- Art Gallery -




Mansell Photo





The general alienation of painting from the interests of life during the first half of the nineteenth century.—The draughtsmen and caricaturists the first who brought modern life into the sphere of art.—England: Gillray, Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, “Punch,” John Leech, George du Maurier, Charles Keene.—Germany: Johann Adam Klein, Johann Christian Erhard, Ludwig Richter, Oscar Pletsch, Albert Hendschel, Eugen Neureuther, “Die Fliegende Blätter,” Wilhelm Busch, Adolf Oberländer.—France: Louis Philibert Debucourt, Carle Vernet, Bosio, Henri Monnier, Honoré Daumier, Gavarni, Guys, Gustave Doré, Cham, Marcellin, Randon, Gill, Hadol, Draner, Léonce Petit, Grévin.—Need of a fresh discovery of the world by painters.—Incitement to this by the English


England little affected by the retrospective tendency of the Continent.—James Barry, James Northcote, Henry Fuseli, William Etty, Benjamin Robert Haydon.—Painting continues on the course taken by Hogarth and Reynolds.—The portrait painters: George Romney, Thomas Lawrence, John Hoppner, William Beechey, John Russell, John Jackson, Henry Raeburn.—Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley paint historical pictures from their own time.—Daniel Maclise.—Animal painting: John Wootton, George Stubbs, George Morland, James Ward, Edwin Landseer.—The painting of genre: David Wilkie, W. Collins, Gilbert Stuart Newton, Charles Robert Leslie, W. Mulready, Thomas Webster, W. Frith.—The influence of these genre pictures on the painting of the Continent


Why the victory of modernity on the Continent came only by degrees.—Romantic conceptions.—Æsthetic theories and the question of costume.—Painting learns to treat contemporary costume by first dealing with uniform.—France: Gros, Horace Vernet, Hippolyte Bellangé, Isidor Pils, Alexander Protais, Charlet, Raffet, Ernest Meissonier, Guillaume Régamey, Alphonse de Neuville, Aimé Morot, Edouard Détaille.—Germany: Albrecht Adam, Peter Hess, Franz Krüger, Karl Steffeck, Th. Horschelt, Franz Adam, Joseph v. Brandt, Heinrich Lang


Why painters sought their ideal in distant countries, though they did not plunge into the past.—Italy discovered by Leopold Robert, Victor Schnetz, Ernest Hébert, August Riedel.—The East was for the Romanticists what Italy had been for the Classicists.—France: Delacroix, Decamps, Prosper Marilhat, Eugène Fromentin, Gustave Guillaumet.—Germany: H. Kretzschmer, Wilhelm Gentz, Adolf Schreyer, and others.—England: William Muller, Frederick Goodall, F. J. Lewis.—Italy: Alberto Pasini


After seeking exotic subjects painting returns home, and finds amongst peasants a stationary type of life which has preserved picturesque costume.—Munich: The transition from the military picture to the painting of peasants.—Peter Hess, Heinrich Bürkel, Carl Spitzweg.—Hamburg: Hermann Kauffmann.—Berlin: Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim.—The influence of Wilkie, and the novel of village life.—Munich: Johann Kirner, Carl Enhuber.—Düsseldorf: Adolf Schroedter, Peter Hasenclever, Jacob Becker, Rudolf Jordan, Henry Ritter, Adolf Tidemand.—Vienna: Peter Krafft, J. Danhauser, Ferdinand Waldmüller.—Belgium: Influence of Teniers.—Ignatius van Regemorter, Ferdinand de Braekeleer, Henri Coene, Madou, Adolf Dillens.—France: François Biard


Why modern life in all countries entered into art only under the form of humorous anecdote.—The conventional optimism of these pictures comes into conflict with the revolutionary temper of the age.—France: Delacroix’ “Freedom,” Jeanron, Antigna, Adolphe Leleux, Meissonier’s “Barricade,” Octave Tassaert.—Germany: Gisbert Flüggen, Carl Hübner.—Belgium: Eugène de Block, Antoine Wiertz


Germany: Louis Knaus, Benjamin Vautier, Franz Defregger, Mathias Schmidt, Alois Gabl, Eduard Kurzbauer, Hugo Kauffmann, Wilhelm Riefstahl.—The Comedy of Monks: Eduard Grützner.—Tales of the Exchange and the Manufactory: Ludwig Bokelmann, Ferdinand Brütt.—Germany begins to transmit the principles of genre painting to other countries.—France: Gustave Brion, Charles Marchal, Jules Breton.—Norway and Sweden stand in union with Düsseldorf: Karl D’Uncker, Wilhelm Wallander, Anders Koskull, Kilian Zoll, Peter Eskilson, August Jernberg, Ferdinand Fagerlin, V. Stoltenberg-Lerche, Hans Dahl.—Hungary fructified by Munich: Ludwig Ebner, Paul Boehm, Otto von Baditz, Koloman Déry, Julius Aggházi, Alexander Bihari, Ignaz Ruskovics, Johann Jankó, Tihamér Margitay, Paul Vagó, Arpad Fessty, Otto Koroknyai, D. Skuteczky.—Difference between these pictures and those of the old Dutch masters.—From Hogarth to Knaus.—Why Hogarth succumbed, and genre painting had to become painting pure and simple.—This new basis of art created by the landscapists


The significance of landscape for nineteenth-century art.—Classicism: Joseph Anton Koch, Leopold Rottmann, Friedrich Preller and his followers.—Romanticism: Karl Friedrich Lessing, Karl Blechen, W. Schirmer, Valentin Ruths.—The discovery of Ruysdael and Everdingen.—The part of mediation played by certain artists from Denmark and Norway: J. C. Dahl, Christian Morgenstern, Ludwig Gurlitt.—Andreas Achenbach, Eduard Schleich.—The German landscape painters begin to travel everywhere.—Influence of Calame.—H. Gude, Niels Björnson Möller, August Cappelen, Morten-Müller, Erik Bodom, L. Munthe, E. A. Normann, Ludwig Willroider, Louis Douzette, Hermann Eschke, Carl Ludwig, Otto v. Kameke, Graf Stanislaus Kalkreuth, Oswald Achenbach, Albert Flamm, Ascan Lutteroth, Ferdinand Bellermann, Eduard Hildebrandt, Eugen Bracht.—Why many of their pictures, compared with those of the old Dutch masters, indicate an expansion of the geographical horizon, rather than a refinement of taste.—The victory over interesting-subject-matter and sensational effect by the “paysage intime


Classical landscape painting in France: Hubert Robert, Henri Valenciennes, Victor Bertin, Xavier Bidault, Michallon, Jules Cogniet, Watelet, Théodore Aligny, Edouard Bertin, Paul Flandrin, Achille Benouville, J. Bellel.—Romanticism and the resort to national scenery: Victor Hugo, Georges Michel, the Ruysdael of Montmartre, Charles de la Berge, Camille Roqueplan, Camille Flers, Louis Cabat, Paul Huet.—The English the first to free themselves from composition and the tone of the galleries: Turner.—John Crome, the English Hobbema, and the Norwich school: Cotman, Crome junior, Stark, Vincent.—The water colour artists: John Robert Cozens, Girtin, Edridge, Prout, Samuel Owen, Luke Clennel, Howitt, Robert Hills.—The influence of aquarelles on the English conception of colour.—John Constable and open-air painting.—David Cox, William Muller, Peter de Wint, Creswick, Peter Graham, Henry Dawson, John Linnell.—Richard Parkes Bonington as the link between England and France


Constable in the Louvre and his influence on the creators of the French paysage intime.—Théodore Rousseau, Corot, Jules Dupré, Diaz, Daubigny and their followers.—Chintreuil, Jean Desbrosses, Achard, Français, Harpignies, Émile Breton, and others.—Animal painting: Carle Vernet, Géricault, R. Brascassat, Troyon, Rosa Bonheur, Jadin, Eugène Lambert, Palizzi, Auguste Lançon, Charles Jacque


His importance, and the task left for those who followed him.—Millet’s principle Le beau c’est le vrai had to be transferred from peasant painting to modern life, from Barbizon to Paris


Gustave Courbet and the modern painting of artisan life.—Alfred Stevens and the painting of “Society.”—His followers Auguste Toulmouche, James Tissot, and others.—In opposition to the Cinquecento the study of the old Germans, the Lombards, the Spaniards, the Flemish artists, and the Rococo masters becomes now a formative influence.—Gustave Ricard, Charles Chaplin, Gaillard, Paul Dubois, Carolus Duran, Léon Bonnat, Roybet, Blaise Desgoffe, Philippe Rousseau, Antoine Vollon, François Bonvin, Théodule Ribot





Leslie: My Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman Frontispiece
Romney: Serena 53
Lawrence: Caroline of Brunswick, Queen of George IV 60
Maclise: The Waterfall, Cornwall 64
Morland: Horses in a Stable 69
Landseer: Jack in Office 76
Fromentin: Algerian Falconers 132
Rottmann: Lake Kopaïs 234
Turner: The old Téméraire 268
Constable: Willy Lott’s House 275
Bonington: La Place de Molards, Geneva 290
Corot: Landscape 316
Millet: The Wood-Sawyers 370
Achenbach, Andreas.
Sea Coast after a Storm 247
Fishing Boats in the North Sea 249
Adam, Albrecht.
Albrecht Adam and his Sons 112
A Stable in Town 113
Baade, Knut.
Moonlight Night on the Coast 253
Becker, Jacob.
A Tempest 165
Berge, Charles de La.
Landscape 263
Boilly, Leopold.
The Toilette 2
The Newsvendor 3
The Marionettes 4
Bonheur, Rosa.
The Horse-Fair 351
Ploughing in Nivernois 353
Bonington, Richard Parkes.
The Windmill of Saint-Jouin 290
Reading Aloud 291
Portrait of Richard Parkes Bonington 293
Bonnat, Léon.
Adolphe Thiers 423
Victor Hugo 424
Bonvin, François.
The Cook 427
The Work-Room 428
Breton, Émile.
The Return of the Reapers 225
The Gleaner 226
Brion, Gustave.
Jean Valjean 221
Bunbury, William Henry.
Richmond Hill 9
Bürkel, Heinrich.
Portrait of Heinrich Bürkel 143
Brigands Returning 144
A Downpour in the Mountains 145
A Smithy in Upper Bavaria 146
Busch, Wilhelm.
Portrait of Wilhelm Busch 29
Cabat, Louis.
Le Jardin Beaujon 264
Calame, Alexandre.
Landscape 250
Chaplin, Charles.
The Golden Age 418
Portrait of Countess Aimery de la Rochefoucauld 419
Charlet, Nicolas Touissaint.
Un homme qui boît seul n’est pas digne de vivre 95
Chintreuil, Antoine.
Landscape: Morning 343
Constable, John.
Portrait of John Constable 274
Church Porch, Bergholt 275
Dedham Vale 277
The Romantic House 278
The Cornfield 279
Cottage in a Cornfield 283
The Valley Farm 285
Copley, John Singleton.
The Death of the Earl of Chatham 65
Corot, Camille.
Portrait of Camille Corot 306
The Bridge of St. Angelo, Rome 307
Corot at Work 308
Daphnis and Chloe 309
Vue de Toscane 310
At Sunset 311
The Ruin 312
Evening 313
An Evening in Normandy 314
The Dance of the Nymphs 315
A Dance 316
La Route d’Arras 317
Courbet, Gustave.
Portrait of Gustave Courbet 393
The Man with a Leather Belt. Portrait of Himself as a Youth 394
A Funeral at Ornans 395
The Stone-Breakers 397
The Return from Market 400
The Battle of the Stags 401
A Woman Bathing 402
Deer in Covert 403
Girls lying on the Bank of the Seine 404
A Recumbent Woman 405
Berlioz 406
The Hind on the Snow 407
My Studio after Seven Years of Artistic Life 409
The Wave 412
Cox, David.
Crossing the Sands 286
The Shrimpers 287
Crome, John (Old Crome).
A View near Norwich 273
Cruikshank, George.
Monstrosities of 1822 6
Danhauser, Josef.
The Gormandizer 179
Daubigny, Charles François.
Portrait of Charles François Daubigny 335
Springtime 336
A Lock in the Valley of Optevoz 337
On the Oise 338
Shepherd and Shepherdess 339
Landscape: Evening 341
Daumier, Honoré.
Portrait of Honoré Daumier 37
The Connoisseurs 38
The Mountebanks 39
In the Assize Court 40
“La voilà ... ma Maison de Campagne” 41
Menelaus the Victor 42
Debucourt, Louis Philibert.
In the Kitchen 33
The Promenade 34
Decamps, Alexandre.
The Swineherd 127
Coming out from a Turkish School 129
The Watering-Place 131
Defregger, Franz.
Portrait of Franz Defregger 208
Speckbacher and his Son 209
The Wrestlers 210
Sister and Brothers 211
The Prize Horse 213
Andreas Hofer appointed Governor of the Tyrol 215
Détaille, Edouard.
Salut aux Blessés 111
Diaz, Narcisse Virgilio.
Portrait of Narcisse Diaz 328
The Descent of the Bohemians 329
Among the Foliage 331
The Tree Trunk 332
Forest Scene 333
Dubois, Paul.
Portrait of my Sons 421
Dupré, Jules.
Portrait of Jules Dupré 318
The House of Jules Dupré at L’isle-Adam 319
The Setting Sun 320
The Bridge at L’isle-Adam 321
Near Southampton 322
The Punt 323
Sunset 324
The Hay-Wain 325
The old Oak 326
The Pool 327
Duran, Carolus.
Portrait of Carolus Duran 422
Enhuber, Carl.
The Pensioner and his Grandson 163
Erhard, Johann Christoph.
Portrait of Johann Christoph Erhard 21
A Peasant Scene 22
A Peasant Family 23
Flàmm, Albert.
A Summer Day 251
Flüggen, Gisbert.
The Decision of the Suit 186
Frith, William Powell.
Poverty and Wealth 89
Fromentin, Eugène.
Portrait of Eugène Fromentin 133
Arabian Women returning from drawing Water 134
The Centaurs 135
Gaillard, Ferdinand.
Portrait 420
Gavarni (Sulpice Guillaume Chevalier).
Portrait of Gavarni 43
Thomas Vireloque 44
Fourberies de Femmes 45
Phèdre at the Théâtre Français 48
“Ce qui me manque à moi? Une t’ite mère comme ça, qu’aurait soin de mon linge” 49
Gillray, James.
Affability 5
Grévin, Alfred.
Nos Parisiennes 51
Grützner, Eduard.
Twelfth Night 219
Guillaumet, Gustave.
The Séguia, near Biskra 136
A Dwelling in the Sahara 137
Gurlitt, Ludwig.
On the Sabine Mountains 245
Guys, Constantin.
Study of a Woman 50
Harpignies, Henri.
Moonrise 344
Hébert, Ernest.
The Malaria 123
Hess, Peter.
The Reception of King Otto in Nauplia 114
A Morning at Partenkirche 142
Hübner, Carl.
July 187
Huet, Paul.
Portrait of Paul Huet 265
The Inundation at St. Cloud 266
Hugo, Victor.
Ruins of a Mediæval Castle on the Rhine 261
Jacque, Charles.
The Return to the Byre (Etching) 355
A Flock of Sheep on the Road 356
Millet at Work in his Studio 365
Millet’s House at Barbizon 366
Kauffmann, Hermann.
Woodcutters Returning 154
A Sandy Road 155
Returning from the Fields 156
Keene, Charles.
The Perils of the Deep 17
From “Our People” 19
Kirner, Johann.
The Fortune Teller 162
Klein, Johann Adam.
A Travelling Landscape Painter 20
Knaus, Louis.
Portrait of Louis Knaus 195
In great Distress 196
The Card-Players 197
The Golden Wedding 199
Behind the Scenes 201
Kobell, William.
A Meeting 141
Koch, Joseph Anton.
Portrait of Josef Anton Koch 231
Krafft, Peter.
The Soldier’s Return 170
Landseer, Sir Edwin.
A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society 72
The last Mourner at the Shepherd’s Grave 73
High Life 74
Low Life 75
Lawrence, Sir Thomas.
Mrs. Siddons 57
Princess Amelia 58
The English Mother 59
The Countess Gower 61
Leech, John.
The Children of Mr. and Mrs. Blenkinsop 11
Little Spicey and Tater Sam 11
From “Children of the Mobility” 12
Leleux, Adolphe.
Mot d’ordre 181
Leslie, Charles Robert.
Sancho and the Duchess 87
Lessing, Carl Friedrich.
Portrait of Carl Friedrich Lessing 239
The Wayside Madonna 240
Maclise, Daniel.
Noah’s Sacrifice 67
Malvolio and the Countess 68
Madou, Jean Baptiste.
In the Ale-house 172
The Drunkard 173
Marchal, Charles.
The Hiring Fair 223
Marcke, Emile van.
La Falaise 354
Marilhat, Prosper.
A Halt 132
du Maurier, George.
The Dancing Lesson 13
A Recollection of Dieppe 14
Down to Dinner 15
A Wintry Walk 16
Meissonier, Ernest.
Portrait of Ernest Meissonier 101
1814 103
The Outpost 105
Meyerheim, Friedrich Eduard.
Portrait of Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim 157
Children at Play 158
The King of the Shooting Match 159
The Morning Hour 160
The Knitting Lesson 161
Michel, Georges.
A Windmill 262
Millais, Sir John Everett.
George du Maurier 12
Millet, Jean François.
Portrait of Himself 361
The House at Gruchy 363
The Winnower 367
A Man making Faggots 368
The Gleaners 369
Vine-dresser Resting 371
At the Well 373
Burning Weeds 375
The Angelus 377
The Shepherdess and her Sheep 378
The Shepherd at the Pen at Nightfall 379
A Woman feeding Chickens 380
The Shepherdess 381
The Labourer Grafting a Tree 383
A Woman Knitting 384
The Rainbow 385
The Barbizon Stone 387
Monnier, Henri.
A Chalk Drawing 35
Joseph Proudhomme 36
Morgenstern, Christian.
A Peasant Cottage (Etching) 243
Morland, George.
The Corn Bin 69
Going to the Fair 70
The Return from Market 71
Muller, William.
Prayer in the Desert 138
The Amphitheatre at Xanthus 288
Mulready, William.
Fair Time 88
Crossing the Ford 91
de Neuville, Alphonse.
Portrait of Alphonse de Neuville 107
Le Bourget 109
Newton, Gilbert Stuart.
Yorick and the Grisette 83
Oberländer, Adolf.
Variations on the Kissing Theme. Rethel 30
Variations on the Kissing Theme. Gabriel Max 30
Variations on the Kissing Theme. Hans Makart 31
Portrait of Adolf Oberländer 31
Variations on the Kissing Theme. Genelli 32
Variations on the Kissing Theme. Alma Tadema 32
Pettenkofen, August von.
A Hungarian Village (Pencil Drawing) 224
Preller, Friedrich.
Portrait of Friedrich Preller 235
Ulysses and Leucothea 237
Raeburn, Sir Henry.
Sir Walter Scott 63
Raffet, Auguste Marie.
Portrait of Auguste Marie Raffet 96
The Parade 97
1807 98
Polish Infantry 99
The Midnight Review 100
Reid, Sir George.
Portrait of Charles Keene 18
Ribot, Théodule.
The Studio 429
At a Norman Inn 430
Keeping Accounts 431
St. Sebastian, Martyr 432
Ricard, Gustave.
Madame de Calonne 417
Richter, Ludwig.
Portrait of Ludwig Richter 24
Home 25
The End of the Day 26
Spring 27
After Work it’s good to rest 28
Riedel, August.
The Neapolitan Fisherman’s Family 124
Judith 125
Robert, Hubert.
Monuments and Ruins 259
Robert, Leopold.
Portrait of Leopold Robert 119
Fishers of the Adriatic 120
The Coming of the Reapers to the Pontine Marshes 121
Romney, George.
Portrait of George Romney 55
Lady Hamilton as Euphrosyne 56
Rottmann, Karl.
Portrait of Karl Rottmann 232
The Coast of Sicily 233
Rousseau, Théodore.
Portrait of Théodore Rousseau 295
Morning 296
Landscape, Morning Effect 297
The Village of Becquigny in Picardy 299
La Hutte 301
Evening 302
Sunset 303
The Lake among the Rocks at Barbizon 304
A Pond, Forest of Fontainebleau 305
Rowlandson, Thomas.
Harmony 7
Schirmer, Johann Wilhelm.
An Italian Landscape 241
Schnetz, Victor.
An Italian Shepherd 122
Spitzweg, Carl.
Portrait of Carl Spitzweg 147
At the Garret Window 148
A Morning Concert 149
The Postman 151
Stevens, Alfred.
The Lady in Pink 413
La Bête à bon Dieu 414
The Japanese Mask 415
The Visitors 416
Tassaert, Octave.
Portrait of Octave Tassaert 182
After the Ball 183
The Orphans 184
The Suicide 185
Tidemand, Adolf.
The Sectarians 167
Adorning the Bride 169
Troyon, Constant.
Portrait of Constant Troyon 345
In Normandy: Cows Grazing 346
Crossing the Stream 347
The Return to the Farm 348
A Cow scratching Herself 349
Turner, Joseph Mallord William.
Portrait of J. M. W. Turner 267
A Shipwreck 268
Dido building Carthage 269
Jumièges 270
Landscape with the Sun rising in a Mist 271
Venice 272
Vautier, Benjamin.
Portrait of Benjamin Vautier 202
The Conjurer 203
The Dancing Lesson 205
November 207
Vernet, Horace.
The Wounded Zouave 93
Vollon, Antoine.
Portrait of Antoine Vollon 425
A Carnival Scene 426
Waldmüller, Ferdinand.
The First Step 171
Wallander, Wilhelm.
The Return 227
Webster, Thomas.
The Rubber 85
West, Benjamin.
The Death of Nelson 64
Wiertz, Antoine.
The Orphans 189
The Things of the Present as seen by Future Ages 191
The Fight round the Body of Patroclus 192
Wilkie, David.
Blind-Man’s-Buff 77
A Guerilla Council of War in a Spanish Posada 79
The Blind Fiddler 80
The Penny Wedding 81
The First Earring 82
De Wint, Peter.
Nottingham 289






Inasmuch as modern art, in the beginning of its career, held commerce almost exclusively with the spirits of dead men of bygone ages, it had set itself in opposition to all the great epochs that had gone before. All works known to the history of art, from the cathedral pictures of Stephan Lochner down to the works of the followers of Watteau, stand in the closest relationship with the people and times amid which they have originated. Whoever studies the works of Dürer knows his home and his family, the Nuremberg of the sixteenth century, with its narrow lanes and gabled houses; the whole age is reflected in the engravings of this one artist with a truth and distinctness which put to shame those of the most laborious historian. Dürer and his contemporaries in Italy stood in so intimate a relation to reality that in their religious pictures they even set themselves above historical probability, and treated the miraculous stories of sacred tradition as if they had been commonplace incidents of the fifteenth century. Or, to take another instance, with what a striking realism, in the works of Ostade, Brouwer, and Steen, has the entire epoch from which these great artists drew strength and nourishment remained vivid in spirit, sentiment, manners, and costume. Every man whose name has come down to posterity stood firm and unshaken on the ground of his own time, resting like a tree with all its roots buried in its own peculiar soil; a tree whose branches rustled in the breeze of its native land, while the sun which fell on its blossoms and ripened its fruits was that of Italy or Germany, of Spain or the Netherlands, of that time; never the weak reflection of a planet that formerly had shone in other zones.

It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that this connection with the life of the present and the soil at home was lost to the art of painting. It cannot be supposed that later generations will be able to form a conception of life in the nineteenth century from pictures produced in this period, or that these pictures will become approximately such documents as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries possess in the works of Dürer, Bellini, Rubens, or Rembrandt. The old masters were the children of their age to the very tips of their fingers. They were saturated with the significance, the ideals, and the aims of their time, and they saturated them with their own aims, ideals, and significance. On the other hand, if any one enters a modern picture gallery and picks out the paintings produced up to 1850, he will often receive 2 the impression that they belong to earlier centuries. They are without feeling for the world around, and seem even to know nothing of it.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts. Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

Even David, the first of the moderns, has left no work, with the exception of his “Marat,” which has been baptized with the blood of the French Revolution. To express the sentiment of Liberty militant he made use of the figures of Roman heroes. The political freedom of the people, so recently won, so fresh in men’s minds, he illustrated by examples from Roman history. At a later time, when the allied forces entered Paris after the defeat of Napoleon, he made use of the story of Leonidas at Thermopylæ. Only in portrait painting was any kind of justice done to modern life by the painters in “the grand style.” True it is that there lived, at the time, a few “little masters” who furtively turned out for the market modest little pictures of the life around them, paintings of buildings and kitchen interiors. The poor Alsatian painter Martin Drolling, contemptuously designated a “dish painter” by the critics, showed in his kitchen pictures that, in spite of David, something of the spirit of Chardin and the great Dutchmen was still alive in French art. But he has given his figures and his pots and pans and vegetables the pose and hard outline of Classicism. A few of his portraits are better and more delicate, particularly that of the actor Baptiste, with his fine head, like that of a diplomatist. At the exhibition of 1889, this picture, with its positive and firmly delineated characterisation, made the appeal of a Holbein of 1802. Another “little master,” Granet, painted picturesque ruins, low halls, and the vaults of churches; he studied attentively the problem of light in inner chambers, and thereby drew upon himself the reproach of David, that “his drawing savoured of colour.” In Leopold Boilly Parisian life—still like that of a country town—and the arrival of the mail, the market, and the busy life of the streets, found an interpreter,—bourgeois no doubt, but true to his age. In the time of the Revolution he painted a “Triumph of Marat,” the tribune of the people, who is being carried 3 on the shoulders of his audience from the palais de justice in Paris, after delivering an inflammatory oration. In 1807, when the exhibition of David’s Coronation picture had thrown all Paris into excitement, Boilly conceived the notion of perpetuating in a rapid sketch the scene of the exhibition, with the picture and the crowd pressing round it. His speciality, however, was little portrait groups of honest bourgeois in their stiff Sunday finery. Boilly knew with accuracy the toilettes of his age, the gowns of the actresses, and the way they dressed their heads; he cared nothing whatever about æsthetic dignity of style, but represented each subject as faithfully as he could, and as honestly and sincerely as possible. For that reason he is of great historical value, but he is not painter enough to lay claim to great artistic interest. The execution of his pictures is petty and diffidently careful, and his neat, Philistine painting has a suggestion of china and enamel, without a trace of the ease and spirit with which the eighteenth century carolled over such work. The heads of his women are the heads of dolls, and his silk looks like steel. His forerunners are not the Dutchmen of the good periods, Terborg and Metsu, but the contemporaries of Van der Werff. He and Drolling and Granet were rather the last issue of the fine old Dutch schools, rather descendants of Chardin than pioneers, and amongst the younger men there was at first no one who ventured to sow afresh the region which had been devastated by Classicism. Géricault certainly was incited to his “Raft of the Medusa” not by Livy or Plutarch, but by an occurrence of the time which was reported in the newspapers; and he ventured to set an ordinary shipwreck in the place of the Deluge or a naval battle, and a crew of unknown mortals in the place of Greek heroes. But then his picture stands alone amongst the works of the Romanticists, and is too decidedly transposed into a classical key to count as a representation of modern life.



In its striving after movement and colour, Romanticism put forward the picturesque and passionate Middle Ages in opposition to the stiff and frigid neo-Greek or neo-Roman ideal; but it joined with Classicism in despising the life of the present. Even the political excitement at the close of the Restoration and the Revolution of July had but little influence on the leading spirits of the time. Accustomed to look for the elements of pictorial invention in religious myths, in the fictions of poets, or in the events of older history, they paid no attention to the mighty social drama enacted so near to them. The fiery spirit of Delacroix certainly led him to paint his picture of the barricades, but he drew his inspiration from a poet, from an ode of Auguste Barbier, and he gave the whole an air of romance and allegory by introducing the figure of Liberty. He lived in a world of glowing passions, amid which all the struggles of his age seemed to have for him only a petty material interest. For that reason he has neither directly nor indirectly drawn on what he saw around him. He painted the soul, but not the life of his epoch. He was attracted by Teutonic poets and by the Middle Ages. He set art free from Greek subject-matter and Italian form, to borrow his ideas from Englishmen and Germans and his colour from the Flemish school. He is inscrutably silent about French society in the nineteenth century.


Queen Charlotte. George III.
“Well, Friend, where a’ you going, hay?—what’s your name, hay?—where d’ye live, hay?—hay?”

And this alienation from the living world is even more noticeable in Ingres. His “Mass of Pius VII in the Sistine Chapel” is the only one of his many works which deals with a subject of contemporary life, and it was blamed by the critics because it deviated so far from the great style. As an historical 6 painter, and when better employed as a painter of portraits, Ingres has crystallised all the life and marrow of the past in his icy works, and he appears in the midst of the century like a marvellous and sterile sphinx. Nothing can be learnt from him concerning the needs and passions and interests of living men. His own century might writhe and suffer and struggle and bring forth new thoughts, but he knew nothing about them, or if he did he never allowed it to be seen.


Delaroche approached somewhat nearer to the present, for he advanced from antiquity and the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century; and the historical picture, invented by him, virtually dominated French art under Napoleon III, in union with the dying Classicism. Even then there was no painter who yet ventured to portray the manners and types of his age with the fresh insight and merciless observation of Balzac. All those scenes from the life of great cities, their fashion and their misery, which then began to form the substance of drama and romance, had as yet no counterpart in painting.










The Belgians preserved the same silence. During the whole maturity of Classicism, from 1800 to 1830, François, Paelinck, van Hanselaere, Odevaere, de Roi, Duvivier, etc., with their coloured Greek statues, ruled the realm of figure painting as unmitigated dictators; and amongst the historical painters who followed them, Wappers, in his “Episode,” was the only one who drew on modern life for a subject. There was a desire to revive Rubens. Decaisne, Wappers, de Keyzer, Bièfve, and Gallait lit their candle at his sun, and were hailed as the holy band who were to lead Belgian art to a glorious victory. But their original national tendency deviated from real life instead of leading towards it. For the sake of painting cuirasses and helmets they dragged the most obscure national heroes to the light of day, just as the Classicists had done with Greeks and Romans. German painting wandered through the past with even less method, taking its material, not from native, but from French, English, and Flemish history. From Carstens down to Makart, German painters of influence carefully shut their eyes to reality, and drew down the blinds so as to see nothing of the life that surged below them in the street, with its filth and splendour, its laughter and misery, its baseness and noble humanity. And from an historical point of view this alienation from the world is susceptible of an easy explanation.


In France, as in all other countries, the end of the ancien régime, the tempest of the Revolution, and the consequent modification of the whole of life—of sentiments, habits, and ideas, of dress and social conditions—at first implied such a sudden change in the horizon that artists were necessarily thrown into confusion. When the monarchy entered laughingly upon its struggle of life and death, the survivors from the time of Louis XVI, charming “little masters” who had been great masters in that careless and graceful epoch, were suddenly made witnesses of a revolution more abrupt than the world had yet seen. Savage mobs forced their way into gardens, palaces, and reception-rooms, pike in hand, and with the red cap upon their heads. The walls echoed with their rude speech, and plebeian orators played the part of oracles of freedom and brotherhood like old Roman tribunes of the people. What was there yesterday was no longer to be seen; 12 a thick powder-smoke hung between the past and the present. And the present itself had not yet assumed determinate shape; it hovered, as yet unready, between the old and the new forms of civilization. The storms of the Revolution put an end to the comfortable security of private life. Thus it was that the ready-made and more easily intelligible shapes and figures of a world long buried out of sight, with which men believed themselves to have an elective affinity, at first seemed to the artists to have an infinitely greater value than the new forms which were in the throes of birth. Painters became Classicists because they had not yet the courage to venture on the ground where the century itself was going through a process of fermentation.


The Romanticists despised it, for they thought the fermenting must had yielded flat lemonade instead of fiery wine. The artist must live in art before he can produce art. And the more the life of nations has been beautiful, rich, and splendid, the more nourishment and material has art been able to derive from it. But when they came the Romanticists found—in France as in Germany—everything, except a piece of reality which they could deem worthy of being painted. The whole of existence seemed to this generation so poor and bald, the costume so inartistic and so like a caricature, the situation so hopeless and petty, that they were unable to tolerate the portrayal of themselves either in poetry or art. It was the time of that wistfully sought phantom which, as they believed, was to be found only in the past. The powerful passions of the Middle Ages were set in opposition to a flaccid period that was barren of action.



And then came the overwhelming pressure of the old masters. After the forlorn condition of colouring brought about by David and Carstens, it was so vitally necessary to restore the artistic tradition and technique of the old masters, that it was at first thought necessary to adopt the old subject-matter also—especially the splendid robes of the city of the lagoons—in order to test the newly acquired secrets of the palette. Faltering unsteadily under influences derived from the old artists, modern painting did not yet feel itself able to create finished works of art out of the novel elements which the century placed at its disposal. It still needed to be carried in the arms of a Venetian or Flemish nurse.

And æsthetic criticism bestowed its blessing on these attempts. The Romanticists had been forced to the treatment of history and the deification of the past by disgust with the grey and colourless present; the younger generation were long afterwards held captive in this province by æsthetic views of the dignity of history. To paint one’s own age was reckoned a crime. One had to paint the age of other people. For this purpose the prix de Rome was instituted. The spirit which produced the pictures of Cabanel and Bouguereau was the same that induced David to write to Gros, that the battles of the empire might afford the material for occasional pictures done under the inspiration of chance, but not for great and earnest works of art worthy of an historical painter. That æsthetic criticism which taught that, whatever the subject be, and whatever personages may be represented, if they belong to the present time the picture is merely a genre picture, still 14 held the field. Whilst the world was laughing and crying, the painter, with the colossal power of doing everything, amused himself by trying not to appear the child of his own time. No one perceived the refinement and grace, the corruption and wantonness, of modern life as it is in great cities. No one laid hold on the mighty social problems which the growing century threw out with a seething creative force. Whoever wishes to know how the men of the time lived and moved, what hopes and sorrows they bore in their breasts, whoever seeks for works in which the heart-beat of the century is alive and throbbing, must have his attention directed to the works of the draughtsmen, to the illustrations of certain periodicals. It was in the nineteenth century as in the Middle Ages. As then, when painting was still an ecclesiastical art, the slowly awakening feeling for nature, the joy of life was first expressed in miniatures, woodcuts, and engravings, so also the great draughtsmen of the nineteenth century were the first who set themselves with their whole strength to bring modern life and all that it contained earnestly and sincerely within the range of art, the first who held up the glass to their own time and gave the abridged chronicle of their age. Their calling as caricaturists led them to direct observation of the world, and lent them the aptitude of rendering their impressions with ease; and that at a time when the academical methods of depicting physiognomy obtained elsewhere in every direction. It necessitated their representing subjects to which, in accordance with the æsthetic views of the period, they would not otherwise 15 have addressed themselves; it led them to discover beauties in spheres of life by which they would otherwise have been repelled. London, the capital of a free people ruling in all quarters of the globe, the home of millions, where intricate old corners and back streets left more space than in other cities for old-fashioned “characters,” for odd, eccentric creatures and better-class charlatans of every description, afforded a ground peculiarly favourable for caricature. In this province, therefore, England holds the first place beyond dispute.


