It is the province of Art to make us live in the world of Brooke’s verses,to make us understand that we are now living there,that it is forever ours. Perhaps no other school has so fully attained this realization as have the Ro-mantic British painters. There is in the temper of the English an inherent ideal-ism which has given to the world the greatest school of poetry, excepting only the Greek, and which has raised Ro-mantic painting to heights as yet unappreciated.
In Greece, Homer’s poetry preceded the Golden Age of Phidias in sculpture, and in England again the poetry of the Lake School and of Shelley and Keats preceded the great rise of Romantic British painting.
“The nineteenth century has not been an epoch of transition like the eighteenth,” says a recent writer; ” it is a new Renaissance; it is full of the conquest of old kingdoms and the foundation of new ones; it is an epoch of hope and endeavor among the artists at least. . The vistas opened up to the world by the great musicians have their counterpart in the poetic painters of the century, in Delacroix for instance, and in the soaring art of G. F. Watts.” How well this is illustrated in Watts’ ” Love and Life ” (Frontispiece) and in Burne-Jones’ “King Cophetua ” (p. 26).
“Modern means of communication and modern methods of reproduction have brought the ends of the earth together,” says Kenyon Cox, ” and placed the art of all times and countries at the disposal of every artist.”
The history of British painting properly begins with Hogarth, although English taste for the fine arts was in evidence much earlier. Holbein was King’s painter to Henry VIII. in 1536. In 1616 George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, purchased Rubens’ collection of works of art. Six years later this royal favorite accompanied ” Baby Charles,” as he called the young Prince of Wales, to Madrid, looking of course for a princess. There both sat to Velasquez, who greatly encouraged Charles in his taste for art.
In 1629 the great Rubens came to London, and painted the “Apotheosis of James I.” But a year or two later came Van Dyck, who painted King Charles I. thirty-eight times, and thirty-five times the Queen (Henrietta Maria of France, a French instead of a Spanish princess). Van Dyck married in England, and was so happy that he remained there ten years, until his death in 1641. He was buried in St. Paul’s.
King Charles gained such a reputation as a collector that Philip IV. of Spain sent him Titian’s ” Venus del Prado ” and Louis XI I I. of France sent Leonardo’s ” St. John the Baptist,” the well-known picture now in the Louvre.
Then came Pieter Lely, sergeant painter to Charles II. The period from 1714 to 1837 has been called the ” Golden Age of British Painting,”portrait painting, in the main, of course, and landscape, for the Pre-Raphaelite School of Romanticism came just after this time.
But to begin with William Hogarth (1697-1764), the first great British painter. His pictures have been said to possess the sort of humor which made Thackeray famous in literature,that faculty for holding up the foibles of human nature. Among Hogarth’s most noted pictures may be named “The Harlot’s Progress ” (1734), ” The Rake’s Progress” (1735), the series called “Marriage à la Mode” (1744), a travesty on conventional matrimony, and the ” Shrimp Girl” (1745), a pleasing portrait in splendid color. Hogarth had a curious habit of giving to his faces an expression not unlike his own, and this is so marked that it is apparent even in the picture of his beloved and devoted dog, Trump. This quality of endowing his portraits with a fleeting resemblance to the artist was a marked characteristic of Botticelli.
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) may be called the founder of the academic element in English painting. His father was a rector, and he was born in Plympton. His success dated from a journey with Admiral Keppel, then Commodore in charge of the Mediterranean fleet. Reynolds afterward painted the commander’s portrait with such a striking expression of courage, as he had seen him in action, that the picture be-came the talk of London, and made the artist’s reputation. His portraits came to be the rage.
Reynolds was exceedingly industrious; he painted more than 3,000 portraits. The King knighted him. He became the first president of .the Royal Academy, founded in 1768. His greatest portrait is of the famous actress, Sarah Siddons, as the Tragic Muse. She was also painted by his rival Gainsborough, and by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Dr. Samuel Johnson was Reynolds’ devoted friend, and they often met, together with other congenial spirits, at the Cheshire Cheese, ‘an inn which tourists nowadays never fail to visit when in London. Reynolds’ famous portrait of Dr. Johnson may be seen in the National Gallery, London, and another fine one of him, also, is in the National Portrait Gallery.
