THE history of the Romantic movement in Art is so closely allied with that in literature, that it is impossible to dwell on one without mentioning the other. Indeed it is some-times thought that the movement was much more literary than artistic ; and that this contributed to the decadence of its impulse in Art. To Walter Scott and Victor Hugo, to Byron and Georges Sand, the Romantic movement in literature owed its life. And these great names exercised a profound influence on the young painters, who, after Géricault’s death were enlisted under the leadership of Eugène Delacroix. To these men the revolution in Art is due. To them we may look as the fathers of Modern Art.
The material liberty of Art which David inaugurated, was well-nigh lost at the Restoration, when the Fourth Class of the Institute was revived with all its ancient powers, passions, and prejudices. Liberty of thought in the hands of David’s followers degenerated into the bitterest tyranny of thought, which was fostered by Ingres until the revolution of 1848 once more swept aside conventionalities.
The young artists of the nineteenth century came into the world at a moment when all things combined to move imagination and emotion. The Revolution and the Empire could not but affect the generation to which they gave birth. That ” jeunesse soucieuse ” bore the stigmata of glories and of disasters such as the modern world had never witnessed. These ardent, unquiet young spirits, ” souffrant ” d’un inexprimable sentiment de malaise,” demanded some-thing less rhetorical than Delille’s verses, or Guérin and Girodet’s cold academies. And they turned instinctively to the masterpieces of foreign literature that now became known to themto Dante, to Goethe, Byron, Shakespeare.
“No artistic question is more important than this old ” quarrel between the ancients and the moderns, which ” at first was purely literary, and now is in some senses “universal ; it impassioned a century ; fifty years ago it ” split up literature ; it is the incentive of the art of today ; ” it reappears from time to time under new titles or ” pseudonyms and whether it is the name of Delacroix, of Ingres, of Gérôme, of Courbet, or of Manet that is put ” forward, the process is always the same and always alike ” it is eternally trying to know whether to-morrow is worth ” more than yesterday, and if the pursuit of a new truth or a ” vibrant modern art, is preferable to servile imitation and ” to respect for tradition.”
Out of the very heart of the Classic school, from Guérin’s studio itself, came the young apostle who was to preach liberty, truth and lifethe revolutionist, who was to break the bonds of academic tradition, which in so few years had again fettered Art, and bound her once more hand and foot. In the studio itself, Théodore Géricault began to show that the ” académies ” he was obliged to produce there, did not satisfy his ardent spirit. “He found in nature and life “more beauty than in Roman bas-reliefs; the Apollo “Belvidere himself no longer seemed to him the supreme ” idealand when he made his vigorous crayon studies from ” heads of Negroes and Negresses, his last thought was to recall “by them the profile of the Antinoüs.” His ” Officier des Chasseurs à Cheval,” exhibited at the Salon of 1812, shook the Art of the day to its very foundations. But the definitive break with tradition was made by his “Radeau de la Méduse ” in 1819. “It marks a date in the history of ” French painting, and the commencement of an evolution.” For this great picture of a contemporary event, reinstates the drama, the pathos of human life once again in the do-main of Art. And although this presentment has since at times developed into melodrama and the mere painting of anecdote, Géricault’s picture did an enormous service to Art. Apart from its own intrinsic merits, it infused strong feeling and pulsating life into the frozen, sterile, official academic school. And besides the example of his own works, Géricault did signal service to Art in France by his journey to England. This resulted in Constable and Bonnington becoming known in Paris : and of the effect their works had on French Art, I will speak later on.
At the age of thirty-three death robbed the world of a great genius, a great leader. His short life had done more than that of any other painter for the freedom of thought and method in Art. But he left a worthy disciple in his friend Delacroix, who was ready to snatch the torch from his dying hand, and through bitter opposition lead his fOllowers to victory.
