softened into Domenico Theotocopuli--which, no doubt
proving too much of a tongue-twister for the Spaniards, was quickly
superseded by a capital nickname, "The Greek." His birthplace was the
island of Crete and his birth-year between 1545 and 1550. Justi was
the first to demonstrate his Cretan ancestry, which was corroborated
in 1893 by Bikelas. In 1570, we learn through a letter written by
Giulio Clovio to Cardinal Farnese, El Greco had astonished Roman
artists by his skill in portraiture. He was said to be a pupil of
Titian, on Clovio's authority. Why he went to Spain has not been
discovered. He had a son, Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli, a sculptor and
architect. Who the mother was history does not say. The painter took
up his abode in Toledo and is not known to have left Spain thereafter.
Pacheco visited him at Toledo and reported him to be as singular as
his paintings and of an extravagant disposition. He was also called a
wit and a philosopher. He wrote on painting, sculpture, and
architecture, it is said. He made money; was, like most of his adopted
countrymen, fond of litigation; lived well, loved music--and at his
meals!--and that is all we may ever record of a busy life; for he
painted many pictures, a careful enumeration of which makes Cossio's
book valuable.

There are Grecos scattered over Europe and the two Americas. Madrid
and Toledo boast of his best work, but as far as St. Petersburg and
Bucharest he is represented. In the United States there are eleven
examples, soon to be increased by Mr. Archer M. Huntington's recent
acquisition from the Kann collection. In Boston at the Museum there is
the portrait of Fray Paravicino, a brilliant picture. (The worthy monk
wrote four sonnets in glorification of the painter, whom he calls
"Divino Griego." Quoted in one of the Cossio appendices.) There is an
Assumption of the Virgin in Chicago at the Art Institute, and an
Apostle, belonging to Charles Deering. In Philadelphia Mr. "J. Widner"
(read P.A.B. Widener) owns a St. Francis, and at the Metropolitan
Museum, hanging in Gallery 24, there is The Adoration of the
Shepherds, a characteristic specimen of Greco's last manner, and in
excellent condition. The gallery of the late H.O. Havemeyer contains
one of the celebrated portraits of the Cardinal Inquisitor D. Fernando
Nino de Guevara, painted during the second epoch, 1594 to 1604. It
furnishes a frontispiece for the Cossio volume. The same dignitary was
again painted, a variant, which Rudolph Kann owned, and now in the
possession of Mrs. Huntington. The cardinal's head is strong,
intellectual, and his expression proud and cold. Mr. Frick, at a
private club exhibition, showed his Greco, St. Jerome, a subject of
which the painter was almost as fond as of St. Francis (of Assisi).
The National Gallery, London, owns a St. Jerome, Madrid another. Mr.
Frick's example belongs to the epoch of 1584 to 1594. Mr. Erich in New
York possesses three pictures, St. Jerome, a portrait of St. Domingo
de Guzman and a Deposition. El Greco is a painter admired by painters
for his salt individualism. Zuloaga, the Spaniard, has several; Degas,
two; the critic Duret, two; John S. Sargent, one--a St. Martin.
Durand-Ruel once owned the Annunciation, but sold it to Mrs. H.O.
Havemeyer, and the Duveens in London possess a Disrobing of Christ. At
the National Gallery there are two.

Gautier wrote that El Greco surpassed Monk Lewis and Mrs. Radcliffe in
his pell-mell of horrors; "extravagant and bizarre" are the adjectives
he employs (said of most painters whose style is unfamiliar or out of
the beaten track). In the Baptism of Christ he finds a depraved
energy, a maleficent puissance; but the ardent colours, the tonal
vivacity, and the large, free handling excite the Frenchman's
admiration. Justi avers that Greco's "craving for originality
developed incredible mannerisms. In his portraits he has delineated
the peculiar dignity of the Castilian hidalgos and the beauty of
Toledan dames with a success attained by few." R.A. Stevenson devotes
to him a paragraph in his Velasquez. Referring to the influence of El
Greco upon the greater painter, he wrote: "While Greco certainly
adopted a Spanish gravity of colouring, neither that nor his modelling
was ever subtle or thoroughly natural... Velasquez ripened with age
and practice; Greco was rather inclined to get rotten with facility."
Mr. Ricketts says that "his pictures might at times have been painted
by torchlight in a cell of the Inquisition." Richard Ford in his
handbook of Spain does not mince words: "Greco was very unequal... He
was often more lengthy and extravagant than Fuseli, and as leaden as
cholera morbus." Ritter speaks of his "symphonies in blue minor"
(evidently imitating Gautier's poem, Symphony in White-Major). In
Havelock Ellis's suggestive The Soul of Spain there is mention of
Greco--see chapter Art of Spain. Ellis says: "In his more purely
religious and supernatural scenes Greco was sometimes imaginative, but
more often bizarre in design and disconcerting in his colouring with
its insistence on chalky white, his violet shadows on pale faces, his
love of green. [Mr. Ellis finds this 'predilection for green'
significant as anticipating one of the characteristics of the Spanish
palette.] His distorted fever of movement--the lean, twisted bodies,
the frenzied, gesticulating arms, the mannerism of large calves that
taper down to pointed toes--usually fails to convince us. But in the
audacities of his colouring he revealed the possibilities of new
harmonies, of higher, brighter, cooler keys." The Count Orgaz burial
scene at Toledo Mr. Ellis does not rank among the world's great
pictures.

There is often a depressing morbidity in Greco; Goya is sane and
healthy by comparison. Greco's big church pieces are full of religious
sentiment, but enveloped in the fumes of nightmare. Curious it was
that a stranger from Greece should have absorbed certain not
particularly healthy, even sinister, Spanish traits and developed them
to such a pitch of nervous intensity. As Arthur Symons says, his
portraits "have all the brooding Spanish soul with its proud
self-repression." Senor Cossio sums up in effect by declaring that
Venice educated Greco in his art; Titian taught him technique;
Tintoretto gave him his sense of dramatic form; Angelo his virility.
But of the strong personality which assimilated these various
influences there is no doubt when confronted with one of his canvases,
every inch of which is signed El Greco.




"VELASQUEZ"



Why so well-known and authoritative a work as Velasquez, by Aureliano
de Beruete, should have been so long in reaching America is a puzzle
when you consider the velocity with which the Atlantic Ocean is
traversed by so many mediocre books on art. The first Spanish edition
of the Beruete monograph appeared about 1897; the same year saw it in
French, and from the latter tongue it was translated into English by
Hugh E. Poynter in 1906. Senor Beruete is considered with reason as
the prime living authority on the great Spanish realist, though his
study is not so voluminous as that of Carl Justi. The Bonn professor,
however, took all Spain for his province. Velasquez and His Times is
the title of his work, the first edition of which came out in 1888,
the second in 1903. Beruete (whose portrait by Sorolla was one of that
master's most characteristic pictures at the recent Hispanic Society
exhibition in New York) is not at odds on many points with Justi; but
more sceptical he is, and to R.A.M. Stevenson's list of Velasquez
pictures, two hundred and thirty-four, Beruete opposes the
comparatively meagre number of eighty-nine. He reduces the number of
sketches and waves away as spurious the Velasquez "originals" in
Italy, several in the Prado, the very stronghold of the collection;
and of the eleven in that famous cabinet of the Vienna Imperial
Museum--to which we went as to a divine service of eye and soul--he
allows only seven as authentic. The portrait of Innocent X in the
Doria palace, Rome, is naturally a masterpiece, as is the bust
portrait of the same subject at the Hermitage, St. Petersburg; but the
Boston Museum full-length of Philip IV is discredited as a copy, only
the Prince Don Baltasar Carlos Attended by a Dwarf being admitted in
the company of the true Velasquezes.

Of the "supposed portrait of Cardinal Pamphili," a real Velasquez, now
hanging in the Hispanic Society, 156th Street, Beruete writes: "In the
winter of 1902 there appeared in Paris a bust portrait of a cardinal
brought from Italy by Messrs. Trotty & Co., which had been alluded to
by Professor A. Venturi of Rome in _L'Art_. It is life size,
representing a person about thirty years of age in the dress of a
cardinal, with smiling face and black hair, moustache and pointed
beard, good carriage and a touch of levity not in keeping with the
dignity and austerity of a prince of the Church. The beretta and cape,
of a fine red colour, the latter painted in a uniform tone and without
a crease, harmonise with the roseate hue of the features, and the
plain gray background. Every detail reveals the hand of Velasquez, and
it can be classed without hesitation among the characteristic works of
his second style. It is on that ground that I make mention of it here.
However, in Rome, at the house in which this picture was found, it was
held to be the portrait of Cardinal Pamphili, nephew of Innocent X,
who according to Palomino was painted in Rome by Velasquez at the same
time as the Pontiff, that is in 1650."

Beruete believes Palomino was wrong in declaring that Velasquez
painted the young cardinal in Rome; Madrid was the likelier city. The
style proves an earlier date than 1650. The cardinal withdrew from the
cardinalate after three years, 1644-47 > and married. The portrait was
acquired by the American artist the late Francis Lathrop. Stevenson
grants to the Metropolitan Museum a fruit-piece by Velasquez. Not so
Beruete. J. H. McFadden of Philadelphia once owned the Dona Mariana of
Austria, second wife of Philip IV, in a white-and-black dress, gold
chain over her shoulder, hair adorned with red bows and red-and-white
feather, from the Lyne-Stephens collection in the New Gallery,
1895--and is so quoted by Stevenson; but he sold the picture and
Beruete has lost track of it.

Whereas Stevenson in his invaluable book studies his subject broadly
in chapters devoted to the dignity of the Velasquez technique, his
colour, modelling, brushwork, and his impressionism, Beruete follows a
more detailed yet simpler method. Picture by picture, in each of the
three styles--he adopts Justi's and Stevenson's classification--he
follows the painter, dealing less with the man than his work. Not that
biographical data are missing--on the contrary, there are many pages
of anecdotes as well as the usual facts--but Beruete is principally
concerned with the chronology and attribution of the pictures. He has
dug up some fresh material concerning the miserable pay Velasquez
received, rather fought for, at the court of Philip, where he was on a
par with the dwarfs, barbers, comedians, servants, and other
dependants of the royal household.

The painter has been criticised for his attachment to the king; but as
he was not of a religious nature and did not paint religious pieces
with the gusto of his contemporaries, the court was his only hope of
existence; either court or church. He made his choice early, and while
we must regret the enormous wasting of the hours consequent upon the
fulfilment of his duties as a functionary, master of the revels, and
what not, we should not forget how extremely precarious would have
been his lot as a painter without royal favour in the Spain of those
days. He had his bed, board, house, and though he died penniless--his
good wife Juana only survived him seven days--he had the satisfaction
of knowing that he owed no man, and that his daughter had married his
pupil Mazo. Velasquez was born at Seville in 1599; died at Madrid,
1660. His real name was Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez. He was a
Silva--for the "de" was acquired from the king after much pettifoggery
on the part of that monarch with the prognathic jaw--and he was of
Portuguese blood. He signed Velasquez--a magic grouping of letters for
the lovers of art--though born as he was in Spain his forefathers came
from Portugal. The mixed blood has led to furious disputes among
hot-headed citizens of the two kingdoms. As if it much mattered.
Velasquez's son-in-law, by the way, Juan Mazo, was the author of a
number of imitations and forgeries. He was a true friend of the
picture-dealers.

Velasquez belonged to that rare family of sane genius. He was
eminently the painter of daylight and not a nocturnal visionary, as
was Rembrandt. Shakespeare, who had all the strings to his lyre, had
also many daylight moments. Mozart always sang them, and how blithely!
No one, not Beethoven, not Raphael, not Goethe--to name three widely
disparate men of genius--saw life as steadily as the Spaniard. He is a
magnificent refutation of the madhouse doctors who swear to you that
genius is a disease. Remember, too, that the limitations of Velasquez
are clearly defined. Imagination was denied to him, asserts Beruete;
he had neither the turbulent temperament of Rubens nor possessed the
strained, harsh mysticism of El Greco--a painter of imagination and
the only painter allowed by Beruete to have affected the Velasquez
palette. In a word, Velasquez was a puzzling comminglement of the
classic and the realist. He had the repose and the firm, virile line
of the classics, while his vision of actuality has never been
surpassed. The Dutch Terburg, Vermeer, Van der Helst, Frans Hals saw
as vividly the surfaces of things material; the last alone was the
match of Velasquez in brushwork, but not Rembrandt recorded in his
Anatomy Lesson the facts of the case as did Velasquez.

Senor Beruete wittily remarks that Los Borrachos (The Topers) of
Velasquez is the truer anatomy lesson of the two. A realist, an
impressionist, as Stevenson has it, the Spaniard was; but he was also
something more. He had a magic hand to define, the rendering of the
magical mystery of space and atmosphere. Grant that he was not a
colourist in the sense the Venetians were, or Rubens, yet how much
more subtle, more noble, more intellectual, is his restricted tonal
gamut. Those silver-grays, resonant blacks, browns, blues, and reds
sing in your memory long after you have forgotten the tumultuous
golden waves breaking upon the decorative coasts of Rubens. We are
constrained to question the easy way Beruete and other critics deny
the attributes of imagination and poetry to Velasquez. There is,
perhaps, a more sublimated poetry in his pictures than in the obvious
religious and mythological and allegorical set pieces of Rubens,
Murillo, and how many others. His realism did not run to seed in the
delineation of subject. He was as natural as Cervantes--the one great
man of Spain who may be compared to him--and he saw the larger
patterns of life, while never forgetting that the chief function of a
painter is to paint, not to "think," not to rhapsodise, not to be
"literary" on canvas. His cool, measuring eye did more than record
sordid facts. He had a sort of enraptured vision of the earth as
beautiful, the innocence of the eye we encounter in children only.
Stevenson rages at those who say that Velasquez was not a
colourist--and Beruete is of them, though he quotes with considerable
satisfaction the critical pronouncement of Royal Cortissoz (in
_Harper's Magazine_, May, 1895) that Las Meninas is "the most perfect
study of colour and values which exists."

The truth is, Stevenson, Cortissoz, and Beruete are all three in the
right. That Velasquez, when in Rome, studied the pictures there; that
he didn't care for Raphael; that he had very much admired the
Venetians, Titian, Tintoretto; that he had admired Rubens, with whom
he associated daily on the occasion of the Flemish master's visit of
nine months to Madrid--these are truths not to be denied. Beruete
claims that the Rubens influence is not to be seen in Velasquez, only
El Greco's. Every object, living or inanimate, that swam through the
eyeballs of the Spaniard--surely the most wonderful pair of eyes in
history--was never forgotten. His powers of assimilation were
unexcelled. He saw and made note of everything, but when he painted
his spectators saw nothing of any other man, living or dead. Was not
the spiritual impulse missing in this man? He couldn't paint angels,
because he only painted what he saw; and as he never saw angels he
only painted mankind. Life, not the "subject," appealed to him. He had
little talent, less taste, for the florid decorative art of Rubens and
the Venetians; but give him a simple, human theme (not pretty or
sentimental) and he recreated it, not merely interpreted the scene; so
that Las Meninas, The Spinners (Las Hilanderas), the hunting pictures,
the various portraits of royalty, buffoons, beggars, outcasts, are the
chronicles of his time, and he its master psychologist.

Beruete says that Ribera more than Zurbaran affected Velasquez; "El
Greco taught him the use of delicate grays in the colouring of the
flesh." Hot, hard, and dry in his first period (Borrachos), he becomes
more fluid and atmospheric in the Breda composition (The Lances), and
in the third period he has attained absolute mastery of his material.
His salary at the court was two and sixpence a day in 1628. Even Haydn
and Mozart did better as menials. Yet some historians speak of the
liberality of Philip IV. An "immortal employee" indeed, as Beruete
names his idol. Luca Giordano called Las Meninas the "theology of
painting." Wilkie declared that the Velasquez landscapes possessed
"the real sun which lights us, the air which we breathe, and the soul
and spirit of nature." "To see the Prado," exclaims Stevenson, "is to
modify one's opinion of the novelty of recent art." To-day the
impressionists and realists claim Velasquez as their patron saint as
well as artistic progenitor. The profoundest master of harmonies and
the possessor of a vision of the real world not second to Leonardo's,
the place of the Spaniard in history will never be taken from him.

Velasquez is more modern than all the moderns; more modern than
to-morrow. That sense of the liberation of the spirit which Mr.
Berenson is fond of adducing as the grandest attribute of the Space
Composers, Raphael and the rest, may be discovered in Las Meninas, or
in The Spinners, space overhead, with mystery superadded. The brumous
North was the home of mysticism, of Gothic architecture. The note of
tragic mystery was seldom sounded by the Italians. Faith itself seems
more real in the North. It remained for Rembrandt to give it out in
his chords of _chiaroscuro_. And is there more noble, more virile
music in all art than The Surrender of Breda?

Mr. Berenson refers only once to Velasquez and then as an "impersonal"
painter. As a counterblast to his theory of impersonality let us quote
a few lines from R.A.M. Stevenson's Velasquez (that most inspiring of
all art monographs): "Is it wonderful," he asks, "that you can apply
Morelli's principles of criticism to the Pre-Raphaelite Italian
schools; that you can point to the thumbs, fingers, poses of the head,
ovals of the face and schemes of colour that the painters learned by
heart, and can even say from whom they learned? The later Venetians
broke away, and when you come to Velasquez the system holds good as
little as it can in our own day." But this charge holds good for many
painters of the Renaissance, painters of patterns. Velasquez, like the
great prose-master of France, Gustave Flaubert, is always in
modulation. No two canvases are rhythmically alike, except in the
matter of masterfulness. He, too, was a master of magnificent prose
painting, painting worth a wilderness of makers of frozen mediaeval
patterns. Mr. Henry B. Fuller, the author of the Chevalier di
Pensieri-Vani, once spoke of the "cosy sublimity" in Raphael's Vision
of Ezekiel; one might paraphrase the epigram by describing the
pictures of Velasquez as boxed-in eternities. Dostoievsky knew such a
sensation when he wrote of "a species of eternity within the space of
a square foot." But there are many connoisseurs who find evidences of
profounder and more naive faith in the angular loveliness of the
Flemish Primitives than in all the religious art of Italy or Spain.




GOYA



I

Goya was a Titan among artists. He once boasted that "Nature,
Velasquez, and Rembrandt are my masters." It was an excellent
self-criticism. He not only played the Velasquez gambit in his
portraits, the gambit of Rembrandt in his sombre imaginative pieces,
but he boldly annexed all Spain for his sinister and turbulent art. He
was more truly Spanish in the range and variety of his performances
than any Spanish-born painter since Velasquez. Without the sanity,
solidity, nobility of Velasquez, whose vision and voice he never
possessed; without the luscious sweetness of Murillo, whose sweetness
he lacked, he had something of El Greco's fierceness, and much of the
vigour of Ribera. He added to these influences a temperament that was
exuberant, fantastic, morose, and pessimistic yet humorous, sarcastic,
sometimes melting, and ever masterful. He reminds one of an
overwhelming force. The man dominates the painter. A dozen comparisons
force themselves upon you when the name of Goya is pronounced: comets,
cataracts, whirlwinds, and wild animals. Anarch and courtier, atheist
and decorator of churches, his "whole art seems like a bullfight,"
says Richard Muther. One might improve on this by calling him a subtle
bull, a Hercules who had read Byron. "Nature, Velasquez, and
Rembrandt!" cries MacColl in a too brief summary. "How inadequate the
list! Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Legion had a hand in the teaching."

Goya incarnated the renaissance of old Spain and its art. Spanish art
has always come from without, for its foundations were northern and
Flemish. The Van Eycks and Van der Weyden were studied closely; Jan
Van Eyck visited Madrid. The Venetian influence was strong, and El
Greco his life long, and a pupil of Titian as he was, this gloomy
painter with the awkward name of Theotocopoulo endeavoured to forget
his master and became more Spanish than the Spanish. Ribera,
emotional, dramatic, realistic, religious, could sound the chords of
tenderness without the sentimentalism of Murillo. Goya stems more from
Caravaggio and Salvator Rosa than from any of his predecessors, except
Velasquez. The presence of Tiepolo, the last of the Venetians, in
Spain may have influenced him. Certainly Raphael Mengs, the "Saxon
pedant," did not--Mengs associated with Tiepolo at Madrid. It is in
company with the bravos of the brush, Caravaggio and Rosa, that Goya
is closely affiliated. We must go to Gustave Courbet for a like
violence of temperament; both men painted _con furia_; both were
capable of debauches in work; Goya could have covered the walls of
hell with diabolic frescoes. In music three men are of a like ilk:
Berlioz, Paganini, Liszt. Demoniacal, charged with electric energy,
was this trinity, and Goya could have made it a quartet.

But if Spain was not a country of original artists--as was Italy, for
example--she developed powerful and astounding individualities.
Character is her _leit motiv_ in the symphony of the nations. The rich
virility and majestic seriousness of her men, their aptitudes for war,
statesmanship, and drama, are borne out in her national history.
Perhaps the climate plays its part. Havelock Ellis thinks so. "The
hard and violent effects, the sharp contrasts, the strong colours, the
stained and dusky clouds, looking as if soaked in pigment, may well
have affected the imagination of the artist," he writes. Certainly the
landscapes of Velasquez could not be more Spanish than they are; and,
disagreeing with those who say that he had no feeling for nature, the
bits of countryside and mountain Goya shows are truly peninsular in
their sternness. It may be well to remark here that the softness of
Tuscany is not to be found in the lean and often arid aspects of
Spain. Spain, too, is romantic--but after its own fashion. Goya
revived the best traditions of his country's art; he was the last of
the great masters and the first of the moderns. Something neurotic,
modern, disquieting, threads his work with devilish irregularity. He
had not the massive temper of Velasquez, of those men who could paint
day after day, year after year, until death knocked at their ateliers.
As vigorous as Rubens in his sketches, Goya had not the steady, slow
nerves of that master. He was very unequal. His life was as disorderly
as Hals's or Steen's, but their saving phlegm was missing. In an
eloquent passage--somewhere in his English Literature--Taine speaks of
the sanity of genius as instanced by Shakespeare. Genius narrowly
escapes nowadays being a cerebral disorder, though there was Marlowe
to set off Shakespeare's serene spirit, and even of Michael Angelo's
mental health and morals his prime biographer, Parlagreco, does not
speak in reassuring terms. Goya was badly balanced, impulsive, easily
angered, and not slow to obey the pull of his irritable motor centres
when aroused. A knife was always within reach. He drove the Duke of
Wellington from his presence because the inquisitive soldier asked too
many questions while his portrait was being blocked out. A sword or a
dagger did the business; but Wellington returned to the studio and, as
Mr. Rothenstein tells us, the portrait was finished and is now at
Strathfieldsaye. A sanguine is in the British Museum. His exploits in
Rome may have been exaggerated, though he was quite capable of eloping
with a nun from a convent, as is related, or going around the top of
the Cecilia Metella tomb supported only by his thumbs. The agility and
strength of Goya were notorious, though in a land where physical
prowess is not the exception. He was picador, matador, banderillero by
turns in the bull ring. After a stabbing affray he escaped in the
disguise of a bull-fighter.

If he was a _dompteur_ of dames and cattle, he was the same before his
canvas. Anything that came to hand served him as a brush, an old brown
stick wrapped up in cloth, a spoon--with the latter he executed that
thrilling Massacre, May 2, 1808, in the Prado. He could have painted
with a sabre or on all fours. Reckless to the degree of insanity, he
never feared king or devil, man or the Inquisition. The latter reached
out for him, but he had disappeared, after suffering a dagger-thrust
in the back. When on the very roof of his prosperity, he often slipped
downstairs to the company of varlets and wenches; this friend of the
Duchess of Alba seemed happier dicing, drinking, dancing in the
suburbs with base-born people and gipsies. A _genre_ painter, Goya
delighted in depicting the volatile, joyous life of a now-vanished
epoch. He was a historian of manner as well as of disordered souls,
and an avowed foe of hypocrisy.

Not "poignantly genteel," to use a Borrovian phrase, was he. Yet he
could play the silken courtier with success. The Arabs say that "one
who has been stung by a snake shivers at a string," and perhaps the
violence with which the painter attacked the religious may be set down
to the score of his youthful fears and flights when the Inquisition
was after him. He was a sort of Voltaire in black and white. The
corruption of churchmen and court at this epoch seems almost
incredible. Goya noted it with a boldness that meant but one
thing--friends high in power. This was the case. He was admired by the
king, Charles IV, and admired--who knows how much!--by his queen,
Marie Louise of Parma, Goya painted their portraits; also painted the
portraits of the royal favourite and prime minister and Prince de la
Paz, Manuel Godoy--favourite of both king and queen. Him, Goya left in
effigy for the scorn of generations to come. "A grocer's family who
have won the big lottery prize," was the witty description of
Theophile Gautier when he saw the picture of the royal family.

Curiously enough, this Goya, who from the first plucked success from
its thorny setting, was soon forgotten, and until Gautier in 1840
recorded his impressions in his brilliant Voyage en Espagne, critical
literature did not much concern itself with the versatile Spaniard.
And Gautier's sketch of a few pages still remains the most
comprehensive estimate. From it all have been forced to borrow;
Richard Muther in his briskly enthusiastic monograph and the section
in his valuable History of Modern Painting; Charles Yriarte, Will
Rothenstein, Lafond, Lefort, Conde de la Vinaza--all have read Gautier
to advantage. Valerian von Loga has devoted a study to the etchings,
and Don Juan de la Rada has made a study of the frescoes in the church
of San Antonio de la Florida; Carl Justi, Stirling Maxwell, C.G.
Hartley should also be consulted. Yriarte is interesting, inasmuch as
he deals with the apparition of Goya in Rome, an outlaw, but a blithe
one, who, notebook in hand, went through the Trastevere district
sketching with ferocious rapidity the attitudes and gestures of the
vivacious population. A man after Stendhal's heart, this Spaniard. And
in view of his private life one is tempted to add--and after the
heart, too, of Casanova. Notwithstanding, he was an unrivalled
interpreter of child-life. Some of his painted children are of a
dazzling sweetness.



GOYA



II

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes was born March 30 (or 31), 1746, at
Fuentetodos, near Saragossa, Aragon. He died at Bordeaux, France,
where he had gone for his health, April 16, 1828--Calvert, possibly by
a pen slip, makes him expire a month earlier. He saw the beginnings of
French romanticism, as he was himself a witness of the decadence of
Spanish art. But his spirit has lived on in Manet and Zuloaga.
Decadent he was; a romantic before French romanticism, he yet had
borrowed from an earlier France. Some of his gay Fetes Champetres
recall the influence of Watteau--a Watteau without the sweet elegiac
strain. He has been called a Spanish Hogarth--not a happy simile.
Hogarth preaches; Goya never; satirists both, Goya never deepened by a
pen stroke the didactic side. His youth was not extraordinary in
promise; his father and mother were poor peasants. The story of his
discovery by a monk of Saragosela--Father Felix Salvador of the
Carthusian convent of Aula Dei--is not missing. He studied with Jose
Martinez. He ran away in 1766. He remained, say some, in Italy from
1769 to 1774; but in 1771 he appeared in Saragossa again, and the year
1772 saw him competing for the painting about to be undertaken in the
cathedral. He married Josefa Bayeu, the sister of the court painter.
He has told us what he thought of his jealous, intriguing
brother-in-law in a portrait. In 1775 he was at Madrid. From 1776 he
executed forty-six tapestry cartoons. In 1779 he presented to the king
his etchings after Velasquez. His rise was rapid. He painted the
queen, with her false teeth, false hair, and her infernal simper, and
this portrait was acclaimed a masterpiece.

His religious frescoes, supposed to be _ad majorem Dei gloriam_, were
really for the greater glory of Goya. They are something more than
secular, often little short of blasphemous. That they were tolerated
proves the cynical temper of his times. When the fat old scoundrel of
a Bourbon king ran away with all his court and the pusillanimous
Joseph Bonaparte came upon the scene, Goya swerved and went through
the motions of loyalty, a thing that rather disturbs the admirers of
the supposedly sturdy republican. But he was only marking time. He
left a terrific arraignment of war and its horrors. Nor did he spare
the French. Callot, Hell-Breughel, are outdone in these swift, ghastly
memoranda of misery, barbarity, rapine, and ruin. The hypocrite
Ferdinand VII was no sooner on the throne of his father than Goya, hat
in hand but sneer on lip and twinkle in eye, approached him, and after
some parleying was restored to royal favour. Goya declared that as an
artist he was not personally concerned in the pranks of the whirligig
politic. Nevertheless he was bitterly chagrined at the twist of
events, and, an old man, he retired to his country house, where he
etched and designed upon its walls startling fancies. He died
disillusioned, and though nursed by some noble countrymen, his career
seemed to illustrate that terrifying picture of his invention--a
skeleton lifts its gravestone and grinningly traces with bony finger
in the dust the word _Nada_--Nothing! Overtaxed by the violence of his
life and labours--he left a prodigious amount of work behind
him--soured by satiety, all spleen and rage, he was a broken-down
Lucifer, who had trailed his wings in the mud. But who shall pass
judgment upon this unhappy man? Perhaps, as he saw the "glimmering
square" grow less, the lament of Cardinal Wolsey may have come to a
brain teeming with memories. Goya had always put his king before his
God. But in his heart he loved the old romantic faith--the faith that
hovered in the background of his art. Goya is not the first son of his
mother church who denied her from sheer perversity. What a nation!
Cervantes and Lope da Vega, Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada--most glorious
of her sex, saint and genius--and Goya! Spain is the land of great and
diverse personalities. But with Calderon we must now say: "Let us to
our ship, for here all is shadowy and unsettled."

Goya, as Baudelaire pointed out more than half a century ago, executed
his etchings by combining aquatint and the use of the dry point. A few
years before his death he took up lithography, then a novelty. His
Caprices, Proverbs, and Horrors of War may outlive his paintings. His
colour scheme was not a wide one, blacks, reds, browns, and yellows
often playing solo; but all modern impressionism may be seen on his
canvases--harsh dissonances, dots, dabs, spots, patches, heavy planes,
strong rhythmic effects of lighting, heavy impasto, luminous
atmosphere, air, sunshine, and vibrating movements; also the
strangeness of his material. Manet went to him a beginner. After
studying the Maja desnuda at the Prado Museum he returned to France
and painted the Olympe, once of the Luxembourg, now in the Louvre. The
balcony scenes of Goya, with their manolas--old-fashioned
grisettes--must have stirred Manet; recall the Frenchman's Balcony.
And the bull-fights? Oh! what an iron-souled master was there--Goya
when he slashed a bull in the arena tormented by the human brutes!
None of his successors matches him. The same is the case with that
diverting, devilish, savoury, and obscene series he called Caprices.
It is worth remembering that Delacroix was one of the first artists in
Paris who secured a set of these rare plates. The witch's sabbaths and
the modern version of them, prostitution and its symbolism, filled the
brain of Goya. He always shocks any but robust nerves with his hybrid
creatures red in claw and foaming at mouth as they fight in midair,
hideous and unnamable phantoms of the dark. His owls are theologians.
The females he often shows make us turn aside our head and shudder.
With implacable fidelity he displayed the reverse of war's heroic
shield. It is something more than hell.

Sattler, Charlet, Raffet, James Ensor, Rethel, De Groux, Rops, Edvard
Muench (did you ever see his woman wooed by a skeleton?), and the rest
of these delineators of the morbid and macabre acknowledge Goya as
their progenitor. He must have been a devil-worshipper. He pictures
the goat devil, horns and hoofs. Gautier compares him to E.T.W.
Hoffmann--Poe not being known in Paris at that time--but it is a
rather laboured comparison, for there was a profoundly human side to
the Spaniard. His perception of reality was of the solidest. He had
lived and loved and knew before Flaubert that if the god of the
Romantics was an upholsterer the god of eighteenth-century Spain was
an executioner. The professed lover of the Duchess of Alba, he painted
her nude, and then, hearing that the Duke might not like the theme so
handled, he painted her again, and clothed, but more insolently
uncovered than before. At the Spanish museum in New York you may see
another portrait of this bold beauty with the name of Goya scratched
in the earth at her feet. Her attitude is characteristic of the
intrigue, which all Madrid knew and approved. At home sat Mrs. Goya
with her twenty children.

Goya was a man of striking appearance. Slender in youth, a graceful
dancer, in middle life he had the wide shoulders and bull neck of an
athlete. He was the terror of Madrilenan husbands. His voice had
seductive charm. He could twang the guitar and fence like ten devils.
A gamester, too. In a word, a figure out of the Renaissance, when the
deed trod hard on the heels of the word. One of his self-portraits
shows him in a Byronic collar, the brow finely proportioned, marked
mobile features, sombre eyes--the ideal Don Juan Tenorio to win the
foolish heart of an Emma Bovary or a bored noblewoman. Another, with
its savage eye--it is a profile--and big beaver head-covering, recalls
Walt Whitman's "I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out." A giant
egoist, and as human, all too human, a fellow as Spain ever begot,
Goya is only hinted at in Baudelaire's searching quatrain beginning:
"Goya, cauchemar plein de choses inconnues." _Fleurs du Mal_ would be
a happy title for the work of Francisco Goya if to "The Flowers of
Evil" were added "and Wisdom." Goya is often cruel and lascivious and
vulgar, but he is as great a philosopher as painter. And to offset his
passionate gloom there are his visions of a golden Spain no longer in
existence; happy, gorgeous of costume, the Spain of sudden coquetries,
of fans, masques, bull-fights, and fandangos, of a people dancing on
the rim of a fire-filled mountain, pious, capricious, child-like,
romantic, and patriotic--the Spain of the eighteenth century. Goya is
its spokesman, as is Velasquez the mirror of Philip's more spacious
times. Velasquez--Goya! poles asunder, yet both born to the artistic
purple. And the stately aristocrat who signed himself Velasquez is not
more in tune with the twentieth-century _Zeitgeist_ than that
coarse-fibred democrat of genius, Francisco Goya.




FORTUNY



Mariano Fortuny: what a magic-breeding name! The motto of this lucky
Spanish painter might have been "Fortuny Fortunatus." Even his sudden
death, at the early age of thirty-six, came after he had executed a
number of masterpieces, an enormous quantity of water-colours,
etchings, ceramics, damascene swords and chased ornaments; it followed
on the heels of sudden glory. His name was in the mouth of artistic
Europe, and the sale of the contents of his studio at Rome in 1875
brought eight hundred thousand francs. Yet so slippery is fame that
Fortuny's name to-day is seldom without a brace of epithets, such as
"garish," or "empty." His work is neither. He is a virtuoso. So was
Tiepolo. He is a Romantic; so the generation preceding him. The
Orientalist par excellence, he has somehow been confounded with
Meissonier and Gerome, has been called glittering like the former,
hard as was the latter. It is true there are no emotional undertones
in his temperament, the brilliant overtones predominating; but it is
also true that when he died his manner was changing. He had said that
he was tired of the "gay rags" of the eighteenth century, and his
Strand of Portici shows a new line of departure. Edouard Manet made
special appeal to Fortuny; Manet, who had derived from Goya, whose
Spanish _fond_ is undeniable. Perhaps the thrice-brilliant Fortuny's
conscience smote him when he saw a Frenchman so successfully absorbing
the traditions of Goya; but it was not to be. He passed away at the
very top of his renown, truly a favourite of the gods. He was admired,
imitated, above all parodied; though, jealously as are his pictures
guarded, he has been put on the shelf like one of the amazing painted
bibelots in his work.

The injustice of this is patent. Between Fortuny and Meissonier there
lies the gulf that separates the genius and the hard-working man of
talent. Nevertheless Meissonier's statue is in the garden of the
Louvre, Meissonier is extolled as a master, while Fortuny is usually
described in patronising terms as a facile trifler. The reverse is the
truth. No one has painted sunlight with more intensity; he was an
impressionist before the word was coined. He is a colourist almost as
sumptuous as Monticelli, with a precision of vision never attained by
the Marseilles rhapsodist. His figures are as delicious as Watteau's
or Debucourt's--he recalls the latter frequently--and as an
Orientalist he ranks all but a few. Gerome, Guillaumet, Fromentin,
Huguet are not to be mentioned in the same breath with Fortuny as to
the manipulation of material; and has Guillaumet done anything
savouring more of the mysterious East than Fortuny's At the Gate of
the Seraglio? The magician of jewelled tones, he knew all the subtler
modulations. His canvases vibrate, they emit sparks of sunlight, his
shadows are velvety and warm. Compared with such a picture as The
Choice of a Model, the most laboriously minute Meissonier is as cold
and dead as a photograph--Meissonier, who was a capital fan painter, a
patient miniaturist without colour talent, a myopic delineator of
costumes, who, as Manet said, pasted paper soldiers on canvas and
called the machine a battle-field.

The writer recalls the sensations once evoked by a close view of
Fortuny's Choice of a Model at Paris years ago, and at that time in
the possession of Mr. Stewart. Psychology is not missing in this
miracle of virtuosity; the nude posing on the marble table, the
absolute beauty of the drawing, the colouring, the contrast of the
richly variegated marble pillars in the background, the
eighteenth-century costumes of the Academicians so scrupulously yet so
easily set forth, all made a dazzling ensemble. Since Fortuny turned
the trick a host of spurious pictures has come overseas, and we now
say "Vibert" at the same time as "Fortuny," just as some enlightened
persons couple the names of Ingres and Bouguereau. In the kingdom of
the third rate the mediocre is conqueror.

Listen to this description of La Vicaria (The Spanish Wedding), which
first won for its painter his reputation. Begun in 1868, it was
exhibited at Goupil's, Paris, the spring of 1870 (some say 1869), when
the artist was thirty-two years old. Theophile Gautier--whose genius
and Theodore de Banville's have analogies with Fortuny's in the matter
of surfaces and astounding virtuosity--went up in the air when he saw
the work, and wrote a feuilleton that is still recalled by the old
guard. The following, however, is not by Gautier, but from the pen of
Dr. Richard Muther, the erudite German critic: "A marriage is taking
place in the sacristy of a rococo church in Madrid. The walls are
covered with faded Cordova leather hangings figured in gold and dull
colours, and a magnificent rococo screen separates the sacristy from
the middle aisle. Venetian lustres are suspended from the ceiling,
pictures of martyrs, Venetian glasses in carved oval frames hang on
the wall, richly ornamented wooden benches and a library of missals
and gospels in sparkling silver clasps, and shining marble tables and
glistening braziers form part of the scene in which the marriage
contract is being signed. The costumes are those of the time of Goya.
An old beau is marrying a young and beautiful girl. With affected
grace and a skipping minuet step, holding a modish three-cornered hat
under his arm, he approaches the table to put his signature in the
place which the _escribano_ points out with an obsequious bow. He is
arrayed in delicate lilac, while the bride is wearing a white silk
dress trimmed with flowered lace and has a wreath of orange blossoms
in her luxuriant black hair. As a girl friend is talking to her she
examines with abstracted attention the pretty little pictures upon her
fan, the finest she ever possessed. A very piquant little head she
has, with her long lashes and black eyes. Then, in the background,
follow the witnesses, and first of all a young lady in a swelling silk
dress of the brightest rose colour. Beside her is one of the
bridegroom's friends in a cabbage-green coat with long flaps and a
shining belt, from which a gleaming sabre hangs. The whole picture is
a marvellous assemblage of colours in which tones of Venetian glow and
strength, the tender pearly gray beloved of the Japanese, and a
melting neutral brown each sets off the other and gives a shimmering
effect to the entire mass."

Fortuny was a gay master of character and comedy as well as of
bric-a-brac. Still life he painted as no one before or after him; if
Chardin is the Velasquez of vegetables, Fortuny is the Rossini of the
rococo; such lace-like filigrees, _fiorturi_, marbles that are of
stone, men and women that are alive, not of marble (like
Alma-Tadema's). The artificiality of his work is principally in the
choice of a subject, not in the performance. How luminous and silky
are his blacks may be noted at the Metropolitan Museum in his portrait
of a Spanish lady. There is nothing of the _petit-maitre_ in the
sensitive and adroit handling of values. The rather triste expression,
the veiled look of the eyes, the _morbidezza_ of the flesh tones, and
the general sense of amplitude and grace give us a Fortuny who knew
how to paint broadly. The more obvious and dashing side of him is
present in the Arabian Fantaisie of the Vanderbilt Gallery. It must be
remembered that he spent some time copying, at Madrid, Velasquez and
Goya, and as Camille Mauclair enthusiastically declares, these copies
are literal "identifications." They are highly prized by the Marquise
Carcano (who owned the Vicaria), Madrazo, and the Baron Davillieu--the
last named the chief critical authority on Fortuny.

In the history of the arts there are cases such as Fortuny's, of
Mozart, Chopin, Raphael, and some others, whose precocity and
prodigious powers of production astonished their contemporaries.
Fortuny, whose full name was Mariano Jose Maria Bernardo Fortuny y
Carbo, was born at Reus, a little town in the province of Tarragona,
near Barcelona. He was very poor, and at the age of twelve an orphan.
His grandfather, a carpenter, went with the lad on foot through the
towns of Catalonia exhibiting a cabinet containing wax figures painted
by Mariano and perhaps modelled by him. He began carving and daubing
at the age of five; a regular little fingersmith, his hands were never
idle. He secured by the promise of talent a pension of forty-two
francs a month and went to Barcelona to study at the Academy. Winning
the prize of Rome in 1857, he went there and copied old masters until
1860, when, the war between Spain and Morocco breaking out, he went to
Morocco on General Prim's staff, and for five or six months his brain
was saturated with the wonders of Eastern sunlight, exotic hues,
beggars, gorgeous rugs, snake-charmers, Arabs afoot or circling on
horseback with the velocity of birds, fakirs, all the huge glistening
febrile life he was later to interpret with such charm and exactitude.

He returned to Rome. He made a second trip to Africa. He returned to
Spain. Barcelona gave him a pension of a hundred and thirty-two francs
a month, which amount was kept up later by the Duke de Rianzares until
1867. He went to Paris in 1866, was taken up by the Goupils, knew
Meissonier and worked occasionally with Gerome. His rococo pictures,
his Oriental work set Paris ablaze. He married the daughter of the
Spanish painter Federigo Madrazo, and visited at Madrid, Granada,
Seville, Rome, and, in 1874, London. He contracted a pernicious fever
at Rome and died there, November 21, 1874, at the age of thirty-six.
His funeral was imposing, many celebrities of the world of art
participating. He was buried in the Campo Varano.

In 1866 at Rome he began etching, and in fifteen months finished a
series of masterpieces. His line, surprisingly agile and sinuous, has
the finesse of Goya--whom he resembled at certain points. He used
aquatint with full knowledge of effects to be produced, and at times
he recalls Rembrandt in the depth of his shadows. His friend the
painter Henri Regnault despaired in the presence of such versatility,
such speed and ease of workmanship. He wrote: "The time I spent with
Fortuny is haunting me still. What a magnificent fellow he is! He
paints the most marvellous things, and is the master of us all. I wish
I could show you the two or three pictures he has in his hand or his
etchings and water-colours. They inspired me with a real disgust of my
own. Ah, Fortuny, you spoil my sleep!"

Standing aloof from the ideas and tendencies of his times and not a
sweeper of the chords that stir in human nature the heroic or the
pathetic, it is none the less uncritical to rank this Spaniard as a
brainless technician. Everything is relative, and the scale on which
Fortuny worked was as true a medium for the exhibition of his genius
as a museum panorama. Let us not be misled by the worship of the
elephantine. It is characteristic of his temperament that the big
battle piece he was commissioned by the Barcelona Academy to paint was
never finished. Not every one who goes to Rome does as the Romans do.
Dowered by nature with extraordinary acuity of vision, with a
romantic, passionate nature and a will of steel, Fortuny was bound to
become a great painter. His manual technique bordered on the fabulous;
he had the painter's hand, as his fellow-countryman Pablo de Sarasate
had the born hand of the violinist. That he spent the brief years of
his life in painting the subjects he did is not a problem to be posed,
for, as Henry James has said, it is always dangerous to challenge an
artist's selection of subject. Why did Goya conceive his _Caprichos_?
The love of decorative beauty in Fortuny was not bedimmed by
criticism. He had the lust of eye which not the treasures of Ormuz and
Ind, or ivory, apes, and peacocks, could satisfy. If he loved the
kaleidoscopic East, he also knew his Spain. We have seen at the
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts a tiny picture, the court-yard of a
Spanish inn through which passes a blinding shaft of sunlight, which
would make envious Senor Sorolla. Fortuny has personal charm, a
quality usually missing nowadays, for painters in their desire to be
truthful are tumbling head over heels into the prosaic. Individuality
is vanishing in the wastes of an over-anxious realism. If Fortuny is a
daring virtuoso on one or two strings, his palette is ever enchanting.
Personally he was a handsome man, with a distinguished head, his body
broad and muscular and capable of enduring fatigues that would have
killed most painters. Allied to this powerful physique was a seductive
sensibility. This peasant-born painter was an aristocrat of art. Old
Mother Nature is an implacable ironist.




SOROLLA Y BASTIDA



We might say of the Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida that he
was one of those who came into the world with a ray of sunshine in
their brains--altering the phrase of Villiers de l'Isle Adam. Senor
Sorolla is also one of the half-dozen (are there so many?) great
living painters. He belongs to the line of Velasquez and Goya, and he
seldom recalls either. Under the auspices of the Hispanic Society of
America there was an exhibition of his works in 1909, some two hundred
and fifty in all, hung in the museum of the society, West 156th
Street, near Broadway. The liveliest interest was manifested by the
public and professional people in this display. Those who saw
Sorolla's art at the Paris Exposition, 1900, and at the Georges Petit
Gallery, Paris, a few years ago need not be reminded of his virile
quality and masterly brush-work. Some art lovers in this city are
aware of his Sad Inheritance, the property of Mr. John E. Berwind,
which has been hung in the Sunday-school room of the Ascension Church,
Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street. It is one of the artist's few pictures
in which he feels the _Weltschmerz_. His is a nature bubbling over
with health and happiness.

He is a Valencian, was born in 1863 of poor parents, and by reason of
his native genius and stubborn will power he became what he is--the
painter of vibrating sunshine without equal. Let there be no mincing
of comparisons in this assertion. Not Turner, not Monet painted so
directly blinding shafts of sunlight as has this Spaniard. He is an
impressionist, but not of the school of Monet. His manner is his own,
cunningly compounded as it is of the proceeds of half a dozen artists.
His trip to Rome resulted in nothing but a large eclectic canvas
without individuality; what had this pagan in common with saints or
sinners! He relates that in Paris Bastien-Lepage and Menzel affected
him profoundly. This statement is not to be contradicted; nevertheless
Sorolla is the master of those two masters in his proper province of
the portrayal of outdoor life. Degas was too cruel when he called
Bastien the "Bouguereau of the modern movement"; Bastien academicised
Manet and other moderns. He said nothing new. As for Menzel, it would
be well here to correct the notion bandied about town that he
discovered impressionism before the French. He did not. He went to
Paris in 1867. Meissonier at first, and later Courbet, influenced him.
His Rolling Mill was painted in 1876. It is very Courbet. The Paris
Exposition, 1867, picture shows the influence of Monet--who was in the
Salon of 1864; and Monet was begat by Boudin, who stemmed from
Jongkind; and Jongkind studied with Isabey; and they came from Turner,
idolater of the Sun. Remember, too, that Corot and Courbet called
Eugene Boudin "roi des ciels." Monet not only studied with him but
openly admitted that he had learned everything from him, while Boudin
humbly remarked that he had but entered the door forced by the
Dutchman Jongkind. Doubtless Sorolla found what he was looking for in
Bastien, though it would be nearer the truth to say that he studied
the Barbizons and impressionists and took what he needed from them
all.