Direct from Hogarth come the group of political caricaturists, in whom the sour, bilious temper of John Bull lives on in a new and improved edition. Men like James Gillray were a power in the political warfare of their time; bold liberals who fought for the cause of freedom with a divine rage and slashing irony, while at the same time they were masterly draughtsmen in a vehement and forceful style. The worst of it is, that the interest excited by political caricature is always of a very ephemeral nature. The antagonism of Pitt and Fox, Shelburne and Burke, the avarice and stupidity of George III, the Union, the conjugal troubles of the Prince of Wales, and the war with France, seem very uninteresting matters in these days. On the other hand, Rowlandson, who was not purely a politician, appeals to us in an intelligible language even after a hundred years have gone by.

Like Hogarth, he was the antithesis of a humorist. Something bitter 16 and gloomily pessimistic runs through all he touches. He is brutal, with an inborn power and an indecorous coarseness. His laughter is loud and his cursing barbarous. Ear-piercing notes escape from the widely opened lips of his singers, and the tears come thickly from the eyes of his sentimental old ladies who are hanging on the declamation of a tragic actress. His comedy is produced by the simplest means. As a rule any sort of contrast is enough: fat and thin, big and little, young wife and old husband, young husband and old wife, shying horse and helpless rider on a Sunday out. Or else he brings the physical and moral qualities of his figures into an absurd contrast with their age, calling, or behaviour: musicians are deaf, dancing masters bandy-legged, servants wear the dresscoats and orders of lords, hideous old maids demean themselves like coquettes, parsons get drunk, and grave dignitaries of state dance the cancan. And so, when the servant gets a thrashing, and the coquette a refusal, and the diplomatist loses his orders by getting a fall, it is their punishment for having forgotten their proper place. They are all of them “careers on slippery ground,” with the same punishments as Hogarth delighted to depict. But Rowlandson became another man when he set himself to represent the life of the people.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

Born in July 1756, in a narrow alley of old London, he grew up amidst the people. As a young man he saw Paris, Germany, and the Low Countries. 17 He went regularly to all clubs where there was high play. As man, painter, and draughtsman alike, he stood in the midst of life. Street scenes in Paris and London engage his pencil, especially scenes from Vauxhall Gardens, the meeting-place of fashionable London, and there is often a touch of Menzel in the palpitating life of these pictures—in these lords and ladies, fops and ballad-singers, who pass through the grounds of the gardens in a billowy stream. His illustrations include everything: soldiers, navvies, life at home and in the tavern, in town and in village, on the stage and behind the scenes, at masquerades and in Parliament. When he died at seventy, on 22nd April 1827, the obituaries were able to say of him with truth that he had drawn all England in the years between 1774 and 1809. And all these leaves torn from the life of sailors and peasants, these fairs and markets, beggars, huntsmen, smiths, artizans, and day labourers, were not caricatures, but sketches keenly observed and sharply executed from life. His countrymen have at times a magnificent Michelangelesque stir of life which almost suggests Millet. He was fond of staying at fashionable watering-places, and came back with charming scenes from high life. But his peculiar field of observation was the poor quarter of London. Here are the artizans, the living machines. Endurance, persistence, and resignation may be read in their long, dismal, angular faces. Here are the women of the people, wasted and hectic. Their eyes are set deep in their sockets, their noses sharp and 18 their skin blotched with red spots. They have suffered much and had many children; they have a sodden, depressed, stoically callous appearance; they have borne much, and can bear still more. And then the devastations of gin! that long train of wretched women who of an evening prostitute themselves in the Strand to pay for their lodging! those terrible streets of London, where pallid children beg, and tattered spectres, either sullen or drunken, rove from public-house to public-house, with torn linen and rags hanging about them in shreds! The cry of misery rising from the pavement of great cities was first heard by Rowlandson, and the pages on which he drew the poor of London are a living dance of death of the most ghastly veracity.

Mag. of Art.

But, curiously enough, this same man, who as an observer could be so uncompromisingly sombre, and so rough and brutal as a caricaturist, had also a wonderfully delicate feeling for feminine charm. In the pages he has devoted to the German waltz there lives again the chivalrous elegance of the period of Werther, and that peculiarly English grace which is so fascinating in Gainsborough. His young girls are graceful and wholesome in their round straw hats with broad ribbons; his pretty little wives in their white aprons and coquettish caps recall Chardin. One feels that he has seen Paris and appreciated the fine fragrance of Watteau’s pictures.

Mention should also be made of Henry William Bunbury, who excelled in the drawing of horses and ponies. “A long Story” is an excellent example of his powers as a caricaturist pure and simple. The variations rung on the theme of boredom and the self-centred and animated stupidity of the narrator have been vividly observed, and are earnestly rendered. Rowlandson has the savage indignation of Swift; Bunbury is not savage, but he has the same English seriousness and something of the same brutality. The faces here are crapulous and distorted, and the subject is treated without lightness or good-nature. Perhaps the English do not take their pleasures so very seriously, but undoubtedly they jest in earnest. Yet Bunbury’s incisiveness and his thorough command of what it is his design to express assure him a distinct position as an artist. His “Richmond Hill” shows the pleasanter side of English character. The breeze billowing in the trees, the little lady riding by on her cob, the buxom dames in the shay, and the man spinning 19 past on his curricle, give the scene a spirit of life and movement, besides rendering it an historical document of the period of social history that lies between The Virginians and Vanity Fair.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

As a political caricaturist George Cruikshank has the same significance for England as Henri Monnier has for France, and the drawings of the latter often go straight back to the great English artist. But his first works in 1815 were children’s books, and such simple delineations from the world of childhood and the life of society have done more to preserve his name than political caricatures. Their touch of satire is only very slight. Cruikshank’s ladies panting under heavy chignons, his serious and exceedingly prosy dames pouring out tea for serious and not less ceremonious gentlemen, whilst the girls are galloping round Hyde Park on their thoroughbreds, accompanied by a brilliant escort of fashionable young men—they are all of them not so much caricatures as pictures freshly caught from life. He had a great sense 20 for toilettes, balls, and parties. And he could draw with artistic observation and tender feeling the babbling lips and shining eyes of children, the shy confidence of the little ones, their timid curiosity and their bashful advances. And thus he opened up the way along which his disciples advanced with so much success.


The style of illustration has adapted itself to the altered character of English life. What at first constituted the originality of English caricaturists was their mordant satire. Everything was painted in exceedingly vivid colours. Whatever was calculated to bring out an idea in comic or brutal relief—great heads and little bodies, an absurd similarity between persons and animals, the afflorescence of costume—was seized upon eagerly. These artists fought for the weary and heavy-laden, and mercilessly lashed the cut-throats and charlatans. They delighted in spontaneous obscenity, exuberant vigour, and undisguised coarseness. Men were shaken by a broad Aristophanic laughter till they seemed like epileptics. At the time when the Empire style came into England, Gillray could dare to represent by speaking likenesses some of the best-known London beauties, in a toilette which the well developed Madame Tallien could not have worn with more assurance. Such things were no longer possible when England grew out of her awkward age. After the time of Gillray a complete change came over the spirit of English caricature. Everything brutal or bitterly personal was abandoned. The clown put on his dress-clothes, and John Bull became a gentleman. Even 21 by Cruikshank’s time caricature had become serious and well-bred. And his disciples were indeed not caricaturists at all, but addressed themselves solely to a delicately poetic representation of subjects. They know neither Rowlandson’s innate force and bitter laughter, nor the gallows humour and savagery of Hogarth; they are amiable and tenderly grave observers, and their drawings are not caricatures, but charming pictures of manners.

Punch, which was founded in 1841, has perhaps caught the social and political physiognomy of England in the middle of the nineteenth century with the greatest delicacy. It is a household paper, a periodical read by the youngest girls. All the piquant things with which the Parisian papers are filled are therefore absolutely excluded. It scrupulously ignores the style of thing to which the Journal Amusant owes three-fourths of its matter. Every number contains one big political caricature, but otherwise it moves almost entirely in the region of domestic life. Students flirting with pretty barmaids, neat little dressmakers carrying heavy bonnet-boxes and pursued by old gentlemen—even these are scenes which go a little too far for the refined tone of the paper which has been adapted to the drawing-room.


Next to Cruikshank, the Nestor of caricature, must be mentioned John Leech, who between 1841 and 1864 was the leading artist on Punch. In his drawings there is already to be found the high-bred and fragrant delicacy of the English painting of the present time. They stand in relation to the whimsical and vigorous works of Rowlandson as the fine esprit of a rococo abbé to the coarse and healthy wit of Rabelais. The mildness of his own temperament is reflected in his sketches. Others have been the cause of more laughter, but he loved beauty and purity. Men are not often drawn by him, or if he draws them they are always “pretty fellows,” born gentlemen. His young women are not coquettish and chic, but simple, natural, and comely. The old English brutality and coarseness have become amiable, subtle, refined, mild, and seductive in John Leech. He is a fine and delicate spirit, who seems very ethereal beside Hogarth and Rowlandson, those giants fed on roast-beef; he prefers to occupy himself with sport and boating, the season and its fashions, and is at home in public gardens, at balls, and at the theatre. Here a pretty baby is being taken for an airing in Hyde Park by a tidy little 22 nurse-maid, and there on mamma’s arm goes a charming schoolgirl, who is being enthusiastically greeted by good-looking boys; here again a young wife is sitting by the fireside with a novel in her hand and her feet out of her slippers, while she looks dreamily at the glimmering flame. Or a girl is standing on the shore in a large straw hat, with her hand shading her eyes and the wind fluttering her dress. Even his “Children of the Mobility” are little angels of grace and purity, in spite of their rags. The background, be it room, street, or landscape, is merely given with a few strokes, but it is of more than common charm. Every plate of Leech has a certain fragrance and lightness of touch and a delicacy of line which has since been attained only by Frederick Walker. His simplicity of stroke recalls the old Venetian woodcuts. There is not an unnecessary touch. Everything is in keeping, everything has a significance.


Leech’s successor, George du Maurier, is less delicate—that is to say, not so entirely and loftily æsthetic. He is less exclusively poetic, but lives more in actual life, and suffers less from the raw breath of reality. At the same time, his drawing is pithier and more incisive; one discerns his French training. In 1857 du Maurier was a pupil of Gleyre, and returned straight to England when Leech’s place on Punch became vacant by his death. Since that time du Maurier has been the head of the English school of drawing—of the diarists of that society which is displayed in Hyde Park during the season, and found in London theatres and dining-rooms, and in well-kept English pleasure grounds, at garden parties and tennis meetings, the leaders of clubs and 23 drawing-rooms. His snobs rival those of Thackeray, but he has also a special preference for the fair sex—for charming women and girls who race about the lawn at tennis in large hats and bright dresses, or sit by the fire in fashionable apartments, or hover through a ball-room waltzing in their airy skirts of tulle. The coquettishness of his little ones is entirely charming, and so too is the superior and comical exclusiveness of his æsthetically brought-up children, who will associate with no children not æsthetic.


But the works of Charles Keene are the most English of all. Here the English reveal that complete singularity which distinguishes them from all other mortals. Both as a draughtsman and as a humorist Keene stands with the greatest of the century, on the same level as Daumier and Hokusai. An old bachelor, an original, a provincial living in the vast city, nothing pleased him better than to mix with the humbler class, to mount on the omnibus seat beside the driver, to visit a costermonger, or sit in a dingy suburban tavern. He led a Bohemian life, and was, nevertheless, a highly respectable, economical, and careful man. Trips into the country and little suppers with his friends constituted his greatest pleasures. He was a member of several glee clubs, and when he sat at home played the Scotch bagpipes, to the horror of all his neighbours. During his last years his only company was an old dog, to which he, like poor Tassaert, clung with a touching tenderness. All the less did he care about “the world.” Grace and beauty are not to be sought in his drawings. For him “Society” did not exist. As du Maurier is the chronicler of drawing-rooms, Keene was the fine and unsurpassed 24 observer of the people and of humble London life, and he extended towards them a friendly optimism and a brotherly sympathy. An endless succession of the most various, the truest, and the most animated types is contained in his work: mighty guardsmen swagger, cane in hand, burly and solemn; cabmen and omnibus drivers, respectable middle-class citizens, servants, hairdressers, the City police, waiters, muscular Highlanders, corpulent self-made City men, the seething discontent of Whitechapel; and here and there amidst them all incomparable old tradesmen’s wives, and big, raw-boned village landladies in the Highlands. Keene has something so natural and self-evident in his whole manner of expression, that no one is conscious of the art implied by such drawing. Amongst those living in his time only Menzel could touch him as a draughtsman, and it was not through chance that each, in spite of their differences of temperament, greatly admired the other. Keene bought every drawing of Menzel’s that he could get, and Menzel at his death possessed a large collection of Keene’s sketches.


In the beginning of the century Germany had no draughtsmen comparable for realistic impressiveness with Rowlandson. At a time when the great art lay so completely bound in the shackles of the Classic school, drawing, too, appeared only in traditional forms. The artist ventured to draw as he liked just as little as he ventured to paint anything at all as he saw it; for both there were rules and strait-waistcoats. Almost everything that was produced in those years looks weak and flat to-day, forced in composition and amateurish in drawing. Where Rowlandson with his brusque powerful strokes recalls Michael Angelo or Rembrandt, the Germans have something laboured, diffident, and washed out. Yet even here a couple of unpretentious etchers rise as welcome and surprising figures out of the tedious waste of academic production, though they were little honoured by their contemporaries. In their homely sketches, however, they have remained more classic than those who put on the classical garment as if for eternity. What the painter refused to paint, and the patrons of art who sought after ideas would not allow to count as a picture, because the subject seemed to them too poor, and the form too commonplace and undignified—military scenes at home 25 and abroad, typical and soldierly figures from the great time of the war of Liberation, the life of the people, the events of the day—was what the Nuremberg friends, Johann Adam Klein and Johann Christoph Erhard, diligently engraved upon copper with sympathetic care, and so left posterity a picture of German life in the beginning of the century that seems the more sincere and earnest because it has paid toll neither to style in composition nor to idealism. This invaluable Klein was a healthy and sincere realist, from whom the æsthetic theories of the time recoiled without effect, and he had no other motive than to render faithfully whatever he saw. Even in Vienna, whither he came as a young man in 1811, it was not the picture galleries which roused him to his first studies, but the picturesque national costumes of the Wallachians, Poles, and Hungarians, and their horses and peculiar vehicles. A sojourn among the country manors of Styria gave him opportunity for making a number of pretty sketches of rural life. In the warlike years 1813 and 1814, with their marching and their bivouacs, he went about all day long drawing amongst the soldiers. Even in Rome it was not the statues that fascinated him, but the bright street scenes, the ecclesiastical solemnities, and the picturesque caravans of country people. And when he settled down in Nuremburg, and afterwards in Munich, he did not cease to be sensitive to all impressions that forced themselves on him in varying fulness. The basis of his art was faithful and loving observation of life as it was around him, the pure joy the genuine artist has in making a picture of everything he sees.




Poor Erhard, who at twenty-six ended his life by suicide, was a yet more delicate and sensitive nature. The marching of Russian troops through his native town roused him to his first works, and even in these early military and canteen scenes he shows himself an exceptionally sharp and positive observer. The costumes, the uniforms, the teams and waggons, are drawn with decision and accuracy. From Vienna he made walking tours to the picturesque regions of the Schneeberg, wandered through Salzburg and Pinzgau, and gazed with wonder at the idyllic loveliness of nature as she is in these regions, on the cosy rooms of the peasants with their great tiled stoves and the sun-burnt figures of the country people. He had a heart for nature, an intimate, poetic, and profound love for what is humble and familiar—for homely meadows, trees, and streams, for groves and hedgerows, for quiet gardens and sequestered spots. He approached everything with observation as direct as a child’s. Both Klein and he endeavoured to grasp a fragment of nature distinctly, and without any kind of transformation or generalisation; and this fresh, unvarnished, thoroughly German feeling for nature gives them, rather than Mengs and Carstens, the right to be counted as ancestors of the newer German art.

Klein and Erhard having set out in advance, others, such as Haller von Hallerstein, L. C. Wagner, F. Rechberger, F. Moessmer, K. Wagner, E. A. Lebschée, and August Geist, each after his own fashion, made little voyages of discovery into the world of nature belonging to their own country. But Erhard, who died in 1822, has found his greatest disciple in a young Dresden master, whose name makes the familiar appeal of an old lullaby which suddenly strikes the ear amid the bustle of the world—in Ludwig Richter, familiar to all Germans. Richter himself has designated Chodowiecki, Gessner, and Erhard as those whose contemplative love of nature guided him to his own path. What Leech, that charming draughtsman of the child-world, was to the English, Ludwig Richter became for the Germans. Not that he could be compared with Leech in artistic qualities. Beside those of the British artist his works are like the exercises of a gifted amateur: they have a petty correctness and a bourgeois neatness of line. But Germans are quite willing to forget the artistic point of view in 27 relation to their Ludwig Richter. Sunny and childlike as he is, they love him too much to care to see his artistic failings. Here is really that renowned German “Gemüth” of which others make so great an abuse.


“I am certainly living here in a rather circumscribed fashion, but in a very cheerful situation outside the town, and I am writing you this letter (it is Sunday afternoon) in a shady arbour, with a long row of rose-bushes in bloom before me. Now and then they are ruffled by a pleasant breeze—which is also the cause of a big blot being on this sheet, as it blew the page over.” This one passage reveals the whole man. Can one think of Ludwig Richter living in any town except Dresden, or imagine him except in this dressing-gown, seated on a Sunday afternoon in his shady arbour with the rose-bushes, and surrounded by laughing children? That profound domestic sentiment which runs through his works with a biblical fidelity of heart is reflected in the homeliness of the artist, who has remained all his life a big, unsophisticated child; and his autobiography, in its patriarchal simplicity, is like a refreshing draught from a pure mountain spring. Richter survived into the present as an original type from a time long vanished. What old-world figures did he not see around him as a boy, when he went about, eager for novelty, with his grandfather, the copperplate printer, who in his leisure hours studied alchemy and the art of producing gold, and was surrounded by an innumerable quantity of clocks, ticking, striking, and making cuckoo notes in his dark workroom; or as he listened to his blind, garrulous grandmother, around whom the children 28 and old wives of the neighbourhood used to gather to hear her tales. That was in 1810, and two generations later, as an old man surrounded by his grandsons, he found once more the old, merry child life of his own home. And it was once more a fragment of the good old times, when on Christmas Eve the little band came shouting round the house of gingerbread from Hansel and Gretel which grandfather had built out of real gingerbread after his own drawing.


“If my art never entered amongst the lilies and roses on the summit of Parnassus, it bloomed by the roads and banks, on the hedges and in the meadows, and travellers resting by the wayside were glad of it, and little children made wreaths and crowns of it, and the solitary lover of nature rejoiced in its colour and fragrance, which mounted like a prayer to Heaven.” Richter had the right to inscribe these words in his diary on his eightieth birthday.

Through his works there echoes a humming and chiming like the joyous cry of children and the twitter of birds. Even his landscapes are filled with that blissful and solemn feeling that Sunday and the spring produce together in a lonely walk over field and meadow. The “Gemüthlichkeit,” the cordiality, of German family-life, with a trait of contemplative romance, could find such a charming interpreter in none but him, the old man who went about in his long loose coat and had the face of an ordinary village schoolmaster. Only he who retained to his old age that childlike heart—to which the kingdom of heaven is given even in art—could really know the heart of the child’s world, which even at a later date in Germany was not drawn more simply or more graciously.

His illustrations present an almost exhaustive picture of the life of the German people at home and in the world, at work and in their pleasure, in suffering and in joy. He follows it through all grades and all seasons of the year. Everything is true and genuine, everything seized from life in its fulness: the child splashing in a tub; the lad shouting as he catches the first snowflake in his hat; the lovers seated whispering in their cosy little chamber, or wandering arm in arm on their “homeward way through the corn” amid the evening landscape touched with gold; the girl at her spinning-wheel and 29 the hunter in the forest, the travelling journeyman, the beggar, the well-to-do Philistine. The scene is the sitting-room or the nursery, the porch twined with vine, the street with old-fashioned overhanging storeys and turrets, the forest and the field with splendid glimpses into the hazy distance. Children are playing round a great tree, labourers are coming back from the field, or the family is taking its rest in some hour of relaxation. A peaceful quietude and chaste purity spread over everything. Certainly Richter’s drawing has something pedantic and unemphatic, that weak, generalising roundness which, beside the sharp, powerful stroke of the old artists, has the spirit of a drawing-master. But what he has to give is always influenced by delicate and loving observation, and never stands in contradiction to truth. He does not give the whole of nature, but neither does he give what is unnatural. He is one of the first of Germans whose art did not spring from a negation of reality, produced by treating it on an arbitrary system, but rested instead upon tender reverie, transfigured into poetry. When in the fifties he stayed a summer in pleasant Loschwitz, he wrote in his diary: “O God, how magnificent is the wide country round, from my little place upon the hill! So divinely beautiful, and so sensuously beautiful! The deep blue heaven, the wide green world, the bright and fair May landscape alive with a thousand voices.”

In all that generation, to whom existence seemed so sad, Ludwig Richter is one of the few who really felt content with the earth, and held the life around them to be the best and healthiest material for the artist. And that is the substance of the plate to which he gave the title “Rules of Art.” A wide landscape stretches away with mighty oaks slanting down, and a purling spring from which a young girl is drawing water, whilst a high-road, enlivened by travellers young and old, runs over hill and dale into the sunny distance. In the midst of this free rejoicing world the artist is seated with his pencil. And above stands the motto written by Richter’s hand—

“Und die Sonne Homer’s, siehe sie lächelt auch uns.”

By the success of Richter certain disciples were inspired 30 to tread the same ground, although none of them equalled him in his charming human qualities. And least of all Oskar Pletsch, whose self-sufficient smile is soon recognised in all its emptiness. Everything which in Richter was genuine and original is in him flat, laboured, and prearranged. His landscapes, which in part are very pretty, are derived from R. Schuster; what seems good in the children is Richter’s property, and what Pletsch contributed is the conventionality. Albert Hendschel also stood on Richter’s shoulders, but his popularity is more justifiable. Even in these days one takes pleasure in his sketch-books, in which he immortalised the joy and sorrow of youth in such a delicious way.

Braun, Munich. Braun, Munich.

Eugen Neureuther worked in Munich, and as an etcher revelled in the charming play of arabesques and ornamental borders, and told of pleasant little scenes from the life of the Bavarian people in his pretty peasant quatrains.

The rise of caricature in Germany dates from the year 1848. Though there are extant from the first third of the century no more than a few topical papers of no artistic importance, periodical publications, which soon brought a large number of vigorous caricaturists into notice, began to appear from that time, owing to the political agitations of the period. Kladderadatsch was brought out in Berlin, and Fliegende Blätter was founded in Munich, and side by side with it Münchener Bilderbogen. But later generations will be referred par excellence to Fliegende Blätter for a picture of German life in the nineteenth century. What the painters of those years forgot to transmit is here stored up: a history of German manners which could not imaginably be more exact or more exhaustive. From the very first day it united on its staff of 31 collaborators almost all the most important names in their own peculiar branch. Schwind, Spitzweg, that genial humorist, and many others whom the German people will not forget, won their spurs here, and were inexhaustible in pretty theatre scenes, satires on German and Italian singing, memorial sketches of Fanny Elsler, of the inventor of the dress coat, etc., which enlivened the whole civilized world at that time. This elder generation of draughtsmen on Fliegende Blätter were, indeed, not free from the guilt of producing stereotyped figures. The travelling Englishman, the Polish Jew, the counter-jumper, the young painter, the rich boor, the stepmother, the housemaid, and the nervous countess are everywhere the same in the first volumes. In caricature, just as in “great art,” they still worked a little in accordance with rules and conventions. To observe life with an objective unprejudiced glance, and to hold it fast in all its palpitating movement, was reserved for men of later date.

Braun, Munich.
Hanfstaengl. Braun, Munich.
Braun, Munich.

Two of the greatest humorists of the world in illustrative art, Wilhelm Busch and Adolf Oberländer, stand at the head of those who ushered in the flourishing period of German caricature. They are masters, and take 32 in with their glance the entire social world of our time, and in their brilliant prints they have made a history of civilisation for the epoch which will be more vivid and instructive for posterity than the most voluminous works of the greatest historians. Their heads are known by Lenbach’s pictures. One has an exceptionally clever, expressive countenance—a thorough painter’s head. The humorist may be recognised by the curious narrowing of one eye, the well-known eye of the humorist that sees everything, proves everything, and holds fast every absurdity in the gestures, every eccentricity in the bearing of his neighbour. That is Wilhelm Busch.

In the large orbs of the other—orbs which seem to grow strangely wide by long gazing as at some fixed object—there is no smile of deliberate mischief, and it is not easy to associate the name of Oberländer with this Saturnian round face, with its curiously timid glance. One is reminded of the definition of humour as “smiling amid tears.”

Even in those days when he came every year to Munich and painted in Lenbach’s studio, Busch was a shy and moody man, who thawed only in the narrowest circle of his friends: now he has buried himself in a market-town in the province of Hanover, in Wiedensahl, which, according to Ritter’s Gazetteer, numbers eight hundred and twenty-eight inhabitants. He lives in the house of his brother-in-law, the clergyman of the parish, and gives himself up to the culture of bees. His laughter has fallen silent, and it is only a journal on bees that now receives contributions from his hand. But what works this hermit of Wiedensahl produced in the days when he migrated from Düsseldorf and Antwerp to Munich, and began in 1859 his series of sketches for Fliegende Blätter! The first were stiff and clumsy, the text in prose and not particularly witty. But the earliest work with a versified text, Der Bauer und der Windmüller, contains in the germ all the qualities which later found such brilliant expression in Max und Moritz, in Der Heilige Antonius, Die Fromme Helene, and Die Erlebnisse Knopps, 33 des Junggesellen, and made Busch’s works an inexhaustible fountain of mirth and enjoyment.

Busch unites an uncommonly sharp eye with a marvellously flexible hand. Wild as his subjects generally are, he solves the greatest difficulties as easily as though they were child’s play. His heroes appear in situations of the most urgent kind, which place their bodily parts in violent and exceedingly uncomfortable positions: they thrash others or get thrashed themselves, they stumble or fall. And in what a masterly way are all these anomalies seized, the boldest foreshortenings and the most flying movements! Untrained eyes see only a scrawl, but for those who know how to look, a drawing by Busch is life itself, freed from all unnecessary detail, and marked down in its great characteristic lines. And amid all this simplification, what knowledge there is under the guise of carelessness, and what fine calculation! Busch is at once simpler and more inventive than the English. With a maze of flourishes run half-mad, and a few points and blotches, he forms a sparkling picture. With the fewest possible means he hits the essential point, and for that reason he is justly called by Grand Cartaret the classic of caricaturists, le roi de la charge et la bouffonnerie.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.  

Oberländer, without whom it would be impossible to imagine Fliegende Blätter, has not fallen silent. He works on, “fresh and splendid as on the first day.” A gifted nature like Busch, he possesses, at the same time, that fertility of which Dürer said: “A good painter is inwardly complete and opulent, and were it possible for him to live eternally, then by virtue of those inward ideas of which Plato writes he would be always able to pour something new into his works.” It is now thirty years ago that he began his labours for Fliegende Blätter, and since that time some drawing of his, which has filled every one with delight, has appeared almost every week. Kant said that Providence has given men three things to console them amid the miseries of life—hope, sleep, and laughter. If he is right, Oberländer is amongst the greatest benefactors of mankind. Every one of his new sketches maintains the old precious 34 qualities. It might be said that, by the side of the comedian Busch, Oberländer seems a serious psychologist. Wilhelm Busch lays his whole emphasis on the comical effects of simplicity; he knows how to reduce an object in a masterly fashion to its elemental lines, which are comic in themselves by their epigrammatic pregnancy. He calls forth peals of laughter by the farcical spirit of his inventions and the boldness with which he renders his characters absurd. He is also the author of his own letterpress. His drawings are unimaginable without the verse, without the finely calculated and dramatic succession of situations growing to a catastrophe. Oberländer gets his effect purely by means of the pictorial elements in his representation, and attains a comical result, neither by the distorted exaggeration of what is on the face of the matter ridiculous, nor by an elementary simplification, but by a refined sharpening of character. It seems uncanny that a man should have such eyes in his head; there is something almost visionary in the way he picks out of everything the determining feature of its being. And whilst he faintly exaggerates what is characteristic and renders it distinct, his picture is given a force and power of conviction to which no previous caricaturist has attained, with so much discretion at the same time. No one has attained the drollness of Oberländer’s people, animals, and plants. He draws à la Max, à la Makart, Rethel, Genelli, or Piloty, hunts in the desert or theatrical representations, Renaissance architecture run mad or the most modern European mashers. He is as much at home in the Cameroons as in Munich, and in transferring the droll scenes of human life to the animal world he is a classic. He sports with hens, herrings, dogs, ducks, ravens, bears, and elephants as 35 Hokusai does with his frogs. Beside such animals all the Reinecke series of Wilhelm Kaulbach look like “drawings from the copybook of little Moritz.” And landscapes which in their tender intimacy of feeling seem like anticipations of Cazin sometimes form the background of these creatures. One can scarcely err in supposing that posterity will place certain plates from the work of this quiet, amiable man beside the best which the history of drawing has anywhere to show.


The Charivari takes its place with Punch and Fliegende Blätter.

In the land of Rabelais also caricature has flourished since the opening of the century, in spite of official masters who reproached her with desecrating the sacred temple of art, and in spite of the gendarmes who put her in gaol. Here, too, it was the draughtsmen who first broke with æsthetic prejudices, and saw the laughing and the weeping dramas of life with an unprejudiced glance.

Quantin, Paris.

Debucourt and Carle Vernet, the pair who made their appearance immediately after the storms of the Revolution, are alike able and charming artists, who depict the pleasures of the salon in a graceful style; and they rival the great satirists on the other side of the Channel in the incisiveness of their drawing, and frequently even surpass them by the added charm of colour.

Carle Vernet, originally an historical painter, remembered that he had married the daughter of the younger Moreau, and set himself to portray the doings of the jeunesse dorée of the end of the eighteenth century in his incroyables and his merveilleuses. Crazy, eccentric, and superstitious, he divided his time afterwards between women and his club-fellows, horses and dogs. He survives in the history of art as the chronicler of sport, hunting, racing, and drawing-room and café scenes.

Louis Philibert Debucourt was a pupil of Vien, and had painted genre pictures in the spirit of Greuze before he turned in 1785 to colour engraving. In this year appeared the pretty “Menuet de la Mariée,” with 36 the peasant couples dancing, and the dainty châtelaine who laughingly opens the ball with the young husband. After that he had found his specialty, and in the last decade of the eighteenth century he produced the finest of his colour engravings. In 1792 there is the wonderful promenade in the gallery of the Palais Royal, with its swarming crowd of young officers, priests, students, shop-girls, and cocottes; in 1797 “Grandmother’s Birthday,” “Friday Forenoon at the Parisian Bourse,” and many others. The effects of technique which he achieved by means of colour engraving are surprising. A freshness like that of water colour lies on these yellow straw hats, lightly rouged cheeks, and rosy shoulders. To white silk cloaks trimmed with fur he gives the iridescence of a robe by Netscher. If there survived nothing except Debucourt from the whole art of the eighteenth century, he would alone suffice to give an idea of the entire spirit of the time. Only one note would be wanting, the familiar simplicity of Chardin. The smiling grace of Greuze, the elegance of Watteau, and the sensuousness of Boucher—he has them all, although they are weakened in him, and precisely by his affectation is he the true child of his epoch. The crowd which is promenading beneath the trees of the Palais Royal in 1792 is no longer the same which fills the drawing-rooms of Versailles and Petit Trianon in the pages of Cochin. The faces are coarser and more plebeian. Red waistcoats with breloques as large as fists, and stout canes with great gold tops, make the costume of the men loud and ostentatious, while eccentric hats, broad sashes, and high coiffures bedizen the ladies more than is consistent with elegance. At the same time, Debucourt gives this democracy an aristocratic bearing. His prostitutes look like duchesses. His art is an attenuated echo of the rococo period. In him the décadence is embodied, and all the grace and elegance of the century is once more united, although it has become more bourgeois.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts. L’Art.

The Empire again was less favourable to caricature. Not that there was any want of material, but the censorship kept a strict watch over the welfare of France. Besides, the artists who made their appearance after David lived on Olympus, and would have nothing to do with the common things of life. Neither draughtsmen nor engravers could effect anything so long as they saw themselves overlooked by a Greek or Roman phantom as they bent over their paper or their plate of copper, and felt it their duty to suggest the stiff lines of antique 37 statues beneath the folds of modern costume.

Bosio was the genuine product of this style. Every one of his pictures has become tedious, because of a spurious classicism to which he adhered with inflexible consistency. He cannot draw a grisette without seeing her with David’s eyes. It deprives his figures of truth and interest. Something of the correctness of a schoolmistress is peculiar to them. His grace is too classic, his merriment too well-bred, and everything in them too carefully arranged to give the idea of scenes rapidly depicted from life. Beauty of line is offered in place of spontaneity of observation, and even the character of the drawing is lost in a pedantic elegance which envelopes everything with the uniformly graceful veil of an insipidly fluent outline.


As soon as Romanticism had broken with the classic system, certain great draughtsmen, who laid a bold hand on modern life without being shackled by æsthetic formulæ, came to the front in France. Henri Monnier, the eldest of them, was born a year after the proclamation of the Empire. Cloaks, plumes, and sabretasches were the first impressions of his youth; he saw the return of triumphant armies and heard the fanfare of victorious trumpets. The Old Guard remained his ideal, the inglorious kingship of the Restoration his abhorrence. He was a supernumerary clerk in the Department of Justice when in 1828 his first brochure, Mœurs administratives dessinées d’aprés nature par Henri Monnier, disclosed to his superiors that the eyes of this poor young man in the service of the Ministry had seen more than they should have done. Dismissed from his post, he was obliged to support himself by his pencil, and became the chronicler of the epoch. In Monnier’s prints breathes the happy Paris of the good old times, a Paris which in these days scarcely exists even in the provinces. His “Joseph Proudhomme,” from his shoe-buckles to his stand-up collar, from his white cravat to his blue spectacles, is as immortal as Eisele und Beisele, Schulze und Müller, or Molière’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Monnier himself is his own Proudhomme. He is the Philistine in Paris, enjoying little Parisian idylls with a bourgeois complacency. With him there is no distinction between beautiful and ugly; he finds that everything in nature can be turned to account. How admirably the different worlds of Parisian society are discriminated in his Quartiers de Paris! How finely he has portrayed the grisette of the period, with her following of young tradesmen and poor students! As yet she has not blossomed into the fine lady, the 38 luxurious blasée woman of the next generation. She is still the bashful modiste or dressmaker’s apprentice whose outings in the country are described by Paul de Kock, a pretty child in a short skirt who lives in an attic and dresses up only when she goes to the theatre or into the country on a Sunday. Monnier gives her an air of good-nature, something delightfully childlike. In the society of her adorers she is content with the cheapest pleasures, drinks cider and eats cakes, rides on a donkey or breakfasts amid the trees, and hardly coquets at all when a fat old gentleman follows her on the boulevards. These innocent flirtations remind one as little of the more recent lorettes of Gavarni as these in their turn anticipate the drunken street-walkers of Rops.

Under Louis Philippe began the true modern period of French caricature, the flourishing time when really great artists devoted themselves to it. It never raised its head more proudly than under the bourgeois king, whose onion head always served the relentless Philippon as a target for his wit. It was never armed in more formidable fashion; it never dealt more terrible blows. Charles Philippon’s famous journal La Caricature was the most powerful lever that the republicans used against the “July government”; it was equally feared by the Ministry, the bourgeoisie, and the throne. When the Charivari followed La Caricature in 1832, political cartoons began to give way to the simple portraiture of manners in French life. The powder made for heavy guns exploded in a facile play of fireworks improvised for the occasion.

