EACH epoch, as I have already said, contains the germ of the succeeding one. But this germ is not always of the same nature, nor is it to be found in the same place. In the epoch of Louis XIV. we have already perceived signs of a desire for something softer, gayer, less rigid, and more in keeping with the traditions of the French race than the ” Grand Style “. This desire showed itself neither in painting nor in architecture, which were the one severely official and decorative on an enormous scale, the other severely classic. But it was hinted at in decorative sculpture in those delightful gilt bronzes and plaster work of the ceilings at Versaillesin some of Girardon and Coysevox’s graceful nymphs and fountains.
Now, however, the ” grand siècle ” is over. Louis XIV. is dead. And France, so long held bound by the legend of his age in a path that was contrary to her geniuspompous, magnificent, and at last sad, serious, conventionalbreathes again. After Mme. de Maintenon, Mme. de Pompadour. After Le Brun, Boucher. After the huge wigs and voluminous draperies of Rigaud and Largillière, the powder and satin coats of Nattier and Tocqué. The mere portraits of the Marquis de Dangeau and the Marquis de Marigny, painted less than fifty years apart, reveal two different worlds.
France, kept within the rigid bounds of officialism in thought, in action, for sixty years, cries aloud for fresh air, for light, for life, for amusement. Away with pomposity. Away with Greece and Rome. We live in France. Life is short. Let us enjoy it while we can. ” The farandole ” succeeds the procession.”
No more science. No more theology. Life is what we want. We have been caged too longnow the doors are open. Our Olympus shall be the Olympus of Ovid, not of Homer or Virgil. We will worship the Goddess of Love. But she shall be a light-hearted Goddess of our owna Goddess of Love without poison and daggersof Love that brings smiles, not tearsof Love that amusesLove adorned with ribbons and roseswith soft rosy flesh and a little pink nose, and pouting red lips that always laugh and ask to be kissed ; Love that we meet in our Fêtes galantes, where, with charming manners and charming clothes, we embark for Cythère in the midst of an enchanting landscape, while the clouds above only shower little Loves upon us instead of thunder and rain.
Instead of magnificence the eighteenth century gives us grace. Instead of great ideals, we get every note in the scale of gallantry, of coquetry, of all that is gay, that is superficial, that is amusing in human life. Earth and sky are made to lend themselves to this universal worship of love and life. A love that is merely of the lips and eyes. A life that only lives for the momentthat is at best but a life of sentiment. Life is turned into a dainty poem. And that poem is painted by Watteau.
And thus the century dances on, with its shepherds and shepherdesses in silk and satin ; its fair ladies and their gallant lovers in powder and paint ; its Cupids and Hearts and Darts. And it never hears or heeds the terrible under-tone of suffering and sorrow and coming retribution, as it transforms nature herself into one vast décor de theatre.
It is in painting that the art of the eighteenth century finds its most complete expression. And four great painters in a manner sum up the tendencies of the time : Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Greuze.
In Watteau we find the Poet of the eighteenth century. Watteau, the great poet of Loveof a serene and gentle love with no note of passionof a tender and tranquil paradise. Watteau, who had the genius to create a world and a race of his own ; a dreamland as of one of the kingdoms of Shakespeare’s Comedies. ” Watteau a renouvelé la grâce.
” La grâce chez Watteau, n’est plus la grâce antique ; un ” charme rigoureux et solide, la perfection de marbre de la ” Galatée, la séduction toute plastique et la gloire matérielle ” des Vénus. La grâce de Watteau est la grace. Elle est ” le rien qui habille la femme d’un agrément, d’une coquet-” terie, d’un beau au-delà du beau physique. Elle est cette: ” chose subtile qui semble le sourire de la ligne, l’âme de ” la forme, la physionomie spirituelle de la matière.”
Boucher, the Amuser, ” born brush in hand,” reflects the very spirit and life of his time. He shows his century its own face in a ” mirror wreathed with roses “” the ideal of ” the world about him, the dream of a society crazy for ” pleasure, whirled along in a perpetual carnival “.2 A society that only cares to look on the joyous semblance of life ; on nature arranged to suit an endless play. This side of the eighteenth century is rendered by the painter par excellence of La Pompadour and Louis XV.
With Fragonard a deeper note is struck. He also is a poet. But Fragonard, the Provençal, the man of the South, writes a poem of different meaning to that of the great Watteau, the man of the North. Fragonard is the son of Tasso, of Cervantes, Boccacio, Ariosto. He writes the poem of desire. ” The breath of a sigh turns in it into a ” kiss.” The century is moving onthe change is coming. Fragonard laughs and mocks, and sighs and laughs again,. with his pagan spirit, his Gallic wit. For he knows that life is not merely a playthat nature is not merely a set scene for that play. And in Fragonard we get at times a note that cuts right across the prettiness, the follies, the loves, the gallantries, the powder and paint of the 18th century, as the swift blaze of a sword-cut through the air of a spring morning. A note that startles and sobers usa note of truth and vigour that foreshadows the aims of the great painters of the 19th century, not only in thought, but in actual method. Few pictures can be more “Impressionist ” than some of his portraits. And his ” Orage,” now in the Louvrea really great picture, with loaded ox-cart, terrified sheep, struggling men, against the great storm-cloudconveys to the mind a sense of haste and terror seldom surpassed. While of his ” Callirrhoé,” de Goncourt, that past master of all that pertains to the 18th century, says : ” The cry of a picture so novel for the 18th century “is Passion. Fragonard brings it to his times in this ” picture, full of a tragic tenderness, where one might think ” one saw the entombment of Iphigenia. It points out ” a future path to French paintingthat of pathos.
There was however another tendency in France besides the perpetual Carnival. The Philosophers were preaching loudly. As against the corruption in those of high degree, they exalted the virtues of the lowly ones of the earth. Powder and paint, silk and satin were anathema. The honest heart could only beat under home-spun. The happy ignorance of the Savoyard, gnawing his crust and his garlic by the roadside, is more to be desired than the wealth of the Fermier Général and the consolations of his Cordon-bleu. This cry for simplicity was but one of many affectations that marked the real, deep, growing love of humanity. ” The last century,” says M. Guizot, ” had this merit, that ” it loved man and men. It really had a true affection for ” them, and desired their welfare. The love of justice and ” humanity, of justice and humanity for all, which characterizes this epoch, what is its source if it does not come from ” a lively sympathy with man, and a tender interest in his “welfare.” This love of man, these doctrines of humanity and simplicity introduced a new element into Art.
The 18th century is nothing if not literary. Art criticism, or at all events ” Art journalism,” had begun with Diderot’s famous ” salons “. And they mark the beginning of a new state of things. Such art criticism is too literary. It seizes upon the subject, the idea merely ; and uses it as a text on which to develop a series of thoughts, of reflections, which have nothing to do with Art.