Sir Joshua painted children very well, and they always loved him. We have one of his best child pictures in ” The Age of Innocence ” (p. 172). More than two hundred of Reynolds’ children’s portraits have been engraved. He never married, though rumor suggested a romance with the woman artist, Angelica Kauffmann, who was also a member of the Royal Academy, and who married an Italian count.
Gainsborough once grudgingly praised his rival thus, ” Sir Joshua’s pictures, even in their most decayed condition, are better than those of many other artists in their first state.”
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was of a highly poetic temperament. ” The Blue Boy ” is one of his best-known and most beautiful portraits, painted in a costume to please the artist’s fancy, not the prevailing style of the period. His por-traits became the fashion in London, and thus he and Reynolds came to be rivals, though their style is quite different. Of his women’s faces, Van Dyke says, ” They all smile, but there is something behind the smile that seems to mock at gayety.” Gainsborough never went abroad. He thought his landscape painting his best work, but the public never recognized it.
Just before death, Gainsborough sent for his famous rival, and in the meeting that followed their differences were forgotten. Of Gainsborough, Reynolds once said: “All those scratches and marks and shapeless appearances lead, through free-dom to unity, with unerring directness.”
The third in this great trio of contemporary artists is George Romney (1734-18o2), whose portraits also rank very high. The lovely picture of ” Miss Kirkpatrick ” (with this chapter) illustrates Romney’s great art. A most pleasing expression has been caught, the arrangement of drapery is particularly agreeable, and the colors are soft and harmonious. The National Gallery at Washington is especially fortunate in having this valuable work.
Romney’s life was a romantic rise to fame from early poverty. The beautiful Lady Hamilton, known as Emma Hart, became the inspiration of his work, and he painted her many times. Romney’s temperament is suggested by Sir Herbert Maxwell’s words: “No one who ever set a palette had a more delicate sense of feminine beauty than George Romney; none ever perceived more keenly or rendered more surely than he that blend of sensuous attraction and chaste meditation in the matronof instinctive coquetry and unconscious re-serve in the maidenwhich we prize as the scarcely definable charm of the daughters of England.”
Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) was a Scotch painter, who occupied in his own country somewhat the position of Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Romney in England. Raeburn’s favorite color was vermilion. Most of his pictures are in the Scottish galleries. His special friends were Sir Walter Scott and Miss Edgeworth, the writer. Of him a critic says, ” Raeburn stands nearly alone among the great portrait painters in having never painted anything else.”
Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. (1769-183o), when but ten years old, was selling his crayon portraits at Oxford. As an artist, Lawrence had the reputation of flattering his sitters, and he painted women’s and children’s portraits especially well. He made the third in the trio of famous portraits of Mrs. Siddons. He never married, though tradition has it that he wooed the very handsome Siddons sisters. Characteristic of Lawrence is the romantic portrait of the beautiful ” Lady Essex as Juliet,” now in the National Gallery at Washington. Lawrence was appointed painter to the King, after Reynolds’ death, and in 182o was unanimously elected president of the Academy, following Benjamin West.
John Constable (1776-1837) was the founder of modern landscape art. He followed Ruisdael and the Dutch School, and inspired the Barbison School of Fontainebleau. His views are suggested in the following: ” The landscape painter must walk in the fields with a humble mind. . No arrogant man was ever permitted to see Nature in all her beauty.” His ideal he defined as, the painting of ” lightsdewsbreezesbloomand freshness.”
The most celebrated landscape painter of the English School is Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-18.51). He was the son of a barber. While Constable’s work has a stable quality, Turner’s is ethereal ; thus they serve to complement each other. Turner was influenced by the great French master of landscape atmospheric effects, Claude Lorraine.
Turner’s work falls into three periods, the first (1800-1820) when he was much swayed by French masters. In the second. (1820-1835), he visited Italy, and from that time dates his ideal composition. He painted many Venetian subjects. One of these, ” The Grand Canal,” is now in the Metropolitan, New York. The best known and most popular of this time is ” The Fighting Temeraire ” in the National Gallery, London. In his third period (1835-1845) we find a more direct communion with nature, his-pictures dreamlike and unreal, though even more wonderful in color. Among these are the ” Slave Ship,” in Boston, and the “Approach to Venice,” now in the National Gallery, London. Turner painted in both water-color and oil, and left to the nation some 19,000 sketches besides many finished works.
Turner’s great passion was the rendition of light. Of him, his warm friend and defender Ruskin says, ” Turner’s sense of beauty was perfect; deeper, therefore, far than Byron’s; only that of Keats and Tennyson being comparable with it. And Turner’s love of truth was as stern and patient as Dante’s.”