He is a temperament impressionable to the sun, air, trees, children,
women, men, cattle, landscapes, the ocean. Such swift, vivid notation
of the fluid life about him is rare; it would be photographic were it
not the personal memoranda of a selecting eye; it would be transitory
impressionism were it not for a hand magical in its manipulation of
pigments. Brain and brush collaborate with an instantaneity that does
not perplex because the result is so convincing. We do not intend to
quote that musty flower of rhetoric which was a favourite with our
grandfathers. It was the fashion then to say that
Nature--capitalised--took the brush from the hand of the painter,
meaning some old duffer who saw varnish instead of clear colour, and
painted the picture for him. Sorolla is receptive; he does not attempt
to impose upon nature an arbitrary pattern, but he sees nature with
his own eyes, modified by the thousand subtle experiences in which he
has steeped his brain. He has the tact of omission very well
developed. After years of labour he has achieved a personal vision. It
is so completely his that to copy it would be to perpetrate a
burlesque. He employs ploys the divisional _taches_ of Monet, spots,
cross-hatchings, big sabre-like strokes a la John Sargent, indulges in
smooth sinuous silhouettes, or huge splotches, refulgent patches,
explosions, vibrating surfaces; surfaces that are smooth and oily
surfaces, as in his waters, that are exquisitely translucent. You
can't pin him down to a particular formula. His technique in other
hands would be coarse, crashing, brassy, bald, and too fortissimo. It
sometimes is all these discouraging things. It is too often deficient
in the finer modulations. But he makes one forget this by his
_entrain_, sincerity, and sympathy with his subject. As a composer he
is less satisfactory; it is the first impression or nothing in his
art. Apart from his luscious, tropical colour, he is a sober narrator
of facts. Ay, but he is a big chap, this amiable little Valencian with
a big heart and a hand that reaches out and grabs down clouds, skies,
scoops up the sea, and sets running, wriggling, screaming a joyful
band of naked boys and girls over the golden summer sands in a sort of
ecstatic symphony of pantheism.

How does he secure such intensity of pitch in his painting of
atmosphere, of sunshine? By a convention, just as the falsification of
shadows by rendering them darker than nature made the necessary
contrasts in the old formula. Brightness in clear-coloured shadows is
the key-note of impressionistic open-air effects. W.C.
Brownell--French Art--puts it in this way: "Take a landscape with a
cloudy sky, which means diffused light in the old sense of the term,
and observe the effect upon it of a sudden burst of sunlight. What is
the effect where considerable portions of the scene are suddenly
thrown into marked shadow, as well as others illuminated with intense
light? Is the absolute value of the parts in shadow lowered or raised?
Raised, of course, by reflected light. Formerly, to get the contrast
between sunlight and shadow in proper scale the painter would have
painted the shadows darker than they were before the sun appeared.
Relatively they are darker, since their value, though heightened, is
raised infinitely less than the parts in sunlight. Absolutely, their
value is raised considerably. If, therefore, they are painted lighter
than they were before the sun appeared they in themselves seem truer.
The part of Monet's pictures that is in shadow is measurably true, far
truer than it would have been if painted under the old theory of
correspondence, and had been unnaturally darkened to express the
relation of contrast between shadow and sunlight."

Like Turner, Monet forced the colour of his shadows, as MacColl points
out, and like Monet, Sorolla forces the colour of his shadows--but
what a compeller of beautiful shadows--forces the key to the very
verge of the luminous abyss. Senor Beruete, the Velasquez expert,
truthfully says of Sorolla's method: "His canvases contain a great
variety of blues and violets, balanced and juxtaposed with reds and
yellows. These, and the skilful use of white, provide him with a
colour scheme of great simplicity, originality, and beauty." There are
no non-transparent shadows, and his handling of blacks reveals a
sensitive feeling for values. Consider that black-gowned portrait of
his wife. His underlying structural sense is never obscured by his
fat, flowing brush.

It must not be supposed that because of Sorolla's enormous _brio_ his
general way of entrapping nature is brutal. He is masculine and
absolutely free from the neurasthenic _morbidezza_ of his
fellow-countryman Zuloaga. (And far from attaining that painter's
inches as a psychologist.) For the delineation of moods nocturnal, of
poetic melancholy, of the contemplative aspect of life we must not go
to Sorolla. He is not a thinker. He is the painter of bright mornings
and brisk salt breezes. He is half Greek. There is Winckelmann's
_Heiterkeit_, blitheness, in his groups of romping children, in their
unashamed bare skins and naive attitudes. Boys on Valencian beaches
evidently believe in Adamic undress. Nor do the girls seem to care.
Stretched upon his stomach on the beach, a youth, straw-hatted, stares
at the spume of the rollers. His companion is not so unconventionally
disarrayed, and as she has evidently not eaten of the poisonous apple
of wisdom she is free from embarrassment. Balzac's two infants,
innocent of their sex, could not be less carefree than the Sorolla
children. How tenderly, sensitively, he models the hardly nubile forms
of maidens. The movement of their legs as they race the strand, their
dash into the water, or their nervous pausing at the rim of the
wet--here is poetry for you, the poetry of glorious days in
youth-land. Curiously enough his types are for the most part more
international than racial; that is, racial as are Zuloaga's Basque
brigands, _manolas_, and gipsies.

But only this? Can't he paint anything but massive oxen wading to
their buttocks in the sea; or fisher boats with swelling sails
blotting out the horizon; or a girl after a dip standing, as her
boyish cavalier covers her with a robe--you see the clear, pink flesh
through her garb; or vistas of flower gardens with roguish maidens and
courtly parks; peasants harvesting, working women sorting raisins;
sailors mending nets, boys at rope-making--is all this great art?
Where are the polished surfaces of the cultured studio worker; where
the bric-a-brac which we inseparably connect with pseudo-Spanish art?
You will not find any of them. Sorolla, with good red blood in his
veins, the blood of a great, misunderstood race, paints what he sees
on the top of God's earth. He is not a book but a normal nature-lover.
He is in love with light, and by his treatment of relative values
creates the illusion of sun-flooded landscapes. He does not cry for
the "sun," as did Oswald Alving; it comes to him at the beckoning of
his brush. His many limitations are but the defects of his good
qualities.

Sorolla is sympathetic. He adores babies and delights in dancing. His
babies are irresistible. He can sound the _Mitleid_ motive without a
suspicion of odious sentimentality. What charm there is in some of his
tiny children as they lean their heads on their mothers! They fear the
ocean, yet are fascinated by it. Near by is a mother and child in bed.
They sleep. The right hand of the mother stretches, instinctively,
toward the infant. It is the sweet, unconscious gesture of millions of
mothers. On one finger of the hand there is just a hint of gold from a
ring. The values of the white counterpane and the contrast of
dark-brown hair on the pillow are truthfully expressed. One mother and
babe, all mothers and babes, are in this picture. Turn to that old
rascal in a brown cloak, who is about to taste a glass of wine. A snag
gleams white in his sly, thirsty mouth. The wine tastes fine, eh! You
recall Goya. As for the boys swimming, the sensations of darting and
weaving through velvety waters are produced as if by wizardry. But you
never think of Sorolla's line, for line, colour, idea, actuality are
merged. The translucence of this sea in which the boys plash and
plunge is another witness to the verisimilitude of Sorolla's vision.
Boecklin's large canvas at the new Pinakothek, Munich, is often cited
as a _tour_ _de force_ of water painting. We allude to the mermaids
and mermen playing in the trough of a greenish sea. It is mere
"property" water when compared to Sorolla's closely observed and
clearly reproduced waves. Rhythm--that is the prime secret of his
vitality.

His portraiture, when he is interested in his sitters, is excellent.
Beruete is real, so Cossio, the author of the El Greco biography; so
the realistic novelist Blanco Ibanez; but the best, after those of
his, Sorolla's, wife and children, is that of Frantzen, a
photographer, in the act of squeezing the bulb. It is a frank
characterisation. The various royalties and high-born persons whose
counterfeit presentments are accomplished with such genuine effort are
interesting; but the heart is missing. Cleverness there is in the
portraits of Alphonse; and his wife's gorgeous costume should be the
envy of our fashionable portrait manufacturers. It is under the skies
that Sorolla is at ease. Monet, it must not be forgotten, had two
years' military service in Morocco; Sorolla has always lived,
saturated himself in the rays of a hot sun and painted beneath the
hard blue dome of Spanish skies.

Sorolla is a painting temperament, and the freshening breezes and
sunshine that emanate from his canvases should drive away the odours
of the various chemical cook-shops which are called studios in our
"world of art."

One cannot speak too much of the large-minded and cultivated spirit of
Archer Milton Huntington, who is the projector and patron of the
exhibitions at the Hispanic Society Museum. Sorolla y Bastida, through
the invitation of Mr. Huntington, made this exhibition.




IGNACIO ZULOAGA



We are no longer with Sorolla and his vibrating sunshine on Valencian
sands, or under the hard blue dome of San Sebastian; the two-score
canvases on view in 1909 at the Hispanic Museum were painted by a man
of profounder intellect, of equally sensual but more restrained
temperament than Sorolla; above all, by an artist with different
ideals--a realist, not an impressionist, Ignacio Zuloaga. It would not
be the entire truth to say that his masterpieces were seen; several
notable pictures, unhappily, were not; but the exhibition was finely
representative. Zuloaga showed us the height and depth of his powers
in at least one picture, and the longer you know him the more secrets
he yields up.

In Paris they say of Sorolla that he paints too fast and too much; of
Zuloaga that he is too lazy to paint. Half truths, these. The younger
man is more deliberate in his methods. He composes more elaborately,
executes at a slower gait. He resents the imputation of realism. The
fire and fury of Sorolla are not his, but he selects, weighs,
analyses, reconstructs--in a word, he composes and does not improvise.
He is, nevertheless, a realist--a verist, as he prefers to be called.
He is not cosmopolitan, and Sorolla is: the types of boys and girls
racing along the beaches of watering places which Sorolla paints are
cosmopolitan. Passionate vivacity and the blinding sunshine are not
qualities that appeal to Zuloaga. He portrays darkest--let us rather
say greenest, brownest Spain. The Basque in him is the strongest
strain. He is artistically a lineal descendant of El Greco, Velasquez,
Goya; and the map of his memory has been traversed by Manet. He is
more racial, more truly Spanish, than any painter since Goya. He
possesses the genius of place.

Havelock Ellis's book, The Soul of Spain, is an excellent corrective
for the operatic Spain, and George Borrow is equally sound despite his
bigotry, while Gautier is invaluable. Arsene Alexandre in writing of
Zuloaga acutely remarks of the Spanish conspiracy in allowing the
chance tourist only to scratch the soil "of this country too well
known but not enough explored." Therefore when face to face with the
pictures of Zuloaga, with romantic notions of a Spain where castles
grow in the clouds and moonshine on every bush, prepare to be shocked,
to be disappointed. He will show you the real Spain--the sun-soaked
soil, the lean, sharp outlines of hills, the arid meadows, and the
swift, dark-green rivers. He has painted cavaliers and dames of
fashion, but his heart is in the common people. He knows the bourgeois
and he knows the gipsy. He has set forth the pride of the vagabond and
the garish fascinations of the gitana. Since Goya, you say, and then
wonder whether it might not be wiser to add: Goya never had so
complicated a psychology. A better craftsman than Goya, a more varied
colourist, a more patient student of Velasquez, of life, though
without Goya's invention, caprice, satanism, and _fougue_.

Zuloaga was not born poor, but with genius; and genius always spells
discontent. He would not become an engineer and he would paint. His
family, artists and artisans, did not favour his bent. He visited
Italy, almost starved in Paris, and after he knew how to handle his
tools he starved for recognition. It is only a few years since he
exhibited the portrait of his uncle, Daniel Zuloaga, and his cousins.
It now hangs in the Luxembourg; but Madrid would have none of him; a
Spanish jury rejected him at Paris in 1900, and not possessing the
means of Edouard Manet he could not hire a gallery and show the world
the stuff that was in him. He did not sulk; he painted. Barcelona took
him up; Paris, the world, followed suit. To-day he is rich, famous,
and forty. He was born at Eibar, 1870, in the Basque province of
Viscaya. He is a collector of rare taste and has housed his treasures
in a gallery at his birthplace. He paints chiefly at Segovia, in an
old church, though he wanders over Spain, sometimes afoot, sometimes
in his motor car, often accompanied by Rodin in the latter, and
wherever he finds himself he is at home and paints. A bull-fighter in
the ring, as was Goya--perhaps the legend stirred him to imitation--he
is a healthy athlete. His vitality, indeed, is enormous, though it
does not manifest itself in so dazzling a style as Sorolla's. The
demerits of literary comparisons are obvious, yet we dare to think of
Sorolla and Zuloaga as we should of Theophile Gautier and Charles
Baudelaire. In one is the clear day flame of impersonality; the other
is all personality, given to nocturnal moods, to diabolism and
perversities, cruelties and fierce voluptuousness. Sorolla is pagan;
Gothic is Zuloaga, a Goth of modern Spain. He has more variety than
Sorolla, more intellect. The Baudelairian strain grows in his work; it
is unmistakable. The crowds that went to see the "healthy" art of
Sorolla (as if art had anything in common with pulse, temperature, and
respiration) did not like, or indeed understand, many of Zuloaga's
magnificent pictorial ideas.

He paints in large _coups_, but his broad, slashing planes are not
impressionistic. He swims in the traditional Spanish current with joy.
Green with him is almost an obsession--a national symbol certainly.
His greens, browns, blacks, scarlets are rich, sonorous, and magnetic.
He is a colourist. He also is master of a restrained palette and can
sound the silver grays of Velasquez. His tonalities are massive. The
essential bigness of his conceptions, his structural forms, are the
properties of an eye swift, subtle, and all-embracing. It seems an
image that is at once solidly rooted in mother earth and is as
fluctuating as life. No painter to-day has a greater sense of
character, except Degas. The Frenchman is the superior draughtsman,
but he is no more vital in his interpretation of his ballet girls,
washerwomen, and grisettes than is Zuloaga in his delineations of
peasants, dwarfs, dogs, courtesans, scamps, zealots, pilgrims,
beggars, drunkards, and working girls. What verve, what grip, what
bowels of humanity has this Spaniard! A man, not a professor of
academic methods. He has no school, and he is a school in himself.
That the more serene, poetic aspects and readings of life have escaped
him is merely to say that he is not constituted a contemplative
philosopher. The sinister skein to be seen in some of his canvases
does not argue the existence of a spiritual bias but is the
recognition of evil in life. It is not very pleasant, nor is it
reassuring, but it is part of the artist, rooted deep in his Spanish
soul along with the harsh irony and a cruel spirit of mockery. He
refuses to follow the ideals of other men, and he paints a spade a
spade; at least the orchestration, if brutal, is not lascivious. A
cold, impartial eye observes and registers the corruption of cities
small and great and the infinitely worse immoralities of the open
country. Sometimes Zuloaga's comments are witty, sometimes
pessimistic. If he has studied Goya and Manet, he also knows Felicien
Rops.

The only picture in the Zuloaga exhibition that grazes the border-land
of the unconventional is Le Vieux Marcheur. It is as moral as Hogarth
and as bitter as Rops. It recalls the Montmartre days of the artist
when he was acquainted with Paul Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec. Two
women are crossing a bridge. Their actuality is impressed upon the
retina in a marvellous ly definite way. They live, they move. One is
gowned in dotted green, the other in black. There is a little
landscape with water beyond the iron railing. A venerable minotaur is
in pursuit. He wears evening clothes, an overcoat is thrown across his
left arm, under his right he carries waggishly a cane. His white tie
and hat of sober silk are in respectable contrast with his air of
fatuousness--the Marquis of Steyne en route; the doddering hero of
Mansfield in A Parisian Romance, or Baron Hulot. The alert expression
of the girls, who appear to be loitering, tells us more at a glance
than a chapter of Flaubert, Zola, or De Maupassant. Is it necessary to
add that the handling takes your breath away because of its consummate
ease and its realisation of the effects sought? Note the white of the
old party's spats, echoed by the bit of stocking showing a low shoe
worn by one of the girls; note the values of the blacks in the hat,
coat, trousers, shoe tips of the man. The very unpleasantness of the
theme is forgotten in the supreme art of its presentation.

M. Alexandre, the French critic, may argue valiantly that Zuloaga must
not be compared with Goya, that their methods and themes are
dissimilar. True, but those witches (Les Sorcieres de San Millan) are
in the key of Goya, not manner, but subject-matter--a hideous crew. At
once you think of the _Caprichos_ of Goya. The hag with the distaff,
whose head is painted with a fidelity worthy of Holbein; the monkey
profile of the witch crouching near the lantern, that repulsive
creature in spectacles--Goya spectacles; the pattern hasn't varied
since his days--these ladies and their companions, especially that
anonymous one in a hood, coupled with the desperate dreariness of the
background, a country dry and hard as a volcanic cinder, make a
formidable ensemble. Zuloaga relates that the beldames screeched and
fought in his studio when he posed them. You exclaim while looking at
them: "How now, you secret black and midnight hags!" Hell hovers hard
by; each witch of the unholy trio has the evil eye.

As a painter of dwarfs Zuloaga has not been surpassed by any one but
Velasquez. His Gregorio, the monster with the huge head, the
sickening, livid, globular eye, the comical pose--you exclaim: What a
brush! The picture palpitates with reality, an ugly reality, for the
tall old couple are not prepossessing. The topography of the country
is minutely observed. But this painter does not wreak himself in
ugliness or morbidities; he is singularly happy in catching the
attitudes and gestures of the peasants as they return from the
vintage; of picadors, matadors, chulos, in the ring or lounging,
smoking, awaiting the signal. The large and celebrated family group of
the matador Gallito--which is to remain permanently in the Hispanic
Society's museum--is a superb exemplar of the synthetic and rhythmic
art of the Spaniard. Each character is seized and rendered. The strong
silhouettes melt into a harmonious arabesque; the tonal gamut is
nervous, strong, fiery; the dull gold background is a foil for the
scale of colour notes. It is a striking picture. Very striking, too,
is the portrait of Breval as Carmen, though it is the least Spanish
picture in the collection; Breval is pictured on the stage, the lights
from below playing over her features. The problem is solved, as
Besnard or Degas has solved it, successfully, but in purely personal
manner. It is the picture in the Metropolitan Museum that is bound to
attract attention, as it is a technical triumph; but it is not very
characteristic.

We saw dark-eyed, graceful manolas on balconies--this truly Spanish
motive in art, as Spanish as is the Madonna Italian--over which are
thrown gorgeous shawls, smiling, flirting; with languorous eyes and
provocative fans, they sit ensconced as they sat in Goya's time and
centuries before Goya, the Eternal Feminine of Spain. Zuloaga is her
latest interpreter. Isn't Candida delicious in green, with black
head-dress of lace--isn't she bewitching? Her stockings are green. The
wall is a most miraculous adumbration of green. Across the room is
another agent of disquiet in Nile green, Mercedes by name. Her
aquiline nose, black eyes, and the flowers she wears at the side of
her head bewilder; the sky, clouds, and landscape are all very lovely.
This is a singularly limpid, loose, flowing picture. It has the paint
quality sometimes missing in the bold, fat massing of the Zuloaga
colour chords. The Montmartre Cafe concert singer is a sterling
specimen of Zuloaga's portraiture. He is unconventional in his poses;
he will jam a figure against the right side of the frame (as in the
portrait of Marthe Morineau) or stand a young lady beside an
ornamental iron gate in an open park (not a remarkable portrait, but
one that pleases the ladies because of the textures). The head of the
old actor capitally suggests the Spanish mummer. And the painter's
cousin, Esperanza! What cousins he boasts! We recall The Three
Cousins, with its laughing trio and the rich colour scheme. Our
recollection, too, of The Piquant Retort, and its brown and scarlet
harmonies; of the Promenade After the Bull-fight, which has the
classical balance and spaced charm of Velasquez; and that startling
Street of Love overbalances any picture except one in this exhibition,
and that is The Bull-fighter's Family. The measuring eye of Zuloaga,
his tremendous vitality, his sharp, superb transference to canvas of
the life he has elected to represent and interpret are at first sight
dazzling. The performance is so supreme--remember, not in a niggling,
technical sense--a half-dozen men beat him at mere pyrotechnics and
lace _fioritura_--that his limitations, very marked in his case, are
overlooked. You have drunk a hearty Spanish wine; oil to the throat,
confusion to the senses. You do not at first miss the soul; it is not
included in the categories of Senor Zuloaga. Zuloaga, like his
contemporary farther north, Anders Zorn, is a man as well as a
painter; the conjunction is not too frequent. The grand manner is
surely his. He has the modulatory sense, and Christian Brinton notes
his sonorous acid effects. He paints beggars, dwarfs, work-girls,
noblemen, bandits, dogs, horses, lovely women, gitanas, indolent
Carmens; but real, not the pasteboard and foot-lights variety of
Merimee and Bizet. Zuloaga's Spain is not a second-hand Italy, like
that of so many Spanish painters. It is not all bric-a-brac and
moonlight and chivalric tinpot helmets. It is the real Spain of
to-day, the Spain that has at last awakened to the light of the
twentieth century after sleeping so long, after sleeping,
notwithstanding the desperate nudging it was given a century ago by
the realist Goya. Now, Zuloaga is not only stepping on his country's
toes, but he is recording the impressions he makes. He, too, is a
realist, a realist with such magic in his brush that it would make us
forgive him if he painted the odour of garlic.

Have you seen his Spanish Dancers? Not the dramatic Carmencita of
Sargent, but the creature as she is, with her simian gestures, her
insolence, her vulgarity, her teeth--and the shrill scarlet of the
bare gum above the gleaming white, His street scenes are a transcript
of the actual facts, and inextricably woven with the facts is a sense
of the strange beauty of them all. His wine harvesters, venders of
sacred images, or that fascinating canvas My Three Cousins--before
these, also before the Promenade After the Bull-fight, you realise
that by some miracle of nature the intensity of Goya and his sense of
life, the charm of Velasquez and his sober dignity are recalled by the
painting of a young Spanish artist who a decade ago was unknown. Nor
is Zuloaga an eclectic. His force and individuality are too patent for
us to entertain such a heresy. A glance at Jacques-Emile Blanche's
portrait of the Spanish painter explains other things. There is the
physique of a man who can work many hours a day before an easel; there
are the penetrating eyes of an observer, spying eyes, slightly cruel;
the head is an intellectual one, the general conformation of the face
harmonious and handsome. The body is that of an athlete, but not of
the bull-necked sort we see in Goya. The temperament suggested is
impetuous, controlled by a strong will; it has been fined down by
study and the enforced renunciations of poverty-haunted youth. Above
all, there is race; race in the proud, resolute bearing, race in the
large, firm, supple, and nervous hands. Indeed, the work of Zuloaga is
all race. He is the most Spanish painter since Goya.




IX. CHARDIN



Zola, as reported by George Moore, said of Degas: "I cannot accept a
man who shuts himself up all his life to draw a ballet girl as ranking
co-equal in dignity and power with Flaubert, Daudet, and Goncourt."
This remark gives us the cue for Zola's critical endowment; despite
his asseverations his naturalism was only skin deep. He, too, was
swayed by his literary notions concerning the importance of the
subject. In painting the theme may count for little and yet a great
picture result; in Zola's field there must be an appreciable subject,
else no fiction. But what cant it is to talk about "dignity." Zola
admits ingrained romanticism. He would not see, for instance, that the
Degas ballet girls are on the same plane as the Ingres odalisques;
that a still-life by Chardin outweighs a big canvas by David; and it
must be admitted that the world is on the side of Zola. The heresy of
the subject will never be stamped out, the painted anecdote will
always win the eye of the easily satisfied majority.

It may be remembered that the great Spaniard began his apprenticeship
to art by copying still-life, which he did in a superlative manner;
his Bodegones, or kitchen pieces, testify to this. Chardin, who led as
laborious an existence as Degas, shutting himself away from the world,
studied surfaces with an intensity that Zola, the apostle of realism,
would have misunderstood. Later the French painter devoted himself
with equal success to genre and figure subjects; but for him there was
no such category as still-life. Everything of substance, shape,
weight, and colour is alive for the eye that observes, and, except
Velasquez, Vermeer, and a few others, no man was endowed with the eye
of Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, an eye microscopic in intensity and
that saw the beautiful in the homely.

Edmond Pilon has published a comprehensive little monograph in the
series Les Maitres de L'Art. M. Pilon is as sympathetic as he is just
in his critical estimates of the man and his work. There is not much
to relate of the quotidian life of the artist. His was not a romantic
or a graceful figure among his contemporaries, the pastellist La Tour,
Fragonard, and the rest, nor had his personality a jot of the
mysterious melancholy of Watteau. His artistic ancestry was Dutch; in
the footsteps of De Hooch, the younger Teniers, Vermeer, Terburg,
Kalf, he trod, rather plodded, producing miracles of light, colour,
finish. A long patience his career, he never indulged in brilliancy
for the mere sake of brilliancy; nevertheless he was an amazing
virtuoso of the brush. He was born in the Rue de Seine, Paris,
November 2,1699. His father, Jean Chardin, a joiner, was a man of
artistic instinct whose furniture and marquetrie were admired and in
demand. The lad began his tuition under Cazes, but soon went to the
atelier of Coypel. Later he worked under the eye of Carle Vanloo in
the restoration of the large gallery at Fontainebleau. His painting of
a barber-chirurgeon's sign drew upon him the notice of several artists
of influence and he became a member of the Academy of St. Luc. When he
exhibited for the first time in public, in the Place Dauphine, 1728,
Watteau had been dead seven years; Coypel, Allegrain, Vanloo, Troy,
and the imitators of the pompous art of Le Brun were the vogue. Colour
had become a conventional abstraction; design, of the most artificial
sort, the prime requisite for a sounding reputation. The unobtrusive
art of Chardin, who went to nature not to books for his inspiration,
was not appreciated. He was considered a belated Dutchman, though his
superior knowledge of values ought to have proved him something else.
Diderot, alone among the critics of his epoch, saluted him in company
with the great Buffon as a man whom nature had taken into her
confidence.

In 1728 he was received at the Academy as painter of fruit and
flowers. He married his first wife, Marguerite Saintan, in 1731, and
his son, J.B. Chardin, was born the same year. In 1735 he lost his
wife and infant daughter, and the double blow drove him into
retirement, but he exposed his pictures from time to time. He was made
counsellor of the Academy in 1743, and in 1744 married the second
time, a widow, Francoise Marguerite Pouget by name. This was a happy
marriage; Madame Chardin, a sensible, good-tempered bourgeoise,
regulated the household accounts, and brought order and peace into the
life of the lonely artist. Hereafter he painted without interruptions.
He received from the king a pension of five hundred francs, his son
obtained the prix de Rome for a meritorious canvas, and if he had had
his father's stable temperament he would have ended an admirable
artist. But he was reckless, and died at Venice in a mysterious
manner, drowned in a canal, whether by murder or suicide no one knew.
Chardin never recovered his spirits after this shock. The king offered
him lodging in the gallery of the Louvre (Logement No. 12). This was
accepted, as much as he disliked leaving his comfortable little house
in the Rue Princesse. As he aged he suffered from various ailments and
his eyes began to give him trouble; then it was he took up pastels.
December 6, 1779, he died, his wife surviving him until 1791.

He was a man of short stature, broad-shouldered and muscular. Liked by
his friends and colleagues for his frankness, there was a salt savour
in his forthright speech--he never learned to play the courtier. His
manners were not polished, a certain rusticity clung to him always,
but his honesty was appreciated and he held positions of trust.
Affectionate, slow--with the Dutch slowness praised by Rodin--and
tenacious, he set out to conquer a small corner in the kingdom of art,
and to-day he is first among the Little Masters. This too convenient
appellation must not class him with such myopic miniaturists as
Meissonier. There are breadth of style, rich humanity, largeness of
feeling, apart from his remarkable technique, that place him in the
company of famous portrait painters. He does not possess what are
called "general ideas"; he sounds no tragic chords; he has no spoor of
poetry, but he sees the exterior world steadily; he is never obvious,
and he is a sympathetic interpreter in the domestic domain and of
character. His palette is as aristocratic as that of Velasquez: the
music he makes, like that of the string quartet, borders on
perfection.

At his debut he so undervalued his work that Vanloo, after reproaching
the youth for his modesty, paid him double for a picture. Another time
he gave a still-life to a friend in exchange for a waistcoat whose
flowery pattern appealed to him. His pictures did not fetch fair
prices during his lifetime; after more than half a century of hard
work he left little for his widow. Nor in the years immediately
subsequent to that of his death did values advance much. The engraver
Wille bought a still-life for thirty-six livres, a picture that to-day
would sell for thousands of dollars. At the beginning of the last
century, in 1810, when David was ruler of the arts in Paris, the two
masterpieces in pastel, now in the Louvre, the portraits of Chardin
aux besicles, and the portrait of Marguerite Pouget, his second
spouse, could have been bought for twenty-four francs. In 1867 at the
Laperlier sale the Pourvoyeuse was sold for four thousand and fifty
francs to the Louvre, and forty years later the Louvre gave three
hundred and fifty thousand francs to Madame Emile Trepard for Le Jeune
Homme au Violon and l'Enfant au Toton. Diderot truly prophesied that
the hour of reparation would come.

He is a master of discreet tonalities and a draughtsman of the first
order. His lighting, more diffused than Rembrandt's, is the chief
actor in his scene. With it he accomplishes magical effects, with it
he makes beautiful copper caldrons, humble vegetables, leeks, carrots,
potatoes, onions, shining rounds of beef, hares, and fish become
eloquent witnesses to the fact that there is nothing dead or ugly in
nature if the vision that interprets is artistic. It is said that no
one ever saw Chardin at work in his atelier, but his method, his
_facture_ has been ferreted out though never excelled. He employs the
division of tones, his _couches_ are fat and his colour is laid on
lusciously. His colour is never hot; coolness of tone is his chief
allurement. Greuze, passing one of his canvases at an exhibition, a
long time regarded it and went away, heaving a sigh of envy. The
frivolous "Frago," who studied with Chardin for a brief period, even
though he left him for Boucher, admired his former master without
understanding him. Decamps later exclaimed in the Louvre: "The whites
of Chardin! I don't know how to recapture them." He might have added
the silvery grays. M. Pilon remarks that as in the case of Vermeer the
secret of Chardin tones has never been surprised. The French painter
knew the art of modulation, while his transitions are bold; he
enveloped his objects in atmosphere and gave his shadows a due share
of luminosity. He placed his colours so that at times his work
resembles mosaic or tapestry. He knew a century before the modern
impressionists the knack of juxtaposition, of opposition, of tonal
division; his science was profound. He must have studied Watteau and
the Dutchmen closely. Diderot was amazed to find that his surpassing
whites were neither black nor white, but a neuter--but by a subtle
transposition of tones looked white. Chardin worked from an
accumulation of notes, but there are few sketches of his in existence,
a _sanguine_ or two. The paucity of the Velasquez sketches has piqued
criticism. Like Velasquez, Chardin was of a reflective temperament, a
slow workman and a patient corrector.

The intimate charm of the Chardin interiors is not equalled even in
the Vermeer canvases. At the Louvre, which contains at least thirty of
the masterpieces, consider the sweetness of Le Benedicite, or the
three pastels, and then turn to the fruits, flowers, kitchen utensils,
game, or to La Raie Ouverte, that magnificent portrait of a skatefish,
with its cat slyly stealing over opened oysters, the table-cloth of
such vraisemblance that the knife balanced on the edge seems to lie in
a crease. What bulk, what destiny, what _chatoyant_ tones! Here are
qualities of paint and vision pictorial, vision that has never been
approached; paint without rhetoric, paint sincere, and the expression
in terms of beautiful paint of natural truths. In Chardin's case--by
him the relativity of mundane things was accepted with philosophic
phlegm--an onion was more important than an angel, a copper stew-pan
as thrilling as an epic. And then the humanity of his youth holding a
fiddle and bow, the exquisite textures of skin and hair, and the
glance of the eyes. You believe the story told of his advice to his
confrere: "Paint with sentiment." But he mixed his sentiment with
lovely colours, he is one of the chief glories of France as a
colourist.




X. BLACK AND WHITE.



I

Some Frenchman has called the theatre a book reversed. It is a happy
epigram. By a similar analogy the engraving or mezzotint might be
described as a reversed picture. And with still more propriety black
and white reproductions may be compared to the pianoforte in the hands
of a skilful artist. The pianoforte can interpret in cooler tones
orchestral scores. It gives in its all-formal severity the line; the
colour is only suggested. But such is the tendency of modern music
toward painting that the success of a pianoforte virtuoso to-day
depends upon his ability to arouse within his listeners' imagination
the idea of colour--in reality, the emotional element. The engraver
evokes colour by his cunning interplay of line and cross hatching; the
mezzotinter by his disposition of dark masses and white spaces.
Indeed, the mezzotint by reason of its warm, more sympathetic, and
ductile medium has always seemed more colourful in his plates than the
most laboriously executed steel engravings. In this sense the scraper
beats the burin, while the etcher, especially if he be a painter,
attains a more personal vision than either one of these processes.
"The stone was made for the mystics," say the Pennells. The revival of
lithography by contemporary artists of fame is very welcome.

Above all, the appeal of engraving, mezzotint, and etching is to the
refined. It is an art of a peculiarly intimate character. Just as some
prefer the exquisite tonal purity and finished performances of the
Kneisel String Quartet to the blare and thunder of the Philharmonic
Society; just as some enjoy in silence beautiful prose more than our
crude drama, so the lovers of black and white may feel themselves a
distinctive class. They have at their elbow disposed in portfolios or
spaced on walls the eloquent portraiture, the world's masterpieces,
marine views, and landscapes. There is no better way to study painting
historically than in the cabinet of an engraving collector.
Furthermore, divested of bad or mediocre paint--many famous pictures
by famous names are mere cartoons, the paint peeled or peeling
off--the student and amateur penetrates to the very marrow of the
painter's conception, to the very skeleton of his technical methods.





PIRANESI



I

"Battlements that on their restless fronts bore stars" is a line from
Wordsworth that Thomas de Quincey approvingly quotes in regard to his
opium-induced "architectural dreams," and, aptly enough, immediately
after a page devoted to Piranesi, the etcher, architect, and
visionary. You may find this page in The Confessions of an English
Opium Eater, that book of terror, beauty, mystification, and fudge (De
Quincey deluded himself quite as much as his readers in this
autobiography, which, like the confessions of most distinguished men,
must not be taken too literally): "Many years ago," he wrote, "when I
was looking over Piranesi's Antiquities of Rome, Mr. Coleridge, who
was standing by, described to me a set of plates by that artist,
called his Dreams, which record the scenery of his own soul during the
delirium of a fever. Some of them (described only from memory of Mr.
Coleridge's account) represented vast Gothic halls, on the floor of
which stood all sorts of engines and machinery expressive of enormous
power put forth and resistance overcome. Creeping along the sides of
the walls, you perceived a staircase, and upon it, groping his way
upward, was Piranesi himself. Follow the stairs a little farther and
you perceive it to come to a sudden, abrupt termination, without any
balustrade, and allowing no step onward to him who had reached the
extremity, except into the depths below. Whatever is to become of poor
Piranesi? You suppose, at least, that his labours must in some way
terminate here. But raise your eyes, and behold a second flight of
stairs still higher, on which again Piranesi is perceived, by this
time standing on the very brink of the abyss. Again elevate your eyes,
and a still more aerial flight of stairs is beheld, and again is poor
Piranesi on his aspiring labours, and so on, until the unfinished
stairs and Piranesi both are lost in the upper gloom of the hall."

This plate was evidently one of the Carceri set--sixteen in all--which
the etcher improvised after some severe cerebral malady. What would we
not give to have heard the poet of Kubla Khan describing the fantastic
visions of the Venetian artist to the English opium eater! The
eloquence of the prose passage we have transcribed has in it some
faint echoes of Coleridge's golden rumble. That these two men
appreciated the Italian is something; perhaps they saw chiefly in his
work its fantastic side. There was no saner craftsman than Piranesi
apart from certain of his plates; no more solid construction in a
print can be shown than his various interpretations of the classic
ruins of Rome, the temples at Paestum. He was a great engraver and
etcher whose passion was the antique. He deliberately withdrew from
all commerce with the ideas and art of his own times. He loved
architecture for architecture's sake; not as a decoration, not as a
background for humanity, but as something personal. It was for him
what the human face was for Rembrandt and Velasquez. That he was
called the Rembrandt of Architecture is but another testimony to the
impression he made upon his contemporaries, though the title is an
unhappy one. Piranesi even in his own little fenced-off coign of art
is not comparable to the etcher of the Hundred Guilder print, nor are
there close analogies in their respective handling of darks and
lights.

It might be nearer the mark to call Piranesi--though all such
comparisons are thorns in the critical flesh--the Salvator Rosa of
architecture, for there is much of Salvator's unbridled violence,
fantasy, and genius for deforming the actual that is to be encountered
in some of Piranesi's works. His was not a classic temperament. The
serene, airy, sun-bathed palaces and temples which Claude introduced
into his foregrounds are seldom encountered in Piranesi. A dark Gothic
imagination his, Gothic and often cruel. In his etching of public
buildings at Rome or elsewhere, while he is not always faultless in
drawing or scrupulous in observation, such was the sincerity and
passion of the man that he has left us the noblest transcriptions of
these stately edifices and monuments. It is in the rhythmic expression
of his personal moods that his sinister romantic imaginings are
revealed, and with a detail and fulness that are positively
overwhelming.

It should not be forgotten that in the eighteenth and in the early
part of the nineteenth centuries Piranesi achieved widespread
popularity. He was admired outside of Italy, in England, in France,
and Germany. A generation that in England read Vathek and Mrs.
Radcliffe, supped on the horrors of Melmoth and Frankenstein, knew
E.T.W. Hoffmann and the German romantic literature, could be relied on
to take up Piranesi, and for his lesser artistic side. Poe knew his
work and Baudelaire; we see that for De Quincey he was a kindred
spirit. The English mezzotinter John Martin must have studied him
closely, also Gustave Dore.

The Carceri (1750) of Piranesi are indoor compositions, enclosed
spaces in which wander aimlessly or deliriously the wraiths of damned
men, not a whit less wretched nor awful than Dante's immemorial mob.
Piranesi shows us cavernous abodes where appalling engines of torture
fill the foreground, while above, at vertiginous heights, we barely
discern perilous passageways, haunted windows peering out upon the
high heavens, stone-fretted ceilings that are lost in a magic mist. By
a sort of diabolic modulation the artist conducts our eye from these
dizzy angles and granitic convolutions down tortuous and tumultuous
staircases that seemingly wind about the axis of eternity. To traverse
them would demand an eternity and the nerves of a madman. Lower
barbaric devices reveal this artist's temperament. He is said to have
executed the prison set "during the delirium of fever." This is of the
same calibre as the clotted nonsense about Poe composing when
intoxicated or Liszt playing after champagne. It is a credible
anecdote for Philistines who do not realise that even the maddest
caprice, whether in black and white, marble, music, or verse, must be
executed in silence and cold blood. Piranesi simply gave wing to his
fancy, recalling the more vivid of his nightmares--as did Coleridge,
De Quincey, Poe, Baudelaire, and the rest of the drug-steeped choir.
We recall one plate of Piranesi's in which a miserable devil climbs a
staircase suspended over an abyss; as he mounts each step the lower
one crumbles into the depths below.

The agony of the man (do you recall The Torture by Hope of Villiers de
l'Isle-Adam?) is shown in his tense, crouching attitude, his hands
clawing the masonry above him. Nature is become a monstrous fever,
existence a shivering dread. You overhear the crash of stone into the
infernal cellarage--where awaits the hunted wretch perhaps a worse
fate than on the pinnacles above. It is a companion piece to Martin's
Sadak searching for the Waters of Oblivion. Another plate depicts with
ingenuity terraces superimposed upon terraces, archways spaced like
massive music, narrow footways across which race ape-like men, half
naked, eagerly preparing some terrible punishments for criminals
handcuffed and guarded. They are to walk a sharp-spiked bridge.
Gigantic chains swing across stony precipices, a lamp depends from a
roof whose outlines are merged in the gray dusk of dreams. There is
cruelty, horror, and a sense of the wickedly magnificent in the
ensemble. What crimes were committed to merit such atrocious
punishment? The boldness and clearness of it all! With perspicacity
George Saintsbury wrote of Flaubert's Temptation of Saint Anthony: "It
is the best example of dream literature that I know--most writers who
have tried this style have erred, inasmuch as they have endeavoured to
throw a portion of the mystery with which the waking mind invests
dreams over the dream itself. Any one's experience is sufficient to
show that this is wrong. The events of dreams, as they happen, are
quite plain and matter of fact, and it is only in the intervals that
any suspicion occurs to the dreamer."

Certainly Piranesi remembered his dreams. He is a realist in his
delineation of details, though the sweep and breadth of an ideal
design are never absent. He portrays ladders that scale bulky joists,
poles of incredible thickness, cyclopean block and tackling. They are
of wood, not metal nor marble, for the art of Piranesi is full of
discriminations. Finally, you weary. The eye gorged by all the mystic
engines, hieroglyphs of pain from some impossible inquisition--though
not once do we see a monkish figure--all these anonymous monkey men
scurrying on what errand Piranesi alone knows; these towering arches,
their foundations resting on the crest of hell (you feel the
tremendous impact of the architectural mass upon the earth--no mean
feat to represent or rather to evoke the sense of weight, of pressure
on a flat surface); the muffled atmosphere in these prisons from which
no living prisoner emerges; of them all you weary, for the normal
brain can only stand a certain dose of the delirious and the
melancholy. This aspect, then, of Piranesi's art, black magic in all
its potency, need no longer detain us. His Temples of Paestum sound a
less morbid key than his Carceri, and as etchings quite outrank them.




II

Giambattista Piranesi was born at Venice in 1720. Bryan says that
about 1738 his father sent him to Rome, where he studied under
Valeriani, through whom he acquired the style of Valeriani's master,
Marco Ricci of Belluno. With Vasi, a Sicilian engraver, he learned
that art. Ricci and Pannini were much in vogue, following the example
of Claude in his employment of ruins as a picturesque element in a
composition. But Piranesi excelled both Ricci and Pannini. He was an
architect, too, helping to restore churches, and this accounts for the
proud title, Architect of Venice, which may be seen on some of his
plates. He lived for a time in Venice, but Rome drew him to her with
an imperious call. And, notwithstanding the opposition of his father,
to Rome he went, and for forty years devoted himself to his master
passion, the pictorial record of the beloved city, the ancient
portions of which were fast vanishing owing to time and the greed of
their owners. This was Piranesi's self-imposed mission, begun as an
exalted youth, finished as an irritable old man. Among his
architectural restorations, made at the request of Clement XIII, were
the two churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Il Priorato. Lanciani
says that Il Priorato is "a mass of monstrosities inside and out." It
is his etching, not his labour as an architect, that will make
Piranesi immortal. He seems to have felt this, for he wrote that he
had "executed a work which will descend to posterity and will last so
long as there will be men desirous of knowing all that has survived
the ruins of the most famous city of the universe."

In the black-and-white portrait of the etcher by F. Polonzani, we see
a full-cheeked man with a well-developed forehead, the features of the
classic Roman order, the general expression not far removed from a
sort of sullen self-satisfaction. But the eyes redeem. They are full,
lustrous, penetrating, and introspective. The portrait etched by the
son of Piranesi, after a statue, discovers him posed in a toga, the
general effect being classic and consular. His life, like that of all
good workmen in art, was hardly an eventful one. He married
precipitately and his wife bore him two sons (Francesco, the etcher,
born at Rome, 1748--Bryan gives the date as 1756--died at Paris, 1810)
and a daughter (Laura, born at Rome, 1750--date of death unknown).
These children were a consolation to him. Both were engravers.
Francesco frequently assisted his father in his work, and Bryan says
that Laura's work resembled her father's. She went to Paris with her
brother and probably died there. She left some views of Rome.
Francesco, with his brother Pietro, attempted to found an academy in
Paris and later a terra cotta manufactory.

The elder Piranesi was of a quarrelsome disposition. He wrangled with
an English patron, Viscount Charlemont, and, like Beethoven, destroyed
title-pages when he became displeased with the subject of his
dedications. He was decorated with the Order of Christ and was proud
of his membership in the London Society of Antiquaries. It is said
that the original copper plates of his works were captured by a
British man-of-war during the Napoleonic conflict. This probably
accounts for the dissemination of so many revamped and coarsely
executed versions of his compositions. His besetting fault was a
tendency toward an Egyptian blackness in his composition. Fond of
strong contrasts as was John Martin, he is, at times, as great a
sinner in the handling of his blacks. An experimenter of audacity,
Piranesi's mastery of the technique of etching has seldom been
equalled, and even in his inferior work the skilful printing atones
for many defects. The remarkable richness and depth of tone, brought
about by continuous and innumerable bitings, and other secret
processes known only to himself, make his plates warm and brilliant.
Nobility of form, grandeur of mass, a light and shade that is
positively dramatic in its dispersion over wall and tower, are the
characteristic marks of this unique etcher. He could not resist the
temptation of dotting with figures the huge spaces of his ruins. They
dance or recline or indulge in uncouth gestures. His shadows are
luminous--you may gaze into them; his high lights caught on some
projection or salient cornice or silvering the August porticoes of a
vanished past, all these demonstrate his feeling for the dramatic. And
dramatic is the impression evoked as you study the majestic temples
that were Paestum, the bare, ruined arches and pillars that were Rome.
It is Paestum that is the more vivid. It tallies, too, with the
Piranesi plates; while Rome has visibly changed since his day. His
original designs for chimneys, Diverse Maniere d'Adornare i Camini,
are pronounced by several critics as "foolish and vulgar." He left
nearly two thousand etchings, and died at Rome November 9, 1778. His
son erected a mediocre statue by Angolin for his tomb in Il Priorato.
A manuscript life of Piranesi, which was in London about 1830, is now
lost. Bryan's dictionary gives a partial list of his works "as
published both by himself in Rome and by his sons in Paris. The plates
passed from his sons first to Firmin-Didot, and ultimately into the
hands of the Papal Government."

De Quincey's quotation of Wordsworth is apposite in describing
Piranesi's creations: "Battlements that on their restless fronts bore
stars"; from sheer brutal masonry, gray, aged, and moss-encrusted, he
invented a precise pattern and one both passionate and magical.




MERYON



Until the recent appearance of the Baudelaire letters (1841-66) all
that we knew of Meryon's personality and art was to be found in the
monograph by Philippe Burty and Beraldi's Les Graveurs du XIX Siecle.
Hamerton had written of the French etcher in 1875 (Etching and
Etchers), and various anecdotes about his eccentric behaviour were
public property. Frederick Wedmore, in his Etching in England, did not
hesitate to group Meryon's name with Rembrandt's and Jacquemart's (one
feels like employing the Whistlerian formula and asking: Why drag in
Jacquemart?); and to-day, after years of critical indifference, the
unhappy copper-scratcher has come into his own. You may find him
mentioned in such company as Duerer, Rembrandt, and Whistler. The man
who first acclaimed him as worthy of associating with Rembrandt was
the critic Charles Baudelaire; and we are indebted to him for new
material dealing with the troubled life of Charles Meryon.