The war for the next twenty years was â outrance. On one hand the defenders of tradition, of the ” grand ” style of Academic painting, of the Classic ideal, of everything that was opposed to Rubens in colour, to life, or to nature. On the other the reformers, intoxicated with colour and movement, spurred on to fresh efforts by the very opposition that met them at every turn. They felt their cause was a righteous one, that their battle was worth the winning. For it was freedom not only for themselves but for their fellows liberty for Art itselffor which they fought.
The Classics laid claim to certain ancestors. Under Ingres the watchword was Raphaël, Leonardo, Corregiobut specially Raphaël. The Romantics replied with Michael-Angelo, Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyckbut specially Rubens. The Classics cried ” Malfaiteurs ! ” The Romantics shouted ” Perruques ! ” The Classics took their motives from Sculpturecold regularity of designthe immobility of a late Roman bas-relief. The Romantics in their revolt against this sculptural painting, rushed to the other extreme. They exaggerated the legitimate tendencies of Romanticism, seeking only for expression. ” Sentiment ” ” Character,” were the words they hurled back on the upholders of ” Classic beauty “. And the beauty that Delacroix sought after was not beauty according to Ingres, not the beauty of each separate part, but the beauty of the whole.
The Art of the Classics was imitative. It is true they honoured the nude. They made most careful and conscientious ” académies ” from models in the studio. Nothing shows this better than some of David’s magnificent studies for his pictures. But they sought no fresh inspiration from nature. Their pictures were imitations of the antique, of Raphaël, of the masters of the Renaissance, ” even of Lebrun’s pictures “. Imagination became merely an exercise of memory. The most successful and most admired, were thOse who best remembered the lessons they had learned from their masters, the copies with which they had filled their portfolios.
The Romantics studied nature even less. Certainly it was necessary for the student to go through a course of study from models at the Beaux Arts, or in his master’s studio. But when he had once mastered the human figure, its proportions, its muscles, its bones, then drawing from the model was considered not only superfluous but harmful. It was supposed to blight the imaginative faculty. Passion, movement, life in fact, must come from an effort of the artist’s heart and brain, not from the living human creature before his eyes.
The Romantics cried, ” Down with the race of Agamemnon “. They sought for their inspiration in the world of chivalry ; in the moving drama of modern life ; in truly heroic and humanist scenes. When Delacroix in 1824 exhibited his ” Massacre de Scio,” Baron Gros, who had so .generously befriended the young painter two years before, exclaimed ” C’est le massacre de la peinture,” and abandoned him to his fate. While Sal, giving utterance to the enthusiasin of all the fiery young spirits who were soon to come to actual blows for Victor Hugo’s Hernani in the parterre of the Theatre, wrote, ” Je ne connais pas M. ” Delacroix, mais, si je le rencontre je lui ferai la scène la plus ” extravagante, je l’embrasserai, je le féliciterai et je pleurerai, ” oui, je pleurerai de joie et de reconnaissance. Brave jeune ” homme ! la fortune lui soit en aide ! Il a bien mérité des. ” Arts ; il a bien mérité des ennemis du despotisme ; il l’a ” montré dans toute son horreur !
It was a generous time, a noble time. There were extravagancies, absurdities, of course. But men cared,, cared deeply, and fiercely, nay suffered for their watchwords_ The twenty years, from 1828 to 1848, were replete with splendid aspirations, fine enthusiasins, in art, in literature, in politics. Pure theories, things of the spirit, of the mind and of the heart, were more real, of infinitely more immediate importance to the ardent young reformers of 1830, than the prices of the Bourse. Artists, in painting, in poetry, in prose,, all made common cause. Georges Sand and Delacroix, Alfred de Musset, Chenavard, Deveria, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, all strive with conviction for ” those useless things, ” which are nevertheless so necessary to the life of a nation” poetry, grace, the ideal “.