THE PRE-RAPHAELITE SCHOOL
The English Pre-Raphaelite School of painting found, as Turner had, a strong champion in Ruskin. He says, ” Paul Veronese and Tintoret themselves, with-out desiring to imitate the Pre-Raphaelite work, would have looked upon it with deep respect, as John Bellini looked on that of Albert Dürer; none but the ignorant could be unconscious of its truth, and none but the insincere regardless of it.”
The mystic poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827) might be called a precursor of the English Pre-Raphaelite painters with whom he would have found himself in congenial company.
These poetic neo-medievalists were led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the founder of their aesthetic cult in England. The term ” Pre-Raphaelite ” was originally used by a group of young German artists expelled from the Vienna Academy in 181o. Establishing themselves in Rome, they formed an art brotherhood to live in seclusion and sanctity, with the object of the restoration of Christian art to its medieval purity, and as their guides they took the Pre-Raphaelite masters.
The name is much more widely applied to the English School about the middle of the nineteenth century, founded by a band of seven young men, including the two Rossettis, Sir John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt. Ford Madox Brown gave much encouragement to the movement. Rus-kin championed it. William Morris affiliated with the Pre-Raphaelites. His intimate friend, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, was in his earlier mood another of the band. George Frederick Watts, the Romantic painter, was one of the later adherents, as was also the Romantic poet and critic, the late Theodore Watts-Dunton.
In’ both literature and art, the Pre-Raphaelites wished to revert from ” the temper of imitation, prosaic acceptance, pseudo-classicism, and domestic material-ism ” to that of ” wonder, reverence, and awe ” [T. Watts-Dunton]. It was their intention, as published in their own paper, ” The Germ,” ” to encourage and enforce an entire adherence to the simplicity of nature, either in art or poetry.” In poetry, the movement may be considered as a recurrent phase of the wider Romantic movement; and in looking back to the Middle Ages, Pre-Raphaelitism harmonized with the Oxford Movement of its own day, and with the Gothic revival of Pugin.
The Pre-Raphaelite influence was coincident in music, as well as in poetry, and included the great Wagnerian ro-mantic operas.
With the Pre-Raphaelites, ” painting passed from the imitation of the Dutch to the imitation of the early Italian masters.” The Pre-Raphaelites were modern mystics, and not unworthy,in their aims, at least,to be named with the great medievalists. According to Sir John Millais, they had but one idea” to present on canvas what they saw in Nature.” Thus, in purpose, they formed in England a parallel to the Barbison School of Fontainebleau, France, the work of. which was, however, more purely naturalistic.
Symbolism plays an important part in the Pre-Raphaelite composition: each object in the picture has an esoteric significance. The Arthurian legend was interpreted after this manner, under ecclesiastical influence.
William Morris and Burne-Jones, who with Rossetti were at Oxford together, about 1853, were both strong admirers of Tennyson and Ruskin. They also read much medieval poetry.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was the son of an exiled Italian poet in London. He became a student of Ford Madox Brown. Rossetti’s wife, Elizabeth Siddal, was the great inspiration of his work, and he was inconsolable for her death. He buried the ‘manuscripts of his poems in her grave, and only consented after seven years to their being exhumed and published. Rossetti wishes to express the attributes of Soul in his women, and therefore concentrates his attention on the eyes and mouth, the features bespeaking the spiritual. He painted many beautiful faces; other works are ” Dante’s Dream ” and ” Beata Beatrix.”
Watts Dunton calls Rossetti the ” acknowledged protagonist ” of ” Renascence of the Spirit of Wonder in Poetry and Art.’ ”
William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) founded with Rossetti the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His first picture ex-pressing its principles was ” The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro,” from Keats’ ” Eve of St. Agnes.” As a painter of religious subjects Holman Hunt is especially famous. His three best-known works are “Christ Discovered in the Temple,” “The Shadow of Death” (also called ” Christ, the Carpenter “), and the celebrated ” Light of the World.”