On January 8, 1860, Baudelaire wrote to his friend and publisher,
Poulet-Malassis, that what he intends to say is worth the bother of
writing. Meryon had called, first sending a card upon which he
scrawled: "You live in a hotel the name of which doubtless attracted
you because of your tastes." Puzzled by this cryptic introduction, the
poet then noted that the address read: Charles Baudelaire, Hotel de
Thebes. He did not stop at a hotel bearing that name, but, fancying
him a Theban, Meryon took the matter for granted. This letter was
forwarded. Meryon appeared. His first question would have startled any
but Baudelaire, who prided himself on startling others. The etcher,
looking as desperate and forlorn as in the Bracquemond etched portrait
(1853), demanded news of a certain Edgar Poe. Baudelaire responded
sadly that he had not known Poe personally. Then he was eagerly asked
if he believed in the reality of this Poe. Charles began to suspect
the sanity of his visitor. "Because," added Meryon, "there is a
society of litterateurs, very clever, very powerful, and knowing all
the ropes." His reasons for suspecting a cabal formed against him
under the guise of Poe's name were these: The Murders in the Rue
Morgue. "I made a design of the Morgue--an orang-outang. I have been
often compared to a monkey. This orang-outang assassinated two women,
a mother and daughter. Et moi aussi, j'ai assassine moralement deux
femmes, la mere et sa fille. I have always taken this story as an
allusion to my misfortunes. You, M. Baudelaire, would do me a great
favour if you could find the date when Edgar Poe, supposing he was not
assisted by any one, wrote his tale. I wish to see if this date
coincides with my adventures." After that Baudelaire knew his man.

Meryon spoke with admiration of Michelet's Jeanne d'Arc, though he
swore the book was not written by Michelet. (Not such a wild shot,
though not correct in this particular instance, for the world has
since discovered that several books posthumously attributed to
Michelet were written by his widow.) The etcher was interested in the
cabalistic arts. On one of his large plates he drew some eagles, and
when Baudelaire objected that these birds did not frequent Parisian
skies he mysteriously whispered "those folks at the Tuileries" often
launched as a rite the sacred eagles to study the omens and presages.
He was firmly convinced of this. After the termination of the trying
visit Baudelaire, with acrid irony, asks himself why he, with his
nerves usually unstrung, did not go quite mad, and he concludes,
"Seriously I addressed to Heaven the grateful prayers of a pharisee."

In March the same year he assures the same correspondent that
decidedly Meryon does not know how to conduct himself. He knows
nothing of life, neither does he know how to sell his plates or find
an editor. His work is very easy to sell. Baudelaire was hardly a
practical business man, but, like Poe, he had sense enough to follow
his market. He instantly recognised the commercial value of Meryon's
Paris set, but knew the etcher was a hopeless character. He wrote to
Poulet-Malassis concerning a proposed purchase of Meryon's work by the
publisher. It never came to anything. The etcher was very suspicious
as to paper and printing. He grew violent when the poet asked him to
illustrate some little poems and sonnets. Had he, Meryon, not written
poems himself? Had not the mighty Victor Hugo addressed flattering
words to him? Baudelaire, without losing interest, then thought of
Daumier as an illustrator for a new edition of Les Fleurs du Mal. It
must not be supposed, however, that Meryon was ungrateful. He was
deeply affected by the praise accorded him in Baudelaire's Salon of
1859. He wrote in February, 1860, sending his Views of Paris to the
critic as a feeble acknowledgment of the pleasure he had enjoyed when
reading the brilliant interpretative criticism. He said that he had
created an epoch in etching--which was the literal truth--and he had
saved a rapidly vanishing Paris for the pious curiosity of future
generations. He speaks of his "naive heart" and hoped that Baudelaire
in turn would dream as he did over the plates. This letter was signed
simply "Meryon, 20 Rue Duperre." The acute accent placed over the "e"
in his name by the French poet and by biographers, critics, and
editors since was never used by the etcher. It took years before
Baudelaire could persuade the Parisians that Poe did not spell his
name "Edgard Poe." And we remember the fate of Liszt and Whistler, who
were until recently known in Paris as "Litz" and "Whistler." With the
aid of Champfleury and Banville, Baudelaire tried to bring Meryon's
art to the cognisance of the Minister of Beaux-Arts, but to no avail.
Why?

There was a reason. Bohemian as was the artist during the last decade
of his life, he did not always haunt low cafes and drink absinthe. His
beginnings were as romantic as a page of Balzac. He was born a
gentleman _a la main gauche_. His father was the doctor and private
secretary of Lady Stanhope. Charles Lewis Meryon was an English
physician, who, falling in love with a ballet dancer at the Opera,
Pierre Narcisse Chaspoux, persuaded her that it would be less selfish
on her part if she would not bind him to her legally. November
23,1821, a sickly, nervous, and wizened son was born to the pair and
baptised with his father's name, who, being an alien, generously
conceded that much. There his interest ceased. On the mother fell the
burden of the boy's education. At five he was sent to school at Passy
and later went to the south of France. In 1837 he entered the Brest
naval school, and 1839 saw him going on his maiden voyage. This first
trip was marred by the black sorrow that fell upon him when informed
of his illegitimate birth. "I was mad from the time I was told of my
birth," he wrote, and until madness supervened he suffered from a
"wounded imagination." He was morbid, shy, and irritable, and his
energy--the explosive energy of this frail youth was amazing; because
he had been refused the use of a ship boat he wasted three months
digging out a canoe from a log of wood. Like Paul Gauguin, he saw many
countries, and his eyes were trained to form, though not colour--he
suffered from Daltonism--for when he began to paint he discovered he
was totally colour-blind. The visible world for him existed as a
contrapuntal net-work of lines, silhouettes, contours, or heavy dark
masses. When a sailor he sketched. Meryon tells of the drawing of a
little fungus he found in Akaroa. "Distorted in form and pinched and
puny from its birth, I could not but pity it; it seemed to me so
entirely typical of the inclemency and at the same time of the
whimsicality of an incomplete and sickly creation that I could not
deny it a place in my _souvenirs de voyage_, and so I drew it
carefully." This bit of fungus was to him a symbol of his own gnarled
existence.

Tiring of ship life, he finally decided to study art. He had seen New
Zealand, Australia, Italy, New Caledonia, and if his splendid
plate--No. 22 in M. Burty's list--is evidence, he must have visited
San Francisco. Baudelaire, in L'Art Romantique, speaks of this
perspective of San Francisco as being Meryon's most masterly design.
In 1846 he quit seafaring. He was in mediocre health, and though from
a cadet he had attained the rank of lieutenant it was doubtful if he
would ever rise higher. His mother had left him four thousand dollars,
so he went over to the Latin Quarter and began to study painting. That
he was unfitted for, and meeting Eugene Blery he became interested in
etching. A Dutch seventeenth-century etcher and draughtsman, Reiner
Zeeman by name, attracted him. He copied, too, Ducereau and Nicolle.
"An etching by the latter of a riverside view through the arch of a
bridge is like a link between Meryon and Piranesi," says D.S. MacColl.
Meryon also studied under the tuition of a painter named Phelippes. He
went to Belgium in 1856 on the invitation of the Duc d'Aremberg, and
in 1858 he was sent to Charenton suffering from melancholy and
delusions. He left in a year and returned to Paris and work; but, as
Baudelaire wrote, a cruel demon had touched the brain of the artist. A
mystic delirium set in. He ceased to etch, and evidently suffered from
the persecution madness. In every corner he believed conspiracies were
hatching. He often disappeared, often changed his abode. Sometimes he
would appear dressed gorgeously at a boulevard cafe in company with
brilliant birds of prey; then he would be seen slinking through mean
streets in meaner rags. There are episodes in his life that recall the
career of another man of genius, Gerard de Nerval, poet, noctambulist,
suicide. It is known that Meryon destroyed his finest plates, but not
in a mad fit. Baudelaire says that the artist, who was a
perfectionist, did not wish to see his work suffer from rebiting, so
he quite sensibly sawed up the plates into tiny strips. That he was
suspicious of his fellow-etchers is illustrated in the story told by
Sir Seymour Haden, who bought several of his etchings from him at a
fair price. Two miles away from the atelier the Englishman was
overtaken by Meryon. He asked for the proofs he had sold, "as they
were of a nature to compromise him"; besides, from what he knew of
Haden's etchings he was determined that his proofs should not go to
England. Sir Seymour at once returned the etchings. Now, whether
Meryon's words were meant as a compliment or the reverse is doubtful.
He was half crazy, but he may have seen through a hole in the
millstone.

Frederick Keppel once met in Paris an old printer named Beillet who
did work for Meryon. He could not always pay for the printing of his
celebrated Abside de Notre Dame, a masterpiece, as he hadn't the
necessary ten cents. "I never got my money!" exclaimed the thrifty
printer. Enormous endurance, enormous vanity, diseased pride, outraged
human sentiment, hatred of the Second Empire because of the particular
clause in the old Napoleonic code relating to the research of
paternity; an irregular life, possibly drugs, certainly alcoholism,
repeated rejections by the academic authorities, critics, and dealers
of his work--these and a feeble constitution sent the unfortunate back
to Charenton, where he died February 14, 1868. Baudelaire, his
critical discoverer, had only preceded him to a lunatic's grave six
months earlier. Inasmuch as there is a certain family likeness among
men of genius with disordered minds and instincts, several comparisons
might be made between Meryon and Baudelaire. Both were great artists
and both were born with flawed, neurotic systems. Dissipation and
misery followed as a matter of course.

Charles Meryon was, nevertheless, a sane and a magnificent etcher. He
executed about a hundred plates, according to Burty. He did not avoid
portraiture, and to live he sometimes manufactured pot-boilers for the
trade. To his supreme vision was joined a miraculous surety of touch.
Baudelaire was right--those plates, the Paris set, so dramatic and
truthful in particulars, could have been sold if Meryon, with his
wolfish visage, his fierce, haggard eyes, his gruff manner, had not
offered them in person. He looked like a vagabond very often and too
often acted like a brigand. The Salon juries were prejudiced against
his work because of his legend. Verlaine over again! The etchings were
classic when they were born. We wonder they did not appeal
immediately. To-day, if you are lucky enough to come across one, you
are asked a staggering price. They sold for a song--when they did
sell--during the lifetime of the artist. Louis Napoleon and Baron
Haussmann destroyed picturesque Paris to the consternation of Meryon,
who to the eye of an archaeologist united the soul of an artist. He
loved old Paris. We can evoke it to-day, thanks to these etchings,
just as the Paris of 1848 is forever etched in the pages of Flaubert's
L'Education Sentimentale.

But there is hallucination in these etchings, beginning with Le
Stryge, and its demoniac leer, "insatiable vampire, l'eternelle
luxure." That gallery of Notre Dame, with Wotan's ravens flying
through the slim pillars from a dream city bathed in sinister light,
is not the only striking conception of the poet-etcher. The grip of
reality is shown in such plates as Tourelle, Rue de la Tisseranderie,
and La Pompe, Notre Dame. Here are hallucinations translated into the
actual terms of art, suggesting, nevertheless, a solidity, a sharpness
of definition, withal a sense of fluctuating sky, air, clouds that
make you realise the _justesse_ of Berenson's phrase--tactile values.
With Meryon the tactile perception was a sixth sense. Clairvoyant of
images, he could transcribe the actual with an almost cruel precision.
Telescopic eyes his, as MacColl has it, and an imagination that
perceived the spectre lurking behind the door, the horror of enclosed
spaces, and the mystic fear of shadows--a Poe imagination, romantic,
with madness as an accomplice in the horrible game of his life. One is
tempted to add that the romantic imagination is always slightly mad.
It runs to seed in darkness and despair. The fugitive verse of Meryon
is bitter, ironical, defiant; a whiff from an underground prison,
where seems to sit in tortured solitude some wretch abandoned by
humanity, a stranger even at the gates of hell.

Sir Seymour Haden has told us that Meryon's method was to make a
number of sketches, two or three inches square, of parts of his
picture, which he put together and arranged into a harmonious whole.
Herkomer says that he "used the burin in finishing his bitten work
with marvellous skill. No better combination can be found of the
harmonious combination of the two." Burty declared that "Meryon
preserves the characteristic detail of architecture... Without
modifying the aspect of the monument he causes it to express its
hidden meaning, and gives it a broader significance by associating it
with his own thought." His employment of a dull green paper at times
showed his intimate feeling for tonalities. He is, more so than
Piranesi, the Rembrandt of architecture. Hamerton admits that the
French etcher was "one of the greatest and most original artists who
have appeared in Europe," and berates the public of the '60s for not
discovering this. Then this writer, copying in an astonishingly
wretched manner several of Meryon's etchings, analysing their defects
as he proceeds, asserts that there is false tonality in Le Stryge.
"The intense black in the street under the tower of St. Jacques
destroys the impression of atmosphere, though at a considerable
distance it is as dark as the nearest raven's wing, which cannot
relieve itself against it. This may have been done in order to obtain
a certain arrangement of black and white patches," etc. This was done
for the sheer purpose of oppositional effects. Did Hamerton see a fine
plate? The shadow is heavy; the street is in demi, not total,
obscurity; the values of the flying ravens and the shadow are clearly
enunciated. The passage is powerful, even sensational, and in the
Romantic, Hugoesque key. Hamerton is wrong. Meryon seldom erred. His
was a temperament of steel and fire.




JOHN MARTIN, MEZZOTINTER



The sitting-room was long and narrow. A haircloth sofa of
uncompromising rectitude was pushed so close to the wall that the
imprints of at least two generations of heads might be discerned upon
the flowered wall-paper--flowers and grapes of monstrous size from
some country akin to that visited by the Israelitish spies as related
in the Good Book. A mahogany sideboard stood at the upper end of the
room; in one window hung a cage which contained a feeble canary. As
you entered your eyes fell upon an ornamental wax fruit piece under a
conical glass. A stuffed bird, a robin redbreast, perched on a frosted
tree in the midst of these pale tropical offerings, glared at you with
beady eyes. Antimacassars and other things of horror were in the room.
Also a centre table upon which might have been found Cowper's poems,
the Bible, Beecher's sermons, and an illustrated book about the Holy
Land by some hardworking reverend. It was Aunt Jane's living-room; in
it she had rocked and knitted for more than half a century. There were
a few pictures on the wall, a crayon of her brother, a bank president
with a shaved upper lip, a high, pious forehead, and in his eyes a
stern expression of percentage. Over the dull white marble mantelpiece
hung a huge mezzotint, of violent contrast in black and white, a
picture whose subject had without doubt given it the place of honour
in this old-fashioned, tasteless, homely, comfortable room. It bore
for a title The Fall of Nineveh, and it was designed and mezzotinted
by John Martin.

Let us look at this picture. It depicts the downfall of the great city
upon which the wrath of God is visited. There are ghastly gleams of
lightning above the doomed vicinity. A fierce tempest is in progress
as the invading hosts break down the great waterways and enter
dry-shod into the vast and immemorial temples and palaces. The
tragedy, the human quality of the design, is summed up by the agitated
groups in the foreground; the king, surrounded by his harem, makes a
gesture of despair; the women, with loose-flowing draperies, surround
him like frightened swans. A high priest raises his hand to the stormy
heavens, upon which he is evidently invoking as stormy maledictions. A
warrior swings his blade; to his neck clings a fair helpless one, half
nude. There are other groups. Men in armour rush to meet the foe in
futile agitation. On temple tops, on marble terraces and balconies, on
the efflorescent capitals of vast columns that pierce the sky, swarms
affrighted humanity. The impression is grandiose and terrific. Exotic
architecture, ebon night, an event that has echoed down the dusty
corridors of legend or history--these and a hundred other details are
enclosed within the frame of this composition. Another picture which
hangs hard by, the Destruction of Jerusalem, after Kaulbach, is
colourless in comparison. The Englishman had greater imagination than
the German, though he lacked the latter's anatomical science. To-day
in the Pinakothek, Munich, Kaulbach holds a place of honour. You may
search in vain at the London National Gallery for the paintings of a
man who once was on the crest of popularity in England, whose Biblical
subjects attracted multitudes, whose mezzotints and engravings were
sold wherever the English Bible was read. John Martin, painter,
mezzotinter, man of gorgeous imagination, second to De Quincey or the
author of Vathek, is to-day more forgotten than Beckford himself.

Heinrich Heine in his essay, The Romantic School, said that "the
history of literature is a great morgue, wherein each seeks the dead
who are near or dear to him." Into what morgue fell John Martin before
his death? How account for the violent changes in popular taste?
Martin suffered from too great early success. The star of Turner was
in the ascendant. John Ruskin denied merit to the mezzotinter, and so
it is to-day that if you go to our print-shops you will seldom find
one of his big or little plates. He has gone out of fashion--fatal
phrase!--and only in the cabinets of old collectors can you get a peep
at his archaic and astounding productions. William Blake is in vogue;
perhaps Martin--? And then those who have garnered his plates will
reap a harvest.

Facts concerning him or his work are slight. Bryan's dictionary
accords him a few paragraphs. When at the British Museum, a few years
ago, I asked Mr. Sidney Colvin about the Martins in his print-room.
There are not many, not so many as in a certain private collection
here. But Mr. Colvin told me of the article written by Cosmo Monkhouse
in the Dictionary of National Biography, and from it we are enabled to
present a few items about the man's career. He was born at Hayden
Bridge, near Hexham, Northumberland, July 19, 1789. His father,
Fenwick Martin, a fencing-master, held classes at the Chancellor's
Head, Newcastle. His brothers, Jonathan (1782-1838) and William
(1772-1851), have some claim on our notice, for the first was an
insane prophet and incendiary, having set fire to York Minster in
1829; William was a natural philosopher and poet who published many
works to prove the theory of perpetual motion. "After having convinced
himself by means of thirty-six experiments of the impossibility of
demonstrating it scientifically, it was revealed to him in a dream
that God had chosen him to discover the great cause of all things, and
this he made the subject of many works" (Jasnot, Verites positives,
1854). Verily, as Lombroso hath it, "A hundred fanatics are found for
a theological or metaphysical statement, but not one for a geometric
problem."

The Martin stock was, without doubt, neurasthenic. John was
apprenticed when fourteen to Wilson, a Newcastle coach painter, but
ran away after a dispute over wages. He met Bonifacio Musso, an
Italian china painter, and in 1806 went with him to London. There he
supported himself painting china and glass while he studied
perspective and architecture. At nineteen he married and in 1812 lived
in High Street, Marylebone, and from there sent to the Academy his
first picture, Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion (from Tales
of the Genii). The figure of Sadak was so small that the framers
disputed as to the top of the picture. It sold to Mr. Manning for
fifty guineas. Benjamin West, president of the Royal Academy,
encouraged Martin, and next year he painted Adam's First Sight of Eve,
which he sold for seventy guineas. In 1814 his Clytis was shown in an
ante-room of the exhibition, and he bitterly complained of his
treatment. Joshua, in 1816, was as indifferently hung, and he never
forgave the Academy the insult, though he did not withdraw from its
annual functions. In 1817 he was appointed historical painter to
Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. He etched about this time
Character of Trees (seven plates) and the Bard at the Academy. In 1818
he removed to Allsop Terrace, New (Marylebone road). In 1819 came The
Fall of Babylon, Macbeth (1820), Belshazzar's Feast (1821), which,
"excluded" from the Academy, yet won the L200 prize. A poem by T.S.
Hughes started Martin on this picture. It was a national success and
was exhibited in the Strand behind a glass transparency. It went the
round of the provinces and large cities and attracted thousands.
Martin joined the Society of British Artists at its foundation and
exhibited with them from 1824 to 1831, and also in 1837 and 1838,
after which he sent his important pictures to the Royal Academy.

In 1833 The Fall of Nineveh went to Brussels, where it was bought by
the Government. Martin was elected member of the Belgian Academy and
the Order of Leopold was conferred on him. His old quarrels with the
Academy broke out in 1836, and he testified before a committee as to
favouritism. Then followed The Death of Moses, The Deluge, The Eve of
the Deluge, The Assuaging of the Waters, Pandemonium. He painted
landscapes and water-colours, scenes on the Thames, Brent, Wandle,
Wey, Stillingbourne, and the hills and eminences about London. About
this time he began scheming for a method of supplying London with
water and one that would improve the docks and sewers. He engraved
many of his own works, Belshazzar, Joshua, Nineveh, Fall of Babylon.
The first two named, with The Deluge, were presented by the French
Academy to Louis Philippe, for which courtesy a medal was struck off
in Martin's honour. The Ascent of Elijah, Christ Tempted in the
Wilderness, and Martin's illustrations (with Westall's) to Milton's
Paradise Lost were all completed at this period. For the latter Martin
received L2,000. He removed to Lindsey House, Chelsea, in 1848 or
1849, and was living there in 1852, when he sent to the Academy his
last contribution, Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. November 12,
1853, while engaged upon his last large canvases, The Last Judgment,
The Great Day of Wrath, and The Plains of Heaven, he was paralysed on
his right side. He was removed to the Isle of Man, and obstinately
refusing proper nourishment, died at Douglas February 17, 1854. After
his death three pictures, scenes from the Apocalypse, were exhibited
at the Hall of Commerce. His portrait by Wangemann appeared in the
_Magazine of Fine Arts_. A second son, Leopold Charles, writer, and
godson of Leopold, King of Belgium, was an authority on costumes and
numismatics (1817-89). His wife was a sister of Sir John Tenniel of
_Punch_.

John Martin was slightly cracked; at least he was so considered by his
contemporaries. He was easily affronted, yet he was a very generous
man. He bought Etty's picture, The Combat, in 1825 for two or three
hundred guineas. There are at the South Kensington Museum three
Martins, watercolours, and one oil; at Newcastle, an oil. At the time
of his decease his principal works were in the collections of Lord de
Tabley, Dukes of Buckingham and Sutherland, Messrs. Hope and
Scarisbruck, Earl Grey and Prince Albert. The Leyland family of
Nantchvyd, North Wales, owns the Joshua and several typical works of
Martin. Wilkie, in a letter to Sir George Beaumont, describes
Belshazzar's Feast as a "phenomenon." Bulwer declared that Martin was
"more original and self-dependent than Raphael or Michael Angelo." In
the Last Essays of Elia there is one by Charles Lamb entitled
Barrenness of the Imaginative Faculty in the Production of Modern Art.
The name of Martin is not mentioned, but several of his works are
unmistakably described. "His towered architecture [Lamb is writing of
Belshazzar's Feast] are of the highest order of the material sublime.
Whether they were dreams or transcripts of some elder
workmanship--Assyrian ruins old--restored by this mighty artist, they
satisfy our most stretched and craving conceptions of the glories of
the antique world. It is a pity that they were ever peopled."
"Literary" art critic as he was, Lamb put his finger on Martin's
weakest spot--his figure painting. The entire essay should be read,
for it contains a study of the Joshua in which this most delicious of
English prose writers speaks of the "wise falsifications" of the great
masters. Before his death the critics, tiring of him sooner than the
public, called Martin tricky, meretricious, mechanical. To be sure,
his drawing is faulty, his colour hot and smoky; nevertheless, he was
not a charlatan. As David Wilkie wrote: "Weak in all these points in
which he can be compared to other artists," he had the compensating
quality of an imposing, if at times operatic, imagination. Monkhouse
justly says that in Martin's illustrations to Milton the smallness of
scale and absence of colour enable us to appreciate the grandeur of
his conceptions with a minimum of his defects.

In sooth he lacked variety. His pictures are sooty and apocalyptic. We
have seen the Mountain Landscape, at South Kensington, The Destruction
of Herculaneum, at Manchester, another at Newcastle whose subject
escapes us, and we confess that we prefer the mezzotints of Martin,
particularly those engraved by Le Keux--whose fine line and keen sense
of balance corrected the incoherence of Martin's too blackened shadows
and harsh explosions of whites. One looks in vain for the velvety tone
of Earlom, or the vivid freshness of Valentine Green, in Martin. He
was not a colourist; his mastery consisted in transferring to his huge
cartoons a sense of the awful, of the catastrophic. He excelled in the
delineation of massive architecture, and if Piranesi was his superior
in exactitude, he equalled the Italian in majesty and fantasy of
design. No such cataclysmic pictures were ever before painted, nor
since, though Gustave Dore, who without doubt made a study of Martin,
has incorporated in his Biblical illustrations many of Martin's
overwhelming ideas--the Deluge, for example. James Ensor, the Belgian
illustrator, is an artist of fecund fancy who, alone among the new
men, has betrayed a feeling for the strange architecture, dream
architecture, we encounter in Martin. Coleridge in Kubla Khan, De
Quincey in opium reveries, Poe and Baudelaire are among the writers
who seem nearest to the English mezzotinter. William Beckford's
Vathek, that most Oriental of tales, first written in French by a
millionaire of genius, should have inspired Martin. Perhaps its mad
fantasy did, for all we know--there is no authentic compilation of his
compositions. Heine has spoken of Martin, as has Theophile Gautier;
and his name, by some kink of destiny, is best known to the present
generation because of Macaulay's mention of it in an essay.

The Vale of Tempe is one of Martin's larger plates seldom seen in the
collector's catalogue. We have viewed it and other rare prints in the
choice collection referred to already. Satan holding council, after
Milton, is a striking conception. The Prince of Eblis sits on a vast
globe of ebony. About him are tier upon tier of faces, the faces of
devils. Infernal chandeliers depend from remote ceilings. Light gashes
the globe and the face and figure of Satan; both are of supernal
beauty. Could this mezzotint, so small in size, so vast in its shadowy
suggestiveness, have stirred Baudelaire to lines that shine with a
metallic poisonous lustre?

And there is that tiny mezzotint in which we find ourselves at the
base of a rude little hill. The shock of the quaking earth, the silent
passing of the sheeted dead and the rush of the affrighted multitudes
tell us that a cosmic tragedy is at hand. In a flare of lightning we
see silhouetted against an angry sky three crosses at the top of a sad
little hill. It is a crucifixion infinitely more real, more intense
than Dore's. Another scene--also engraved by Le Keux: On a stony
platform, vast and crowded, the people kneel in sackcloth and ashes;
the heavens thunder over the weeping millions of Nineveh, and the Lord
of Hosts will not be appeased. Stretching to the clouds are black
basaltic battlements, and above rear white-terraced palaces as swans
that strain their throats to the sky. The mighty East is in penitence.
Or, Elijah is rapt to heaven in a fiery whirlwind; or God creates
light. This latter is one of the most extraordinary conceptions of a
great visionary and worthy of William Blake. Or Sadak searching for
the waters of oblivion. Alas, poor humanity! is here the allegory. A
man, a midget amid the terrifying altitudes of barren stone, lifts
himself painfully over a ledge of rock. Above him are vertiginous
heights; below him, deadly precipices. Nothing helps him but
himself--a page torn from Max Stirner is this parable. Light streams
upon the struggling egoist as he toils to the summit of consciousness.
Among the designs of nineteenth-century artists we can recall none so
touching, so powerful, so modern as this picture. Martin was not
equally successful in portraying celestial episodes, though his
paradises are enormous panoramas replete with architectural beauties.
His figures, as exemplified in Miltonic illustrations, are more
conventional than Fuseli's and never naively original as are Blake's.
Indeed, of Blake's mystic poetry and divination Martin betrays no
trace. He is not so much the seer as the inventor of infernal
harmonies. Satan reviewing his army of devils is truly magnificent in
its depiction of the serried host armed for battle; behind glistens
burning Tophet in all its smoky splendour. Satan in shining armour
must be a thousand feet high; he is sadly out of scale. So, too, in
the quarrel of Michael and Satan over the sleeping Adam and Eve. Blake
is here recalled in the rhythms of the monstrous figures. Bathos is in
the design of Lucifer swimming in deepest hell upon waves of fire and
filth; yet the lugubrious arches of the caverns in the perspective
reveal Blake's fantasy, so quick to respond to external stimuli.
Martin saw the earth as in an apocalyptic swoon, its forms distorted,
its meanings inverted; a mad world, the world of an older theogony.
But if there was little human in his visions, he is enormously
impersonal; if he assailed heaven's gates on wings of melting wax, or
dived deep into the pool of iniquity, he none the less caught glimpses
in his breathless flights of strange countries across whose sill no
human being ever passes. There is genuine hallucination. He must have
seen his ghosts so often that in the end they petrified him, as did
the Statue Don Giovanni. Martin was a species of reversed Turner. He
spied the good that was in evil, the beauty in bituminous blacks. He
is the painter of black music, the deifier of Beelzebub, and also one
who caught the surge and thunder of the Old Testament, its majesty and
its savagery. As an illustrator of sacred history, the world may one
day return to John Martin.




ZORN



Anders Zorn--what's in a name? Possibly the learned and amiable father
of Tristram Shandy or that formidable pedant Professor Slawkenbergius
might find much to arouse his interest in the patronymic of the great
Swedish painter and etcher. What Zorn means in his native tongue we do
not profess to know; but in German it signifies anger, wrath, rage.
Now, the Zorn in life is not an enraged person--unless some lady
sitter asks him to paint her as she is not. He is, as all will testify
who have met him, a man of rare personal charm and sprightly humour.
He, it may be added, calls yellow yellow, and he never paints a
policeman like a poet. In a word, a man of robust, normal vision, a
realist and an artist. False realism with its hectic, Zola-like
romanticism is distasteful to Zorn. He is near Degas among the
Frenchmen and Zuloaga among the new Spaniards; near them in a certain
forthright quality of depicting life, though unlike them in technical
and individual methods.

Yes, Zorn, that crisp, bold, short name, which begins with a letter
that abruptly cuts both eye and ear, quite fits the painter's
personality, fits his art. He is often ironic. Some fanciful theorist
has said that the letters Z and K are important factors in the career
of the men who possess them in their names. Camille Saint-Saens has
spoken of Franz Liszt and his lucky letter. It is a very pretty idea,
especially when one stakes on zero at Monte Carlo; but no doubt Anders
Zorn would be the first to laugh the idea out of doors.

We recall an exhibition a few years ago at Venice in the art gallery
of the Giardino Reale. Zorn had a place of honour among the boiling
and bubbling Secessionists; indeed, his work filled a large room. And
what work! Such a giant's revel of energy. Such landscapes, riotous,
sinister, and lovely. Such women! Here we pause for breath. Zorn's
conception of womanhood has given offence to many idealists, who do
not realise that once upon a time our forebears were furry and
indulged in arboreal habits. Zorn can paint a lady; he has signed many
gentle and aristocratic canvases.

But Zorn is also too sincere not to paint what he sees. Some of his
models are of the earth, earthy; others step toward you with the
candid majesty of a Brunhilda, naked, unashamed, and regal. They are
all vital. We recall, too, the expressions, shocked, amazed, even
dazed, of some American art students who, fresh from their golden
Venetian dreams, faced the uncompromising pictures of a man who had
faced the everyday life of his day. For these belated visionaries,
whose ideal in art is to painfully imitate Giorgione, Titian, or
Tiepolo, this modern, with his rude assault upon the nerves, must seem
a very iconoclast. Yet Zorn only attempts to reproduce the life
encircling him. He is a child of his age. He, too, has a perception of
beauty, but it is the beauty that may be found by the artist with an
ardent, unspoiled gaze, the curious, disquieting beauty of our time.
Whistler saw it in old Venetian doorways as well as down Chelsea way
or at Rotherhithe. Zorn sees it in some corner of a wood, in some
sudden flex of muscle or intimate firelit interior. And he loves to
depict the glistening curves of his big model as she stands in the
sunlight, a solid reproach to physical and moral anaemia. A pagan, by
Apollo!

As an etcher the delicacy of his sheathed lion's paw is the principal
quality that meets the eye, notwithstanding the broad execution.
Etching is essentially an impressionistic art. Zorn is an
impressionist among etchers. He seems to attack his plate not with the
finesse of a meticulous fencing-master but like a Viking, with a broad
Berserker blade. He hews, he hacks, he gashes. There is blood in his
veins, and he does not spare the ink. But examine closely these little
prints--some of them miracles of printing--and you may discern their
delicate sureness, subtlety, and economy of gesture. Fitzroy
Carrington quotes the Parisian critic Henri Marcel, who among other
things wrote of the Zorn etchings: "Let us only say that these
etchings--paradoxical in their coarseness of means and fineness of
effect--manifest the master at his best."

Coarseness of means and fineness of effect--the phrase is a happy one.
Coarse is sometimes the needle-work of Zorn, but the end justifies the
means. He is often cruel, more cruel than Sargent. His portraits prove
it. He has etched all his friends, some of whom must have felt
honoured and amused--or else offended. The late Paul Verlaine, for
example, would not have been pleased with the story of his life as
etched by the Swede. It is as biting a commentary--one is tempted to
say as acid--as a page from Strindberg. Yes, without a touch of
Strindberg's mad fantasy, Zorn is kin to him in his ironic, witty way
of saying things about his friends and in front of their faces.
Consider that large plate of Renan. Has any one so told the truth
concerning the ex-seminarian, casuist, and marvellous prose writer of
France? The large, loosely modelled head with its fleshy curves, its
super-subtle mouth of orator, the gaze veiled, the bland, pontifical
expression, the expression of the man who spoke of "the mania of
certitude"--here is Ernest Renan, voluptuous disdainer of democracies,
and planner of a phalanstery of superior men years before Nietzsche's
superman appeared. Zorn in no unkindly spirit shows us the thinker;
also the author of L'Abbesse de Jouarre. It is something, is it not,
to evoke with needle, acid, paper, and ink the dualism of such a brain
and temperament as was Renan's?

He is not flattering to himself, Zorn. The Henry G. Marquand, two
impressions, leaves one rather sad. An Irish girl, Annie, is superb in
its suggestion of form and colour. Saint-Gaudens and his model is
excellent; we prefer the portrait. The Evening Girl Bathing is rare in
treatment--simple, restrained, vital. She has turned her back, and we
are grateful, for it is a beautiful back. The landscape is as
evanescent as Whistler, the printing is in a delicate key. The Berlin
Gallery contains a Zorn, a portrait striking in its reality. It
represents Miss Maja von Heyne wearing a collar of skins. She could
represent the Maja of Ibsen's epilogue, When We Dreamers Awake; Maja,
the companion of the bear hunter, Ulfheim. As etched, we miss the
massiveness, the rich, vivid colour, yet it is a plate of distinction.

Among his portraits are the Hon. Daniel S. Lamont, Senator "Billy"
Mason, the Hon. John Hay, Mr. and Mrs. Atherton Curtis, and several
big-wigs of several nations. An oil-painting is an impressionistic
affair, showing some overblown girls dressing after their bath. The
sun flecks their shoulders, but otherwise seems rather inclined to
retire modestly. Evidently not the midnight sun.

We have barely indicated the beauties in which the virile spirit of
Anders Zorn comes out at you from the wall--a healthy, large-hearted,
girted Swede is this man with the Z.




BRANGWYN



The name of Frank Brangwyn may fall upon unresponsive ears; yet he has
a Continental reputation and is easily the foremost English
impressionist. New York has seen but little of his work; if we mistake
not, there was a large piece of his, a Gipsy Tinker in the open air,
hung several seasons ago at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Mr.
Kennedy shows extraordinary etchings of his at the Wunderlich
Galleries. We call them extraordinary not alone because of their size,
but also because Brangwyn is practically the first among latter-day
artists to apply boldly to etching the methods of the impressionists.
Etching in its essential nature is an impressionistic art. We do not
mean to assert that Brangwyn uses the dot or dash or broken dabs in
his plates, for the very good reason that he is working in black and
white; nevertheless a glance at his plates will show you a new way of
conquering old prejudices. Whistler it was who railed at large
etchings. He was not far wrong. In the hands of the majority of
etchers a large plate is an abomination, diffused in interest, coarse
of line; but Brangwyn is not to be considered among this majority. He
is a big fellow in everything. Besides, Whistler was using the
familiar argument, _pro doma sua_. The same may be said of Poe, who
simply would not hear of a long poem (shades of Milton!) or of Chopin,
who lost his way in the sonata form, though coming out in the gorgeous
tropical land, the thither side of sonatas and other tonal animals.

Because Catullus and Sappho did not write epics that is no reason why
Dante should not. It is the old story of the tailless fox. Brangwyn as
well as Anders Zorn has been called a rough-and-ready artist. For
exquisite tone and pattern we must go to Whistler and his school.
Brangwyn is never exquisite, though he is often poetic, even epical.
Look at that Bridge, Barnard Castle. It is noble in outline, lovely in
atmosphere. Or at the Old Hammersmith--"swell," as the artist slang
goes. The Mine is in feeling and mass Rembrandtish; and as we have
used the name of the great Dutchman we may as well admit that to him,
despite a world of difference, Brangwyn owes much. He has the sense of
mass. What could be more tangibly massive than the plate called
Breaking Up of the Hannibal? Here is a theme which Turner in The
Fighting Temeraire made truly poetic, and Seymour Haden in his
Agamemnon preserved more than a moiety of sentiment, not to mention
the technical prowess displayed; but in the hulk of this ugly old
vessel of Brangwyn's there is no beauty. However, it is hugely
impressive. His landscapes are not too seldom hell-scapes.

The Inn of the Parrot is quaint with its reversed lettering. The Road
to Montreuil is warm in colour and finely handled. How many have
realised the charm of the rear view of Santa Maria Salute? It is one
of the most interesting of Brangwyn's Venetian etchings. His vision of
Saint Sophia, Constantinople, has the mystic quality we find in the
Dutchman Bauer's plates. A Church at Montreuil attracts the eye;
London Bridge is positively dramatic; the Old Kew Bridge has delicacy;
the Sawyers with their burly figures loom up monstrously; the Building
of the New Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, recalls, as
treated by the impressionistic brush of Brangwyn (for the needle seems
transformed into a paint-loaded spike), one of H.G. Wells's terrific
socialistic structures of the year 2009. Remember that Brangwyn is
primarily a painter, an impressionist. He sees largely. His dream of
the visible world (and like Sorolla, it is never the world invisible
with him) is one of patches and masses, of luminous shadows, of
animated rhythms, of rich arabesques. He is sib to the Scotch. His
father is said to have been a Scottish weaver who settled in Bruges.
Frank saw much of the world before settling in London. He was born at
Bruges, 1867. The Golden Book of Art describes him as a one-time
disciple of William Morris. He has manufactured glass, furniture,
wall-paper, pottery. His curiosity is insatiable. He is a mural
decorator who in a frenzy could cover miles of space if some kind
civic corporation would but provide the walls. As the writer of the
graceful preface to the Wunderlich catalogue has it: "He gets the
character of his theme. His art is itself full of character."
Temperament, overflowing, passionate, and irresistible, is his
key-note. In music he might have been a Fritz Delius, a Richard
Strauss. He is an eclectic. He knows all schools, all methods. He is
Spanish in his fierce relish of the open air, of the sights--and we
almost said sounds--of many lands, but the Belgian strain, the touch
of the mystic and morose, creeps into his work. We have caught it more
in his oils than etchings. It is not singular, then, that his small
etched plates do not hold the eye; they lack magnetic quality. It is
the Titan, rude and raging, dashing ink over an acre of white paper,
that rivets you. The stock attitudes and gestures he does not give
you; and it is doubtful if he will have an audience soon in America,
where the sleek is king and prettiness is exalted over power.




DAUMIER



Mr. Frank Weitenkampf, the curator of the Lenox Library print
department, shows nineteen portfolios which hold about seven hundred
lithographs by Honore Daumier. This collection is a bequest of the
late Mr. Lawrence, and we doubt if the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris
surpasses it; that is, in the number of detached examples. There the
works of the great artist are imbedded in the various publications for
which he laboured so many years--such at _La Caricature, Les Beaux
Arts, L'Artiste, Les Modes Parisiennes, La Gazette Musicale, Le
Boulevard,_ and _Masques et Visages_. The Lawrence lithographs are
representatives, though not complete; the catalogue compiled by Loys
Delteil comprises 3,958 plates; the paintings and drawings are also
numerous. But an admirable idea of Daumier's versatile genius may be
gleaned at the Lenox Library, as all the celebrated series are there:
Paris Bohemians, the Blue Stockings, the Railways, La Caricature,
Croquis d'Expressions, Emotions Parisiennes, Actualites, Les
Baigneurs, Pastorales, Moeurs Conjugales, the Don Quixote plates,
Silhouettes, Souvenirs d'Artistes, Types Parisiens, the Advocates and
Judges, and a goodly number of the miscellanies. Altogether an
adequate exhibition.

Honore Daumier, who died February 11, 1879, was almost the last of the
giants of 1830, though he outlived many of them. Not affiliated with
the Barbizon group--though he was a romantic in his hatred of the
bourgeois--several of these painters were intimate friends; indeed,
Corot was his benefactor, making him a present of a cottage at
Valmondois (Seine-et-Oise), where the illustrator died. He was blind
and lonely at the end. Corot died 1875; Daubigny, his companion, 1878;
Millet, 1875, and Rousseau, with whom he corresponded, died 1867. In
1879 Flaubert still lived, working heroically upon that monument of
human inanity, Bouvard et Pecuchet; Maupassant, his disciple, had just
published a volume of verse; Manet was regarded as a dangerous
charlatan, Monet looked on as a madman; while poor Cezanne was only a
bad joke. The indurated critical judgment of the academic forces
pronounced Bonnat a greater portraitist than Velasquez, and Gerome and
his mock antiques and mock orientalism far superior to Fromentin and
Chasseriau. It was a glorious epoch for mediocrity. And Daumier, in
whom there was something of Michael Angelo and Courbet, was admired
only as a clever caricaturist, the significance of his paintings
escaping all except a few. Corot knew, Daubigny knew, as earlier
Delacroix knew; and Balzac had said: "There is something of the
Michael Angelo in this man!"

Baudelaire, whose critical _flair_ never failed him, wrote in his
Curiosites Esthetiques: "Daumier's distinguishing note as an artist is
his certainty. His drawing is fluent and easy; it is a continuous
improvisation. His powers of observation are such that in his work we
never find a single head that is out of character with the figure
beneath it. ... Here, in these animalised faces, may be seen and read
clearly all the meannesses of soul, all the absurdities, all the
aberrations of intelligence, all the vices of the heart; yet at the
same time all is broadly drawn and accentuated." Nevertheless one must
not look at too many of these caricatures. At first the Rabelaisian
side of the man appeals; presently his bitterness becomes too acrid.
Humanity is silly, repulsive; it is goat, pig, snake, monkey, and
tiger; but there is something else. Daumier would see several sides.
His pessimism, like Flaubert's, is deadly, but at times reaches the
pitch of the heroic. He could have echoed Flaubert's famous sentence:
"The ignoble is the sublime of the lower slope." Yet what wit, what
humour, what humanity in Daumier! His Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are
worth a wilderness of Dores. And the Good Samaritan or The Drinkers.
The latter is as jovial as Steen or Hals.

A story went the rounds after his death which neatly illustrates his
lack of worldliness. His modesty was proverbial, and once Daubigny, on
introducing him to an American picture dealer, warned him not to ask
less than five thousand francs for the first picture he sold to the
man. The American went to Daumier's atelier, and seeing a picture on
the easel, asked, "How much?" The artist, remembering Daubigny's
warning, answered, "Five thousand francs." The dealer immediately
bought it, and on demanding to see something else, Daumier put another
canvas on the easel, far superior to the one sold. The Yankee again
asked the price. The poor artist was perplexed. He had received no
instructions from Daubigny regarding a second sale; so when the
question was repeated he hesitated, and his timidity getting the
better of him, he replied: "Five hundred francs." "Don't want it;
wouldn't take it as a gift," said the dealer. "I like the other
better. Besides, I never sell any but expensive pictures," and he went
away satisfied that a man who sold so cheaply was not much of an
artist. This anecdote, which we heard second hand from Daubigny, may
be a fable, yet it never failed to send Daubigny into fits of
laughter. It may be surmised that, despite his herculean labours,
extending over more than half a century, Daumier never knew how to
make or save money.

He was born at Marseilles in 1808. His father was a third-rate poet
who, suspecting his own gift, doubted the talent of his son, though
this talent was both precocious and prodigious. The usual thing
happened. Daumier would stick at nothing but his drawing; the attempt
to force him into law studies only made him hate the law and lawyers
and that hatred he never ceased to vent in his caricatures. He knocked
about until he learned in 1829 the technics of lithography; then he
soon became self-supporting. His progress was rapid. He illustrated
for the Boulevard journals; he caricatured Louis Philippe and was sent
to jail, Sainte-Pelagie, for six months. Many years afterward he
attacked with a like ferocity Napoleon III.

Look at his frontispiece--rather an advertisement--of Victor Hugo's
Les Chatiments. It is as sinister, as malign as a Rops. The big book,
title displayed, crushes to earth a vulture which is a travesty of the
Napoleonic beak. Daumier was a power in Paris. Albert Wolff, the
critic of _Figaro_, tells how he earned five francs each time he
provided a text for a caricature by Daumier, and Philipon, who founded
several journals, actually claimed a share in Daumier's success
because he wrote some of the silly dialogues to his plates.

Daumier was the artistic progenitor of the Caran d'Aches, the
Forains--who was it that called Forain "Degas en
caricature"?--Willettes, and Toulouse-de-Lautrecs. He was a political
pamphleteer, a scourger of public scamps, and a pictorial muck-raker
of genius. His mockery of the classic in art was later paralleled by
Offenbach in La Belle Helene. But there were other sides to his
genius. Tiring of the hurly-burly of journalism, he retired in 1860 to
devote himself to painting.

His style has been pronounced akin to that of Eugene Carriere; his
sense of values on a par with Goya's and Rembrandt's (that Shop Window
of his in the Durand-Ruel collection is truly Rembrandtesque). This
feeling for values was so remarkable that it enabled him to produce an
impression with three or four tones. The colours he preferred were
grays, browns, and he manipulated his blacks like a master. Mauclair
does not hesitate to put Daumier among the great painters of the past
century on the score of his small canvases. "They contain all his
gifts of bitter and profound observation, all the mastery of his
drawings, to which they add the attractions of rich and intense
colour," declares Mauclair. Doubtless he was affected by the influence
of Henri Monnier, but Daumier really comes from no one. He belongs to
the fierce tribe of synics and men of exuberant powers, like Goya and
Courbet. A born anarch of art, he submitted to no yoke. He would have
said with Anacharsis Cloots: "I belong to the party of indignation."
He was a proud individualist. That he had a tender side, a talent for
friendship, may be noted in the affectionate intercourse he maintained
for years with Corot, Millet, Rousseau, Dupre, Geoffroy, the sculptor
Pascal, and others. He was very impulsive and had a good heart with
all his misanthropy, for he was an idealist reversed. The etching of
him by Loys Delteil is thus described by a sympathetic commentator:
"Daumier was very broad-shouldered, his head rather big, with slightly
sunken eyes, which must, however, have had an extraordinary power of
penetration. Though the nose is a little heavy and inelegant, the
projecting forehead, unusually massive like that of Victor Hugo or of
Beethoven and barred with a determined furrow, reveals the great
thinker, the man of lofty and noble aspirations. The rather long hair,
thrown backward, adds to the expression of the fine head; and finally
the beard worn collarwise, according to the prevailing fashion, gives
to Daumier's face the distinctive mark of his period." This etched
portrait may be seen in several states at the Lenox Library.




LALANNE'S ETCHINGS



How heavily personality counts in etching may be noted in the etched
work of Maxime Lalanne which is at the Keppel Galleries. This skilful
artist, so deft with his needle, so ingenious in fancy, escapes great
distinction by a hair's breadth. He is without that salt of
individuality that is so attractive in Whistler. Of him Hamerton
wrote: "No one ever etched so gracefully as Maxime Lalanne; ... he is
essentially a true etcher... There have been etchers of greater power,
of more striking originality, but there has never been an etcher equal
to him in a certain delicate elegance." This is very amiable, and
Joseph Pennell is quite as favourable in his judgment. "His ability,"
wrote Mr. Pennell in Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen, "to express a
great building, a vast town, or a delicate little landscape has never
been equalled, I think, by anybody but Whistler." Mr. Pennell modestly
omits his own name; but the truth is that Pennell is as excellent if
not more individual a draughtsman as Lalanne, and when it comes to
vision, to invention, and to the manipulation of the metal he is the
superior of the Frenchman. The American etcher rates Lalanne's lines
above Titian's. Whistler and Titian would be big companions indeed for
the clever-mannered and rather pedantic Lalanne.