The subsequent decadence of the Romantic school was due to two causes. First, a too exclusive devotion to subjects of the Middle Ages. Secondly, because certain exaggerations which were real and honest in the leaders, were de parti pris in their followers. As the servile followers of David reduced the Classic school to a condition of impotent decadence, so, the followers of such leaders as Géricault and Delacroix who painted what was in their hearts to say, became intolerable, because, having nothing special to say on their own account, they endeavoured to imitate the vehement enthusiasm, the exuberant life of their chiefs. Where their leaders were brilliant, they were flashy. Where their leaders touched the heights and depths of life, passion, poetry, they were only noisy. Where their leaders were strong, they were merely hysterical.
GÉRICAULT, JEAN-LOUIS-ANDRÉ-THÉODORE (b. Rouen,. 1791; cl. Paris, 1824).Coming to Paris in 1806 Géricault entered Carle Vernet’s studio in 1808. But he merely passed through it to that of Guérin, where he was the fellow-student of Champmartin, Cogniet, Ary Scheffer, Delacroix, etc. His methods, so at variance with those of the school of David, especially his drawings from the model, exasperated the cold, correct, academic Guérin, who told him he had better give up Art, that he could never succeed in it.
In 1812on such apparent chances do things turna dapple-grey horse in a cart on the road near St. Cloud, suddenly turned restive as Géricault was passing, and began to plunge in the sunshine. Géricault stoppedmade notesand the few lines jotted down on the spot were soon trans-formed by his vivid imagination into the idea of a great picture. His friend M. Dieudonné, lieutenant des Guides de l’Empereur, posed for the head. A cab-horse was brought round each morning to keep ” du cheval ” in the painter’s eye. And in an incredibly short time (M. Villot says twelve days) the ” Officier des Chasseurs à Cheval ” was finished. It created a stupor at the Salon of 1812. David when he saw it cried, “Where does that come from? I do not know “that touch.” And despite wild criticism, it gained a gold medal for its young painter. He was only twenty. He had created a revolution in Art that shook academic tradition to its very centre. The picture was shown a second time in 1814, when Géricault’s pendant, the ” Cuirassier blessé ” was also exhibited. Both pictures were bought some years later by the Duc d’Orléans. Louis-Philippe had fortunately lent them to the Société des Artistes when the revolution of 1848 broke out. And they were thus saved from destruction in the Palais-Royal. At the sale of the King’s pictures in 1851 they were acquired by the Louvre for 23,400 francs.
At the Restoration, Géricault enlisted for a short time in the Mousquetaires du roi, attracted, no doubt by his love of horses and military life. But on the return from Elba, his regiment was disbanded, and he returned to his brush.
It was about this time that he was turned out of Guérin’s studio for some charge d’ateliera bucket of water which was intended for his friend Champmartin, and which unluckily fell on the master’s head.
In 1817 Géricault left for Italy, where Michael-Angelo became the god of his idolatry before whom he ” trembled “. But besides copies and studies, he brought back to France sketches of a scene after his own heartthe bands of loose horses rushing wildly through the shouting crowds at the Fête of the Barbari on the Corso. From these he intended to paint a huge picture. He began it. But the unfinished canvas has been lost or destroyed. All that remains are the drawings and painted studies for it, now in the Museum of Rouen and the collection of M. Marcille.
When Géricault returned to Paris in 1818, public feeling was much excited by the account, published by two of the survivors, of a great naval disaster in 1816. The moving drama of this shipwreck seized upon Géricault’s imagination. The result was his great picture, the ” Radeau de la Méduse “. The artist spent months in collecting documents for this work. He found the carpenter of the Méduse, who made him a model of the famous raft. ” During several months,” says his biographer, M. Charles Clément, ” his studio was a sort of morgue “. He spent days in the hospitals, studying the effects of illness and suffering. All his friendsespecially if they were illwere pressed into the service as models. The two officers of the Méduse, figure as the man who holds out his arms to the Argus and the one against the mast. Eugène Delacroix lies with arms inert, his head against the edge of the raft. Such methods of study were an absolute innovation in modern painting. The picture, when finished and exhibited in the Salon of 1819, had but little success, and raised a perfect storm of abuse. It was too novel, too contrary to all received ideas. But it is without doubt the starting point of Modern French Art. For ” by it drama, ” moral life, human pathos once more reappeared in art “.