Diderot’s salons, however, had a very considerable effect on the relations of Art and literaturean effect far more widespreading than their intrinsic critical value. He used pictures and statues as worthy objects for literature ; while hitherto Art and literature had lived in two separate worlds, separated by insurmountable barriers. Artists and writers saw little of each other. Mme. Geoffrin had separate dinners for her artists and her men of letters, they knew so few people in common ! ” Diderot breaks down all these barriers. ” A man of letters himself, he haunts the studios, he talks, he ” disputes, he rubs up his ideas against their theories, his poetic ” aesthetics against their plastic or picturesque aesthetics. ” To the public, hitherto closely shut away from such things ” in literary taste, he opens the windows upon art ; through ” all his sentimental expressions, and the dissertations of “the thinker, he educates his reader’s understanding ; he ” teaches them to see and to enjoy, to appreciate the truth ” of an attitude, the delicacy of a tone.”‘
But Diderot may well be pardoned for being too literary in his Salons. Painters and sculptors were moved by the same impulse. And most of the pictures and sculptures of which he speaks were full of literary intention. They were intended to move the public by the subjects and the ideas they suggested. And the philosophers, with Diderot and Rousseau, found an exponent of their ideas and ideals in Greuze. “Fais nous de la morale, mon ami ! ” cries Diderot. Greuze replies with, the ” Père de Famille,” with
La Malédiction Paternelle,” with ” Le Fils puni,” with ” Le retour de Nourrice “. And Society–weary of its Fetes galantes, and taking its philosophy with hardly greater seriousness than its mythologyclaps its hands with enchantment at this new and delightful morality.
WATTEAU, ANTOINE (b. Valenciennes, 1684 ; ol. Nogent (Vincennes), 1721).” Watteau, l’homme du Nord, l’enfant “de Flandres, le grand poète de l’Amour, le maître des ” sérénités douces et des paradis tendres, dont l’oeuvre “ressemble aux Champs Elysées de la Passion ! Watteau “le mélancolique enchanteur, qui met un si grand soupir ” de nature dans ses bois d’automne pleins de regrets, autour ” de la volupté songeuse ! Watteau le Pensieroso de la Régence ”
Born at Valenciennes, the son of a master tiler, Watteau’s over-mastering talent at last broke down even his father’s opposition to what he considered the profession of an idler. For a time the tiler sent his son to an obscure painter, but he soon tired of paying for him. And Watteau drifted up to Paris about 1702 with another master, who had a talent for scene painting and was engaged on some work for the Opera.
The work was soon finished. The master returned to Valenciennes. And the poor lad, barely twenty, delicate, and diffident, was left stranded in Paris without food or clothes. After trying Métayer, with whom he learnt and earned nothing, he went to an even worse dauber, who manufactured pictures by the score for provincial dealers. Sometimes a dozen wretched ” pupils ” were employed by him as workmen. One painted skies, another heads, another draperies. All that he required was haste. Watteau was a most valuable acquisition to the manufactory. His rapid. execution, his power of doing ” all parts of a picture,” made him precious in the eyes of his task-master. He was given. three francs a week, and soup every day ” as a charity “. And at one moment was kept to Saint Nicholaswho he soon knew by heart, and could dash off without a model.
How the great artist escaped from this den is not quite certain. But Gillot, just then elected to the Academy, saw some of his drawings, and invited him to come and live with him. Though he stayed but a short time, his entrance into Gillot’s studio had a marked influence upon him. With. Gillot he gained his love of comedy and modern scenes. He then helped Audran, the decorator, who was painting the grisailles, arabesques, and grotesques, so much in fashion for panellings and ceilings. Here Watteau for the first time enjoyed a fairly comfortable existence. But tired of working for others, Watteau now painted a small picture, ” Un départ de troupes “. He showed it to Audran. Amazed and alarmed at the talent of his gifted assistant, Audran made light of it. Fearing to lose his valuable help, he begged Watteau not to ” spoil his real talent ” by such pictures. Watteau happily saw through his motives. Through his friend Sponde, a painter and a compatriot, he sold the picture to M. Sirois, who not only gave him 60 francs, but ordered a pendant, and remained one of his warmest patrons. The second picture, ” Une Halte d’Armée,” was taken from nature at Valenciennes, where Watteau now went. For this he received 200 francs. Both pictures have been engraved by Cochin, and are now in the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow.
On his return to Paris, Watteau, whose two pictures had already given him some reputation, fell in with the well-known amateur Crozat. He was engaged to do some decorations in his splendid Hotel, where he not only had food and lodgings, but Crozat placed his inestimable collection of paintings and drawings at his disposal. Here Watteau lived with the works of the finest masters, Italian and Flemish. And was specially drawn to the studies of Rubens and Van Dyck. His restless, irritable, and independent nature, however, soon made him leave his protector. And his melancholy, solitary temperament caused him to shut himself up in a tiny and obscure lodging, only known to M. Sirois. But the beauty of those Italian masters he had grown to know and love at M. Crozat’s, had filled him with a wild desire to go to Italy. His only resource was to compete for the Prix de Rome. This he did. A subject less suited to the poet of the 18th century than ” David and Abigail ” can hardly be imagined. He only won a second prize. This meant a further delay. With the desire for Rome stronger than ever upon him, he was ready to risk any adventure. He determined to try to obtain the King’s Pension through the intercession of the Academy. He therefore placed the two little pictures, all his stock-in-trade, in one of the passage rooms of the Academy. They were seen and admired by the Academicians. De la Fosse lingered before them longer than the rest ; and after hearing the story, invited Watteau into the Salle des Séances. Here he gently reproached the young artist with want of faith in his own talent ; and assured him that the Academy would be honoured in receiving him as one of its members. He was elected on the spot. This was in 1712.
Watteau took this extraordinary success with his usual insouciance and distrust of his own powers. He had neither pride nor ambition. And saw little in his membership save that the door to Italy was closed for ever. He still lived in retreat, constantly changing his dwelling. He studied harder than ever. He refused to believe in his great genius, though fame and orders almost overwhelmed him. Dissatisfied with his work, he spent much time in rubbing out and repainting. Andas with Rousseau a hundred years laterhis friends had considerable difficulty in dragging his pictures from him. The seeds of consumption were already undermining his health, and increasing his restless irritability and wandering habits. He never took the trouble to send in the necessary picture for his reception at the Academy, until five years after his election. But it was worth waiting for. It was the ” Embarquement pour Cythère “.
Two years later Watteau went to England, where he was received with all honour, and made a considerable monetary success. But the climate and the coal smoke were disastrous to his delicate chest, and after a year he returned to Paris. His first work on his return was a sign for his friend Gersaint, the picture dealer. The composition, painted entirely from nature in eight days, by the dying man, had a prodigious success.’ But it was the last important work of the great master. His days were numbered. At the end of six months he was seized with a desire for his native air. Leaving Gersaint’s house, his friend l’Abbé Haranger, canon of St. Germain l’Auxerrois, took him as far as M. le Febvre’s house at Nogent, near Vincennes. And here, on the 18th of July, 1721, Watteau expired. On his death-bed he tried to make up for his injustice to Pater, saying he had feared his talent (see Pater). And his estate, which he left to his four friends, Gersaint, l’Abbé Haranger, M. de Julienne, and M. Hénin, consisted of 9000 francs, and a number of drawings.