Let us admit without balking at Hamerton that his line is graceful. He
belongs to the old-fashioned school which did not dream, much less
approve, of modern tonal effects in their plates. A Lalanne etching is
as clean and vivid as a photograph (not an "art" photograph). It is
also as hard. Atmosphere, in the material as well as the poetic sense,
is missing. His skies are disappointing. Those curly-cue clouds are
meaningless, and the artist succeeds better when he leaves a blank. At
least some can fill it with the imagination. Another grave defect is
the absence of modulation in his treatment of a landscape and its
linear perspective. Everything seems to be on the same plane of
interest, nor does he vary the values of his blacks--in foreground,
middle distance, and the upper planes the inking is often in the same
violent key. Such a capital plate, for example, which depicts a fire
in the port of Bordeaux is actually untrue in its values. Dramatic in
feeling and not without a note here and there of Rembrandt, this
particular composition fails, just fails to hit the bull's-eye.

After all, we must judge a man in his genre, as Keppel _pere_ puts it.
Maxime Lalanne's style is that of a vanished generation in etching. He
was a contemporary of Meryon, but that unhappy man of genius taught
him nothing. Born at Bordeaux in 1827, Lalanne died in 1886. He was a
pupil of Jean Gigoux (1806-94), a painter whose gossipy souvenirs
(1885) pleased Paris and still please the curious. (Gigoux it was who
remained in Balzac's house when the novelist died; though he was not
visiting the master of the house.) From this painter Lalanne evidently
imbibed certain theories of his art which he set forth in his Treatise
on Etching (1866).

Strangely enough, illustrator as he was, his transpositions into black
and white of subjects by Troyon, Ruysdael, Crome, Constable, and many
others are not so striking either in actual technique or individual
grasp as his original pieces. Constable, for instance, is thin,
diffuse, and without richness. Mezzotinted by the hands of such a man
as Lucas, we recognise the real medium for translating the English
painter. A master of the limpid line, Lalanne shows you a huddled bit
of Amsterdam or a distant view of Bordeaux, or that delicious prospect
taken on a spot somewhere below the Pont Saint-Michel, with the Pont
Neuf and the Louvre in the background. He had a feeling for those
formal gardens which have captured within their enclosure a moiety of
nature's unstudied ease. The plate called Aux Environs de Paris
reveals this. And what slightly melancholy tenderness there is in Le
Canal a Pont Sainte-Maxence. There are several states of the "Villers"
etching, an attractive land and seascape, marred, however, by the
clumsy sameness of the blacks in the foreground.

Without possessing Meryon's grim power in the presentation of old
Paris streets and tumble-down houses, Lalanne has achieved several
remarkable plates of this order. One is his well-known Rue des
Marmousets. This street is almost as repellent-looking as Rue
Mouffetard at its worst period. Ancient and sinister, its reputation
was not enticing. In it once dwelt a pastry cook who, taking his crony
the barber into his confidence, literally made mince-meat of a
stranger and sold the pies to the neighbours.

Messire Jacques du Breul, in his Le Theatre des Antiquites de Paris
(1612), remarks, not without critical unction, in his quaint French:
"De la chair d'icelui faisit des pastez qui se trouvoient meilleurs
que les aultres, d'autant que la chair de l'homme est plus delicate a
cause de la nourriture que celle des aultres animaux." Every one to
his taste, as the old politician said when he kissed the donkey. When
you study the Lalanne etching of this gruesome alley you almost expect
to see at the corner Anatole France's famous cook-shop with its
delectable odours and fascinating company.

The scenes of Thames water-side, Nogent, Houlgate Beach, at Richmond,
or at Cusset are very attractive. His larger plates are not
convincing, the composition does not hang together; the eye vainly
seeks focussing centres of interest. Beraldi was right when he said
that Lalanne has not left one surpassing plate, one of which the world
can say: There is a masterpiece! Yet is Maxime Lalanne among the
Little Masters of characteristic etching. His appeal is popular, he is
easily comprehended of the people.




LOUIS LEGRAND



The etched work of the brilliant Frenchman Louis Legrand is at last
beginning to be appreciated in this country. French etchings, unless
by painter-etchers, have never been very popular with us. We admire
Meryon and Helleu's drypoints, Bracquemond, Jacquemart; Felix Buhot
has a following; Lalanne and Daubigny too; but in comparison with the
demand for Rembrandt, Whistler, Seymour Haden, or Zorn the Paris men
are not in the lead. There is Rops, for example, whose etchings may be
compared to Meryon's; yet who except a few amateurs seeks Rops? Louis
Legrand is now about forty-five, at the crest of his career, a
versatile, spontaneous artist who is equally happy with pigments or
the needle. His pastels are much sought, but his dry-points have
gained for him celebrity. Though a born colourist, the primary gift of
the man is his draughtsmanship. His designs, swift and supple
notations of the life around him, delight the eye by reason of their
personal touch and because of the intensely human feeling that he
infuses into every plate. Legrand was one of the few pupils of
Felicien Rops, and technically he has learned much of his master; but
his way of viewing men and women and life is different from that of
the Belgian genius. He has irony and wit and humour--the two we seldom
bracket--and he has pity also; he loves the humble and despised. His
portraits of babies, the babies of the people, are captivating.
Imagine a Rops who has some of Millet's boundless sympathy for his
fellow-humans and you have approximately an understanding of Louis
Legrand.

He is a native of Dijon, the city that gave birth to Bossuet, but
Legrand is not that kind of Burgundian. Several critics pretend to see
in his work the characteristics of his native Cote d'Or; that,
however, may be simply a desire to frame the picture appropriately.
Legrand might have hailed from the south, from Daudet's country; he is
exuberant as he is astute. The chief thing is that he has abundant
brains and in sheer craftsmanship fears few equals. Like Whistler, his
principal preoccupation is to suppress all appearance of technical
procedures. His method of work is said to be simplicity itself;
obsessed by his very definite visions, he transfers them to the
scratched plate with admirable celerity. Dry-point etching is his
principal medium. With his needle he has etched Montmartre, its
cabarets, its angels--in very earthly disguise--its orators, poets,
and castaways, and its visiting tourists--"God's silly sheep." He has
illustrated a volume of Edgar Poe's tales that displays a _macabre_
imagination. His dancers are only second to those of Edgar Degas, and
seen from an opposite side. His peasants, mothers, and children, above
all, babies, reveal an eye that observes and a brain that can
co-ordinate the results of this piercing vision. Withal, he is a poet
who extracts his symbols from everyday life.

This is what Camille Mauclair said of him at the time of his debut:

"An admirably skilful etcher, a draughtsman of keen vision, and a
painter of curious character, who has in many ways forestalled the
artists of to-day. Louis Legrand also shows to what extent Manet and
Degas have revolutionised the art of illustration, in freeing the
painters from obsolete laws and guiding them toward truth and frank
psychological study. Legrand is full of them without resembling them.
We must not forget that besides the technical innovation [division of
tones, study of complementary colours] impressionism has brought us
novelty of composition, realism of character, and great liberty in the
choice of subjects. From this point of view Rops himself, in spite of
his symbolist tendencies, could not be classed with any other group if
it were not that any kind of classification in art is useless and
inaccurate. However that may be, Louis Legrand has signed some volumes
with the most seductive qualities."

Gustave Kahn, the symbolist poet who was introduced to the English
reading world in one of the most eloquent pages of George Moore,
thinks that Legrand is frankly a symbolist. We side with Mauclair in
not trying to pin this etcher down to any particular formula. He is
anything he happens to will at the moment, symbolist, poet, and also
shockingly frank at times. Take the plate with a pun for a title, Le
paing quotidien ("paing" is slang for "poing," a blow from the fist,
and may also mean the daily bread). A masculine brute is with clinched
fist about to give his unfortunate partner her daily drubbing. He is
well dressed. His silk hat is shiny, his mustache curled in the true
Adolphe fashion. His face is vile. The woman cries aloud and protects
herself with her hands. In Marthe Baraquin, by Rosny senior, you will
find the material for this picture, though Legrand found it years ago
in the streets. Unpleasant, truly, yet a more potent sermon on man's
cruelty to woman than may be found in a dozen preachments, fictions,
or the excited outpourings at a feminist congress. Legrand presents
the facts of the case without comment, except the irony--such dismal
irony!--of the title. In this he is the true pupil of Rops.

However, he does not revel long among such dreary slices of life. The
Poe illustrations are grotesque and shuddering, but after all make
believe. The plate of The Black Cat piles horror on horror's head
(literally, for the demon cat perches on the head of the corpse) and
is, all said, pictorial melodrama. The Berenice illustration is, we
confess, a little too much for the nerves, simply because in a
masterly manner Legrand has exposed the most dreadful moment of the
story (untold by Poe, who could be an artist in his tact of omission).
The dental smile of the cataleptic Berenice as her necrophilic cousin
bends over the coffin is a testimony to a needle that in this instance
matches Goya's and Rops's in its evocation of the horrific. We turn
with relief to the ballet-girl series. The impression gained from this
album is that Legrand sympathises with, nay loves, his subject. Degas,
the greater and more objective artist, nevertheless allows to sift
through his lines an inextinguishable hatred of these girls who labour
so long for so little; and Degas did hate them, as he hated all that
was ugly in daily life, though he set forth this ugliness, this
mediocrity, this hatred in terms of beautiful art. Legrand sees the
ugliness, but he also sees the humanity of the _ballateuse_. She is a
woman who is brought up to her profession with malice aforethought by
her parents. These parents are usually noted for their cupidity. We
need not read the witty history of the Cardinal family to discover
this repellent fact. Legrand sketches the dancer from the moment when
her mother brings her, a child, to undergo the ordeal of the first
lesson.

The tender tot stands hesitating in the doorway; one hand while
holding the door open seems to grasp it as the last barrier of defence
that stands between her and the strange new world. She is attired in
the classical figurante's costume. Behind, evidently pushing her
forward, is the grim guardian, a bony, forbidding female. Although you
do not see them, it is an easy feat to imagine the roomful of girls
and dancing master all staring at the new-comer. The expression on the
child's face betrays it; instinctively, like the generality of
embarrassed little girls, her hand clasps her head. In less than a
minute she will weep.

Another plate, L'ami des Danseuses, is charged with humanity. The
violinist who plays for the ballet rehearsals sits resting, and facing
him are two young dancers, also sitting, but stooping to relieve their
strained spines and the tendons of their muscular legs. The old fellow
is giving advice from the fulness of a life that has been not too
easy. The girls are all attention. It is a genre bit of distinction.
Upon the technical virtuosity in which this etcher excels we shall not
dwell. Some of his single figures are marvels. The economy of line,
the massing of lights and darks, the vitality he infuses into a woman
who walks, a man who works in the fields, a child at its mother's
breast, are not easily dealt with in a brief study. We prefer to note
his more general qualities. His humour, whether in delineating a
stupid soldier about to be exploited by camp followers, or in his
Animales, is unforced. It can be Rabelaisian and it can be a record of
simple animal life, as in the example with the above title. A cow
stands on a grassy shore; near by a stolid peasant girl sits slicing
bread and eating it. Cow and girl, grass and sky and water are woven
into one natural pattern. The humour inheres in several sly touches.
It is a comical Millet. Very Millet-like too is the large picture,
Beau Soir, in which a field labourer bends over to kiss his wife, who
has a child at her breast. A cow nuzzles her apron, the fourth member
of this happy group. The Son of the Carpenter is another peasant
study, but the transposition of the Holy Family to our century. A
slight nimbus about the mother's head is the only indication that this
is not a humble household somewhere in France. Maternal Joy, Mater
Inviolata are specimens of a sane, lovely art which celebrate the
joys, dolors, and exaltations of motherhood. We prefer this side of
the art of Legrand to his studies of sinister jail-birds, _hetairai_,
noctambules, high kickers, and private bars, the horrors of Parisian
night life. Whatever he touches he vivifies. His leaping, audacious
line is like the narrative prose of a Maupassant or a Joseph Conrad.
Every stroke tells.

His symbolical pictures please us least. They doubtless signify no end
of profound things, yet to us they seem both exotic and puerile. We go
back to the tiny dancers, tired to sleepiness, who sit on a sofa
waiting to be called. Poor babies! Or to the plate entitled Douleur.
Or to the portraits of sweet English misses--as did Constantin Guys,
Legrand has caught the precise English note--or any of the children
pieces. If he knows the psychology of passion, knows the most intimate
detail of the daily life of _les filles_, Legrand is master too of the
psychology of child life. This will endear him to English and American
lovers of art, though it is only one of his many endowments. His wit
keeps him from extremes, though some of his plates are not for
puritans; his vivid sympathies prevent him from falling into the
sterile eccentricities of so many of his contemporaries; if he is
cynical he is by the same taken soft-hearted. His superb handling of
his material, with a synthetic vision superadded, sets apart Louis
Legrand in a profession which to-day is filled with farceurs and
fakers and with too few artists by the grace of God.




GUYS, THE ILLUSTRATOR



Practitioners of the noble art of illustration are, as we know, modest
men, but no matter the degree of their modesty they are all distanced
by the record in shyness still maintained by Constantin Guys. This
artist was once a living protest against Goethe's assertion that only
fools are modest, and the monument recently erected to his memory in
Paris is provocation enough to bring him ferrying across the Styx to
enter a disclaimer in the very teeth of his admirers. So set in his
anonymity was he that Charles Baudelaire, his critical discoverer, was
forced to write a long essay about his work and only refer to the
artist as C.G. The poet relates that once when Thackeray spoke to Guys
in a London newspaper office and congratulated him on his bold
sketches in the _Illustrated London News_, the fiery little man
resented the praise as an outrage. Nor was this humility a pose. His
life long he was morbidly nervous, as was Meryon, as was Cezanne; but
he was neither half mad, like the great etcher, nor a cenobite, as was
the painter of Aix. Few have lived in the thick of life as did Guys.
To employ the phrase of Turgenieff, life, like grass, grew over his
head. In the Crimean camps, on the Parisian boulevards, in London
parks, Guys strolled, crayon in hand, a true reporter of things seen
and an ardent lover of horses, soldiers, pretty women, and the mob.
Baudelaire called him the soldier-artist. He resembled in his restless
wanderings Poe's man of the multitude, and at the end of a long life
he still drew, as did Hokusai.

Who was he? Where did he receive his artistic training? Baudelaire did
not tell, nor Theophile Gautier. He went through the Crimean campaign;
he lived in the East, in London and Paris. Not so long ago the art
critic Roger Marx, while stopping at Flushing, Holland, discovered his
baptismal certificate, which reads thus: "Ernestus Adolphus Hyacinthus
Constantinus Guys, born at Flushing December 3, 1805, of Elizabeth
Betin and Francois Lazare Guys, Commissary of the French Marine." The
baptism occurred January 26, 1806, and revealed the fact that he had
for godfather an uncle who held a diplomatic position. Guys told his
friends that his full family name was Guys de Sainte-Helene--which may
have been an amiable weakness of the same order as that of Barbey
d'Aurevilly and of Villiers de l'Isle Adam, both of whom boasted noble
parentage. However, Guys was little given to talk of any sort. He was
loquacious only with his pencil, and from being absolutely forgotten
after the downfall of the Second Empire to-day every scrap of his work
is being collected, even fought for, by French and German collectors.
Yet when the Nadar collection was dispersed, June, 1909, in Paris, his
aquarelles went for a few francs. Felix Feneon and several others now
own complete sets. In New York there are a few specimens in the
possession of private collectors, though the Lenox Library, as a rule
rich in such prints, has only reproductions to show.

The essay of Charles Baudelaire, entitled Le Peintre de la Vie
Moderne, to be found in Volume III of his collected works (L'Art
Romantique), remains thus far the standard reference study concerning
Guys, though deficient in biographical details. Other critical studies
are by Camille Mauclair, Roger Marx, Richard Muther, and George
Grappe; and recently Elizabeth Luther Cary in a too short but
admirably succinct article characterised the Guys method in this
fashion: "He defined his forms sharply and delicately, and used within
his bounding line the subtlest variation of light and shade. His
workmanship everywhere is of the most elusive character, and he is a
master of the art of reticence." Miss Cary further speaks of his
"gentle gusto of line in motion, which lately has captivated us in the
paintings of the Spaniard Sorolla, and long ago gave Botticelli and
Carlo Crivelli the particular distinction they had in common."
Mauclair mentions "the most animated water-colour drawings of Guys,
his curious vision of nervous elegance and expressive skill," and
names it the impressionism of 1845, while Dr. Muther christened him
the Verlaine of the crayon because, like Verlaine, he spent his life
between the almshouse and a hospital, so said the German critic.
Furthermore, Muther believes it was no mere chance that made of
Baudelaire his admirer; in both the decadent predominated--which is
getting the cart before the horse. Rops, too, is recalled by Guys, who
depicted the gay grisette of the faubourgs as well as the nocturnal
pierreuse of the fortifications. "Guys exercised on Gavarni an
influence which brought into being his Invalides du sentiment, his
Lorettes vielles, and his Fourberies de femmes."

It is not quite fair to compare Guys with Rops, or indeed with either
Gavarni or Daumier. These were the giants of French illustration at
that epoch. Guys was more the skirmisher, the sharpshooter, the
reporter of the moment, than a creative master of his art. The street
or the battle-field was his atelier; speed and grace and fidelity his
chief claims to fame. He never practised his art within the walls of
academies; the material he so vividly dealt with was the stuff of
life. The very absence of school in his illustrations is their chief
charm; a man of genius this, self-taught, and a dangerous precedent
for fumblers or those of less executive ability. From the huge mass of
his work being unearthed from year to year he may be said to have
lived crayon in hand. He is the first of a long line of newspaper
illustrators. His profession was soldiering, and legend has it that he
accompanied Byron to Missolonghi. The official career of his father
enabled the youth to see much of the world--Greece, the Balkans,
Turkey, Persia, and perhaps India. On returning to France he became an
officer of dragoons and for some time led the life of a dandy and man
about town. With his memory, of which extraordinary tales are told, he
must have stored up countless films of impressions, all of which were
utilised years later.

In 1845 we find him installed at Paris, though no longer in the army.
Then it was he began to design. He became contributor to many
periodicals, among the rest the _Illustrated London News_ and _Punch_.
For the former journal he went to the Crimean war as accredited art
correspondent. The portfolio containing the Crimean set is now most
sought for by his admirers. He is said to have originated the
expression "taken on the spot," in the title of one of his
instantaneous sketches. Few draughtsmen could boast his sure eye and
manual dexterity. The Balaklava illustration is as striking in its way
as Tennyson's lines, though containing less of poetic heroism and more
ugly realism. Like the trained reporter that he was, Guys followed a
battle, recording the salient incidents of the engagement, not
overemphasising the ghastliness of the carnage, as did Callot or Goya
or Raffet, but telling the truth as he saw it, with a phlegm more
British and German than French. Though he had no Dutch blood in his
veins, he was, like Huysmans, more the man of Amsterdam than the man
of Paris. He noted the changing and shocking scenes of hospital life,
and sympathy without sentimentality drops from his pen. He is drily
humorous as he shows us some plumaged General peacocking on foot, or
swelling with Napoleonic pride as he caracoles by on his horse. And
such horses! Without a hint of the photographic realism of a Muybridge
and his successors, Guys evokes vital horses and riders, those seen by
the normal vision. The witching movement of beautiful Arabian steeds
has not had many such sympathetic interpreters.

In Turkey he depicted episodes of daily life, of the courts of the
Sublime Porte itself, of the fete of Bairam, which closes the fast of
Ramadan. His Turkish women are not all houris, but they bear the stamp
of close study. They are pretty, indolent, brainless creatures. In his
most hurried crayons, pen-and-ink sketches, and aquarelles Guys is
ever interesting. He has a magnetic touch that arrests attention and
atones for technical shortcomings. Abbreviation is his watchword; his
drawings are a species of shorthand notations made at red-hot tempo,
yet catching the soul of a situation. He repeats himself continually,
but, as M. Grappe says, is never monotonous. In love with movement,
with picturesque massing, and broad simple colour schemes, he
naturally gravitated to battle-fields. In Europe society out of doors
became his mania. Rotten Row, in the Bois, at Brighton or at
Baden-Baden, the sinuous fugues of his pencil reveal to succeeding
generations how the great world once enjoyed itself or bored itself to
death. No wonder Thackeray admired Guys. They were kindred spirits;
both recognised and portrayed the snob mundane.

As he grew older Guys became an apparition in the life of Paris. The
smash-up of the Empire destroyed the beloved world he knew so well.
Poor, his principal pleasure was in memory; if he couldn't actually
enjoy the luxury of the rich he could reproduce its images on his
drawing-pad. The whilom dandy and friend of Baudelaire went about
dressed in a shabby military frock-coat. He had no longer a nodding
acquaintance with the fashionable lions of Napoleon the Little's
reign, yet he abated not his haughty strut, his glacial politeness to
all comers, nor his daily promenade in the Bois. A Barmecide feast
this watching the pleasures of others more favoured, though Guys did
not waste the fruits of his observation. At sixty-five he began to go
down-hill. His habits had never been those of a prudent citizen, and
as his earning powers grew less some imp of the perverse entered his
all too solitary life. With this change of habits came a change of
theme. Henceforth he drew _filles_, the outcasts, the scamps and
convicts and the poor wretches of the night. He is now a forerunner of
Toulouse-Lautrec and an entire school. This side of his career
probably caused Dr. Muther to compare him with Paul Verlaine.
Absinthe, the green fairy of so many poets and artists, was no
stranger to Guys.

In 1885, after dining with Nadar, his most faithful friend, Guys was
run over in the Rue du Havre and had his legs crushed. He was taken to
the Maison Dubois, where he lived eight years longer, dying at the
venerable age of eighty-seven, though far from being a venerable
person. Astonishing vitality! He did not begin to draw, that is, for a
living, until past forty. His method of work was simplicity itself,
declare those who watched him at work. He seemingly improvised his
aquarelles; his colour, sober, delicate, was broadly washed in; his
line, graceful and modulated, does not suggest the swiftness of his
execution. He could be rank and vulgar, and he was gentle as a refined
child that sees the spectacle of life for the first time. The
bitterness of Baudelaire's flowers of evil he escaped until he was in
senile decadence. In the press of active life he registered the shock
of conflicting arms, the shallow pride of existence and the mere joy
of living, all in a sane manner that will ever endear him to lovers of
art.

George Moore tells the following anecdote of Degas: Somebody was
saying he did not like Daumier, and Degas preserved silence for a long
while. "If you were to show Raphael," he said at last, "a Daumier, he
would admire it; he would take off his hat; but if you were to show
him a Cabanel, he would say with a sigh, 'That is my fault.'"

If you could show Raphael a croquis by Constantin Guys he would
probably look the other way, but Degas would certainly admire and buy
the drawing.




XI. IMPRESSIONISM



I - MONET



The impressionists claim as their common ancestors Claude Lorraine,
Watteau, Turner, Monticelli. Watteau, Latour, Largilliere, Fragonard,
Saint-Aubin, Moreau, and Eisen are their sponsors in the matters of
design, subject, realism, study of life, new conceptions of beauty and
portraiture. Mythology, allegory, historic themes, the neo-Greek and
the academic are under the ban--above all, the so-called "grand
style." Impressionism has actually elevated genre painting to the
position occupied by those vast, empty, pompous, frigid, smoky,
classic pieces of the early nineteenth century. However, it must not
be forgotten that modern impressionism is only a new technique, a new
method of execution--we say new, though that is not exactly the case.
The home of impressionism is in the East; it may be found in the vivid
patterns woven in Persia or in old Japan. In its latest avatar it is
the expression of contemporaneous reality. Therein lies its true
power. The artist who turns his face only to the past--his work will
never be anything but an echo. To depict the faces and things and pen
the manners of the present is the task of great painters and
novelists. Actualists alone count in the future. The mills of the
antique grind swiftly--like the rich, they will be always with us--but
they only grind out imitations; and from pseudo-classic marbles and
pseudo-"beautiful" pictures may Beelzebub, the Lord of Flies, deliver
us.

That able and sympathetic writer D.S. MacColl has tersely summed up in
his Vision of the Century the difference between the old and new
manner of seeing things. "The old vision had beaten out three separate
acts--the determination of the edges and limits of things, the
shadings and the modellings of the spaces in between with black and
white, and the tintings of those spaces with their local colour. The
new vision that had been growing up among the landscape painters
simplifies as well as complicates the old. For purposes of analysis it
sees the world as a mosaic of patches of colour, such and such a hue,
such and such a tone, such and such a shape... The new analysis looked
first for colour and for a different colour in each patch of shade or
light. The old painting followed the old vision by its three processes
of drawing the contours, modelling the chiaroscura in dead colour, and
finally in colouring this black-and-white preparation. The new
analysis left the contours to be determined by the junction, more or
less fused, of the colour patches, instead of rigidly defining them as
they are known to be defined when seen near at hand or felt... 'Local
colour' in light or shade becomes different not only in tone but in
hue."

To the layman who asked, "What is impressionism?" Mauclair has given
the most succinct answer in his book L'Impressionisme: "In nature," he
declares, "no colour exists by itself. The colouring of the object is
pure illusion; the only creative source of colour is the sunlight,
which envelops all things and reveals them, according to the hours,
with infinite modifications... The idea of distance, of perspective,
of volume is given us by darker or lighter colours; this is the sense
of values; a value is the degree of light or dark intensity which
permits our eyes to comprehend that one object is further or nearer
than another. And as painting is not and cannot be the imitation of
nature, but merely her artificial interpretation, since it has only at
its disposal two out of three dimensions, the values are the only
means that remain for expressing depth on a flat surface. Colour is
therefore the procreatrix of design... Colours vary with the intensity
of light... Local colour is an error; a leaf is not green, a tree
trunk is not brown... According to the time of day, _i. e._, according
to the greater or smaller inclination of the rays (scientifically
called the angle of incidence), the green of the leaf and the brown of
the tree are modified... The composition of the atmosphere... is the
real subject of the picture... Shadow is not absence of light, but
light of a different quality and of a different value. Shadow is not
part of the landscape where light ceases, but where it is subordinated
to a light which appears to us more intense. In the shadow the rays of
the spectrum vibrate with a different speed. Painting should therefore
try to discover here, as in the light parts, the play of the atoms of
solar light, instead of representing shadows with ready-made tones
composed of bitumen and black... In a picture representing an interior
the source of light [windows] may not be indicated; the light
circulating, circling around the picture, will then be composed of the
_reflections_ of rays whose source is invisible, and all the objects,
acting as mirrors for these reflections, will consequently influence
each other. Their colours will affect each other even if the surfaces
be dull. A red vase placed upon a blue carpet will lead to a very
subtle but mathematically exact exchange between this blue and this
red; and this exchange of luminous waves will create between the two
colours a tone of reflections composed of both. These composite
reflections will form a scale of tones complementary of the two
principal colours.

"The painter will have to paint with only the seven colours of the
solar spectrum and discard all the others;... he will, furthermore,
instead of composing mixtures on his palette, place upon his canvas
touches of none but the seven colours juxtaposed [Claude Monet has
added black and white] and leave the individual rays of each of these
colours to blend at a certain distance, so as to act like sunlight
upon the eye of the beholder." This is called _dissociation_ of tones;
and here is a new convention; why banish all save the spectrum? We
paint nature, not the solar spectrum.

Claude Monet has been thus far the most successful practitioner of
impressionism; this by reason of his extraordinary analytical power of
vision and native genius rather than the researches of Helmholtz,
Chevreul, and Rood. They gave him his scientific formulas after he had
worked out the problems. He studied Turner in London, 1870; then his
manner changed. He had been a devoted pupil of Eugene Boudin and could
paint the discreet, pearly gray seascapes of his master. But Turner
and Watteau and Monticelli modified his style, changed his way of
envisaging the landscape. Not Edouard Manet but Claude Monet was the
initiator of the impressionistic movement in France, and after
witnessing the rout and confusion that followed in its wake one is
tempted to misquote Nietzsche (who said that the first and only
Christian died on the cross) and boldly assert that there has been but
one impressionist; his name, Monet. "He has arrived at painting by
means of the infinitely varied juxtaposition of a quantity of colour
spots which dissociate the tones of the spectrum and draw the forms of
objects through the arabesque of their vibrations." How his landscapes
shimmer with the heat of a summer day! Truly, you can say of these
pictures that "the dawn comes up like thunder." How his fogs, wet and
clinging, seem to be the first real fogs that ever made misty a
canvas! What hot July nights, with few large stars, has Monet not
painted! His series of hayricks, cathedrals, the Thames are precious
notations of contemporary life; they state facts in terms of exquisite
artistic value; they resume an epoch. It is therefore no surprise to
learn that in 1874 Monet gave the name (so variously abused) to the
entire movement when he exhibited a water piece on the Boulevard des
Capucines entitled Impression: Soleil Levant. That title became a
catchword usually employed in a derisive manner. Monet earlier had
resented the intrusion of a man with a name so like his, but succumbed
to the influence of Monet. One thing can no longer be
controverted--Claude Monet is the greatest landscape and marine
painter of the second half of the last century. Perhaps time may alter
this limit clause.

What Turgenieff most condemned in his great contemporary,
Dostoievsky--if the gentle Russian giant ever condemned any one--was
Feodor Mikhailovitch's taste for "psychological mole runs"; an
inveterate burrowing into the dark places of humanity's soul. Now, if
there is a dark spot in a highly lighted subject it is the question,
Who was the first impressionist? According to Charles de Kay, Whistler
once told him that he, James the Butterfly, began the movement; which
is a capital and characteristic anecdote, especially if one recalls
Whistler's boast made to a young etcher as to the initiative of Corot.
Whistler practically said: "Before Corot was, I am!" And he adduced
certain canvases painted with the misty-edged trees long before--but
why continue? Whistler didn't start Corot--apart from the
chronological difficulties in the way--any more than Courbet and Manet
started Whistler; yet both these painters played important roles in
the American master's art. So let us accept Mauclair's dictum as to
Claude Monet's priority in the field of impressionism. Certainly he
attained his marked style before he met Manet. Later he modified his
own paint to show his sympathy with the new school. Monet went to
Watteau, Constable, Monticelli for his ideas, and in London, about
1870, he studied Turner with an interest that finally bordered on
worship. And why not? In Turner, at the National Gallery, you may find
the principles of impressionism carried to extravagant lengths, and
years before Monet. Consider Rain, Steam and Speed--the Great Western
Railway, that vision of a locomotive dashing across a bridge in
chromatic chaos. Or the Sea Piece in the James Orrock collection--a
welter of crosshatchings in variegated hues wherein any school of
impressionism from Watteau's Embarkment to Monet's latest manner or
the _pointillisme_ of Signac and Seurat may be recognised. And there
is a water-colour of Turner's in the National Gallery called Honfleur,
which has anticipated many traits of Boudin and the Manet we know when
he had not forgotten Eugene Boudin's influence.

Let us enjoy our Monet without too many "mole runs." As De Kay pointed
out, it was not necessary for Monet to go to London to see Constables.
In the Louvre he could gaze upon them at leisure, also upon Bonington;
not to mention the Venetians and such a Dutchman as Vermeer. It is
therefore doubly interesting to study the Monets at Durand-Ruel's.
There are twenty-seven, and they range as far back as 1872, Promenade
a Trouville, and come down to the Charing Cross Bridge, 1904, and the
two Waterloo Bridge effects, 1903. It is a wide range in sentiment and
technique. The Mills in Holland of 1874 is as cool and composed as
Boudin. Sincerity and beauty are in the picture--for we do not agree
with those who see in Monet only an unemotional recorder of variations
in light and tone. He can compose a background as well as any of his
contemporaries, and an important fact is overlooked when Monet is
jumbled indiscriminately with a lot of inferior men. Monet knew how to
_draw_ before he handled pigment. Some lansdcape painters do not; many
impressionists trust to God and their palette-knife; so the big men
are sufferers. Monet, it may be noted, essayed many keys; his
compositions are not nearly so monotonous as has been asserted. What
does often exhaust the optic nerve is the violent impinging thereon of
his lights. He has an eagle eye, we have not. Wagner had the faculty
of attention developed to such an extraordinary pitch that with our
more normal and weaker nerves he soon exhausts us in his flights. Too
much Monet is like too much Wagner or too much sunshine.

The breezy effect with the poplars painted flat is an example very
unlike Monet. The church of Varengeville at Dieppe (1880) is a classic
specimen; so is the Pourville beach (1882). What delicate greens in
the Spring (1885)! What fine distance, an ocean view, in the Pourville
picture! Or, if you care for subdued harmonies, there is the ice floe
at Vetheuil (1881).

The London pictures tell of the older artist--not so vigorous, a vein
of tenderness beginning to show instead of his youthful blazing
optimism. Claude Monet must have had a happy life--he is still a
robust man painting daily in the fields, leading the glorious life of
a landscapist, one of the few romantic professions in this prosaic
age. Not so vain, so irritable as either Manet or Whistler, Monet's
nerves have never prompted him to extravagances. Backbiters declare
that Monet is suffering from an optical degeneration--poor, overworked
word! Monet sees better, sees more keenly than his fellow-men. What a
misfortune! Ibsen and Wagner suffered, too, from superior brains. If
Monet ever suffered seriously from a danger to his art it
was--success. He was abused in the beginning, but not as severely as
Manet. But success perched on Monet's palette. His pictures never seem
to suggest any time but high noon, in spirit, at least. And he is
never sad. Yet, is there anything sadder under the sun than a soul
incapable of sadness?

In his very valuable contribution to the history of the cause,
Theodore Duret, the biographer and friend of Whistler and Manet has in
his Les Peintres Impressionistes held the scales very much in favour
of Manet's priority in the field over Monet. It is true that in 1863
Manet had drawn upon his head the thunderous wrath of Paris by
exhibiting his Dejeuner sur l'Herbe and Olympe--by no means a
representative effort of the painter's genius, despite its diabolic
cleverness. (It reveals a profound study of Titian, Cranach, and
Goya.) But his vision was in reality synthetic, not analytic; he was a
primitive; he belongs to the family of Velasquez, Ribera, Goya. He
studied Hals--and with what glorious results in Le Bon Bock! He
manipulated paint like an "old master" and did astounding things with
the higher tones of the colour scale. He was not an impressionist
until he met Monet. Then in audacity he outstripped his associates.
Discouraged by critical attacks, his courage had been revived by
Charles Baudelaire, who fought for Richard Wagner as well as for Poe
and Manet. To the painter the poet scornfully wrote: "You complain
about attacks? But are you the first to endure them? Have you more
genius than Chateaubriand and Wagner? They were not killed by
derision. And in order not to make you too proud, I must tell you that
they are models, each in his own way, and in a very rich world, while
you are only the first in the decrepitude of your art." Sinister and
disquieting that last phrase, and for those who see in impressionism
the decadence of painting (because of the predominance given to the
parts over the whole) it is a phrase prophetic.

Manet is a classic. His genuine power--technically speaking--lies in
the broad, sabre-like strokes of his brush and not in the niggling
_taches_ of the impressionists--of which the _reuctio ad absurdum_ is
pointillisme. He lays on his pigments in sweeping slashes and his
divisions are large. His significance for us does not alone reside in
his consummate mastery of form and colour, but in his forthright
expression of the life that hummed about him. He is as actual as Hals.
Study that Boy With the Sword at the Metropolitan Museum--is there
anything superficial about it? It is Spanish, the Spain of Velasquez,
in its beautiful thin, clear, flat painting, its sober handling of
values. The truth is that Manet dearly loved a fight, and being _chef
d'ecole_, he naturally drifted to the impressionists' camp. And it is
significant that Duret did not give this virile spirit a place in his
new volume, confining the estimate of his genius to the preface.
Mauclair, on the contrary, includes Manet's name in his more
comprehensive and more scientific study, as he also includes the name
of Edgar Degas--Degas, who is a latter-day Ingres, plus colour and a
new psychology.

The title of impressionism has been a misleading one. If Degas is an
impressionist, pray what then is Monet? Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne are
impressionists, and in America there is no impropriety in attaching
this handle to the works of Twachtmann, J. Alden Weir, W.L. Metcalf,
Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Robert Reid, Ernest Lawson, Paul
Cornoyer, Colin Campbell Cooper, Prendergast, Luks, and Glackens. But
Manet, Degas! It would have been a happier invention to have called
the 1877 group independents; independent they were, each man pursuing
his own rainbow. We may note an identical confusion in the mind of the
public regarding the Barbizon school. Never was a group composed of
such dissimilar spirits. Yet people talk about Millet _and_ Breton,
Corot _and_ Daubigny, Rousseau _and_ Dupre. They still say Goethe
_and_ Schiller, Beethoven _and_ Mozart, Byron _and_ Shelley. It is the
result of mental inertia, this coupling of such widely disparate
temperaments.

Nevertheless, divided tones and "screaming" palette do not always a
picture make; mediocrity loves to mask itself behind artistic
innovations. For the world at large impressionism spells
improvisation--an easy-going, slatternly, down-at-the-heel process,
facile as well as factitious. Albert Wolff must have thought these
things when he sat for his portrait to Manet. His surprise was great
when the artist demanded as many sittings as would have done the
painstaking Bonnat. Whistler shocked Ruskin when he confessed to
having painted a nocturne in two days, but with a lifetime experience
in each stroke of the brush. Whistler was a swift worker, and while he
claimed the honour of being the originator of impressionism--didn't he
"originate" Velasquez?--he really belongs to the preceding generation.
He was impressionistic, if you will, yet not an impressionist. He was
Japanese and Spanish, never Watteau, Monticelli, Turner, or Monet.

MacColl has pointed out the weakness of the scientific side of
impressionism. Its values are strictly aesthetic; attempts to paint on
a purely scientific basis have proved both monotonous and ludicrous.
The experiments of the neo-impressionists (the 1885 group), of Signac,
Seurat, were not very convincing. Van Rhysselberge, one of the few
painters to-day who practise _pointillisme_, or the system of dots, is
a gifted artist; so is Anquetin. The feminine group is headed by the
name of Berthe Morisot (the wife of Eugene Manet, a brother of Edouard
and the great granddaughter of Fragonard), a pupil of Manet, the most
individual woman painter that ever lived; and Mary Cassatt, a pupil of
Degas, though more closely allied to the open-air school in her
methods. Miss Cassatt possesses a distinguished talent. As a school
impressionism has run down to a thin rill in a waste of sand. It is
more technical than personal, and while it was lucky to have such an
exponent as Claude Monet, there is every reason to believe that
Monet's impressionism is largely the result of a peculiar penetrating
vision. He has been imitated, and Maufra and Moret are carrying on his
tradition--yet there is but one Monet.

We know that the spectral palette is a mild delusion and sometimes a
dangerous snare, that impressionism is in the remotest analysis but a
new convention supplanting an old. Painters will never go back to the
muddy palette of the past. The trick has been turned. The egg of
Columbus has been once more stood on end. Claude Monet has taught us
the "innocence of the eye," has shown us how to paint air that
circulates, water that sparkles. The sun was the centre of the
impressionistic attack, the "splendid, silent sun." A higher pitch in
key colour has been attained, shadows have been endowed with vital
hues. (And Leonardo da Vinci, wonderful landscapist, centuries ago
wrote learnedly of coloured shadows; every new discovery is only a
rediscovery.) The "dim, religious light" of the studio has been
banished; the average palette is lighter, is more brilliant. And
Rembrandt is still worshipped; Raphael is still on his pedestal, and
the millionaire on the street continues to buy Bouguereau. The amateur
who honestly wishes to purge his vision of encrusted painted
prejudices we warn not to go too close to an impressionistic
canvas--any more than he would go near a red-hot stove or a keg of
gunpowder. And let him forget those toothsome critical terms,
decomposition, recomposition. His eyes, if permitted, will act for
themselves; there is no denying that the principles of impressionism
soundly applied, especially to landscape, catch the fleeting,
many-hued charm of nature. It is a system of coloured stenography--in
the hands of a master. Woe betide the fumbler!




II - RENOIR



The secret of success is never to be satisfied; that is, never to be
satisfied with your work or your success. And this idea seems to have
animated Auguste Renoir during his long, honourable career of painter.
In common with several members of the impressionistic group to which
he belonged, he suffered from hunger, neglect, obloquy; but when
prosperity did at last appear he did not succumb to the most dangerous
enemy that besets the artist. He fought success as he conquered
failure, and his continual dissatisfaction with himself, the true
critical spirit, has led him to many fields--he has been portraitist,
genre painter, landscapist, delineator of nudes, a marine painter and
a master of still-life. This versatility, amazing and
incontrovertible, has perhaps clouded the real worth of Renoir for the
public. Even after acknowledging his indubitable gifts, the usual
critical doubting Thomas grudgingly remarks that if Renoir could not
draw like Degas, paint land and water like Monet or figures like
Manet, he was a naturally endowed colourist. How great a colourist he
was may be seen at the Metropolitan Museum, where his big canvas, La
Famille Charpentier, is now hung.

Charpentier was the publisher of Zola, Goncourt, Flaubert, and of the
newer realists. He was a man of taste, who cultivated friendships with
distinguished artists and writers. Some disappointment was experienced
at the recent public sale of his collection in Paris. The _clou_ of
the sale was undoubtedly the portrait of his wife and two children. It
was sold for the surprising sum of 84,000 francs to M. Durand-Ruel,
who acted in behalf of the Metropolitan Museum. Another canvas by
Renoir fetched 14,050 francs. A _sanguine_ of Puvis de Chavannes
brought 2,050 francs, and 4,700 francs was paid for a Cezanne picture.

The Charpentier Family, originally entitled Portrait de Madame
Charpentier et Ses Filles, was painted in 1878, first exhibited at the
Salon of 1879, and there we saw and admired it. The passage of the
years has tempered the glistening brilliancies and audacious chromatic
modulations to a suave harmony that is absolutely fascinating. The
background is Japanese. Mme. Charpentier is seated on a canopy
surrounded by furniture, flowers; under foot a carpet with arabesque
designs. She throws one arm carelessly over some rich stuff; the hand
is painted with masterly precision. The other arm has dropped in her
lap. She is an interesting woman of that fine maternal type so often
encountered in real France--though not in French fiction, alas! Her
gaze is upon her children, two adorable little girls. A superb dog, a
St. Bernard, with head resting on paws, looks at you with watchful
eyes. One of the girls sits upon his shaggy hide. The mother is in
black, a mellow reception robe, tulle and lace. White and blue are the
contrasting tones of the girls--the blue is tender. A chair is at the
side of a lacquer table, upon which are flowers. Renoir flowers, dewy,
blushing. You exclaim: "How charming!" It is normal French painting,
not the painting of the schools with their false ideal of pseudo-Greek
beauty, but the intimate, clear, refined, and logical style of a man
who does not possess the genius of Manet, Degas, or Monet, but is
nevertheless an artist of copiousness, charm, and originality. Charm;
yes, that is the word. There is a voluptuous magnetism in his colour
that draws you to him whether you approve of his capricious designs or
not. The museum paid $18,480 for the Charpentier portrait, and in
1877, after an exposition in the rue Le Peletier, sixteen of his
paintings, many of them masterpieces, netted the mortifying sum of
2,005 francs.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born at Limoges, February 25, 1840. His
father was a poor tailor with five children who went to Paris hoping
to better his condition. At the age of twelve the boy was painting on
porcelain--his father had picked up some rudiments of the art at
Limoges. Auguste did so well, displayed such energy and taste, that he
soon fell to decorating blinds, and saved, in the course of four
years, enough money to enable him to enter the atelier of Gleyre.
There he met Sisley, Bazille--afterward shot in the Franco-Prussian
war--and Claude Monet. They became friends and later allies in the
conflict with the Parisian picture public. Renoir made his first
offering to the Salon in 1863. It was refused. It was a romantic
bit--a nude lady reclining on a bed listening to the plucked music of
a guitar. It seems that the guitarist, and not the lady, was the cause
of offence. It is a convention that a thousand living beings may look
at an undressed female in a picture, but no painted man may be allowed
to occupy with her the same apartment. In 1864 Renoir tried
again--after all, the Salon, like our own academy, is a
market-place--and was admitted. He sent in an Esmeralda dancing. Both
these canvases were destroyed by the painter when he began to use his
eyes. In 1868 his Lise betrayed direct observation of nature,
influenced by Courbet. Until 1873 he sent pictures to the Salon; that
year he was shut out with considerable unanimity, for his offering
happened to be an Algerian subject, a Parisian woman dressed in
Oriental costume, and--horrors!--the shadows were coloured. He was
become an impressionist. He had listened, or rather looked at the
baleful pyrotechnics of Monet, and so he joined the secessionists,
though not disdaining to contribute annually to the Salon. In 1874 his
L'allee Cavaliere au Bois de Boulogne was rejected, an act that was
evidently inspired by a desire to sacrifice Renoir because of the
artistic "crimes" of Edouard Manet. Otherwise how explain why this
easily comprehended composition, with its attractive figures, daring
hues, and brilliant technique, came to have the door of the Salon
closed upon it?

The historic exposition at Nadar's photographic studio, on the
Boulevard des Capucines, of the impressionists, saw Renoir in company
with Monet, Sisley, and the others. His La Danseuse and La Loge were
received with laughter by the discerning critics. Wasn't this the
exhibition of which Albert Wolff wrote that some lunatics were showing
their wares, which they called pictures, etc.? (No, it was in 1875.)
From 1868 to 1877 Renoir closely studied nature and his landscapes
took on those violet tones which gave him the nickname of Monsieur
Violette. Previously he had employed the usual clear green with the
yellow touches in the shadows of conventional _paysagistes_. But
Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, and Renoir had discovered each for himself
that the light and shade in the open air vary according to the hours,
the seasons, the atmospheric conditions. Monet and Pissarro in
painting snow and frost effects under the sun did not hesitate to put
blue tones in the shadows. Sisley was fond of rose tones, Renoir saw
violet in the shadows. He enraged his spectators quite as much as did
Monet with his purple turkeys. His striking Avant le bain was sold for
one hundred and forty francs in 1875. Any one who has been lucky
enough to see it at Durand-Ruel's will cry out at the stupidity which
did not recognise a masterly bit of painting with its glowing,
nacreous flesh tints, its admirable modelling, its pervading air of
vitality. Renoir was never a difficult painter; that is, in the sense
of Monet or Manet or Gauguin. He offended the eyes of 1875, no doubt,
but there was in him during his first period much of Boucher; his
female nudes are, as Camille Mauclair writes, of the eighteenth
century; his technique is Boucher-like: "fat and sleek paint of soft
brilliancy laid on with the palette-knife with precise strokes around
the principal values; pink and ivory tints relieved by strong blues
similar to those of enamels; the light distributed everywhere and
almost excluding the opposition of the shadows; vivacious attitudes
and decorative convention."