Géricault now made a journey to England, where his works were greatly appreciated. This proved of immense importance to French artists ; for he was the chief instrument in inducing Bonnington and Constable to come to France. In England his passion for horses was fully satisfied. He was a splendid rider, and delighted in horses and horsemanship. Many of his fine lithographs, now extremely rare, were done in London. So was the beautiful “Horse race at Epsom ” (Louvre), fine in colour and in truth to nature. On his return to Paris Géricault worked diligently at studies, water colours, and easel pictures. But in 1823 his fatal illness began. And after eleven months of frightful suffering, borne with magnificent composure and fortitude, he died in January, 1824.
Géricault’s rightful place is at the head of any study of Modern French Art. ” For his genius marks the starting ” point of the Revolution which took place in French Art at ” the beginning of this century.” 1
Examples in the Louvre :
Officier des Chasseurs à Cheval, 1812. 339.
Cuirassier Blessé, 1814. 341.
Le Radeau de la Méduse, 1819. 338.
Course de Chevaux à Epsom, 1821. 348.
Cheval turc dans une écurie. 345.
Two small racing pictures. 351, 352.
Les Croupes, cinq chevaux dans une écurie. 347. Musée de Rouen :
Portrait de Delacroix, 219 ; Les Supliciés, 220 ; White Arab, 218 ; Têtes de Chevreuils, 214 ; Chevaux de Postillon, 213. Sketches for Course de Chevaux libres, and many others, among them the two first ideas in sepia and in pen and ink for the Wreck of the Méduse. 755-779.
Drawings and water colours, Coll. M. Bonnat.
Drawings and water colours, Coli. M. Marcille.
Cheval sortant de l’écurie, Chantilly.
DELACROIX, FERDINAND-VICTOR-EUGÉNE (b. Charenton, 1798 ; d. Paris, 1863).Eugène Delacroix’s earliest years were passed at Marseilles, where he gained that love of hot sunshine, vivid colour, turbulent life, whichso he consideredso profoundly affected his work in later years. His father, a member of the Convention, and minister of Foreign Affairs under the Directoire, came with clean hands and empty pockets out of his offices. And under the Empire was successively prefect of Marseilles and Bordeaux. At Bordeaux, Eugène got a fair classical education. His father, however, died before he was of age, and left him penniless. He had already, in spite of the opposition of his family, determined to be a painter. An elder married sister in Paris gave him shelter. He secretly turned his attic into a, studio. And Riesener, the artist, who was fortunately a relation, overcame the prejudices of the family against the lad’s vocation. Not taking pupils himself, Riesener placed his young cousin with Guérin.
In Guérin’s studio Delacroix made Géricault’s acquaintance. The closest friendship sprang up between the two. And on Géricault’s death in 1824, Delacroix found himself the head of the new school. But the young master’s début had been earlier than this. Shut up in his sister’s attic Delacroix had imagined a great picture. In 1822 he finished ” La Barque du Dante “. There is a charming story of the broken frame made of four laths and coloured with yellow powder, as Delacroix was too poor to buy oneof Baron Gros’ recognition of the young man’s talent, and how he made the administration put the chef d’oeuvre into a fine new frame, and hang it in the Salon carréof the artist, overcome with gratitude, and enthusiasm for the painter of Jaffa and the Aboukir, knocking, trembling at his doorof Gros’ paternal advice to ” Come to us, we will teach “you how to draw ” ; and how he said the picture was ” Rubens reformed “. The picture made Delacroix famous at once. It was followed in 1824 by his ” Massacre de Scio,” which was the signal for the final break between Classics and Romantics. For, as I have said, this was too much even for Baron Gros.