L’Embarquement pour Cythère. 982.
” Gilles,” a great picture, Salle la Caze. 983.
Jupiter and Antiope, spoilt by bitumens. 991.
La Finette. 985.
Le donneur de Sérénades, L’amante inquiète, and several others, Chantilly.
Picture in the Eglise St. Médard, Paris.
L’homme à la Guitare, Windsor Castle.
Bal Champêtre, and Fête Champêtre, Dulwich.
Three pictures, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Six pictures, National Gallery, Edinburgh.
The Encampment, and Breaking up the Camp,
Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow.
Pastoral Group, Hertford House.
Fête under trees, Hertford House.
These last are two of the most superb pictures ever painted by Watteau.
The Duet, Sir Francis Cook.
La Gamme d’Amour, Julius Wernher, Esq.
Actors of Italian Comedy, Asher Wertheimer, Esq.
A Garden Scene, and A Garden Scene with Pierrots, Charles Morrison, Esq.
Vue prise dans le parc de Saint Cloud; Fête Champêtre, the original of the one in the Arenberg Coll. at Brussels, Madrid Gallery.
Collection of drawings, British Museum.
LANCRET, NICHOLAS (b. Paris, 1690 ; d. Paris, 1743).Destined at first to become a die-sinker, Lancret soon obtained leave from his parents to abandon this profession for painting ; and entered the studio of Dulin, a professor at the Academy. Charmed with Watteau’s methods, he then entered the studio of Gillot, Watteau’s master. Watteau, who at first was very intimate with Lancret, ” advised him to leave the studio and to take no further guide but nature, to draw ” views of the landscapes in the environs of Paris, and to ” invent compositions in which he could use his studies “2. This excellent advice Lancret followed ; and painted two pictures which received the approbation not only of Watteau but of the Academy, to which he was admitted as agréé. Delighted with his success, he worked with enthusiasm, and exhibited two pictures in the place Dauphine, at the Fête Dieu. These were so completely after Watteau’s manner, that he was complimented on them as his own work. The success made Lancret’s reputation : but embroiled him with Watteau, who was furious, and never forgave him. In 1719 Lancret was received at the Academy under the same title as Watteau, ” peintre de fêtes galantes “.
His life was absorbed by his art. In the country he sketched everything that came under his eye, and it was only in his last years that his friends could induce him to give up drawing in the winter with the pupils from the model at the Academy.
Twelve pictures in the Louvre.
The four seasons, very charming, with lovely landscapes, Winter especially. 462-65.
Le nid d’oiseau. 467.
Les Tourterelles. 466.
Leçon de Musique. 468.
Le Gascon puni. 471.
La Cage, charming landscape. 472.
Le déjeuner de Jambon, Chantilly.
The four ages. Four pictures, National Gallery. A kitchen, Hertford House.
Mlle. Camargo, dancer, Hertford House.
Les deux amis ; and Nicaise, J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq.
L’Escarpolette ; and L’Hiver, Marquise de Lavalette.
A Garden party, Lord Wantage, V.C.
PATER, JEAN-BAPTISTE-JOSEPH (b. Valenciennes, 1696 ; d. Paris, 1736).Pater’s father, a sculptor, sent him when very young to Paris to study painting. Here he entered the studio of his compatriot, Watteau. But Watteau’s difficult temper, and irritable, uncertain character, prevented the unfortunate lad remaining long with him. Watteau repented of his injustice towards his pupil at the end of his life. He sent for him, confessed he had feared his talent, and made him work with him. But these precious lessons only lasted for a month, when Watteau’s death put an end to them.
Never was artist more assiduous in his profession than Pater. He was haunted by the fear of becoming infirm be-fore he had secured enough to live on, and worked day and night. This broke down his health, and he died before he could enjoy the fortune for which he had sacrificed his life.
Comédiens dans un parc. 690.
La Toilette, charming interior with red lacquer mirror and boxes. 691.
Conversation dans un parc. 692.
Pictures in the Trianon, Valenciennes, Nantes, Angers, and in the collections at Cassel, Dresden, the Hermitage, Berlin, etc.
Pastoral Group, Hertford House.
Mons. de Pourceagnac, Arlequin et Pierrot, La fête champêtre, Le joueur de flute, Buckingham Palace.
Ladies bathing (366), National Gallery, Edinburgh.
Carnival Scene, Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow.
The Pleasure Barge, Baron Alfred de Rothschild.
Le désir de plaire, or La Toilette, Marquise de L avalette.
LEMOYNE, FRANÇOIS (b. Paris, 1688 ; b. Paris, 1737).-At the age of thirteen, Lemoyne entered the studio of Galloche. And in 1711 gained the Grand Prix de l’Académie. But he did not go to Rome, as the state had for some years been obliged to stop sending pensionnaires, on account of the wars at the end of Louis XIV.’s reign. In 1716 he was elected, and in 1718 received into the Academy. His diploma work was Hercules and Cacus. In 1723 he travelled with two friends for six months in Italy, and there was much struck with the ceilings of Michael Angelo, Pietro de Cortona, and Lanfranc. During this journey he painted the Hercules and Omphale, now in the Louvre. And on his return, finished the roof of the Church of the Jacobins. He then competed for the Prix du roi to the members of the Academy, dividing it with Troy ; and was made Professor. Two years later he painted the allegorical picture of the young King, Louis XV., giving peace to Europe. This was placed in 1729 over the mantelpiece in the Salon de la Paix, Versailles, where it still exists.
But his most celebrated work at Versailles was begun in 1732 and finished four years laterthe ceiling for the Salon d’Hercule. This splendid room was built for the ballroom under Louis XV. Vassé worked from 1729 to 1734 on the decorative gilt bronzes, including the beautiful cornice with trophies of arms between each modillion, the exquisite capitals of the pilasters of coloured marbles, the ornaments of the grand chimney-piece on pink marble, and the magnificent frame that once contained Veronese’s ” Repas chez Simon “. To Lemoyne was entrusted the enormous ceiling, for which, on a huge canvas, 18 metres 50 by 17 metres, he painted the Apotheosis of Hercules. It was well restored in 1885, and is certainly a chef d’oeuvre of decorative painting. The Grisailles round the edge above the cornice are particularly fine. It contains 142 figures much larger than life. The king was so much pleased with this great work, that he made Lemoyne his premier peintre in the place of Louis de Boulogne. But the fatigue of this gigantic work and another ceiling for a chapel in Saint-Sulpice, upon both of which he had been working for nearly seven years added to the vexation of not enjoying as premier peintre all the privileges Le Brun had been allowed under Louis XIV.as well as the death of his patron, the duc d’Antin, affected Lemoyne’s reason. And ten months after his appointment, during a bout of fever, he stabbed himself nine times with a sword, imagining he was going to be arrested and imprisoned, and died. Among his pupils were Natoire, Boucher, and Nonotte.