French society in the nineteenth century has to thank principally Daumier and Gavarni for being brought gradually within the sphere of artistic representation. These men are usually called caricaturists, yet they were in reality the great historians of their age. Through long years they laboured every week and almost every day at their great history, which embraced thousands of chapters—at a true zoology of the human species; and their work, drawn upon stone in black and white, proves them not merely genuine historians, but really eminent artists who merit a place beside the greatest.

L’Art. L’Art.
(By permission of M. Eugène Montrosier, the owner of the picture.)  

When in his young days Daubigny trod the pavement of the Sistine 39 Chapel in Rome, he is said to have exclaimed in astonishment, “That looks as if it had been done by Daumier!” and from that time Daumier was aptly called the Michael Angelo of caricature. Even when he is laughing there is a Florentine inspiration of the terrible in his style, a grotesque magnificence, a might suggestive of Buonarotti. In the period before 1848 he dealt the constitutional monarchy crushing blows by his drawings. “Le Ventre legislatif” marks the furthest point to which political caricature ever ventured in France. But when he put politics on one side and set himself free from Philippon, this same man made the most wonderful drawings from life. His “Robert Macaire” giving instructions to his clerk as a tradesman, sending his patients exorbitant bills as doctor to the poor, lording it over the bourse as banker, taking bribes as juryman, and fleecing a peasant as land-agent, is the incarnation of the bourgeois monarchy, a splendid criticism on the money-grubbing century. Politicians, officials, artists, actors, honest citizens, old-clothes-mongers, newspaper-boys, impecunious painters, the most various and the basest creatures are treated by his pencil, and appear on pages which are often terrible in their depth and truthfulness of observation. The period of Louis Philippe is accurately portrayed in these prints, every one of which belongs to the great volume of the human tragicomedy. In his “Émotions parisiennes” and “Bohémiens de Paris” he deals with misfortune, hunger, the impudence of vice, and the horror of misery. His “Histoire ancienne” ridiculed the absurdity of Classicism à la David at a time when it was still regarded as high treason to touch this sacred fane. These modern figures with the classical pose, which to some extent parodied David’s pictures, were probably what first brought his contemporaries to a sense of the stiffness and falsity of the whole movement; and at a later period Offenbach also contributed his best ideas with much the same result. Moreover, Daumier was a landscape-painter of the first order. No one has more successfully rendered the appearance of bridges and houses, of quays and streets under a downpour, of nature enfeebled as it is in the precincts of Paris. He was an instantaneous photographer without a rival, a physiognomist such as Breughel was in the sixteenth century, Jan Steen and Brouwer in the seventeenth, 40 and Chodowiecki in the eighteenth, with the difference that his drawing was as broad and powerful as Chodowiecki’s was delicate and refined. This inborn force of line, suggestive of Jordaens, places his sketches as high, considered as works of art, as they are invaluable as historical documents. The treatment is so summary, the outline so simplified, the pantomime, gesticulation, and pose always so expressive; and Daumier’s influence on several artists is beyond doubt. Millet, the great painter of peasants, owes much to the draughtsman of the bourgeois. Precisely what constitutes his “style,” the great line, the simplification, the intelligent abstention from anecdotic trifles, are things which he learnt from Daumier.

During the years when he drew for the Charivari, Gavarni was the exact opposite of Daumier. In the one was a forceful strength, in the other a refined grace; in the one brusque and savage observation and almost menacing sarcasm, in the other the wayward mood of the butterfly flitting lightly from flower to flower. Daumier might be compared with Rabelais; Gavarni, the spirituel journalist of the grand monde and the demi-monde, the draughtsman of elegance and of roués and lorettes, might be compared with Molière. Born of poor parentage in Paris in 1801, and in his youth a mechanician, he supported himself from the year 1835 by fashion prints and costume drawings. He undertook the conduct of a fashion journal, Les Gens du Monde, and began it with a series of drawings from the life of the jeunesse dorée: les Lorettes, les Actrices, les Fashionables, les Artistes, les Étudiants de Paris, les Bals masqués, les Souvenirs du Carnaval, la Vie des Jeunes Hommes. A new world was here revealed with bold traits. The women of Daumier are good, fat mothers, always busy, quick-witted, and of an enviable constitution; women who are careful in the management of their household, and who go to market and take their husband’s place at his office when necessary. In Gavarni the women are piquant and given to pouting, draped in silk and enveloped in soft velvet mantles. They are fond of dining in the cabinet particulier, and of scratching the name of their lover, for the time being, upon crystal mirrors.

Quantin, Paris.
Quantin, Paris.

Gavarni was the first who seized the worldly side of modern life; he portrayed elegant figures full of chic, and gave them a garb which fitted them exactly. In his own dress he had a taste for what was dandified, 41 and he plunged gaily into the enjoyment of the Parisian life which eddied around in a whirl of pleasure. The present generation feels that the air in such old journals of fashion is heavy. In every work of art there is, in addition to what endures, a fine perfume that evaporates after a certain number of years, and is no longer perceptible to those who come afterwards. What is fresh and modern to-day looks to-morrow like the dried flowers which the botanist keeps in a herbarium. And those who draw the fashions of their age are specially liable to this swift decay. Thus many of Gavarni’s lithographs have the effect of pallid pictures of a vanished world. But the generation of 1830 honoured in him the same charmeur, the same master of enamoured grace, which that of 1730 had done in Watteau. He was sought after as an inventor of fashions, whom the tailor Humann, the Worth of the “July Monarchy,” regarded as his rival. He was the discoverer of all the fairy costumes which formed the chief attraction at masquerades and theatres, the delicate gourmet of the eternal feminine; and having dangled much after women, he knew how to render the wave of a petticoat, the seductive charm of a well-proportioned leg, and the coquettishness of a new coiffure with the most familiar connoisseurship. He has been called the Balzac of draughtsmen. And the sentences at the bottom of his 42 sketches, for which he is also responsible, are as audacious as the pictures themselves. Thus, when the young exquisite in the series “La Vie des Jeunes Hommes” stands with his companion before a skeleton in the anthropological museum, the little woman opines with a shudder, “When one thinks that this is a man, and that women love that”!

But that is only one side of the sphinx. He is only half known when one thinks only of the draughtsman of ladies’ fashions who celebrated the free and easy graces of the demi-monde and the wild licence of the carnival. At bottom Gavarni was not a frivolous butterfly, but an artist of a strangely sombre imagination, a profound and melancholy philosopher who had a prescience of all the mysteries of life. All the mighty problems which the century produced danced before his spirit like spectral notes of interrogation.

The transition was made when, as an older man, he depicted the cold, sober wakening that follows the wild night. Constantin Guys had already worked on these lines. He was an unfortunate and ailing man, who passed his existence, like Verlaine, in hospital, and died in an almshouse. Guys has not left much behind him, but in that little he shows himself the true forerunner of the moderns, and it is not a mere chance that Baudelaire, the ancestor of the décadence, established Guys’ memory. These women who wander aimlessly about the streets with weary movements and heavy eyes deadened with absinthe, and who flit through the ball-room like bats, have nothing of the innocent charm of Monnier’s grisettes. They are the uncanny harbingers of death, the demoniacal brides of Satan. Guys exercised on Gavarni an influence which brought into being his Invalides du sentiment, his Lorettes vieilles, and his Fourberies de femmes. “The pleasure of all creatures is mingled with bitterness.” The frivolous worldling became a misanthrope from whom no secret of the foul city was hidden; a pessimist who had begun to recognise the human brute, the swamp-flower of over-civilisation, the “bitter fruit which is inwardly full of ashes,” in the queen of the drawing-room 43 as in the prostitute of the gutter. Henceforth he only recognises a love whose pleasures are to be reckoned amongst the horrors of death. His works could be shown to no lady, and yet they are in no sense frivolous: they are terrible and puritanic.

If Daumier by preference showed mastery in his men, Gavarni showed it in his women as no other has done. He is not the powerful draughtsman that Daumier is; he has not the feeling for large movement, but with what terrible directness he analyses faces! He has followed woman through all seasons of life and in every grade, from youth to decay, and from brilliant wealth to filthy misery, and he has written the story of the lorette in monumental strophes: café chantant, villa in the Champs Elysées, equipage, grooms, Bois de Boulogne, procuress, garret, and radish-woman, that final incarnation which Victor Hugo called the sentence of judgment.


And Gavarni went further on this road. His glance became sharper and sharper, and the seriousness of meditation subdued his merriment; he came to the study of his age with the relentless knife of a vivisectionist. Fate had taught him the meaning of the struggle for existence. A journal he had founded in the thirties overwhelmed him with debts. In 1835 he sat in the prison of Clichy, and from that time he meditated on the miserable, tattered creatures whom he saw around him, with other eyes. He studied the toiling masses, and roamed about in slums and wine-caves amongst pickpockets and bullies. And what Paris had not yet revealed to him, he learnt in 1849 in London. Even there he was not the first-comer. Géricault, who as early as 1821 dived into the misery of the vast city, and brought out a series of lithographs, showed him the way. Beggars cowering half dead with exhaustion at a 44 baker’s door, ragged pipers slouching round deserted quarters of the town, poor crippled women wheeled in barrows by hollow-eyed men past splendid mansions and surrounded by the throng of brilliant equipages—these are some of the scenes which he brought home with him from London. But Gavarni excels him in trenchant incisiveness. “What is to be seen in London gratis,” runs the heading of a series of sketches in which he conjures up on paper, in such a terrible manner, the new horrors of this new period: the starvation, the want, and the measureless suffering that hides itself with chattering teeth in the dens of the great city. He went through Whitechapel from end to end, and studied its drunkenness and its vice. How much more forcible are his beggars than those of Callot! The grand series of “Thomas Vireloque” is a dance of death in life; and in it are stated all the problems which have since disturbed our epoch. By this work Gavarni has come down to us as a contemporary, and by it he has become a pioneer. The enigmatical figure of “Thomas Vireloque” starts up in these times, following step by step in the path of his prototype: he is the philosopher of the back streets, the ragged scoundrel with dynamite in his pocket, the incarnation of the bête humaine, of human misery and human vice. Here Gavarni stands far above Hogarth and far above Callot. The ideas on social politics of the first half of the century are concentrated in “Thomas Vireloque.”

Of course the assumption of government by Napoleon III marked a new phase in French caricature. It became more mundane and more highly civilised. All the piquancy and brilliance, waywardness and corruption, looseness and amenity, mirth and affectation of this refined city life, which in those days threw its dazzling splendour over all Europe, found intelligent and subtle interpreters in the young generation of draughtsmen. The Journal pour rire comes under consideration as the leading paper. It was founded in 1848, and in 1856 assumed the title of Journal amusant, under which it is known at the present day.


Hetzel, Paris.

Au premier Mosieu.—“Attendez-moi ce soir, de quatre à cinq heures, quai de l’Horloge du Palais.—Votre Augustine.”

Au deuxième Mosieu.—“Ce soir, quai des Lunettes, entre quatre et cinq heures.—Votre Augustine.”

Au troisième Mosieu.—“Quai des Morfondus, ce soir, de quatre heures à cinq.—Votre Augustine.”

À un quatrième Mosieu.—“Je t’attends ce soir, à quatre heures.—Ton Augustine.”



47 Gustave Doré, to the lessening of his importance, moved on this ground only in his earliest period. He was barely sixteen and still at school in his native town Burg, in Alsace, when he made an agreement with Philippon, who engaged him for three years on the Journal pour rire. His first drawings date from 1844: “Les animaux socialistes,” which were very suggestive of Grandville, and “Désagréments d’un voyage d’agrément”—something like the German Herr und Frau Buchholz in der Schweiz—which made a considerable sensation by their grotesque wit. In his series “Les différents publics de Paris” and “La Ménagerie Parisienne” he represented with an incisive pencil the opera, the Théâtre des Italiens, the circus, the Odéon and the Jardin des Plantes. But since that time the laurels of historical painting have given him no rest. He turned away from his own age as well as from caricature, and made excursions into all zones and all periods. He visited the Inferno with Dante, lingered in Palestine with the patriarchs of the Old Testament, and ran through the world of wonders with Perrault. The facility of his invention was astonishing, and so too was the aptness with which he seized for illustration on the most vivid scenes from all authors. But he has too much Classicism to be captivating for very long. His compositions dazzle by an appearance of the grand style, but attain only an outward and scenical effect. His figures are academic variations of types originally established by the Greeks and the Cinquescentisti. He forced his talent when he soared into regions where he could not stand without the support of his predecessors. Even in his “Don Quixote” the figures lose in character the larger they become. Everything in Doré is calligraphic, judicious, without individuality, without movement and life, composed in accordance with known rules. There is a touch of Wiertz in him, both in his imagination and in his design, and his youthful works, such as the “Swiss Journey,” in which he merely drew from observation without pretensions to style, will probably last the longest.

In broad lithographs and charming woodcuts, Cham has been the most exhaustive in writing up the diary of modern Parisian life during the period 1848-78. The celebrated caricaturist—he has been called the most brilliant man in France under Napoleon III—had worked in the studio of Delaroche at the same time as Jean François Millet. After 1842 he came forward as Cham (his proper name was Count Amadée de Noë) with drawings which soon made him the artist most in demand on the staff of the Charivari. Neither so profound nor so serious as Gavarni, he has a constant sparkle of vivacity, and is a draughtsman of wonderful verve. In his reviews of the month and of the year, everything which interested Paris in the provinces of invention and fashion, art and literature, science and the theatre, passes before us in turn: the omnibuses with their high imperials, table-turning and spirit-rapping, the opening of the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Madame Ristori, the completion of the Suez Canal, the first newspaper kiosks, New Year’s Day in Paris, the invention of ironclads, the tunnelling of Mont Cenis, Gounod’s Faust, Patti and Nilsson, the strike of the tailors and hat-makers, jockeys and racing. 48 Everything that excited public attention had a close observer in Cham. His caricatures of the works of art in the Salon were full of spirit, and the International Exhibition of 1867 found in him its classic chronicler. Here all the mysterious Paris of the third Napoleon lives once more. Emperors and kings file past, the band of Strauss plays, gipsies are dancing, equipages roll by, and every one lives, loves, flirts, squanders money, and whirls round in a maëlstrom. But the end of the exhibition betokened the end of all that splendour. In Cham’s plates which came next one feels that there is thunder in the air. Neither fashions nor theatres, neither women nor pleasure, could prevent politics from predominating more and more: the fall of Napoleon was drawing near.

Quantin, Paris.
Quantin, Paris.

There was a greater division of labour amongst those who followed Cham, 49 since one chose “little women” as a speciality, another the theatre, and another high-life. Assisted by photography, Nadar turned again to portraiture, which had been neglected since Daumier, and enjoyed a great success with his series “Les Contemporains de Nadar.” Marcellin is the first who spread over his sketches from the world of fashions and the theatre all the chic and fashionable glitter which lives in the novels of those years. He is the chronicler of the great world, of balls and soirées; he shows the opera and the Théâtre des Italiens, tells of hunting and racing, attends the drives in the Corso, and at the call of fashion promptly deserts the stones of Paris to look about him in châteaux and country-houses, seaside haunts in France, and the little 50 watering-places of Germany, where the gaming-tables formed at that time the rendezvous of well-bred Paris. Baden-Baden, where all the lions of the day, the politicians and the artists and all the beauties of the Paris salons, met together in July, offered the draughtsman a specially wide field for studies of fashion and chic. Here began the series “Histoires des variations de la mode depuis le XVI siècle jusqu’à nos jours.” In a place where all classes of society, the great world and the demi-monde, came into contact, Marcellin could not avoid the latter, but even when he verged on this province he always knew how to maintain a correct and distinguished bearing. He was peculiarly the draughtsman of “society,” of that brilliant, pleasure-loving, tainted, and yet refined society of the Second Empire which turned Paris into a great ball-room.

Quantin, Paris. Journal Amusant.
  “Tiens! ne me parle pas de lui, je ne peux pas le souffrir,
 même en peinture!”
“Cependant, s’il t’offrait de t’epouser?”
“Ça, c’est autre chose.”

Randon is as plebeian as Marcellin is aristocratic. His speciality is the stupid recruit who is marched through the streets with his “squad,” or the retired tradesman of small means, as Daudet has hit him off in M. Chèbe, the old gentleman seated on a bench in the Bois de Boulogne: “Let the little ones come to me with their nurses.” His province includes everything that has nothing to do with chic. The whole life of the Parisian people, the horse-fairs, the races at Poissy, and all the more important occurrences by which the appearance of the city has been transformed, may be followed in his drawings. When he travelled he did not go to watering-places, but to the provinces, to Cherbourg and Toulon, or to the manufacturing towns of Belgium and England, where he observed life at the railway stations and the custom-house, at markets and in barracks, at seaports and upon the street. Goods that are being piled together, sacks that are being hoisted, ships being brought to anchor, storehouses, wharfs, and docks—everywhere there is as much life in his sketches as in a busy beehive. Nature is a great manufactory, and man a living machine. The world is like an ant-hill, the dwelling of curious insects furnished with teeth, feelers, indefatigable feet, and marvellous organs proper for digging, sawing, building, and all things possible, but furnished also with an incessant hunger.

Soon afterwards there came Hadol, who made his début in 1855, with 51 pictures of the fashions; Stop, who specially represented the provinces and Italy; Draner, who occupied himself with the Parisian ballet and designed charming military uniforms for little dancing girls. Léonce Petit drew peasants and sketched the charms of the country in a simple, familiar fashion—the mortal tedium of little towns, poor villages, and primitive inns, the gossip of village beldames before the house-door, the pompous dignity of village magistrates or of the head of the fire brigade. He is specially noteworthy as a landscape artist. The trees on the straight, monotonous road rise softly and delicately into the air, and the sleepy sameness of tortuous village streets is pregnantly rendered by a few strokes of the pencil. The land is like a great kitchen garden. The fields and the arable ground with their dusty, meagre soil chant a mighty song of hard labour, of the earnest, toilsome existence of the peasant folk.

Andrieux and Morland discovered the femme entretenue, though afterwards her best known delineator was Grévin, an able, original, facile, and piquant draughtsman, whom some—exaggerating beyond a doubt—called the direct successor of Gavarni. Grévin’s women are a little monotonous, with their ringleted chignons, their expressionless eyes which try to look big, their perverse little noses, their defiant, pouting lips, and the cheap toilettes which they wear with so much chic. But they too have gone to their rest with the grisettes of Monnier and Gavarni, and have left the field to the women of Mars and Forain. In these days Grévin’s work seems old-fashioned, since it is no longer modern and not yet historical; nevertheless it marks an epoch, like that of Gavarni. The bals publics, the bals de l’Opéra, those of the Jardin Mabille, the Closerie des Lilas, the races, the promenades in the Bois de Vincennes, the seaside resorts, all places where the demi-monde pitched its tent 52 in the time of Napoleon III, were also the home of the artist. “How they love in Paris” and “Winter in Paris” were his earliest series. His finest and greatest drawings, the scenes from the Parisian hotels and “The English in Paris,” appeared in 1867, the year of the Exhibition. His later series, published as albums—“Les filles d’Ève,” “Le monde amusant,” “Fantaisies parisiennes,” “Paris vicieux,” “La Chaîne des Dames”—are a song of songs upon the refinements of life.

It does not lie within the plan of this book to follow the history of drawing any further. Our intention was merely to show that painting had to follow the path trodden by Rowlandson and Cruikshank, Erhard and Richter, Daumier and Gavarni, if it was to be art of the nineteenth century, and not to remain for ever dependent on the old masters. Absolute beauty is not good food for art; to be strong it must be nourished on the ideas of the century. When the world had ceased to draw inspiration from the masterpieces of the past merely with the object of depicting by their aid scenes out of long-buried epochs, there was for the first time a prospect that mere discipleship would be overcome, and that a new and original painting would be developed through the fresh and independent study of nature. The passionate craving of the age had to be this: to feel at home on the earth, in this long-neglected world of reality, which hides the unsuspected treasure of vivid works of art. The rising sun is just as beautiful now as on the first day, the streams flow, the meadows grow green, the vibrating passions are at war now as in other times, the immortal heart of nature still beats beneath its rough covering, and its pulsation finds an echo in the heart of man. It was necessary to descend from ideals to existing fact, and the world had to be once more discovered by painters as in the days of the first Renaissance. The question was how by the aid of all the devices of colour to represent the multifarious forms of human activity: the phases and conditions of life, fashion as well as misery, work and pleasure, the drawing-room and the street, the teeming activity of towns and the quiet labour of peasants. The essential thing was to write the entire natural history of the age. And this way, the way from museums to nature, and from the past to the world of living men, was shown by the English to the French and German painters.

Mansell Photo




“The English school has an advantage over others in being young: its tradition is barely a century old, and, unlike the Continental schools, it is not hampered by antiquated Greek and Latin theories. What fortunate conditions it has for breaking away into really modern work! whereas in other nations the weight of tradition presses hard on the boldest innovators. The English do not look back; on the contrary, they look into life around them.” So wrote Burger-Thoré in one of his Salons in 1867.

Yet England was not unaffected by the retrospective tendency on the Continent. Perhaps it might even be demonstrated that this movement had its earliest origin on British soil. England had its “Empire style” in architecture fifty years before there was any empire in France; it had its Classical painting when David worked at Cupids with Boucher, and it gave the world a Romanticist at the very time when the literature of the Continent became “Classical.” The Lady of the Lake, Marmion, The Lord of the Isles, The Fair Maid of Perth, Old Mortality, Ivanhoe, Quentin Durward, who is there that does not know these names by heart? We have learnt history from Walter Scott, and that programme of the artistic crafts which Lorenz Gedon drew up in 1876, when he arranged the department Works of our Fathers in the Munich Exhibition, had been carried out by Scott as early as 1816. For Scott laid out much of the money he received for his romances in building himself a castle in the style of the baronial strongholds of the Middle Ages: “Towers and turrets all imitated from a royal building in Scotland, windows and gables painted with the arms of the clans, with lions couchant,” rooms “filled with high sideboards and carved chests, targes, plaids, Highland broadswords, halberts, and suits of armour, and adorned with antlers hung up as trophies.” Here was a Makartesque studio very many years before Makart.

Amongst the painters there were Classicists and Romanticists; but they were neither numerous nor of importance. What England produced in the way of “great art” in the beginning of last century could be erased from the complete chart of British painting without any essential gap being made in the course of its development. Reynolds had had to pay dear for approaching the Italians in his “Ugolino,” his “Macbeth,” and his “Young Hercules.” And a yet more arid mannerism befell all the others who followed him on the way to Italy, among them James Barry, who, after studying for years in Italy, 54 settled down in London in 1771, with the avowed intention of providing England with a classical form of art. He believed that he had surpassed his own models, the Italian classic painters, by six pompous representations of the “Culture and Progress of Human Knowledge,” which he completed in 1783, in the theatre of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. The many-sided James Northcote, equally mediocre in everything, survives rather by his biographies of Reynolds and Titian than by the great canvases which he painted for Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery. That which became best known was “The Murder of the Children in the Tower.” Henry Fuseli, who was also much occupied with authorship and as preceptor Britanniæ, always mentioned with great respect by his numerous pupils, produced a series of exceedingly thoughtful and imaginative works, to which he was incited by Klopstock and Lavater. By preference he illustrated Milton and Shakespeare, and amongst this series of pictures his painting of “Titania with the Ass,” from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the London National Gallery, is probably the best. His pupil William Etty was saturated with the traditions of the Venetian school; he is the British Makart, and followed rather heavily and laboriously in the track of Titian, exploring the realms of nude beauty, and toiling to discover that secret of blooming colour which gleams from the female forms of the Venetians. The assiduous Benjamin Robert Haydon, a spirit ever seeking, striving, and reflecting, became, like Gros in France, a victim of the grand style. He would naturally have preferred to paint otherwise, and more simply. The National Gallery possesses a charming picture by him of a London street (for some years past on loan at Leicester), which represents a crowd watching a Punch and Judy show. But, like Gros, he held it a sin against the grand style to occupy himself with such matters. He thought it only permissible to paint sacred subjects or subjects from ancient history upon large spaces of canvas; and he sank ever deeper into his theories, reaching the profoundest abyss of abstract science when he made diligent anatomical studies of the muscles of a lion, in order to fashion the heroic frames of warriors on the same plan. His end, on 26th June 1846, was like that of the Frenchman. There was found beside his body a paper on which he had written: “God forgive me. Amen. Finis,” with the quotation from Shakespeare’s Lear: “Stretch me no longer on the rack of this rough world.” All these masters are more interesting for their human qualities than for their works, which, with their extravagant colour, forced gestures, and follies of every description, contain no new thing worthy of further development. Even when they sought to make direct copies from Continental performances, they did not attain the graceful sweep of their models. The refinements which they imitated became clumsy and awkward in their hands, and they remained half bourgeois and half barbaric.

The liberating influence of English art was not found in the province of the great painting, and it is probably not without significance that the few who tried to import it came to grief in the experiment. There can be no doubt 55 that such art goes more against the grain of the English nature than of any other. Even in the days of scholastic philosophy the English asserted the doctrine that there are only individuals in nature. In the beginning of modern times a new era, grounded on the observation of nature, was promulgated from England. Bacon had little to say about beauty: he writes against the proportions and the principle of selection in art, and therefore against the ideal. Handsome men, he says, have seldom possessed great qualities. And in the same way the English stage had just as little bent for the august and rhythmical grandeur of classical literature. When he stabbed Polonius, Garrick never dreamed of moving according to the taste of Boileau, and was probably as different from the Greek leader of a chorus as Hogarth from David. The peculiar merits of English literature and science have been rooted from the time of their first existence in their capacity for observation. This explains the contempt for regularity in Shakespeare, the feeling for concrete fact in Bacon. English philosophy is positive, exact, utilitarian, and highly moral. Hobbes and Locke, John Stuart Mill and Buckle, in England take the place of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant upon the Continent. Amongst English historians Carlyle is the only poet: all the rest are learned prose-writers who collect observations, combine experiences, arrange dates, weigh possibilities, reconcile facts, discover laws, and hoard and increase positive knowledge. The eighteenth century had seen the rise of the novel as the picture of contemporary life; in Hogarth this national spirit was first turned to account in painting. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, again, the good qualities of English art consisted not in bold ideality, but in sharpness of observation, sobriety, and flexibility of spirit.

  Mag. of Art.

Their proper domain was still to be found in portraiture, and if none of the new portrait painters can be compared with the great ancestors of English art, they are none the less superior to all their contemporaries on the Continent. George Romney, who belongs rather to the eighteenth century, holds the mean course between the refined classic art of Sir Joshua and the 56 imaginative poetic art of Thomas Gainsborough. Less personal and less profound in characterisation, he was, on the other hand, the most dexterous painter of drapery in his age: a man who knew all the secrets of the trade, and possessed, at the same time, that art which is so much valued in portrait painters—the art of beautifying his models without making his picture unlike the original. Professional beauties beheld themselves presented in their counterfeit precisely as they wished to appear, and accorded him, therefore, a fervent adoration. And after his return from Italy in 1775 his fame was so widespread that it outstripped Gainsborough’s and equalled that of Reynolds. Court beauties and celebrated actresses left no stone unturned to have their portraits introduced into one of his “compositions”; for Romney eagerly followed the fashion of allegorical portraiture which had been set by Reynolds, representing persons with the emblem of a god or of one of the muses. Romney has painted the famous Lady Hamilton, to say nothing of others, as Magdalen, Joan of Arc, a Bacchante, and an Odalisque.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.  

Great as his reputation had been at the close of the eighteenth century, it was outshone twenty years later by that of Sir Thomas Lawrence. Born in Bristol in 1769, Lawrence had scarcely given up the calling of an actor before he saw all England in raptures over his genius as a painter. The catalogue of his portraits is a complete list of all who were at the time pre-eminent for talent or beauty. He received fabulous sums, which he spent with the grace of a man of the world. In 1815 he was commissioned to paint for the Windsor Gallery the portraits of all the “Victors of Waterloo,” from the Duke of Wellington to the Emperor Alexander. The Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle gave him an opportunity for getting the portraits of representatives of the various Courts. All the capitals of Europe, which he visited for this purpose, received him with princely honours. He was member of all the Academies under the sun, and President of that in London; but, as a natural reaction, this over-estimation of earlier years has been followed by an equally undeserved undervaluation of his works in these days. Beneath the fashionable exterior of his ceremonial pictures naturalness and simplicity are often wanting, and so too are the deeper powers of characterisation, firm drawing, and real 57 vitality. A feminine coquetry has taken the place of character. His drawing has a banal effect, and his colouring is monotonous in comparison with that realism which Reynolds shares with the old masters. It is easy to confound the majority of his pictures of ceremonies with those of Winterhalter, and his smaller portraits with pretty fashion plates; yet one cannot but admire his ease of execution and nobility of composition. Several of his pictures of women, in particular, are touched by an easy grace and a fine charm of poetic sensuousness in which he approaches Gainsborough. Not many at that time could have painted such pretty children’s heads, or given young women such an attractive and familiar air of life. With what a girlish glance of innocence and melancholy does Mrs. Siddons look out upon the world from the canvas of Lawrence: how piquant is her white Greek garment, with its black girdle and the white turban. And what subtle delicacy there is in the portrait of Miss Farren as she flits with muff and fur-trimmed cloak through a bright green summer landscape. The reputation of Lawrence will rise once more when his empty formal pieces have found their way into lumber-rooms, and a greater number of his pictures of women—pictures so full of indescribable fascination, so redolent of mysterious charm—are accessible to the public.

As minor stars, the soft and tender John Hoppner, the attractively superficial William Beechey, the celebrated pastellist John Russell, and the vigorously energetic John Jackson had their share with him in public favour, whilst Henry Raeburn shone in Scotland as a star of the first magnitude.

He was a born painter. Wilkie says in one of his letters from Madrid, that the pictures of Velasquez put him in mind of Raeburn; and certain works of the Scot, such as the portrait of Lord Newton, the famous bon vivant and doughty drinker, are indeed performances of such power that comparison with this mighty name is no profanation. At a time when there was a danger that portrait painting would sink in the hands of Lawrence into an insipid 58 painting of prettiness, Raeburn stood alone by the simplicity and naturalistic impressiveness of his portraiture. The three hundred and twenty-five portraits by him which were exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy in 1876, gave as exhaustive a picture of the life of Edinburgh at the close of the century as those of Sir Joshua gave of the life of London. All the celebrated Scotchmen of his time—Robertson, Hume, Ferguson, and Scott—were painted by him. Altogether he painted over six hundred portraits; and, small though the number may seem compared with the two thousand of Reynolds, Raeburn’s artistic qualities are almost the greater. The secret of his success lies in his vigorous healthiness, in the indescribable furia of his brush, in the harmony and truth of his colour-values. His figures are informed by a startling intensity of life. His old pensioners, and his sailors in particular, have something kingly in the grand air of their calm and noble countenances. Armstrong has given him a place between Frans Hals and Velasquez, and occasionally his conception of colour even recalls the modern Frenchmen, as it were Manet in his Hals period. He paints his models, just as they come into contact with him in life, in the frank light of day and without any attempt at the dusk of the old masters; of raiment he gives only as much as the comprehension of the picture demands, and depicts character in large and simple traits.

The importance of West and Copley, two Americans who were active in England, is that they were the first to apply the qualities acquired in English portrait painting to pictures on a large scale.

Benjamin West has undoubtedly been over-praised by his contemporaries, and by a critic of the present day he has, not unfairly, been designated “the king of mediocrity.” At his appearance he was interesting to Europeans merely as an anthropological curiosity,—as the first son of barbaric America who had used a paint brush. A thoroughly American puff preceded his 59 entry into the Eternal City in 1760. It was reported that as the son of a quaker farmer he had grown up amongst his father’s slaves in the immediate neighbourhood of the Indians, and had painted good portraits in Philadelphia and New York without having ever seen a work of art. People were delighted when, on being brought into the Vatican, he clapped his hands and compared the Apollo Belvidere to an Indian chief. In the art of making himself interesting “the young savage” was ahead of all his patrons; and as he followed the ruling classical tendency with great aptitude, within the course of a year he was made an honorary member of the Academies of Parma, Bologna, and Florence, and praised by the critics of Rome as ranking with Mengs as the first painter of his day. In 1763, at a time when Hogarth and Reynolds, Wilson and Gainsborough, were in the fulness of their powers, he went to London; and as people are always inclined to value most highly what they do not possess, he soon won an important position for himself, even beside these masters. Hogarth produced nothing but “genre pictures,” Wilson only landscapes, and Reynolds and Gainsborough portraits: West brought to the English what they did not as yet possess—a “great art.”


His first picture—in the London National Gallery—“Pylades and Orestes brought as Hostages before Iphigenia,” is a tiresome product of that Classicism which upon the Continent found its principal representatives in Mengs and David: it is stiff in drawing, its composition is suggestive of a bas-relief, and its cold grey colouring is classically academic. His other pictures from antique and sacred history stand much on the same level as those of Wilhelm Kaulbach, with whose works they share their stilted dignity, their systematically antiquarian structure, and their mechanical combination of forms borrowed in a spiritless fashion from the Cinquecentisti.

Fortunately West has left behind him something different from these ambitious attempts; for on the occasions when he turned away from the great style he created works of lasting importance. This is specially true 60 of some fine historical pictures dealing with his own age, which will preserve his name for ever. “The Death of General Wolfe” at the storming of Quebec on 13th September 1759—exhibited at the opening of the Royal Academy in 1768—is by its very sobriety a sincere, honest, and sane piece of work, which will maintain its value as an historical document. It was just at this time that so great a part was played by the question of costume, and West encountered the same difficulties which Gottfried Schadow was obliged to face when he represented Ziethen and the Old Dessauer in the costume of their age. The connoisseurs held that such a sublime theme would only admit of antique dress. If West in their despite represented the general and his soldiers in their regulation uniform, it seems at the present time no more than the result of healthy common sense, but at that time it was an artistic event of great importance, and one which was only accomplished in France after the work of several decades. In that country Gérard and Girodet still clung to the belief that they could only raise the military picture to the level of the great style by giving the soldiers of the Empire the appearance of Greek and Roman statues. Gros is honoured as the man who first ceased from giving modern soldiers an air of the antique. But the American Englishman had anticipated him by forty years. As in Géricault’s “Raft of the Medusa,” it was only the pyramidal composition in West’s picture that betrayed the painter’s alliance with the Classical school; in other respects it forecast the realistic programme for decades to come, and indicated the course of development which leads through Gros onwards. If in Gros men are treated purely as accessories to throw a hero into relief, in West they stand out in action. They behave in the picture spontaneously as they do in life. That is to say, there is in West’s work of 1768 the element through which Horace Vernet’s pictures of 1830 are to be distinguished from those of Gros.

This realistic programme was carried out with yet greater consistency by West’s younger compatriot John Singleton Copley, who after a short sojourn in Italy migrated to England in 1775. His chief works in the London National Gallery depict in the same way events from contemporary history—“The Death of the Earl of Chatham, 7th April 1778” and “The Death of Major Pierson, 6th January 1781,”—and it is by no means impossible that when David, in the midst of the classicising tendencies of his age, ventured to paint “The Death of Marat” and “The Death of Lepelletier,” he was led to do so by engravings after Copley. In the representation of such things other painters of the epoch had draped their figures in antique costume, called genii and river-gods into action, and given a Roman character to the whole. Copley, like West, offers a plain, matter-of-fact representation of the event, without any rhetorical pathos. And what raises him above West is his liquid, massive colour, suggestive of the old masters. In none of his works could West set himself free from the dead grey colour of the Classical school, whereas Copley’s “Death of William Pitt” is the result of intimate studies of Titian and the Dutch. The way the light falls on the perukes of the men and the brown, wainscoted walls puts one in mind of Rembrandt’s “Anatomical Lecture”; only, instead of a pathetic scene from the theatre, we have a collection of good portraits in the manner of the Dutch studies of shooting matches.