Vivacious, happy, lyrical, Renoir's work has thus far shown no hint of
the bitter psychology of Edgar Degas. His nudes are pagan, child women
full of life's joy, animal, sinuous, unreasoning. His _genre_ tableaux
are personal enough, though in the most commonplace themes, such as
Dejeuner and The Box--both have been exhibited in New York--the
luminous envelope, the gorgeous riot of opposed tones, the delicious
dissonances literally transfigure the themes. In his second manner his
affinities to Claude Monet and impressionism are more marked. His
landscapes are more atmospheric, division of tones inevitably
practised. Everything swims in aerial tones. His portraits, once his
only means of subsistence, are the personification of frankness. The
touch is broad, flowing. Without doubt, as Theodore Duret asserts,
Renoir is the first of the impressionistic portrait painters; the
first to apply unflinchingly the methods of Manet and Monet to the
human face--for Manet, while painting in clear tones (what magic there
is in his gold!), in portraiture seldom employed the hatchings of
colours, except in his landscapes, and only since 1870, when he had
come under the influence of Monet's theories. Mauclair points out that
fifteen years before _pointillisme_ (the system of dots, like eruptive
small-pox, instead of the touches of Monet) was invented, Renoir in
his portrait of Sisley used the stipplings. He painted Richard Wagner
at Palermo in 1882. In his third manner--an arbitrary
classification--he combines the two earlier techniques, painting with
the palette-knife and in divided tones. Flowers, barbaric designs for
rugs, the fantastic, vibrating waters, these appear among that long
and varied series of canvases in which we see Paris enjoying itself at
Bougival, dancing on the heights of Montmartre, strolling among the
trees at Armenonville; Paris quivering with holiday joys, Paris in
outdoor humour--and not a discordant or vicious note in all this
psychology of love and sport. The lively man who in shirt sleeves
dances with the jolly, plump salesgirl, the sunlight dripping through
the vivid green of the tree leaves, lending dazzling edges to
profiles, tips of noses, or fingers, is not the sullen _ouvrier_ of
Zola or Toulouse-Lautrec--nor are the girls kin to Huysmans's Soeurs
Vatard or the "human document" of Degas. Renoir's philosophy is not
profound; for him life is not a curse or a kiss, as we used to say in
the old Swinburne days. He is a painter of joyous surfaces and he is
an incorrigible optimist. He is also a poet. The poet of air,
sunshine, and beautiful women--can we ever forget his Jeanne Samary? A
pantheist, withal a poet and a direct descendant in the line of
Watteau, Boucher, Monticelli, with an individual touch of mundane
grace and elegance.

Mme. Charpentier it was who cleverly engineered the portrait of
herself and children and the portrait of Jeanne Samary into the 1879
Salon. The authorities did not dare to refuse two such distinguished
women. Renoir's prospects became brighter. He married. He made money.
Patrons began to appear, and in 1904, at the autumn Salon, he was
given a special _salle_, and homage was done him by the young men. No
sweeter gift can come to a French painter than the unbidden admiration
of the rising artistic generation. Renoir appreciated his honours; he
had worked laboriously, had known poverty and its attendant
bedfellows, and had won the race run in the heat and dust of his
younger years. In 1904, describing the autumn exhibition, I wrote: "In
the Renoir _salle_ a few of the better things of this luscious brush
were to be found, paintings of his middle period, that first won him
favour. For example, Sur la Terrasse, with its audacious crimson, like
the imperious challenge of a trumpet; La Loge and its gorgeous
fabrics; a Baigneuse in a light-green scheme; the quaint head of
Jeanne Samary--a rival portrait to Besnard's faun-like Rejane--and a
lot of Renoir's later experimentings, as fugitive as music; exploding
bouquets of iridescence; swirling panels, depicting scenes from
Tannhaeuser; a flower garden composed of buds and blossoms in colour
scales that begin at a bass-emerald and ascend to an altitudinous
green where green is no longer green but an opaline reverberation. We
know how exquisitely Renoir moulds his female heads, building up, cell
by cell, the entire mask. The simple gestures of daily life have been
recorded by Renoir for the past forty years with a fidelity and a
vitality that shames the anaemic imaginings and puling pessimisms of
his younger contemporaries. What versatility, what undaunted desire to
conquer new problems! He has in turn painted landscapes as full of
distinction as Monet's. The nervous vivacity of his brush, his love of
rendered surfaces, of melting Boucher-like heads, and of a dazzling
Watteau colour synthesis have endeared him to the discriminating." He
may be deficient in spiritual elevation--as were Manet, Monet, and the
other Impressionists; but as they were primarily interested in
problems of lighting, in painting the sun and driving the old mud gods
of academic art from their thrones, it is not strange that the new men
became so enamoured of the coloured appearances of life that they left
out the ghosts of the ideal (that dusty, battered phrase) and
proclaimed themselves rank sun-worshippers. The generation that
succeeded them is endeavouring to restore the balance between
unblushing pantheism and the earlier mysticism. But wherever a Renoir
hangs there will be eyes to feast upon his opulent and sonorous colour
music.




III - MANET



In the autumn of 1865 Theodore Duret, the Parisian critic, found
himself in the city of Madrid after a tour of Portugal on horseback. A
new hotel on the Puerta del Sol was, he wrote in his life of Manet, a
veritable haven after roughing it in the adjacent kingdom. At the
mid-day breakfast he ate as if he had never encountered good cooking
in his life. Presently his attention was attracted by the behaviour of
a stranger who sat next to him. The unknown was a Frenchman who abused
the food, the service, and the country. He was so irritable when he
noticed Duret enjoying the very _plats_ he had passed that he turned
on him and demanded if insult was meant. The horrible cuisine, he
explained, made him sick, and he could not understand the appetite of
Duret. Good-naturedly Duret explained he had just arrived from
Portugal and that the breakfast was a veritable feast. "And I have
just arrived from Paris," he answered, and gave his name, Edouard
Manet. He added that he had been so persecuted that he suspected his
neighbour of some evil pleasantry. The pair became friends, and went
to look at the pictures of Velasquez at the Prado. Fresh from Paris,
Manet was still smarting from the attacks made on him after the
hanging of his Olympia in the Salon of 1865. Little wonder his nerves
were on edge. A dozen days later, after he had studied Velasquez,
Goya, and El Greco, Manet, in company with Duret, returned to Paris.
It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

About eight years ago Duret's definitive biography of Manet appeared,
Histoire de Edouard Manet et de Son Oeuvre. No one was better
qualified to write of the dead painter than Theodore Duret. A critic
of perspicacity, his enthusiasm was kindled during the birth throes of
impressionism and has never been quenched. Only a few years ago, after
a tribute to Whistler, he wrote of Manet in the introduction to his
volume on Impressionism, and while no one may deny his estimate, yet
through zeal for the name of his dead friend he attributed to him the
discoveries of the impressionists. Manet was their leader; he would
have been a leader of men in any art epoch; but he did not invent the
fulminating palette of Monet, and, in reality, he joined the
insurgents after they had waged their earlier battles. His
"impressionistic" painting, so called, did not date until later;
before that he had fought for his own independence, and his method was
different from that of Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne and the rest.
Nevertheless, because of his notoriety--fame is hardly the word--he
may be fairly called the leader of the school.

As a rule he was not an irascible man, if the unpleasant nature of the
attacks upon him is taken into consideration. With the exception of
Richard Wagner and Ibsen, I know of no artist who was vilified during
his lifetime as was Manet. A gentleman, he was the reverse of the
bohemian. Duret writes of him that he was shocked at the attempt to
make of him a monster. He did not desire to become _chef d'ecole_, nor
did he set up as an eccentric. When he gave his special exhibition his
catalogue contained a modest declaration of the right of the artist to
his personal vision. He did not pretend to have created a new school,
and he asked the public to judge his work as that of a sincere
painter; but even that mild pronunciamento was received with jeers.
The press, with a few exceptions, was against him, and so were nearly
all the artists of influence. Zola's aggressive articles only made the
situation worse. Who was this Zola but a writer of doubtful taste and
sensational style! The whole crowd of realists, naturalists, and
impressionists--the Batignolles school was the mocking title given the
latter--were dumped into the common vat of infamy and critical vitriol
poured over them.

The main facts of Manet's career may be soon disposed of. His mother
was Eugenie Desiree Fournier; she was the goddaughter of Charles
Bernadotte, King of Sweden. Her father, a prefect at Pau, had rendered
services to Bernadotte which the latter did not forget. When she
married, in 1831, Auguste Manet, a distinguished judge of the Seine
tribunal, Bernadotte made her many valuable presents and a dowry. Her
three sons were Edouard, Eugene, and Gustave. They inherited from
their rich grandfather, Fournier. Edouard was born at Paris, Rue
Bonaparte, January 23, 1832. His brother Eugene became a doctor of
medicine and later married one of the most gifted of women painters,
Berthe Morisot, who died in 1895, after winning the praise of the most
critical pens in all Europe. Edouard was intended for the bar, but he
threw up his studies and swore he would become a painter. Then he was
sent abroad. He visited South America and other countries, and kept
his eyes wide open, as his sea-pieces proved. After his mother became
a widow he married, in 1863, Susanne Leenhoff, of Delft, Holland. She
was one of the early admirers of Schumann in Paris and played the A
minor piano concerto with orchestra there, and, it is said, with
success. She was an admirer of her husband's genius, and during all
the turmoil of his existence she was a friend and counsellor.

The young couple lived with the elder Mme. Manet in the Rue de
Saint-Petersbourg, and their weekly reception became a rallying centre
for not only _les Jeunes_, but also for such men as Gambetta, Emile
Ollivier, Clemenceau, Antonin Proust, De Banville, Baudelaire,
Duranty--with whom Manet fought a duel over a trifle--Zola, Mallarme,
Abbe Hurel, Monet, and the impressionistic group. Edouard entertained
great devotion for his mother. She saw two of her sons die, Edouard in
1883 (April 30) and Gustave in 1884. (He was an advocate and took
Clemenceau's place as municipal councillor when the latter was elected
Deputy.) Mme. Manet died in 1885. The painter was stricken with
locomotor ataxia, brought on by protracted toil, in 1881. For nearly
three years he suffered, and after the amputation of a leg he
succumbed. His obsequies were almost of national significance. His
widow lived until 1906.

_Manet et manebit_ was the motto of the artist. He lived to paint and
he painted much after his paralytic seizure. He was a brilliant
raconteur, and, as Degas said, was at one time as well known in Paris
as Garibaldi, red shirt and all. The truth is, Manet, after being
forced with his back to the wall, became the active combatant in the
duel with press and public. He was unhappy if people on the boulevard
did not turn to look at him. "The most notorious painter in Paris" was
a description which he finally grew to enjoy. It may not be denied
that he painted several pictures as a direct challenge to the world,
but a painter of offensive pictures he never was. The execrated
Picnic, proscribed by the jury of the Salon in 1861, was shown in the
Salon des Refuses (in company with works by Bracquemond, Cazin,
Fantin-Latour, Harpignies, Jongkind, J.P. Laurens, Legros, Pissarro,
Vollon, Whistler--the mildest-mannered crew of pirates that ever
attempted to scuttle the bark of art), and a howl arose. What was this
shocking canvas like? A group of people at a picnic, several nudes
among them. In vain it was pointed out to the modest Parisians (who at
the time revelled in the Odalisque of Ingres, in Cabanel, Gerome,
Bouguereau, and other delineators of the chaste) that in the Louvre
the Concert of Giorgione depicted just such a scene; but the mixture
of dressed and undressed was appalling, and Manet became a man marked
for vengeance. Perhaps the exceeding brilliancy of his paint and his
unconventional manner of putting it on his canvas had as much to do
with the obloquy as his theme. And then he would paint the life around
him instead of producing _pastiches_ of old masters or sickly
evocations of an unreal past.

He finished Olympia the year of his marriage, and refused to exhibit
it; Baudelaire insisted to the contrary. It was shown at the Salon of
1865 (where Monet exhibited for the first time) and became the scandal
of the day. Again the painter was bombarded with invectives. This
awful nude, to be sure, was no more unclothed than is Cabanel's Venus,
but the latter is pretty and painted with soap-suds and
sentimentality. The Venus of Titian is not a whit more exposed than
the slim, bony, young woman who has just awakened in time to receive a
bouquet at the hands of her negress, while a black cat looks on this
matutinal proceeding as a matter of course. The silhouette has the
firmness of Holbein; the meagre girl recalls a Cranach. It is not the
greatest of Manet; one could say, despite the bravura of the
performances, that the painter was indulging in an ironic joke. It was
a paint pot flung in the face of Paris. Olympia figured at the 1887
exhibition in the Pavilion Manet. An American (the late William M.
Laffan) tried to buy her. John Sargent intervened, and a number of the
painter's friends, headed by Claude Monet, subscribed a purse of
twenty thousand francs. In 1890 Monet and Camille Pelletan presented
to M. Fallieres, then Minister of Instruction, the picture for the
Luxembourg, and in 1907 (January 6), thanks to the prompt action of
Clemenceau, one of Manet's earliest admirers, the hated Olympia was
hung in the Louvre. The admission was a shock, even at that late day
when the din of the battle had passed. When in 1884 there was held at
the Ecole des Beaux-Arts a memorial exposition of Manet's works,
Edmond About wrote that the place ought to be fumigated, and Gerome
"brandished his little cane" with indignation. Why all the excitement
in official circles? Only this: Manet was a great painter, the
greatest painter in France during the latter half of the nineteenth
century. Beautiful paint always provokes hatred. Manet won. Nothing
succeeds like the success which follows death. (Our only fear nowadays
is that his imitators won't die. Second-rate Manet is as bad as
second-rate Bouguereau.) If he began by patterning after Hals,
Velasquez, and Goya, he ended quite Edouard Manet; above all, he gave
his generation a new vision. There will be always the battle of
methods. As Mr. MacColl says: "Painting is continually swaying between
the _chiaroscuro_ reading of the world which gives it depth and the
colour reading which reduces it to flatness. Manet takes all that the
modern inquisition of shadows will give to strike his compromise near
the singing colours of the Japanese mosaic."

What a wit this Parisian painter possessed! Duret tells of a passage
at arms between Manet and Alfred Stevens at the period when the
former's Le Bon Bock met for a wonder with a favourable reception at
the Salon of 1873. This portrait of the engraver Belot smoking a pipe,
his fingers encircling a glass, caused Stevens to remark that the man
in the picture "drank the beer of Haarlem." The _mot_ nettled Manet,
whose admiration for Frans Hals is unmistakably visible in this
magnificent portrait. He waited his chance for revenge, and it came
when Stevens exhibited a picture in the Rue Lafitte portraying a young
woman of fashion in street dress standing before a portiere which she
seems about to push aside in order to enter another room. Manet
studied the composition for a while, and noting a feather duster
elaborately painted which lies on the floor beside the lady,
exclaimed: "Tiens! elle a done un rendezvous avec le valet de
chambre?"




XII. A NEW STUDY OF WATTEAU



New biographical details concerning Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
may never be forthcoming, though theories of his enigmatic personality
and fascinating art will always find exponents. Our knowledge of
Watteau is confined to a few authorities: the notes in D'Argenville's
Abrege de la Vie des Plus Fameux Peintres; Catalogue Raisonne, by
Gersaint; Julienne's introduction to the Life of Watteau by Count de
Caylus--discovered by the Goncourts and published in their brilliant
study of eighteenth-century art. Since then have appeared monographs,
etudes, and articles by Cellier, Mollet, Hanover, Dohme, Muentz,
Seailles, Claude Phillips, Charles Blanc, Virgile Joez, F. Staley,
Teodor de Wyzewa, and Camille Mauclair. Mauclair is the latest and one
of the most interesting commentators, his principal contribution being
De Watteau a Whistler, a chapter of which has been afterward expanded
into a compact little study entitled Watteau and translated from the
French text by Mme. Simon Bussy, the wife of that intimate painter of
twilight and poetic reverie, Simon Bussy, to whom the book is
dedicated.

It is the thesis put forth and cleverly maintained by Mauclair that
interests us more than his succinct notation of the painter's life. It
is not so novel as it is just and moderate in its application. The
pathologic theory of genius has been overworked. In literature
nowadays "psychiatrists" rush in where critics fear to tread. Mahomet
was an epilept; so was Napoleon. Flaubert died of epilepsy, said his
friends; nevertheless, Rene Dumesnil has proved that his sudden
decease was caused not by apoplexy but by hystero-neurasthenia. Eye
strain played hob with the happiness of Carlyle, and an apostle of
sweetness and light declared that Ibsen was a "degenerate"--Ibsen, who
led the humdrum exterior life of a healthy _bourgeois_. Lombroso has
demonstrated--to his own satisfaction--that Dante's mystic
illumination was due to some brand of mental disorder. In fact, this
self-styled psychologist mapped anew the topography of the human
spirit. Few have escaped his fine-tooth-comb criticism except
mediocrity. Painters, poets, patriots, musicians, scientists,
philosophers, novelists, statesmen, dramatists, all who ever
participated in the Seven Arts, were damned as lunatics, decadents,
criminals, and fools. It was a convenient inferno in which to dump the
men who succeeded in the field wherein you were a failure. The height
of the paradox was achieved when a silly nomenclature was devised to
meet every vacillation of the human temperament. If you feared to
cross the street you suffered from agoraphobia; if you didn't fear to
cross the street, that too was a very bad sign. If you painted like
Monet, paralysis of the optical centre had set in--but why continue?

It is a pity that this theory of genius has been so thoroughly
discredited, for it is a field which promises many harvestings; there
is mad genius as there are stupid folk. Besides, normality doesn't
mean the commonplace. A normal man is a superior man. The degenerate
man is the fellow of low instincts, rickety health, and a drunkard,
criminal, or idiot. The comical part of the craze--which was
short-lived, yet finds adherents among the half-baked in culture and
the ignorant--is that it deliberately twisted the truth, making men of
fine brain and high-strung temperament seem crazy or depraved, when
the reverse is usually the case. Since the advent of Lombroso
"brainstorms" are the possession of the privileged. Naturally your
grocer, tailor, or politician may display many of the above symptoms,
but no one studies them. They are not "geniuses."

All this to assure you that when Camille Mauclair assumes that the
malady from which Antoine Watteau died was also a determining factor
in his art, the French critic is not aping some modern men of science
who denounce the writings of Dostoievsky because he suffered from
epileptic fits. But there is a happy mean in this effort to correlate
mind and body. If we are what we think or what we eat--and it is not
necessary to subscribe to such a belief--then the sickness of the body
is reflected in the soul, or vice versa. Byron was a healthy man
naturally, when he didn't dissipate, and Byron's poems are full of
magnificent energy, though seldom in the key of optimism. The revolt,
the passion, the scorn, were they all the result of his health? Or of
his liver? Or of his soul? Goethe, the imperial the myriad-minded
Goethe, the apostle of culture, the model European man of the
nineteenth century--what of him? Serenity he is said to have attained,
yet from the summit of eighty years he confessed to four weeks of
happiness in a long lifetime. Nor was he with all his superb manhood
free from neurotic disorders, neurotic and erotic. Shelley? Ah! he is
a pronounced case for the specialists. Any man who could eat dry
bread, drink water, and write such angelic poetry must have been quite
mad. Admitted. Would there were more Shelleys. Browning is a fair
specimen of genius and normality; as his wife illustrated an unstable
nervous temperament allied to genius. George Borrow was a rover, a
difficult man to keep as a friend, happy only when thinking of the
gipsies and quarrelling when with them. Would Baudelaire's magic verse
and prose sound its faint, acrid, sinister music if the French poet
had led a sensible life? Cruel question of the dilettante for whom the
world, all its splendor, all its art, is but a spectacle. It is
needless to continue, the list is too large; too large and too
contradictory. The Variations of Genius would be as profound and as
vast a book as Lord Acton's projected History of Human Thought. The
truth is that genius is the sacrificial goat of humanity; through some
inexplicable transposition genius bears the burdens of mankind;
afflicted by the burden of the flesh intensified many times, burdened
with the affliction of the spirit, raised to a pitch abnormal, the
unhappy man of genius is stoned because he staggers beneath the load
of his sensitive temperament or wavers from the straight and narrow
path usually blocked by bores too thick-headed and too obese to
realise the flower-fringed abysses on either side of the road. And
having sent genius in general among the goats, let us turn to
consumptive genius in particular.

Watteau was a consumptive; he died of the disease. A consumptive
genius! It is a hard saying. People of average health whose pulse-beat
is normal in _tempo_ luckily never realise the febrile velocity with
which flows the blood in the veins of a sick man of genius. But there
is a paradox in the case of Watteau, as there was in the case of
Chopin, of Keats, of Robert Louis Stevenson. The painter of
Valenciennes gave little sign of his malady on his joyous lyrical
canvases. Keats sang of faery landscapes and Chopin's was a virile
spirit; the most cheerful writer under the sun was Stevenson, who even
in his Pulvis et Umbra conjured up images of hope after a most
pitiless arraignment of the universe and man. And here is the paradox.
This quartet of genius suffered from and were slain by consumption.
(Stevenson died directly of brain congestion; he was, however, a
victim to lung trouble.) That the poets turn their sorrow into song is
an axiom. Yet these men met death, or what is worse, met life, with
defiance or impassible fronts. And the world which loves the lilting
rhythms of Chopin's mazourkas seldom cares to peep behind the screen
of notes for the anguish ambushed there. Watteau has painted the
gayest scenes of pastoral elegance in a land out of time, a No-Man's
Land of blue skies, beautiful women, gallant men, and lovely
landscapes, while his life was haunted by thoughts of death.

The riddle is solved by Mauclair: These flights into the azure, these
evocations of a country west of the sun and east of the moon, these
graceful creatures of Watteau, the rich brocade of Chopin's harmonies,
the exquisite pictures of Keats, the youthful joy in far-away
countries of Stevenson, all, all are so many stigmata of their
terrible affliction. They sought by the magic of their art to create a
realm of enchantment, a realm wherein their ailing bodies and wounded
spirits might find peace and solace. This is the secret of Watteau,
says Mauclair, which was not yielded up in the eighteenth century, not
even to his followers, Pater, Lancret, Boucher, Fragonard, whose pagan
gaiety and artificial spirit is far removed from the veiled melancholy
of Watteau. As we see Chopin, a slender man, morbid, sickly, strike
the martial chord in an unparalleled manner, Chopin the timid, the
composer of the Heroic Polonaise, so Watteau, morbid, sickly, timid,
slender, composes that masterpiece of delicate and decorative
joyousness, The Embarkment for Cythera, which hangs in the Louvre (a
gorgeous sketch, the final version, is at Potsdam in the collection of
the German Emperor). In these works we find the aura of consumption.

None of Watteau's contemporaries fathomed the meaning of his art: not
Count de Caylus, not his successors, who all recognised the masterly
draughtsman, the marvellous colourist, the composer of pastoral
ballets, of matchless _fetes galantes_, of conversations, of
miniatures depicting camp life, and fanciful decorations in the true
style of his times. But the melancholy poet that was in the man, his
lyric pessimism, and his unassuaged thirst for the infinite--these
things they did not see. Caylus, who has left the only data of value,
speaks of Watteau's hatred of life, his aversion at times from the
human face, his restlessness that caused him to seek new
abodes--Chopin was always dissatisfied with his lodgings and always
changing them. The painter made friends in plenty, only to break with
them because of some fancied slight. Chopin was of umbrageous nature,
Liszt tells us. Watteau never married, and never, as far as is known,
had a love affair. He is an inspired painter of women. (Perhaps,
because of his celibacy.) He loved to depict them in delicious poses,
under waving trees in romantic parks or in the nude. A gallant artist,
he was not a gallant man. He had the genius of friendship but not the
talent for insuring its continuity. Like Arthur Rimbaud, he suffered
from the nostalgia of the open road. He disappeared frequently. His
whereabouts was a mystery to his friends. He did not care for money or
for honours. He was elected without volition on his part as a member
of the Academy. Yet he did not use this powerful lever to further his
welfare. Silent, a man of continent speech, he never convinced his
friends that his art was chaste; yet he never painted an indelicate
stroke. His personages, all disillusionised, vaguely suffer, make love
without desire--disillusioned souls all. L'Indifferent, that young man
in the Louvre who treads the earth with such light disdain, with such
an airy expression of sweetness and _ennui_, that picture, Mauclair
remarks, is the soul of Watteau. And, perhaps, spills his secret.

Mauclair does not like the coupling of Watteau's name with those of
Boucher, Pater, Lancret, De Troy, Coypel, or Vanloo. They imitated him
as to externals; the spirit of him they could not ensnare. If Watteau
stemmed artistically from Rubens, from Ruysdael, from Titian (or
Tiepolo, as Kenyon Cox acutely hints) he is the father of a great
school, the true French school, though his stock is Flemish. Turner
knew him; so did Bonington. Delacroix understood him. So did Chardin,
himself a solitary in his century. Without Watteau's initiative
Monticelli might not be the Monticelli we know, while Claude Monet,
Manet, Renoir are the genuine flowering of his experiments in the
division of tones and the composition of luminous skies.

Mauclair smiles at Caylus for speaking of Watteau's mannerisms, the
mannerisms that proclaim his originality. Only your academic,
colourless painter lacks personal style and always paints like
somebody he is not. Watteau's art is peculiarly personal. Its
peculiarity--apart from its brilliancy and vivacity--is, as Mauclair
remarks, "the contrast of cheerful colour and morbid expression."
_Morbidezza_ is the precise phrase; _morbidezza_ may be found in
Chopin's art, in the very feverish moments when he seems brimming over
with high spirits. Watteau was not a consumptive of the Pole's type.
He did not alternate between ecstasy and languor. He was cold,
self-contained, suspicious, and inveterately hid the state of his
health. He might have been cured, but he never reached Italy, and that
far-off dream and his longing to realise it may have been the basis of
his last manner--those excursions into a gorgeous dreamland. He
yearned for an impossible region. His visions on canvas are the
shadowy sketches of this secret desire that burned him up. It may have
been consumption--and Mauclair makes out a strong case--and it may
have been the expression of a rare poetic temperament. Watteau was a
poet of excessive sensibility as well as the contriver of dainty
masques and ballets.

In literature one man at least has understood him, Walter Pater.
Readers of his Imaginary Portraits need not be reminded of A Prince of
Court Painters, that imaginative reconstruction of an almost obscure
personality. "His words as he spoke of them [the paintings of Rubens]
seemed full of a kind of rich sunset with some moving glory within
it." This was the Watteau who is summed by Pater (a distant kinsman,
perhaps, of the Pater Watteau tutored) as a man who had been "a sick
man all his life. He was always a seeker after something in the world,
that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all." Camille
Mauclair eloquently ends his study with the confession that the mere
utterance of Watteau's name "suffices to evoke in men's minds a memory
of the melancholy that was his, arrayed in garments of azure and rose.
Ah! crepuscular Psyche, whose smile is akin to tears!"




XIII. GAUGUIN AND TOULOUSE-LAUTREC



I - GAUGUIN



The key-note to the character of Paul Gauguin, painter and sculptor,
may be found in his declaration that in art there are only
revolutionists or plagiarists. A brave speech. And a proud man who
uttered it; for unless he wished to avoid its implications he must
needs prove his sincerity. In the short, adventurous, crowded life
vouchsafed him, Paul Gauguin proved himself indeed a revolutionary
painter. His maxim was the result of hard-won experiences. He was born
at Paris June 7, 1848--a stormy year for France; he died at Dominique
May 9, 1904. His father was a native of Brittany, while on his
mother's side he was Peruvian. This mixed blood may account for his
wandering proclivities and his love for exotic colouring and manners.
To further accentuate the rebellious instincts of the youth his
maternal grandmother was that Flora Tristan, friend of the anarchistic
thinker Proudhon. She was a socialist later and a prime mover in the
Workman's Union; she allied herself with Pere Enfantin and helped him
to found his religion, "Mapa," of which he was the god, Ma, and she
the goddess, Pa. Enfantin's career and end may be recalled by students
of St. Simon and the socialistic movements of those times. Paul's
father, Clovis Gauguin, wrote in 1848 the political chronicle on the
_National_, but previous to the _coup d'etat_ he left for Lima, there
to found a journal. He died of an aneurism in the Straits of Magellan,
a malady that was to carry off his son. After four years in Lima the
younger Gauguin returned to France. In 1856 a Peruvian grand-uncle
died at the extraordinary age of one hundred and thirteen. His name
was Don Pio de Tristan, and he was reported very rich. But Paul got
none of this wealth, and at fourteen he was a cabin-boy, feeble of
health but extremely curious about life. He saw much of life and
strange lands in the years that followed, and he developed into a
powerfully built young sailor and no doubt stored his brain with
sumptuous images of tropical scenery which reappeared in his canvases.
He traversed the globe several times. He married and took a position
in a bank. On Sundays he painted. His hand had itched for years to
reproduce the landscapes he had seen. He made friends with Degas,
Cezanne, Pissarro, Renoir, Monet, Guillaumin, and Manet. He called
himself an amateur and a "Sunday painter," but as he was received on
terms of equality with these famous artists it may be presumed that,
autodidact as he was, his versatile talent--for it literally was
versatile--did not escape their scrutiny. He submitted himself to
various influences; he imitated the Impressionists, became a
Neo-Impressionist of the most extravagant sort; went sketching with
Cezanne and Van Gogh, that unfortunate Dutchman, and finally announced
to his friends and family that "henceforward I shall paint every day."
He gave up his bank, and Charles Morice has said that his life became
one of misery, solitude, and herculean labours.

He painted in Brittany, Provence, at Martinique, in the Marquesas and
Tahiti. He had parted with the Impressionists and sought for a new
_aesthetik_ of art; to achieve this he broke away not only from
tradition, even the tradition of the Impressionists, but from Europe
and its civilisation. To this half-savage temperament devoured by the
nostalgia of the tropics the pictures of his contemporaries bore the
fatal stamp of the obvious, of the thrice done and used up. France,
Holland, Spain, Italy--what corner was there left in these countries
that had not been painted thousands of times and by great masters! The
South Seas, Japan, China--anywhere away from the conventional studio
landscape, studio models, poses, grimaces! At Pont-Aven in 1888,
between trips made to Martinique and Provence, Gauguin had attained
mastery of himself; Cezanne had taught him simplicity; Degas, his
avowed admirer, had shown him the potency of the line; Renoir's warm
colouring had spurred him to a still richer palette; and Manet had
given him sound advice. A copy of the Olympe, by Gauguin, finished
about this time, is said to be a masterpiece. But with Degas he was
closer than the others. A natural-born writer, his criticisms of the
modern French school are pregnant with wit and just observation. What
was nicknamed the School of Pont-Aven was the outcome of Gauguin's
imperious personality. A decorative impulse, a largeness of style, and
a belief that everything in daily life should be beautiful and
characteristic sent the painters to modelling, to ceramics and
decoration. Armand Seguin, Emile Bernard, Maurice Denis, Filiger,
Serusier, Bonnard, Vuillard, Chamaillard, Verkade, O'Conor, Durio,
Maufra, Ranson, Mayol, Roy, and others are to-day happy to call
themselves associates of Paul Gauguin in this little movement in which
the idolatry of the line and the harmonies of the arabesque were
pursued with joyous fanaticism.

Gauguin in an eloquent letter tells of his intercourse with Vincent
Van Gogh, who went mad and killed himself, not, however, before
attempting the life of his master. Mauclair has said of Van Gogh that
he "left to the world some violent and strange works, in which
Impressionism appears to have reached the limit of its audacity. Their
value lies in their naive frankness and in the undauntable
determination which tried to fix without trickery the sincerest
feelings. Amid many faulty and clumsy works Van Gogh has also left
some really beautiful canvases." Before Gauguin went to Tahiti his
Breton peasants were almost as monstrous as his later Polynesian
types. His representations of trees also seem monstrous. His endeavour
was to get beyond the other side of good and evil in art and create a
new synthesis, and thus it came to pass that the ugly and the formless
reign oft in his work--the ugly and formless according to the old
order of envisaging the world.

In 1891 and 1892, at Tahiti, Gauguin painted many
pictures--masterpieces his friends and disciples call them--which were
later shown at an exhibition held in the Durand-Ruel Galleries. Paris
shuddered or went into ecstasy over these blazing transcriptions of
the tropics; over these massive men and women, nude savages who stared
with such sinister magnetism from the frames. The violent
deformations, the intensity of vision, the explosive hues--a novel
gamut of rich tones--and the strangeness of the subject-matter caused
a nine days' gossip; yet the exhibition was not a great success.
Gauguin was too new, too startling, too original for his generation;
he is yet for the majority, though he may be the Paint God of the
twentieth century. Cut to the heart by his failure to make a dazzling
reputation, also make a little money--for he was always a poor man--he
left Paris forever in 1895. He was sick and his life among the
Marquisians did not improve his health. He took the part of the
natives against the whites and was denounced as a moral castaway. In
1904 he wrote Charles Morice: "I am a savage." But a savage of talent.
In reality he was a cultivated man, an attractive man, and a billiard
player and a fencer. Paint was his passion. If you live by the pen you
may perish by the pen. The same is too often the case with the palette
and brush hero.

Though Paul Gauguin failed in his search for a synthesis of the ugly
and the beautiful, he was nevertheless a bold initiator, one who
shipwrecked himself in his efforts to fully express his art. With all
his realism he was a symbolist, a master of decoration. A not too
sympathetic commentator has written of him: "Paul Gauguin's robust
talent found its first motives in Breton landscapes, in which the
method of colour spots may be found employed with delicacy and placed
at the service of a rather heavy but very interesting harmony. Then
the artist spent a long time in Tahiti, whence he returned with a
completely transformed manner. He brought back from those regions some
landscapes treated in intentionally clumsy and almost wild fashion.
The figures are outlined in firm strokes and painted in broad, flat
tints on canvas that has the texture of tapestry. Many of these works
are made repulsive by their aspect of multicoloured, crude, and
barbarous imagery. Yet one cannot but acknowledge the fundamental
qualities, the lovely values, the ornamental taste, and the impression
of primitive animalism. On the whole, Paul Gauguin has a beautiful,
artistic temperament which, in its aversion to virtuosity, has perhaps
not sufficiently understood that the fear of formulas, if exaggerated,
may lead to other formulas, to a false ignorance which is as dangerous
as false knowledge."

All of which is true; yet Paul Gauguin was a painter who had something
new to say, and he said it in a very personal fashion.




II - TOULOUSE-LAUTREC



I once attended at Paris an exhibition devoted to the work of the late
Count Toulouse-Lautrec. There the perverse genius of an unhappy man
who owes allegiance to no one but Degas and the Japanese was seen at
its best. His astonishing qualities of invention, draughtsmanship, and
a diabolic ingenuity in sounding the sinister music of decayed souls
have never been before assembled under one roof. Power there is and a
saturnine hatred of his wretched sitters. Toulouse-Lautrec had not the
impersonal vision of Zola nor the repressed and disenchanting irony of
Degas. He loathed the crew of repulsive night birds that he pencilled
and painted in old Montmartre before the foreign invasion destroyed
its native and spontaneous wickedness. Now a resort for easily
bamboozled English and Americans, the earlier Montmartre was a rich
mine for painter-explorers. Raffaelli went there and so did Renoir;
but the former was impartially impressionistic; the latter, ever
ravished by a stray shaft of sunshine flecking the faces of the
dancers, set it all down in charming tints. Not so Toulouse-Lautrec.
Combined with a chronic pessimism, he exhibited a divination of
character that, if he had lived and worked hard, might have placed him
not far below Degas. He is savant. He has a line that proclaims the
master. And unlike Aubrey Beardsley, his affinity to the Japanese
never seduced him into the exercise of the decorative abnormal which
sometimes distinguished the efforts of the Englishman. We see the
Moulin Rouge with its hosts of deadly parasites, La Goulue and her
vile retainers. The brutality here is one of contempt, as a blow
struck full in the face. Vice has never before been so harshly
arraigned. This art makes of Hogarth a pleasing preacher, so drastic
is it, so deliberately searching in its insults. And never the
faintest exaggeration or burlesque. These brigands and cut-throats,
pimps and pickpurses are set before us without bravado, without the
genteel glaze of the timid painter, without an attempt to call a
prostitute a _cocotte_. Indeed, persons are called by their true names
in these hasty sketches of Lautrec's, and so clearly sounded are the
names that sometimes you are compelled to close your ears and eyes.
His models, with their cavernous glance, their emaciated figures, and
vicious expression, are a commentary on atelier life in those days and
regions. Toulouse-Lautrec is like a page from Ecclesiastes.




XIV. LITERATURE AND ART



I - CONCERNING CRITICS



The annual rotation of the earth brings to us at least once during its
period the threadbare, thriceworn, stale, flat, and academic
discussion of critic and artist. We believe comparisons of creator and
critic are unprofitable, being for the most part a confounding of
intellectual substances. The painter paints, the composer makes music,
the sculptor models, and the poet sings. Like the industrious crow the
critic hops after these sowers of beauty, content to peck up in the
furrows the chance grains dropped by genius. This, at least, is the
popular notion. Balzac, and later Disraeli, asked: "After all, what
are the critics? Men who have failed in literature and art." And
Mascagni, notwithstanding the laurels he wore after his first success,
cried aloud in agony that a critic was _compositore mancato_. These be
pleasing quotations for them whose early opus has failed to score. The
trouble is that every one is a critic, your gallery-god as well as the
most stately practitioner of the art severe. Balzac was an excellent
critic when he saluted Stendhal's Chartreuse de Parme as a
masterpiece; as was Emerson when he wrote to Walt Whitman. What the
mid-century critics of the United States, what Sainte-Beuve, master
critic of France, did not see, Balzac and Emerson saw and, better
still, spoke out. In his light-hearted fashion Oscar Wilde asserted
that the critic was also a creator--apart from his literary worth--and
we confess that we know of cases where the critic has created the
artist. But that a serious doubt can be entertained as to the relative
value of creator and critic is hardly worth denying.

Consider the painters. Time and time again you read or hear the
indignant denunciation of some artist whose canvas has been ripped-up
in print. If the offender happens to be a man who doesn't paint, then
he is called an ignoramus; if he paints or etches, or even sketches in
crayon, he is well within the Balzac definition--poor, miserable
imbecile, he is only jealous of work that he could never have
achieved. As for literary critics, it may be set down once and for all
that they are "suspect." They write; ergo, they must be unjust. The
dilemma has branching horns. Is there no midway spot, no safety ground
for that weary Ishmael the professional critic to escape being gored?
Naturally any expression of personal feeling on his part is set down
to mental arrogance. He is permitted like the wind to move over the
face of the waters, but he must remain unseen. We have always thought
that the enthusiastic Dublin man in the theatre gallery was after a
critic when he cried aloud at the sight of a toppling companion:
"Don't waste him. Kill a fiddler with him!" It seems more in
consonance with the Celtic character; besides, the Irish are
music-lovers.

If one could draw up the list of critical and creative men in art the
scale would not tip evenly. The number of painters who have written of
their art is not large, though what they have said is always pregnant.
Critics outnumber them--though the battle is really a matter of
quality, not quantity. There is Da Vinci. For his complete writings
some of us would sacrifice miles of gawky pale and florid mediaeval
paintings. What we have of him is wisdom, and like true wisdom is
prophetic. Then there is that immortal gossip Vasari, a very biassed
critic and not too nice to his contemporaries. He need not indulge in
what is called the woad argument; we sha'n't go back to the early
Britons for our authorities. Let us come to Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose
Discourses are invaluable--and also to be taken well salted; he was
encrusted with fine old English prejudices. One of his magnificent
sayings and one appreciated by the entire artistic tribe was his
ejaculation: "Damn paint!" Raphael Mengs wrote. We wish that Velasquez
had. What William Blake said of great artists threw much light on
William Blake. Ingres uttered things, principally in a rage, about his
contemporaries. Delacroix was a thinker. He literally anticipated
Chevreul's discoveries in the law of simultaneous contrasts of colour.
Furthermore, he wrote profoundly of his art. He appreciated Chopin
before many critics and musicians--which would have been an impossible
thing for Ingres, though he played the violin--and he was kind to the
younger men.

Need we say that Degas is a great wit, though not a writer; a wit and
a critic? Rousseau, the landscapist, made notes, and Corot is often
quoted. If Millet had never written another sentence but "There is no
isolated truth," he would still have been a critic. Constable with his
"A good thing is never done twice"; and Alfred Stevens's definition of
art, "Nature seen through the prism of an emotion," forestalled Zola's
pompous pronouncement in The Experimental Novel. To jump over the
stile to literature, Wordsworth wrote critical prefaces, and Shelley,
too; Poe was a critic; and what of Coleridge, who called painting "a
middle quality between a thought and a thing--the union of that which
is nature with that which is exclusively human"? There are plenty of
examples on the side of the angels. Whistler! What a critic, wielding
a finely chased rapier! Thomas Couture wrote and discoursed much of
his art. Sick man as he was, I heard him talk of art at his country
home, Villiers-le-Bel, on the Northern Railway, near Paris. This was
in 1878. William M. Hunt's talks on art were fruitful. So are John
Lafarge's. The discreet Gigoux of Balzac notoriety has an entertaining
book to his credit; while Rodin is often coaxed into utterances about
his and other men's work. There are many French, English, and American
artists who write and paint with equal facility. In New York, Kenyon
Cox is an instance. But the chiefest among all the painters alive and
dead, one who shines and will continue to shine when his canvases are
faded--and they are fading--is Eugene Fromentin, whose Maitres
d'autrefois is a classic of criticism. Since his day two critics, who
are also painters, have essayed both crafts, George Clausen and D.S.
MacColl.

Professor Clausen is a temperate critic, MacColl a brilliant,
revolutionary one. The critical temper in either man is not dogmatic.
Seurat, the French Neo-Impressionist, has defended his theories;
indeed, the number of talented Frenchmen who paint well and write with
style as well as substance is amazing. Rossetti would no longer be a
rare bird in these days of piping painters, musicians who are poets,
and sculptors who are painters. The unfortunate critic occasionally
writes a play or an opera (particularly in Paris), but as a rule he is
content to echo that old German who desperately exclaimed: "Even if I
am nothing else, I am at least a contemporary."

Let us now swing around the obverse side of the medal. A good showing.
You may begin with Wincklemann or Goethe--we refer entirely to critics
of paint and painters--or run down the line to Diderot, Blanc,
Gautier, Baudelaire, Zola, Goncourt, who introduced to Europe Japanese
art; Roger Marx, Geoffroy, Huysmans, Camille Mauclair, Charles Morice,
and Octave Mirbeau. Zola was not a painter, but he praised Edouard
Manet. These are a few names hastily selected. In England, Ruskin too
long ruled the critical roast; full of thunder-words like Isaiah, his
vaticinations led a generation astray. He was a prophet, not a critic,
and he was a victim to his own abhorred "pathetic fallacy." Henley was
right in declaring that until R.A.M. Stevenson appeared there was no
great art criticism in England or English. The "Velasquez" is a
marking stone in critical literature. It is the one big book by a big
temperament that may be opposed page by page to Fromentin's critical
masterpiece. Shall we further adduce the names of Morelli, Sturge
Moore, Roger Fry, Perkins, Cortissoz, Lionel Cust, Colvin, Ricci, Van
Dyke, Mather, Berenson, Brownell, and George Moore--who said of Ruskin
that his uncritical blindness regarding Whistler will constitute his
passport to fame, "the lot of critics is to be remembered by what they
have failed to understand." Walter Pater wrote criticism that is
beautiful literature. If Ruskin missed Whistler, he is in good
company, for Sainte-Beuve, the prince of critics, missed Balzac,
Stendhal, Flaubert, and to Victor Hugo was unfair. Yet, consider the
Osrics embalmed in the amber of Sainte-Beuve's style. He, like many
another critic, was superior to his subject. And that is always fatal
to the water-flies.

George III once asked in wonderment how the apples get inside the
dumplings. How can a critic criticise a creator? The man who looks on
writing things about the man who does things. But he criticises and
artists owe him much. Neither in "ink-horn terms" nor in an "upstart
Asiatic style" need the critic voice his opinions. He must be an
artist in temperament and he must have a _credo_. He need not be a
painter to write of painting, for his primary appeal is to the public.
He is the middle-man, the interpreter, the vulgariser. The
psycho-physiological processes need not concern us. One thing is
certain--a man writing in terms of literature about painting, an art
in two dimensions, cannot interpret fully the meanings of the canvas,
nor can he be sure that his opinion, such as it is, when it reaches
the reader, will truthfully express either painter or critic. Such are
the limitations of one art when it comes to deal with the ideas or
material of another. Criticism is at two removes from its theme.
Therefore criticism is a makeshift. Therefore, let critics be modest
and allow criticism to become an amiable art.

But where now is the painter critic and the professional critic?
"Stands Ulster where it did?" Yes, the written and reported words of
artists are precious alike to layman and critic. That they prefer
painting to writing is only natural; so would the critic if he had the
pictorial gift. However, as art is art and not nature, criticism is
criticism and not art. It professes to interpret the artist's work,
and at best it mirrors his art mingled with the personal temperament
of the critic. At the worst the critic lacks temperament (artistic
training is, of course, an understood requisite), and when this is the
case, God help the artist! As the greater includes the lesser, the
artist should permit the critic to enter, with all due reverence, his
sacred domain. Without vanity the one, sympathetic the other. Then the
ideal collaboration ensues. Sainte-Beuve says that "criticism by
itself can do nothing. The best of it can act only in concert with
public feeling ... we never find more than half the article in
print--the other half was written only in the reader's mind." And
Professor Walter Raleigh would further limit the "gentle art."
"Criticism, after all, is not to legislate, nor to classify, but to
raise the dead." The relations between the critic and his public open
another vista of the everlasting discussion. Let it be a negligible
one now. That painters can get along without professional criticism we
know from history, but that they will themselves play the critic is
doubtful. And are they any fairer to young talent than official
critics? It is an inquiry fraught with significance. Great and small
artists have sent forth into the world their pupils. Have they
always--as befits honest critics--recognised the pupils of other men,
pupils and men both at the opposite pole of their own theories? Recall
what Velasquez is reported to have said to Salvator Rosa, according to
Boschini and Carl Justi. Salvator had asked the incomparable Spaniard
whether he did not think Raphael the best of all the painters he had
seen in Italy. Velasquez answered: "Raphael, to be plain with you, for
I like to be candid and outspoken, does not please me at all." This
purely temperamental judgment does not make of Velasquez either a good
or a bad critic. It is interesting as showing us that even a master
cannot always render justice to another. Difference engenders hatred,
as Stendhal would say.

Can the record of criticism made by plastic artists show a generous
Robert Schumann? Schumann discovered many composers from Chopin to
Brahms and made their fortunes by his enthusiastic writing about them.
In Wagner he met his Waterloo, but every critic has his limitations.
There is no Schumann, let the fact be emphasised, among the
painter-critics, though quite as much discrimination, ardour of
discovery, and acumen may be found among the writings of the men whose
names rank high in professional criticism. And this hedge, we humbly
submit, is a rather stiff one to vault for the adherents of criticism
written by artists only. Nevertheless, every day of his humble career
must the critic pen his _apologia pro vita sua_.




II - ART IN FICTION



Fiction about art and artists is rare--that is, good fiction, not the
stuff ground out daily by the publishing mills for the gallery-gods.
It is to France that we must look for the classic novel dealing with
painters and their painting, Manette Salomon, by Goncourt. Henry James
has written several delightful tales, such as The Liar, The Real
Thing, The Tragic Muse, in which artists appear. But it is the
particular psychological problem involved rather than theories of art
or personalities that steer Mr. James's cunning pen. We all remember
the woman who destroyed a portrait of her husband which seemed to
reveal his moral secret. John S. Sargeant has been credited with being
the psychologist of the brush in this story. There is a nice, fresh
young fellow in The Tragic Muse, who, weak-spined as he is, prefers at
the last his painting to Julia Dallow and a political career. In The
Real Thing we recognise one of those unerring strokes that prove James
to be the master psychologist among English writers. Any discerning
painter realises the value of a model who can take the pose that will
give him the pictorial idea, the suggestiveness of the pose, not an
attempt at crude naturalism. With this thesis the novelist has built
up an amusing, semi-pathetic, and striking fable.