Examples in Versailles :
Ceiling of Salle d’Hercule.
Louis XV. donnant la Paix à l’Europe, Salon de la Paix.
L’Olympe, sketch for ceiling. 535.
Junon, Iris, et Flore. 536.
Hercule et Omphale. 537.
L’éducation de l’Amour. 538.
DESPORTES, FRANÇOIS (b. Champigneul, Champagne, 1661; d. Paris, 1743).Son of a wealthy cultivator, Desportes was sent to an uncle in Paris when twelve. Showing an aptitude for drawing, he was placed with a drunken old Flemish animal painter, Nicasius. But when Nicasius died, the lad determined to study from nature, and from the antique at the Academy. To support himself he helped other painters, putting scenery, ceilings, etc., into their pictures.
In spite of considerable talent for portraits, he did not get on. So in 1695 he went to Poland. Here he painted Sobieski, the Queen, and nobles, and made a great success. On Sobieski’s death Louis XIV. recalled him to France. And he now almost abandoned portraits for paintings of animals and hunting scenes. In 1699 he was received at the Academy with his own portrait (249, Louvre). The King gave him an allowance and rooms in the Louvre. And he worked at Anet, Clichy, l’Hotel de Bouillon, and the Ménagerie, Versailles. He now began to paint the finest dogs in the King’s pack. And always accompanied Louis XIV. on his hunting parties. He also painted for Monseigneur at Meudon. And about this time he began painting flowers, fruit, and gold and silver vases for Lord Stanhopethe King ordering a similar series. In 1712 he obtained six months’ leave of absence, and went to England, taking a number of pictures with him, which were eagerly bought. On his return to France he painted all the rare animals in the King’s menagerie. A great favourite with the Regent, he painted for the Palais Royal, and La Muette, and furnished designs for screens and tapestries. Louis XV. and all his nobles employed him in turn.
A hard worker, gifted with extraordinary facility, he produced an immense number of pictures, though all were carefully and faithfully studied from nature. His last work was a great stag hunt, and dessus de portes for Choisy. His admirable drawing, his vivid and harmonious colour, his truth to nature, stand comparison with the best Flemish masters of his style.
Twenty-six pictures in Louvre :
Desporte’s portrait with gun, dogs, and game. 249.
Portraits of Sporting Dogs of Louis XIV. 229-30.
Fruit and dead birds, very beautiful. 245.
The Stag Hunt. 227.
Four fine examples on the Escalier de la Reine, Fontainebleau.
OUDRY, JEAN-BAPTISTE (b. Paris, 1686 ; d. Beauvais, 1755).Son of Jacques Oudry, a ‘maitre peintre who sold pictures on the Pont Notre Dame Jean-Baptiste learnt the elements of drawing from his father. He subsequently studied under de Serre ; and then with Largillière. Largillière treated him like a son, made him stand by his easel when he was painting interesting headsand they were many from the hand of such a masterand gave him the reason for every stroke of the brush. His father, who was Director of the Guild of St. Luke, made Oudry and his two brothers enter the Maîtrise. At first he painted portraits. But the fruits and animals he introduced into them so impressed Largillière, that he advised Oudry to devote himself to animals and still life. This he did. But meanwhile he had to live, and painted a ” Nativity ” and a ” St. Gilles ” for the Choir of Saint-Leu, and an ” Adoration ” for the Chapter of St. Martin des Champs.
In 1717 he was made professor of the Maîtrise. But two years later he deserted the Guild, and entered the Academy as an historical painter, with a picture of ” l’Abondance et ses attributs “. His first great success was a full-length of Peter the Great, who wanted to carry him off to Russia. The Duc d’Antin, however, persuaded him to remain in France ; and Louis XV. gave him a studio. in the Tuileries, followed by rooms in the Louvre ; while Fagon, intendant des Finances, ordered an important series of pictures for Fontenay-aux-Roses.
His success was now great. The King made Oudry paint his dogs in his presence. He accompanied the Royal hunts, making endless studies in the forest in order to give his pictures the greatest possible exactitude. Though his reputation was great abroad, he refused to leave France, where he was indeed fully occupied. For Fagon first made him superintendent of the manufactory of Beauvais, founded by Colbert, which he wished to reconstruct. And he was later appointed superintendent of the Gobelins. He succeeded, thanks to his extraordinary energy, in both these tasks. For a long while he himself made all the models for tapestries at Beauvaishunting scenes, country amusements, Molière’s comedies, La Fontaine’s fables, etc. And then called Boucher and Natoire to his aid. But he managed, in spite of the work of both these great establishments, to paint a host of pictures ; and spent his time on fête days and ‘Sundays in making studies of landscape in the Forêt de St. ‘Germain, at Chantilly, in the Bois de Boulogne and the ‘Gardens of Arceuil. He drew all the evening, and it was thus that in 1729-30 he made 275 drawings in white on blue paper for La Fontaine’s fables in four volumes, which were printed in 1760. He also read two remarkable lectures at the Academy. One, upon the method of studying colour by comparing objects one with anotherit reads like a bit of Zola’s monograph on Manetwas published.
Eight pictures in Louvre :
Blanche, Chienne de la Meute de Louis XV. 666.
La Ferme, a charming landscape. 670.
” Le Cerf forcé par Louis XV. à la Roche qui pleurer, Fontainebleau,” Escalier de la Reine, Fontainebleau.
Two magnificent pictures, Chantilly.
Six pictures, Barnard Castle, etc.
NATTIER, JEAN MARC (b. Paris, 1685 ; d. Paris, 1766).The favourite portrait painter of the court of Louis XV.,. was son of Marc Nattier, also a portrait painter, who died in 1705. At fifteen Nattier gained a first prize at the Academy. And in 1709 Jouvenet, who was his godfather, wished to obtain a place for him in the French School in Rome. But Nattier refused. He was already engaged on drawings of the Rubens Gallery at the Luxembourg ; having obtained leave from Louis XIV. to have them engraved by the best engravers of the day. Elected to the Academy in 1713, he went to Amsterdam in 1715, where Peter the Great was, then staying. Here he remained, painting the Czar and all the Russian court, till Peter’s visit to Paris in 1717. The next year Nattier was received into the Academy, on his, diploma picture of ” Perseus bringing Medusa’s head to the marriage of Phineus ” (Musée de Tours). But it was not till 1720 that, having lost all his savings through Law’s speculations, he turned definitively to portraiturepainting all the celebrated personnages of the day.