Mansell Photo




Cassell & Co.

That this unhackneyed conception of daily life has its special home in England is further demonstrated by the work of Daniel Maclise, who depicted “The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher,” “The Death of Nelson,” and other patriotic themes upon walls and canvases several yards square, with appalling energy, promptitude, and expenditure of muscle. By these he certainly did better service to national pride than to art. Nevertheless, with their forcible, healthy realism they contrast favourably with the mythological subjects so universally produced on the Continent at that time.

Beside the portrait painters of men stand the portrait painters of animals. Since the days of Elias Riedinger animal painting had fallen into general disesteem on the Continent. Thorwaldsen, the first of the Classicists who allowed animals to appear in his works (as he did in his Alexander frieze), dispensed with any independent studies of nature, and contented himself with imitating the formal models on the frieze of the Parthenon; or, in lack of a Grecian exemplar, simply drew out of the depths of his inner consciousness. Especially remarkable is the sovran contempt with which he treated the most familiar domestic creatures. German historical painting knew still less what to make of the brute creation, because it only recognised beauty in the profundity of ideas, and ideas have nothing to do with beasts. Its four-footed creatures have a philosophic depth of contemplation, and are bad studies after nature. Kaulbach’s “Reinecke” and the inclination to 64 transplant human sentiments into the world of brutes delayed until the sixties any devoted study of the animal soul. France, too, before the days of Troyon, had nothing to show worth mentioning. But in England, the land of sport, animal painting was evolved directly from the old painting of the chase, without being seduced from its proper course. Fox-hunting has been popular in England since the time of Charles I. Racing came into fashion not long after, and with racing came that knowledge of horseflesh which has been developed in England further than elsewhere. Since the seventeenth century red deer have been preserved in the English parks. It is therefore comprehensible that English art was early occupied with these animals, and since it was sportsmen who cared most about them, the painter was at first their servant. He had not so much to paint pictures as reminiscences of sport and the chase. His first consideration in painting a horse was to paint a fine horse; as to its being a fine picture, that was quite a secondary matter. John Wootton and George Stubbs were in this sense portrayers of racehorses. The latter, however, took occasion to emancipate himself from his patrons by representing the noble animal, not standing at rest by his manger, or with a groom on his back and delighting in the consciousness of his own beauty, but as he was in action and amongst pictorial surroundings.



Mansell Photo





Soon afterwards George Morland made his appearance. He made a specialty of old nags, and was perhaps the most important master of the brush that the English school produced at all. His pictures have the same magic as the landscapes of Gainsborough. He painted life on the high-road and in front of village inns—scenes like those which Isaac Ostade had represented a century before: old horses being led to water amid the sunny landscape of the downs, market carts rumbling heavily through the rough and sunken lanes, packhorses coming back to their stalls of an evening tired out with the day’s exertions, riders pulling up at the village inn or chatting with the pretty landlady. And he has done these things with the delicacy of an old Dutch painter. It is impossible to say whether Morland had ever seen the pictures of Adriaen Brouwer; but this greatest master of technique amongst the Flemings can alone be compared with Morland in verve and artistic many-sidedness; and Morland resembled him also in his adventurous life and his early death. To the spirit and dash of Brouwer he joins the refinement of Gainsborough in his landscapes, and Rowlandson’s delicate feeling for feminine beauty in his figures. He does not paint fine ladies, but women in their everyday clothes, and yet they are surrounded by a grace recalling Chardin: young mothers going to see their children who are with the nurse, smart little 68 tavern hostesses in their white aprons and coquettish caps busily serving riders with drink, and charming city madams in gay summer garb sitting of a Sunday afternoon with their children at a tea-garden. Over the works of Morland there lies all the chivalrous grace of the time of Werther, and that fine Anglo-Saxon aroma exhaled by the works of English painters of the present day. Genuine as is the fame which he enjoys as an animal painter, it is these little social scenes which show his finest side; and only coloured engraving, which was brought to such a high pitch in the England of those days, is able to give an idea of the delicacy of hue in the originals.

Mansell & Co.

Morland’s brother-in-law, the painter and engraver James Ward, born in 1769 and dying in 1859, united this old English school with the modern. The portrait which accompanies the obituary notice in the Art Journal is that of a very aged gentleman, with a grey beard and thick, white, bristly hair. The pictures which he painted when he had this appearance—and they are the most familiar—were exceedingly weak and insipid works. In comparison with Morland’s broad, liquid, and harmonious painting, that of Ward seems burnished, sparkling, flaunting, anecdotic, and petty. But James Ward was not always old James Ward. In his early days he was one of the greatest and manliest artists of the English school, with whom only Briton Rivière can be compared amongst the moderns. When his “Lioness” appeared in the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1816 he was justly hailed as the best animal painter after Snyders, and from that time one masterpiece followed another for ten long years. What grace and power there are in his 69 horses and dogs! In pictures of this sort Stubbs was graceful and delicate; Ward painted the same horse in as sporting a manner and with the same knowledge, but with an artistic power such as no one had before him. His field of work was wide-reaching. He painted little girls with the thoroughly English feeling of Morland, and had the whole animal world for his domain. Lions, snakes, cats, pigs, oxen, cows, sheep, swans, fowls, frogs are the characters in his pictures. And characters they were, for he never humanised the looks of his four-footed models, as others did later. The home of his animals is not the drawing-room, but the woods and meadows, the air and the gardens. His broad, weighty manner was transformed first into extravagant virtuosity and then into pettiness of style during the last thirty years of his life, when he became senile. His reputation paled more than he deserved before the star of the world-famous Landseer.


The most popular animal painter, not merely of England but of the whole century, was Edwin Landseer. For fifty years his works formed the chief features of attraction in the Royal Academy. Engravings from him had such a circulation in the country that in the sixties there was scarcely a house in which there did not hang one of his horses or dogs or stags. Even the Continent was flooded with engravings of his pictures, and Landseer suffered 70 greatly from this popularity. He is much better than the reproductions with their fatal gloss allow any one to suppose, and his pictures can be judged by them just as little as can Raphael’s “School of Athens” from Jacobi’s engraving.


Edwin Landseer came of a family of artists. His father, who was an engraver, sent him out into the free world of nature as a boy, and made him sketch donkeys and goats and sheep. When he was fourteen he went to Haydon, the prophet on matters of art; and, on the advice of this singular being, studied the sculptures of the Parthenon. He “anatomised animals under my eyes,” writes Haydon, “copied my anatomical drawings, and applied my principles of instruction to animal painting. His genius, directed in this fashion, has, as a matter of fact, arrived at satisfactory results.” Landseer was the spoilt child of fortune. There is no other English painter who can boast of having been made a member of the Royal Academy at twenty-four. In high favour at Court, honoured by the fashionable world, and tenderly treated by criticism, he went on his way triumphant. The region over which he held sway was narrow, but he stood out in it as in life, powerful and commanding. The exhibition of his pictures which took place after his death in 1873 contained three hundred and fourteen oil paintings and one hundred and forty-six sketches. The property which he left amounted to £160,000; and a further sum of £55,000 was realised by the sale of his unsold pictures. Even Meissonier, the best paid painter of the century, did not leave behind him five and a half million francs.

One reason of Landseer’s artistic success is perhaps due to that in him which was inartistic—to his effort to make animals more beautiful than they really are, and to make them the medium for expressing human sentiment. All the dogs and horses and stags which he painted after 1855, and through which he was made specially familiar to the great public, are arrayed in their Sunday clothes, 71 their glossiest hide and their most magnificent horns. And in addition to this he “Darwinises” them: that is to say, he tries to make his animals more than animals; he lends a human sentimental trait to animal character; and that is what distinguishes him to his disadvantage from really great animal painters like Potter, Snyders, Troyon, Jadin, and Rosa Bonheur. He paints the human temperament beneath the animal mask. His stags have expressive countenances, and his dogs appear to be gifted with reason and even speech. At one moment there is a philosophic dignity in their behaviour, and at another a frivolity in their pleasures. Landseer discovered the sentimentality of dogs, and treated them as capable of culture. His celebrated picture “Jack in Office” is almost insulting in its characterisation: there they are, Jack the sentry, an old female dog like a poor gentlewoman, another dog like a professional beggar, and so on. And this habit of bringing animals on the stage, as if they were the actors of tragical, melodramatic, or farcical scenes, made him a peculiar favourite with the great mass of people. Nor were his picture-stories merely easy to read and understand; the characteristic titles he invented for each of them—“Alexander and Diogenes,” “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society,” and the like—excited curiosity as much as the most carefully selected name of a novel. But this search 72 after points and sentimental anecdotes only came into prominence in his last period, when his technique had degenerated and given way to a shiny polish and a forced elegance which obliged him to provide extraneous attractions. His popularity would not be so great, but his artistic importance would be quite the same, if these last pictures did not exist at all.

Cassell & Co.

But the middle period of Landseer, ranging from 1840 to 1850, contains masterpieces which set him by the side of the best animal painters of all times and nations. The well-known portrait of a Newfoundland dog of 1838; that of the Prince Consort’s favourite greyhound of 1841; “The Otter Speared” of 1844, with its panting and yelping pack brought to a standstill beneath a high wall of rock; the dead doe which a fawn is unsuspectingly approaching, in “A Random Shot,” 1848; “The Lost Sheep” of 1850, that wanders frightened and bleating through a wide and lonely landscape covered with snow,—these and many other pictures, in their animation and simple naturalness, are precious examples of the fresh and delicate observation peculiar to him at that time. Landseer’s portrait reveals to us a robust and serious man, with a weather-beaten face, a short white beard, and a snub bulldog nose. Standing six feet high, and having the great heavy figure of a Teuton stepping out of his aboriginal forest, he was indeed much more like a country gentleman than a London artist. He was a sportsman who wandered about all day long in the air with a gun on his arm, and he painted his animal pictures with all the love and joy of a child of nature. That accounts for their strength, their convincing power, and their vivid force. It is as if he had become possessed of a magic cap with which he could draw close to animals without being observed, and surprise their nature and their inmost life.

Landseer’s subject-matter and conception of life are indicated by the pictures which have been named. Old masters like Snyders and Rubens had represented the contrast between man and beast in their boar and lion hunts. It was not wild nature that Landseer depicted, but nature tamed. Rubens, Snyders, and Delacroix displayed their horses, dogs, lions, and tigers in bold action, or in the flame of passion. But Landseer generally introduced his animals in quiet situations—harmless and without fear—in the course of their ordinary life.


Mag. of Art.

Horses, which Leonardo, Rubens, Velasquez, Wouwerman, and the earlier English artists delighted to render, he painted but seldom, and when he painted them it was with a less penetrating comprehension. But lions, which had been represented in savage passion or in quiet dignity by artists from Rubens to Decamps, were for him also a subject of long and exhaustive studies, which had their results in the four colossal lions round the base of the Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square. Here the Englishman makes a great advance on Thorwaldsen, who designed the model for the monument in Lucerne without ever having seen a lion. Landseer’s brutes, both as they are painted and as they are cast in bronze, are genuine lions, cruel and catlike, although in savageness and bold passion they are not to be compared with those of Delacroix, nor with those of his elder compatriot, James Ward. On the other hand, stags and roes were really first introduced into painting by Landseer. Those of Robert Hills, who had previously been reckoned the best painter of stags, are timid, suspicious creatures, while Landseer’s are the true kings of the forest, the shooting of which ought to be punished as an act of assassination. His principal field of study was the Highlands. Here 74 he painted these proud creatures fighting on the mountain slopes, swimming the lake, or as they stand at a gaze in their quiet beauty. With what a bold spirit they raise their heads to snuff the mountain air, whilst their antlers show their delight in battle and the joy of victory. And how gentle and timid is the noble, defenceless roe in Landseer’s pictures.


He had also a delight in painting sheep lost in a snow-storm. But dogs were his peculiar specialty. Landseer discovered the dog. That of Snyders was a treacherous, snarling cur; that of Bewick a robber and a thief. Landseer has made the dog the companion of man, an adjunct of human society, the generous friend and true comrade who is the last mourner at the shepherd’s grave. Landseer first studied his noble countenance and his thoughtful eyes, and in doing so he opened a new province to art, in which Briton Rivière went further at a later period.

But yet another and still wider province was opened to continental nations by the art of England. In an epoch of archæological resuscitations and romantic regrets for the past, it brought French and German painters to a consciousness that the man of the nineteenth century in his daily life might be a perfectly legitimate subject for art. Engravings after the best pictures of Wilkie hang round the walls of Louis Knaus’s reception-room in Berlin. And that in itself betrays to us a fragment of the history of art. The painters who saw the English people with the eyes of Walter Scott, Fielding, Goldsmith, and Dickens were a generation in advance of those who depicted the German people in the spirit of Immermann, Auerbach, Gustav Freytag, and Fritz Reuter. The English advanced quietly on the road trodden by Hogarth in the eighteenth century, whilst upon the Continent the nineteenth century had almost completed half its course before art left anything which will allow future generations to see the men of the period as they really were. Since the days of Fielding and Goldsmith the novel of manners had been continually 75 growing. Burns, the poet of the plough, and Wordsworth, the singer of rustic folk, had given a vogue to that poetry of peasant life and those village tales which have since gone the round of all Europe. England began at that time to become the richest country in the world, and great fortunes were made. Painters were thus obliged to provide for the needs of a new and wealthy middle class. This fact gives us the explanation both of the merits and the faults which are characteristic of English genre painting.

In the first quarter of the nineteenth century David Wilkie, the English Knaus, was the chief genre painter of the world. Born in 1785 in the small Scotch village of Cults, where his father was the clergyman, he passed a happy childhood, and possibly had to thank his youthful impressions for the consistent cheerfulness, the good-humour and kindliness that smile out of his pictures, and make such a contrast with Hogarth’s biting acerbity. At fourteen he entered the Edinburgh School of Art, where he worked for four years under the historical painter John Graham. Having returned to Cults, he painted his landscapes. A fair which he saw in the neighbouring village gave the impulse for his earliest picture of country life, “Pitlessie Fair.” He sold it for five and twenty pounds, and determined in 1805 to try his luck with this sum in London. In the very next year his “Village Politicians” excited attention in the exhibition. From that time he was a popular artist. Every one of his numerous pictures—“The Blind Fiddler,” “The Card Players,” “The Rent Day,” “The Cut Finger,” “The Village Festival”—called forth a storm of applause. After a short residence in Paris, where the Louvre gave him a more intimate knowledge of the Dutch, came his masterpieces, “Blind-Man’s Buff,” “Distraining for Rent,” “Reading the Will,” “The Rabbit on the Wall,” “The Penny Wedding,” “The Chelsea Pensioners,” and so forth. Even later, after he had become an Academician, he kept to plain and simple themes, in spite of the reproaches of his colleagues, who thought that art was vulgarised by the treatment of subjects that contained so 76 little dignity. It was only at the end of his life that he became untrue to himself. His reverence for Teniers and Ostade was not sufficient to outweigh the impression made on him during a tour taken in 1825 through Italy, Spain, Holland, and Germany, by the artistic treasures of the Continent, and especially Murillo and Velasquez. He said he had long lived in darkness, but from that time forth could say with the great Correggio: “Anch’ io sono pittore.” He renounced all that he had painted before which had made him famous, and showed himself to be one of the many great artists of those years who had no individuality, or ventured to have none. He would have been the Burns of painting had he remained as he was. And thus he offered further evidence that the museums and the Muses are contradictory conceptions; since the modern painter always runs the risk of falling helplessly from one influence into another, where he is bent on combining the historical student of art with the artist. Of the pictures that he exhibited after his return in 1829, two dealt with Italian and three with Spanish subjects. The critics were loud in praise; he had added a fresh branch of laurel to his crown. Yet, historically considered, he would stand on a higher pedestal if he had never seen more than a dozen good pictures of Teniers, Ostade, Metsu, Jan Steen, and Brouwer. Now he began to copy his travelling sketches in a spiritless fashion; he only represented pifferari, smugglers, and monks, who, devoid of all originality, might have been painted by one of the Düsseldorfers. Even “John Knox Preaching,” which is probably the best picture of his last period, is no exception.

“He seemed to me,” writes Delacroix, who saw him in Paris after his return from Spain,—“he seemed to me to have been carried utterly out of his depth by the pictures he had seen. How is it that a man of his age can be so influenced by works which are radically opposed to his own? However, he died soon after, and, as I have been told, in a very melancholy state of mind.” Death overtook him in 1841, on board the steamer Oriental, just as he was returning from a tour in Turkey. At half-past eight in the evening the vessel was brought to, and as the lights of the beacon mingled with those of the stars the waters passed over the corpse of David Wilkie.


Mansell Photo



79 In judging his position in the history of art, only those works come into consideration which he executed before that journey of 1825. Then he drew as a labour of love the familiar scenes of the household hearth, the little dramas, the comic or touching episodes that take place in the village, the festivals, the dancing, and the sports of the country-folk, and their meeting in the ale-house. At this time, when as a young painter he merely expressed himself and was ignorant of the efforts of continental painting, he was an artist of individuality. In the village he became a great man, and here his fame was decided; he painted rustics. Even when he first saw the old masters in the National Gallery their immediate effect on him was merely to influence his technique. And by their aid Wilkie gradually became an admirable master of technical detail. His first picture, “Pitlessie Fair,” in its hardness of colour recalled a Dutch painter of the type of Jan Molenaer; but from that time his course was one of constant progress. In “The Village Politicians” the influence of Teniers first made itself felt, and it prevailed until 1816. In this year, when he painted the pretty sketch for “Blind-Man’s Buff,” a warm gold hue took the place of the cool silver tone; and instead of Teniers, Ostade became his model. The works in his Ostade manner are rich in colour and deep and clear in tone. Finally, it was Rembrandt’s turn to become his guiding-star, and “The Parish Beadle,” in the National Gallery—a scene of arrest of the year 1822—clearly shows with what brilliant success he tried his luck with Rembrandt’s dewy chiaroscuro. It was only in his last period that he lost all these technical qualities. His “Knox” of 1832 is hard and cold and inharmonious in colour.


So long as he kept from historical painting, art meant for him the same thing as the portrayal of domestic life. Painting, he said, had no other aim than to reproduce nature and to seek truth. Undoubtedly this must be applied to Wilkie himself with considerable limitation. Wilkie painted simple fragments of nature just as little as Hogarth; he invented scenes. Nor was 80 he even gifted with much power of invention. But he had a fund of innocent humour, although there were times when it was in danger of becoming much too childlike. “Blind-Man’s Buff,” “The Village Politicians,” and “The Village Festival,” pictures which have become so popular through the medium of engraving, contain all the characteristics of his power of playful observation. He had no ambition to be a moralist, like Hogarth, but just as little did he paint the rustic as he is. He dealt only with the absurdities and minor accidents of life. His was one of those happy dispositions which neither sorrow nor dream nor excite themselves, but see everything from the humorous side: he enjoyed his own jests, and looked at life as at a pure comedy; the serious part of it escaped him altogether. His peasantry know nothing of social problems; free from want and drudgery, they merely spend their time over trifles and amuse themselves—themselves and the frequenters of the exhibition, for whom they are taking part in a comedy on canvas. If Hogarth had a biting, sarcastic, scourging, and disintegrating genius, Wilkie is one of those people who cause one no lasting excitement, but are always satisfied to be humorous, and laugh with a contented appreciation over their own jokes.

Seemann, Leipzig.

And in general such is the keynote of this English genre. All that was done in it during the years immediately following is more or less comprised in the works of the Scotch “little master”; otherwise it courts the assistance 81 of English literature, which is always rich in humorists and excellent writers of anecdote and story. In painting, as in literature, the English delight in detail, which by its dramatic, anecdotic, or humorous point is intended to have the interest of a short story. Or perhaps one should rather say that, since the English came to painting as novices, they began tentatively on that first step on which art had stood in earlier centuries as long as it was still “the people’s spelling-book.” It is a typical form of development, and repeats itself constantly. All painting begins in narrative. First it is the subject which has a fascination for the artist, and by the aid of it he casts a spell over his public. The simplification of motives, the capacity for taking a thing in at a single glance, and finding a simple joy in its essentially pictorial integrity, is of later growth. Even with the Dutch, who were so eminently gifted with a sense for what is pictorial, the picture of manners was at first epical. Church festivals, skating parties, and events which could be represented in an ample and detailed fashion were the original materials of the genre picture, which only later contented itself with a purely artistic study of one out of countless groups. This period of apprenticeship, which may be called the period of interesting subject-matter, was what England was now going through; and England had to go through it, since she had the civilisation by which it is invariably produced.


Just as the first genre pictures of the Flemish school announced the appearance of a bourgeoisie, so in the England of the beginning of the century a new 82 plebeian, middle-class society had taken the place of the patrons of earlier days, and this middle class set its seal upon manners and communicated its spirit to painting. Prosperity, culture, travel, reading, and leisure, everything which had been the privilege of individuals, now became the common property of the great mass of men. They prized art, but they demanded from it substantial nourishment. That two colours in connection with straight and curved lines are enough for the production of infinite harmonies was still a profound secret. “You are free to be painters if you like,” artists were told, “but only on the understanding that you are amusing and instructive; if you have no story to tell we shall yawn.” When they comply with these demands, artists are inclined to grow fond of sermonising and develop into censors of the public morals, almost into lay preachers.

Or, if the aim of painting lies in its narrative power, there is a natural tendency to represent the pleasant rather than the unpleasant facts of life, which is the cause of this one-sided character of genre painting. Everything that is not striking and out of the way—in other words, the whole poetry of ordinary life—is left untouched. Wilkie only paints the rustic on some peculiar occasion, at merry-making and ceremonial events; and he depicts him as a being of a different species from the townsman, because he seeks to gain his effects principally by humorous episodes, and aims at situations which are proper to a novel.


Baptisms and dances, funerals and weddings, carousals and bridal visits are his favourite subjects; to which may be added the various contrasts offered by peasant life where it is brought into contact with the civilisation of cities—the country cousin come to town, the rustic closeted with a lawyer, and the like. A continual roguishness enlivens his pictures and makes comical figures out of most of these good people. He amuses himself at their expense, exposes their little lies, their thrift, their folly, their pretensions, and the absurdities with which their narrow circle of life has provided them. He pokes fun, and is sly and farcical. But 83 the hard and sour labour of ordinary peasant life is left on one side, since it offers no material for humour and anecdote.

Through this limitation painting renounced the best part of its strength. To a man of pictorial vision nature is a gallery of magnificent pictures, and one which is as wide and far-reaching as the world. But whoever seeks salvation in narrative painting soon reaches the end of his material. In the life of any man there are only three or four events that are worth the trouble of telling; Wilkie told more, and he became tiresome in consequence. We are willing to accept these anecdotes as true, but they are threadbare. Things of this sort may be found in the gaily-bound little books which are given as Christmas presents to children. It is not exhilarating to learn that worldly marriages have their inconveniences, that there is a pleasure in talking scandal about one’s friends behind their backs, that a son causes pain to his mother by his excesses, and that egoism is an unpleasant failing. All that is true, but it is too true. We are irritated by the intrusiveness of this course of instruction. Wilkie paints insipid subjects, and by one foolery after another he has made painting into a toy for good children. And good children play the principal parts in these pictures.

As a painter, one of George Morland’s pupils, William Collins, threw the world into ecstasies by his pictures of children. Out of one hundred and twenty-one which he exhibited in the Academy in the course of forty years the principal are: the picture of “The Little Flute-Player,” “The Sale of the Pet Lamb,” “Boys with a Bird’s Nest,” “The Fisher’s Departure,” “Scene in a Kentish Hop-Garden,” and the picture of the swallows. The most popular were “Happy as a King”—a small boy whom his elder playmates have set upon a garden railing, from which he looks down laughing proudly—and “Rustic Civility”—children who have drawn up like soldiers, by a fence, so as to salute some one who is approaching. But it is clear from the titles 84 of such pictures that in this province English genre painting did not free itself from the reproach of being episodic. Collins was richer in ideas than Meyer of Bremen. His children receive earrings, sit on their mother’s knee, play with her in the garden, watch her sewing, read aloud to her from their spelling-book, learn their lessons, and are frightened of the geese and hens which advance in a terrifying fashion towards them in the poultry-yard. He is an admirable painter of children at the family table, of the pleasant chatter of the little ones, of the father watching his sleeping child of an evening by the light of the lamp, with his heart full of pride and joy because he has the consciousness of working for those who are near to him. Being naturally very fond of children, he has painted the life of little people with evident enjoyment of all its variations, and yet not in a thoroughly credible fashion. Chardin painted the poetry of the child-world. His little ones have no suspicion of the painter being near them. They are harmlessly occupied with themselves, and in their ordinary clothes. Those of Collins look as if they were repeating a copybook maxim at a school examination. They know that the eyes of all the sightseers in the exhibition are fixed upon them, and they are doing their utmost to be on their best behaviour. They have a lack of unconsciousness. One would like to say to them: “My dear children, always be good.” But no one is grateful to the painter for taking from children their childishness, and for bringing into vogue that codling which had its way for so long afterwards in the pictures of children.

Gilbert Stuart Newton, an American by birth, who lived in England from 1820 to 1835, devoted himself to the illustration of English authors. Like Wilkie, he has a certain historical importance, because he devoted himself with great zeal to a study of the Dutchmen of the seventeenth century and to the French painters of the eighteenth, at a time when these masters were entirely out of fashion on the Continent and sneered at as representatives of “the deepest corruption.” Dow and Terborg were his peculiar ideals; and although the colour of his pictures is certainly heavy and common compared with that of his models, it is artistic, and shows study when one thinks of contemporary productions on the Continent. His works (“Lear attended by Cordelia,” “The Vicar of Wakefield restoring his Daughter to her Mother,” “The Prince of Spain’s Visit to Catalina” from Gil Blas, and “Yorick and the Grisette” from Sterne), like the pictures of the Düsseldorfers, would most certainly have lost in actuality but for the interest provided by the literary passages; yet they are favourably distinguished from the literary illustrations of the Düsseldorfers by the want of any sort of idealism. While the painters of the Continent in such pictures almost invariably fell into a rounded, generalising ideal of beauty, Newton had the scene played by actors and painted them realistically. The result was a theatrical realism, but the way in which the theatrical effects are studied and the palpableness of the histrionic gestures are so convincingly true to nature that his pictures seem like records of stage art in London about the year 1830.







Charles Robert Leslie, known as an author by his pleasant book on Constable and a highly conservative Handbook for Young Painters, had a similar repértoire, and rendered in oils Shakespeare, Cervantes, Fielding, Sterne, Goldsmith, and Molière, with more or less ability. The National Gallery has an exceedingly prosaic and colourless picture of his, “Sancho Panza in the Apartment of the Duchess.” Some that are in the South Kensington Museum are better; for example, “The Taming of the Shrew,” “The Dinner at Mr. Page’s House” from The Merry Wives of Windsor, and “Sir Roger de Coverley.” His finest and best-known work is “My Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman,” which charmingly illustrates the pretty scene in Tristram Shandy: “’I protest, madam,’ said my Uncle Toby, ‘I can see nothing whatever in your eye.’ ‘It is not in the white!’ said Mrs. Wadman. My Uncle Toby looked with might and main into the pupil.” As in Newton’s works, so in Leslie’s too, there is such a strong dose of realism that his pictures will always keep their value as historical documents—not for the year 1630 but for 1830. As a colourist he was—in his 88 later works at any rate—a delicate imitator of the Dutch chiaroscuro; and in the history of art he occupies a position similar to that of Diez in Germany, and was esteemed in the same way, even in later years, when the young Pre-Raphaelite school began its embittered war against “brown sauce”—the same war which a generation afterwards was waged in Germany by Liebermann and his followers against the school of Diez.

Mulready, thirty-two of whose pictures are preserved in the South Kensington Museum, is in his technique almost more delicate than Leslie, and he has learnt a great deal from Metsu. By preference he took his subjects out of Goldsmith. “Choosing the Wedding Gown” and “The Whistonian Controversy” would make pretty illustrations for an édition de luxe of The Vicar of Wakefield. Otherwise he too had a taste for immortalising children, by turns lazy and industrious, at their tea or playing by the water’s edge.

From Thomas Webster, the fourth of these kindly, childlike masters, yet more inspiriting facts are to be obtained. He has informed the world that at a not very remote period of English history all the agricultural labourers were quite content with their lot. No one ever quarrelled with his landlord, or sat in a public-house and let his family starve. The highest bliss of these excellent people was to stay at home and play with their children by the light of a wax-candle. Webster’s rustics, children, and schoolmasters are the citizens of an ideal planet, but the little country is a pleasant world. His pictures are so harmless in intention, so neat and accurate in drawing, and so clear and luminous in colour that they may be seen with pleasure even at the present day.


Cassell & Co.





The last of the group, William Powell Frith, was the most copious in giving posterity information about the manners and costumes of his contemporaries, and would be still more authentic if life had not seemed to him so genial and roseate. His pictures represent scenes of the nineteenth century, but they seem like events of the good old times. At that period people were undoubtedly good and innocent and happy. They had no income-tax and no vices and worries, and all went to heaven and felt in good spirits. And so they do in Frith’s pictures, only not so naturally as in Ostade and Beham. For example, he goes on the beach at a fashionable English watering-place during the season, in July or August. The geniality which predominates here is quite extraordinary. Children are splashing in the sea, young ladies flirting, niggers playing the barrel-organ and women singing ballads to its strains; every one is doing his utmost to look well, and the pair of beggars who are there for the sake of contrast have long become resigned to their fate. In his racecourse pictures everything is brought together which on such occasions is representative of London life: all types, from the baronet to the ragman; all beauties, from the lady to the street-walker. A rustic has to lose his money, or a famished acrobat to turn his pockets inside out to assure himself that there is really nothing in them. His picture of the gaming-table in Homburg is almost richer in such examples of dry observation and humorous and spirited episode.

This may serve to exemplify the failures of these painters of genre. Not light and colour, but anecdote, comedy, and genial tale-telling are the basis of their labours. And yet, notwithstanding this attempt to express literary ideas through the mediums of a totally different art, their work is significant. While continental artists avoided nothing so much as that which might seem to approach nature, the English, revolting from the thraldom of theory, gathered subjects for their pictures from actual life. These men, indeed, pointed out the way to painters from every country; and they, once on the right road, were bound ultimately to arrive at the point from which they no longer looked on life through the glasses of the anecdotist, but saw it with the eye of the true artist.




While English painting from the days of Hogarth and Wilkie embraced rustic and middle-class life, the victory of modernity on the Continent could only be accomplished slowly and by degrees. The question of costume played an important part in it. “Artists love antiquated costume because, as they say, it gives them greater sweep and freedom. But I should like to suggest that in historical representations of their own age an eye should be kept on propriety of delineation rather than on freedom and sweep. Otherwise one might just as well allow an historian to talk to us about phalanxes, battlements, triarii, and argyraspids in place of battalions, squadrons, grenadiers, and cuirassiers. The painters of the great events of the day ought, especially, to be more true to fact. In battle-pieces, for example, they ought not to have cavalry shooting and sabreing about them in leather collars, in round and plumed hats, and the vast jack-boots which exist no longer. The old masters drew, engraved, and painted in this way because people really dressed in such a manner at the time. It is said that our costume is not picturesque, and therefore why should we choose it? But posterity will be curious to know how we clothed ourselves, and will wish to have no gap from the eighteenth century to its own time.”






These words, which the well-known Vienna librarian Denis wrote in 1797 in his Lesefrüchte, show how early came the problem which was at high-water mark for a generation afterwards. The painting of the nineteenth century could only become modern when it succeeded in recognising and expressing the characteristic side of modern costume. But to do that it took more than half a century. It was, after all, natural that to people who had seen the graceful forms and delicate colours of the rococo time, the garb of the first half of the century should seem the most unfortunate and the least enviable in the whole history of costume. “What person of artistic education is not of the opinion,” runs a passage in Putmann’s book on the Düsseldorf school in 1835,—“what person of artistic education is not of the opinion that the dress of the present day is tasteless, hideous, and ape-like? Moreover, can a true style be brought into harmony with hoop-petticoats and swallow-tail coats and such vagaries? In our time, therefore, art is right in seeking out those beautiful fashions of the past, about which tailors concern themselves so little. How much longer must we go about, unpicturesque beings, like ugly black bats, in swallow-tail coats and wide trousers? The peasant’s blouse, indeed, can be accepted as one of the few picturesque dresses which have yet been preserved in Germany from the inauspicious influence of the times.” The same plaint is sung by Hotho in his history of German and Netherlandish painting; the costume of his age he declares to be thoroughly prosaic and tiresome. It is revolting to painters and an offence to the educated eye. Art must necessarily seek salvation in the past, unless it is to wait, and give brush and palette a holiday, until that happy time when the costume of nations comes to its pictorial regeneration. Only one zone, the realm of blouse and military uniform, was beyond the domain of tail-coat and trousers, and still furnished art with rich material.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.  

Since it was by working on uniform that plastic artists first learnt how to treat contemporary costume, so it was the military picture that first entered the circle of modern painting. By exalting the soldier into a warrior, and the warrior into a hero, it was here possible, even in the times of David and Carstens, to effect a certain compromise with the ruling classical ideas. Gérard, Girodet—to some extent even Gros—made abundant use of the mask of the Greek or Roman warrior, with the object of admitting the battle-piece into painting in the grand style. The real heroes of the Napoleonic epoch had not this plastic appearance nor these epic attitudes. Classicism altered their physiognomies and gave them, most illogically, the air of old marble statues. It was Horace Vernet who freed battle painting from this anathema. This, but little else, stands to his credit.

Together with his son-in-law Paul Delaroche, Horace Vernet is the most genuine product of the Juste-milieu period. The king with the umbrella founded the Museum of Versailles, that monstrous depôt of daubed canvas, 96 which is a horrifying memory to any one who has ever wandered through it. However, it is devoted à toutes les gloires de la France. In a few years a suite of galleries, which it takes almost two hours merely to pass through from end to end, was filled with pictures of all sizes, bringing home the history of the country, from Charlemagne to the African expedition of Louis Philippe, under all circumstances which are in any way flattering to French pride. For miles numberless manufacturers of painting bluster from the walls. As pictor celerrimus Horace Vernet had the command-in-chief, and became so famous by his chronicle of the conquest of Algiers that for a long time he was held by trooper, Philistine, and all the kings and emperors of Europe as the greatest painter in France. He was the last scion of a celebrated dynasty of artists, and had taken a brush in his hand from the moment he threw away his child’s rattle. A good deal of talent had been given him in his cradle: sureness of eye, lightness of hand, and an enviable memory. His vision was correct, if not profound; he painted his pictures without hesitation, and is favourably distinguished from many of his contemporaries by his independence: he owes no one anything, and reveals his own qualities without arraying himself in those of other people. Only these qualities are not of an order which gives his pictures artistic interest. The spark of Géricault’s genius, which seems to have been transmitted to him in the beginning, was completely quenched in his later years. Having swiftly attained popularity by the aid of lithography which circulated his “Mazeppa” through the whole world, he became afterwards a bad and vulgar painter, without poetry, light, or colour; a reporter who expressed himself in banal prose and wounded all the finer spirits of his age. “I loathe this man,” said Baudelaire, as early as 1846.