There are painters scattered through English fiction--can we ever
forget Thackeray! Ouida has not missed weaving her Tyrian purples into
the exalted pattern of her romantic painters. And George Eliot. And
Disraeli. And Bernard Shaw--there is a painting creature in Love Among
the Artists. George Moore, however, has devoted more of his pages to
paint and painters than any other of the latter-day writers. The
reason is this: George Moore went to Paris to study art and he drifted
into the Julian atelier like any other likely young fellow with hazy
notions about art and a well-filled purse. But these early experiences
were not lost. They cropped up in many of his stories and studies. He
became the critical pioneer of the impressionistic movement and first
told London about Manet, Monet, Degas. He even--in an article
remarkable for critical acumen--declared that if Jimmy Whistler had
been a heavier man, a man of beef, brawn, and beer, like Rubens, he
would have been as great a painter as Velasquez. To the weighing
scales, fellow-artists! retorted Whistler; yet the bolt did not miss
the mark. Whistler's remarks about Mr. Moore, especially after the
Eden lawsuit, were, so it is reported, not fit to print.

In Mr. Moore's first volume of the half-forgotten trilogy, Spring
Days, we see a young painter who, it may be said, thinks more of
petticoats than paint. There is paint talk in Mike Fletcher, Moore's
most virile book. In A Modern Lover the hero is an artist who succeeds
in the fashionable world by painting pretty, artificial portraits and
faded classical allegories, thereby winning the love of women, much
wealth, popular applause, and the stamp of official approbation. This
Lewis Seymour still lives and paints modish London in rose-colour.
Moore's irony would have entered the soul of a hundred "celebrated"
artists if they had had any soul to flesh it in. When he wrote this
novel, one that shocked Mrs. Grundy, Moore was under the influence of
Paris. However, that masterpiece of description and analysis, Mildred
Lawson in Celibates--very Balzacian title, by the way--deals with
hardly anything else but art. Mildred, who is an English girl without
soul, heart, or talent, studies in the Julian atelier and goes to
Fontainebleau during the summer. No one, naturally, will ever describe
Fontainebleau better than Flaubert, in whose L'Education Sentimentale
there are marvellous pictures; also a semi-burlesque painter,
Pellerin, who reads all the works on aesthetics before he draws a line,
and not forgetting that imperishable portrait of Jacques Arnoux, art
dealer. Goncourt, too, has excelled in his impression of the forest
and its painters, Millet in particular. Nevertheless, let us say in
passing that you cannot find Mildred Lawson in Flaubert or Goncourt;
no, not even in Balzac, whose work is the matrix of modern fiction.
She is her own perverse, cruel Mooresque self, and she lives in New
York as well as London.

In both Daudet and Maupassant--Strong as Death is the latter's
contribution to painter-psychology--there are stories clustered about
the guild. Daudet has described a Salon on varnishing day with his
accustomed facile, febrile skill; you feel that it comes from Goncourt
and Zola. It is not within our scope to go back as far as Balzac,
whose Frenhofer in The Unknown Masterpiece has been a model for the
younger man. Poe, Hawthorne, Wilde, and Robert Louis Stevenson have
dealt with the theme pictorial. Zola's The Masterpiece (L'Oeuvre) is
one of the better written books of Zola. It was a favourite of his.
The much-read and belauded fifth chapter is a faithful transcription
of the first Salon of the Rejected Painters (Salon des Refuses) at
Paris, 1863. Napoleon III, after pressure had been brought to bear
upon him, consented to a special salon within the official Salon, at
the Palais de l'Industrie, which would harbour the work of the young
lunatics who wished to paint purple turkeys, green water, red grass,
and black sunsets. (Lie down, ivory hallucinations, and don't wag your
carmilion tail on the chrome-yellow carpet!) It is an enormously
clever book, this, deriving in the main as it does from Manette
Salomon and Balzac's Frenhofer. The fight for artistic veracity by
Claude Lantier is a replica of what occurred in Manet's lifetime. The
Breakfast on the Grass, described by Zola, was actually the title and
the subject of a Manet picture that scandalised Paris about this
epoch. The fantastic idea of a nude female stretched on the grass,
while the other figures were clothed and in their right minds, was too
much for public and critic, and unquestionably Manet did paint the
affair to create notoriety. Like Richard Wagner, he knew the value of
advertising.

All the then novel theories of _plein air_ impressionism are discussed
in the Zola novel, yet the work seems clumsy after Goncourt's Manette
Salomon, that breviary for painters which so far back as 1867
anticipated--in print, of course--the discoveries, the experiments,
the practice of the naturalistic-impressionistic groups from Courbet
to Cezanne, Monet to Maufra, Manet to Paul Gauguin. There are verbal
pictures of student life, of salons, of atelier and open air. No such
psychologic manual of the painter's art has ever appeared before or
since Manette Salomon. It was the Goncourts who introduced Japanese
art to European literature--they were friends of the late M. Bing, a
pioneer collector in Paris. And they foresaw the future of painting as
well as of fiction.




XV. MUSEUM PROMENADES



PICTURES AT THE HAGUE

There are two new Rembrandts in the galleries of the Mauritshuis, lent
by Prof. A. Bredius, director of the Royal Picture Gallery at The
Hague. Neither is an "important" picture in the professional sense of
that word, but they are Rembrandts--at least one is indubitable--and
that suffices. The more credible of the pair is a small canvas
depicting Andromeda manacled to the rocks. Her figure is draped to the
waist; it is a solid Dutch figure, ugly as the one of Potiphar's wife
(in an etching by Rembrandt), and no deliverer is in sight. The flesh
tones are rather cold, a cadaverous white, but it is a Rembrandt
white. The picture as a whole is sketchy and without charm or mystery.
Nevertheless, the lion's paws are there. The other shows us a woman
reading at a table. The colouring is warm and the still-life
accessories are richly and minutely painted. Not a likely Rembrandt,
either in theme or notably so in treatment. We must bow, however, to
the judgment of the learned Bredius who made the ascription. These two
works are not as yet in the catalogue. It is a pity the catalogue to
this gallery is not as complete as those of the Rijks Museum. To
visitors they offer an abridged one, dated 1904. There are since then
many new pictures, notably a sterling Chardin, marvellously painted,
and an excellent landscape by Van Cuyp, both loans of Dr. Bredius.

Otherwise this little collection is as choice and as entertaining as
ever. The usual tourist makes at once for the overrated Young Bull by
Paul Potter and never looks at the magnificent Weenix across the room,
the Dead Swan, with its velvety tones. The head of a young girl by
Vermeer, with its blue turban and buff coat, its pearl earrings, is
charming. And the View of Delft seems as fresh as the day it was
painted. The long facade of the houses and warehouses and the churches
and towers facing the river are rendered with a vivacity of colour, a
solidity in drawing, and an absence of too marked literalism which
prove that this gifted artist had more than one style. The envelope is
rich; there is air, though it be stagnant. Down-stairs is an
allegorical subject, The New Testament, which is not very convincing
as a composition, but warm in tint. The Diana and Her Companions must
have inspired Diaz and many other painters. But the real Vermeer, the
Vermeer of the enamelled surfaces and soft pervasive lighting, is at
Amsterdam.

No place is better than The Hague for the study of the earlier
Rembrandt. Dr. Tulp's Anatomical Lecture is, after the Potter bull,
the most gazed-at canvas in the Mauritshuis. It is not in a good
condition. There are evidences of over-varnishing and cobbling; nor is
it a very inspiring canvas. The head of Dr. Tulp is superb in
characterisation, and there is one other head, that of a man with
inquiring eyes, aquiline profile, the head strained forward (his name
is given in the critical works on Rembrandt), which arrests the
attention. An early composition, we are far from the perfection of The
Syndics. The self-portrait of the painter (1629) is a favourite,
though the much-vaunted feather in the head-gear is stiff; perhaps
feathers in Holland were stiff in those days. But the painters flock
to this portrait and never tire of copying its noble silhouette. The
two little studies of the painter's father and mother are
characteristic. One, of the man, is lent by Dr. Bredius. Rembrandt's
brother (study of an old man's head) shows a large old chap with a
nose of richest vintage. The portrait is brown in tone and without
charm. The Susanna Bathing is famous, but it is not as attractive as
Simeon in the Temple, with its masterly lighting, old gold in the
gloom. The Homer never fails to warm the cockles of the imagination.
What bulk! What a wealth of smothered fire in the apparel! The big
Saul listening to the playing of David is still mystifying. Is Saul
smiling or crying behind the uplifted cloak? Is he contemplating in
his neurasthenia an attempt on David's life with a whizzing lance? His
sunken cheeks, vague yet sinister eye, his turban marvellous in its
iridescence, form an ensemble not to be forgotten. David is not so
striking. From afar the large canvas glows. And the chiaroscuro is
miraculous.

The portrait of Rembrandt's sister, the Flight Into Egypt, the small,
laughing man, the negroes, and the study of an old woman, the latter
wearing a white head-dress, are a mine of joy for the student. The
sister's head is lent by Dr. C. Hofstede de Groot, the art expert.

There are only thirty-odd Rembrandts in Holland out of the five
hundred and fifty he painted. Of this number eighteen are in the
Mauritshuis. Holland was not very solicitous formerly of her masters.
Nowadays sentiment has changed and there is a gratifying outcry
whenever a stranger secures a genuine old master. As for the copies,
they, like the poor, are always with us. America is flooded every year
with forged pictures, especially of the minor Dutch masters, and
excellent are these imitations, it must be confessed.

There are only four specimens of Frans Hals here; portraits of Jacob
Pieterez, Aletta Hanemans, his wife; of William Croes, and the head of
a man, a small picture in The Jolly Toper style. The lace collar is
genuine Hals.

Let us close our catalogue and wander about the galleries. German and
English are the tongues one hears, Dutch seldom, French occasionally.
The Potter bull with the wooden legs is stared at by hundreds. As a
picture painted by a very young man it is noteworthy. The head of the
beast is nobly depicted. But what of the remainder of this
insignificant composition with its toad and cows, its meaningless
landscape? The Weenix swan is richer in paint texture. The Holbeins
are--two anyhow--of splendid quality. Of the Rubenses it is better to
defer mention until Antwerp is reached. They are of unequal value. The
same may be said of the Van Dycks. Look at that baby girl standing by
a chair. A Govert Flinck. How truthful! The De Heems are excellent
fruit and flower pieces. Excellent, too, the Huysums, Hondecoeters,
and Weenixes. There is a dead baby of the Dutch school (1661) which is
as realistic as a Courbet. We admired the small Memlic, or Memling,
and, naturally, the Metsus, Mierevelts, and Mierises. The Holy Virgin
and Infant Christ, by Murillo, is tender and sleek in colour. It hangs
near the solitary Velasquez of the museum, a portrait of
Charles-Baltasar, son of King Philip IV of Spain. It is not a
remarkable Velasquez.

The Pieter Lastman, a Resurrection of Lazarus, is of interest because
this painter was a preceptor of Rembrandt. William Kalf's still-life
is admirable, and the Aert Van den Neer moonlight scene (purchased
1903) is a lovely example of this artist. Indeed, all the minor
Dutchmen are well represented. Potter's much-praised Cow in the Water
is faded, and the style is of the sort we smile over at our own
Academy exhibitions. The Van Goyen waterscapes are not all of prime
quality, but there are two that are masterpieces. Amsterdam excels in
both Van Goyens and Jacob Ruisdaels. The Distant View of Haarlem of
the latter proved a disappointment. The colour is vanished quite, the
general effect flat. The Bol portrait of Admiral de Ruyter is a
sterling specimen. The Van de Veldes and Wouvermans are excellent. The
Good Housekeeper of Dou, a much-prized picture, with its tricky light
and dark. The Teniers and Ostades no longer interest us as they did.
Perhaps one tires soon of genre pictures. The inevitable toper, the
perambulating musician, the old woman standing in a doorway, the
gossips, the children, and the dog not house-broken may stand for the
eternal Ostade, while the merry-makings of David Teniers are too much
alike. However, this touch of spleen is the outcome of seeing so many
bituminous canvases.

Probably in no other painter's name have so many sins been committed
as in Rembrandt's. His _chiaroscuro_ is to blame for thousands of
pictures executed in the tone of tobacco juice. All the muddy browns
of the studio, with the yellow smear that passes for Rembrandtish
light, are but the monkey tricks of lesser men. His pupils often made
a mess of it, and they were renowned. Terburg's Despatch is an
interesting anecdote; so too Metsu's Amateur Musicians. There are the
average number of Dutch Italianate painters, Jan Both and the rest,
men who employed southern backgrounds and improvised bastard Italian
figures. Schalcken's candlelight scenes are not missing, though Dou
leads in this rather artificial genre. And every tourist led by a
guide hears that Wouvermans always introduced a white horse somewhere
in his picture. You leave Holland obsessed by that white animal.

Naturally the above notes hardly scratch the surface of the artistic
attractions in this Hague gallery. Not the least of them is to look
out on the Vyver lake and watch the swans placidly swimming around the
emerald islet in the middle. The Mauritshuis is a cabinet of gems, and
months could not stale its variety. There are important omissions, and
some of the names in the catalogue are not represented at top-notch.
But the Rembrandts are there, and there are the Potters, the Rubenses,
the Van Dycks, the Jan Steens--his Oyster Feast is here--the landscape
and marine painters, not to mention the portraiture, the Murillo,
Palma Vecchio, and the Titian. The single Roger van der Weyden, an
attribution, is a Crucifixion, and hangs near the Memlig. It is an
interesting picture. Of the sculpture there is not much to write.
Houdon, Hendrick de Keyser, Verhulst, Falconet, Blommendael, and
Xavery make up a meagre list.

At Baron Steengracht's house--admission by personal card--on the
Vyverberg there is a wonderful Rembrandt, Bathsheba After Her Bath, a
golden-toned canvas, not unlike the Susanna over at the Mauritshuis.
It was painted in 1643, about a year after he had finished The Night
Watch, a jewel of a Rembrandt and the clou of this collection. There
are some weak modern pictures and examples by Terburg, Metsu, Flinck,
Jordaens, Cuyp, Potter, Brouwer--the smoker, a fine work; a Hobbema
mill and others. In the Municipal Museum, full of curiosities in
furniture, armour, and costumes, there is a gallery of modern
paintings--Israel, David Bles, Mesdag, Neuhuys, Bisschop, J. Maris,
Weissenbruch, Bosboom, Blommers, and Mauve. There are also Mierevelts,
Jan Ravensteyns, Honthorst, Van Goyen, Van Ceulen, and a lot of
shooting-gallery (Doelen) and guild panoramas; there are miles of them
in Holland, and unless painted by Hals, Van der Heist, Elias, and a
few others are shining things of horror, full of staring eyes, and a
jumble of hands, weapons, and dry colours. But they are viewed with
religious awe by the Dutch, whose master passion is patriotic
sentiment.

There is the Huis ten Bosch (The House in the Wood), the royal villa,
a little over a mile from The Hague, in which De Wit's grisailles may
be seen. The Japanese and orange rooms are charming; the portraits by
Everdingen, Honthorst, Jordaens, and others are of historic interest.




THE MESDAG MUSEUM



When we were last at The Hague the Mesdag Museum had just opened
(1903). There was no catalogue, and while the nature of this great
gift to the city was felt it was not until a second visit (in 1909)
that its extraordinary value was realised. The catalogue numbers three
hundred and forty-four pictures by modern artists, and there is also a
valuable collection of objects of art, bronzes, pottery, furniture,
and tapestries. Philip Zilcken (a well-known Dutch etcher) in his
introduction calls attention to the rare quality of the Mesdag Museum
and tells us that Mr. and Mrs. Mesdag van Houten bought for their own
pleasure without any thought of forming a gallery for the Dutch
nation. That came later. W.H. Mesdag is the well-known marine painter
whose paintings may be seen in almost every gallery on the Continent.
A native of Groningen (1831), he studied under Roelofs and while in
Brussels lived with his relative, Alma-Tadema; the latter is a
Frieslander. Mesdag excels in marines, painting great sweep of waters
with breadth and simplicity. His palette is cool and restrained, his
rhythmic sense well developed, and his feeling for outdoors truly
Dutch. He belongs to the line of the classic Dutch marinists, to Van
der Velde, Backhuizen, and Van Goyen. His wife, a woman of charm and
culture, died in the spring of last year. She signed her work S.
Mesdag van Houten. Her gift lies in the delineation of forest views,
interiors, portraits, and still-life. Her colour is deep and rich.

A cursory walk around the various rooms on the Laan van Meerdervoort
impresses one with this idea: with what envy must any curator of any
museum in the world study this collection. Mesdag began gathering his
treasures at a time when the Barbizon school was hardly known; when a
hundred other painters had not been tempted by the dealers into
overproduction; when, in a word, fancy prices were not dreamed of. The
Alma-Tademas are among his best, little as we admire his vital marbles
and lifeless humans. An early portrait of his wife is here.
Bastien-Lepage has a preparatory sketch for Les Foins. Indeed, the
Mesdag Museum is rich in _frottis_, painted-in pictures, by such men
as Rousseau, Daubigny, Diaz, Vollon, Millet, Dupre. As we admire the
etchings of Mari Bauer, it was a new pleasure to see half a dozen of
his paintings, chiefly scenes in the Orient. The same misty, fantastic
quality is present; he manipulates his colour, thinly laid on, as if
it were some sort of plastic smoke. Impressionistic as are these
canvases, there is a subdued splendor in them all. Bauer feels the
East. His etchings recall Rembrandt's line; but his paintings are
miles away in sentiment and handling. Bisschop (1828-1904) is
represented by a fine still-life, and among the various Blommers is
one with children playing in the water and on the sands; vividly
seized, this example.

The late Theophile de Bock was an interpreter of nature and his
brush-work was fat and rich. His work is well known in America and
gains in value every day (he died in 1904). There are fourteen
specimens here of his best period. The Emile Bretons are early and
therefore different from his commercial productions. Of the Corots,
twelve in number, we did not see an insignificant one, not a weak one.
The famous Early Morning and View at Villeneuve-les-Avignon are hung.
The first depicts a group of trees; to the right a narrow stream in
which is reflected a cloudless sky. In the centre two women in white
caps. The second is more elaborate in composition. The middle distance
is occupied by picturesque buildings dating probably from the Middle
Ages. In the foreground four persons are under the shadow of some
trees. An unusual scheme for Corot. His well-known characteristics are
present in the dozen; the tremulous leafage, the bright, pure light,
the Italian softness. And what do you say to a half-dozen Courbets,
all of his strong period, landscapes, still-life, a nude study, a dead
roe, a sunlit path, and a lake scene! Good Courbets are not numerous,
and these are good. The nude is a woman recumbent upon draperies. The
_pate_ is heavy but vital, the flesh tones glowing, and the silhouette
firm, yet delicate. The portrait of the artist by himself is massive.
It was probably painted in Ste. Pelagie.

Coutures two, twenty-five Daubignys, and one of his son Karl. Daubigny
the elder is here in all his manners, dark pictures with big
foregrounds, intimate bits of wooded interiors, sand-hills,
streamlets, moonlights, coast scenes, evening effects, sunsets at sea,
twilights, sheep, broken rocks, and a study in crayon.

Decamps and Delacroix come next in order. There are three of the
former, among the rest his Poacher, and three of Delacroix, one a
portrait of himself. Seven of Diaz, painted when his colour was most
sonorous and brilliant, are here, with a study of an undraped female
figure. La Mare is a sunlight effect in the forest of Fontainebnleau.
Dupre has seven to his account, several of great tonal beauty. The one
Fortuny is an elaborate etching of his Anchorite. The Josef Israels
are strong. Jacque pigs and sheep; Klinkenberg's view of the
Binnenhof; Mancini's bewildering chromatic blurs and sensuously rich
gamut, and seventeen in number. This painter is seldom encountered in
America. He should be better known; while his ideas are not
particularly significant he is colourist for colour's sake, as was
Monticelli. The three brothers Maris, Jakob, Willem, and Matthys (the
latter living in London), are to be seen here in unexampled states.
Mauve, too, with fourteen pictures. Both the Mesdags, Taco Mesdag, a
brother and his wife are present. Also Ter Meulen, a gifted Dutch
artist. We have seldom seen better George Michels. The Monticelli
up-stairs is an unusual subject. It is a mountain path in the south of
France. The sun is disappearing behind a cluster of trees. Rocks in
the foreground. The scheme of colour is low for Monticelli, the forms
sharply accented. He could see line when he wished. The smaller
example is an interior, as rich as Monticelli knew how to lay the
colours on.

Seven Millets, one the large exhibition picture Hagar and Ishmael,
another the wonderful Resting Vintager. Alone these Millets would
cause a sensation if exhibited elsewhere. The Hagar seems a trifle too
rhetorical for the simple-minded painter. Brown predominates in the
colour scale, the composition is rather conventional, an echo,
perhaps, of the artist's Delaroche apprenticeship, but the Vintager is
a masterpiece. Seated among the vines in the blaze of the sun, he is
resting and has removed his heavy sabots. The relaxed attitude after
arduous labour is wonderfully expressed. The atmosphere indicates
stifling sultriness.

Ricard, Roelofs, Theodore Rousseau--halt! There are twelve of this
French master, dramatic and rich. Descente des Vaches dans le Jura is
the celebrated canvas refused at the Salon, 1834. But it is too
bituminous in parts. A greater composition, though only a drawing, is
Les grands chenes du vieux Bas-Breau. Four large trees illumined by
sun-rays. Two Segantinis, a drawing in chalk and pastel; Storm Van's
Gravesande; seven Troyons, one, Le retour du Marche, a masterpiece;
Vollon, still-life, fish, ivory goblets, violets; Weissenbruchs;
Zilcken etchings and two De Zwarts. There is old Rozenburg pottery,
designed by Colenbrander, scarce to-day; Dutch and Gothic brass,
Oriental portieres and brass, old Delft, Japanese armour, various
weapons and lanterns, Gobelin tapestry, carved furniture, Dutch and
Scandinavian, and a magnificent assortment of Satsuma pottery, Cmail
cloisonne, Japanese bronzes, Persian pottery, Spanish brasses,
majolica and bronzes and sculptures by Mattos, Constantin, Meunier,
and Van Wijk--the list fills a pamphlet. Next door is the studio of
the aged Mesdag, a hale old Dutchman who paints daily and looks
forward to seeing his ninety years. In Holland octogenarians are not
few. The climate is propitious; above all, the absence of hurry and
worry. To see The Hague without visiting this collection would be a
regrettable omission.




HALS OF HAARLEM



In writing of Holland more is said of its windmills than its flowers.
It is a land of flowers. Consider the roll-call of its painters who
their life long produced naught but fruit and flower pieces. Both the
De Heems, the cunning Huysums, whose work still lives in the
mezzotints of Earlom--like David de Heem, he was fond of introducing
insects, flies, bees, spiders, crawling over his velvety peaches and
roses--Seghers, Van Aelst and his talented pupil Rachel Ruysch, Cuyp,
Breughel (Abraham), Mignon, Van Beyeren, Van den Broeck, Margaretha
Rosenboom, Maria Vos, Weenix, A. Van der Velde, Kalf, and many others
who excelled in this pleasing genre. Their canvases are faded, the
colours oxidised, but on the highways and by-ways the miracle is daily
renewed--flowers bloom at every corner, fill the window-boxes of
residences, crowd the hotel balconies, and are bunched in the hands of
the peddlers. A cart goes by, a gorgeous symphony of hues. Roses,
chrysanthemums, dahlias, daisies, tufts of unfamiliar species, leaves
that are as transparent lace, blushing wild roses, and what not. Ivy
is used for practical purposes. On the steam-yacht _Carsjens_ at
Leyden a wind screen is composed of ivy; you feel enclosed in a
floating garden. Along the Vivjer berg, fronting the house of Baron
Steengracht, is a huge boat-shaped enclosure of stone. It is full of
ivy growing low. Dutch landscape gardeners are fertile in invention.
They break the flat lines of the landscape with all sorts of ingenious
surprises; bosky barriers, hedges abloom, elm-trees pared away to
imitate the processional poplars of Belgium and France, sudden little
leafy lanes--what quips and quirks we have come across a few miles
away from the town! To see Haarlem and its environs in June when the
bulb farms are alight with tulips must be a delightful spectacle. In
the fall of the year you are perforce content to read the names of the
various farms as the train passes. The many-coloured vegetable carts
remind you that Snyders and Van Steen painted here.

The Groote Kerke, St. Bavo, at Haarlem, is a noble pile with a tall
tower. One of its attractions is the organ (built in 1735-38) by
Christian Mueller; it was until a few years ago the largest in the
world. Its three manuals, time-stained, sixty stops and five thousand
pipes (thirty-two feet the longest) when manipulated by a skilful
organist produce adequate musical results. We had the pleasure of
hearing the town organist play Bach for an hour. He began with a few
Bach chorales, then came A Mighty Fortress is Our God; followed by the
A minor prelude and fugue, and the Wedge fugue. The general diapasonic
quality is noble, the wood stops soft, the mixtures without brassy
squealing, and the full organ sends a thrill down your spine, so
mellow is its thunder. Modern organs do not thus sound. Is the secret
of the organ tone lost like the varnishing of Cremona fiddles and the
blue of the old Delft china? There are no fancy "barnyard stops," as
John Runciman has named the combinations often to be found in
latter-day instruments. You understood after hearing the Haarlem organ
why Bach wrote his organ preludes and fugues. Modern music, with its
orchestral registration, its swiftness and staccato, would be a
sacrilege on this key-board.

The bronze statue of Coster did not unduly excite us. The Dutch claim
him as the inventor of printing, but the Germans hang on to Gutenberg.
At Leyden there is a steam train to Katwyk-aan-See; at Haarlem you may
ride out to Zandvoort, and six miles farther is the North Sea Canal.
But as the Katwyk and Zandvoort schools flourish mightily in the
United States we did not feel curious enough to make the effort at
either town. Regrettable as was the burning of the old church at
Katwyk, perhaps its disappearance will keep it out of numerous
pictures painted in that picturesque region. Of course it will be, or
has been, rebuilt. We walked in the forest of Haarlem and did not once
think of 125th Street; the old town is slightly unlike its modern
namesake. What a charm there is in this venerable forest. The Dutch of
Amsterdam, less than half an hour away, come down here on Sunday
afternoons for the tranquillity and the shade. You must know that the
sun-rays can be very disturbing in July. The canals intersecting the
town are pretty. They may be sinks of iniquity, but they don't look
so. Naturally, they exhale mephitic odours, though the people won't
acknowledge it. It is the case in Venice, which on hot August
afternoons is not at all romantic in a nasal sense. But you forget it
all in Haarlem as you watch a hay barge float by, steered by a blond
youngster of ten and poled by his brothers. From the chimney comes a
light smoke. Soup is cooking. You remember the old sunlit towpath of
your boyhood; a tightening at your heart warns you of homesickness, or
hay fever. Oh, to be on the Erie Canal, you exclaim, as you sneeze.

But the Town Hall Museum is hard by. It is the glory of Haarlem as the
Rijks Museum is the glory of Amsterdam and Holland. A pull at the bell
and the door is opened, a small fee is paid, and you are free to the
room where are hung ten large paintings by the inimitable Frans Hals.
Here are the world-renowned Regent pictures set forth in chronological
order. Drop the catalogue and use your own eyes. The first impression
is profound; not that Hals was profound in the sense of Rembrandt's
profundity, but because of the almost terrifying vitality of these
portraits. Prosaic men and women, great trenchermen, devourers of huge
pasties, mowers down of wine-bottles and beer-tankards, they live with
such vitality on the canvases of Hals that you instinctively lower
your voice. The paint-imprisoned ghosts of these jolly officers,
sharpshooters, regents, and shrewd-looking old women regents are not
so disquieting as Rembrandt's misty evocations. They touch hands with
you across the centuries, and finally you wonder why they don't step
out the frame and greet you. Withal, no trace of literalism, of
obvious contours or tricky effects. Honest, solid paint, but handled
by the greatest master of the brush that ever lived--save Velasquez.
How thin and unsubstantial modern painting is if compared to this
magician, how even his greatest followers, Manet and Sargent, seem
incomplete. Manet, with his abridgments, his suppressions, his
elliptical handling, never had the smiling confidence of Hals in
facing a problem. The Frenchman is more subtle, also more evasive; and
there is no hint in him of the trite statement of a fact that we
encounter in Bartholomew Van der Heist--himself a great painter. Hals
had not the poetic vision of Rembrandt, but he possessed a more
dexterous hand, a keener eye. Judged according to the rubric of sheer
paint, sheer brush-work, not Rubens, not Van Dyck, was such a
virtuoso. Despite his almost incredible swiftness of execution, Hals
got closer to the surfaces of what is called "actual" life than any of
the masters with the exception of the supreme Spaniard.

At Haarlem you may follow his development; his first big picture
painted in 1616; his last in 1664. He died at eighty-four. But at
eighty odd he painted two important canvases, the portraits of the
regents and of the lady regents. More summary as regards the
execution, with a manifest tendency toward simplifications, these two
pictures are very noble. The group of ladies, each a portrait of
character, pleases some more than the male group. They are not so
firmly modelled, and into them all has crept a certain weariness as of
old age; but what justness of expression, what adjustment of puzzling
relations! One lady follows you over the gallery with her stern gaze.
It recalls to us the last judgment look which a maiden aunt was wont
to bestow upon us years ago. The men regents will live into eternity
if the canvas endures. The shiny varnish is not pleasing, yet it
cannot destroy the illusion of atmosphere that circulates about the
vigorously modelled figures at the table. What a colourist! What
nuances he produces on a restrained key-board! The tones modulate,
their juxtaposition causes no harsh discords. The velvet black,
silvery grays, whites that are mellow without pastiness, and the reds
and yellows do not flare out like scarlet trumpets; an aristrocratic
palette. Really you begin to realise that what you formerly considered
grandfather tales are the truth. The great painters have been and are
not with us to-day. It is not a consoling pill to swallow for apostles
of "modernity." Hals is more modern than Sargent.

These corporation and regent pieces are chronologically arranged. No.
88 is considered the masterpiece. It shows the officers of the
Arquebusiers of St. Andrew, fourteen life-sized figures. Again each
man is a portrait. This was painted in 1633. The Regents of the
Elizabeth Hospital (1641) has been likened to Rembrandt's style;
nevertheless, it is very Halsian. Why, that chamber is alone worth the
journey across the Atlantic. Hals shows us not the magic of life but
the normal life of daylight in which move with dignity men and women
undismayed by the mysteries that hem them about. He has a daylight
soul, a sane if not poetic soul, and few painters before him so
celebrated the bravery of appearances, the beauty of the real.




PICTURES IN AMSTERDAM




I

The wonderful Rijks Museum is the representative home of old Dutch
art. The Louvre, the Prado, the National Gallery excel it in variety,
but the great Rembrandts are in it, and The Syndics and The Night
Watch are worth a wilderness of other painters' work. The Night Watch
has been removed from the old room, where it used to hang, facing the
large Van der Heist, Captain Roelof Bicker's Company. But it is only
in temporary quarters; the gallery destined for it is being completed.
We were permitted to peep into it. The Night Watch will hang in one
gallery, and facing it will be The Syndics, De Stallmeesters. Better
lighted than in its old quarters, The Night Watch now shows more
clearly the tooth of time. It is muddy and dark in the background, and
the cracks of the canvas are ill-concealed by the heavy coating of
varnish. If all the faults of this magnificent work are more plainly
revealed its excellences are magnified. How there could have been any
dispute as to the lighting is incredible. The new catalogue, the
appendices of which are brought down to 1908, frankly describes the
picture thus:

"The Night Watch, or the Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and of
Lieutenant van Ruytenburg. The corps is represented in broad daylight,
leaving the Doele of the Arquebusiers. At their head, standing in the
foreground about the centre, are the Captain and his Lieutenant
conversing. The former wears a dark dress, the latter a yellow costume
with a white sash, causing a brilliant effect of light. Near the
Captain, also standing out in full light, is a little girl, a dead
white cock hanging from her waistband."

Then follow the names of the other personages in this strange scene.

A commonplace happening is transfigured by the magic of a seer into a
significant moment arrested in eternity. Rembrandt is a window looking
out upon eternity. It was quite like the logical minded Frenchman,
Eugene Fromentin, himself an admirable painter, to pick this canvas
full of flaws. The composition is, true enough, troubled and confused.
The draughtsmanship leaves much to be desired; hands are carelessly
painted, the grouping haphazard, without symmetry, the general rhythm
full of syncopations, cross accents, and perverse pauses--empty
spaces, transitions not accounted for. And yet this painting without
personal charm--it is almost impersonal--grips your soul. It is not
alone the emotional quality of the paint. There are greater colourists
than Rembrandt, who, strictly speaking, worked in monochrome,
modelling with light. No, not the paint alone, not the mystery of the
envelope, not the magnetic gaze of the many eyes, but all combined
makes an assault upon nerves and imagination. You feel that Captain
Cocq is a prosaic personage and is much too tall in proportion to the
spry little dandy Lieutenant at his side. Invested with some strange
attribute by the genius of the painter, this Dutchman becomes the
protagonist in a soundless symphony of light and shadow. The waves
that emanate from the canvas suffuse your senses but do not soothe or
satisfy. The modern nervous intensity, missing absolutely in Hals and
his substantial humans, is present in Rembrandt. We say "modern" as a
sop to our vanity, but we are the "ancients," and there is no mode of
thought, no mood that has not been experienced and expressed by our
ancestors. Rembrandt is unlike any other Dutch painter--Hals, Vermeer,
Teniers, Van der Heist--what have these in common with the miller's
son? But he is as Dutch as any of them. A genius is only attached to
his age through his faults, said a wise man. Rembrandt is as universal
as Beethoven, a Dutchman by descent, as Bach, a Hungarian by descent,
as Michael Angelo and Shakespeare. But we must go to Leonardo da Vinci
if we wish to find a brother soul to Rembrandt's.

There is a second child back of that iridescent and enigmatic girl
with the dead fowl. And the dog that barks as Jan Van Koort ruffles
his drum, what a spectre dog! No, the mystery of The Night Watch is
insoluble, because it is the dream of a poet. Its light is morning
light, yet it is the mystic light of Rembrandt, never seen on sea or
land. In The Syndics, that group of six linen-drapers, Rembrandt shows
with what supreme ease he can beat Hals at the game of make-believe
actuality. Now, according to the accustomed order of development, The
Night Watch should have followed The Syndics. But it preceded it by
two decades, and the later work contains far better painting and a
sharper presentment of the real. The Night Watch is Rembrandt's Ninth
symphony; but composed before his Fifth, The Syndics. One figure in
this latter picture has always fascinated us. It is of the man,
Volkert Janz, according to Professor J. Six, who stoops over, his hand
poised on a book. Rembrandt has seldom painted with more sensitiveness
eyes, subtle corners of the mouth, and intimate expression. This
syndic is evidently superior to his fellows, solid, sensible Dutch men
of affairs.

There is a landscape, purchased in 1900, a stone bridge, lighted by
rays darting through heavy storm clouds. It is the Rembrandt of the
etchings. Lovely is the portrait of a young lady of rank, though the
Elizabeth Bas, in another gallery, will always be the masterpiece in
portraiture if for nothing else but the hands. The Jewish Bride is
bulky in its enchantments, the phosphorescent gleams of the apparel
the chief attraction. The Toilet is heavy Rembrandt; while the
anatomical lecture is repulsive. But the disembowelled corpse is more
corpse-like than the queerly foreshortened dead body in the picture on
anatomy at The Hague. The warrior's head, supposed to be a portrait of
his father, is an ancient copy and a capital one. Old dame Elizabeth
Bas, with her coif, ruff, and folded hands, holding a handkerchief, is
a picture you return to each day of your stay.

Hals at Amsterdam is interesting. There is the so-called portrait of
the painter and his wife, two full-length figures; the Jolly Toper,
half-length figure, large black hat, in the left hand a glass; and the
insolent lute-player, a copy, said to be by Dirck Hals, the original
in the possession of Baron Gustave Rothschild at Paris. And a fine
copy it is.

The three Vermeers are of his later enamelled period. One is a young
woman reading a letter; she is seen in profile, standing near a table,
and is dressed in a white skirt and blue loose jacket. The Letter
shows us in the centre of a paved room a seated lady, lute in hand.
She has been interrupted in her playing by a servant bringing a
letter. To the right a tapestry curtain has been looped up to give a
view of the scene. The new Vermeer--purchased from the Six gallery in
1908--is now called The Cook; it was formerly known as The Milkmaid. A
stoutly built servant is standing behind a table covered with a green
cloth, on which are displayed a basket of bread, a jug of Nassau
earthenware, and a stone pot into which she is pouring milk from a
can. The figure, painted almost full length, stands out against the
white wall and is dressed in a lemon-coloured jacket, a red-brown
petticoat, a dark-blue apron turned back, and a white cap on the head.
The light falls on the scene through a window to the left, above the
table.

This masterpiece is in one of the cabinet galleries. It displays more
breadth than the Lady Reading a Letter, and its colouring is
absolutely magical. The De Hoochs are of prime quality. Greater art is
the windmill and moonlit scene of Hobbema, as great a favourite as his
Mill, though both must give the precedence to the Alley of
Middleharnais in the Royal Academy, London. But where to begin, where
to end in this high carnival of over three thousand pictures! The
ticketed favourites, starred Baedeker fashion, sometimes lag behind
their reputation. The great Van der Helst--and a prime portraitist he
is, as may be seen over and over again--is The Company of Captain
Bicker, a vast canvas. When you forget Hals and Rembrandt it is not
difficult to conjure up admiration for this work. The N. Maes Spinner
is very characteristic. Cuyp and Van Goyen are here; the latter's view
of Dordrecht is celebrated. So is the Floating Feather of
Hondecoester, a finely depicted pelican. The feather is the least part
of the picture. Asselijn's angry swan is an excellent companion piece.
We wish that we could describe the Jan Steens, the Dous, the Mierises,
and other sterling Dutch painters. There is the gallery of Dutch and
Flemish primitives about which a volume might be written; their
emaciated music appeals. In expressiveness the later men did not excel
them. The newest acquisition, not mentioned in the catalogue
supplements, is the work of an unknown seventeenth-century master,
possibly Spanish, though the figures, background, and accessories are
Dutch. Two old men, their heads bowed, sit at table. Across their
knees are napkins. The white is from a Spanish palette. A youth
attired in dark habiliments, his back turned to the spectators, is
pouring out wine or water. The canvas is large, the execution flowing;
perhaps it portrays the disciples at Emmaus.

The portraits of Nicholas Hasselaer and his wife Geertruyt van Erp, by
Hals, in one of the cabinets, are painted with such consummate
artistry that you gasp. The thin paint, every stroke of which sings
out, sets you to thinking of John Sargent and how he has caught the
trick of brush-work--at a slower tempo. But not even Sargent could
have produced the collar and cuffs. A Whistler, a full-length, in
another gallery, looks like an unsubstantial wraith by comparison. Two
weeks' daily attendance at this excellently planned collection did no
more than fix the position of the exhibits in the mind. There is a
goodly gathering of such names as Israels, Mesdag, Blommers, and
others at the Rijks, but the display of modern Dutch pictures at the
Municipal Museum is more representative. The greatest Josef Israels we
ever saw in the style is his Jew sitting in the doorway of a house, a
most eloquent testimony to Israels' powers of seizing the "race" and
the individual. Old David Bles is here, and Blommers, De Bock,
Bosboom, Valkenburg, Alma-Tadema, Ary Scheffer--of Dutch
descent--Roelofs, Mesdag, Mauve, Jakob Maris, Jongkind, and some of
the Frenchmen, Rousseau, Millet, Dupre, and others. The Six gallery is
not so accessible as it was some years ago. No doubt its Rembrandts
and Vermeers will eventually find their way into the Rijks Museum.




II

Who was Herri met de Bles? Nearly all the large European galleries
contain specimens of his work and in the majority of cases the
pictures are queried. That fatal (?) which, since curators are more
erudite and conscientious, is appearing more frequently than in former
years, sets one to musing over the mutability of pictorial fortunes.
Also, it awakens suspicions as to the genuineness of paint.
Restorations, another fatal word, is usually a euphemism for
overpainting. Between varnish and retouching it is difficult to tell
where the old master leaves off and the "restorer" begins. Bles, for
example, as seen in the Rijks Museum, is a fascinating subject to the
student; but are we really looking at his work? The solitary picture
of his here, Paradise, is so well preserved that it might have been
painted a year ago. (It is an attribution.) Yet this painter is
supposed to have been born at Bouvignes, 1480, and to have died at
Liege, 1521. He was nicknamed Herri, for Hendrick, met de Bles,
because he had a tuft of white in his hair (a forerunner of Whistler).
The French called him Henri a la Houppe; the Italians
"Civetta"--because of the tiny owl he always introduced into his work.
He was a landscapist, and produced religious and popular scenes. Bles
has had many works saddled upon him by unknown imitators of Metsu,
Joost van Kleef, Lucas, and Duerer--who worked at Antwerp between 1520
and 1550. Thierry Vellert was also an imitator. In the old Pinakothek,
Munich, there is a Henricus Blesius, which is said to be a
counterfeit, and others are in Karlsruhe, Milan, Brussels, and at the
Prado.

The circular picture in the Rijks shows us in various episodes Adam
and Eve in the Garden of Eden from the Creation until the Fall. Around
the edge are signs of the zodiac. The colour is rich, the figures
delicate. The story is clearly told and is not unlike a "continuous
performance." You see Adam asleep and over him stoops the Almighty;
then Eve is shown. The apple scandal and the angel with the flaming
sword are portrayed with a vivid line that recalls the miniaturist. A
rare painter.

Roeland Savery is an artist whose name, we confess, was not known to
us until we saw his work in the Rijks. The rich _pate_ and
bouquet-like quality of his colour recall Monticelli. His compositions
are composed, like Monticelli's, but much more spirited than the
latter. A stag hunt, a poet crowned at the feast of animals, Elijah
fed by the ravens, and the fable of the stag among the cows prove the
man's versatility. He was born about 1576 and died at Utrecht, 1639. A
pupil of his father, he first worked in Courtrai. The Bronzino Judith
holding the head of Holophernes is a copy, the original hanging in the
Pitti Palace. At Vienna there is a replica. Among the Bols (Cornelis,
1613-66) the portraits of Roelof Meulenaer and his wife, Maria Rey,
attract because of their vitality and liberalism. Then we come across
the oft-engraved Paternal Advice, by Gerard ter Borch (1617-81). Who
doesn't remember that young lady dressed in white satin and standing
with her back to you? The man in officer's uniform, admonishing her,
is seated next to a woman drinking from a wine-glass. The texture of
the dress and the artfully depicted glass are the delight of amateurs.
As a composition it is not remarkable. The man is much too young to be
the father of the blond-haired lady, and if the other one is her
mother, both parents must have retained their youth. The portrait of
Helena van der Schalcke is that of a quaint Dutch child standing; a
serious little body carrying a basket on her right arm like a good
housewife. It is a capital Ter Borch. Two beautiful Albert Cuyps are
painted on the two sides of a copper panel. On one side two merchants
stand at a wharf; on the other two men sit sampling wine in a cellar.
The colour is singularly luminous.

Let us pass quickly the Schalckens and Gerard Dous. Dou's
self-portrait is familiar. He leans out of a window and smokes a clay
pipe. The candle-light pictures always attract an audience. Govert
Flinck (1615-60, pupil of Rembrandt) is a painter who, if he lived
to-day, would be a popular portraitist. Wherever you go you see his
handiwork, not in the least inspired, but honest, skilful, and genial.
Look at the head of the tax-collector Johannes Wittenbogaert, covered
with a black cap. So excellent is it that it has been attributed to
Rembrandt. Boland, we believe, engraved it as genuine Rembrandt.
Gerard van Honthorst's Happy Musician is another picture of prime
quality, and a subject dear to Hals. Hoogstratten's Sick Lady is an
anecdote. The young woman does not seem very ill, but the doctor
gravely holds up a bottle of medicine and you feel the dread moment is
at hand. How to persuade the patient to swallow the dose? She is
stubborn-looking. The Pieter de Hoochs are now in the same gallery
with Rembrandt's Jewish Bride. These interiors, painted with a minute,
hard finish, lack the charm and the colour quality of Vermeer. With
sunlight Hooch is successful, but his figures do not move freely in an
atmospheric envelope, as is the case with Vermeer's. The Small Country
House is the favourite. In front of a house a well-dressed man and
woman are seated at a table. She is squeezing lemon juice into a
glass. Behind her a servant is carrying a glass of beer, and farther
away a girl cleans pots and pans. The composition is the apotheosis of
domestic comfort, conjugal peace, and gluttony. We like much more The
Pantry, wherein a woman hands a jug to her little girl. The adjoining
room, flooded with light, is real.

There is one Van der Helst we could not pass. It looks like the
portrait of a corpulent woman, but is that of Gerard Bicker, bailiff
of Muiden. A half-length figure turned to the left, the bailiff a
well-fed pig, holds a pair of gloves in his right hand which he
presses against his Gargantuan chest. His hair is long and curly. The
fabrics are finely wrought. Holbein the younger is represented by the
portrait of a young man. It is excellent, but doubtless a copy or an
imitation. To view five Lucas van Leydens in one gallery is not an
everyday event. His engravings are rare enough--that is, in good
states; "ghosts" are aplenty--and his paintings rarer. Here they are
chiefly portraits. Rachel Ruysch, the flower painter, has a superior
in Judith Lyster, a pupil of Frans Hals. She was born at Haarlem, or
Zaandam, about 1600, and died 1660. She married the painter Jan
Molener. Her Jolly Toper faces the Hals of the same theme, in a
cabinet, and reveals its artistic ancestry. Judith had the gift of
reproducing surfaces. We need not return to the various Maeses;
indeed, this is only a haphazard ramble among the less well-known
pictures. Consider the heads of Van Mierevelt; those of Henrick Hooft,
burgomaster of Amsterdam, of Jacob Cats, and of his wife Aegje
Hasselaer (1618-64). Her hair and lace collar are wonderfully set
forth. Must we stop before Mabuse, or before the cattle piece of the
Dutch school, seventeenth century? A Monticelli seems out of key here,
and the subject is an unusual one for him, Christ With the Little
Children. The Little Princess, by P. Moreelse, has the honour, after
Rembrandt, of being the most frequently copied picture in the Rijks.
The theme is the magnet. A little girl, elaborately dressed, is
seated. She strokes the head of a spaniel whose jewelled collar gives
the impression of a dog with four eyes. In Vermeer's Young Woman
Reading a Letter is a like confused passage of painting, for the
uninstructed spectator. She wears her hair over her ear, an ornament
clasping the hair. At first view this is not clear, principally
because this fashion of wearing the hair is unusual in the eyes of a
stranger.

Jan van Scorel was born at Schoorl, near Alkmaar, 1495. He studied
under Jacob Cornelis at Amsterdam and with Jean de Maubeuge at
Utrecht. He died at Utrecht, 1562. When travelling in Germany he
visited Duerer at Nuremberg; resided for a time in Italy. The Italian
influence is strong, particularly in his Mary Magdalen, which formerly
hung in the town-hall of Haarlem. A replica is in the residence of the
head-master of Eton College, England. Mary is shown seated, richly
attired. She holds in her right hand a box of perfume, her left hand,
beautifully painted, rests on her knee. Behind is a mountainous
landscape, distinctly Italian, beside her a tree. The head is north
Lombardian in character and colouring, the glance of the eyes
enigmatic. A curiously winning composition, not without _morbidezza_.
Scorel has five other works in the Rijks. The Bathsheba is not a
masterpiece. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is conventional, but the
Harpsichord Player was sold at Paris as late as 1823 as a Bronzino.
Perhaps it is only attributed to Scorel. It is unlike his brush-work.
The Painting of a Vault, divided into nine sections, five of which
represent the Last Judgment, is a curiosity. The portrait of Emperor
Charles V. as Pharaoh is pointed out by the gallery attendant, who
then retires and diplomatically coughs in the middle distance.