Sir John Everett Millais, P.R.A. (1829-1896), was born in the Island of Jersey. He was taken to London at eight years of age to begin the serious study of art. He entered the schools of the Royal Academy at ten, and before he was twenty he had captured every prize there. Among his noted pictures, which aroused criticism as showing Pre-Raphaelite influence, are: “Isabella” (1849), “Christ in the House of, His Parents” (1850), ” Ophelia ” (1852), and “The Huguenot” (1862), now in the Birmingham Gallery. Of the last-named, Monkhouse says, “The picture touched the dearest sentiments of the English, it appealed to their sense of beauty, to their affections, to their love of moral courage, and to their religious convictions.” The subject is, of course, well known. Kenyon Cox says of it, that Millais had meant merely to paint two lovers, but Hunt persuaded him that the motive was not sufficiently dignified, and that some historical episode must be suggested. Accordingly, the white scarf was introduced, which the woman is attempting to tie about her lover’s arm, to signify, falsely, that he is a Royalist, but he will remove it and remain ” The Huguenot,” in danger of his life. Millais’ model for the lady was his beloved wife, of whom it will always be recalled that she had formerly married Ruskin, who released her that she might wed Millais.
Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), though not actually of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, influenced them greatly through his friendship with Rossetti. Well-known pictures of Ford Madox Brown are ” King Lear ” (1849), ” Chaucer at the Court of Edward III.” (1851), ” Christ Washing Peter’s Feet ” (1852 ), and ” Don Juan (1870).
William Morris (1834-1896) was an English poet, painter, and socialist. With Rossetti, Burne-Jones and others, Morris established a firm in London for the manufacture of artistic furniture and household decorations, thus contributing much to the development of popular artistic taste.
George Frederick Watts (1817-1904) was not of the Pre-Raphaelite group. In his early painting Watts was influenced by the Venetians, especially Tintoretto, from whom he learned color. His later work shows Pre-Raphaelite motives in the ” symbolical pictures forming his message to the agethe danger of riches, the cruelty of greed, and, above all, the power of love and the fallacy of the fear of death. ” Love and Life” (Frontispiece) pictures Love in the strong and sturdy figure, supporting the clinging, ethereal form of Life. Watts painted, also, many fine portraits of artists, poets, and public men. The story is told that Carlyle cried out, impatiently, when he saw the almost speaking picture of himself by Watts, ” Ye’ve made me like a mad laborer!” And to another artist, who painted his portrait somewhat later, Carlyle said, more approvingly, ” Weel, anyway, ye’ve geeven me a clean collar, and that’s more than Meester Watts did!”
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) was a frail, motherless boy in Birmingham. While at Oxford, preparing for the Church, he met William Morris and Rossetti, and his enthusiasm for art was aroused. His work is discussed in Chapter III, preceded by his beautiful picture, ” King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid,” of which a recent writer says that, instead of the materialism of the “Marriage à la Mode,” ” we are shown King Cophetua in ecstasy before an unknown beggar maiden, the chimerical bride, the humble, unknown, untried life, wherein he seeks to find his happiness.”
“I mean by a picture,” says Burne-Jones, ” a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be, in a light better than any light that ever shone, in a land no one can define or rememberonly desire.”
” If I could travel backwards,” he said, ” I think my heart’s desire would take me to Florence in the time of Botticelli.”
Again, he said, ” I should like to paint and paint for seventeen thousand years.”
THE FRENCH SCHOOL
So far as technique is concerned, French painting is absolute perfection. In the seventeenth century in France, Nicolas Poussin (1594?-1665) was the most important painter, and founder of the classical element in French art. He also originated the so called heroic landscape, which Claude Lorraine (1600-1682) in France developed to its highest extent,the landscape of profound poetic feeling, which was to be carried even farther in British painting by Turner.
The Court painters had been dominated by artificiality. Of Poussin, Hazlitt says, ” He was the painter of ideas. No one ever told a story half so well, nor so well knew what was capable of being told by the pencil. . . . There is a significance, a consciousness in what-ever he does.”
As Kenyon Cox believes, the great bulk of French painting has always been and still remains ” academic.” French painting developed under quite different conditions from those of democratic England, where centuries of comparative freedom preceded the rise of painting. The autocratic government of France was reflected in its early painters, in Watteau and Fragonard. .
Leadership in the fine arts of the nineteenth century, however, especially in painting, belongs to France. There was a classical reaction from Rococo art. The leader was David (1748-1825), of whom Van Dyke says: ” The rhythm of line, the sweep of composed groups, the heroic subject and the heroic treatment made up his art.” The historical picture was David’s great contribution to French art, as illustrated in his ” Coro-nation of Napoleon ” and ” Leonidas at Thermopylae.”