Devoid of any sense of the tragedy of war, which Gros possessed in such a high degree, Vernet treated battles like performances at the circus. His pictures have movement without passion, and magnitude without greatness. If it had been required of him, he would have daubed all the boulevards; his picture of Smala is certainly not so long, but there would have been no serious difficulty in lengthening it by half a mile. This incredible stenographical talent won for him his popularity. He was decorated 97 with all the orders in the world. The bourgeois felt happy when he looked at Vernet’s pictures, and the paterfamilias promised to buy a horse for his little boy. The soldiers called him “mon colonel,” and would not have been surprised if he had been made a Marshal of France. A lover of art passes the pictures of Vernet with the sentiment which the old colonel owned to entertaining towards music. “Are you fond of music, colonel?” asked a lady. “Madame, I am not afraid of it.”


The trivial realism of his workmanship is as tedious as the unreal heroism of his soldiers. In the manner in which he conceived the trooper, Vernet stands between the Classicists and the moderns. He did not paint ancient warriors, but French soldiers: he knew them as a corporal knows his men, and by this respect for prescribed regulation he was prevented from turning them into Romans. But though he disregarded Classicism, in outward appearance, he did not drop the heroic tone. He always saw the soldier as the bold defender of his country, the warrior performing daring deeds, as in the “Battle of Alexander”; and in this way he gave his pictures their unpleasant air of bluster. For neither modern tactics nor modern cannon admit of the prominence of the individual as it is to be seen in Vernet’s pictures. The soldier of the nineteenth century is no longer a warrior, but the unit in a 98 multitude; he does what he is ordered, and for that he has no need of the spirit of an ancient hero; he kills or is killed, without seeing his enemy or being seen himself. The course of a battle advances, move by move, according to mathematical calculation. It is therefore false to represent soldiers in heroic attitudes, or even to suggest deeds of heroism on the part of those in command. In giving his orders and directing a battle a general has to behave pretty much as he does at home at his writing-table. And he is never in the battle, as he is represented by Horace Vernet; on the contrary, he remains at a considerable distance off. Therefore, even with the dimensions of which Vernet availed himself, the exact portrait of a modern battle is exclusively an affair for panorama, but never for the flat surface of a picture. A picture must confine itself, either to the field-marshal directing the battle from a distance upon a hill in the midst of his staff, or else to little pictorial episodes in the individual life of the soldier. The gradual development from unreal battle-pieces to simple episodic paintings can be followed step by step in the following works.

RAFFET. 1807.

What was painted for the Versailles Museum in connection with deeds of arms in the Crimean War and the Italian campaign kept more or less to the blustering official style of Horace Vernet. In the galleries of Versailles the battles of Wagram, Loano, and Altenkirche (1837-39), and an episode from the retreat from Russia (1851), represent the work of Hippolyte Bellangé. These are huge lithochromes which have been very carefully executed. Adolphe 99 Yvon, who is responsible for “The Taking of Malakoff,” “The Battle of Magenta,” and “The Battle of Solferino,” is a more tedious painter, and remained during his whole life a pupil of Delaroche; he laid chief stress on finished and rounded composition, and gave his soldiers no more appearance of life than could be forced into the accepted academic convention. The fame of Isidor Pils, who immortalised the disembarkation of the French troops in the Crimea, the battle of Alma, and the reception of Arab chiefs by Napoleon III, has paled with equal rapidity. He could paint soldiers, but not battles, and, like Yvon, he was too precise in the composition of his works. In consequence they have as laboured an effect in arrangement as they have in colour. He was completely wanting in sureness and spontaneity. It is only his water-colours that hold one’s attention; and this they do at any rate by their unaffected actuality, and in spite of their dull and heavy colour. Alexandre Protais verged more on the sentimental. He loved soldiers, and therefore had the less toleration for war, which swept the handsome young fellows away. Two pendants, “The Morning before the Attack” and “The Evening after the Battle,” founded his reputation in 1863. The first showed a group of riflemen waiting in excitement for the first bullets of the enemy; the second represented the same men in the evening delighted with their victory, but at the same time—and here you have the note of Protais—mournful over the loss of their comrades. “The Prisoners” and “The Parting” 100 of 1872 owed their success to the same lachrymose and melodramatic sensibility.

Cassell & Co.
C’est la grande revue  A l’heure de minuit
Qu’aux Champs-Elysées  Tient César décédé.

A couple of mere lithographists, soldiers’ sons, in whom a repining for the Napoleonic legend still found its echo, were the first great military painters of modern France. “Charlet and Raffet,” wrote Bürger-Thoré in his Salon of 1845, “are the two artists who best understand the representation of that almost vanished type, the trooper of the Empire; and after Gros they will assuredly endure as the principal historians of that warlike era.”

Charlet, the painter of the old bear Napoleon I, might almost be called the Béranger of painting. The “little Corporal,” the “great Emperor” appears and reappears in his pictures and drawings without intermission; his work is an epic in pencil of the grey coat and the little hat. From his youth he employed himself with military studies, which were furthered in Gros’ studio, which he entered in 1817. The Græco-Roman ideal did not exist for him, and he was indifferent to beauty of form. His was one of those natures which have a natural turn for actual fact; he had a power for characterisation, and in his many water-colours and lithographs he was merely concerned with the proper expression of his ideas. How it came that Delacroix had so great a respect for him was nevertheless explained when his “Episode 101 in the Retreat from Russia,” in the World Exhibition of 1889, emerged from the obscurity of the Lyons Museum; it is perhaps his best and most important picture. When it appeared in the Salon of 1836, Alfred de Musset wrote that it was “not an episode but a complete poem”; he went on to say that the artist had painted “the despair in the wilderness,” and that, with its gloomy heaven and disconsolate horizon, the picture gave the impression of infinite disaster. After fifty years it had lost none of its value. Since the reappearance of this picture it has been recognised that Charlet was not merely the specialist of old grey heads with their noses reddened with brandy, the Molière of barracks and canteens, but that he understood all the tragical sublimity of war, from which Horace Vernet merely produced trivial anecdotes.

Mag. of Art.

Beside him stands his pupil Raffet, the special painter of the grande armée. He mastered the brilliant figure of Napoleon; he followed it from Ajaccio to St. Helena, and never left it until he had said everything that was to be said about it. He showed the “little Corsican” as the general of the Italian campaign, ghastly pale and consumed with ambition; the Bonaparte of the Pyramids and of Cairo; the Emperor Napoleon on the parade-ground reviewing his Grenadiers; the triumphal hero of 1807 with the Cuirassiers dashing past, brandishing their sabres with a hurrah; the Titan of Beresina riding slowly over the waste of snow, and, in the very midst of disaster, spying a new star of fortune; the war-god of 1813, the great hypnotiser greeted even by the dying with a cry of “Long life to the Emperor”; the adventurer of 1814, riding at the head of shattered troops over a barren wilderness; the vanquished hero of 1815, who, in the midst of his last square, in the thick of his beloved battalions, calls fickle fate once more into the lists; and the captive lion who, from the bridge of the ship, casts a last look on the coast of France as it fades in the mist. He has called the Emperor from the grave, as a ghostly power, to hold a midnight review of the grande armée. And with love and passion and enthusiasm he has followed the instrument of these victories, the French soldiers, the swordsmen of seven years’ service, through bivouac and battle, on the march and on parade, as patrols and outposts. 102 The ragged and shoeless troops of the Empire are portrayed in his plates, with a touch of real sublimity, in defeat and in victory. The empty inflated expression of martial enthusiasm has been avoided by him; everything is true and earnest.

In a masterly fashion he could make soldiers deploy in masses. No one has known in the same way how to render the impression of the multitude of an army, the notion of men standing shoulder to shoulder, the welding of thousands of individuals into one complete entity. In Raffet a regiment is a thousand-headed living being that has but one soul, one moral nature, one spirit, one sentiment of willing sacrifice and heroic courage. His death was as adventurous as his life; he passed away in a hotel in Genoa, and was brought back to French soil as part of the cargo of a merchant ship. For a long time his fame was thrown into the shade, at first by the triumphs of Horace Vernet, and then by those of Meissonier, until at length a fitting record was devoted to him by the piety of his son Auguste.

Never had Ernest Meissonier to complain of want of recognition. After his rococo pictures had been deemed worth their weight in gold he climbed to the summit of his fame, his universal celebrity and his popularity in France, when he devoted himself in the sixties to the representation of French military history. The year 1859 took him to Italy in the train of Napoleon III. Meissonier was chosen to spread the martial glory of the Emperor, and, as the nephew was fond of drawing parallels between himself and his mighty uncle, Meissonier was obliged to depict suitable occasions from the life of the first Napoleon. His admirers were very curious to know how the great “little painter” would acquit himself in such a monumental task. First came the “Battle of Solferino,” that picture of the Musée Luxembourg which represents Napoleon III overlooking the battle from a height in the midst of his staff. After lengthy preparations it appeared in the Salon of 1864, and showed that the painter had not been untrue to himself: he had simply adapted the minute technique of his rococo pictures to the painting of war, and he remained the Dutch “little master” in all the battle-pieces which followed.

Napoleon III had no further deeds of arms to record, so the intended parallel series was never accomplished. It is true, indeed, that he took the painter with the army in 1870; but after the first battle was lost, Meissonier went home: he did not wish to immortalise the struggles of a retreat. Henceforward his brush was consecrated to the first Napoleon. “1805” depicts the triumphant advance to the height of fame; “1807” shows Napoleon when the summit has been reached and the soldiers are cheering their idol in exultation; “1814” represents the fall: the star of fortune has vanished; victory, so long faithful to the man of might, has deserted his banners. There is still a look of indomitable energy on the pale face of the Emperor, as, in utter despair, he aims his last shot against the traitor destiny; but his eyes seem weary, his mouth is contorted, and his features are wasted with fever.


(By permission of M. Georges Petit, the owner of the copyright.)




Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
(By permission of M. Georges Petit, the owner of the copyright.)

Meissonier has treated all these works with the carefulness which he expended on his little rococo pictures. To give an historically accurate representation of Napoleon’s boots he did not content himself with borrowing them from the museum. Walking and riding—for he was a passionate horseman—he wore for months together boots of the same make and form as those of the “little Corporal.” To get the colour of the horses of the Emperor and his marshals, in their full-grown winter coat, and to paint them just as they must have appeared after the hardships and negligence of a campaign, he bought animals of the same race and colour as those ridden by the Emperor and his generals, according to tradition, and picketed them for weeks in the snow and rain. His models were forced to wear out the uniforms in sun and storm before he painted them; he bought weapons and harness at fancy prices when he could not borrow them from museums. And there is no need to say that he copied all the portraits of Napoleon, Ney, Soult, and the other generals that were to be had, and read through whole libraries before beginning his Napoleon series. To paint the picture “1814,” which is generally reckoned his greatest performance—Napoleon at the head of his staff riding through a snow-clad landscape—he first prepared the scenery on a spot in the plain of Champagne, corresponding to the original locality, just as he did in earlier years with his interiors of the rococo period; he even had the road laid out on which he wished to paint the Emperor advancing. Then he waited for the first fall of snow, and had artillery, cavalry, and infantry to march for him upon this snowy path, and actually contrived that overturned transport waggons, discarded arms, and baggage should be decoratively strewn about the landscape.

From these laborious preparations it may be understood that he spent almost as many millions of francs upon his pictures as he received. In his article, What an Old Work of Art is Worth, Julius Lessing has admirably dealt with the hidden ways of taste and commerce applied to art. Amongst all 106 painters of modern times Meissonier is the only one whose pictures, during his own lifetime, fetched prices such as are only reached by the works of famous old masters of the greatest epochs. And yet he sold them straight from his easel, and never to dealers. Meissonier avenged himself magnificently for the privations of his youth. In 1832, when he gave up his apprenticeship with Menier, the great chocolate manufacturer, to become a painter, he had fifteen francs a month to spend. He had great difficulty in disposing of his drawings and illustrations for five or ten francs, and was often obliged to console himself with a roll for the want of a dinner. Only ten years later he was able to purchase a small place in Poissy, near St. Germain, where he went for good in 1850, to give himself up to work without interruption. Gradually this little property became a pleasant country seat, and in due course of time the stately house in Paris, in the Boulevard Malesherbes, was added to it. His “Napoleon, 1814,” for which the painter himself received three hundred thousand francs, was bought at an auction by one of the owners of the “Grands Magasins du Louvre” for eight hundred and fifty thousand francs; “Napoleon III at Solferino” brought him two hundred thousand, and “The Charge of the Cuirassiers” three hundred thousand. And in general, after 1850, he only painted for such sums. It was calculated that he received about five thousand francs for every centimetre of painted canvas, and left behind him pictures which, according to present rate, were worth more than twenty million francs, without having really become a rich man; for, as a rule, every picture that he painted cost him several thousand.

And Meissonier never sacrificed himself to money-making and the trade. He never put a stroke on paper without the conviction that he could not make it better, and for this artistic earnestness he was universally honoured, even by his colleagues, to his very death. As master beyond dispute he let the Classicists, Romanticists, Impressionists, and Symbolists pass by the window of his lonely studio, and always remained the same. A little man with a firm step, an energetic figure, eyes that shone like coals, thick, closely cropped hair, and the beard of a river-god, that always seemed to grow longer, at eighty years of age he was as hale and active as at thirty. By a systematic routine of life he kept his physique elastic, and was able to maintain that unintermittent activity under which another man would have broken down. During long years Meissonier went to rest at eight every evening, slept till midnight, and then worked at his drawings by lamplight into the morning. In the course of the day he made his studies from nature and painted. Diffident in society and hard of access, he did not permit himself to be disturbed in his indefatigable diligence by any social demands. A sharp ride, a swim or a row was his only relaxation. In 1848, as captain of the National Guard, he had taken part in the street and barricade fighting; and again in 1871, when he was sixty-six, he clattered through the streets of the capital, with the dangling sword he had so often painted and a gold-laced cap stuck jauntily 107 on one side, as a smart staff-officer. Even the works of his old age showed no exhaustion of power, and there is something great in attaining ripe years without outliving one’s reputation. As late as the spring of 1890, only a short time before his death, he was the leader of youth, when it transmigrated from the Palais des Champs Elysées to the Champ de Mars; and he exhibited in this new Salon his “October 1806,” with which he closed his Napoleonic epic and his general activity as a painter. Halting on a hill, the Emperor in his historical grey coat, mounted on a powerful grey, is thoughtfully watching the course of the battle, without troubling himself about the Cuirassiers who salute him exultantly as they storm by, or about the brilliant staff which has taken up position behind him. Not a feature moves in the sallow, cameo-like face of the Corsican. The sky is lowering and full of clouds. In the foreground lie a couple of dead soldiers, in whose uniform every button has been painted with the same conscientious care that was bestowed on the buttons of the rococo coats of fifty years before.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

Beyond this inexhaustible correctness I can really see nothing that can be said for Meissonier’s fame as an artist. He, whose name is honoured in both hemispheres, was most peculiarly the son of his own work. The genius for the infinitesimal has never been carried further. He knew everything that a man can learn. The movements in his pictures are correct, the physiognomies interesting, the delicacy of execution indescribable, and his horses have been so exactly studied that they stand the test of instantaneous photography. But painter, in the proper sense, he never was. Precisely through their marvellous minuteness of execution—a minuteness which is merely attractive as a trial of patience and as an example of what the brush can do—his pictures are wanting in unity of conception, and they leave one cold by the hardness of their contours, the aridness of their colour, and the absence of all vibrating, nervous feeling. In a cavalry charge, with the whirling dust and the snorting horses, who thinks of costume? And who thinks of anything else when Meissonier paints a charge? Here are life and movement, and there a museum of military uniforms. When Manet saw Meissonier’s “Cuirassiers” he said, “Everything is iron here except the cuirasses.”

His rococo pictures are probably his best 108 performances; they even express a certain amount of temperament. His military pictures make one chilly. Reproduced in woodcuts they are good illustrations for historical works, but as pictures they repel the eye, because they lack air and light and spirit. They rouse nothing except astonishment at the patience and incredible industry that went to the making of them. One sees everything in them—everything that the painter can have seen—to the slightest detail; only one does not rightly come into contact with the artist himself. His battle-pieces stand high above the scenic pictures of Horace Vernet and Hippolyte Bellangé, but they have nothing of the warmth of Raffet or the vibrating life of Neuville. There is nothing in them that is contagious and carries one away, or that appeals to the heart. Patience is a virtue: genius is a gift. Precious without originality, intelligent without imagination, dexterous without verve, elegant without charm, refined and subtile without delicacy, Meissonier has all the qualities that interest, and none of those which lay hold of one. He was a painter of a distinctness which causes astonishment, but not admiration; an artist for epicures, but for those of the second order, who pay the more highly for works of art in proportion as they value their artifice. His pictures recall the unseasonable compliment which Charles Blanc made to Ingres: “Cher maître, vous avez deviné la photographie trente ans avant qu’il y eut des photographes.” Or else one thinks of that malicious story of which Jules Dupré is well known as the author. “Suppose,” said he, “that you are a great personage who has just bought a Meissonier. Your valet enters the salon where it is hanging. ‘Ah! Monsieur,’ he cries, ‘what a beautiful picture you have bought! That is a masterpiece!’ Another time you buy a Rembrandt, and show it to your valet, in the expectation that he will at any rate be overcome by the same raptures. Mais non! This time the man looks embarrassed. ‘Ah! Monsieur,’ he says, ‘il faut s’y connaître,’ and away he goes.”

Guillaume Regamey, who is far less known, supplies what is wanting in Meissonier. Sketchy and of a highly strung nervous temperament, he could not adapt himself to the picture-market; but the history of art honours him as the most spirited draughtsman of the French soldier, after Géricault and Raffet. He did not paint him turned out for parade, ironed and smartened up, but in the worst trim. Syria, the Crimea, Italy, and the East are mingled with the difference of their types and the brightness of their exotic costumes. He had a great love for the catlike, quick-glancing chivalry of Turcos and Sapphis; but especially he loved the cavalry. His “Chasseurs d’Afrique” are part and parcel of their horses, like centaurs, and many of his cavalry groups recall the frieze of the Parthenon. Unfortunately he died at thirty-eight, shortly before the war of 1870, the historians of which were the younger painters, who had grown up in the shadow of Meissonier.


(By permission of Messrs. Goupil, the owners of the copyright.)




(By permission of Messrs. Goupil, the owners of the copyright.)

The most important of the group, Alphonse de Neuville, had looked at war very closely as an officer during the siege of Paris, and in this way he made himself a fine illustrator, who in his anecdotic pictures specially understood the secret of painting powder-smoke and the vehemence of a fusillade. The “Bivouac before Le Bourget” brought him his first success. “The Last Cartridges,” “Le Bourget,” and “The Graveyard of Saint-Privat” made him a popular master. Neuville is peculiarly the French painter of fighting. He did not know, as Charlet did, the soldier in time of peace, the peasant lad of yesterday who only cares about his stomach and has little taste for martial adventure. His soldier is an elegant and enthusiastic youthful hero. He even neglected the troops of the line; his preference was for the Chasseur, whose cap is stuck jauntily on his head and whose trousers fall better. He loved the plumes, the high boots of the officers, the sword-knots, canes, and eye-glasses. Everything received grace from his dexterous hand; he even saw in the trooper a gallant and ornamental bibelot, which he painted with chivalrous verve.

The pictures of Aimé Morot, the painter of “The Charge of the Cuirassiers,” possibly smell most of powder. Neuville’s frequently over-praised rival, Meissonier’s favourite pupil, Edouard Détaille, after he had started with pretty little costume pictures from the Directoire period, went further on the way of his teacher with less laboriousness and more lightness, with less calculation and more sincerity. The best of his works was “Salut aux Blessés”—the representation of a troop of wounded Prussian officers and soldiers on a 112 country road, passing a French general and his staff, who with graceful chivalry lift their caps and salute the wounded men. Détaille’s great pictures, such as “The Presentation of the Colours,” and his panoramas were as accurate as they were tedious and arid, although they are far superior to most of the efforts which the Germans made to depict scenes from the war of 1870.

Soldan, Nürnberg.

In Germany the great period of the wars of liberation first inspired a group of painters with the courage to enter the province of battle-painting, which had been so much despised by their classical colleagues. Germany had been turned into a great camp. Prussian, French, Austrian, Russian, and Bavarian troops passed in succession through the towns and villages: long trains of cannon and transport waggons came in their wake, and friends and foes were billeted amongst the inhabitants; the Napoleonic epoch was enacted. Such scenes followed each other like the gay slides in a magic lantern, and once more gave to some among the younger generation eyes for the outer world. There was awakened in them the capacity for receiving impressions of reality and transferring them swiftly to paper. Two hundred years before, the emancipation of Dutch art from the Italian house of bondage had been accomplished in precisely the same fashion. The Dutch struggle for freedom and the Thirty Years’ War had filled Holland with numbers of soldiery. The 113 doings of these mercenaries, daily enacted before them in rich costume and with manifold brightness, riveted the pictorial feeling of artists. Echoes of war, fighting scenes, skirmishes and tumult, the incidents of camp life, arming, billeting, and marauding episodes are the first independent products of the Dutch school. Then the more peaceable doings of soldiers are represented. At Haarlem, in the neighbourhood of Frans Hals, were assembled the painters of social pieces, as they are called; pieces in which soldiers, bold and rollicking officers, make merry with gay maidens at wine and play and love. From thence the artist came to the portrayal of a peasantry passing their time in the same rough, free and easy life, and thence onward to the representation of society in towns.


German painting in the nineteenth century took the same road. Eighty years ago foreign troops, and the extravagantly “picturesque and often ragged uniforms of the Republican army, the characteristic and often wild physiognomies of the French soldiers,” gave artists their first fresh and variously hued impressions. Painters of military subjects make their studies, not in the antiquity class of the academy, but upon the parade-ground and 114 in the camp. Later, when the warlike times were over, they passed from the portrayal of soldiers to that of rustics; and so they laid the foundation on which future artists built.


In Berlin Franz Krüger and in Munich Albrecht Adam and Peter Hess were figures of individual character, belonging to the spiritual family of Chodowiecki and Gottfried Schadow; and, entirely undisturbed by classical theories or romantic reverie, they penetrated the life around them with a clear and sharp glance. They lacked, indeed, the temperament to comprehend either the high poetic tendencies of the old Munich school or the sentimental enthusiasm of the old Düsseldorf.

On the other hand, they were unhackneyed artists, facing facts in a completely unprejudiced spirit: entirely self-reliant, they refused to form themselves upon any model derived from the old masters; they had never had a teacher and never enjoyed academic instruction. This naïve straightforwardness makes their painting a half-barbaric product; something which has been allowed to run wild. But in a period of archæological resuscitations, pedantic brooding over the past and slavish imitation of the ancients, it seems, for this very reason, the first independent product of the nineteenth century. As vigorous, matter-of-fact realists they know nothing of more delicate charms, but represented fact for all it was worth and as honestly and conscientiously as was humanly possible. They are lacking in the distinctively pictorial character, but they are absolutely untouched by the Classicism of the epoch. 115 They never dream of putting the uniforms of their warriors upon antique statues. It is this downright honesty that renders their pictures not merely irreplaceable as documents for the history of civilisation, and in spite of their unexampled frigidity, hardness, and gaudiness, lends them, even from the standpoint of art, a certain innovating quality. In a pleasantly written autobiography Albrecht Adam has himself described the drift of historical events which made him a painter of battles.

He was a confectioner’s apprentice in Nördlingen when, in the year 1800, the marches of the French army began in the neighbourhood. In an inn he began to sketch sergeants and Grenadiers, and went proudly home with the pence that he earned in this way. “Adam, when there’s war, I’ll take you into the field with me,” said an old major-general, who was the purchaser of his first works. That came to pass in 1809, when the Bavarians went with Napoleon against Austria. After a few weeks he was in the thick of raging battle. He saw Napoleon, the Crown-Prince Ludwig, and General Wrede, was present at the battles of Abensberg, Eckmühl, and Wagram, and came to Vienna with his portfolios full of sketches. There his portraits and pictures of the war found favour with the officers, and Eugène Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, took him to Upper Italy and afterwards to Russia. He was an eye-witness of the battles at Borodino and on the Moskwa, and saved himself from the conflagration of Moscow by his courage and determination. A true soldier, he mounted a horse when he was sixty-two years of age to be present on the Italian expedition of the Austrian army under Radetzky in 1848. His battle-pieces are therefore the result of personal experience. When campaigning he led the same life as the soldiers whom he portrayed, and as he proceeded in this portrayal with the objective quietness and fidelity of an historian, his artistic productions are invaluable as documents. Even where he could not draw as an eye-witness he invariably made studies afterwards, endeavouring to collect the most reliable material upon the spot, and preparing it with the utmost conscientiousness. The ground occupied by bodies of troops, the marshalling of them, and the conflict of masses, together with the smallest episodes, are represented with simplicity and reality. In the portrayal of the soldier’s life in time of peace he was inexhaustible. Just as vividly could he render horses undergoing the strain of the march and in the tumult of battle as in the stall, the farm-horse of the transport waggon no less than the noble creature ridden for parade. That his colour was sharp and hard, and his pictures therefore devoid of harmony, is to be explained by the helplessness of the age in regard to colouring. Only his last pictures, such as “The Battle on the Moskwa,” have a certain harmony of hue; and there is no doubt that this is to be set to the account of his son Franz.

After Adam, the father of German battle-painters, Peter Hess made an epoch by the earnestness and actuality of his pictures. He too accompanied General Wrede on the 1813-15 campaigns, and has left behind him exceedingly 116 healthy, sane, and objectively viewed Cossack scenes, bivouacs, and the like, belonging to this period; though in his great pictures he aimed at totality of effect just as little as Adam. Confused by the complexity of his material, he only ventured to single out individual incidents, and then put them together on the canvas after the fashion of a mosaic; and, to make the nature of the action as clear as possible, he assumed as his standpoint the perspective view of a bird. Of course, pictures produced in this way make an effect which is artistically childish, but as the primitive endeavours of modern German art they will keep their place. The best known of his pictures are those inspired by the choice of Prince Otto of Bavaria as King of Greece, especially “The Reception of King Otto in Nauplia,” which is to be found in the new Pinakothek in Munich. In spite of its hard, motley, and quite impossible colouring, and its petty pedantry of execution, this is a picture which will not lose its value as an historical source.

Vigorous Franz Krüger had been long known in Berlin, by his famous pictures of horses, before the Emperor of Russia in 1829 commissioned him to paint, on a huge canvas, the great parade on the Opernplatz in Berlin, where he had reviewed his regiment of Cuirassiers before the King of Prussia. From that time such parade pictures became Krüger’s specialty; especially famous is the great parade of 1839, with the likenesses of those who at the time played a political or literary part in Berlin. In these works he has left a true reflection of old Berlin, and bridged over the chasm between Chodowiecki and Menzel: this is specially the case with his curiously objective water-colour portrait heads. Mention should be made of Karl Steffeck as a pupil of Krüger, and Theodor Horschelt—in addition to Franz Adam—as a pupil of Adam. By Steffeck, a healthy, vigorous realist, there are some well-painted portraits of horses, and by Th. Horschelt, who in 1858 took part in the fights of the Russians against the Circassians in the Caucasus, there survive some of the spirited and masterly pen-and-ink sketches which he published collectively in his Memories from the Caucasus. Franz Adam, who first published a collection of lithographs on the Italian campaign of 1848 in connection with Raffet, and in the Italian war of 1859 painted his first masterpiece, a scene from the battle of Solferino, owes his finest successes—although he had taken no part in it—to the war of 1870. In respect of harmony of colouring he is perhaps the finest painter of battle-pieces Germany has produced. As I shall later have no opportunity of doing so, I must mention here the works of Josef Brandt, the best of Franz Adam’s pupils. They are painted with verve and chivalrous feeling. There is a flame and a sparkle, both in the forms of his warriors and of his horses, in his pictures of old Polish cavalry battles. Everything is aristocratic: the distinction of the grey colouring no less than the ductile drawing with its chivalrous sentiment. In everything there breathes life, vigour, fire, and freshness: the East of Eugène Fromentin translated into Polish. Heinrich Lang, a spirited draughtsman, who had the 117 art of seizing the most difficult positions and motions of a horse, embodied the wild tumult of cavalry charges (“The Charge of the Bredow Brigade,” “The Charge at Floing,” etc.) in rapid pictures of incisive power, though otherwise the heroic deeds of the Germans in 1870 resulted in but few heroic deeds in art.




In the beginning of the century the man who did not wear a uniform was not a proper subject for art unless he lived in Italy as a peasant or a robber. That is to say, painters were either archæologists or tourists; when they did not dive into the past they sought their romantic ideal in the distance. Italy, where monumental painting had first seen the light, was the earliest goal for travellers, and satisfied the desire of artists, since, for the rest of the world, it was still enveloped in poetic mystery. Only in Rome, in Naples, and in Tuscany was it thought possible to meet with human beings who had not become vulgar and hideous under the influence of civilisation. There they still preserved something of the beauty of Grecian statues. There artists were less afraid of being diverted from absolute beauty by the study of nature, and thus an important principle was carried. Instead of copying directly from antique statues, as David and Mengs had done before them, painters began to study the descendants of those who had been the models of the old Roman sculptors; and so it was that, almost against their will, they turned from museums to look rather more closely into nature, and from the past to cast a glance into the present.

To Leopold Robert belongs the credit of having opened out this new province to an art which was enclosed in the narrow bounds of Classicism. He owes his success with the public of the twenties and his place in the history of art entirely to the fact that in spite of his strict classical training he was one of the first to interest himself, however little, in contemporary life. Hundreds of artists had wandered into Italy and seen nothing but the antique until this young man set out from Neufchâtel in 1818 and became the painter of the Italian people. What struck him at the first glance was the character of the people, together with their curious habits and usages, and their rude and picturesque garb. “He wished to render this with all fidelity,” and especially “to do honour to the absolute nobility of that people which still bore a trace of the heroic greatness of their forefathers.” Above all, he fancied that he could find this phenomenon of atavism amongst the bandits; and as Sonnino, an old brigand nest, had been taken and the inhabitants removed to Engelsburg shortly after his arrival, a convenient opportunity was offered to him for making his studies in this place. The pictures of brigand life which he painted in the beginning of the twenties soon found a most profitable 119 market. “Dear M. Robert,” said the fashionable guests who visited his studio by the dozen, “could you paint a little brigand, if it is not asking too much?” Robbers with sentimental qualms were particularly prized: for instance, at the moment when they were fondling their wives, or praying remorsefully to God, or watching over the bed of a sick child.

From brigands he made a transition to the girls of Sorrento, Frascati, Capri, and Procida, and to shepherd lads, fishers, pilgrims, hermits, and pifferari. Early in the twenties, when he made an exhibition of a number of these little pictures in Rome, it effectually prepared the way for his fame; and when he sent a succession of larger pictures to the Paris Salon in 1824-31 he was held as one of the most brilliant masters of the French school, to whom Romanticists and Classicists paid the same honour. In the first of these pictures, painted in 1824, he had represented a number of peasants listening to a Neapolitan fisherman improvising to the accompaniment of a harmonica. “The Return from a Pilgrimage to the Madonna dell’ Arco” of 1827 is the painting of a triumphal waggon yoked with oxen. Upon it are seated lads and maidens adorned with foliage, and in their gay Sunday best. An old lazzarone is playing the mandolin, and girls are dancing with tambourines, whilst a young man springs round clattering his castanets, and a couple of boys, to complete the seasons of life, head the procession. His third picture, “The Coming of the Reapers to the Pontine Marshes,” was the chief work in the Salon of 1831 after the “Freedom” of Delacroix. Heine accorded him a classical passage of description, and the orthodox academical critics were liberal with most unmerited praise, treating the painter as a dangerous revolutionary who was seducing art into the undignified naturalism of Ribera and Caravaggio. Robert, the honest, lamblike man, who strikes us now as being a conscientious follower of the school of David!

Seemann, Leipzig.

How little did the artistic principles which he laid down in his letters accord with his own paintings! “I try,” he wrote to a friend in 1819, “to follow Nature in everything. Nature is the only teacher who should be heard. She alone inspires and moves me, she alone appeals to me: it is Nature that I seek to fathom, and in her I ever hope to find the special impulse for work.” She is a miracle to him, and one that is greater than any other, a book in which “the simple may read as well as the great.” He could not understand “how painters could take the old masters as their model instead of Nature, who is the only great exemplar!” What is to be seen in his pictures is merely an awkward transference of David’s manner of conception and representation to the painting of Italian 120 peasants—a scrupulously careful adaptation of classical rules to romantic subjects. He looked at modern Italians solely through the medium of antique statuary, and conducts us to an Italy which can only be called Leopold Robert’s Italy, since it never existed anywhere except in Robert’s map. All his figures have the movement of some familiar work of antique sculpture, and that expression of cherished melancholy which went out of fashion after the time of Ary Scheffer. Never does one see in his pictures a casual and unhackneyed gesture in harmony with the situation. It seems as if he had dressed up antique statues or David’s Horatii and his Sabine women in the costume of the Italian peasantry, and grouped them for a tableau vivant in front of stage scenery, and in accordance with Parisian rules of composition. His peasants and fishers make beautiful, noble, and often magnificent groups. But one can always give the exact academic rules for any particular figure standing here and not there, or in one position and not in another. His pictures are much too official, and obtrusively affect the favourite pyramid form of composition.


But as they are supposed to be pictures of Italian manners, the contrast between nature and the artificial construction is almost more irritating than it is in David’s mythological representations. It is as if Robert had really never seen any Italian peasants, though he maintains all the while that he is depicting their life. The hard outlines and the sharp bronze tone of his works are a ghastly evidence of the extent to which the sense of colour had become extinct in the school of David. It was merely form that attracted him; the 121 sun of Italy left him indifferent. The absence of atmosphere gives his figures an appearance of having been cut out of picture sheets. O great artists of Holland, masters of atmospheric effect and of contour bathed in light, what would you have said to such heartless silhouettes! In his youth Robert had been a line engraver, and he adapted the prosaic technique of line engraving to painting. However, he was a transitional painter, and as such he has an historical interest. He was a modern Tasso, too, and on the strength of the adventurous relationship to Princess Charlotte Napoleon, which ultimately drove him to suicide, he could be used with effect as the hero of a novel. Through the downfall of the school of David his star has paled—one more proof that only Nature is eternal, and that conventional painting falls into oblivion with the age that saw it rise. “I wished to find a genre which was not yet known, and this genre has had the fortune to please. It is always an advantage to be the first.” With these words he has himself indicated, in a way which is as modest as it is accurate, the ground of his reputation amongst contemporaries, and why it is that the history of art cannot quite afford to forget him.


Amongst the multitude of those who, incited by Robert’s brilliant successes, made the Spanish staircase in Rome the basis of their art, Victor Schnetz, by his “Vow to the Madonna” of 1831, specially succeeded in winning public favour. At a later time his favourite themes were the funerals of children, inundations, and the like; but his arid method of painting contrasts with the 122 sentimental melancholy of these subjects in a fashion which is not particularly agreeable.

It was Ernest Hébert who first saw Italy with the eyes of a painter. He might be called the Perugino of this group. He was the most romantic of the pupils of Delaroche, and owed his conception of colour to that painter. His spiritual father was Ary Scheffer. The latter has discovered the poetry of sentimentality; Hébert the poetry of disease. His pictures are invariably of great technical delicacy. His style has something femininely gracious, almost languishing: his colouring is delicately fragrant and tenderly melting. He is, indeed, a refined artist who occupies a place by himself, however mannered the melancholy and sickliness of his figures may be. In “The Malaria” of 1850 they were influenced by the subject itself. The barge gliding over the waters of the Pontine Marshes, with its freight of men, women, and children, seems like a gloomy symbol of the voyage of life; the sorrow of the passengers is that of resignation: dying they droop their heads like withering flowers. But later the fever became chronic in Hébert. The interesting disease returned even where it was out of place, as it does still in the pictures of his followers. The same fate befell the painters of Italy which befalls tourists. What Robert had seen in the country as the first comer whole generations saw after him, neither more nor less than that. The pictures were always variations on the old theme, until in the sixties Bonnat came with his individual and realistic vision.