The Mancini (pupil of Morelli and W.H. Mesdag) is entitled Poor Thing.
A little girl stands in a miserable room; mice run over the floor. The
colouring is rich. There are admirable Jakob Marises; but we wish to
follow in the track of the old fellows. Adrian van Ostade's Baker is
so popular that it is used for advertising purposes in Holland. The
baker leans out of his door, the lower half closed, and blows a horn.
Palamedes evidently repainted the same picture many times. An interior
with figures, seated and standing; same faces, poses, accessories.
Same valet pouring out wine; variants of this figure. A Merry Party is
the usual title. At The Hague in the Mauritshuis there is another such
subject; also in Antwerp and Brussels. But a jolly painter. Steen and
Teniers we may sidestep. Also the artificial though graceful
Tischbein. There is a Winterhalter here, a mannered fashionable
portrait painter (he painted the Empress Eugenie), and let us leave
the Titians to the experts. When you are in Holland look at the Dutch
pictures. A De Vos painted topers and fishermen with gusto, and there
is Vinckboons, who doted on scenes of violence. Fancy Vollon flowers
in the midst of these old Dutchmen. The Frenchman had an extraordinary
feeling for still-life, though more in the decorative Venetian manner
than in Chardin's serene palette, or the literalism of Kalf.
Whistler's Effie Deans, presented by the Dowager Baroness R. van
Lynden in 1900, is not one of that master's most successful efforts.
It is a whole-length figure painted in misty semi-tones, the feeling
sentimental, un-Whistlerian, and, as we before remarked, wraith-like
and lacking in substance when compared to Hals.

There is actually a Wouverman in which no white horse is to be
discovered. On Van der Werff and the romantic landscapist Wynants we
need not dwell. The miniatures, pastels, and framed drawings are of
goodly array. Of the former, Samuel Cooper (portrait of Charles II.),
John Hoskins, Peter Oliver, Isaac Oliver, Laurence Crosse, and others.
English, Dutch, and French may be found. The Liotard and Tischbein
pastels are charming. In the supplements of the catalogue we find
underscored a Descent from the Cross, an anonymous work of the Flemish
school (fifteenth century, second half). The dead Christ is being
lowered into the arms of his mother. It is evidently a copy from a
lost original in the style of Rogier van der Weyden. There are such
copies in Bruges and elsewhere. Another composition is labelled as an
anonymous work of undetermined school. The Christ hangs on the cross,
on His right are the Virgin Mary, the holy women and St. John; on His
left jeering soldiers and scribes. On either side of the composition
is the figure of a saint much larger in size than the other figures;
St. Cosmus on the left, St. Damian on the right. The background is a
hilly landscape. An authority ascribes the work to the Catalonian
school, date about 1440. There were giants in those days. Antonello da
Messina has the portrait of a young man. It is an attribution, yet not
without some claim to authenticity. The Jan Provosts are mostly of
close study, especially The Virgin Enthroned. A certain Pieter
Dubordieu, who was living in Amsterdam in 1676 (born in Touraine),
painted the portraits of a man and a woman, dated 1638. Vivid
portraits. We must pass over the striking head of Hanneman, the Lucas
Cranach (the elder), and the thousand other attractive pictures in
this gallery. The Rijks Museum could be lived with for years and still
remain an inexhaustible source of joy.




ART IN ANTWERP



After passing Dordrecht on the way down to Antwerp the canals and
windmills begin to disappear. The country is as flat as Holland, but
has lost its characteristic charm. It has become less symmetrical;
there is disorder in the sky-line, more trees, the architecture is
different. Dutch precision has vanished. The railway carriages are not
clean, punctuality is avoided, the people seem less prosperous, few
speak English, and as you near Antwerp the villas and roads tell you
that you are in the dominion of the King of Belgium. But Antwerp is so
distinctly Flemish that you forget that bustling modern Brussels is
only thirty-six minutes away by the express--a fast train for once in
this land of snail expresses. No doubt the best manner of approaching
Antwerp is by the Scheldt on one of the big steamers that dock so
comfortably along the river. However, a trip to the vast _promenoir_
that overlooks the river gives an excellent idea of this thriving
port. The city--very much modernised during the past ten years--may
easily be seen in a few days, setting aside the museums and churches.
The quay promenade brings you to the old Steen Castle, and the Town
Hall with its _salle des marriages_, its mural paintings by the
industrious Baron Leys--frigid in style and execution--will repay you
for the trouble. The vestibules and galleries are noteworthy. We
enjoyed the facades of the ancient guild houses on the market-place
and watching the light play upon the old-time scarred front of the
cathedral that stands in the Place Verte. Then there are the
Zoological Garden, the Plantin Museum, the Theatre Flamand, the
various monuments, and the spectacle of the busy, lively city for
those who do not go to Antwerp for its art. You may even go to
Hoboken, a little town in the suburbs not at all like the well-known
Sunday resort in Jersey.

The Royal Museum is displayed in a large square. It is a handsome
structure and the arrangement of the various galleries is simple. The
Rubenses, thirty-odd in all, are the _piece de resistance_, and the
Flemish and Dutch Primitives of rare beauty. Bruges is better for
Memling, Brussels for Van der Weyden, Ghent for the Van Eycks, yet
Antwerp can boast a goodly number of them all. She exceeds Brussels in
her Rubenses for the larger altar pieces are here, just as at
Amsterdam the Rembrandts, while not numerous, take precedence because
of The Syndics and The Night Watch. The tumultuous, overwhelming Peter
Paul is in his glory at Antwerp. You think of some cataclysm when
facing these turbulent, thrilling canvases. If Raphael woos, Rubens
stuns. In the company of Michel Angelo and Balzac or Richard Wagner he
would be their equal for torrential energy and vibrating humanity. Not
so profound as Buonarroti, not so versatile as Balzac, he is their
peer in sheer savagery of execution. Setting aside the miles of
pictures signed by him though painted by his pupils, he must have
covered multitudes of canvas. Like men of his sort of genius, he ends
by making your head buzz and your eyes burn; and then, the sameness of
his style, the repetition of his wives and children's portraits, the
apotheosis of the Rubens family! He portrayed Helena Fourment and
Isabella Brandt in all stages of disarray and gowns. He put them
together on the same canvas. He did not hesitate to show them to the
world in all their opulent nudity. Their white skins, large eyes with
wide gaze, their lovely children appear in religious and mythologic
pictures at every turn you make in this museum. You become too
familiar with them. You learn to know that one wife was slenderer than
the other; you also realise that other days had other ways. Titian
painted the portrait of a noble dame quite naked and placed her
husband, soberly attired, near by. No one criticised the taste of this
performance. Manet, who was no Titian, did the same trick and was
voted wicked. He actually dared to show us Nana dressing in the
presence of a gentleman who sat in the same room with his hat on.

The heavy-flanked Percheron horses are of the same order as the Rubens
women. The Flemings are mighty feeders, mighty breeders,
good-tempered, pleasure-loving folk. They don't work as hard as the
Dutch, and they indulge in more feasting and holidays. The North seems
austere and Protestant when compared with this Roman Catholic land.
Its sons of genius, such as Rubens and Van Dyck, painted pictures that
do not reveal the deeper faith of the Primitives. No Christ or Mary of
either Van Dyck or Rubens sounds the poignant note of the
Netherlandish unknown mystic masters.

But what a banquet of beauty Rubens spreads for the eye! With him
painting reached its apogee, and in him were the seeds of its
decadence. He shattered the Florentine line; he, a tremendous
space-composer when he so wished, wielded his brush at times like a
scene-painter on a debauch. The most shocking, the loveliest things
happen on his canvases. Set the beautiful Education of the Virgin, in
this gallery, beside such a work as Venus and Vulcan at Brussels, and
you will see the scale in which he sported. Or the Virgin and Parrot,
with a child Christ who might have posed as a youthful Adonis, and the
Venus Frigida--both in Antwerp. A pagan was Rubens, for all his
religion. We prefer the Christ Crucified between Two Thieves or the
Christ on the Cross, the single figure, to the more famous Descent at
the Cathedral. But what can be said that is new about Rubens or Van
Dyck? In the latter may be noted the beginnings of deliquescence. He
is a softened Rubens, a Rubens aristocratic. The portraits here are
prime, those of the Bishop of Antwerp, Jean Malderus, and of the young
girl with the two dogs. His various Christs are more piteous to behold
than those of his master, Rubens. The feminine note is present, and
without any of the realism which so shocks in the conceptions of the
Primitives. Nevertheless we turn to his portraits or to the little boy
standing at a table. There is the true key of Van Dyck. He met Rubens
as a portraitist and took no odds of him.

Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve is a variation of the picture in the
Brussels gallery. A Gossaert portrait catches the eye, the head and
bust of a man; then you find yourself staring in wonderment at the
Peter Breughels and Jerome Bosches with their malodorous fantastic
versions of temptations of innumerable St. Anthonys. The air is thick
with monsters, fish-headed and splay of foot. St. Anthony must have
had the stomach of an ostrich and the nerves of a politician to endure
such sights and sounds and witches. Such females! But Peter and his
two sons are both painters of interest. There are better Teniers in
Brussels, though Le Chanteur is admirable. Ostade's Smoker is a
masterpiece. Only four Rembrandts, the portrait of a woman, according
to Vosmaer and W. Burger that of his wife Saskia; a fisherman's boy,
the Burgomaster, and the Old Jew. Dr. Bode thinks that the last two
are by Nikolas Maes. The portrait of Eleazer Swalmius--the so-called
Burgomaster Six--is finely painted as to head and beard. The Antwerp
Museum paid two hundred thousand francs for the work. We must not
forget mention of a David Teniers, a loan of Dr. Bredius, a
still-life, a white dead goose superb in tone.

Of the two Frans Halses, the portrait of a Dutch gentleman is the
better; the other was formerly known as the Strandlooper van Haarlem
and shows the vigorous brush-work of the master. It is the head of a
saucy fisher-boy, the colour scheme unusual for Hals. The Quentin
Matsys pictures are strong; among others the portrait of Peter Gillis
with his shrewd, strongly marked physiognomy. This is a Matsys town.
Every one looks at his old iron well beside the Cathedral and recalls
the legend of the blacksmith, as every boy remembers here Hendrik
Conscience and the Lion of Flanders. Van Reymerswael's The Tax
Gatherers, sometimes called The Bankers or The Misers, hangs in the
museum; that realistic picture with the so highly individualised
heads, a favourite of the engravers, holds its own. Both the Boutses,
Albrecht and Dirck, are shown in their Holy Families, and both are
painters of ineffable grace and devotion.

Four Memlings of seductive beauty light the walls. One is a portrait
of Nicolo Spinelli. Christ and His Angels, the angels playing in
praise of the Eternal and other angels playing various instruments.
The two Van Eycks, Huibrecht (Hubert) and Jan, are well represented.
The St. Barbara, by Jan, is repeated in the Bruges Museum The Donateur
or Donor is a repetition of the original at Bruges. The Adoration of
the Lamb is a copy of the original at Ghent. There is tender beauty in
Jan's St. Barbara, and infinite motherly love expressed in his Holy
Virgin. Hugo van der Goes's portrait of Thomas Portunari is a marvel
of characterisation. Terburg has a mandolin player and Hobbema a mill
scene. The Van Orleys are interesting, and also the Van Veens. Gerard
David, a painter of exquisite touch and feeling, shows a Repose in
Egypt. Lucas Cranach's L'Amour is one of his Virgins transposed to the
mythological key. We have barely indicated the richness of this
collection, in which, of course, Rubens plays first fiddle--rather the
full orchestra. And with what sonority and luminosity!

At the Cathedral his three masterpieces draw their accustomed
audiences with the usual guide lecturing in three languages, pointing
out the whiteness of the cloth in the Descent and the anatomy in the
Ascent. This latter work is always slighted by sightseers because
Baedeker, or some one else, had pronounced its composition "inferior"
to the Descent, but there are many more difficult problems involved in
the Ascent. Its pattern is not so pleasing as the Descent, the subject
is less appealing, and more sternly treated. There are more virile
accents in the Ascent, though it would be idle to deny that in paint
quality there is a falling off. Both pictures show the tooth of time
and the ravages of the restorers. At St. Jacques, with its wonderfully
carved pulpit, the St. George of Rubens hangs in a chapel. It has
darkened much during the last twenty years. Also there is another
Rubens family group with wives and other relatives. They thought well
of themselves, the Rubens family, and little wonder.

The modern pictures at the museum are of varying interest--Braekeleer,
Stobbaerts, Verlat, Scheffer, Cabanel, David (J.L.), Wiertz, Wauters,
Wappers, some elegant Alfred Stevenses, De Bock the landscapist,
Clays, Van Beers, Meunier, Breton, Bouguereau, and a lot of
nondescript lumber. In the spacious approach there is one of
Constantin Meunier's famous figures. You rejoice that he followed
Rodin's advice and gave up the brush for the chisel. As a painter he
was not more than mediocre.

The four Van der Weydens in the gallery of Primitives are not all of
equal merit. The Annunciation is the most striking. The early master
of Memling is distinguished by a sweetness in composition and softness
in colouring. Mention must be made of the De Vos pictures by the
Cornelis, Martin, and Simon. A portrait of Abraham Grapheus by the
first-named is one of the most striking in the museum, and the
self-portrait of the latter, smiling, is brilliant. Rombouts is a sort
of Adrian Brouwer; his Cavaliers Playing at Cards recalls Caravaggio.
Daniel Mytens's portrait of a lady is Rubenesque.

And all that choir of elevated souls unknown to us by name, merely
called after the city they inhabited, such as the Master of Bray, or
by some odd device or monogram--what cannot be written of this small
army which praised the Lord, His mother and the saints in form and
colour, on missals, illuminated manuscripts, or on panels! The Antwerp
Museum has its share of Anonymous, that master of whom it has been
said that "he" was probably the master of the masters. Antwerp is a
city of many charms, with its St. Jacques, St. Andres (and its carved
pulpit), St. Paul and the Cathedral, and its preservation of the
Flemish spirit and Flemish customs; but for us its museum was all in
all.




MUSEUMS OF BRUSSELS



Considering its size and significance, Brussels has more than its
share of museums. At the beginning of the Rue de la Regence, near the
Place Royale, stands the imposing Royal Museum of old paintings and
sculpture. The Museum of Modern Art is around the corner and adjoins
the National Library, which is said to harbour over six hundred
thousand volumes. In the gallery of old art the effect of the
sculptors' hall, which is in the centre and utilises the entire height
of the building, is noble. The best sculpture therein is by Rodin and
Meunier; the remainder is generally academic or simply bad. Rodin's
Thinker, in bronze, is a repetition of the original. After the
wreathed prettiness of the conventional school--neither Greek nor
Gothic--and the writhing diablerie of Rodin imitators the simplicity
and directness of Constantin Meunier is refreshing. He was a man whose
imagination became inflamed at the sight of suffering and injustice.
He is closer to Millet than to his friend Rodin, but he lacks the
sweetness and strength of Millet. Selecting the Belgian workman--the
miner, the hewer of wood and drawer of water, the proletarian, in a
word--for his theme, Meunier observed closely and reproduced his
vision in terms of rugged beauty. The sentiment is evidently
socialistic. Like Prince Kropotkin and the brothers Reclus, the
Belgian sculptor revolts against the cruelty of man to man. He shows
us the miner crouched in a pitiful manner finding a pocket of coal;
men naked to the waist, their torsos bulging with muscles, their small
heads on bull necks, are puddlers; other groups patiently haul heavy
carts--labour not in its heroic aspect, but as it is in reality, is
the core of Meunier's art. That he is "literary" at times may not be
denied, but power he has.

The early Flemish school of the fifteenth century is strongly
represented in several of the galleries up-stairs. And Rogier de la
Pasture, otherwise known as Rogier van der Weyden, is shown in five
pictures, and at his best. The Chevalier with the Arrow, a bust
portrait, will be familiar to those who have visited the Rijks Museum,
where a copy hangs. The robe is black, the hat, conical, is brown, the
background blue-green. The silhouette is vigorously modelled, the
expression one of dignity, the glance penetrating, severe. What
characterisation! The Christ is a small panel surpassingly rich in
colour and charged with profound pity. The body lies in the arms of
the Mother, Magdalen and John on either side. The sun is setting. The
subject was a favourite of Weyden; there is a triptych in Berlin and a
panel at The Hague. This Brussels picture has evidently been shorn of
its wings. There are replicas of the Virgin and Child (No. 650 in the
catalogue) at Berlin, Cassel, and Frankfort, also in the recently
dispersed collection of Rudolph Kann. Another striking tableau is the
head of a woman who weeps. The minutest tear is not missing.

Hubert and Jan Van Eyck's Adam and Eve are the wings (volets) from the
grand composition in the Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent. They are
gigantic figures, nude, neither graceful nor attractive, but
magnificently painted. These portraits (they don't look as if they had
been finished in paradise) of our first parents rather favour the
evolutionary theory of development. Eve is unlovely, her limbs lanky,
her bust mediaeval, her flanks Flemish. In her right hand she holds the
fatal apple. Adam's head is full of character; it is Christ-like; his
torso ugly, his legs wooden. Yet how superior to the copies which are
now attached to the original picture at Ghent. There the figures are
clothed, clumsy, and meaningless.

Dierick Bouts's Justice of Emperor Otho III is a striking picture. The
subject has that touch of repulsive cruelty which was a sign of the
times. Hans Memling's Martyrdom of St. Sebastian is another treasure;
with his portraits of a man, of Guillaume Morel and of Barbara de
Vlandenberg making an immortal quartet. The head of the man is the
favourite in reproduction. Morel is portrayed as in prayer, his hands
clasped, his expression rapt. A landscape is seen at the back. The
Virgin Surrounded by Virgins, by an unknown master of the fifteenth
century (school of Bruges), is one of the most amazing pictures in the
collection. It has a nuance of the Byzantine and of the hieratic, but
the portraits are enchanting in their crystalline quality. Quentin
Matsys' Legend of St. Anne is much admired, though for sincerity we
prefer The Passion of the Master of Oultremont. Gerard David's
Adoration of the Magi is no longer attributed to him. It was always in
doubt: now the name has been removed, though the picture has much of
his mellowness. Dr. Scheuring, the old man with the shaved upper lip,
beard, and hair over his forehead, by Lucas Cranach, and Jean
Gossaert's Chevalier of the Golden Fleece, are masterly portraits. Van
Cleve, Van Orlay, Key--perhaps a portrait of the bloody Duke of
Alva--also one of himself, Coello's Maria of Austria, are among the
sterling specimens in this gallery.

We need not expect to find duplicated here the Rubens of Antwerp. The
most imposing example is the Adoration of the Magi, while his
portraits of the Archduke Albert and his Archduchess, Isabella, are
perhaps the best extant. The Calvary is a splendid canvas, full of
movement and containing several members of the well-known Rubens
family. Such devotion is touching. You find yourself looking for
Isabella Brandt and Helena Fourment among the angels that hover in the
sky above the martyred St. Lieven. The four negro heads, the Woman
Taken in Adultery, a Susanna (less concerned about her predicament
than any we have encountered), a curious and powerful portrait of
Theophrastus Paracelsus (Browning's hero), with a dozen others, make a
goodly showing for the Antwerp master. Otho Vaenius (Octave Van Veen),
one of the teachers of Rubens, is hung here. There are nearly a dozen
Van Dycks, of prime quality all. The Crucifixion, the portrait of an
unknown gentleman wearing a huge ruff and the winning portrait of a
Flemish sculptor, Francesco Duquesnoy, (on a stand), give you an
excellent notion of his range, though better Van Dycks are in France
and England.

The portrait of an old man, by Rembrandt, is beginning to fade, but
that of an old woman is a superior Rembrandt. Of Frans Hals there are
two fine specimens; one, a portrait of Willem van Heythusen, is a
small picture, the figure sitting, the legs crossed (booted and
spurred) and the figure leaning lazily back. On his head a black felt
hat with a broad upturned brim. The expression of the bearded man is
serious. The only Jan Vermeer is one of the best portraits by that
singularly gifted painter we recall. It is called The Man with the
Hat. Dr. Bredius in 1905 considered the picture by Jean Victor, but it
has been pronounced Vermeer by equal authorities. It was once a part
of the collection of Humphry Ward. The man sits, his hand holding a
glove resting negligently over the back of a chair. He faces the
spectator, on his head a long, pointed black hat with a wide brim. His
collar is white. A shadow covers the face above the eyes. These are
rather melancholy, inexpressive; the flesh tints are anaemic, almost
morbid. We are far away from the Vermeer of the Milkmaid and the
Letter. There is something disquieting in this portrait, but it is a
masterpiece of paint and character.

The Old Lady Dreaming, by N. Maes, and the Jan Steen (The Operator)
are good though not remarkable examples. Jacob Jordaenses flood the
various galleries; Rubens run to seed as far as quality, yet
exhibiting enormous muscularity, is the trait of this gross painter.
The King Drinks--his kings are always drinking or blind drunk--his
nudes, which look like the contents of the butcher shops in Brussels,
attract throngs, for the anecdote is writ large across the wall, and
you don't have to run to read. Panoramas would be a better title for
these robust compositions. David Teniers's La Kermesse is the most
important work he ever finished. It is in good preservation. Amsterdam
has not its superior. There is an ordinary El Greco, a poor Goya, and
a Ribera downstairs. The French art is not enlivening.

Philip Champaigne's self-portrait is familiar: it has been reproduced
frequently. Jean Baptiste Huysmans, a landscape with animals; he is
said to be an ancestor of the late Joris Karel Huysmans. The Mors
(Antonio Moro) is of value. But the lodestone of the collection is the
Primitives.

The pictures in the modern gallery are largely Belgian, some French,
and a few Dutch and English. It is not a collection of artistic
significance. In the black-and-white room may be seen a few original
drawings of Rops.

The Musee Wiertz is worth visiting only as a chamber of horrors. When
Wiertz is not morbid and repulsive he is of the vasty inane, a man of
genius gone daft, obsessed by the mighty shades of Rubens and Michael
Angelo. Wiertz was born in 1806 and died in 1865. The Belgian
Government, in order to make some sort of reparation for its neglect
of the painter during his troubled and unhappy lifetime, acquired his
country residence and made it a repository of his art. The pictures
are of a scale truly heroic. The painter pitted himself against Rubens
and Michael Angelo. He said: "I, too, am a great painter!" And there
is no denying his power. His tones recall the _pate_ of Rubens without
its warmth and splendour. When Wiertz was content to keep within
bounds his portraits and feminine nudes are not without beauty. He was
fanciful rather than poetic, and the picture of Napoleon in hell
enduring the reproaches of his victims (why should they be there?) is
startling. Startling, too, are the tricks played on your nerves by the
peepholes. You see a woman crazed by hunger about to cook one of her
murdered children; beheaded men, men crushed by superior power, the
harnessed body of Patroclus, Polyphemus devouring the companions of
Ulysses, and other monstrous conceptions, are all painted with
reference to the ills of the poor. Anton Joseph was a socialist in
sentiment. If his executive ability had been on a par with his ideas,
and if those ideas had been less extravagant, the world would have had
one more great painter; but his nervous system was flawed and he died
a melancholic, a victim to misplaced ideals. He wished to revive the
heroic age at a time of easel pictures. He, the half genius, saw
himself outwitted by the sleek paint of Alfred Stevens. Born out of
his due time, a dreamer of dreams, Wiertz is a sad example of the
futility of looking backward in art.




BRUGES THE BEAUTIFUL



On the way up from Brussels to Bruges it is well to alight at Ghent
for a few hours. There are attractions enough to keep one for several
days, but as our objective was St. Bavon (St. Bavo, or Sint Baafs) we
did not stay more than the allotted time. And an adventurous time it
was. The Ostend express landed its passengers at the St. Pierre
station and that meant the loss of half an hour. The Cathedral is
reached by the tramway, and there we found that as an office was about
to be sung no one would be allowed in the ambulatory until after its
completion. It was pouring live Belgian rain without; already the
choristers in surplices were filing into the choir. Not a moment to be
spared! The sacristan was a practical man. He hustled us into a side
chapel, locked the heavy doors, and left us in company with the great
picture of the brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. A monk knelt in
prayer outside, the rain clouds made the lighting obscure. We were
hemmed in, but by angels and ministers of grace. The chanting began.
Atmosphere was not needed in this large and gloomy edifice, only more
light. Gradually the picture began to burn through the artificial
dusk, gradually its glories became more perceptible. Begun by Hubert
in 1420 and finished by Jan in 1432, its pristine splendour has
vanished; and the loss of the wings--the Adam and Eve are in Brussels,
the remaining volets in the Berlin Museum--is irreparable despite the
copies. But this Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, with its jewelled
figures of the Christ, of St. John the Baptist, St. Cecilia, and the
central panel with its mystical symbolism, painted in sumptuous tones,
the lamb on the altar, the prophets and ecclesiastics in worship, the
singing angels, is truly an angelic composition.

The rain had ceased. A shaft of sunshine pierced the rosy glass
windows and fell upon the hieratic figure of the bearded Christ, which
glowed supernally. In the chancel the Psalms had died away and the
only sound was that of sandals shuffling over marble floors. The man
turned the lock. It was a return to the world as if one had
participated in a sacred ceremony.

Bruges is invariably called Bruges-la-Morte, but it is far from being
dead, or even desperately melancholy. Delft, in Holland, after nine
o'clock at night, is quieter than Bruges. Bruges the Dead? No, Bruges
the Beautiful is nearer the truth. After reading Rodenbach's morbid
romance of Bruges-la-Morte we felt sure that a stay in Bruges would be
like a holiday in a cemetery. Our experience dispelled this unpleasant
illusion. Bruges is in daylight a bustling and in certain spots a
noisy place. Its inhabitants are not lugubrious of visage, but
wideawake, practical people, close at a bargain, curious like all
Belgians, and on fete days given to much feasting. Bruges is
infinitely more interesting than Brussels. It is real, while modern
Brussels is only mock-turtle. And Bruges is more picturesque, the food
is as well flavoured, there are several resorts where ripe old
Burgundy may be had at not an extravagant price, and the townsfolk are
less grasping, more hearty than in Brussels.

The city is nicknamed a Northern Venice, but of Venice there is
naught, except the scum on the canal waters. The secular odour of
Bruges was not unpleasant in October; in August it may have been. We
know that the glory of the city hath departed, but there remain the
Memlings, the Gerard Davids, at least one Van Eyck, not to mention
several magnificent old churches.

Let us stroll to the Beguinage. Reproductions of Memling and Van Eyck
are in almost every window. The cafes on the square, where stands the
Belfry of Longfellow's poem, are overflowing with people at table. It
is Friday, and to-morrow will be market day; with perhaps a fair or a
procession thrown in. You reach the Cathedral of St. Sauveur (Sint
Salvator), erected in the tenth century, though the foundations date
back to the seventh. The narrow lane-like street winds around the rear
of the church. Presently another church is discerned with a tower that
must be nearly four hundred feet high, built, you learn, some time
between the tenth and fourteenth centuries. Notre Dame contains the
tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy, a lovely white marble
statue of the Virgin and Child ascribed with justice to Michael
Angelo, and a fine bow-window. We pass the Hospital of St. Jean, turn
up an alley full of cobblestones and children, and finally see the
canal that passes the houses of the Beguinage. The view is of
exceeding charm. The spire of Notre Dame and the apsis may be seen up
(or is it down?) stream. A bridge cuts the river precisely where it
should; weeping willows to the left lend an elegiac note to the
ensemble, and there is a gabled house to the right which seems to have
entered the scene so as to give an artist the exact balance for his
composition. Nature and the handicraft of man paint pictures all over
Bruges.

We enter the enclosure with the little houses of the beguines, or lay
sisterhood. There is nothing particular to see, except a man under a
tree admiring his daubed canvas, near by a dog sleeps. The sense of
peace is profound. Even Antwerp seems a creation of yesterday compared
with the brooding calm of Bruges, while Brussels is as noisy as a
boiler shop. The Minnewater (Lac d'Amour) is another pretty stretch,
and so we spent the entire day through shy alleys, down crooked
streets, twisting every few feet and forming deceptive vistas
innumerable, leading tired legs into churches, out of museums, up
tower steps.

That first hard stroll told us how little we could know of Bruges in a
day, a week or a month. Bag and baggage we moved up from Brussels and
wished that the clock and the calendar could be set back several
centuries. At twilight the unusual happened: the Sandman appeared with
his hour-glass and beckoned to bed. There is no night in Bruges for
the visitor within the gates; there is only slumber. Perhaps that is
why the cockneys call it Bruges the Dead. The old horse that drags the
hotel bus was stamping its hoofs in the court-yard; the wall of St.
Jacques, eaten away by the years, faced us. The sun, somewhere, was
trying to rub its sleepy eyes, the odour of omelet was in the air, and
all was well. This is the home-like side of its life. It may still
harbour artists who lead a mystic, ecstatic existence, but we met none
of them. Poetic images are aroused at dusk along the banks of canals,
bathed in spectral light. Here Georges Rodenbach, that poet of
delicate images, placed his hero, a man who had lost a beloved wife.
He saw her wraith-like form in the mist and at the end went mad.

The Memlings hang in a chamber at the Hospital St. Jean; the Chasse of
St. Ursula is a reliquary, Gothic in design. They consist of a dozen
tiny panels painted in exquisite fashion, with all the bright clarity
and precision of a miniaturist, coupled with a solidity of form and
lyric elegance of expression. They represent the side of Memling's art
which might be compared to the illuminators of manuscripts or to the
artificers in gold and precious stones. There is a jewelled quality in
this illustration of the pious life and martyrdom of St. Ursula at
Cologne. But it is not the greatest Memling, to our thinking. A
portrait of Martin van Nieuwenhoven, the donator of the diptych, La
Vierge aux Pommes, is as superb a Memling as one could wish for. The
little hairs are a sign of clever, minute brush. It is the modelling,
the rich manipulation of tones (yes, values were known in those
barbarous times), the graceful fall of the hair treated quite as much
en masse as with microscopic finish; the almost miraculous painting of
the folded hands, and the general expression of pious reverie, that
count most. The ductile, glowing colours make this a portrait to be
compared to any of the master's we have studied at London, Berlin,
Dresden, Luebeck, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels. But Bruges is the
natural frame for his exalted genius.

If the Van Eycks were really the first to use oil-colour--a fable, it
is said--Memling, who followed them, taught many great Italian
painters the quality and expressiveness of beautiful paint. There is
the portrait of Sybilla Sambetha, the serious girl with the lace veil.
Did any of the later Dutch conjurers in paint attain such
transparency? The Mystic Marriage of St. Catharine, a triptych with
its wings representing the beheading of St. John the Baptist--the
Salome is quite melancholy--and St. John at Patmos, is one of the
world pictures. The Adoration of the Magi, with its wings, The
Nativity, and Presentation in the Temple, is equally touching. For me
Memling's Descent from the Cross sounds deeper music than
Rubens--which is operatic in comparison. The Virgin type of Van Eyck
is less insipid than the Italian; there is no pagan dissonance, as in
the conception of Botticelli. Faith blazed more fiercely in the
breasts of these Primitive artists. They felt Christ's Passion and the
sorrow of the Holy Mother more poignantly than did the Italians of the
golden renaissance. We have always held a brief for the Art for Art
theory. The artist must think first of his material and its technical
manipulation; but after that, if his pulse beat to spiritual rhythms
then his work may attain the heights. It is not painting that is the
lost art, but faith. Men like the Van Eycks, Rogier van der Weyden,
Memling, and Gerard David were princes of their craft and saw their
religion with eyes undimmed by doubt.

James Weak has destroyed the legend that Hans Memling painted his St.
Ursula for the benefit of St. Jean's Hospital as a recompense for
treatment while sick there. He was a burgher living comfortably at
Bruges. The museum is a short distance from the hospital. Its Van Eyck
(Jan), La Vierge et l'Enfant--known as the Donator because of the
portrait of George van der Paele--is its chief treasure, though there
is the portrait of Jan's wife; Gerard David's Judgment of King
Cambyses, and the savage execution companion picture; Memling's
triptych, St. Christopher bearing the Christ Child, and David's
masterpiece, The Baptism of Christ. Holbein never painted a head with
greater verisimilitude than Van Eyck's rendering of the Donator. What
an eye! What handling, missing not a wrinkle, a fold of the aged skin,
the veins in the senile temples, or the thin soft hair above the ears!
What synthesis! There are no niggling details, breadth is not lost in
this multitude of closely observed and recorded facts. The large eyes
gaze devoutly at the vision of the Child, and if neither Virgin nor
Son is comely there is character delineated. The accessories must fill
the latter-day painter avid of surface loveliness with consuming envy.

But it is time for sleep. The Brugeois cocks have crowed, the sun is
setting, and eyelids are lowering. Lucky you are if your dreams evoke
the brilliant colours, the magical shapes of the Primitives of Bruges
the Beautiful.




THE MOREAU MUSEUM



Out of the beaten track of sight-seers, and not noticed with
particular favour by the guide-books, the museum founded by Gustave
Moreau at 14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld in Paris, is known only to a
comparatively few artists and amateurs. You seldom hear Americans
speak of this rare collection, it is never written about in the
magazines. In September, 1897, Moreau made a will leaving his house
and its contents to the State. He died in 1898 (not in 1902, as
Bryan's dictionary has it), and in 1902 President Loubet authorised
the Minister of Public Instruction to accept this rich legacy in the
name of the republic. The artist was not known to stranger countries;
indeed he was little known to his fellow-countrymen. Huysmans had
cried him up in a revolutionary article; but to be praised by Huysmans
was not always a certificate of fame. That critic was more successful
in attracting public attention to Degas and Rops; and Moreau, a born
eclectic, though without any intention of carrying water on both
shoulders, was regarded suspiciously by his associates at the
Beaux-Arts, while the new men he praised, Courbet, Manet, Whistler,
Monet, would hold no commerce with him. To this day opinion is divided
as to his merits, he being called a _pasticheur_ or else a great
painter-poet. Huysmans saw straight into the heart of the
enigma--Gustave Moreau is poet and painter, a highly endowed man who
had the pictorial vision in an unusual degree; whose brush responded
to the ardent brain that directed it, the skilled hand that
manipulated it; always responded, we say, except in the creation of
life. His paintings are, strictly speaking, magnificent still-life. No
vital current animates their airless, gorgeous, and sometimes
cadaverous surfaces.

Like his friend Gustave Flaubert, with whom he had so much in common
(at least on the Salammbo side of that writer), Moreau was born to
affluence. His father was a government architect; he went early to the
Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and also studied under Picot. In 1852 he had a
Pieta in the Salon (he was born April 6,1826), and followed it the
next season with a Darius and a large canvas depicting an episode from
the Song of Songs. The latter was purchased for the Dijon Museum. At
the Universal Exhibition of 1855 he showed a monster work, The
Athenians and the Minotaur. He withdrew from the public until 1864,
when his Oedipus and the Sphinx set Paris talking. He exhibited until
1880 various canvases illustrative of his studies in classic
literatures and received sundry medals. He was elected a member of the
Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1888, replacing Boulanger. He was decorated
in 1875 with the Legion of Honour and made _officier_ in 1883. When a
member of the Institute he had few friends, and as professor at the
Beaux-Arts he disturbed the authorities by his warm praise of the
Primitives. Altogether a career meagre in exciting incident, though
singularly rich and significant on the intimate side.

A first visit to the museum proved startling. We had seen and admired
the fifteen water-colours at the Luxembourg, among them the famous
Apparition, but for the enormous number of pictures, oil,
water-colour, pastels, drawings, cartons, studies, we were unprepared.
The bulky catalogue registers 1,132 pieces, and remember that while
there are some unfinished canvases the amount of work executed--it is
true during half a century--is nevertheless a testimony to Moreau's
muscular and nervous energy, poetic conception, and intensity of
concentration. Even his unfinished pictures are carried to a state of
elaboration that would madden many modern improvisers in colour. Apart
from sheer execution, there is a multitude of visions that must have
been struggled for as Jacob wrestled with the Angel, for Moreau's was
not a facile mind. He brooded over his dreams, he saw them before he
gave them shape. He was familiar with all the Asiatic mythologies, and
for him the pantheon of Christian saints must have been bone of his
bone. The Oriental fantasy, the Buddhistic ideas, the fluent knowledge
of Persian, Indian, and Byzantine histories, customs, and costumes
sets us to wondering if this artist wasn't too cultured ever to be
spontaneous. He recalls Prester John and his composite faiths.

There was besides the profound artistic erudition another
stumbling-block to simplicity of style and unity of conception. Moreau
began by imitating both Delacroix and Ingres. Now, such a precedure is
manifestly dangerous. Huysmans speaks with contempt of promiscuity in
the admiration of art. You can't admire Manet and Bastien-Lepage--"le
Grevin de cabaret, le Siraudin de banlieue," he names the gentle
Bastien; nor ought you to admire Manet and Moreau, we may add. And
Huysmans did precisely what he preached against. Moreau was a man of
wide intellectual interests. Devoid of the creative energy that can
eject an individual style at one jet, as a volcano casts forth a rock,
he attempted to aid nature by the process of an exquisite selection.
His taste was trained, his range wide--too wide, one is tempted to
add; and thus by a conscious act of the will he originated an art that
recalls an antique chryselephantine statue, a being rigid with
precious gems, pasted with strange colours, something with mineral
eyes without the breath of life--contemporary life--yet charged with
its author's magnetism, bearing a charmed existence, that might come
from a cold, black magic; monstrous, withal possessing a strange
feverish beauty, as Flaubert's Salammbo is beautiful, in a remote,
exotic way.

However, it is not fair to deny Moreau human sympathies. There are
many of his paintings and drawings, notably the latter, that show him
as possessing heart. His handling of his medium though heavy is never
timid, and at times is masterly. Delacroix inspired many of his
landscape backgrounds, as Ingres gave him the proportions of his
female figures. You continually encounter variations of Ingres, the
sweet, serene line, the tapering feet and hands. Some critics have
discerned the toe forms of Perugino; but such mechanical measurements
strain our notion of eclecticism. Certainly Moreau studied Bellini,
Mantegna, and Da Vinci without ever attaining the freedom and
distinction of any of them. His colour, too, is often hard and cold,
though not in the sumptuous surfaces of his fabrics; there Venetian
splendour is apparent. He can be fiery and insipid, metallic and
morbid; his Orientalism is at times transposed from the work of his
old friend the painter Chasseriau into the key of a brilliant, if
pompous rhetoric.




THE MOREAU MUSEUM



This herculean attempt at reassembling many styles in a unique style
that would best express a certain frozen symbolism was the amiable
mania his life long of Moreau. He compelled the spirits to come to his
bidding. The moment you cross the threshold of his house the spell
begins to work. It is dissipated by the daylight of Paris, but while
you are under the roof of the museum you can't escape it. Nor is it as
with Rossetti, a mystic opiate, or with Wiertz, a madman's delirious
fancy. Moreau was a philosophic poet, and though he disclaimed being a
"literary" painter, it is literature that is the mainspring of his
elevated and decorative art. Open at random the catalogue full of
quotations from the painter's pen and you encounter such titles as
Leda and the Swan, treated with poetic restraint; Jupiter and Semele,
Tyrtaeus Singing During the Combat, St. Elizabeth and the Miracle of
the Roses, Lucretia and Tarquin, Pasiphae, the Triumph of Alexander,
Salome, Dante and Virgil, Bathsheba, Jason and the Golden Fleece. All
literatures were ransacked for themes. This painter suffered from the
nostalgia of the ideal. When a subject coincided with his technical
expression the result approximates perfection. Consider the Salome, so
marvellously paraphrased in prose by Huysmans. The aquarelle in the
Luxembourg is more plastic, more jewelled than the oil; Moreau often
failed in the working-out of his ideas. Yet, never in art has a
hallucination been thus set before us with such uncompromising
reality. The sombre, luxurious _decor_, the voluptuous silhouette of
the dancing girl, the hieratic pose of the Tetrarch, even the aureoled
head of John, are forgotten in the contemplation of Salome, who is
become cataleptic at sight of the apparition. Arrested her attitude
her flesh crisps with fear. Her face is contracted into a mask of
death. The lascivious dance seems suspended in midair. To have painted
so impossible a picture bears witness to the extraordinary quality of
Moreau's complex art. Nor is the Salome his masterpiece. In the realm
of the decorator he must be placed high. His genius is Byzantine.
Jupiter and Semele, with its colossal and acrian architectures, its
gigantic figure of the god, from whose august head emanate spokes of
light, is Byzantine of a wild luxuriousness in pattern and fancy.
Moreau excels in representing cataracts of nude women, ivory-toned of
flesh, exquisite in proportion, set off by radiant jewels and
wonder-breeding brocades. His skies are in violent ignition, or else
as soft as Lydian airs. What could be more grandiose than the Triumph
of Alexander (No. 70 in the catalogue)? Not John Martin or Piranesi
excelled the Frenchman in bizarre architectural backgrounds. And the
Chimeras, what a Baudelairian imagination! Baudelaire of the bitter
heart! All luxury, all sin, all that is the shame and the glory of
mankind is here, as in a tapestry dulled by the smoke of dreams; but
as in his most sanguinary combats not a sound, not a motion comes from
this canvas. When the slaves, lovely females, are thrown to the fish
to fatten them for some Roman patrician's banquet, we admire the
beauty of colour, the clear static style, the solidity of the
architecture, but we are unmoved. If there is such a thing as
disinterested art it is the claustral art of Moreau--which can be both
perverse and majestic.

His versatility amazes. He did not always paint the same picture. The
Christ Between Two Thieves is academic, yet attracts because the
expression of the converted thief is remarkable. The Three Magi and
Moses Within Sight of the Promised Land do not give one the fullest
sense of satisfaction, as do The Daughters of Thespus or The Rape of
Europa; yet they suggest what might be termed a tragic sort of
decoration. Moreau is a painter who could have illustrated Marlowe's
fatuous line, "Holla, ye pampered jades of Asia," and superbly; or,
"See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament." He is an exotic
blossom on the stem of French art. He saw ivory, apes, and peacocks,
purple, gold, and the heavens aflame with a mystic message. He never
translated that message, for his was an art of silence; but the
painter of The Maiden with the Head of Orpheus, of Salome, of Jason
and Medea, of Jupiter and Semele, will never fail to win the
admiration and homage of those art lovers who yearn for dreams of
vanished ages, who long to escape the commonplaces of the present.
Gustave Moreau will be their poet-painter by predilection.

Once in the streets of prosaic Paris he is as unreal as Rossetti or
the Pre-Raphaelites (though their superior as one who could make
palpable his visions). In the Louvre--where the _Salon Carre_ is
little changed--Manet's Olympe, with her every-day seductiveness,
resolves the phantasies of Moreau into thin air. Here is reality for
you, familiar as it may be. It is wonderful how long it took French
critics to discover that Manet was _un peintre de race_. He is very
French in the French gallery where he now hangs. He shows the lineage
of David, one of whose declamatory portraits with beady eyes hangs
near by. He is simpler than David in his methods--Mr. C.S. Ricketts
critically described David as possessing the mind of a policeman--and
as a painter more greatly endowed. But Goya also peeps out from the
Olympe. After seeing the Maja desnuda at the Prado you realise that
Manet's trip to Madrid was not without important results. Between the
noble lady who was the Duchess of Alba and the ignoble girl called
Olympe there is only the difference between the respective handlings
of Goya and Manet.




PICTURES IN MADRID



I

The noblest castle in Spain is the museum on the Prado. Now every
great capital of Europe boasts its picture or sculpture gallery; no
need to enumerate the treasures of art to be found in London, Paris,
Vienna--the latter too little known by the average
globe-trotter--Berlin, Dresden, Cassel, Frankfort, Brussels, Bruges,
Antwerp, Amsterdam, Florence, Rome, Naples, St. Petersburg, or Venice.
They all boast special excellences, but the Prado collection contains
pictures by certain masters, Titian, Rubens, Correggio, and others,
that cannot be seen elsewhere. Setting aside Velasquez and the Spanish
school, not in Venice, Florence, or London are there Titians of such
quality and in such quantity as in Madrid. And the Rubenses are of a
peculiar lovely order, not to be found in Antwerp, Brussels or Paris.
Even without Velasquez the trying trip to the Spanish capital is a
necessary and exciting experience for the painter and amateur of art.

The Prado is largely reinforced by foreign pictures and is sadly
lacking in historical continuity whether foreign or domestic schools.
It is about ninety years old, having been opened in part (three rooms)
to the public in November, 1819. At that time there were three hundred
and eleven canvases. Other galleries were respectively added in 1821,
1828, 1830, and 1839. In 1890 the Queen-mother had the Sala de la
Reina Isabel rearranged and better lighted. It contained then the
masterpieces, but in 1899, the tercentenary of Velasquez's birth, a
gallery was built to hold his works, with a special room for that
masterpiece among masterpieces Las Meninas. Many notable pictures that
had hung for years in the Academia de Nobles Artes de San Fernando, at
the Escorial Palace, and and the collection of the Duke of Osuna are
now housed within the walls of the Prado. At the entrance you
encounter a monumental figure of Goya, sitting, in bronze, the work of
the sculptor J. Llaneses.

The Prado has been called a gallery for connoisseurs, and it is the
happiest title that could be given it, for it is not a great museum in
which all schools are represented. You look in vain for the chain
historic that holds together disparate styles; there are omissions,
ominous gaps, and the very nation that ought to put its best foot
foremost, the Spanish, does not, with the exception of Velasquez. Of
him there are over sixty authentic works; of Titian over thirty. Bryan
only allows him twenty-three; this is an error. There are fifteen
Titians in Florence, divided between the Uffizi and the Pitti; in
Paris, thirteen, but one is the Man with the Glove. Quality counts
heaviest, therefore the surprise is not that Madrid boasts numbers but
the wonderful quality of so many of them. To lend additional lustre to
the specimens of the Venetian school, the collection starts off with a
superb Giorgione; Giorgione, the painter who taught Titian his magic
colour secrets; the painter whose works are, with a few exceptions,
ascribed to other men--more is the pity! (In this we are at one with
Herbert Cook, who still clings to the belief that the Concert of the
Pitti Palace is Giorgione and not Titian. At least the Concert
Champetre of the Louvre has not been taken from "Big George.") The
Madrid masterpiece is The Virgin and Child Jesus with St. Anthony and
St. Roch.

It is easy to begin with the Titians, one of which is the famous
Bacchanal. Then there are The Madonna with St. Bridget and St. Hulfus,
The Garden of the Loves, Emperor Charles V. at Muehlberg, an equestrian
portrait; another portrait of the same with figure standing, King
Philip, Isabella of Portugal, La Gloria, The Entombment of Christ,
Venus and Adonis, Danae and the Golden Shower, a variation of this
picture is in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, the other in the National
Museum, Naples; Venus Listening to Music, two versions, the stately
nude evidently a memory of the Venus reposing in the Uffizi: Adam and
Eve (also a copy of this by Rubens); Prometheus, Sisyphus--long
supposed to be copies by Coello; Christ Bearing the Cross, St.
Margaret, a portrait of the Duke of Este, Salom, Ecce Homo, La
Dolorosa, the once admired Allocution; Flight Into Egypt, St.
Catalina, a self-portrait, St. Jerome, Diana and Actaeon, The Sermon on
the Mount--the list is much longer.