Ingres (1780-1867) was a student of David. He modified Classicism by the study of Raphael and the great Italians. Noted works of Ingres are the beautiful nude, ” La Source,” in the Louvre, and the ceiling decoration in the same, ” The Apotheosis of Homer.” ” Serenity,” says Ingres, ” is to the body what wisdom is to the soul.”
The Romantic revolt against the Classicism of David was led by Géricault (1791-1824). His most famous picture was a sensational shipwreck scene, known as ” The Raft of Medusa,” now in the Louvre. When exhibited in London, about 1820, at a shilling admission, Géricault realized from it 17,000 francs ($3,400). He painted many historical pictures. He belongs to painters of emotional Nature.
Géricault was followed by Delacroix (1799-1863), a man of great intellectual power and the real head of the Romantic revolution. Of him a critic says, ” There is no joy in Delacroix.” But further, ” It was Eugène Delacroix’s mighty brush that gave the fullest expression to the passionate emotions of his age, and no other of its great leaders, not Victor Hugo himself, is so representative of the ardent and troubled generation of 1830.” Of Delacroix the eminent Corot was pleased to say: ” Delacroix is an eagle, I am only a skylark.” To which one might add, A skylark that always sings in tune!
In Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) the Romantic and the Classic are united. As a distinguishing characteristic of the Ro-mantic movement in French painting, Brownell says that we meet for the first time with the poetic element as an inspiring motive and controlling force.
The Barbison painters represent the emotional impulse of Romanticism applied to landscape. They were inspired by the English painter, Constable, and the Dutch School. They expressed feeling for light, atmosphere, and color. Their group at Fontainebleau included Rousseau, Corot, Millet, Troyon, Jules Dupré, and many others.
Rousseau (181z-1867) was born in Paris. At thirty six he moved to Barbison. His art is founded on Rubens and the Dutch; with Constable he followed Ruisdael. He is naturalistic and rugged, and may be called epic in type. His love for the trees is expressed in the words of a compatriot: ” He is marvelously endowed with the gift of expressing the personality of a tree.” The painting of Jules Dupré was, on the other hand, dramatic.
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1 875) may be said to have possessed a lyric talent as the painter of silvery tones of morning and evening. His art was founded on Claude, and may be compared with Turner in England, and to some extent with Whistler. Corot may be called an ideal Classic-Romantic painter. Corot and Rousseau represent the union of the Natural and the Classic. Corot anticipates the Impressionists. His fondness for introducing one or more figures in the solitude of his landscapes is illustrated in our example, “The Wood Gatherers ” (p. 130).
Corot, it has been said, ” is par excellence the painter of morning. He can render with more felicity than anybody else the silvery light on dewy fields, the vague foliage of trees mirrored in calm water.” A critic says, ” Of the painters classed in the Barbison School it is probable that Corot will live the longest, and will continue to occupy the highest position. His art is more individual than Rousseau’s, more poetic than that of Daubigny, and in every sense more beautiful than J. F. Millet.”
Jean François Millet (1814-1875) pictured the dignity of life and labor. He was the first painter to study man in nature, the rustic man. Millet advanced Corot’s Natural and Classic to the relation of human life. He has been called the ” Master-Builder” of the Barbison group.
As a boy, Millet learned the Bible from his mother, and Virgil from an uncle. He loved Theocritus, Virgil, Shakespeare, and Burns. ” Theocritus makes it evident to me,” says Millet, ” that one is never more Greek than when one simply renders one’s own impressions, let them come whence they may.”
Though inspired by idealized senti ment, Millet’s pictures are not sentimental,a charge which the painter deeply deplored. Millet’s mastery of movement is shown in his figures, distributed some-times between two or more, in the celebrated ” Gleaners ” (p. 194) among three. This picture, in its detailed suggestion of landscape, recalls some of Rembrandt’s etchings. The three figures are essential to the totality of effect, as may be readily proved by shutting out one of them on a copy. Of this picture, it has been said, ” In truth, nature here is only a pretext, an opportunity. The entire feeling is concentrated on the three figures which people this scene.”
Troyon (1810-1865), also of the Barbison School, was a painter of landscapes with animals, especially cattle.