Nattier, who for many years was the favourite portrait painter of the House of France, has left us at Versailles a charming and interesting series of pictures of the Royal family. He painted every member of it ; most of them more than once. We get the poor little duc de Bourgogne, son of the Dauphine Marie Joseph, at four years old, who died sadly when he was tena charming portrait in his little blue coat and orders of the Saint-Esprit and Toison d’Or. A still more brilliant picture is that of another grandchild of Louis XV., the little daughter of Mme. Elizabeth (Mme. Infante), then nine years old. Her grandfather evidently wished for a souvenir of the little maiden’s visit in 1749. He never saw her again, for she never returned to France, and died wife of Joseph II., and Empress of Germany. Then come numbers of portraits of Mesdames, the daughters of Louis XV., from their childhood on. Madame Henriette as Flora. Little Mme. Louise, holding flowers. Madame Adélaide as Dianaa delicious picture. The lovely colour of the background reminds us of Boucher at his very best. These three are now in the Petits Appartements ; and are of the highest interest and beauty. Perhaps, however, Nattier’s triumph is the charming portrait of the amiable Queen, Marie Leczinska, who was so often painted by many of the excellent portrait painters of France. No other picture of her can exceed this in charm and quality. It was exhibited in the Salon of 1748. The Queen is sitting, dressed in a dark-red dress trimmed with fur. A ” marmotte” of black lace is loosely tied over a white lace cap. Her left arm rests on a console, upon which we see the crown, the regal mantle, and the Gospels. The expression of the Queen’s face is delightful in its kindly, motherly gentleness. Another very important work is the portrait of Mme. Henriette playing the bass viol (3800). This, Nattier considered one of his best works. So is the well-known three-quarter length of Mme. Adélaïde in a crimson and white shot silk dress powdered with embroidered stars, and holding a shuttle and gold thread (3801). This is signed ” Nattier pinxit, 1756 “.
Chief Examples :
Mlle. de Lambesc et le Jeune Comte de Brionne. She as a Goddess arming the boy, Louvre. 659.
Queen Marie Leczinska.
Duc de Bourgogne, dated 1754. 3887.
Dauphine Marie Joseph de Saxe, dated 1751. 2197.
Daughter of Mme. Infante, afterwards “Empress of Germany, date 1749. 4464.
Mme. Elizabeth (Mme. Infante), Duchess of Parma, about 1759. 3875.
Mme. Henriette as Flora, dated 1742. 3818.
Mme. Adélaide as Diana, dated 1745. 3805.
Mme. Louise. 4428.
Mme. Henriette playing a Bass Viol. 3800.
Mme. Adélaide singing, (a replique by Nattier). 4456.
Mme. Adélaide with shuttle, date 1756. 3801.
Nattier and his family, begun when the four children were young, 1730. Finished 1762, long after the death of the young woman at the clavecin. 4419.
Queen Marie Leczinska, Buckingham Palace. 570.
Lady as Diana. 51.
Lady with powdered hair. 570
Duc de Penthièvre, H. L. Bischoffsheim.
Mme. de Bovuille, Lord Burton.
Several portraits to which it is difficult to assign names, Madrid Gallery.
VAN LOO, CHARLES ANDRÉ, dit CARLE (b. Nice, 1705 ; d. Paris, 1765).-As a mere child Carle Van Loo was taken to Italy by his eldest brother, Jean-Baptiste, who stood in the place of father and master. The brothers went first to Turin, summoned by the Duke of Savoy, and then to Rome. Here at nine years old little Carle was placed with Luti ; then with Le Gros, who taught him to model and carve in wood and marble. And in 1719 the brothers returned to Paris, where they were lodged by the Prince de Carignan in his Hotel de Soissons. Carle was now able to help his brother Jean-Baptiste, sketching in his pictures, painting draperies ; and was one of the students who, with Chardin, helped him to restore the paintings of Rosso and Primaticcio in the Galerie François I. at Fontainebleau; and his love of huge works now led him to compose and paint scenery for the Opera House.
In 1724 he won the premier prix de peinture at the Academy. But before starting for Rome he painted a number of small portraits, some of them full-lengths, which were much sought after. It was in 1727 that he set out for Rome, accompanied by his nephews, Louis and François, and by Boucher. In Rome he threw himself with enthusiasm into fresh studies ; and at the age of twenty-four had produced some remarkable works, such as the Apotheosis of St. Isidore for the Church of San Isidoro, being created Chevalier by the Pope in 1731. On his return to Paris in 1734, Carle Van Loo was elected to the Academy, and received the following year upon his ” Flaying of Marsyas “. He became Professor in 1737, and in 1763 was made Director. Honours came thick upon him. The King gave him the order of St. Michel in 1751, and in 1762 made him premier peintre, with 6000 livres a year. His reputation was immense, and he was overwhelmed with orders. The King of Prussia endeavoured to tempt him to the Prussian Court, but he sent his nephew, Charles Amadée, in his place. In 1764 he was commissioned to paint the history of St. Gregory in the Cupola of the Invalides. His sketches all made from nature were prepared, and were exhibited in the Salon of 1765. But he died before the work could be begun.
Examples in Louvre :
Van Loo’s portrait by himself. 904.
Une halte de chasse. 899.
Institution of the order of the St. Esprit by Henri III. 895.
Queen Marie Leczinska, a superb portrait. 900. Louis XV., the well-known portrait in armour, about 1750, Versailles. 3751.
Mlle. de Clermont aux Eaux minérales de Chantilly, Chantilly.
Louise Henriette de Bourbon – Conti, Duchesse d’Orléans, Chantilly.
Marquise de la Ferronays, M. Sedelmeyer.
Louise Isabelle de Bourbon, Madrid Gallery.
TOCQUE , LOUIS (b. 1696 ; d. 1772).-This excellent portrait painter, who entered the school of Nicholas Bertin at an early age, soon gained a considerable reputation. In 1731 he was elected to the Academy, and received three years later. In 1739 he painted the Dauphin, son of Louis XV., then ten years old ; the very charming portrait is now in the Louvre, and shows the strong likeness between Louis de France and Mesdames his sisters. The next year Tocqué painted Queen Marie Leczinska, the great official full-length that faces Van Loo’s portrait in the Louvre. But perhaps his chef d’oeuvre is the superb portrait at Versailles of the Marquis de Marigny, in his blue fur-trimmed coat (4333)a most remarkable and striking work of art. His success was immense, and he was much in request abroad. The Empress summoned him to St. Petersburg in 1757, where he stayed for a year, returning by way of Stockholm and Copenhagen in 1760, painting Royal and Court portraits. He married the daughter of Nattier.
Examples in Louvre :
Queen Marie Leczinska. 865.
Louis de France, dauphin, son of Louis XV. 868.
Portrait presumed to be Mme. de Graffigny. 869.
Portrait d’un homme, brown coat, red waistcoat. 875. Versailles :
Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, sketched in, only hands and face finished. 3853.
Marquis de Marigny. 4333.
Marquis de Matignon. 3771.
Mme. Salle, Coll. Lord Hindlip, England.