There are many Goyas; the museum is the home of this remarkable but
uneven painter. We confess to a disappointment in his colour, though
his paint was not new to us; but time has lent no pleasing _patina_ to
his canvases, the majority of which are rusty-looking, cracked,
discoloured, dingy or dark. There are several exceptions. The nude and
dressed full-lengths of the Duchess of Alba are in excellent
preservation, and brilliant audacious painting it is. A lovely
creature, better-looking when reclining than standing, as a glance at
her full-length portrait in the New York Hispanic Museum proves. One
of Goya's best portraits hangs in the Prado, the seated figure of his
brother-in-law, the painter Bayeu. The Family of Charles IV, his
patron and patroness, with the sheep-like head of the favourite De la
Paz, is here in all its bitter humour; it might be called a satiric
pendant to that other Familia, not many yards away, Las Meninas. There
are the designs for tapestries in the basement; Blind Man's Buff and
other themes illustrating national traits. The equestrian portraits of
Charles IV and his sweet, sinister spouse, Queen Maria Luisa, reveal a
Goya not known to the world. He could assume the grand manner when he
so willed. He could play the dignified master with the same
versatility that he played at bull-fighting. But his colour is often
hot and muddy, and perhaps he will go down to that doubtful quantity,
posterity, as an etcher and designer of genius. After leaving the
Prado you remember only the Caprices, the Bull-fights, and the
Disaster of War plates; perhaps the Duchess of Alba, undressed, and in
her dainty toreador costume. The historic pictures are a tissue of
horrors, patriotic as they are meant to be; they suggest the
slaughter-house. Goya has painted a portrait of Villanueva, the
architect of the museum; and there is a solidly constructed portrait
of Goya by V. Lopez.

The Raphaels have been reduced to two at the Prado: The Holy Family
with the Lamb, painted a year after the Ansedei Madonna, and that
wonderful head of young Cardinal Bibbiena, keen-eyed and ascetic of
features. Alas! for the scholarship that attributed to the Divine
Youth La Perla; the Madonna of the Fish; Lo Spasimo, Christ Bearing
the Cross, and several other masterpieces. Giulio Romana, Penni, and
perhaps another, turned out these once celebrated and overpraised
pictures--overpraised even if they had come from the brush of Raphael
himself. The Cardinal's portrait is worth the entire batch of them.

There is a Murillo gallery, full of representative work, the most
important being St. Elizabeth of Hungary Tending the Sick, formerly in
the Escorial. The various Conceptions and saints' heads are not
missing, painted in his familiar colour key with his familiar false
sentiment and always an eye to the appeal popular. A mighty magnet for
the public is Murillo. The peasants flock to him on Sundays as to a
sanctuary. There the girls see themselves on a high footing, a
heavenly saraband among woolly clouds, their prettiness idealised,
their costume of exceeding grace. After a while you tire of the
saccharine Murillo and his studio beggar boys, and turn to his
drawings with relief. His landscapes are more sincere than his
religious canvases, which are almost as sensuous and earthly as
Correggio without the magisterial brush-work and commanding conception
of the Parma painter. To be quite fair, it may be admitted that
Murillo could make a good portrait. Both in Madrid and Seville you may
verify this.

A beautiful Fra Angelico, a beautiful Mantegna open your eyes, for the
Italian Primitives are conspicuous by their absence. Correggio is
magnificent. The well-known Magdalen and Christ Risen, Noli Me
Tangere! His Virgin with Jesus and St. John is in his accustomed
melting _pate_. One Del Sarto is of prime quality, The Virgin, Jesus
and St. John, called Asunto Mistico at the Prado. Truly a moving
picture, by a painter who owes much of his fame to Robert Browning.
His Lucrezia is a pretty portrait of his faithless wife. There are
Lotto, Parmigianino, Baroccio, Tintoretto, Bassano, Veronese, Domenico
Tiepolo, and his celebrated father the fantastic Giambattista
Tiepolo--not startling specimens any of them.

In the Spanish section Ribera comes at you the strongest. He was a
personality as well as a powerful painter. Consider his Martyrdom of
St. Bartholomew. Zurbaran follows next in interest, though morbid at
times; but of Berragueta, Borgona, Morales, Juanes, Navarette,
Coello--an excellent portraitist, imitator of Moro--La Cruz, Alfonso
Cano, Luis de Tristan, Espinosa, Bias del Prado, Orrente, Esteban de
March--two realistic heads of an old man and an old woman must be set
down to his credit--Ribalta, influenced by Caravaggio, in turn
influencing Ribera--Juan de las Roelas (el Clerigo), Del
Mazo--son-in-law of Velasquez, and responsible for dozens of false
attributions--Carreno de Miranda, Jose Leonardo, Juan Rizi V. Iriarte,
the two Herreras, the elder a truculent charlatan, the younger a
nonentity, and others of the Spanish school may be dismissed in a
word--mediocrities.




II

The secret of Titian's colour, the "Venetian secret," was produced,
some experts believe, by first painting a solid monochrome in tempera
on which the picture was finished in oil. Unquestionably Titian
corrected and amended his work as much as did Velasquez. It is a
pleasing if somewhat theatric belief that Titian and Velasquez,
duelled with their canvases, their rapier a brush. After inspecting
many of the Hals portraits the evidences of direct painting, swift
though calculated, are not to be denied. This may account, with the
temperamental equation, for the less profound psychological interest
of his portraiture when compared with the Raphael, Titian, Velasquez,
and Rembrandt heads. Yet, what superiority in brush-work had Hals over
Raphael and Rembrandt. The Raphael surfaces are as a rule hard, dry,
and lustreless, while Rembrandt's heavy, troubled paint is no mate for
the airy touch of the Mercutio of Haarlem. But Titian's impasto is
lyric. It sings on the least of his canvases. No doubt his pictures in
the Prado have been "skinned" of their delicate glaze by the
iconoclastic restorer; yet they bloom and chant and ever bloom. The
Bacchanal, which bears a faint family resemblance to the Bacchus and
Ariadne of the London National Gallery, fairly exults in its joy of
life, in its frank paganism. What rich reverberating tones, what
powers of evocation! The Garden of the Loves is a vision of childhood
at its sweetest; the surface of the canvas seems alive with festooned
babies. The more voluptuous Venus or Danae do not so stir your pulse
as this immortal choir of cupids. The two portraits of Charles V--one
equestrian--are charged with the noble, ardent gravity and splendour
of phrasing we expect from the greatest Venetian of them all. We
doubt, however, if the Prado Entombment is as finely wrought as the
same subject by Titian in Paris; but it sounds a poignant note of
sorrow. Rembrandt is more dramatic when dealing with a similar theme.
The St. Margaret with its subtle green gown is a figure that is
touching and almost tragic. The Madonna and Child, with St. Bridget
and St. Hulfus, has been called Giorgionesque. St. Bridget is of the
sumptuous Venetian type; the modelling of her head is lovely, her
colouring rich.

Rubens in the Prado is singularly attractive. There are over fifty,
not all of the best quality, but numbering such works as the Three
Graces, the Rondo, the Garden of Love, and the masterly unfinished
portrait of Marie de Medicis. The Brazen Serpent is a Van Dyck, though
the catalogue of 1907 credits it to Rubens. Then there are the
Andromeda and Perseus, the Holy Family and Diana and Calista. The
portrait of Marie de Medicis, stout, smiling, amiability personified,
has been called one of the finest feminine portraits extant--which is
a slight exaggeration. It is both mellow and magnificent, and unless
history or Rubens lied the lady must have been as mild as mother's
milk. The Three Graces, executed during the latter years of the
Flemish master, is Rubens at his pagan best. These stalwart and
handsome females, without a hint of sleek Italian delicacy, include
Rubens's second wife, Helena Fourment, the ox-eyed beauty. What blond
flesh tones, what solidity of human architecture, what positive beauty
of surfaces and nobility of contours! The Rondo is a mad, whirling
dance, the Diana and Calista suggestive of a Turkish bath outdoors,
but a picture that might have impelled Walt Whitman to write a sequel
to his Children of Adam. Such women were born not alone to bear
children but to rule the destinies of mankind; genuine matriarchs.

Rembrandt fares ill. His Artemisia about to drink her husband's ashes
from a costly cup reveals a ponderous hand. It is but indifferent
Rembrandt, despite several jewelled passages. Van Dyck shows at least
one great picture, the Betrayal of Christ. The Brazen Serpent only
ranks second to it; both are masterpieces, and Antwerp must envy the
Prado. The Crown of Thorns, and the portraits, particularly that of
the Countess of Wexford, are arresting. His Musician, being the
portrait of Laniere the lute-player, and his own portrait on the same
canvas with Count Bristol, are cherished treasures. The lutist is
especially fascinating. That somewhat mysterious Dutch master, Moro,
or Mor (Antonis; born in Utrecht, 1512; died at Antwerp, 1576 or
1578), is represented by more than a dozen portraits. To know what a
master of physiognomy he was we need only study his Mary Queen of
England, the Buffoon of the Beneventas, the Philip II, and the various
heads of royal and noble born dames. The subdued fire and subtlety of
this series, the piercing vision and superior handicraft of the
painter have placed him high in the artistic hierarchy; but not high
enough. At his best he is not far behind Holbein. That great German's
art is shown in a solitary masterpiece, the portrait of an unknown
man, with shrewd cold eyes, an enormous nose, the hands full of
meaning, the fabrics scrupulous as to detail. Next to this Holbein,
whose glance follows you around the gallery, are the two Duerers, the
portrait of Hans Imhof, a world-renowned picture, and his own portrait
(1498), a magical rendering of a Christ-like head, the ringlets curly,
the beard youthful, the hands folded as if in prayer. A marvellous
composition. It formerly hung too high, above the Hans Imhof; it now
hangs next to it. A similar head in the Uffizi is a copy, Sir Walter
Armstrong to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Flemish schools are to be seen in the basement, not altogether a
favourable place, though in the afternoon there is an agreeable light.
Like Rubens, Jan van Eyck visited Spain and left the impress of his
style. But the Van Eycks at the Prado are now all queried, though
several are noteworthy. The Marriage of the Virgin is discredited. The
Virgin, Christ and St. John under the golden canopy, called a Hubert
van Eyck, is probably by Gossaert de Mabuse, and a clever
transposition of the altar piece in St. Bavon's at Ghent. The Fountain
of Life, also in the catalogue as a Jan van Eyck, has been pronounced
a sixteenth-century copy of a lost picture by his brother Hubert. We
may add that not one of these so-called Van Eycks recalls in all their
native delicacy and richness the real Van Eycks of Bruges, Ghent, and
Brussels; though the Virgin Reading, given as Jan's handiwork, is of a
charm. The Depositions, attributed to Rogier van der Weyden (De la
Pasture), are acknowledged to be old sixteenth-century copies of the
Deposition in the Escorial. The altar piece is excellent. But there is
a fine Memling, glowing in pigment and of beautiful design, The
Adoration of the Kings, a triptych, like the one at Bruges. In the
centre panel we see the kings adoring, one a black man; the two wings,
or doors, respectively depict the birth of Christ (right) and the
presentation in the temple (left). There is a retablo (reredos) in
four compartments, by Petrus Cristus, and two Jerome Patinirs, one, a
Temptation of St. Anthony, being enjoyable. The painter-persecuted
saint sits in the foreground of a freshly painted landscape, harassed
by the attentions of witches, several of them comely and clothed. To
be precise, the composition suggests a much-married man listening to
the reproaches of his spouses. Hanging in a doorway we found a Herri
Met de Bles that is not marked doubtful. It is a triptych, an
Adoration, in which the three kings, the Queen of Sheba before
Solomon, and Herod participate. A brilliantly tinted work this, which
once hung in the Escorial, and, _mirabile dictu_, attributed to Lucas
van Leyden. No need to speak of the later Dutch and Flemish school,
Teniers, Ostade, Dou, Pourbus, and the minor masters. There are
Breughels and Bosches aplenty, and none too good. But there are
several Jordaens of quality, a family group, and three heads of street
musicians. We forgot to mention an attribution to Jan van Eyck, The
Triumph of Religion, which is a curious affair no matter whose brain
conceived it. The attendant always points out its religious features
with ill-concealed glee. A group of ecclesiastics have confounded a
group of rabbis at a fountain which is the foundation of an altar; the
old fervour burns in the eyes of the gallery servitor as he shows you
the discomfited Hebrew doctors of the law. We may dismiss as harmless
the Pinturicchio and other Italian attributions in these basement
galleries. There is the usual crew of Anonimos, and a lot of those
fantastic painters who are nicknamed by critics without a sense of
humour as "The Master of the Fiery Hencoop," "The Master of the
Eccentric Omelet," or some such idiotic title.

Up-stairs familiar names such as Domenichino, Bassano, Cortona,
Crespi, Bellino, Pietra della Vecchia, Allori, Veronese, Maratta,
Guido Reni, Romano need not detain us. The catalogue numbers of the
Italian school go as high as 628. The Titians, however, are the glory
of the Prado. The Spanish school begins at 629, ends at 1,029. The
German, Flemish, and Holland schools begin at 1,146, running to 1,852.
There are supplements to all of the foregoing. The French school runs
from 1,969 to 2,111. But the examples in this section are not
inspiring, the Watteaus excepted. There is the usual Champagne,
Coypel, Claude of Lorraine (10), Largilliere, Lebrun, Van Loo, Mignard
(5); one of Le Nain--by both brothers. Nattier (4), Nicolas Poussin
(20), Rigaud, and two delicious Watteaus; a rustic betrothal and a
view of the garden of St. Cloud, the two exhaling melancholy grace and
displaying subdued richness of tone. Tiepolo has been called the last
link in the chain of Venetian colourists, which began with the
Bellini, followed by Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Palma Vecchio,
Bonifazio, Veronese--and to this list might be added the name of the
Frenchman Watteau. Chardin was also a colourist, and how many of the
Poussins at this gallery might be spared to make room for one of his
cool, charming paintings!

The Prado about exhausts the art treasures of Madrid. In the Escorial,
that most monstrous and gloomiest of the tombs of kings, are pictures
that should be seen--some Grecos among the rest--even if the palace
does not win your sympathy. In Madrid what was once called the
Academia de San Fernando is now the Real Academia de Bellas Artes. It
is at 11 Calle de Alcala and contains a Murillo of quality, the Dream
of the Roman Knight, Zurbaran's Carthusians, an Ecce Homo by Ribera,
of power; the Death of Dido by Fragonard; a Rubens, St. Francis, the
work of his pupils; Alonzo Cano, two Murillos, Domenichino, Tristan,
Mengs, Giovanni Bellini; Goya's bull-fights, mad-house scenes, and
several portraits--one of the Due de la Paz; a Pereda, a Da Vinci (?),
Madrazo, Zurbaran, and Goya's equestrian portrait of Charles IV. A
minor gathering, the debris of a former superb collection, and not
even catalogued.

There are museums devoted to artillery, armour, natural sciences, and
archaeology. In the imposing National Library, full of precious
manuscripts, is the museum of modern art--also without a catalogue. It
does not make much of an impression after the Prado. The Fortuny is
not characteristic, though a rarity; a sketch for his Battle of
Tetuan, the original an unfinished painting, is at Barcelona. There
are special galleries such as the Sala Haes with its seventy pictures,
which are depressing. The modern Spaniards Zuloaga, Sorolla,
Angla-Camarosa are either not represented or else are not at their
best. There is a Diaz, who was of Spanish origin; but the Madrazos,
Villegas, Montenas, and the others are academic echoes or else feeble
and mannered. There are some adroit water-colours by modern Frenchmen,
and there is a seeming attempt to make the collection contemporary in
spirit, but it is all as dead as the allegorical dormouse, while over
at the Prado there is a vitality manifested by the old fellows that
bids fair to outlast the drums, tramplings, and conquests of many
generations. We have not more than alluded to the sculpture at the
Prado; it is not particularly distinguished. The best sculpture we saw
in Spain was displayed in wood-carvings. The pride of the Prado is
centred upon its Titians, Raphaels, Rubenses, Murillos, El Grecos,
and, above all, upon Don Diego de Silva, better known as Velasquez.




EL GRECO AT TOLEDO



Toledo is less than three hours from Madrid; it might be three years
away for all the resemblance it bears to the capital. Both situated in
New Castille, Madrid seems sharply modern, as modern as the early
nineteenth century, when compared to the mediaeval cluster of buildings
on the horseshoe-shaped granite heights almost entirely hemmed in by
the river Tagus. It is not only one of the most original cities in
Spain, but in all Europe. No other boasts its incomparable profile,
few the extraordinary vicissitudes of its history. Not romantic in the
operatic moonlit Grenada fashion, without the sparkle and colour of
Seville or the mundane savour of Madrid, Toledo incarnates in its
cold, detached, proud, pious way all that we feel as Spain the
aristocratic, Spain the theocratic. To this city on a crag there once
came, by way of Venice, a wanderer from Crete. Toledo was the final
frame of the strange genius of El Greco; he made it the consecrate
ground of his new art. It is difficult to imagine him developing in
luxuriant Italy as he did in Spain. His nature needed a sombre and
magnificent background; this city gave it to him; for no artist can
entirely isolate himself from life, can work in _vacuo_. And El
Greco's shivering, spiritual art could have been born on no other soil
than Toledo. He is as original as the city.

The place shows traces of its masters--Romans, Goths, Saracens, and
Christians. It is, indeed, as much Moorish as Christian--the narrow
streets, high, narrow houses often windowless, the inner court
replacing the open squares that are to be found in Seville. Miscalled
the "Spanish Rome," Gautier's description still holds good: Toledo has
the character of a convent, a prison, a fortress with something of a
seraglio. The enormous cathedral, which dates back to Visigothic
Christianity, is, next to Seville's, the most beautiful in Spain. Such
a facade, such stained glass, such ceilings! Blanco Ibanez has written
pages about this structure. The synagogues, the Moorish mosque, the
Alcazar are picturesque. And then there are the Puente de Alcantara,
the Casa de Cervantes, the Puerta del Sol, the Prison of the
Inquisition, the Church of Santo Tome--which holds the most precious
example of Greco's art--the Sinagogo del Transito, the Church of San
Vicente--with Grecos--Santo Domingo (more Grecos); the Convent, near
the Church of San Juan de los Reyes, contains the Museo Provincial in
which were formerly a number of Grecos; many of these have been
transferred to the new Museo El Greco, founded by the Marquis de la
Vega-Inclan, an admirer of the painter. This museum was once the home
of Greco, and has been restored, so that if the artist returned he
might find himself in familiar quarters. Pictures, furniture, carvings
of his are there, while the adjoining house is rebuilt in a harmonious
style of old material. Remain various antique patios or court-like
interiors, the sword manufactory, and the general view from the top of
the town. El Greco's romantic portrayment of his adopted city is as
true now as the day it was painted--one catches a glimpse of the scene
when the contrasts of light and shadow are strong. During a
thunderstorm illuminated by blazing shafts of Peninsular lightning
Toledo resembles a page torn from the Apocalypse.

The cathedral is the usual objective; instead, we first went to the
church of Santo Tome. It is a small Gothic structure, rebuilt from a
mosque by Count Orgaz. In commemoration of this gift a large canvas,
entitled El Entierro, depicting the funeral of Orgaz, by El Greco, has
made Santo Tome more celebrated than the cathedral. It is an amazing,
a thrilling work, nevertheless, on a scale that prevents it from
giving completely the quintessence of El Greco. No doubt he was a
pupil of Titian; Gautier but repeated current gossip when he said that
the Greek went mad in his attempt to emulate his master. But
Tintoretto's influence counts heavier in this picture than Titian's, a
picture assigned by Cossio midway between Greco's first and second
period. Decorative as is the general scheme, the emotional intensity
aroused by the row of portraits in the second _plan_, the touching
expression of the two saints, Augustine and Stephen, as they gently
bear the corpse of the Count, the murky light of the torches in the
background, while overhead the saintly hierarchy terminating in a
white radiance, Christ the Comforter, His mother at His right hand,
quiring hosts at His left--all these figures make an ensemble that at
first glance benumbs the critical faculty. You recall the solemn and
spasmodic music of Michael Angelo (of whom El Greco is reported to
have irreverently declared that he couldn't paint); then as your
perspective slowly shapes itself you note that Tintoretto, plus a
certain personal accent of morbid magnificence, is the artistic
progenitor of this art, an art which otherwise furiously boils over
with Spanish characteristics.

Nothing could be more vivid and various than the twenty-odd heads near
the bottom of the picture. Expression, character, race are not pushed
beyond normal limits. The Spaniard, truly noble here, is seen at a
half-dozen periods of life. El Greco himself is said to be in the
group; the portrait certainly tallies with a reputed one of his. The
sumptuousness of the ecclesiastical vestments, court costumes, ruffs,
and eloquent hands, the grays, whites, golds, blues, blacks, chord
rolling upon chord of subtle tonalities, the supreme illumination of
the scene, with its suggestion of a moment swiftly trapped forever in
eternity, hook this masterpiece firmly to your memory. It is not one
of the greatest pictures in the pantheon of art, not Rembrandt,
Velasquez, Hals, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Titian, or Rubens; yet it
stands close to them all because of its massed effect of light, life,
and emotional situation. We confess to liking it better than the
Gloria at the Escorial Palace. This glorification of a dream of Philip
II does not pluck electrically at your heart-strings as does the
Burial of Count Orgaz, though the two canvases are similar in
architectonic.

The Expolio is in the cathedral; it belongs to the first period,
before El Greco had shaken off Italian influences. The colouring is
rather cold. The St. Maurice in the chapter hall of the Escorial is a
long step toward a new method of expression. (A replica is in
Bucharest.) The Ascension altar piece, formerly in Santo Domingo, now
hangs in the Art Institute, Chicago. At Toledo there are about eighty
pieces of the master, not including his sculpture, retablos; like
Tintoretto, he was accustomed to make little models in clay or wax for
the figures in his pictures. His last manner is best exemplified in
the Divine Love and Profane Love, belonging to Senor Zuloaga, in The
Adoration of the Shepherds, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the
Assumption at the Church of St. Vicente, Toledo. His chalky whites,
poisonous greens, violet shadows, discordant passages of lighting are,
as Arthur Symons puts it: Sharp and dim, gray and green, the colour of
Toledo. Greco composed his palette with white vermilion, lake, yellow
ochre, ivory black. Senor Beruete says that "he generally laid on an
impasto for his flesh, put on in little touches, and then added a few
definite strokes with the brush which, though accentuated, are very
delicate... The gradations of the values is in itself instructive."

His human forms became more elongated as he aged; this applies only to
his males; his women are of sweetness compounded and graceful in
contour. Some a mere arabesque, or living flames; some sinister and
fantastic; from the sublime to the silly is with Greco not a wide
stride. But in all his surging, writhing sea of wraiths, saints,
kings, damned souls and blest, a cerebral grip is manifest. He knew a
hawk from a handsaw despite his temperament of a mystic. "He who
carries his own most intimate emotions to their highest point becomes
the first in a file of a long series of men"; but, adds Mr. Ellis: "To
be a leader of men one must turn one's back on men." El Greco, like
Charles Baudelaire, cultivated his hysteria. He developed his
individuality to the border line across which looms madness. The
transmogrification of his temperament after living in Toledo was
profound. Born Greek, in art a Venetian, the atmosphere of the
Castilian plain changed the colour of his soul. In him there was
material enough for both a Savonarola or a Torquemada--his piety was
at once iconoclastic and fanatical. And his restlessness, his
ceaseless experiments, his absolute discoveries of new tonalities, his
sense of mystic grandeur--why here you have, if you will, a Berlioz of
paint, a man of cold ardours, hot ecstasies, visions apocalyptic, with
a brain like a gloomy cathedral in which the _Tuba Mirum_ is
sonorously chanted. But Greco is on the side of the angels; Berlioz,
like Goya, too often joined in the infernal antiphonies of Satan
_Mekatrig_. And Greco is as dramatic as either.

Beruete admits that his idol, Velasquez, was affected by the study of
El Greco's colouring. Canaille Saint-Saens, when Liszt and Rubinstein
were compared, exclaimed: "Two great artists who have nothing in
common except their superiority." It is bootless to bracket Velasquez
with his elder. And Gautier was off the track when he spoke of Greco's
resemblance to the bizarre romances of Mrs. Radcliffe; bizarre Greco
was, but not trivial nor a charlatan. As to his decadent tendencies we
side with the opinion of Mr. Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.: "Certain
pedants have written as if the world would be better without its
disorderly geniuses. There could, I think, be no sorer error. We need
the unbalanced talents, the _poetes damnes_ of every craft. They strew
the passions that enrich a lordlier art than their own. They fight
valiantly, a little at the expense of their fame, against the only
unpardonable sins, stupidity and indifference. Greco should always be
an honoured name in this ill-destined company."

In the Prado Museum there is a goodly collection. The Annunciation,
The Holy Family, Jesus Christ Dead, The Baptism of Christ, The
Resurrection, The Crucifixion--a tremendous conception; and The Coming
of the Holy Ghost; this latter, with its tongues of fire, its
flickering torches, its ecstatic apostles and Mary, her face flooded
by a supernal illumination, mightily stirs the aesthetic pulse. The
Prado has two dozen specimens, though two of them at least--a poor
replica of the Orgaz burial, and another--are known to be by El
Greco's son, Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli; of the numerous portraits and
other pictures dispersed by time and chance to the four quarters of
the globe, we have written earlier in this volume, when dealing with
the definitive work on this Greek by Senor Manuel B. Cossio. El Greco,
through sheer intensity of temperament and fierce sincerity, could
pluck out from men who had become, because of their apathy and
grotesque pride, mere vegetable growths, their very souls afire; or if
stained by crimes, these souls, he shot them up to God like green
meteors. To be sure they have eyes drunk with dreams, the pointed
skull of the mystic, and betray a plentiful lack of chin and often an
atrabilious nature. When old his saints resemble him, when young he
must have looked like his saints, Sebastian and Martin. With his
ardent faith he could have confuted the Gnostic or the Manichean
heresies in colourful allegory, but instead he sang fervid hosannahs
on his canvases to the greater glory of Christ and His saints. Perhaps
if he had lived in our times he might have painted heads of
fashionable courtesans or equivocal statesmen. But whether primitive
or modern, realist or symbolist, he would always have been a painter
of dramatic genius. He is the unicorn among artists.




VELASQUEZ IN THE PRADO



Fearful that your eye has lost its innocence after hearing so much of
the picture, you enter the tiny room at the museum on the Prado in
which is hung Las Meninas--The Maids of Honour, painted by Velasquez
in 1656. My experience was a typical one. I went hastily through the
larger Velasquez gallery in not only a challenging but an irritable
mood. The holy of holies I was enraged to find, seemingly, crowded.
There was the picture, but a big easel stood in the foreground
blotting out the left side; some selfish artist copying, some fellow
thrusting himself between us and the floating illusion of art. In
despair I looked into the mirror that reflects the picture. I
suspected trickery. Surely that little princess with her wilful,
_distrait_ expression, surely the kneeling maid, the dwarfs, the
sprawling dog, the painter Velasquez--with his wig--the heads of the
king and queen in the oblong mirror, the figure of Senor Nieto in the
doorway, the light framing his silhouette--surely they are all real.
Here are the eternal simplicities. You realise that no one is in the
room but these painted effigies of the court and family of Philip IV;
that the canvas whose bare ribs deceived is in the picture, not on the
floor; that Velasquez and the others are _eidolons_, arrested in space
by the white magic of his art. For the moment all other artists and
their works are as forgotten as the secrets in the lost and sacred
books of the Magi. There is but one painter and his name is Velasquez.

This mood of ecstatic absorption is never outlived; the miracle
operates whenever a visit is made to the shrine. But you soon note
that the canvas has been deprived of its delicate glaze. There are
patches ominously eloquent of the years that have passed since the
birth of this magisterial composition. The tonal key is said to be
higher because of restorations; yet to the worshipper these
shortcomings are of minor importance. Even Giordano's exclamation:
"Sire, this is the theology of painting," falls flat. Essence of
painting, would have been a truer statement. There is no
other-worldliness here, but something more normal, a suggestion of
solid reality, a vision of life. The various figures breathe; so
potent is their vitality that my prime impression in entering the room
was a sense of the presence of others. Perhaps this is not as
consummate art as the voluptuous colour-symphonies of Titian, the
golden exuberance of Rubens, the abstract spacing of Raphael, the
mystic opium of Rembrandt; but it is an art more akin to nature, an
art that is a lens through which you may spy upon life. You recall
Ibsen and his "fourth wall." Velasquez has let us into the secret of
human existence. Not, however, in the realistic order of inanimate
objects copied so faithfully as to fool the eye. Presentation, not
representation, is the heart of this coloured imagery, and so moving,
so redolent of life is it that if the world were shattered and Las
Meninas shot to the coast of Mars, its inhabitants would be able to
reconstruct an idea of the creatures that once inhabited old Mother
Earth; men, women, children, their shapes, attitudes, gestures, and
attributes. The mystery of sentient beings lurks in this canvas, the
illusion of atmosphere has never been so contrived. In the upper part
of the picture space is indicated in a manner that recalls both
Rembrandt and Raphael. Velasquez, too, was a space-composer.
Velasquez, too, plucked at the heart of darkness. But his air is
luminous, the logic of his proportion faultless, his synthesis
absolute. Where other painters juxtapose he composes. Despite the
countless nuances of his thin, slippery brush strokes, the picture is
always a finely spun whole.

When Fragonard was starting for Rome, Boucher said to him: "If you
take those people over there seriously you are done for." Luckily
Frago did not, and, despite his two Italian journeys, Velasquez was
not seduced into taking "those people" seriously. His recorded opinion
of Raphael is corroborative of his attitude toward Italian art. Titian
was his sole god. For nearly a year he was in daily intercourse with
Rubens, but of Rubens's influence upon him there is little trace. Las
Meninas is the perfect flowering of the genius of the Spaniard. It has
been called impressionistic; Velasquez has been claimed as the father
of impressionism as Stendhal was hailed by Zola as the literary
progenitor of naturalism. But Velasquez is too universal to be
labelled in the interests of any school. His themes are of this earth,
his religious paintings are the least credible of his efforts. They
are Italianate as if the artist dared not desert the familiar
religious stencil. His art is not correlated to the other arts. One
does not dream of music or poetry or sculpture or drama in front of
his pictures. One thinks of life and then of the beauty of the paint.
Velasquez is never rhetorical, nor does he paint for the sake of
making beautiful surfaces as often does Titian. His practice is not
art for art as much as art for life. As a portraitist, Titian's is the
only name to be coupled with that of Velasquez. He neither flattered
his sitters, as did Van Dyck, nor mocked them like Goya. And consider
the mediocrities, the dull, ugly, royal persons he was forced to
paint! He has wrung the neck of banal eloquence, and his prose, sober,
rich, noble, sonorous, rhythmic, is to my taste preferable to the
exalted, versatile volubility and lofty poetic tumblings in the azure
of any school of painting. His palette is ever cool and fastidiously
restricted. It has been said that he lacks imagination, as if creation
or evocation of character is not the loftiest attribute of
imagination, even though it deals not with the stuff of which
mythologies are made.

We admire the enthusiasm of Mr. Ricketts for Velasquez, and his
analysis is second to none save R.A.M. Stevenson's. Yet we do protest
the painter was not the bundle of negations Mr. Ricketts has made of
him in his evident anxiety that some homage may be diverted from
Titian. Titian is incomparable. Velasquez is unique. But to describe
him as an artist who cautiously studied the work of other men, and
then avoided by a series of masterly omissions and evasions their
faults as well as their excellences, is a statement that robs
Velasquez of his originality. He is not an eclectic. He is a man of
affirmations, Velasquez. A student to his death, he worked slowly,
revised painfully, above all, made heroic sacrifices. Each new canvas
was a discovery. The things he left out of his pictures would fill a
second Prado Museum. And the things he painted in are the glories of
the world. Because of his simplicity, absence of fussiness, avoidance
of the mock-heroic, of the inflated "grand manner," critics have
pressed too heavily upon this same simplicity. There is nothing as
subtle as his simplicity, for it is a simplicity that conceals
subtlety. No matter the time of day or season of the year you visit
Velasquez, you never find him off his guard. Aristocratic in his ease,
he disarms you first. You may change your love, your politics, your
religion, but once a Velasquez worshipper, always one.

Mr. Ricketts, over-anxious at precisely placing him, writes of his
"distinction." He is the most "distinguished" painter in history. But
we contend that this phrase eludes precise definition. "Distinguished"
in what? we ask. Style, character, paint quality, vision of the
beautiful? Why not come out plumply with the truth: Velasquez is the
supreme harmonist in art. No one ever approached him in his handling
save Hals, and Hals hardly boasts the artistic inches of Velasquez.
Both possessed a daylight vision of the world. Reality came to them in
the sharpest guise; but the vision of Velasquez came in a more
beautiful envelope. And his psychology is profounder. He painted the
sparkle of the eyes and also the look in them, the challenging glance
that asks: "Are we, too, not humans?" Titian saw colour as a poet,
Velasquez as a charmer and a reflective temperament. Hals doesn't
think at all. He slashes out a figure for you and then he is done. The
graver, deeper Spaniard is not satisfied until he has kept his pact
with nature. So his vision of her is more rounded, concrete, and
truthful than the vision of other painters. The balance in his work of
the most disparate and complex relations of form, space, colour, and
rhythm has the unpremeditated quality of life; yet the massive
harmonic grandeurs of Las Meninas have been placed by certain critics
in the category of glorified genre.

Some prefer Las Hilanderas in the outer gallery. After the stately
equestrian series, the Philip, the Olivares, the Baltasar Carlos;
after the bust portraits of Philip in the Prado and in the National
Gallery, the hunting series; after the Crucifixion and its sombre
background, you return to The Spinners and wonder anew. Its subtitle
might be: Variations on the Theme of Sunshine. In it the painter
pursues the coloured adventures of a ray of light. Rhythmically more
involved and contrapuntal than The Maids, this canvas, with its
brilliant broken lights, its air that circulates, its tender yet
potent conducting of the eye from the rounded arm of the seductive
girl at the loom to the arched area with its leaning, old-time
bass-viol, its human figures melting dream-like into the tapestried
background, arouses within the spectator much more complicated _etats
d'ame_ than does Las Meninas. The silvery sorceries of that picture
soothe the spirit and pose no riddles; The Spinners is a cathedral
crammed with implications. Is it not the last word of the art of
Velasquez--though it preceded The Maids? Will the eye ever tire of its
glorious gloom, its core of tonal richness, its virile exaltation of
everyday existence? Is it only a trick of the wrist, a deft blending
of colours by this artist, who has been called, wrongfully--the
"Shakespeare of the brush"? Is all this nothing more than
"distinguished"?

Mr. Ricketts justly calls Las Lanzas the unique historic picture.
Painted at the very flush of his genius, painted with sympathy for the
conquered and the conqueror--Velasquez accompanied the Marquis of
Spinola to Italy--this Surrender of Breda has received the homage of
many generations. Sir Joshua Reynolds asserted that the greatest
picture at Rome was the Velasquez head of Pope Innocent X in the Doria
Palace (a variant is in the Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg). What
would he have said in the presence of this captivating evocation of a
historic event? The battle pieces of Michael Angelo, Da Vinci, and
Titian are destroyed; Las Lanzas remains a testimony to the powers of
imaginative reconstruction and architectonic of Velasquez. It is the
most complete, the most natural picture in the world. The rhythms of
the bristling lances are syncopated by a simple device; they are
transposed to another plane of perspective, there in company with a
lowered battle standard. The acute rhythms of these spears has given
to the picture its title of The Lances, and never was title more
appropriate. The picture is at once a decorative arabesque, an
ensemble of tones, and a slice of history. Spinola receives from the
conquered Justin of Nassau the keys of the beleagured Breda. Velasquez
creates two armies out of eight figures, a horse and fourteen
heads--here is the recipe of Degas for making a multitude carried to
the height of the incredible. His own portrait, that of a grave,
handsome man, may be seen to the right of the big horse.

The first period of his art found Velasquez a realist heavy in colour
and brush-work, and without much hint of the transcendental realism to
be noted in his later style. The dwarfs, buffoons, the AEsop and the
Menippus are the result of an effortless art. In the last manner the
secret of the earth mingles with the mystery of the stars, as
Dostoievsky would put it. The Topers, The Forge of Vulcan, are
pictures that enthrall because of their robust simplicity and vast
technical sweep though they do not possess the creative invention of
the Mercury and Argus or The Anchorites. This latter is an amazing
performance. Two hermits--St. Antony the Abbot visiting St. Paul the
Hermit--are shown. A flying raven, bread in beak, nears them. You
could swear that the wafer of flour is pasted on the canvas. This
picture breathes peace and sweetness. The Christ of the Spaniard is a
man, not a god, crucified. His Madonnas, masterly as they are, do not
reach out hands across the frame as do his flower-like royal children
and delicate monsters.

The crinolined princess, Margarita, with her spangles and furbelows,
is a companion to the Margarita at the Louvre and the one in Vienna.
She is the exquisite and lyric Velasquez. On his key-board of
imbricated tones there are grays that felicitously sing across alien
strawberry tints, thence modulate into fretworks of dim golden fire.
As a landscapist Velasquez is at his best in the Prado. The various
backgrounds and those two views painted at Rome in the garden of the
Villa Medici--a liquid comminglement of Corot and Constable, as has
been pointed out--prove this man of protean gifts to have anticipated
modern discoveries in vibrating atmospheric effects and colour-values.
But, then, Velasquez will always be "modern." And when time has
obliterated his work he may become the legendary Parrhasius of a
vanished epoch. To see him in the Prado is to stand eye to eye with
the most enchanting realities of art.




_CODA_



When a man begins to chatter of his promenades among the masterpieces
it may be assumed that he has crossed the sill of middle-age. Remy de
Gourmont, gentle ironist, calls such a period _l'heure insidieuse_.
Yet, is it not something--a vain virtue, perhaps--to possess the
courage of one's windmills! From the Paris of the days when I haunted
the ateliers of Gerome, Bonnat, Meissonier, Couture, and spent my
enthusiasms over the colour-schemes of Decamps and Fortuny, to the
Paris of the revolutionists, Manet, Degas, Monet, now seems a life
long. But time fugues precipitately through the land of art. In
reality both periods overlap; the dichotomy is spiritual, not
temporal.

The foregoing memoranda are frankly in the key of impressionism. They
are a record of some personal preferences, not attempts at critical
revaluations. Appearing first in the New York _Sun_, the project of
their publication in book form met with the approbation of its
proprietor, William Mackay Laffan, whose death in 1909 was an
international loss to the Fine Arts. If these opinions read like a
medley of hastily crystallised judgments jotted down after the manner
of a traveller pressed for time, they are none the less sincere. My
garden is only a straggling weedy plot, but I have traversed it with
delight; in it I have promenaded my dearest prejudices, my most absurd
illusions. And central in this garden may be found the image of the
supreme illusionist of art, Velasquez.

Since writing the preceding articles on El Greco and Velasquez the
museum of the Hispanic Society, New York, has been enabled, through
the munificent generosity of Mr. Archer M. Huntington, to exhibit his
newly acquired El Grecos and a Velasquez. The former comprise a
brilliantly coloured Holy Family, which exhales an atmosphere of
serenity; the St. Joseph is said to be a portrait of El Greco; and
there also is a large canvas showing Christ with several of his
disciples. Notable examples both. The Velasquez comes from the
collection of the late Edouard Kann and is a life-size bust portrait
of a sweetly grave little girl. Senor Beruete believes her to
represent the daughter of the painter Mazo and his wife, Francisca
Velasquez, therefore a granddaughter of Velasquez. The tonalities of
this picture are subtly beautiful, the modelling mysterious, the
expression vital and singularly child-like. It is a fitting companion
to a portrait hanging on the same wall, that of the aristocratic young
Cardinal Pamphili, a nephew of Pope Innocent X, also by the great
Spaniard.

       *       *       *       *       *


BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

MEZZOTINTS IN MODERN MUSIC

BRAHMS, TSCHAIKOWSKY, CHOPIN, RICHARD STRAUSS, LISZT AND WAGNER

12mo. $1.50

"Mr. Huneker is, in the best sense, a critic; he listens to the music
and gives you his impressions as rapidly and in as few words as
possible; or he sketches the composers in fine, broad, sweeping
strokes with a magnificent disregard for unimportant details. And as
Mr. Huneker is, as I have said, a powerful personality, a man of quick
brain and an energetic imagination, a man of moods and temperament--a
string that vibrates and sings in response to music--we get in these
essays of his a distinctly original and very valuable contribution to
the world's tiny musical literature."--J. F. Runciman, in London
Saturday Review.

MELOMANIACS

12mo. 31.50

Contents: The Lord's Prayer in B--A Son of Liszt--A Chopin of the
Gutter--The Piper of Dreams--An Emotional Acrobat--Isolde's
Mother--The Rim of Finer Issues--An Ibsen Girl--Tannhaeuser's
Choice--The Red-Headed Piano Player--Brynhued's Immolation--The Quest
of the Elusive--An Involuntary Insurgent--Hunding's Wife--The Corridor
of Time--Avatar--The Wegstaffes give a Musicale--The Iron Virgin--Dusk
of the Gods--Siegfried's Death--Intermezzo--A Spinner of Silence--The
Disenchanted Symphony--Music the Conqueror.

"It would be difficult to sum up 'Melomaniacs' in a phrase. Never did
a book, in my opinion at any rate, exhibit greater contrasts, not,
perhaps, of strength and weakness, but of clearness and obscurity. It
is inexplicably uneven, as if the writer were perpetually playing on
the boundary line that divides sanity of thought from intellectual
chaos. There is method in the madness, but it is a method of
intangible ideas. Nevertheless, there is genius written over a large
portion of it, and to a musician the wealth of musical imagination is
a living spring of thought"--Harold E. Gorst, in _London Saturday
Review_ (Dec. 8, 1906).

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

ICONOCLASTS:

A Book of Dramatists

12mo. $1.50 net

CONTENTS: Henrik Ibsen--August Strindberg--Henry Becque--Gerhart
Hauptmann--Paul Hervieu--The Quintessence of Shaw--Maxim Gorky's
Nachtasyl--Hermann Sudennann--Princess Mathilde's Play--Duse and
D'Annunzio--Villiers de l'lsle Adam--Maurice Maeterlinck.

"His style is a little jerky, but it is one of those rare styles in
which we are led to expect some significance, if not wit, in every
sentence."--G.K. Chesterton, _in London Daily News._

"No other book in English has surveyed the whole field so
comprehensively."--The Outlook.

"A capital book, lively, informing, suggestive."--London Times
Saturday Review.

"Eye-opening and mind-clarifying is Mr. Huneker's criticism; ... no
one having read that opening essay in this volume will lay it down
until the final judgment upon Maurice Maeterlinck is reached."--Boston
Transcript.

OVERTONES:

A Book of Temperaments

_WITH FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF RICHARD STRAUSS_

12mo. $1.25 net

CONTENTS: Richard Strauss--Parsifal: A Mystical Melodrama--Literary
Men who loved Music (Balzac, Turgenieff, Daudet, etc.)--The Eternal
Feminine--The Beethoven of French Prose--Nietzsche the
Rhapsodist--Anarchs of Art--After Wagner, What?--Verdi and Boito.

"The whole book is highly refreshing with its breadth of knowledge,
its catholicity of taste, and its inexhaustible energy."--_Saturday
Review, London._

"In some respects Mr. Huneker must be reckoned the most brilliant of
all living writers on matters musical."--_Academy, London._

"No modern musical critic has shown greater ingenuity in the
attempt to correlate the literary and musical tendencies of the
nineteenth century."--_Spectator, London._

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

EGOISTS

_A BOOK OF SUPERMEN_

Stendhal, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Anatole France, Huysmans, Barres,
Hello, Blake, Nietzsche, Ibsen and Max Stirner.

With portrait of Stendhal, unpublished letter of Flaubert, and
original proof page of "Madame Bovary."

12mo. $1.50 net

"The best thing in the book happily comes first, the essay on
Stendhal. Closely and yet lightly written, full of facts yet as
amusing as a bit of discursive talk, penetrating, candid and very
shrewd, this study would be hard to beat in English, or, for that
matter, in French. It is, too, the best of the essays as regards
discrimination. There are no shades of Stendhal's genius, whether
making for good or for ill, that are missed by this analyst, and,
moreover, both the lights and shadows are justly distributed... He
seeks to show you the color of a man's mind, and it is evidence of his
validity as an essayist that straightway he interests you in the color
of his own. He is an impressionist in criticism... Such an essayist is
Mr. Huneker, a foe to dulness who is also a man of brains."--Royal
Cortissoz in _New York Tribune._

"JAMES HUNEKER: INDIVIDUALIST"

"As a critic, whether of music, the plastic arts, of poetry or fiction
or philosophy, he is of those who never attain finality; but he is
always stimulating, provocative of thought, and by virtue of this
quality, not invariably possessed by critics, he is entitled to a
distinctive place in American letters."

Edward Clark Marsh in _The Forum._

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

VISIONARIES

12mo. $1.50 net

Contents: A Master of Cobwebs--The Eighth Deadly Sin--The Purse of
Aholibah--Rebels of the Moon--The Spiral Road--A Mock
Sun--Antichrist--The Eternal Duel--The Enchanted Yodler--The Third
Kingdom--The Haunted Harpsichord--The Tragic Wall--A Sentimental
Rebellion--Hall of the Missing Footsteps--The Cursory Light--An Iron
Fan--The Woman Who Loved Chopin--The Tune of Time--Nada--Pan.

"The author's style is sometimes grotesque in its desire both to
startle and to find true expression. He has not followed those great
novelists who write French a child may read and understand. He calls
the moon 'a spiritual gray wafer'; it faints in 'a red wind'; 'truth
beats at the bars of a man's bosom'; the sun is 'a sulphur-colored
cymbal'; a man moves with 'the jaunty grace of a young elephant.' But
even these oddities are significant and to be placed high above the
slipshod sequences of words that have done duty till they are as
meaningless as the imprint on a worn-out coin.

"Besides, in nearly every story the reader is arrested by the idea,
and only a little troubled now and then by an over-elaborate style. If
most of us are sane, the ideas cherished by these visionaries are
insane; but the imagination of the author so illuminates them that we
follow wondering and spellbound. In 'The Spiral Road' and in some of
the other stories both fantasy and narrative may be compared with
Hawthorne in his most unearthly moods. The younger man has read his
Nietzsche and has cast off his heritage of simple morals. Hawthorne's
Puritanism finds no echo in these modern souls, all sceptical,
wavering and unblessed. But Hawthorne's splendor of vision and his
power of sympathy with a tormented mind do live again in the best of
Mr. Huneker's stories."--London Academy (Feb. 3, 1906).

       *       *       *       *       *

CHOPIN:

The Man and His Music

WITH ETCHED PORTRAIT
12mo. $2.00

"No pianist, amateur or professional, can rise from the perusal of his
pages without a deeper appreciation of the new forms of beauty which
Chopin has added, like so many species of orchids, to the musical
flora of the nineteenth century."--The Nation.

"I think it not too much to predict that Mr. Huneker's estimate of
Chopin and his works is destined to be the permanent one. He gives the
reader the cream of the cream of all noteworthy previous commentators,
besides much that is wholly his own. He speaks at once with modesty
and authority, always with personal charm."--Boston Transcript.





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