In Germany, where “the yearning for Italy” had been ventilated in an immoderate quantity of lyrical poems ever since the time of Wackenroder’s Herzensergiessungen, August Riedel represented this phase of modern painting; and as Leopold Robert is still celebrated, Riedel ought not to be forgotten. Riedel lived too long (1800-1883), and, as he painted nothing but bad 123 pictures during the last thirty years of his life, what he had done in his youth was forgotten. At that time he was the first apostle of Leopold Robert in Germany, and as such he has his importance as an innovator. When he began his career in the Munich Academy in 1819 Peter Langer, a Classicist of the order of Mengs, was still director there. Riedel also painted classical subjects and church pictures—“Christ on the Mount of Olives,” “The Resurrection of Lazarus,” and “Peter and Paul healing the Lame.” But when he returned from Italy in 1823 he reversed the route which others had taken: the classic land set him free from Classicism, and opened his eyes to the beauty of life. Instead of working on saints in the style of Langer, he painted beautiful women in the costume of modern Italy. His “Neapolitan Fisherman’s Family” was for Germany a revelation similar to that which Robert’s “Neapolitan Improvisator” had been for France. The fisherman, rather theatrically draped, is sitting on the shore, while his wife and his little daughter listen to him playing the zither. The blue sea, dotted with white sails, and distant Ischia and Cape Missene, form the background; and a blue heaven, dappled with white clouds, arches above. Everything was of an exceedingly conventional beauty, but denoted progress in comparison with Robert. It already announced that search for brilliant effects of light which henceforward became a characteristic of Riedel, and gave him a peculiar position in his own day. “Even hardened connoisseurs,” wrote Emil Braun from Rome about this time, 124 “stand helpless before this magic of colouring. It is often long before they are able to persuade themselves that such glory of colour can be produced by the familiar medium of oil painting, and with materials that any one can buy at a shop where pigments are sold.” Riedel touched a problem—diffidently, no doubt—which was only taken up much later in its full extent. And if Cornelius said to him, “You have fully attained what I have avoided with the greatest effort during the course of my whole life,” it is none the less true that Riedel’s Italian girls in the full glow of sunlight have remained, in spite of their stereotyped smile, so reminiscent of Sichel, better able to stand the test of galleries than the pictures of the Michael-Angelo of Munich. Before his “Neapolitan Fisherman’s Family,” which went the world over like a melody from Auber’s Masaniello, before his “Judith” carrying the head of Holofernes in the brightest light of morning, before his “Girls Bathing” in the dimness of the forest, and before his “Sakuntala,” painted “with refined effects of light,” the cartoon painters mumbled and grumbled, and raised hue and cry over the desecration of German art; but Riedel’s friends were just as loud in proclaiming the witchery of his colour, and “the Southern sunlight which he had conjured on to his palette,” to be splendid beyond the powers of comprehension. It is difficult at the present day to understand the fame that he once 125 had as “a pyrotechnist in pigments.” But the results which he achieved by himself in colouring, long before the influence of the Belgians in Germany, will always give him a sure place in the history of German art. And these qualities were unconsciously inherited by his successors, who troubled their heads no further about the pioneer and founder.


Those who painted the East with its clear radiance, its interesting people, and its picturesque localities, stand in opposition to the Italian enthusiasts. They are the second group of travellers. Gros had given French art a vision of that distant magic land, but he had had no direct disciples. Painters were as yet in too close bondage to their classical proclivities to receive inspiration from Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt. But the travels of Chateaubriand and the verse of Byron, and then the Greek war of liberation, and, above all, the conquest of Algiers, once more aroused an interest in these regions, and, when the revolution of the Romanticists had once taken place, taught art a way into the East. Authors, journalists, and painters found their place in this army of travellers. The first view of men and women standing on the shore in splendid costume, with turbans or high sheepskin hats, and surrounded by black slaves, or mounted upon horses richly caparisoned, or listening to the roll of drums and the muezzin resounding from the minarets, was like a scene from The Arabian Nights. The bazaars and the harems, the quarters of the Janizaries and gloomy dungeons were visited in turn. Veiled women were seen, and mysterious houses where every sound was hushed. At first the Moors, obedient to the stern laws of the Koran, fled before the painters as if before evil spirits, but the Moorish women were all the more ready to receive these conquerors with open arms. Artists plunged with rapture into a new world; they anointed themselves with the oil of roses, and tasted all the sweets of Oriental life. The East was for the Byronic enthusiasts of 1830 what Italy had been for the 126 Classicists. Could anything be imagined more romantic? You went on board a steamer provided with all modern comforts and all the appliances of the nineteenth century, and it carried you thousands of years back in the history of the world; you set foot on a soil where the word progress did not exist—in a land where the inhabitants still sat in the sun as if cemented to the ground, and wore the same costumes in which their forefathers had sat there two thousand years ago. Here the Romanticists not only found nature decked in the rich hues which satisfied their passion for colour, but discovered a race of people possessed of that beauty which, according to the Classicists, was only to be seen in the Italian peasants. They beheld “men of innate dignity and remarkable distinction of pose and gesture.” Thus a new experience was added to life. There was the East, where splendour and simplicity, cruelty and beauty, softness of temper and savage austerity, and brilliant colour and blinding light are more completely mingled than anywhere else in the world; there was the East, where rich tints laugh in the midst of squalor and misery, the brightness of earlier days in the midst of outworn usages, and the pride of art in the midst of ruined villages. It was so great, so unfathomable, and so like a fairy tale that it gave every one the chance of discovering in it some new qualities.

For Delacroix, the Byron of painting, it was a splendid setting for passion in its unfettered wildness and its unscrupulous daring. He, who had lived exclusively in the past, now turned to the observation of living beings, as may be seen in his “Algerian Women,” his “Jewish Wedding,” his “Emperor of Morocco,” and his “Convulsionaries of Tangier.” Amongst the Orientals he also found the hotly flaming sensuousness and primitive wildness which beset his imagination with its craving for everything impassioned.

The great charmeur, the master of pictorial caprice, Decamps, found his province in the East, because its sun was so lustrous, its costume so bright, and its human figures so picturesque. If Delacroix was a powerful artist, Decamps was no more than a painter,—but painter he was to his finger-tips. He was indifferent to nothing in nature or history: he showed as much enthusiasm for a pair of tanned beggar-boys playing in the sunshine at the corner of a wall as for Biblical figures and old-world epics. He has painted hens pecking on a dung-heap, dogs on the chase and in the kennel, monkeys as scholars, and musicians in all the situations which Teniers and Chardin loved. His “Battle of Tailleborg” of 1837 has been aptly termed the only picture of a battle in the Versailles Museum. He looked on everything as material for painting, and never troubled as to how another artist would have treated the subject. There is an individuality in every one of his works; not an individuality of the first order, but one that is decidedly charming and that assures him a very high place amongst his contemporaries.

Having made a success in 1829 with an imaginary picture of the East, he had a wish to see how far the reality corresponded with his ideas of Turkey, and in the same year—therefore before Delacroix—he went on that journey 127 to the Greek Archipelago, Constantinople, and Asia Minor which became a voyage of discovery for French painting. In the Salon of 1831 was exhibited his “Patrol of Smyrna,” which at once made him one of the favourite French painters of the time. Soon afterwards came the picture of the “Pasha on his Rounds,” accompanied by a lean troop of running and panting guards, that of the great “Turkish Bazaar,” in which he gave such a charming representation of the gay and noisy bustle of an Oriental fair, those of the “Turkish School,” the “Turkish Café,” “The Halt of the Arab Horsemen,” and “The Turkish Butcher’s Shop.” In everything which he painted from this time forward—even in his Biblical pictures—he had before his eyes the East as it is in modern times. Like Horace Vernet, he painted his figures in the costume of modern Arabs and Egyptians, and placed them in landscapes with modern Arab buildings. But the largeness of line in these landscapes is expressive of something so patriarchal and Biblical, and of such a dreamy, mystical poetry, that, in spite of their modern garb, the figures seem like visions from a far distance.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

Decamps’ painting never became trivial. All his pictures soothe and captivate the eye, however much they disappoint, on the first glance, the expectations which the older descriptions of them may have excited. Fifty years ago it was said that Delacroix painted with colour and Decamps with light; that his works were steeped in a bath of sunshine. This vibrating light, this transparent atmosphere, which contemporaries admired, is not to be found in Decamps’ pictures. Their brilliancy of technique is admirable, but he was no painter of light. The world of sunshine in which everything is dipped, the glow and lustre of objects in shining, liquid, and tremulous air, is what Gustave Guillaumet first learnt to paint a generation later. 128 Decamps attained the effect of light in his pictures by the darkening of shadows, precisely in the manner of the old school. To make the sky bright, he threw the foreground into opaque and heavy shade. And as, in consequence of the ground of bole used to produce his beautiful red tones, the dark parts of his pictures gradually became as black as pitch, and the light parts dead and spotty, he will rather seem to be a contemporary of Albert Cuyp than of Manet.

As draughtsman to a German baron making a scientific tour in the East, Prosper Marilhat, the third of the painters of Oriental life, was early in following this career. He visited Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt, and returned to Paris in 1833 intoxicated with the beauties of these lands. Especially dear to him was Egypt, and in his pictures he called himself, “Marilhat the Egyptian.” Decamps had been blinded by the sharp contrast between light and shadow in Oriental nature, by the vivid blaze of colour in its vegetation, and by the tropical glow of the Southern sky. Marilhat took novelties with a more quiet eye, and kept close to pure reality. He has not so much virtuosity as Decamps, and in colour he is less daring, but he is perhaps more poetic, and on that account, in the years 1833-44, he was prized almost more. The exhibition of 1844, in which eight of his pictures appeared, closed his career. He had expected the Cross of the Legion of Honour, but did not get it, and this disappointment affected him so deeply that he became first hypochondriacal and then mad. His early death at thirty-six set Decamps free from a powerful rival.

Eugène Fromentin went further in the same direction as Marilhat. He knew nothing of the preference for the glowing hues of the tropics nor of the fantastic colouring of the Romanticists. He painted in the spirit of a refined social period in which no loud voice is tolerated, but only light and familiar talk. The East gave him his grace; the proud and fiery nature of the Arab horse was revealed to him. In his portraits Fromentin looks like a cavalry officer. In his youth he had studied law, but that was before his acquaintance with the landscape painter Cabat brought him to his true calling, and a sojourn made on three different occasions—in 1845, 1848, and 1852—on the borders of Morocco decided for him his specialty. By his descriptions of travels, A Year in Sahel, which appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes, he became known as a writer: it was only after 1857, however, that he became famous as a painter. Fromentin’s East is Algiers. While Marilhat tried to render the marvellous clearness of the Southern light, and Decamps depicted the glowing heat of the East, its dark brooding sky in the sultry hours of summer and the grand outlines of its landscape, Fromentin has tried—and perhaps with too much system—to express the grace and brilliant spirit of the East. Taste, refinement, ductility, distinction of colouring, and grace of line are his special qualities. His Arabs galloping on their beautiful white horses have an inimitable chivalry; they are true princes in every pose and movement. The execution of his pictures is always spirited, easy, and in keeping with their high-bred tone. Whatever he does has the nervous vigour of a sketch, with that degree of finish which satisfies the connoisseur. There is always a coquetry in his arrangement of colour, and his tones are light and delicate if they are not deep. In the landscape his little Arab riders have the effect of flowers upon a carpet.


(By permission of Mme. Moreau-Nélaton, the owner of the picture.)




Cassell & Co.

Afterwards, when naturalism was at its zenith, Fromentin was much attacked for this wayward grace. He was accused of making a superficial appeal to the eye, and of offering everything except truth. And for its substantive fidelity Fromentin’s “East” cannot certainly be taken very seriously. He was a man of fine culture, and in his youth he had studied the old Dutch masters more than nature; he even saw the light of the East through the Dutch chiaroscuro. His pictures are subtle works of art, nervous in drawing and dazzling in brilliancy of construction, but they are washed in rather than painted, and stained rather than coloured. In his book he speaks himself of the cool, grey shadows of the East. But in his pictures they turn to a reddish hue or to brown. An effort after beauty of tone in many ways weakened his Arab scenes. He looked at the people of the East too much with the eyes of a Parisian. And the more his recollections faded, the more did he begin to create for himself an imaginary Africa. He painted grey skies simply because he was tired of blue; he tinted white horses with rosy reflections, chestnuts with lilac, and dappled-greys with violet. The grace of his works 132 became more and more an affair of affectation, until at last, instead of being Oriental pictures, they became Parisian fancy goods, which merely recalled the fact that Algiers had become a French town.


But after all what does it matter whether pictures of the East are true to nature or not? Other people whose names are not Fromentin can provide such documents. In his works Fromentin has expressed himself, and that is enough. Take up his first book, L’été dans la Sahara: by its grace of style it claims a place in French literature. Or read his classic masterpiece, Les maîtres d’autrefois, published in 1876 after a tour through Belgium and Holland: it will remain for ever one of the finest works ever written on art. A connoisseur of such refinement, a critic who gauged the artistic works of Belgium and Holland with such subtlety, necessarily became in his own painting an epicure of beautiful tones. This man, who never made an awkward movement nor uttered a brutal word, this sensitive, distinguished spirit could be no more than a subtle artist who had eyes for nothing but the aristocratic side of Eastern life. As a painter, however, he might wish to be true to nature; he could be no more than this. His art, compact of grace and distinction, was the outcome of his own nature. He is a descendant of those delicately feminine, seductively brilliant, facile and spontaneous, sparkling and charming painters who were known in the eighteenth century as peintres des fêtes galantes. He is the Watteau of the East, and in this capacity one of the most winning and captivating products of French art.


Finally, Guillaumet, the youngest and last of the group, found in the East 133 peace: a scion of the Romanticists, there is none the less a whole world of difference between him and them. While the Romanticists, as sons of a flaccid, inactive period, lashed themselves into enthusiasm for the passion and wild life of the East, Guillaumet, the child of a hurried and neurotic epoch, sought here an opiate for his nerves. Where they saw contrasts he found harmony; and he did not find it, like Fromentin, in what is understood as chic. Manet’s conception of colour had taught him that nature is everywhere in accord and harmoniously delicate.

He writes: “Je commence à distinguer quelques formes: des silhouettes indécises bougent le long des murs enfumés sous des poutres luisantes de sui. Les détails sortent du demi-jour, s’animent graduellement avec la magie des Rembrandt. Même mystère des ombres, mêmes ors dans les reflets—c’est l’aube.... Des terrains poudreux inondés de soleil; un amoncellement de murailles grises sous un ciel sans nuage; une cité somnolente baignée d’une lumière égale, et dans le frémissement visible des atomes aériens quelques ombres venant ça et là détacher une forme, accuser un geste parmi les groupes en burnous qui se meuvent sur les places ... tel m’apparait le ksar, vers dix heures du matin....


L’œil interroge: rien ne bouge. L’oreille écoute: aucun bruit. Pas un souffle, si ce n’est le frémissement presque imperceptible de l’air au-dessus du sol embrasé. La vie semble avoir disparu, absorbée par la lumière. C’est le milieu du jour.... Mais le soir approche.... Les troupeaux rentrent dans les douars; ils se pressent autour des tentes, à peine visibles, confondus sous cette teinte neutre du crépuscule, faite avec les gris de la nuit qui vient et les violets tendres du soir qui s’en va. C’est l’heure mystérieuse, où les couleurs se mèlent, où les contours se noient, où toute chose s’assombrit, où toute voix se tait, où l’homme, à la fin du jour, laisse flotter sa pensée devant ce qui s’éteint, s’efface et s’evanouit.

This description of a day in Algiers in Guillaumet’s Tableaux algériens interprets the painter Guillaumet better than any critical appreciation could possibly do. For him the East is the land of dreams and melting softness, a far-off health-resort for neurotic patients, where one lies at ease in the sun and forgets the excitements of Paris. It was not what was brilliant and pictorial in sparkling jewels and bright costume that attracted him at all, but the silence, the mesmeric spell of the East, the vastness of the infinite horizon, the imposing majesty of the desert, and the sublime and profound peace of the nights of Africa. “The Evening Prayer in the Desert” was the name of the first picture that he brought back with him in 1863. There is a wide and boundless plain; the straight line of the horizon is broken by a 134 few mountain forms and by the figures of a party belonging to a caravan; but, bowed as they are in prayer, these figures are scarcely to be distinguished. The smoke of the camp ascends like a pillar into the air. The monotony of the wilderness seems to stretch endlessly to the right and to the left, like a grand and solemn Nirvana smiting the human spirit with religious delirium.


For Decamps and Marilhat the East was a great, red copper-block beneath a blue dome of steel; a beautiful monster, bright and glittering. Guillaumet has no wish to dazzle. His pictures give one the impression of intense and sultry heat. His light is really “le frémissement visible des atomes aériens.” Moreover, he did not see the chivalry of the East like Fromentin. The latter was fascinated by the nomad, the pure Arab living in tent or saddle, the true aristocrat of the desert, mounted on his white palfrey, hunting wild beasts through fair blue and green landscapes. Poor folk who never owned a horse are the models of Guillaumet. With their dogs—wild creatures who need nothing—they squat in the sun as if with their own kin: they are the lower, primitive population, the pariahs of the wilderness; tattered men whose life-long siesta is only interrupted by the anguish of death, animal women whose existence flows by as idly as in the trance of opium.

After the French Romanticists had shown the way, other nations contributed their contingent to the painters of Oriental subjects. In Germany poetry had discovered the East. Rückert imitated the measure and the ideas of the Oriental lyric, and the Greek war of liberation quickened all that passionate love for the soil of old Hellas which lives in the German soul. Wilhelm Müller sang his songs of the Greeks, and in 1825 Leopold Schefer brought out his tale Die Persierin. But just as the Oriental tale was a mere episode in German literature, an exotic grafted on the native stem, so the Oriental painting produced 135 no leading mind in the country, but merely a number of good soldiers who dutifully served in the troops of foreign commanders.

Cassell & Co.

Kretszchmer of Berlin led the way with ethnographical representations, and was joined at a later time by Wilhelm Gentz and Adolf Schreyer of Frankfort. Gentz, a dexterous painter, and, as a colourist, perhaps the most gifted 136 of the Berlin school in the sixties, is, in comparison with the great Frenchmen who portrayed the East, a thoroughly arid realist. He brought to his task a certain amount of rough vigour and restless diversity, together with North German sobriety and Berlin humour. Schreyer, who lived in Paris, belonged to the following of Fromentin. The Arab and his steed interested him also. His pictures are bouquets of colour, dazzling the eye. Arabs in rich and picturesque costume repose on the ground or are mounted on their milk-white steeds, which rear and prance with tossing manes and wide-stretched nostrils. The desert undulates away to the far horizon, now pale and now caressed by the softened rays of the setting sun, which tip the waves of sand with burnished gold. Schreyer was—for a German—a man with an extraordinary gift for technique and a brilliantly effective sense of life. The latter remark is specially true of his sketches. At a later date—in 1875, after being with Lembach and Makart in Cairo—the Viennese Leopold Müller found the domain of his art beneath the clear sky, in the brightly coloured land of the Nile. Even his sketches are often of great delicacy of colour, and the ethnographical accuracy which he also possessed has long made him the most highly valued delineator of Oriental life and a popular illustrator of works on Egypt. The learned and slightly pedantic vein in his works he shares with 137 Gérôme, but by his greater charm of colour he comes still nearer to Fromentin.


The route to the East was shown to the English by the glowing landscapes of William Müller; but the English were just as unable to find a Byron amongst their painters. Frederick Goodall has studied the classical element in the East, and endeavoured to reconstruct the past from the present. Best known amongst these artists was J. F. Lewis, who died in 1876 and was much talked of in earlier days. For long years he wandered through Asia Minor, filling his portfolios with sketches and his trunks with Oriental robes and weapons. When he returned there was a perfect scramble for his pictures. They revealed a new world to the English then, but no one scrambles for them now. John Lewis was exceedingly diligent and conscientious; he studied the implements, the costumes, and the popular types of the East with incredible industry. In his harem pictures as in his representations of Arabian camp life everything is painted, down to the patterns of embroidery, the ornaments 138 of turbans, and the pebbles on the sand. Even his water-colours are triumphs of endurance; but patience and endurance are not sufficient to make an interesting artist. John Lewis stands in respect of colour, too, more or less on a level with Gentz. He has seized neither the dignity of the Mussulman nor the grace of the Bedouin, but has contented himself with a faithful though somewhat glaring reproduction of accessories. Houghton was the first who, moving more or less parallel with Guillaumet, succeeded in delicately interpreting the great peace and the mystic silence of the East.


The East was in this way traversed in all directions. The first comers who beheld it with eager, excited eyes collected a mass of gigantic legends, with no decided aim or purpose and driven by no passionate impulse, merely eager to pluck here or there an exotic flower, or lightly to catch some small part of the glamour that overspread all that was Eastern, piled up dreams upon dreams, and gave it a gorgeous and fantastic life. There were deserts shining in the sun, waves lashed by the storm, the nude forms of women, and all the Asiatic splendour of the East: dark-red satin, gold, crystal, and marble were heaped in confusion and executed in terrible fantasies of colour in the midst of darkness and lightning. After this generation had passed like a thunderstorm the chic of Fromentin was delicious. He profited by the taste which others had excited. Painters of all nationalities overran the East. The great dramas were transformed into elegies, pastorals, and idylls; even ethnographical representations had their turn. Guillaumet summed up the aims of that generation. His dreamy and tender painting was like a beautiful 139 summer evening. The radiance of the blinding sky was mitigated, and a peaceful sun at the verge of the horizon covered the steppes of sand, which it had scorched a few hours before, with a network of rosy beams.

They were all scions of the Romantic movement. The yearning which filled their spirits and drove them into distant lands was only another symptom of their dissatisfaction with the present.

Classicism had dealt with Greek and Roman history by the aid of antique statues, and next used the colours of the Flemish masters to paint Italian peasantry. Romanticism had touched the motley life of the Middle Ages and the richly coloured East; but both had anxiously held aloof from the surroundings of home and the political and social relations of contemporaries.

It was obvious that art’s next task was to bring down to earth again the ideal that had hovered so long over the domain of ancient history, and then winged its flight to the realms of the East. “Ah la vie, la vie! le monde est là; il rit, crie, souffre, s’amuse, et on ne le rend pas.” In these words the necessity of the step has been indicated by Fromentin himself. The successful delivery of modern art was first accomplished, the problem stated in 1789 was first solved, when the subversive upheaval of the Third Estate, which had been consummating itself more and more imperiously ever since the Revolution, found distinct expression in the art of painting. Art always moves on parallel lines with religious conceptions, with politics, and with manners. In the Middle Ages men lived in the world beyond the grave, and so the subjects of painting were Madonnas and saints. According to Louis XIV, everything was derived from the King, as light from the sun, and so royalty by the grace of God was reflected in the art of his epoch. The royal sun suffered total eclipse in the Revolution, and with this mighty change of civilisation art had to undergo a new transformation. The 1789 of painting had to follow on the politics of 1789: the proclamation of the liberty and equality of all individuals. Only painting which recognised man in his full freedom, no privileged class of gods and heroes, Italians and Easterns, could be the true child of the Revolution, the art of the new age. Belgium and Germany made the first diffident steps in this direction.




At the very time when the East attracted the French Romanticists, the German and Belgian painters discovered the rustic. Romanticism, driven into strange and tropical regions by its disgust of a sluggish, colourless and inglorious age, now planted a firm foot upon native soil. Amid rustics there was to be found a conservative type of life which perpetuated old usages and picturesque costume.

It is not easy for a dilettante to enter into sympathetic relationship with these early pictures of peasant life. They are gaudy in tone, smooth as metal, and the figures stand out hard against the atmosphere, as if they had been cut from a picture-sheet. But the historian has no right to be merely a dilettante. It would be unfair of him to make the artistic conceptions of the present time the means of depreciating the past. For, after all, works of the past are only to be measured with those of their own age, and when one once remembers what an importance these modest “little masters” had for their time it is no longer difficult to treat them with justice. In an age when futile and aimless intentions lost their way in theory and imitation of the “great painting” there blossomed here, and for the first time, a certain individuality of mind and temper. While Cornelius, Kaulbach, and their fellows formed a style which was ideal in a purely conventional sense, and epitomised the art of the great masters according to method, the “genre painters” seized upon the endless variety of nature, and, after a long period of purely reproductive painting, made the first diffident attempt to set art free from the curse of system and the servile repetition of antiquated forms.


Even as regards colour they have the honour of preparing the way for a restoration in the technique of painting. Their own defects in technique were not their fault, but the consequence of that fatal interference of Winckelmann through which art lost its technical traditions. They did not enjoy the advantages of issuing from a long line of ancestors. In a certain sense they had to make a beginning in the history of art by themselves; for between them and the older German painting they only met with men who held the ability to paint as a shame and a disgrace. With the example of the old Dutch and Flemish masters before them, they had to knit together the bonds which these men had cut; and considering the æsthetic ideas of the age, this reference to Netherlandish models was an event of revolutionary importance. 141 In doing this they may have been partially influenced by Wilkie, who made his tour in Germany in 1825, and whose pictures had a wide circulation through the medium of engraving. And from another side attention was directed to the old Dutch masters by Schnaase’s letters of 1834. While the entire artistic school which took its rise from Winckelmann gave the reverence of an empty, formal idealism to classical antiquity and the Cinquecento, applying their standards to all other periods, Schnaase was the first to give an impulse to the historical consideration of art. In this way he revealed wide and hitherto neglected regions to the creative activity of modern times. The result of his book was that the Netherlandish masters were no longer held to be “the apes of vulgar nature,” but took their place as exquisite artists from whom the modern painter had a great deal to learn.

In Munich the conditions of a popular, national art were supplied by the very site of the town. Since the beginning of the century Munich had been peculiarly the type of a peasant city, the capital of a peasant province; it had a peasantry abounding in old-fashioned singularities, gay and motley in costume as in their ways of life, full of bright and easy-going good-humour, and gifted with the Bavarian force of character. Here it was, then, that “the resort to national traits” was first made. And if, in the event, this painting of rustic life produced many monstrosities, it remained throughout the whole century an unfailing source from which the art of Munich drew fresh and vivid power.

Even in the twenties there was an art in Munich which was native to the soil, and in later years shot up all the more vigorously through being for a time cramped in its development by the exotic growths of the school of Cornelius. It was as different from the dominant historical painting as the “magots” of Teniers from the mythological machinery of Lebrun, and it was treated by official criticism with the same contempt. Cornelius and his school directed the attention of educated people so exclusively to themselves, and so entirely proscribed the literature of the day, that what took 142 place outside their own circle in Munich was but little discussed. The vigorous group of naturalists had not much to offer critics who wished to display their knowledge by picking to pieces historical pictures, interpreting philosophical cartoons, and pointing to similarities of style between Cornelius and Michael Angelo. But for the historian, seeking the seeds of the present in the past, they are figures worthy of respect. Setting their own straightforward conception of nature against the eclecticism of the great painters, they laid the foundation of an independent modern art.

The courtly, academic painting of Cornelius derived its inspiration from the Sistine Chapel; the naturalism of these “genre painters” was rooted in the life of the Bavarian people. The “great painters” dwelt alone in huge monumental buildings; the naturalists, who sought their inspiration in the life of peasants, in the life of camps, and in landscape, without troubling themselves about antique or romantic subjects, furnished the material for the first collections of modern art. Both as artists and as men they were totally different beings. Cornelius and his school stand on the one side, cultured, imperious, fancying themselves in the possession of all true art, and abruptly turning from all who are not sworn to their flag; on the other side stand the naturalists, brisk and cheery, rough it may be, but sound to the core, and with a sharp eye for life and nature.


Painting in the grand style owed its origin to the personal tastes of the king and to the great tasks to which it was occasionally set; independent of princely favour, realistic art found its patrons amongst the South German nobility and, at a later date, in the circle of the Munich Art Union, and seems the logical continuation of that military painting which, at the opening of the century, had its representatives in Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Munich. The motley swarm of foreign soldiers which overran the soil of Germany incited Albrecht Adam, Peter Hess, Johann Adam Klein, and others, to represent what they saw in a fashion which was sincere and simple if it was also prosy. And when the warlike times were over it was quite natural that some of the masters who had learnt 143 their art in camps should turn to the representation of peasant life, where they were likewise able to find gay, pictorial costumes. Wilhelm Kobell, whose etchings of the life of the Bavarian people are more valuable than his battle-pieces, was one of the first to make this transition. In 1820 sturdy Peter Hess painted his “Morning at Partenkirche,” in which he depicted a simple scene of mountain life—girls at a well in the midst of a sunny landscape—in a homely but poetic manner. When this breach had been made, Bürkel was able to take the lead of the Munich painters of rustic subjects.

Heinrich Bürkel’s portrait reveals a square-built giant, whose appearance contrasts strangely with that of his celebrated contemporaries. The academic artists sweep back their long hair and look upwards with an inspired glance. Bürkel looks down with a keen eye at the hard, rough, and stony earth. The academic artists had a mantle—the mantle of Rauch’s statues—picturesquely draped about their shoulders; Bürkel dressed like anybody else. No attribute is added which could indicate that he was a painter; neither palette, nor brush, nor picture; beside him on the table there is—a mug of beer. There he sits without any sort of pose, with his hand resting on his knee—rough, athletic, and pugnacious—for all the world as if he were quite conscious of his peculiarities. Even the photographer’s demand for “a pleasant smile” had no effect upon him. This portrait is itself an explanation of Bürkel’s art. His was a healthy, self-reliant nature, without a trace of romance, sentimentality, affected humour, or sugary optimism. Amongst all his Munich contemporaries he was the least academic in his whole manner of feeling and thinking.

Sprung from the people, he became their painter. He was born, 29th May 1802, in Pirmasens, where his father combined a small farm with a public-house and his mother kept a shop; and he had been first a tradesman’s apprentice, and then assistant clerk in a court of justice, before he came to 144 Munich in 1822. Here the Academy rejected him as without talent; but while it shut the door against the pupil, life revealed itself to the master. He went to the Schleissheimer Gallery, and sat there copying the pictures of Wouwerman, Ostade, Brouwer, and Berghem, and developed his powers, by the study of these Netherlandish masters, with extraordinary rapidity. His first works—battles, skirmishes, and other martial scenes—are amateurish and diffident attempts; it is evident that he was without any kind of guidance or direction. All the more astonishing is the swiftness with which he acquired firm command of abilities, admirable for that age, and the defiant spirit of independence with which he went straight from pictures to nature, though hardly yet in possession of the necessary means of expression. He painted and drew the whole new world which opened itself before him: far prospects over the landscape, mossy stones in the sunlight, numbers of cloud-pictures, peasants’ houses with their surroundings, forest paths, mountain tracks, horses, and figures of every description. The life of men and animals gave him everywhere some opportunity for depicting it in characteristic situations. And later, when he had settled down again in Munich, he did not cease from wandering in the South German mountains with a fresh mind. Up to old age he made little summer and winter tours in the Bavarian highlands. Tegernsee, Rottach, Prien, Berchtesgaden, South Tyrol, and Partenkirche were visited again and again, on excursions for the week or the day; and he returned from them all 145 with energetic studies, from which were developed pictures that were not less energetic.


For, as every artist is the result of two factors, of which one lies in himself and the other in his age and surroundings, the performances of Bürkel are to be judged, not only according to the requirements of the present day, but according to the conditions under which they were produced. What is weak in him he shares with his contemporaries; what is novel is his own most peculiar and incontestable merit. In a period of false idealism worked up in a museum—false idealism which had aped from the true the way in which one clears one’s throat, as Schiller has it, but nothing more indicative of genius—in a period of this accomplishment Bürkel preferred to expose his own insufficiency rather than adorn himself with other people’s feathers; at a time which prided itself on representing with brush and pigment things for which pen and ink are the better medium, he looked vividly into life; at a time when all Germany lost itself aimlessly in distant latitudes, he brought to everything an honest and objective fidelity which knew no trace of romantic sentimentalism; and by these fresh and realistic qualities he has become the father of that art which rose in Munich in a later day. Positive and exact in style, and far too sincere to pretend to raise himself to the level of the old 146 masters by superficial imitation, he was the more industrious in penetrating the spirit of nature and showing his love for everything down to its minutest feature; weak in the sentiment for colour, he was great in his feeling for nature. That was Heinrich Bürkel, and his successors had to supplement what was wanting in him, but not to wage war against his influence.


The peculiarity of all his works, as of those of the early Dutch and Flemish artists, is the equal weight which he lays on figures and on landscape. In his eyes the life of man is part of a greater whole; animals and their scenic surroundings are studied with the same love, and in his most felicitous pictures these elements are so blended that no one feature predominates at the expense of another. Seldom does he paint interiors, almost always preferring to move in free and open nature. But here his field is extraordinarily wide.

Those works in which he handled Italian subjects form a group by themselves. Bürkel was in Rome from 1829 to 1832, the very years in which Leopold Robert celebrated his triumphs there; but curious is the difference between the works of the Munich and those of the Swiss painter. In the 147 latter are beautiful postures, poetic ideas, and all the academical formulas; in the former unvarnished, naturalistic bluntness of expression. Even in Italy he kept romantic and academic art at a distance. They had no power over the rough, healthy, and sincere nature of the artist. He saw nothing in Italy that he had not met with at home, and he painted things as he saw them, honestly and without beatification.

To find material Bürkel did not need to go far. Picture to yourself a man wandering along the banks of the Isar, and gazing about him with a still and thoughtful look. A healthy peasant lass with a basket, or a plough moving slowly in the distance behind a sweating yoke of horses, is quite enough to fill him with feelings and ideas.

His peculiar domain was the high-road, which in the thirties and the forties, before the railways had usurped its traffic, was filled with a much more manifold life than it is to-day. Waggons and mail-carts passed along before the old gateways; in every village there were taverns inviting the wayfarer to rest, and blacksmiths sought for custom on the road. There were vehicles of every description, horses at the forge, posting-stages, change of teams, the departure of marketing folk, and passengers taking their seats or alighting. Here horses were being watered, and an occasion was given for brief dialogues between the coachman and his fares. There travellers surprised by a shower were hurrying under their umbrellas into an inn; or, in wintry weather, they were waiting impatiently, wrapped up in furs, whilst a horse was being shod.


The beaten tracks through field and forest offered much of the same sort. Peasants were driving to market with a cart-load of wood. Horses stood unyoked at a drinking-trough whilst the driver, a muscular fellow with great sinews, quietly enjoyed his pipe. Along some shadowy woodland path a team drew near to a forge or a lonely charcoal-burner’s hut, where the light flickered, and over which there soared a bare and snowy mountain peak.

Such pictures of snow-clad landscape were a specialty of Bürkel’s art, and in their simplicity and harmony are to be ranked with the best that he has done. Heavily freighted wood-carts passing through a drift, waggons brought to a standstill 148 in the snow, raw-boned woodmen perspiring as they load them in a wintry forest, are the accessory objects and figures.

Albert, Munich.

But life in the fields attracted him also. Having a love of representing animals, he kept out of the way of mowers, reapers, and gleaners. His favourite theme is the hay, corn, or potato harvest, which he paints with much detail and a great display of accessory incidents. Maids and labourers, old and young, are feverishly active in the construction of hay-cocks, or, in threatening weather, pile up waggons, loaded as high as a house, with fresh trusses.