The most famous French painter of animals in the nineteenth century was perhaps Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899). In her work she found it convenient to dress as a man. She painted with an almost ” photographic naturalism.” Her famous ” Horse Fair,” exhibited in 1853, she offered to Bordeaux, her native town, for 12,000 francs. The offer was not accepted, however, so she sold the picture to England for 40,000 francs (approximately- $8,000, of course). It was exhibited there and in America, and was bought by Cornelius Vanderbilt for the Metropolitan in New York for $55,500.
Edouard Manet (1833-1883) was the founder of the Impressionistic school of painting. Its most influential exponent was Claude Monet, born in Paris in 184o. Monet has been compared to Turner.
Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), the great French decorative painter, had a long way to fame, which came late to him, but at his death he was generally regarded as the greatest mural master in the world. His art reminds us of the early Florentines, and has been compared to Fra Angelico.
The modern French movement of Post-Impressionism, led by Matisse and Cézanne, seems revolutionary in the change of ideals. Interesting examples of this school may be seen in the National Gallery at Washington, the recent gift of the French artists to the people of the United States.
” A work should have within itself its full meaning,” says Matisse, ” and impose it on the spectator even before he knows what the subject is. When I see the frescoes of Giotto at Padua, I do not bother about knowing what scene of the life of Christ I have before me, but I understand at once the sentiment that emanates from it; for it is in the lines, in the composition, and in the color, and the title will only confirm my impression.”
Cézanne writes, We must become classic again through nature. Imagine a Poussin completely repainted according to nature; that is the classic that I mean.”
THE AMERICAN SCHOOL
A discussion of the American School may properly follow that of the French, for most of the American painters have imbibed their training abroad, usually in the ateliers of Paris. The American School includes the most vital landscape painters in the world. American mural painting is also worthy of consideration, interesting examples of which are in the Library of Congress.
The early American School, however, was made up of portrait painters. Benjamin West (1738-182o) was the Quaker painter, born not far from Philadelphia. He went abroad and later became President of the Royal Academy in London. His tomb is in St. Paul’s, beside that of Sir Joshua Reynolds. West has been called the ” Painter of Destiny.” One of his sayings to Constable, when the latter was but a boy, is preserved. West told him that ” light and shadow never stand still!”
John Singleton Copley (1737-1815) though born in Boston, divided his life almost equally between America and England. The title, ” Painter of Early Gentility,” characterizes him.
Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is famous for his portraits of Washington, and other American celebrities. Stuart was West’s pupil in London. Of him West said to his class: ” It is no use to steal Stuart’s colors; if you want to paint as he does, you must steal his eyes.”
The greatest American landscape painter is generally conceded to be George Inness (1825-1894). Born in New Jersey, the son of a grocer, which business his father intended him to follow, the rise of Inness to fame was almost romantic. A friend sent him abroad at twenty-two, where he visited London, Rome, Florence, and Paris. There he fell under the influence of the Barbison French School of Millet, Rousseau, Daubigny, and Corot. Millet was then thirty-five, ten years older than Inness. His later style resembles the Barbison School, and his painting is luminous, has atmospheric charm and poetical conception. He has been called a ” color poet.”
Inness had neither teachers nor pupils. Once asked if he had taught many pupils, he answered, ” I have had one for a very long time, and he is more than enough for me. The more I teach him the less he knows, and the older he grows the farther he is from what he ought to be.”
Of technique, Inness says, ” Details in the picture must be elaborated only enough fully to reproduce the impression “a rule for poetry as well as paint-ing. ” No artist need fear,” says Inness, ” that his own work will not find sympathy, if only he works earnestly and lovingly.” And again, ” Think, work, do your best. If the world does not then appreciate you, what satisfaction can a diploma or a medal bring? ”
One of the highest prices yet paid for American painting was $16,000 for an Inness. Fuller’s ” Girl with the Turkeys,” for the Worcester Gallery, brought $15,600.
The National Gallery at Washington is fortunate in having several fine ex-amples of Inness, one of the best being ” September Afternoon ” (p. 116).
Whistler (1834-1903), though born in Lowell, Massachusetts, can hardly be called an American artist, so much did he live abroad. Among his marvelous Nocturnes may be mentioned the Blue and Gold,” ” Blue and Green,” ” Gray and Silver,” and ” Blue and Silver the ” Chelsea Embankment,” ” Battersea Reach,” and the ” Old Battersea Bridge.” They have been called ” quite wonderful in their feeling of mystery and of palpable air.”