DROUAIS, FRANÇOIS-HUBERT (b. Paris, 1727 ; d. Paris, 1775),-the portrait painter, was pupil of his father, Hubert, the miniature painter, and in turn of Carle Van Loo, Natoire and Boucher. Elected to the Academy in 1754, he was received as Academician four years later on his portraits of Coustou and Bouchardon, now in the Louvre. After the death of Nattier he became premier peintre du roi, and the official Court painter of Louis XV., and of Monsieur and Madame. Several excellent portraits of the daughters of Louis XV. are to be seen at Versailles, notably one of Mme. Sophie (3810). And some, which have been attributed to Nattier, may well be by him. The Louvre has one of his best works, the charming picture of the Comte d’Artois (Charles X.), and Mme. Clotilde (Queen of Sardinia), as children, with a goat (266). There is also an interesting portrait by him at Chantilly, of the Dauphine Marie Antoinette, as Hebe.
CHARDIN, J. B. SIMON (b. Paris, 1699 ; d. Paris, 1779). Chardin, after a long period of neglect, has of late been restored the position his admirable work deserves. Noël Coypel was the first to instil an admiration for truth into the young painter. Coypel employed him to paint a gun in one of his portraitsthat of a chasseur. And the care the master took in arranging the light and position of this accessory, revealed instantly to Chardin the importance of close attention to nature, of exactitude in place, colour, chiaroscuro. When asked for a sign for a surgeon’s shop, Chardin, instead of representing the surgical implements of the day, painted a quaint bit of contemporary life. A man wounded in a duel is brought to the surgeon’s door, who bandages him, while all round the crowd of passers by are in a state of violent excitement ; dogs bark, the water-carrier stares, the lady in the vinaigrette puts her head out of the door in a state of alarm ; haste, catastrophe, pervades the whole picture. It made an immense success. Chardin and some other Academy students were then taken by J. B. Van Loo to restore a gallery at Fontainebleau, and Van Loo bought one of his pictures closely imitating a bas relief, which Chardin had exhibited in the Place Dauphine.
Chardin’s first picture in the style of which he was soon to be a master, was of a dead rabbit. This induced him to devote himself to ” Still Life ” ; to which he later added living animals. A member of the Corporation of St. Luke, and encouraged by the praises of its artists, Chardin sent ten pictures to the Academy. They were placed haphazard in one of the outer rooms ; and Largillière, Louis de Boulogne and Cazes took them for Flemish masterpieces. When the young artist was discovered, he was proposed and received in the same day as a full member of the Academy, rising in 1755 to the post of Treasurer, which he occupied for twenty years. In 1757 he obtained lodgings in the Louvre and a pension of 1200 livres ; and in 1765 succeeded Michel Ange Slodtz at the Royal Academy of Rouen. Chardin worked to extreme old age. His pictures are remarkable for truth of gesture and expression, harmony of colour and knowledge of chiaroscuro, mellowness and firmness of touch. After great popularity, they fell much out of favour till of late. But Chardin was not only the painter of natures mortes. He was the historian of the Petite Bourgeoisie. ” No woman of the tiers état looks at his pictures,” says a curious little pamphlet of the day, ” but thinks that she sees. “herself and her surroundings.” With the Classics and Romantics the bourgeoisie soon fell out of favour ; and Chardin with it.
Twenty-eight of his pictures are in the Louvre. Among those of special value are :
Le Singe Antiquaire. 97.
Le Chateau de Cartes, 1741. 103.
Peaches and grapes. 110.
And several admirable ” Natures Mortes “. 106.
Girls at work, Dulwich. 307.
Bread and wine, National Gallery.
La Fontaine, and La Blanchisseuse, Sir Francis Cook.
BOUCHER, FRANÇOIS (b. Paris, 1703 ; d. Paris, 1770).” Le Peintre des Graces et des Amours,” the future premier peintre du roi and Director of the Academy, son of a humble painter who sold cheap prints and drew designs for embroideries, had no real master but Lemoyne. And with Lemoyne he only stayed about three months. Lemoyne,, however, made so profound an impression on the lad, that Boucher’s earlier pictures were often taken for those of his master.
About 1721 François Boucher went to live with the father of Cars the engraver, who carried on a trade in thèses, the sort of placards or cartouches then greatly in. favour. These Boucher designed ; and they were at once engraved by Laurent Cars, who became his intimate friend, and later on his chief engraver. For this work the père Cars gave him food and lodging, with 60 francs a montha little fortune ! The most important of these thèses were for England. One is dedicated to Marlborough” forti, felici, invicto “. Mars is seen above with Fame, surrounded with Loves, and gives orders to Vulcan and his Cyclops, forging arms below.
In 1723 Boucher gained the premier prix at the Academy. But did not go to Rome. This secured him food, lodging, instruction, and 300 francs a year for three years ; with time besides to work at 24 francs a day for the well-known amateur, M. de Julienne, the friend of Watteau who was bringing ont his uvre de Watteau ; and Boucher engraved 125 of Watteau’s pictures for it. He also exhibited several small pictures in 1725 in the Place Dauphine. And two years later he went to Rome at his own cost, with Carle Van Loo and his two nephews. He was elected to the Academy on his return in 1731 ; and received in 1734, as ” Peintre d’Histoire,” his picture being ” Renaud aux pieds d’Armide “. The year before, he had married Marie-Jeanne Busseau, then only seventeen, a very lovely woman. La Tour exhibited an exquisite pastel of her in 1737. And in 1761 Roslin exhibited another portrait of Mme. Boucher, ” qui est toujours belle,” said Diderot. The celebrated beauty was not only of use to Boucher as his model, but turned her hand to work in the studio, engraving, and copying some of his pictures in miniature ; while a rare eau forte of hers also exists.
Boucher’s success now grew apace. In 1735already professor-adjoint—-he painted the four charming grisailles for the Chambre de la Reine at Versailles. And was soon employed under Oudry on designs for tapestry for Beauvais, such as the well-known ” Balançoire,” the ” Chasse au Tigre,” and ” Chasse au Crocodile “. In the Salon of 1737 the first that had been held since 1704he had several pictures ” pour le Roy “. In 1742 he received a royal pension, and began the decorations of the Hotel Soubise. And his Goddesses, his Dianas, his Aurorasabove all his Venushis swarms of little lovesall the fantastic mythology of the timealternate with landscapes, with pastorales, with shepherds and shepherdesses who seem to step off the boards of the Opera, with all the pretty follies and falsehoods in which the 18th century delighted. No one knew how to render them with more absolute conviction than Boucher. And they succeed one another with incredible rapidity in those ten triumphant years from 1742 to 1753. For he is now the favourite painter of the Femme ministre. And Mme. de Pompadour’s favourite was not likely to lack employment. 1752 had brought him a pension of 1000 livres, and the much-coveted lodgings and studio in the Louvre. Three years later he succeeds Oudry at the Gobelins. Though his patroness, la Pompadour, died in 1764, her influence on the King was strong even after she was gone. And in 1765, on Van Loo’s death, the King appointed Boucher his premier peintre ; and he also became Director of the Academy.