Besides his position as a reformer, Delacroix’s work must be regarded under three aspects. Colourist. Poet. Decorator.
Constable at the Salon of 1824 was a revelation to him. Under the glamour of his colour, Delacroix obtained leave to retouch his ” Massacre de Scio “. And in a fortnight he re-painted it throughout, using the strongest, purest, most vivid colours he could find. Few Frenchmen have gone so deeply into the harmony of colours. His was not merely a natural instinct for colour. It was a profound scientific knowledge of colourof the effects of colours one on anotherof the laws that govern themof ” melange optique,” the process by which absolutely opposed colours are fused by the eye Of the spectator into the one the artist intends him to seeof ” modulation” of colour, the process known to the oriental of superposing tone upon tone of one pure colour, and making it scintillate and vibrate. To Delacroix the reform in colour in France during this century is entirely due. It will always be one of his greatest titles to fame.
As a poeta poet in form, in colour, in idealDelacroix turned instinctively to Goethe, Byron, Shakespeare, Dante. This was not because the great poets, past and present, suggested good subjects. But because in Hamlet, in Faust, in the Inferno, in what he called ” Byron’s burning soul,” he found an answer to the fever of his own soul, his own times. In his youth he gave himself to the passionate ideals and aspirations of the thinking youth of France ; to enthusiasm for the GreeksByronismAnglomaniaand even, for a moment, to Liberalism. After the Revolution of July (1830) he painted his ” Barricade “. Save the ” Boissy d’Anglas,” it was his one political picture. And even in this he has incarnated an ideal, rather than given us a page of actuality. For what is his tremendous heroine of the barricade, his virago half naked, with Phrygian cap, but an allegory of Liberty. Liberty in modern guise. Liberty for the people. Liberty for Art. The picture, exhibited in the Salon of 1831 was bought by the Direction of Beaux Arts, and quickly turned with its face to the wall. It is now in a place of honour in the Louvre.
In this same year Delacroix made a journey to Morocco with M. de Mornay, which produced results of extreme importance. This journeyhis only distant onerevived all the impressions he had received in his childhood of light, sun, colour. The strange people, their manners and customs, their delightful clothes, above all their horses for he always had a passion for well-bred horseswere an enchantment to him. And to this journey are due such pictures as ” Mulet’-Abd-er-Rhaman,” “Les Convulsionnaires de Tanger,” ” Les Femmes d’Alger,” ” La Noce Juive,” etc. ; and the numerous pictures, sketches, and lithographs of Arab horsemen, of Lions and Tigers, which form one of the most important contributions of the century to the work of the ” Orientalists “. But this was only a part, though a considerable one, of Delacroix’s work. He was too great and fertile an artist to confine himself to one method or line of work.
Though war was declared on him by Ingres and the Institute, though the doors of the Academy were closed against him for five-and-thirty years, Delacroix had staunch friends. His varied social relations, the friendship of the Duc d’Orléans, the protection of M. Thiers, who had been the first to write in praise of the ” Barque du Dante,” stood him in good stead. And the Direction des Beaux Arts began to understand that Delacroix’s greatest powers lay in decoration. In 1833 he was entrusted with the decoration of the Salon du roi at the Chamber of Deputies (Palais Bourbon). It was finished in 1838. In the segments of the ceiling he placed magnificent reclining figuresJustice, War, Agriculture, Industries. Below them in a frieze between the archivolts of doors and windows, came animated groups symbolising these abstractions. On the piers between the windows, eight colossal figures represented the seas and rivers by which France is girt about and fertilized. For this work Delacroix took counsel with one man only” l’homme inimitable ” et que l’on doit le plus étudier,” as he wroteVeronese.