In this enumeration all the rustic life of Bavaria has been described. It is only the Sunday and holiday themes, the peculiar motives of the genre painter, that are wanting. And in itself this is an indication of what gives Bürkel his peculiar position.

By their conception his works are out of keeping with everything which the contemporary generation of “great painters” and the younger genre painters were attempting. The great painters had their home in museums; Bürkel lived in the world of nature. The genre painters, under the influence of Wilkie, were fond of giving their motive a touch of narrative interest, like the English. Cheerful or mournful news, country funerals, baptisms, and public dinners offered an excuse for representing the same sentiment in varying keys. Their starting-point was that of an illustrator; it might be very pretty in itself, but it was too jovial or whimpering for a picture. Bürkel’s works have no literary background; they are not composed of stories with a humorous or sentimental tinge, but depict with an intimate grasp of the 149 subject the simplest events of life. He neither offered the public lollipops, nor tried to move them and play upon their sensibilities by subjects which could be spun out into a novel. He approached his men, his animals, and his landscapes as a strenuous character painter, without gush, sentimentality, or romanticism. In contradistinction from all the younger painters of rustic subjects, he sternly avoided what was striking, peculiar, or in any way extraordinary, endeavouring to paint everyday life in the house or the farmyard, in the field or upon the highway, in all plainness and simplicity.

At first, indeed, he thought it necessary to satisfy the demands of the age by, at any rate, painting in a broad and epical manner. The public collections chiefly possess pictures of his which contain many figures: “The Return from the Mountain Pasture,” “Coming Back from the Bear Hunt,” “The Cattle Show,” and “From the Fair”; scenes before an inn at festivals, or waggoners setting out, and the like. But in these works the scheme of composition and the multitude of figures have a somewhat overladen and old-fashioned effect. On the other hand, there are pictures scattered about in private collections which are of a simplicity which was unknown at the time: dusty roads with toiling horses, lonely charcoal burners’ huts in the dimness of the forest, villages in rain or snow, with little figures shivering from frost or damp as they flit along the street. From the very beginning, free from the vices of genre and narrative painting and the search after interesting subjects, he has, in these pictures, renounced the epical manner of representing a complicated event. Like the moderns, he paints things which can be grasped and understood at a glance.


But, after all, Bürkel occupies a position which is curiously intermediate. 150 His colour relegates him altogether to the beginning of the century. He was himself conscious of the weakness of his age in this respect, and stands considerably above the school of Cornelius, even where its colouring is best. Yet, in spite of the most diligent study of the Dutch masters, he remained, as a colourist, hard and inartistic to the end. Having far too much regard for outline, he is not light enough with what should be lightly touched, nor fugitive enough with what is fleeting. What the moderns leave to be indistinctly divined he renders sharp and palpable in his drawing. He trims and rounds off objects which have a fleeting form, like clouds. But although inept in technique, his works are more modern in substance than anything that the next generation produced. They have an intimacy of feeling beyond the reach of the traditional genre painting. In his unusually fresh, simple, and direct studies of landscape he did not snatch at dazzling and sensational effects, but tried to be just to external nature in her work-a-day mood; and, in the very same way, in his figures he aimed at the plain reproduction of what is given in nature.

The hands of his peasants are the real hands of toil—weather-stained, heavy, and awkward. There are no movements that are not simple and actual. Others have told droller stories; Bürkel unrolls a true picture of the surroundings of the peasant’s life. Others have made their rustics persons suitable for the drawing-room, and cleaned their nails; Bürkel preaches the strict, austere, and pious study of nature. An entirely new age casts its shadow upon this close devotion to life. In their intimacy and simplicity his pictures contain the germ of what afterwards became the task of the moderns. All who came after him in Germany were the sons of Wilkie until Wilhelm Leibl, furnished with a better technical equipment, started in spirit from the point at which Bürkel had left off.

Carl Spitzweg, in whose charming little pictures tender and discreet sentiment is united with realistic care for detail, must likewise be reckoned with the few who strove and laboured in quiet, apart from the ruling tendency, until their hour came. Thrown entirely on his own resources, without a teacher, he worked his way upwards under the influence of the older painters. By dint of copying he discovered their secrets of colour, and gave his works, which are full of poetry, a remarkable impress of sympathetic delicacy, suggestive of the old masters. One turns over the leaves of the album of Spitzweg’s sketches as though it were a story-book from the age of romance, and at the same time one is astonished at the master’s ability in painting. He was a genius who united in himself three qualities which seem to be contradictory—realism, fancy, and humour. He might be most readily compared with Schwind, except that the latter was more of a romanticist than a realist, and Spitzweg is more of a realist than a romanticist. The artists’ yearning carries Schwind to distant ages and regions far from the world, and a positive sense of fact holds Spitzweg firmly to the earth.






Like Jean Paul, he has the boundless fancy which revels in airy dreams, but he is also like Jean Paul in having a cheery, provincial satisfaction in the sights of his own narrow world. He has all Schwind’s delight in hermits and anchorites, and witches and magic and nixies, and he plays with dragons and goblins like Boecklin; but, for all that, he is at home and entirely at his ease in the society of honest little schoolmasters and poor sempstresses, and gives shape to his own small joys and sorrows in a spirit of contemplation. His dragons are only comfortable, Philistine dragons, and his troglodytes, who chastise themselves in rocky solitudes, perform their penance with a kindly irony. In Spitzweg a fine humour is the causeway between fancy and reality. His tender little pictures represent the Germany of the forties, and lie apart from the rushing life of our time, like an idyllic hamlet slumbering in Sunday quietude. Indeed, his pictures come to us like a greeting from a time long past.

There they are: his poor poet, a little, lean old man, with a sharp nose and a night-cap, sits at his garret window scanning verses on his frozen fingers, enveloped in a blanket drawn up to his chin, and protected from the inclemency of the weather by a great red umbrella; his clerk, grown grey in the dust of parchments, sharpens his quill with dim-sighted eyes, and feels himself part of a bureaucracy which rules the world; his book-worm stands on the highest ladder in the library, with books in his hand, books in his pockets, books under his arms, and books jammed between his legs, and neglects the dinner-hour in his peaceful enjoyment, until an angry torrent of scolding is poured over his devoted head by the housekeeper; there is his old gentleman devoutly sniffing the perfume of a cactus blossom which has been looked forward to for years; there is his little man enticing his bird with a lump of sugar; the widower glancing aside from the miniature of his better half at a pair of pretty maidens walking in the park; the constable whiling away the time at the town-gate in catching flies; the old-fashioned bachelor, solemnly presenting a bouquet to a kitchen-maid who is busied at the market-well, to the amusement of all the gossips watching him from the windows; the lovers who in happy oblivion pass down a narrow street by the stall of a second-hand dealer, where amidst antiquated household goods a gilded statuette of Venus reposes in a rickety cradle; the children holding up their pinafores as they beg the stork flying by to bring them a little brother.

Spitzweg, like Jean Paul, makes an effect which is at once joyous and tender, bourgeois and idyllic. The postillion gives the signal on his horn that the moment for starting has arrived; milk-maids look down from the green mountain summit into the far country; hermits sit before their cells forgotten by the world; old friends greet each other after years of separation; Dachau girls in their holiday best pray in woodland chapels; school children pass singing through a still mountain valley; maidens chatter of an evening as they fetch water from the moss-grown well, or the arrival of the postman in his yellow uniform brings to their windows the entire population of an old country town.



The little man with the miserable figure of a tailor had been an apothecary until he was thirty years of age, but he had an independent and distinctive artistic nature which impresses itself on the memory in a way that is unforgettable. It is only necessary to see his portrait as he sits at his easel in his dressing-gown with his meagre beard, his long nose, and the droll look about the corners of his eyes, to feel attracted by him before one knows his works. Spitzweg reveals in them his own life: the man and the painter are one in him. There is a pretty little picture of him as an elderly bachelor, looking out of the window in the early morning and nodding across the roofs to an old sempstress who had worked the whole night through without noticing that the day had broken; that is the world he lived in, and the world which he has painted. As a kind-hearted, inflexible Benedick, full of droll eccentricities, he lived in the oldest quarter of Munich in a fourth-storey attic. His only visitor was his friend Moritz Schwind, who now and then climbed the staircase to the little room that looked over the roofs and gables and pinnacles to distant, smoky towers. His studio was an untidy confusion of prosaic discomfort and poetic cosiness.

Here he sat, an ossified hermit, bourgeois, and book-worm, as if he were in a spider’s nest, and here at a little window he painted his delightful pictures. Here he took his homely meal at the rickety little table where he sat alone in the evening buried in his books. A pair of heavy silver spectacles with keen glasses sparkled on his thick nose, and the great head with its ironically twinkling eyes rested upon a huge cravat attached to a pointed stand-up collar. When disturbed by strangers he spoke slowly and with embarrassment, though in the society of Schwind he was brilliant and satirical. Then he became as mobile as quicksilver, and paced up and down the studio with great strides, gesticulating and sometimes going through a dramatic performance in vivid mimicry of those of whom he happened to be talking.

His character has the same mixture of Philistine contentment and 155 genial comedy which gleams from his works with the freshness of dew. A touch of the sturdy Philistinism of Eichendorf is in these provincial idylls of Germany; but at the same time they display an ability which even at the present day must compel respect. The whole of Romanticism chirps and twitters in the Spitzweg Album, as from behind the wires of a birdcage. Everything is here united: the fragrance of the woods and the song of birds, the pleasures of travelling and the sleepy life of provincial towns, moonshine and Sunday quiet, vagabonds, roving musicians, and the guardians of law, learned professors and students singing catches, burgomasters and town-councillors, long-haired painters and strolling players, red dressing-gowns, green slippers, night-caps, and pipes with long stems, serenades and watchmen, rushing streams and the trill of nightingales, rippling summer breezes and comely lasses, stroking back their hair of a morning, and looking down from projecting windows to greet the passers-by. In common with Schwind he shows a remarkable capacity for placing his figures in their right surroundings. All these squares, alleys, and corners, in which his provincial pictures are framed, seem—minutely and faithfully executed as they are—to be localities predestined for the action, though they are painted freely from memory. Just as he forgot none of the characteristic figures which he had seen in his youth, so he held in his memory the whimsical and marvellous architecture of the country towns of Swabia and Upper Bavaria which he had visited for his studies, with such a firm grip that it was always at his command; and he used it as a setting for his figures as a musician composes an harmonious accompaniment for a melody.


To look at his pictures is like wandering on a bright Sunday morning through the gardens and crooked, uneven alleys of an old German town. At 156 the same time one feels that Spitzweg belonged to the present and not to the period of the ingenuous Philistines. It was only after he had studied at the university and passed his pharmaceutical examination that he turned to painting. Nevertheless he succeeded in acquiring a sensitiveness to colour to which nothing in the period can be compared. He worked through Burnett’s Treatise on Painting, visited Italy, and in 1851 made a tour, for the sake of study, to Paris, London, and Antwerp, in company with Eduard Schleich. In the gallery of Pommersfelden he made masterly copies from Berghem, Gonzales Coquez, Ostade, and Poelenburg, and lived to see the appearance of Piloty. But much as he profited by the principles of colour which then became dominant, he is like none of his contemporaries, and stands as far from Piloty’s brown sauce as from the frigid hardness of the old genre painters. He was one of the first in Germany to feel the really sensuous joy of painting, and to mix soft, luxuriant, melting colours. There are landscapes of his which, in their charming freshness, border directly on the school of Fontainebleau. Spitzweg has painted bright green meadows in which, as in the pictures of Daubigny, the little red figures of peasant women appear as bright and luminous patches of colour. His woodland glades penetrated by the sun have a pungent piquancy of colour such as is only to be found elsewhere in Diaz. And where he diversified his desolate mountain glens and steeply rising cliffs with the fantastic lairs of dragons and with eccentric anchorites, he sometimes produced such bold colour symphonies of sapphire blue, emerald green, and red, that his pictures seem like anticipations of Boecklin. Spitzweg was a painter for connoisseurs. His refined cabinet pieces are amongst the 157 few German productions of their time which it is a delight to possess, and they have the savour of rare delicacies when one comes across them in the dismal wilderness of public galleries.

Bürkel’s realistic programme was taken up with even greater energy by Hermann Kauffmann, who belonged to the Munich circle from 1827 to 1833, and then painted until his death in 1888 in his native Hamburg. His province was for the most part that of Bürkel: peasants in the field, waggoners on the road, woodmen at their labour, and hunters in the snowy forest. For the first few years after his return home he used for his pictures the well-remembered motives taken from the South German mountain district. A tour in Norway, undertaken in 1843, gave him the impulse for a series of Norwegian landscapes which were simple and direct, and of more than common freshness. In the deanery at Holstein he studied the life of fishers. Otherwise the neighbourhood of Hamburg is almost always the background of his pictures: Harburg, Kellinghusen, Wandsbeck, and the Alster Valley. Concerning him Lichtwark is right in insisting upon the correctness of intuition, the innate soundness of perception which one meets with in all his works.


In Berlin the excellent Eduard Meyerheim went on parallel lines with these masters. An old tradition gives him the credit of having introduced the painting of peasants and children into German art. But in artistic power he is not to be compared with Bürkel or Kauffmann. They were energetic realists, teeming with health, and in everything they drew they were merely inspired by the earnest purpose of grasping life in its characteristic moments. But Meyerheim, good-humoured and childlike, is decidedly inclined to a sentimentally pathetic compromise with reality. At the same time his importance for Berlin is incontestable. Hitherto gipsies, smugglers, and robbers were the only classes of human society, with the exception of knights, monks, noble ladies, and Italian women, which, upon the banks of the Spree, were thought suitable for artistic representation. 158 Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim sought out the rustic before literature had taken this step, and in 1836 he began with his “King of the Shooting Match,” a series of modest pictures in which he was never weary of representing in an honest and sound-hearted way the little festivals of the peasant, the happiness of parents, and the games of children.

He had grown up in Dantzic, and played as a child in the tortuous lanes of the old free imperial city, amid trumpery shops, general dealers, and artisans. Later, when he settled down in Berlin, he painted the things which had delighted him in his youth. The travels which he made for study were not extensive: they hardly led him farther beyond the boundaries of the Mark than Hesse, the Harz district, Thüringen, Altenburg, and Westphalia. Here he drew with indefatigable diligence the pleasant village houses and the churches shadowed by trees; the cots, yards, and alleys; the weather-beaten town ramparts, with their crumbling walls; the unobtrusive landscapes of North Germany, lovely valleys, bushy hills, and bleaching fields, traversed by quiet streams fringed with willows, and enlivened by the figures of peasants, who still clung to so much of their old costume. His pictures certainly do not give an idea of the life of the German people at the time. For the peasantry have sat to Meyerheim only in their most pious mood, in Sunday toilette, and with their souls washed clean. Clearness, neatness, and prettiness are to be found everywhere in his pictures. But little as they correspond to the truth, they are just as little untrue through affectation, for their idealism sprang from the harmless and cheerful temperament of the painter, and from no convention of the schools.


A homely, idyllic poetry is to be found in his figures and his interiors. His women and girls are chaste and gracious. It is evident that Meyerheim had a warm sympathy for the sorrows and joys of humble people; that he had an understanding for this happy family life, and liked himself to take part in these merry popular festivals; that he did not idealise the world according to rules of beauty, but because in his own eyes it really was so beautiful. His 159 “King of the Shooting Match” of 1836 (Berlin National Gallery) has as a background a wide and pleasant landscape, with blue heights in the distance and the cheerful summer sunshine resting upon them. In the foreground are a crowd of figures, neatly composed after studies. The crowned king of the match, adorned for a festival, stands proudly on the road by which the procession of marksmen is advancing, accompanied by village music. An old peasant is congratulating him, and the pretty village girls and peasant women, in their gay rustic costumes, titter as they look on, while the neighbours are merrily drinking his health. Then there is the “Morning Lesson,” representing a carpenter’s house, where an old man is hearing his grandson repeat a school task; “Children at Play,” a picture of a game of hide-and-seek amongst the trees; “The Knitting Lesson,” and the picture of a young wife by the bed of a naked boy who has thrown off the bedclothes and is holding up one of his rosy feet; and “The Road to Church,” where the market-place is shadowed with lime trees and the fresh young girlish figures adorned in their Sunday best. These are all pictures which in lithograph and copperplate engraving once flooded all Germany and enraptured the public at exhibitions.

But the German genre picture of peasant life only became universally popular after the village novel came into vogue at the end of the thirties. 160 Walter Scott was not only a Romanticist, but the founder of the peasant novel: he was the first to study the life and the human character of the peasantry of his native land, their rough and healthy merriment, their humorous peculiarities, and their hot-headed love of quarrelling; and he led the Romanticists from their idyllic or sombre world of dreams nearer to the reality and its poetry. A generation later Immermann created this department of literature in Germany by the Oberhof-Episode of his Münchhausen. “The Village Magistrate” was soon one of those typical figures which in literature became the model of a hundred others. In 1837 Jeremias Gotthelf began in his Bauernspiegel those descriptions of Bernese rustic life which found general favour through their downright common sense. Berthold Auerbach, Otto Ludwig, and Gottfried Keller were then active, and Fritz Reuter lit upon a more clear-cut form for his tales in dialect.


The influence which these writers had upon painting was enormous. It now turned everywhere to the life of the people, and took its joy and pleasure in devoting itself to reality. And the rustic was soon a popular figure much sought after in the picture market. Yet this reliance on poetry and fiction had its disadvantage. For in Germany, also, a vogue was given to that “genre painting” which, instead of starting with a simple, straightforward representation of what the artist had seen, offered an artistically correct composition of what he had invented, and indulged in a rambling display of humorous narrative and pathetic pieces.

In Carlsruhe Johann Kirner was the first to work on these lines, adapting the life of the Swabian peasantry to the purposes of humorous anecdote. In Munich Carl Enhuber was especially fertile in the invention of comic episodes amongst the rustics of the Bavarian highlands, and his ponderous humour made him one of the favourite heroes of the Art Union. Every one was in raptures over his “Partenkirche Fair,” over the charlatan in front of the village inn, who (like a figure after Gerhard Dow) is bringing home to the 161 multitude by his lofty eloquence the fabulous qualities of his soap for removing spots; over that assembly of peasants which gave the painter an opportunity for making clearly recognisable people to be found everywhere in any little town, from the judge of the county court and the local doctor down to the watchmen. His second hit was “The Interrupted Card Party”: the blacksmith, the miller, the tailor, and other dignitaries of the village are so painfully disturbed in their social reunion by the unamiable wife of the tailor that her happy spouse makes his escape under the table. The house servant holds out his blue apron to protect his master, whilst the miller and the blacksmith try to look unconcerned; but a small boy who has accompanied his mother with a mug discovers the concealed sinner by his slipper, which has come off. The “Session Day” contains a still greater wealth of comical types: here is the yard of a country assize court, filled with people, some of them waiting their turn, some issuing in contentment or dejection. Most contented, of course, are a bridal pair from the mountains—a stout peasant lad and a buxom maiden—who have just received official consent to their marriage. Disastrous country excursions—townspeople overtaken by rain on their arrival in the mountains—were also a source of highly comical situations.

In Düsseldorf the reaction against the prevailing sentimentality necessarily gave an impulse to art on these humorous lines. When it seemed as if the mournfulness of the thirties would never be ended, Adolf Schroedter, the satirist of the band of Düsseldorf artists in those times, broke the spell when he began to parody the works of the “great painters.” When Lessing painted “The Sorrowing Royal Pair,” Schroedter painted “The Triumphal Procession of King Bacchus”; when Hermann Stilke produced his knights and crusaders, Schroedter illustrated Don Quixote as a warning; and when Bendemann gave the world “The Lamentation of Jeremiah” and “The Lamentation of the Jews,” Schroedter executed his droll picture “The Sorrowful Tanners,” in which the tanners are mournfully regarding a hide carried away 162 by the stream. Since he was a humorist, and humour is rather an affair for drawing than painting, the charming lithographs, “The Deeds and Opinions of Piepmeyer the Delegate,” published in conjunction with Detmold, the Hanoverian barrister, and author of the Guide to Connoisseurship, are perhaps to be reckoned as his best performances. Hasenclever followed the dilettante Schroedter as a delineator of the “stolid Peter” type, and painted the “Study” and similar pictures for Kortum’s Jobsiade with great technical skill, and, at the same time, with little humour and much complacency. By the roundabout route of illustration artists were gradually brought more directly into touch with life, and painted side by side with melodramatic brigands, rustic folk, or a student at a tavern on the Rhine, absurd people reading the newspapers, comic men sneezing, or the smirking Philistine tasting wine.








Jacob Becker went to the Westerwald to sketch little village tragedies, and won such popularity with his “Shepherd Struck by Lightning” that for a long time the interest of the public was often concentrated on this picture in the collection of the Staedel Institute. Rudolf Jordan of Berlin settled on Heligoland, and became by his “Proposal of Marriage in Heligoland” one of the most esteemed painters of Düsseldorf. And in 1852 Henry Ritter, his pupil, who died young, enjoyed a like success with his “Middy’s Sermon,” which represents a tiny midshipman with comical zeal endeavouring to convert to temperance three tars who are staggering against him. A Norwegian, Adolf Tidemand, became the Leopold Robert of the North, and, like Robert, attained an international success when, after 1845, he began to present his compatriots, the peasants, fishers, and sailors of the shores of the North Sea, to the public of Europe. There was no doubt that a true ethnographical course of instruction in the life of a distant race, as yet unknown to the rest of Europe, was to be gathered from his pictures, as from those of Robert, or from the Oriental representations of Vernet. In Tidemand’s pictures the Germans learnt the Norwegian usage of Christmas, accompanied the son of the North on his fishing of a night, joined the bridal party on the Hardanger Fjord, or listened to the sexton giving religious instruction; sailed with fishing girls in a skiff to visit the neighbouring village, or beheld grandmother and the children dance on Sunday afternoon to father’s fiddle. Norwegian peasant life was such an unknown world of romance, and the costume so novel, that Tidemand’s art was greeted as a new discovery. That the truth of his pictures went no further than costume was only known at a later time. Tidemand saw his native land with the eyes of a Romanticist, as Robert saw Italy, and, in the same one-sided way, he only visited the people on festive 166 occasions. Though a born Norwegian, he, too, was a foreigner, a man who was never familiar with the life of his country people, who never lived at home through the raw autumn and the long winter, but came only as a summer visitor, when nature had donned her bridal garb, and naturally took away with him the mere impressions of a tourist. As he only went to Norway for recreation, it is always holiday-tide and Sabbath peace in his pictures. He represents the same idyllic optimism and the same kindly view of “the people” as did Björnson in his earliest works; and it is significant that the latter felt himself at the time so entirely in sympathy with Tidemand that he wrote one of his tales, The Bridal March, as text to Tidemand’s picture “Adorning the Bride.”

To seek the intimate poetry in the monotonous life of the peasant, and to go with him into the struggle for existence, was what did not lie in Tidemand’s method of presentation; he did not live amongst the people sufficiently long to penetrate to their depths. The sketches that resulted from his summer journeys often reveal a keen eye for the picturesque, as well as for the spiritual life of this peasantry; but later in Düsseldorf, when he composed his studies for pictures with the help of German models, all the sharp characterisation was watered down. What ought to have been said in Norwegian was expressed in a German translation, where the emphasis was lost. His art is Düsseldorf art with Norwegian landscapes and costumes; a course of lectures on the manners and customs of Norwegian villages composed for Germans. The only thing which distinguishes Tidemand to his advantage from the German Düsseldorfers is that he is less humorously and sentimentally disposed. Pictures of his, such as “The Lonely Old People,” “The Catechism,” “The Wounded Bear Hunter,” “The Grandfather’s Blessing,” “The Sectarians,” etc., create a really pleasant and healthy effect by a certain actual simplicity which they undoubtedly have. Other men would have made a melodrama out of “The Emigrant’s Departure” (National Gallery in Christiania). Tidemand portrays the event without any sort of emphasis, and feels his way with tact on the boundary between sentiment and sentimentality. There is nothing false or hysterical in the behaviour of the man who is going away for life, nor in those who have come to see him off.

In Vienna the genre painters seem to owe their inspiration especially to the theatre. What was produced there in the province of grand art during the first half of the century was neither better nor worse than elsewhere. The Classicism of Mengs and David was represented by Heinrich Füger, who had a more decided leaning towards the operatic. The representative-in-chief of Nazarenism was Josef Führich, whose frescoes in the Altlerchenfeld Church are, perhaps, better in point of colour than the corresponding efforts of the Munich artists, though they are likewise in a formal way derivative from the Italians. Vienna had its Wilhelm Kaulbach in Carl Rahl, its Piloty in Christian Ruben, who, like the Munich artist, had a preference for painting Columbus, and was meritorious as a teacher. It was only through portrait 167 painting that Classicism and Romanticism were brought into some sort of relation with life; and the Vienna portraitists of this older régime are even better than their German contemporaries, as they made fewer concessions to the ruling idealism. Amongst the portrait painters was Lampi, after whom followed Moritz Daffinger with his delicate miniatures; but the most important of them all was Friedrich Amerling, who had studied under Lawrence in London and under Horace Vernet in Paris, and brought back with him great acquisitions in the science of colour. In the first half of the century these assured him a decided advantage over his German colleagues. It was only later, when he was sought after as the fashionable painter of all the crowned heads, that his art degenerated into mawkishness.


Genre painting was developed here as elsewhere from the military picture. As early as 1813 Peter Krafft, an academician of the school of David, had exhibited a great oil-painting, “The Soldier’s Farewell”—the interior of a village room with a group of life-size figures. The son of the family, in grey uniform, with a musket in his hand, is tearing himself from his young wife, who has a baby on her arm and is trying in tears to hold him back. His old father sits in a corner with folded hands beside his mother, who is also crying, and has hid her face. In 1820 Krafft added “The Soldier’s Return” as a 168 pendant to this picture. It represents the changes which have taken place in the family during the warrior’s absence: his old mother is at rest in her grave; his grey-headed father has become visibly older, his little sister has grown up, and the baby in arms is carrying the musket after his father. They are both exceedingly tiresome pictures; the colour is cold and grey, the figures are pseudo-classical in modern costume, and the pathos of the subject seems artificial and forced. Nevertheless a new principle of art is declared in them. Krafft was the first in Austria to recognise what a rich province had been hitherto ignored by painting. He warned his pupils against the themes of the Romanticists. These, as he said, were worked out, since no one would do anything better than the “Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci or the Madonnas of Raphael.” And he warmly advocated the conviction “that nothing could be done for historical painting so long as it refused to choose subjects from modern life.” Krafft was an admirable teacher with a sober and clear understanding, and he invariably directed his pupils to the immediate study of life and nature. The consequence of his career was that Carl Schindler, Friedrich Treml, Fritz L’Allemand, and others set themselves to treat in episodic pictures the military life of Austria, from the recruiting stage to the battle, and from the soldier’s farewell to his return to his father’s house. A further result was that the Viennese genre painting parted company with the academical and historic art.

Just at this time Tschischka and Schottky began to collect the popular songs of the Viennese. Castelli gave a poetic representation of bourgeois life, and Ferdinand Raimund brought it upon the stage in his dramas. Bauernfeld’s types from the life of the people enjoyed a rapid popularity. Josef Danhauser, Peter Fendi, and Ferdinand Waldmüller went on parallel lines with these authors. In their genre pictures they represented the Austrian people in their joys and sorrows, in their merriment and heartiness and good-humour; the people, be it understood, of Raimund’s popular farces, not those of the pavement of Vienna.

Josef Danhauser, the son of a Viennese carpenter, occupied himself with the artisan and bourgeois classes. David Wilkie gave him the form for his work and Ferdinand Raimund his ideas. His studio scenes, with boisterous art students caught by their surly teacher at the moment when they are playing their worst pranks, gave pleasure to the class of people who, at a later date, took so much delight in Emanuel Spitzer. His “Gormandizer” is a counterpart to Raimund’s Verschwender; and when, in a companion picture, the gluttonous liver is supping up the “monastery broth” amongst beggars, and his former valet remains true to him even in misfortune, Grillparzer’s Treuer Diener seines Herrn serves as a model for this type. Girls confessing their frailty to their parents had been previously painted by Greuze. Amongst those of his pictures which had done most to amuse the public was the representation of the havoc caused by a butcher’s dog storming into a studio. In his last period he turned with Collins to the nursery, or wandered through 169 the suburbs with a sketch-book, immortalising the doings of children in the streets, and drawing “character heads” of the school-teacher tavern habitués and the lottery adventurer.


And this was likewise the province to which Waldmüller devoted himself. Chubby peasant children are the heroes of almost all his pictures. A baby is sprawling with joy on its mother’s lap, while it is contemplated with proud satisfaction by its father, or it is sleeping under the guardianship of a little sister; a boy is despatched upon the rough path which leads to school, and brings the reward of his conduct home with rapturous or dejected mien, or he stammers “Many happy returns of the day” to grandpapa. Waldmüller paints “The First Step,” the joys of “Christmas Presents,” and “The Distribution of Prizes to Poor School Children”; he follows eager juveniles to the peep-show; he is to be met at “The Departure of the Bride” and at “The Wedding”; he is our guide to the simple “Peasant’s Room,” and shows the benefit of “Almsgiving.” Though his pictures may seem old-fashioned in subject nowadays, their artistic qualities convey an entirely modern impression. Born in 1793, he anticipated the best artists of later days in his choice of material. Both in his portraits and in his country scenes 170 there is a freshness and transparency of tone which was something rare among the painters of that time.


Friedrich Gauermann wandered in the Austrian Alps, in Steiermark, and Salzkammergut, making studies of nature, the inhabitants, and the animal world. In contradistinction from Waldmüller, painter of idylls, and the humorist Danhauser, he aimed above all at ethnographical exactness. With sincere and unadorned observation Gauermann represents the local peculiarities of the peasantry, differentiated according to their peculiar valleys; life on the pasture and at the market, when some ceremonial occasion—a shooting match, a Sunday observance, or a church consecration—has gathered together the scattered inhabitants.

Genre painting in other countries worked with the same types. The costume was different, but the substance of the pictures was the same.

In Belgium Leys had already worked in the direction of painting everyday life; for although he had painted figures from the sixteenth century, they were not idealised, but as rough and homely as in reality. When the passion for truthfulness increased, as it did in the following years, there came a moment when the old German tradition, under the shelter of which Leys yet took refuge, was shaken off, and artists went directly to nature without seeking the mediation of antiquated style. At that time Belgium was one of the most 171 rising and thriving countries in Europe. It had private collections by the hundred. Wealthy merchants rivalled one another in the pride of owning works by their celebrated painters. This necessarily exerted an influence on production. Pretty genre pictures of peasant life soon became the most popular wares; as for their artistic sanction, it was possible to point to Brouwer and Teniers, the great national exemplars.

At first, then, the painters worked with the same elements as Teniers. The common themes of their pictures were the ale-house with its thatched roof, the old musician with his violin, the mountebank standing in the midst of a circle of people, lovers, or drinkers brawling. Only the costume was changed, and everything coarse, indecorous, or unrestrained was scrupulously excluded ad usum Delphini. That the deep colouring of the old masters became meagre and motley was in Belgium also an inevitable result of the helplessness in regard to colour which had been brought on by Classicism. The pictorial furia of Adriaen Brouwer gave way to a polished porcelain painting which hardly bore a trace of the work of the hand. Harsh and gaudy reds and greens were especially popular.


The first who began a modest career on these lines was Ignatius van Regemorter. As one recognises the pictures of Wouwerman by the dappled-grey horse, Regemorter’s may be recognised by the violin. Every year he turned out one picture at least in which music was being played, and people were dancing with a rather forced gaiety. Then came Ferdinand de Braekeleer, who painted the jubilees of old people, or children and old women amusing themselves at public festivities. Teniers was his principal model, but his large joviality was transformed into a chastened merriment, and his broad laughter into a discreet smile. Braekeleer’s peasantry and proletariat are of an idyllic mildness; honest, pious souls who, with all their poverty, are as moral as they are happy. Henri Coene elaborated such themes as “Oh, what beautiful Grapes!” or “A Pinch of Snuff for the Parson!”


Madou’s merit lies in having extended Belgian genre painting somewhat beyond these narrow bounds; he introduced a greater variety of types verging more on reality than that everlasting honest man painted by Ferdinand de Braekeleer. Madou was a native of Brussels. There he was born in 1796, and he died there in 1877. When he began his career Wappers had just made his appearance. Madou witnessed his successes, but did not feel tempted to follow him. Whilst the latter in his large pictures in the grand style aimed at being Rubens redivivus, Madou embodied his ideas in fleeting pencil sketches. A great number of lithographs of scenes from the past bore witness to his conception of history. There was nothing in them that was dignified, nothing that was stilted, no idealism and no beauty; in their tabards and helmets the figures moved with the natural gestures of ordinary human beings. By the side of great seigneurs, princes, and knights, and amid helmets and hose, drunken scoundrels, tavern politicians, and village cretins started into view, and grimaced and danced and scuffled. In Belgium his plates occupy a position similar to that of the first lithographs of Menzel in Germany. But Madou lingered for a still briefer period in the Pantheon of history; the tavern had for him a yet greater attraction. The humorous books which he published in Paris and Brussels first showed him in his true light. Having busied himself for several years exclusively with drawings, he made his début in 1842 as a painter. It is difficult to decide how much Madou produced after that date. The long period between 1842 and 1877 yields a crowded chronicle of his works. Even in the seventies he was just as vigorous as at the beginning, and though he was regarded as a jester during his lifetime he was honoured 173 as a great painter after his death. At the auction of his unsold works, pictures fetched 22,000 francs, sketches reached 3200, water-colours 2150, and drawings 750. The present generation has reduced this over-estimation to its right measure, but it has not shaken Madou’s historical importance. He has a firm position as the man who conquered modern life in the interests of Belgian art, and he is the more significant for the genre painting of his age, as he eclipsed all his contemporaries, even in Germany and England, in the inexhaustible fund of his invention.


A merry world is reflected in his pictures. One of his most popular figures is the ranger, a sly old fox with a furrowed, rubicund visage and huge ears, who roves about more to the terror of love-making couples than of poachers, and never aims at any one except for fun at the rural justice, a portly gentleman in a gaudy waistcoat, emerging quietly at the far end of the road. He introduces a varied succession of braggarts, poor fellows, down-at-heel and out-at-elbows, old grenadiers joking with servant girls, old marquesses taking snuff with affected dignity, charlatans at their booth, deaf and dumb flute-players, performing dogs, and boys sick over their first pipe. Here and there are fatuous or over-wise politicians solemnly opening a newly printed paper, with their legs astraddle and their spectacles resting on their noses. Rascals with huge paunches and blue noses fall asleep on their table in the ale-house, and enliven the rest of the company by their snoring. At times the door is opened and a scolding woman appears with a broom in her hand. On these occasions the countenance of the toper is a comical sight. At the sound of 174 the beloved voice he endeavours to raise himself, and anxiously follows the movements of his better half as he clings reeling to the table, or plants himself more firmly in his chair with a resigned and courageous “J’y suis, j’y reste.”