It is impossible to give any idea of the prodigious quantity of pictures the artist produced in his long and successful career. He tried all stylesReligious, mythological, fantastic subjects. Landscapes, animals, decorations. Scene paintings for the Opera, for the Foire de St. Laurent, and the Foire de St. Germain. Dessus de portes, ceilings, panels for carriages, models for tapestry. A Pantin for the Duchesse d’Orléans that cost 1500 livres. Fans, watch cases, ostrich eggs, chinoiseriesnothing was too trivial for his brush.
His drawings form an enormous and important part of his work. He himself calculated his illustrations and drawings at over 10,000. For Boucher was the first to raise original drawings into a lucrative part of the artist’s work ; and his, produced so rapidly in sanguine, in pencil, in chalk, were eagerly sought after by his admirers.
Amid the general laudation with which Boucher’s genius was acclaimed by his contemporaries, only one voice was persistently raised against the Pompadour’s favourite, and this was Diderot’s. The mere sight of his pictures threw Diderot into a frenzy of anger, and violent and brutal criticism. But there was a more profound reason than mere fashion for Boucher’s enormous popularity. ” He is one of those men who ” signify the taste of a century, who express it, personify it ” and incarnate it. French taste of the eighteenth century “is manifested in him in all the specialism of its character. “Boucher will remain not only its painter, but its witness, “its representative, its type. ” 1 He does not represent the whole of the eighteenth century art. “He is not equal ” either to Watteau or Chardin : but he is par excellence the “painter of Louis XV. and of the Pompadour.”
By one of those strange but common revolutions in art, the names of Boucher and Van Loo became terms of reproach in the mouths of critics and classical fanatics. Though David might say ” N’est pas Boucher qui veut,” no one heeded him. In 1812 the Journal de l’Empire warns Prud’hon not to imitate the style of “Boucher de ridicule mémoire “” de Boucher maudit “. In 1822 one of his landscapes fetched twenty-two francs ; a shepherd teaching a shepherdess to pipe, forty-one francs. The detractors have now disappeared in turn. And Boucher has once again taken his rightful place among French artists, because he was a born painter and the creator of a type.
FRAGONARD, JEAN HONORÉ (b. Grasse, 1732 ; d. Paris, 1806).Honoré Fragonard before all else is a Provençal. “La gueuse parfumée,” as his native land has well been called, was his fairy godmother. Till eighteen he grew up under the southern sun, in all the joy of light and warmth, of gracious and enchanting natural surroundings. His work reflects his race and his country. And his gay confidence in Providence and in himself, is expressed in his laughing answer when questioned on his early life and the way in which he had formed himself : ” Tire-toi d’affaire comme to ” pourras, m’a dit la Nature en me poussant dans la Vie “.
At eighteen the family came to Paris about a law suit which ruined them ; and Fragonard became clerk to a notary. But he detested the profession, and instead of figures made caricatures in his books. The notary had the sense to see his talent. And his mother took him to Boucher. Boucher however said Fragonard did not know enoughhe might come back when he had learnt the elements of drawing. He went on to Chardin, who only gave him prints of the day to copy. And the lad spent half his time wandering among the churches of Paris, looking at the pictures, and often painting them from memory at home. At the end of six months he took some of these memory sketches to Boucher. Amazed at his progress, Boucher at once received him, and set him to work on his own great paintings for the manufactory of the Gobelins. This was his whole apprenticeship. At the end of two years Boucher made him compete for the Prix de Romenot as an Academy studentbut as his own pupil. This he gained in 1752.
Once in Rome his head was turned by all he saw. He hardly knew what line to take, and did so badly at first that no one believed in his talent. Natoire was then chief of the Academy. And the pupils were so idle under his weak authority that M. de Marigny was obliged to intervene. Two years later Fragonard was mentioned as gifted, but too versatile. The truth was that Rome was too much for him, as it was for Goethe. He confessed later that the genius of Michael Angelo frightened him. Raphael brought tears to his eyes. And he turned to the 17th century, to Baroccio, Solimène, Pierre de Cortone, Tiepolo, feeling that he might some day hope to rival their work. After a time he regained his equilibrium ; and his masters soon began to recognise the fire and vigour of his ‘ work. He obtained leave to stay an extra year in Rome. And here his close relations with Hubert-Robert, the landscape painter, and the amiable and accomplished Abbé de Saint-Non began. Some of Saint-Non’s etchings from the drawings of the two young artists, who went with him to Naples and spent months with him in the Villa d’Este, show the Abbé as a remarkable artist. And to this period are due many exquisite works of ” Frago,” as his friends called him.
1761 saw Fragonard back in Paris after five years’ incessant labour and study. As it was only possible then (see next chapter) for elected Academicians, professors, and full members, to exhibit in the Salon, the first step was to get elected. Fragonard’s picture was the ” Callirrhoé ” of the Louvre. Though he treated it in a theatrical fashionfor it was taken from Rameau’s operait is a great picture. The colour is exquisite, with the red draperies below the group of white and beautiful figures. And through it rings that novel cry of passion and pathos of which de Goncourt speaks. It was a triumph for the artist. ” M. Fragonard,” writes de Marigny to Natoire, ” has just been received at the Academy ” with a unanimity and applause of which there have been ” few examples.” Fragonard, however, contented himself with the title of ” agréé “. He did not attempt to become an Academician. And the Salon of 1767 was the second and last in which he exhibited. Disgusted with official work, after the difficulties he had experienced with regard to the payment for his Callirrhoé by M. de Marigny, he henceforth worked only for amateurs, who strove to secure his smallest compositions. Fragonard married in 1769. And in 1773, Bergeret, the Fermier-Général, took him and his wife back to Italy, on one of those stately journeys of the last century, where theatres, picture galleries, Naples, Vesuvius and the Pope, were all visited in leisurely fashion ; and a year was spent in study and observation where now we give a month. Fragonard began to draw before they reached the frontier, and drew without ceasing the whole time. But when, on the friends’ return by Venice, Vienna, Leipzig and Dresden, ” Frago ” requested to have his drawings returned to him, there was a dispute. They even went to law; and Bergeret was condemned to return the drawings, or pay 30,000 francs, which he preferred to do. The quarrel, one is glad to know, was made up, and the old friendship restored.
In Fragonard’s lodging at the Louvre his studio was arranged in harmony with the subjects he delighted in. He decorated it with paintings of wreaths of flowers, shrubs, a fountain, a swing, rich draperies. And there, in a fantastic light, he produced those rapid and brilliant pictures which have made de Goncourt say, that he is ” Un esquisseur de génie “. Some of his subjects which may now be considered somewhat indecent, were then, it must be remembered, in accordance with the extremely broad taste of the time. But his portraits, his exquisite pictures of children and scenes of child-life, his decorations, and very many of his pictures, are without a touch of offence. He tried all styles, working without ceasing and with extraordinary facility. Miniatures, which he imbued with a grace and brightness all his own ; pastels, gouaches, water-colours, charming eaux fortes and drawings à la sanguine. His drawings are a most important part of his work.