The Salon du roi was hardly finished when he received a much more important commissionthe decoration of the Library of the same Palais Bourbon. A little later the cupola of the Library of the Luxembourg was entrusted to him. These two works were carried on together ; and left him little or no time for pictures for the Salon. The decoration for the Palais Bourbon was a sort of ” résumé of the history ” of ancient civilization “. That for the Luxembourg, a passage from the fourth canto of the Inferno, when Dante and Virgil reach the Limbo of Poets and Sages.
His decoration of Heliodorus for the Chapel in St. Sulpice in 1850, was interrupted for some time by two of his most important decorative works. The Salon de la Paix, at the Hotel de Ville, destroyed during the Commune in 1871. And the centre-piece in Le Brun’s great ceiling of the Galerie d’Apollon. This central panel, which Le Brun had reserved for his own hand, is one of Delacroix’s masterpieces. “Apollon vainqueur du Serpent Python ” is the subject. And in reading Delacroix’s own description of it one might imagine, as M. André Michel says, that it was written by ” the most ” impenitent classic “.
For Delacroix, though he was treated as the Scapegoat of Romanticism, though he was indeed the leader of the movement after Géricault’s untimely death, never indulged in the extravagances and exaggerations of those who called themselves his followers. The great dead were his only masters. He always venerated their methods. What he did was to bring back their colour, their methods, to Modern Art in France. And though the Institute only admitted him to its membership when he was sixty, and he was there-fore debarred from a professorship at the École des Beaux Arts, he was not only willing but anxious to enter its ranks.
Examples in the Louvre :
La Barque du Dante. 207.
Scènes des Massacres de Scio. 208.
La Barricade, or La Liberté guidant le peuple. 209.
Les Femmes d’Alger. 210.
Naufrage de Don Juan. 212.
Entrée des Croisés A Constantinople. 213.
Portrait de Delacroix. 214.
Bataille de Taillebourg (Galerie des Batailles), Versailles.
Les deux Foscari, Corps de Garde Marocain, water-colour sketch for Taillebourg, Chantilly.
La Justice de Trajan, Musée de Rouen. Muley-Abd-er-Rhaman, Musée de Toulouse.
Boissy d’Anglas à la Convention Nationale, Musée de Bordeaux.
Apollon Vainqueur, Galerie d’Apollon, Louvre. Salon du roi, Palais Bourbon.
Bibliothèque, Palais Bourbon.
Bibliothèque, Palais du Luxembourg.
Execution of Marino Faliero ; Faust and Mephistopheles, Hertford House.
DEVÉRIA, EUGÈNE-FRANÇOIS-MARIE-JOSEPH (b. Paris, 1810 ; d. Pau, 1865).Eugène Devéria is a singular example of a man of one picture. Into that picture he put all he had to say. There was nothing left, no reserve to draw upon, no foundation for future growth. What he said, was a really magnificent page in the history of the Romantic movement. For one moment he seemed to bid fair to be a rival of Delacroix. The sensation made by his ” Naissance de Henri Quatre,” in 1827 was profound. The students went wild. In Hersent’s studio the casts of the antique were smashed and thrown out of the window by the young barbarians, who thought they had found an artist superior to Phidias ! The critics talked of ” Veronese ” ; and the enthusiasm was immense. It was indeed an extraordinary work for a young man of seventeen. It is truly French in feeling ; and Venetian in richness of tone and touch.
Eugène Devéria lived with his elder brother Achille, an excellent artist, who abandoned painting to allow his brother’s talent full scope, and devoted himself to lithography. Their house was the very centre of romanticism. Artists, poets, writers, actors, musicians all met there. All eyes were turned to the beautiful sister Laura, while Achille, ” always ” pencil in hand, exercised a great influence on these ” artists “.
Nothing could have been more promising than Eugène Devéria’s début and circumstances. But he had had the misfortune of a prodigious success to begin with. And except in his ceiling in the Louvre of the ” Meeting of Louis XIV. and Pujet at Versailles,” he never again approached the level of the picture of 1827. A few years later he disappeared from the world of Art. Touched with a sort of strange mysticisin he became a protestant, lived at Eaux Bonnes, and spent his time in endeavouring to convert the invalids. A few lithographs, a few portraits, and one picture which he sent to the Salon in 1857, were all the artistic work he executed in these later years.
