Puvis De Chavannes – Masters Of Painting

KING CHRISTIAN IX. of Denmark completed his twenty-fifth year of sovereignty in 1888, and a Danish National Exhibition was held that year at Copenhagen, to celebrate the auspicious anniversary. A wealthy and generous Dane, Carl Jacobsen, who has given a splendid gallery of sculpture to the city of Copenhagen, desired that French artists should be represented at the Exhibition, and had a special pavilion built at his own expense for the proper display of their works. Later he commissioned Kroyer, a Danish painter of extraordinary merit, to execute a portrait group of the members of the committee which was formed to man-age the affair, and it is this picture which we reproduce.

The group contains about thirty portraits in all, the greater part being Frenchmen and artists.

Beginning on the left, we recognize the painter Bonnat in the foremost seated figure turning to speak to the landscape-painter Cazin, who stands with his hand’ on the back of a chair. The three heads seen behind Cazin (going from left to right) are those of the painters Besnard, Roll, and Gervex, and the man sitting next behind Bonnat is the sculptor Delaplanche. A conspicuous figure in the background is Carolus Duran, the portraitist, a standing figure facing us and smoking a cigarette. The man seated, looking up, is Paul Dubois, the sculptor, and next him is Pasteur, the great chemist, who is examining the plan which Klein, the Danish architect, points out. The men standing behind Dubois and Pasteur are Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera House, and Herr Jacobsen. Next to Klein is Antonin Proust, the well-known deputy, below whom we see the profile of Puvis de Chavannes. Standing next Proust is Lucien Magne, the architect. The white head on the left of Puvis de Chavannes is that of Gerome, next to him is the sculptor Barrias, next is Chaplain, the medallist, and the man in front of the picture who looks at Bonnat is Falguiere, the sculptor. The two men standing on the extreme right are Tuxen, a Danish artist, and Kroyer, who introduced his own portrait into the group he has so ably realized.

It is scarcely an error to assign the highest rank among the artists in this notable group to Puvis de Chavannes. Boston is indeed fortunate in possessing in her noble public library some superb decorations from the master hand of the great mural painter, who “must take rank with the greatest painters of the century, as one who has achieved great and lasting things, whose aims have always been lofty and noble, and who has borne high the banner of the ideal and the essentially true, at a time when the opposition was most powerful, and the danger most pressing.”

Peter Severin Kroyer was born at Stavanger, in Norway, in 1851, but, being left an orphan at an early age, was taken to Denmark, where he grew up to manhood. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, he became a pupil of Bonnat in Paris. There he won many honors, including one of the grand prizes at the Exposition of 1889, and a medal of honor at the Exposition of 1900. His most notable pictures are ” Skagen Fishermen,” ” Artists Breakfast at Skagen,” “Village Hat-maker : Italy,” Soiree in Karlsberg,” and ” Summer Day on the Beach at Skagen.”