The Revolution ruined Fragonard. The fashion deserted him for David’s school. And though David himself was always faithful to him, he died in comparative poverty in 1806, obscure and forgotten.
Examples in Louvre :
Leçon de Musique. 291.
La Musique. 296. L’ètude. 297.
Figure de Fantaisie. 299.
Jeune Femme et enfant. 300.
Portrait de Fragonard. 302.
Un Buveur. 303.
L’Heure du Berger.
It is supposed that Fragonard painted the forty-two little portraits of Princes and Princesses of the House of Bourbon at Chantilly, as his name figures in the accounts of payments for them.
Young Scholar, and La Lettre, Hertford House.
Day, and Night, Mme. de Falbe.
Head of Girl, James Knowles, Esq.
Fête Champêtre, Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow.
Fragonard’s chef d’oeuvre, however, has only just been revealed to the public, in the series of decorative pictures known as the ” Roman d’Amour de la Jeunesse “. These were painted for Mme. du Barry about 1772; but she returned them to the painter. And in 1793 he transported them to the salon of his friend M. Malvilan at Grasse, where they have remained ever since, unseen except by a favoured few. Messrs. Agnew in exhibiting them, November, 1898, have made known the charm and beauty of one of the most important works of the 18th century.
TRINQUESSE, L., a very interesting painter of the school of Watteau and Fragonard, a pupil of Largillière, is now almost unknown. His works are extremely rare. The only example I know of in England, is the ” Scène d’Amour,” in the possession of Reginald Vaile, Esq. It is signed and dated 1786, and was exhibited at the Guildhall, 1898.
GREUZE, JEAN BAPTISTE (b. Tournus, near Macon, 1725 ; d. Louvre, 1806).-” To personify an epoch, however short, “is a happiness which at the same time is a warrant of ” duration. Greuze knew this happiness, which perhaps ” was beyond his deserts.” His talent manifested itself early. But his father, a master tiler, intended him to be an architect, and at eight years old forbade him to draw. A pen and ink drawing however of the head of St. James, done in secret, at last softened the father’s heart. The boy was allowed to go to Lyons and work with M. Grandon, the father of Mme. de Grétry. Here he only learnt how to manufacture a picture a day. Longing for a wider sphere he set out for Paris, where he worked industriously from the model at the Academy under Natoire, painting small pictures to earn his bread.
Pigalle now became interested in him. And Greuze’s first important picture, which had been exhibited at the house of the well-known amateur, M. de la Live de Jully, created a sensation at the Salon of 1755. It was ” Le Père de Famille expliquant le Bible A ses enfants “. Here was a wholly new style. The familiar scene, the everyday details, the personnages resolutely taken from a humble bourgeoisie, fell in exactly with the new philosophic ideas of simplicity and morality. Greuze was famous at once. He was presented at the Academy by Pigalle, and elected upon his ” Aveugle trompé “. At the end of the same year he went to Italy with the Abbé Gougenot. And in 1757 brought back a certain number of Italian scenes. But though Italy had no great influence upon him, the journey disturbed him; and it was some time before he recovered his own style. In the Salon of 1759, where he had sixteen pictures and drawings, Diderot is discontented with his apostle, and declares he cares for him no longer. While in the next one (1761) all is forgotten and forgiven. He raves over the famous ” Accordée du Village “. And in succeeding years becomes positively lyric over la peinture morale of ” mon ami Greuze “. ” Ah ! mon Dieu ! comme il me touche ! mais ” si je le regarde encore je crois que je vais pleurer,” he cries before ” Le Paralytique ou la Piété filiale ” (now in the Hermitage). And over the ” Malédiction Paternel ” and Le Fils puni,” Diderot and the public can hardly find epithets to express their rapture.
Although Greuze was elected to the Academy in 1755, he did not take the trouble to paint his reception picture for many years. After several warnings to conform to the statutes, the Academy forbade him to exhibit in the Salon of 1767. And after this mark of displeasure, Greuze at last decided in 1769 to paint his picture. He foolishly chose a subject which would admit him to the professorships and other privileges of Historical painters” Septimus Severus and Caracalla ” (Louvre, 368). It was so thoroughly unsuited to the painter of tearful, sentimental women, and chubby-faced children, that he failed hopelessly to do himself justice. The Academy did not refuse it. But Lemoyne, who was Director that year, made a severe little speech, and announced to Greuze that in consideration of his earlier pictures, which were ” excellent,” he was received as a
genre painter “. Here was a terrible blow to Greuze. It also gave a legitimate opportunity to the many enemies his unbounded vanity and self-infatuation, as well as his success, had created. The public for once was thoroughly in sympathy with the Academy. All agreed that ” Greuze, ‘” truthful in what is simple, and sublime in what is naif ‘” (which is still tolerably strong praise), was incapable of the Greuze was furious ; and refused to exhibit again in the °Salon, until -the Revolution threw open the doors of the Louvre to all artists. But this was too late for his glory .and his fortune. For twenty-five years his vogue had been immense. Times and taste alike had changed. After having amassed considerable sums, most of which had been squandered by his wife, he found himself at seventy-five ruined, without resources, imploring in vain for orders. And in 1806 he died in indigence. Many of Greuze’s portraits are really fine. The portrait of M. de Wille is a chef d’oeuvre. So is that of Fabre d’Eglantine in the Salle la Caze. And the sketch of himself in the same room, as well as his great portrait, are very fine works.
Of many other painters of less importance space will not allow me to speak at length. Among them are the three Coypels. NOEL COYPEL [1628-1707], the director of the Academy of Rome. ANTOINE [1661-1722] , who painted the roof of the Chapel at Versailles. And his more celebrated son, CHARLES ANTOINE [1694-1752], who was one of the first to give the vogue to literary painting in the 18th century. His Perseus and Andromeda (Louvre, 180) is a curious mixture of Le Brun and Boucher ; with naked nymphs, agonized King and Queen in pseudo-Roman dress, lightnings, clouds, and Loves with torches. PIERRE SUBLEYRAS (1699-1749), who painted for Popes and Cardinals in Rome, and a great picture for St. Peter’s, to be reproduced in mosaIc, an unknown honour for a living artist. CLAUDE JOSEPH VERNET (1714-1789), the marine and landscape painter, who was born at Avignon ; and going to Rome at eighteen spent twenty years there. Who, though his colour is less warm, his style less lofty than that of Claude Lorraine, always tries to render nature with breadth, truth, and simplicity. His famous series of sea-ports were ordered by Louis XV. in 1753. Some of these are in the Louvre. There are also three of his pictures at Dulwich. And many others in different collections, public and private, in England.