The controversy between Whistler and Ruskin will never be forgotten, nor the verdict which awarded Whistler damages to the extent of one farthing. Some say that he wore this trophy on his watch-chain, while others aver that he contributed it with a caustic note to Ruskin toward the costs which Ruskin had to pay of some 400 pounds.
Whistler’s bitter wit made enemies, as when he parodied the title of a rival’s picture in the National Gallery, London, called ” Carnation Lily, Lily Rose,” by dubbing it ” Darnation Silly, Silly Pose.”
But there can be no question of the greatness of his painting, which is destined to be more widely known and appreciated with the completion of the large Freer Gallery, costing a million, now under construction at Washington, in connection with the National Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution.
John La Farge (1835-1910) has been called the ” Painter of Experiment.” Through the sixties the work of La Farge showed Pre-Raphaelite influence. ” From the mystics of early China to those of Barbison,” says a recent writer, ” the history of painting was an open book to him. It is much to have had an American painter on easy borrowing terms with Giotto, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Raphael.”
Elihu, Vedder (1836-) may be called the ” Painter of the Mystic.” Though he has lived much abroad, yet Mrs. Pennell says of him, that when they met in Venice several years ago, ” with Vedder, Broadway always seemed nearer than the Corso.” His painting represents principally imaginative subjects. In 1884 he magnificently illustrated the ” Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.” The Library of Congress owns five decorative panels by Vedder.
A characteristic anecdote of Vedder is told, that a visitor once made the time worn remark, ” Well, I don’t know much about pictures, but I know what I like.”
” So do the beasts of the field,” dryly returned Vedder.
John Singer Sargent (1856-), since Whistler’s death, is easily the high-est American artist. Though born in Florence, and educated abroad, Sargent retains the American characteristic love of ” realism,” of showing what he sees with his bodily eyes. A portrait by him was so well painted that he was said to have ” seen through the veil ” of the inner man. When asked about it, Sargent expressed some annoyance and said, ” If there were a veil, I should paint the veil; I can paint only what I see.”
In this realism, Sargent has even been compared with Hals and Velasquez. That the painter has also a mystic side is evident, however, to those who study his wonderful mural painting in the Bos-ton Public Library, the ” Pageant of Religion,” in which the ” inner meaning ” has certainly been grasped and ex-pressed by the painter.
Of the women painters of America it is perhaps natural to speak of Miss Cecilia Beaux of Philadelphia as no-table in portraiture. Her painting has a strength which makes it often compared with Sargent. In addition to her Paris art study, where she won numerous honors, Miss Beaux has been distinguished by the degree of LL.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and A.M. from Yale, besides being awarded many prizes and medals.
Edwin A. Abbey (1852-1911) was born in Philadelphia, but lived most of the time in London. He has been called the ” Painter of the Past,” and shows Romantic sympathies in his great frieze ” The Quest of the Holy Grail ” in the Boston Public Library. He is well known as the illustrator of Shakespeare. As an extraordinary mark of favor to be shown an American, Abbey was selected to paint the great Coronation picture on the accession of Edward VII. to the British throne.
Another American woman artist of distinction is Miss Elizabeth Nourse, born in Cincinnati. She studied with the most noted masters in Paris, and has received high recognition, including membership in’ the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1901). She is represented in the National Gallery at Washington, the Chicago Art Institute, in Cincinnati, and many other American galleries, besides the National Museum of Adelaide, Australia, and, most noted of all, the Luxembourg, Paris.
Elizabeth Nourse’s figure study ” A Fisher Girl of Picardy” (p. 1o4) is a striking picture; it is strong in tech-nique, beautiful in color, and characterized by freedom and grace. The National Gallery at Washington is fortunate in possessing this painting, presented by Mrs. J. Walter Pilling, in memory of her late husband.
Miss Anna Seaton Schmidt says of Elizabeth Nourse: ” There are few Americans, men or women, who have attained the distinction that Miss Nourse has won. She is one of whom our nation may well be proud, and it is therefore very fitting that she should be represented in our National Gallery of Art. That the French government some time ago, in recognition of the character of her work, purchased one of her pictures for its great national gallery, the Luxembourg, may in this connection be recollected with interest.”
Vance Thompson writes of her: “No American woman artist stands so high in Paris as Miss Nourse.” Her paintings, he says, suggest “Millet’s feeling for form and Baudry’s sense of color.”