Naissance de Henri IV., Louvre. 250.
” Puget presenting the Milo of Crotona to Louis XIV. in the gardens of Versailles.” Ceiling. Louvre.
Le Serment du roi (Louis Philippe) aux Chambres, Versailles. 5124.
CHENAVARD, PAUL (b. Lyons, 1808).-A pupil of Hersent, Paul Chenavard was first known by a sketch in the competition opened in 1833 for a picture for the Palais Bourbon. The subject was ” Mirabeau apostrophant le Marquis de Dreux-Brézé ” in the Constituant Assembly of 1789. Chenavard’s sketch made a great sensation. Delacroix, who was -one of the competitors, declared that it deserved the prize. .And Baron Gros showed off its beauties to the admiring crowd. But the drawing did not gain the prize.
A few months later a large drawing was exhibited of ” The Convention,” just at the moment when Louis XVI. had been .condemned. Unluckily for the artist, Louis Philippe was attracted by this drawing when he visited the Salle des Dessins, for it was of the utmost historic as well as artistic interest. The King recognized the portrait of his father ; but was extremely annoyed at seeing him placed between Marat and Santerre. He forbade that the drawing should be exhibited, and had it sent to the Tuileries to study it at his leisure. Months after, Chenavard discovered his lost picture in the study of the Minister of the Interior, M. Thiers.
After these unfortunate experiences Chenavard retired to Italy, were he began long years of study, ” living and ” working, so to speak, under the eye of the great masters “.
During fifteen years he explored the painters of each country. Michael Angelo, Raphael, Corregio, Leonardo, Titian, in Italy. Velasquez in Spain. Albert Dürer at Nuremberg. Holbein at Bâle. Rubens in Antwerp. Rembrant in Holland. Van Dyck at Windsor. His profound study of each great artist, of each school, was all with one object in view. His ambition was to decorate the French Pantheon. And after the Revolution of 1848 he unfolded his scheme to M. Ledru-Rollin. It was a Universal Palingenisisthe moral Evolution of Humanity, from the noblest phases of antiquity to the French Revolution. Ledru-Rollin, as Minister of the Interior, with half the Revolution on his hands, found time to go through all Chenavard’s drawings, and listen to his great scheme. After two days’ reflection, the work was given to him. A credit of 30,000 francs was opened. And he threw himself into the gigantic task of which he had dreamed for so many years.
For four years all went well. Besides forty smaller compositions, he drew eighteen great cartoons 6 yards high by 4 or 5 in width, drawn with the utmost care in ” clair-obscur “. The decorations were to be in camaïeu. Then came the Coup d’État. Certain clerical influences were brought to bear on the work. Chenavard’s compositions,. in which philosophy and religion were mingled, gave offence. The Pantheon was once more turned into a Church. And in a single day the result of twenty years’ toil and research was stopped. Only 16,000 of the 30,000 francs had been paid. But for this wretched sum Chenavard allowed the State to keep his eighteen Cartoons, which thus cost less than £40 apiece.
Chenavard was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1853. But for many years he withdrew from public life. In 1869, however, he again appeared as a competitor for the great prize of 100,000 francs with his fine composition “Diving Tragedia,” now in the Luxembourg. Some of the figures in this are of extreme beauty, especially the group of ” Vénus endormie et sauvée par Bacchus et par l’Amour “.
Some of the Cartoons for the decoration of the Pantheon are in the Musée de Lyon. So is his ” Séance de Nuit de la Convention “.
SCHEFFER, ARY (b. Dortrecht, 1795 ; d. Argenteuil, 1858). The son of a German painter, settled at Dortrecht, Ary Scheffer came as a mere lad to Paris, where he entered Guérin’s studio. Among the vehement young Romantics and the decadent Classics he pursued a middle course, endeavouring, but in vain, to conciliate the two doctrines in his own work. Attracted by Romanticism, he turned to it for his subjects and his friends, while he tried to adhere to tradition in his treatment and composition. For a time we get the exquisite drawing, purity of expression, lofty feeling, and frigid colour of his ” Mignon,” his ” Marguerite at the Well,” his ” Dante and Beatrice,” etc. Then he turned more to religious paintingthe ” Christus Consolator,” the ” St. Augustine and Monica,” ” Temptation “. All these are well-known in England by engravings ; for no French artist of the century enjoyed so great a vogue on this side of the Channel as ” the gentle dreamer, Ary Scheffer “. His touch of sentimentality, and his extreme purity of expression and loftiness of feeling, commended itself to the public taste of England in a remarkable degree. There was nothing startling or hard to be understood in his pictures. But though a highly popular, if not a great artist, Ary Scheffer as a man did noble and valiant work for art, in the stormy days of the Romantic and Naturalist battles against Ingres and the Institute. Highly successful himself in his gentle and unadventurous art, he was ready to risk his own success and reputation in the defence of his less fortunate and more heroic friends. Rousseau and many others had cause to thank Ary Scheffer for his courageous and generous championship.
Many of his portraits are of great value as well as beauty. And in his little picture of the ” Death of Géricault,” there is a touch of penetrating, personal emotion, which gives it a life and an intensity few of his works possess. His artistic gifts though strangely transmuted on the wayhave descended one cannot but feel to his great-nephew, M. Ary Renan.’
Examples in the Louvre :
La Mort de Géricault. 838.
Les Femmes Souliotes. 839.
La Tentation du Christ. 840.
Saint Augustin et Sainte Monique. 841.
Gaston de Foix ; Réception des Hussards commandés par le Duc de Chartres, 2787 ; Lobau, 1173 ; Armand Carrel.
Talleyrand; Le duc d’Orléans; Reine Marie Amélie ; Chantilly.
Portrait de Lafayette, 1819, M. le Colonel Conolly. Portrait de Lafayette, 1819, Musée de Rouen. Hertford House :
Marguerite at the Fountain, Portrait of a Child, The Prodigal Son, Francesca da Rimini, Sister of Mercy.
Child with a Kitten, E. A. Leatham, Esq.
DELAROCHE, HIPPOLYTE, dit PAUL (b. Paris, 1797 ; d. Paris, 1856).Pupil of Gros, and son-in-law of Horace Vernet, whose daughter he married in Rome in 1835, Paul Delaroche for a time seemed one with the Romantic movement. But he was one of those in the thirties who endeavoured to conciliate both sections, to be the connecting link that should join together the doctrines of the revolutionary Romantics under Delacroix, and those of the academics, the Classics, under Ingres. He made his first appearance in the Salon of 1822, with a ” Joas et Josabeth,” and a
Descent from the Cross “. In the famous Salon of 1824 he exhibited the ” Philippe Lippi “” Jeanne d’Arc “” Saint Vincent de Paul,” and ” Saint Sebastien “. His ” Prise du Trocadero “the three great pictures painted in 1827-28increased his reputation. And in 1831 this was confirmed by the well-known ” Enfants d’Édouard “. He continued to exhibit till 1837, when disgusted by the attacks of the critics on his ” Charles I. insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers ” (now in the Bridgwater Gallery), he determined never again to exhibit in public.
” Correct, and cold,”no artist’s reputation has ever suffered more disastrous defeat and calamity from his too enthusiastic disciples, than that of Paul Delaroche, when after his death they organised an exhibition of his works. From that moment the vogue he had enjoyed for many years ceased ; though some of his pictures, widely known through engravings, long represented the whole achievement, of Modern French Art, in the eyes of the British public.