Being less disposed to appear humorous, Adolf Dillens makes a more sympathetic impression. He, too, had begun with forced anecdotes, but after a tour to Zealand opened his eyes to nature; he laid burlesque on one side, and depicted what he had seen in unhackneyed pictures: sound and healthy men of patriarchal habits. Even his method of painting became simpler and more natural; his colouring, hitherto borrowed from the old masters, became fresher and brighter. He emancipated himself from Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro, and began to look at nature without spectacles. There is something poetic in his method of observation: he really loved these good people and painted them in the unadorned simplicity of their life—cheery old age that knows no wrinkles and laughing youth that knows no sorrows. He is indeed one-sided, for a good fairy has banished all trouble from his happy world; but his pictures are the product of a fresh and amiable temperament. His usual themes are a friendly gathering at the ale-house, a conversation beneath the porch, skating, scenes in cobblers’ workshops, a gust of wind blowing an umbrella inside out; and if he embellishes them with little episodic details, this tendency is so innocent that nobody can quarrel with him.

In France it was François Biard, the Paul de Kock of French painting, who attained most success in the thirties by humorous anecdote. He devoted his whole life to the comical representation of the minor trespasses and misfortunes of the commonplace bourgeoisie. He had the secret of displaying his comicalities with great aptitude, and of mocking at the ridiculous eccentricities of the Philistine in an obvious and downright fashion. Strolling players made fools of themselves at their toilette; lads were bathing whilst a gendarme carried off their clothes; a sentry saluted a decorated veteran, whose wife gratefully acknowledged the attention with a curtsey; the village grandee held a review of volunteers with the most pompous gravity; a child was exhibited at the piano to the admiration of its yawning relatives. One of his chief pictures was called “Posada Espagnol.” The hero was a monk winking at a beauty of forty who was passing by while he was being shaved. Women were sitting and standing about, when a herd of swine dashing in threw everything over and put the ladies to flight, and so called forth one of those comic effects of terror in which Paul de Kock took such delight.

Biard was inexhaustible in these expedients for provoking laughter; and as he had travelled far he had always in reserve a slave-market, a primeval forest, or an ice-field to appease the curiosity of his admirers when there was nothing more to laugh at. From the German standpoint he had importance as an artist whose flow of ideas would have furnished ten genre painters; and if he is the only representative of the humorously anecdotic picture in France, the reason is that there earlier than elsewhere art was led into a more earnest course by the tumult of ideas on social politics.




That modern life first entered art, in all countries, under the form of humorous anecdote is partly the consequence of the one-sided æsthetic ideas of the period. In an age that was dominated by idealism it was forgotten that Murillo had painted lame beggars sitting in the sun, Velasquez cripples and drunkards, and Holbein lepers; that Rembrandt had so much love for humble folk, and that old Breughel with a strangely sombre pessimism turned the whole world into a terrible hospital. The modern man was hideous, and art demanded “absolute beauty.” If he was to be introduced into painting, despite his want of beauté suprême, the only way was to treat him as a humorous figure which had to be handled ironically. Mercantile considerations were also a power in determining this form of humour. At a time when painting was forced to address itself to a public which was uneducated in art, and could only appreciate anecdotes, such comicalities had the best prospect of favour and a rapid sale. The object was to provoke laughter, at all hazards, by drollness of mien, typical stupidity, and absurdity of situation. The choice of figures was practically made according as they were more or less serviceable for a humorous purpose. Children, rustics, and provincial Philistines seemed to be most adapted to it. The painter treated them as strange and naïve beings, and brought them before the public as a sort of performing dogs, who could go through remarkable tricks just as if they were human beings. And the public laughed over whimsical oddities from another world, as the courtiers of Louis XIV had laughed in Versailles when M. Jourdain and M. Dimanche were acted by the king’s servants upon the stage of Molière.

Meanwhile painters gradually came to remark that this humour à l’huile was bought at too dear a price. For humour, which is like a soap-bubble, can only bear a light method of representation, such as Hokusai’s drawing or Brouwer’s painting, but becomes insupportable where it is offered as a laborious composition executed with painstaking realism. And ethical reasons made themselves felt independently of these artistic considerations.

The drollness of these pictures did not spring from the characters, but from an effort to amuse the public at the expense of the painted figures. As a general rule a peasant is a serious, square-built, angular fellow. For his existence he does battle with the soil; his life is no pleasure to him, but hard 176 toil. But in these pictures he appeared as a figure who had no aim or purport; in his brain the earnestness of life was transformed into a romping game. Painters laughed at the little world which they represented. They were not the friends of man, but parodied him and transformed life into a sort of Punch and Judy show.

And even when they did not approach their figures with deliberate irony, they never dreamed of plunging with any sincere love of truth into the depths of modern life. They painted modern matter without taking part in it, like good children who know nothing of the bitter facts that take place in the world. When the old Dutch painters laughed, their laughter had its historical justification. In the pictures of Ostade and Dirk Hals there is seen all the primitive exuberance and wild joy of life belonging to a people who had just won their independence and abandoned themselves after long years of war with a sensuous transport to the gladness of existence. But the smile of these modern genre painters is forced, conventional, and artificial; the smile of a later generation which only took the trouble to smile because the old Dutch had laughed before them. They put on rose-coloured glasses, and through these gaudy spectacles saw only a gay masque of life, a fair but hollow deception. They allowed their heroes to pass such a merry existence that the question of what they lived upon was never touched. When they painted their tavern pictures they anxiously suppressed the thought that people who drained their great mugs so carelessly possibly had sick children at home, hungry and perishing with cold in a room without a fire. Their peasants are the favoured sons of fortune: they sowed not, neither did they reap, nor gathered into barns, but their Heavenly Father fed them. Poverty and vice presented themselves merely as amiable weaknesses, not as great modern problems.

Just at this time the way was being paved for the Revolution of 1848: the people fought and suffered, and for years before literature had taken part in this struggle. Before the Revolution the battle had been between the nobility and the middle class; but now that the latter had to some extent taken the place of the nobility of earlier days, there rose the mighty problem of strife between the unproductive and the productive, between rich and poor.

In England, the birthplace of the modern capitalistic system, in a country where great industry and great landed property first ousted the independent yeomanry and called forth ever sharper division between those who possessed everything and those who possessed nothing, the unsolved problem of the nineteenth century found its earliest utterance. More than sixty years ago, in the year of Goethe’s death, a new literature arose there, the literature of social politics. With Ebenezer Elliott, who had been himself a plain artisan, the Fourth Estate made its entry into literature; a workman led the train of socialistic poets. Thomas Hood wrote his Song of the Shirt, that lyric of the poor sempstress which soon spread all over the Continent. Carlyle, the 177 friend and admirer of Goethe, came forward in 1843 as the burning advocate of the poor and miserable in Past and Present. He wrote there that this world was no home to the working-man, but a dreary dungeon full of mad and fruitless plagues. It was an utterance that shook the world like a bomb. Benjamin Disraeli’s Sybil followed in 1845. As a novel it is a strange mixture of romantic and naturalistic chapters, the latter seeming like a prophetic announcement of Zola’s Germinal. As a reporter Charles Dickens had in his youth the opportunity of learning the wretchedness of the masses in London, even in the places where they lurked distrustfully in dark haunts. In his Christmas stories and his London sketches he worked these scenes of social distress into thrilling pictures. The poor man, whose life is made up of bitter weeks and scanty holidays, received his citizenship in the English novel.

In France the year 1830 was an end and a beginning—the close of the struggles begun in 1789, and the opening of those which led to the decisive battle of 1848. With the roi bourgeois, whom Lafayette called “the best of republicans,” the Third Estate came into possession of the position to which it had long aspired; it rose from the ranks of the oppressed to that of the privileged classes. As a new ruling class it made such abundant capital with the fruits of the Revolution of July that even in 1830 Börne wrote from Paris: “The men who fought against all aristocracy for fifteen years have scarcely conquered—they have not yet wiped the sweat from their faces—and already they want to found for themselves a new aristocracy, an aristocracy of money, a knighthood of fortune.” To the same purpose wrote Heine in 1837: “The men of thought who, during the eighteenth century, were so indefatigable in preparing the Revolution, would blush if they saw how self-interest is building its miserable huts on the site of palaces that have been broken down, and how, out of these huts, a new aristocracy is sprouting up which, more ungraciously than the old, has its primary cause in money-making.”

There the radical ideas of modern socialism were touched. The proletariat and its misery became henceforward the subject of French poetry, though they were not observed with any naturalistic love of truth, but from the romantic standpoint of contrast. Béranger, the popular singer of chansons, composed his Vieux Vagabond, the song of the old beggar who dies in the gutter; Auguste Barbier wrote his Ode to Freedom, where la sainte canaille are celebrated as immortal heroes, and with the scorn of Juvenal “lashes those who drew profit from the Revolution, those bourgeois in kid gloves who watched the sanguinary street fights comfortably from the window.” In 1842-43 Eugène Sue published his Mystères de Paris, a forbidding and nonsensical book, but one which made an extraordinary sensation, just because of the disgusting openness with which it unveiled the life of the lower strata of the people. Even the great spirits of the Romantic school began to follow the social and political strife of the age with deep emotion and close sympathy. Already in the course of the thirties socialistic ideas forced their way into the Romantic 178 school from every side. Their source was Saint Simon, whose doctrines first found a wide circulation under Louis Philippe.

According to Saint Simon, the task of the new Christianity consisted in improving as quickly as possible the fate of the class which was at once the poorest and the most numerous. His pupils regarded him as the Messiah of the new era, and went forth into the world as his disciples. George Sand, the boldest feminine genius in the literature of the world, mastered these seething ideas and founded the artisan novel in her Compagnon du Tour de France. It is the first book with a real love of the people—the people as they actually are, those who drink and commit deeds of violence as well as those who work and make mental progress. In her periodical, L’Éclaireur de l’Indre, she pleads the cause both of the artisan in great towns and of the rustic labourer; in 1844 she declared herself as a Socialist, without qualification, in her great essay Politics and Socialism, and she brought out her celebrated Letters to the People in 1848.

The democratic tide of ideas came to Victor Hugo chiefly through the religious apostle Lamennais, whose book, written in prison, De l’Esclavage Moderne, gave the same fuel to the Revolution of 1848 as the works of Rousseau had done to that of 1789. “The peasant bears the whole burden of the day, exposes himself to rain and sun and wind, to make ready by his work the harvest which fills our barns in the late autumn. If there are those who think the lighter of him on that account, and will not accord him freedom and justice, build a high wall round them, so that their noisome breath may not poison the air of Europe.” From the forties there mutters through Hugo’s poems the muffled sound of the Revolution which was soon to burst over Paris, and thence to move, like a rolling thunderstorm, across Europe. In place of the tricolor under which the bourgeoisie and the artisan class had fought side by side eighteen years before, the banner of the artisan was hoisted blood-red against the ruling bourgeoisie.

This Zeitgeist, this spirit of the age which had grown earnest, necessarily guided art into another course; the painted humour and childlike optimism of the first genre painters began to turn out a lie. In spite of Schiller, art cannot be blithe with sincerity when life is earnest. It can laugh with the muscles of the face, but the laughter is mirthless; it may haughtily declare itself in favour of some consecrated precinct, in which nothing of the battles and struggles of the outside world is allowed to echo; but, for all that, harsh reality demands its rights. Josef Danhauser’s modest little picture of 1836, “The Gormandizer,” is an illustration of this. In a sumptuously furnished room a company of high station and easy circumstances are seated at dinner. The master of the house, a sleek little man, is draining his glass, and a young dandy is playing the guitar. But an unwelcome disturbance breaks in. The figure of a beggar, covered with rags and with a greasy hat in his hand, appears at the door. The ladies scream, and a dog springs barking from under a chair, whilst the flunkey in attendance angrily prepares to send the impudent 179 intruder about his business. That was the position which art had hitherto taken up towards the social question. It shrank peevishly back as soon as rude and brutal reality disturbed its peaceful course. People wished to see none but cheerful pictures of life around them.


For this reason peasants were invariably painted in neat and cleanly dress, with their faces beaming with joy, an embodiment of the blessing of work and the delights of country life. Even beggars were harmless, peacefully cheerful figures, sparkling with health and beauty, and enveloped in æsthetic rags. But as political, religious, and social movements have always had a vivid and forcible effect on artists, painters in the nineteenth century could not in the long run hold themselves aloof from this influence. The voice of the disinherited made itself heard sullenly muttering and with ever-increasing strength. The parable of Lazarus lying at the threshold of the rich man had become a terrible reality. Conflict was to be seen everywhere around, and it would have been mere hardness of heart to have used this suffering people any longer as an agreeable subject for merriment. A higher conception of humanity, the entire philanthropic character of the age, made the jests at which the world had laughed seem forced and tasteless. Modern life must cease altogether before it can be a humorous episode for art, and it had become earnest reality through and through. Painting could no longer affect trivial humour; it had to join issue, and speak of what was going on around it. It had to take its part in the struggle for aims that belonged to the immediate time.


Powerfully impressed by the Revolution of July, it made its first advance. The Government had been thrown down after a blood-stained struggle, and a liberated people were exulting; and the next Salon showed more than forty representations of the great events, amongst which that of Delacroix took the highest place in artistic impressiveness. The principal figure in his picture is “a youthful woman, with a red Phrygian cap, holding a musket in one hand and a tricolor in the other. Naked to the hip, she strides forward over the corpses, giving challenge to battle, a beautiful vehement body with a face in bold profile and an insolent grief upon her features, a strange mixture of Phryne, poissarde, and the goddess of Liberty.” Thus has Heine described the work while still under a vivid impression of the event it portrayed. In the thick of the powder smoke stands “Liberty” upon the barricade, at her right a Parisian gamin with a pistol in his hand, a child but already a hero, at her left an artisan with a gun on his arm: it is the people that hastens by, exulting to die the death for the great ideas of liberty and equality.

The painter himself had an entirely unpolitical mind. He had drawn his inspiration for the picture, not from experience, but out of La Curée, those verses of Auguste Barbier that are ablaze with wrath—

“C’est que la Liberté n’est pas une comtesse

Du noble faubourg Saint-Germain,

Une femme qu’un cri fait tomber en faiblesse,

Qui met du blanc et du carmin;

C’est un forte femme aux puissantes mamelles,

À la voix rauque, aux durs appas,

Qui, du brun sur la peau, du feu dans les prunelles,

Agile et marchant à grands pas,

Se plait aux cris du peuple, aux sanglantes mêlées,

Aux longs roulements des tambours,

À l’odeur de la poudre, aux lointaines volées

Des cloches et des canons sourds.”

And by this allegorical figure he has certainly weakened its grip and directness; but it was a bold, naturalistic achievement all the same. By this work the great Romanticist became the father of the naturalistic movement, which henceforward, supported by the revolutionary democratic press, spread more and more widely.


The critics on these journals began to reproach painters with troubling themselves too little about social and political affairs. “The actuality and social significance of art,” it was written, “is the principal thing. What is meant by Beauty? We demand that painting should influence society, and join in the work of progress. Everything else belongs to the domain of Utopias and abstractions.” The place of whimsicalities is accordingly taken by sentimental and melodramatic scenes from the life of the poor. Rendered enthusiastic by the victory of the people, and inspired by democratic sentiments, some painters came to believe that the sufferings of the artisan class 181 were the thing to be represented, and that there was nothing nobler than work.

One of the first to give an example was Jeanron. His picture of “The Little Patriots,” produced in connection with the Revolution of July, was a glorification of the struggle for freedom; his “Scene in Paris” a protest against the sufferings of the people. He sought his models amongst the poor of the suburb, painted their ragged clothes and their rugged heads without idealisation. For him the aim of art was not beauty, but the expression of truth—a truth, no doubt, which made political propaganda. It was Jeanron’s purpose to have a socialistic influence. One sees it in his blacksmiths and peasants, and in that picture “The Worker’s Rest” which in 1847 induced Thoré’s utterance: “It is a melancholy and barren landscape from the neighbourhood of Paris, a plebeian landscape which hardly seems to belong to itself, and which gives up all pretensions to beauty merely to be of service to man. Jeanron is always plebeian, even in his landscapes: he loves the plains which are never allowed to repose, on which there is always labour; there are no beautiful flowers in his fields, as there is no gold ornament on the rags of his beggars and labourers.”

And afterwards, during the early years of the reign of Louis Philippe, when the tendency became once more latent, the Revolution of February worked out what the Revolution of July had begun. Mediocre painters like Antigna became famous because they bewailed the sorrows of the “common man” in small and medium-sized pictures. Others began to display a greater interest in rustics, and to take them more seriously than they had done in earlier works. Adolphe Leleux made studies in Brittany, and discovered earnest episodes in the daily life of the peasant, which he rendered with great 182 actuality. And after sliding back into Romanticism, as he did with his Arragon smugglers, he enjoyed his chief success in 1849 with that picture at the Luxembourg to which he was incited by the sad aspect of the streets of Paris during the rising of 1848. The men who, driven by hunger and misery, fought upon the barricades may be found in Leleux’s “Mot d’Ordre.”

After the coup d’état of 1851 even Meissonier, till then exclusively a painter of rococo subjects, encroached on this province. In his picture of the barricades (2 December 1851) heaps of corpses are lying stretched out in postures which could not have been merely invented. The execution, too, has a nervous force which betrays that even so calculating a spirit as Meissonier was at one time moved and agitated. In his little smokers and scholars and waiting-men he is an adroit but cold-blooded painter: here he has really delivered himself of a modern epic. His “Barricade” (formerly in the Van Praet Collection) is the one thrilling note in the master’s work, which was elsewhere so quiet. Alexandre Antigna, originally an historical painter, turned from historical disasters to those which take place in the life of the lower strata of the people. A dwelling of a poor family is struck by lightning; poor people pack up their meagre goods with the haste of despair on the outbreak of fire; peasants seek refuge from a flood upon the roof of their little house; petty shopkeepers are driving with their wares across the country, when their nag drops down dead in the shafts; or an old crone, cowering at the street corner, receives the pence which her little daughter has earned by playing on the fiddle.


But the artist in whose works the philanthropic if sentimental humour of the epoch is specially reflected is that remarkable painter, made up of contradictions, Octave Tassaert. Borrowing at one and the same time from Greuze, Fragonard, and Prudhon, he painted subjects mythological, ribald, and religious, boudoir pictures, and scenes of human misery. Tassaert was a Fleming, a grandson of that Tassaert who educated Gottfried Schadow and died as director of the Berlin Academy in 1788. His name has been for the most part forgotten; it awakes only a dim recollection in those who see “The Unhappy Family” in the Luxembourg Musée. But forty years ago he was amongst the most advanced of his day, and enjoyed the respect of men like Delacroix, Rousseau, Troyon, and Diaz. He took Chardin and Greuze as his models, and is a real master in talent. He was the poet of the suburbs, who spoke in tender complaining tones of the hopes and sufferings of humble people. 183 He painted the elegy of wretchedness: suicide in narrow garrets, sick children, orphans freezing in the snow, seduced and more or less repentant maidens—a sad train. He was called the Correggio of the attic, the Prudhon of the suburbs. His labours are confined to eleven years, from 1846 to 1857. After that he sent no more to the Salon and sulkily withdrew from artistic life. He had no wish ever to see his pictures again, and sold them—forty-four altogether—to a dealer for two thousand francs and a cask of wine. With a glass in his hand he forgot his misanthropy. He lived almost unknown in a little house in the suburbs with a nightingale, a dog, and a little shop-girl for his sole companions.

Baschet. Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

But his nightingale died, and then the dog, who should have followed at his funeral. He could not survive the blow. He broke his palette, threw his colours into the fire, lit a pan of charcoal that he might die like “The Unhappy Family,” and was found suffocated on the following day. On a scrap of paper he had written, without regard to metre or orthography, a few verses to his nightingale and his dog.

There is much that is magniloquent and sentimental in Tassaert’s pictures. His poor women perish with the big eyes of the heroines of Ary Scheffer. Nevertheless he belongs to the advance line of modern art, and suffered shipwreck merely because he gave the signal too early. The sad reality prevails in his work. Merciless as a surgeon operating on a diseased limb, he made a dissecting-room of his art, which is often brutal where his brush probes the deepest wounds of civilisation. There is nothing in his pictures but wretched broken furniture, stitched rags, and pale faces in which toil and hunger have ploughed their terrible furrows. He painted the degeneration of man perishing from lack of light and air. Himself a Fleming, he has found his greatest follower in another Netherlander, Charles de Groux, whose sombre pessimism dominates modern Belgian art.

In Germany, where the socialistic writings of the French and English had a wide circulation, Gisbert Flüggen, in Munich known as the German 184 Wilkie, was perhaps the first who as early as the forties went somewhat further than the humorous representation of rustics, and entered into a certain relation with the social ideas of his age in such pictures as “The Interrupted Marriage Contract,” “The Unlucky Gamester,” “The Mésalliance,” “Decision of the Suit,” “The Disappointed Legacy Hunter,” “The Execution for Rent,” and the like. Under his influence Danhauser in Vienna deserted whimsicalities for the representation of social conflicts in middle-class life. To say nothing of his “Gormandizer,” he did this in “The Opening of the Will,” where in a somewhat obtrusive manner the rich relations of the deceased are grouped to the right and the poor relations to the left, the former rubicund, sleek, and insolent, the latter pale, spare, and needily clad. An estimable priest is reading the last testament, and informs the poor relatives with a benevolent smile that the inheritance is theirs, whereon the rich give way to transports of rage.

Yet more clearly, although similarly transposed into a sentimental key, is the mood of the time just previous to 1848, reflected in the works of Carl Hübner of Düsseldorf. Ernest Wilkomm in the beginning of the forties had represented in his sensational genre pictures, particularly in the “White Slaves,” the contrast between afflicted serfs and cruel landlords, between rich manufacturers and famishing artisans; Robert Prutz had written his Engelchen, in which he had announced the ruin of independent handicraft by the modern industrial system. Soon afterwards the famine among the Silesian weavers, the intelligence of which in 1844 flew through all Germany, set numbers of people reflecting on the social question. Freiligrath made it the subject of his verses, Aus dem Schlesischen Gebirge, the song of the poor weaver’s child who calls on Rübezahl—one of his most popular poems. And yet more decisively does the social and revolutionary temper of the age find an echo in Heine’s Webern, composed in 1844. Even Geibel was impelled to his poem Mene Tekel by the spread of the news, though it stands in curious opposition to his manner of writing elsewhere. Carl Hübner therefore was 185 acting very seasonably when he likewise treated the distress of the Silesian weavers in his first picture of 1845.


Hübner knew the life of the poor and the heavy-laden; his feelings were with them, and he expressed what he felt. This gives him a position above and apart from the rest in the insipidly smiling school of Düsseldorf, and sets his name at the beginning of a new chapter in the history of German genre painting. His next picture, “The Game Laws,” sprang from an occasion which was quite as historical: a gamekeeper had shot a poacher. In 1846 followed “The Emigrants,” “The Execution for Rent” in 1847, and in 1848 “Benevolence in the Cottage of the Poor.” These were works in which he continued to complain of the misery of the working classes, and the contrast between ostentatious wealth and helpless wretchedness, and to preach the crusade for liberty and human rights. In opposition to the usual idyllic representations, he spoke openly for the first time of the material weight oppressing large classes of men. Undoubtedly, however, the artistic powers of the painter corresponded but little to the good intentions of the philanthropist.

In 1853 even the historical painter Piloty entered this path in one of his earliest pictures, “The Nurse”: the picture represents a peasant girl in service as a nurse in the town, with her charge on her arm, entering the dirty house of an old woman with whom she is boarding her own child. The rich child, already dressed out like a little lady, is exuberant in health, whilst her own is languishing in a dark and cold room without food or warm clothing.

In Belgium Eugène de Block first took up these lines. The artistic development of his character is particularly interesting, inasmuch as he went through various transformations. First he had come forward in 1836 with the representation of a brawl amongst peasants, a picture which contrasted with the tameness of contemporary painting by a native power suggestive of Brouwer. Then, 186 following the example of Madou and Braekeleer, he occupied himself for a long time with quips and jests. At a time when every one had a type to which he remained true as long as he lived, Block chose poachers and game-keepers, and represented their mutual cunning, now enveloping them, after the example of Braekeleer, in the golden light and brown shadows of Ostade, now throwing over them a tinge of Gallait’s cardinal red. But this forced humour did not satisfy him long; he let comicalities alone, and became the serious observer of the people. A tender compassion for the poor may be noticed in his works, though without doubt it often turns to a tearful sentimentalism. He was an apostle of humanity who thundered against pauperism and set himself up as spokesman on the social question; a tribune of the people, who by his actions confirmed his reputation as a democratic painter. This it is which places him near that other socialistic agitator who in those days was filling Brussels with his fame.


It was in 1835 that a young man wrote to one of his relatives from Italy the proud words: “I will measure my strength with Rubens and Michael Angelo.”



Having gained the Prix de Rome, he was enabled to make a sojourn in the Eternal City. He was thinking of his return. He was possessed of a lofty ambition, and dreamt of rivalling the fame of the old masters. As a victor he made an entry into his native land, into the good town of Dinant, which received him like a mother. He was accompanied by a huge roll of canvas like a declaration of war. But he needed a larger battle-field for his plans. “I imagine,” said he, “that the universe has its eyes upon me.” So he went on to Paris with his “Patroclus” and a few other pictures. No less than six thousand artists had seen the work in Rome: a prince of art, Thorwaldsen, 188 had said when he beheld it: “This young man is a giant.” And the young man was himself of that opinion. With the gait of a conqueror he entered Paris, in the belief that artists would line the streets to receive him. But when the portals of the Salon of 1839 were opened he did not see his picture there. It was skied over a door, and no one noticed it. Théophile Gautier, Gustave Planché, and Bürger-Thoré wrote their articles without even mentioning it with one word of praise or blame.

For one moment he thought of exhibiting it out of doors in front of the Louvre, of calling together a popular assembly and summoning all France to decide. But an application to the minister was met with a refusal, and he returned to Brussels hanging his head. There he puffed his masterpiece, “The Fight round the Body of Patroclus,” in magniloquent phrases upon huge placards. A poet exclaimed, “Hats off: here is a new Homer.” The Moniteur gave him a couple of articles. But when the Exhibition came, artists were again unable to know what to make of it. The majority were of an opinion that Michael Angelo was brutally parodied by these swollen muscles and distorted limbs. And no earthquake disturbed the studios, as the painter had expected. However, he was awarded a bronze medal and thanked in an honest citizen-like fashion “for the distinguished talent which he had displayed.” Then his whole pride revolted. He circulated caricatures and cried out: “This medal will be an eternal blot on the century.” Then he published in the Charivari an open letter to the king. “Michael Angelo,” he wrote, “never allowed himself to pass final judgment on the works of contemporary artists, and so His Majesty, who hardly understands as much about art as Michael Angelo, would do well not to decide on the worth of modern pictures after a passing glance.”

Antoine Wiertz, the son of a gendarme who had once been a soldier of the great Republic, was born in Dinant in 1806. By his mother he was a Walloon, and he had German blood in him through his father, whose family had originally come from Saxony. German moral philosophy and treatises on education had formed the reading of his youthful years. He had not to complain of want of assistance. At the declaration of Belgian independence he was five-and-twenty; so his maturity fell in the proud epoch when the young nation laid out everything to add artistic to political splendour. Even as a boy, their only child, he was idolised by his parents, the old gendarme and the honest charwoman. His first attempts were regarded by his relations as marvels. The neighbours went into raptures over a frog he had modelled, “which looked just as if it were alive.” The landlord of a tavern ordered a signboard from him, and when it was finished the whole population stood before it in admiration. A certain Herr Maibe, who was artistically inclined, had his attention directed to the young genius, undertook all the expenses of his education, and sent him to the Antwerp Academy. There he obtained a government scholarship, and gained in 1832 the Prix de Rome. From the first he was quite clear as to his own importance.


American Art Review.

Even as a pupil at the Antwerp Academy he wrote in a letter to his father contemptuously of his fellow-students’ reverence for the old masters. “They imagine,” said he, “that the old masters are invincible gods, and not men whom genius may surpass.” And instead of admonishing him to be modest, his father answered with pride: “Be a model to the youth of the future, so that in later centuries young painters may say, ‘I will raise myself to fame as the great Wiertz did in Belgium.’” Such dangerous flattery would have affected stronger characters. It needed only the Italian journey to send him altogether astray. Michael Angelo made him giddy, as had been the case with Cornelius, Chenavard, and many another. With all the ambition of a self-taught man he held every touch of his brush to be important, and was indignant if others refused to think the same. After his failures in Paris and Brussels he began to find high treason in every criticism, and started a discussion on “the pernicious influence of journalism upon art and literature.” We find him saying: “If any one writes ill of me when I am dead, I will rise from the grave to defend myself.”

In his hatred of criticism he resolved to exhibit no more, lived a miserable existence till his death in 1865, and painted hasty and careless portraits, pour 190 la soupe, when he was in pressing need of money. These brought him at first from three to four hundred, and later a thousand francs. He indulged in colossal sketches, for the completion of which the State built him in 1850 a tremendous studio, the present Musée Wiertz. It stands a few hundred paces from the Luxembourg station, to the extreme north of the town, in a beautiful though rather neglected little park, a white building with a pillared portico and a broad perron leading up to it. Here he sat in a fantastically gorgeous costume, for ever wearing his great Rubens hat. Philanthropic lectures on this world and the next, on the well-being of the people and the diseases of modern civilisation, were the fruits of his activity. Whoever loves painting for painting’s sake need never visit the museum.

There there are battles, conflagrations, floods, and earthquakes; heaven and earth are in commotion. Giants hurl rocks at one another, and try, like Jupiter, to shake the earth with their frown. All of them delight in force, and bring their muscles into play like athletes. But the painter himself is no athlete, no giant as Thorwaldsen called him, and no genius as he fancied himself to be. Le singe des génies, he conceived the notion of “great art” purely in its relation to space, and believed himself greater than the greatest because his canvases were of greater dimensions. When the ministry thought of making him Director of the Antwerp Academy, after the departure of Wappers, he wrote the following characteristic sentences: “I gather from the newspapers that I may be offered the place of Wappers.” If in the moment when the profound philosopher is pondering over sublime ideas people were to say to him, “Will you teach us the A, B, C? I believe that he whose dwelling-place is in the clouds would fall straight from heaven to earth.” Living in an atmosphere of flattery at home, and overpowered by the incense which was there offered to his genius, he could not set himself free from the fixed idea of competing with Michael Angelo and Rubens. Below his picture of “The Childhood of Mary” he placed the words: “Counterpart to the picture by Rubens in Antwerp treating the same subject.” He offered his “Triumph of Christ” to the cathedral there under the condition of its being hung beside Rubens’ “Descent from the Cross.” “The Rising up of Hell” he wished to exhibit of an evening in the theatre when it was opened for a performance. During the waits the audience were to contemplate the picture while a choir sang with orchestral accompaniment. But all these offers were declined with thanks.

Such failures make men pessimists; but it was through them that Wiertz, after being an historical painter, became the child of his age. He began to hurl thunderbolts against the evils of modern civilisation. He preaches and lashes and curses and suffers. The forms of which he makes use are borrowed from the old masters. The man of Michael Angelo, with his athletic build, his gigantic muscles, his nude body, the man of the Renaissance and not the man of the nineteenth century, strides through his works; it is only in the subject-matter of his pictures that the modern spirit has broken through 191 the old formula. All the questions which have been thrown out by the philosophy and civilisation of the nineteenth century are reflected as vast problems in his vast pictures. He fashions his brush into a weapon with which he fights for the disinherited, for the pariahs, for the people. He is bent on being the painter of democracy—a great danger for art.


He agitates in an impassioned way against the horrors of war. His picture “Food for Powder” begins this crusade. A cannon is lying idle on the wall of a fortress, and around this slumbering iron monster children are playing at soldiers, with no suspicion that their sport will soon be turned into bitter earnest, and that in war they will themselves become food for this demon. In another picture, “The civilisation of the Nineteenth Century,” soldiers intoxicated with blood and victory have broken into a chamber by night and are stabbing a mother with her child. A third, “The Last Cannon Shot,” hints dimly at the future pacification of the world. “A Scene in Hell,” however, is the chief of the effusions directed against war. The Emperor Napoleon in his grey coat and his historical three-cornered hat is languishing in hell; wavering flames envelop him as with a flowing purple mantle, and an innumerable multitude of mothers and sisters, wives and betrothed maidens, children and fathers, from whom he has taken their dearest are pressing 192 round him. Fists are clenched against him, and screams issue from toothless, raging mouths. He, on the other hand, with his arms crossed on his breast, and his haughty visage stern and gloomy, stands motionless, looking fixedly with satanic eyes upon the thousands whose happiness he has destroyed.


In his “Thoughts and Visions of a Decapitated Head”, Wiertz, moved by Victor Hugo’s Le dernier jour d’un condamné, makes capital punishment a subject of more lengthy disquisition. The picture, which is made up of three parts, is supposed to represent the feelings of a man, who has been guillotined, during the first three minutes after execution. The border of the picture contains a complete dissertation: “The man who has suffered execution sees his body dried up and in corruption in a dark corner; and sees also, what it is only given to spirits of another world to perceive, the secrets of the transmutation of matter. He sees all the gases which have formed his body, and its sulphurous, earthy, and ammoniacal elements, detach themselves from its decaying flesh and serve for the structure of other living beings.... When that abominable instrument the guillotine is one day actually abolished, may God be praised,” and so on.

Beside this painted plea against capital punishment hangs “The Burnt Child,” as an argument in favour of crêches. A poor working woman has for one moment left her garret. Meanwhile a fire has broken out, and she returns to find the charred body of her boy. In the picture “Hunger, Madness, and Crime” he treats of human misery in general, and touches on the question of the rearing of illegitimate children. There is a young girl forced to live on the carrots which a rich man throws into the gutter. In consequence of a notification to pay taxes she goes out of her mind, and with hellish laughter cuts 193 to pieces the baby who has brought her to ruin. Cremation is recommended in the picture “Buried too soon”: there is a vault, and in it a coffin, the lid of which has been burst open from the inside; through the cleft may be seen a clenched hand, and in the darkness of the coffin the horror-stricken countenance of one who is piteously crying for help.

In the “Novel Reader” he endeavours to show the baneful influence of vicious reading upon the imagination of a girl. She is lying naked in bed, with loosened hair and a book in her hand; her eyes are reddened with hysterical tears, and an evil spirit is laying a new book on the couch, Antonine, by Alexandre Dumas Fils. “The Retort of a Belgian Lady”—an anticipation of Neid—glorifies homicide committed in the defence of honour. A Dutch officer having taken liberties with a Belgian woman, she blows out his brains with a pistol. In “The Suicide” the fragments of a skull may be seen flying in all directions. How the young man who has just destroyed himself came to this pass may be gathered from the book entitled Materialism, which lies on his table. And thus he goes on, though the spectator feels less and less inclined to take any serious interest in these lectures. For although the intentions of Wiertz had now and then a touch of the sublime, he was neither clear as to the limits of what could be represented nor did he possess the capacity of expressing what he wished in artistic forms. Like many a German painter of those years, he was a philosopher of the brush, a scholar in disguise, who wrote out his thoughts in paint instead of ink.

Wiertz made painting a vehicle for more than it can render as painting: with him it begins to dogmatise; it is a book, and it awakens a regret that this rich mind was lost to authorship. There he might, perhaps, have done much that was useful towards solving the social and philosophical questions of the day; as he is, he has nothing to offer the understanding, and only succeeds in offending the eye. A human brain with both great and trivial ideas lays itself bare. But, like Cornelius, from the mere fulness of his ideas he was unable to give them artistic expression. He groped from Michael Angelo to Rubens, and from Raphael to Ary Scheffer, without realising that the artistic utterance of all these masters had been an individual gift. The career of Wiertz is an interesting psychological case. He was an abnormal phenomenon, and he cannot be passed over in the history of art, because he was one of the first who treated subjects from modern life in large pictures. Never before had a genuinely artistic age brought forth such a monster, yet it is impossible to ignore him, or deny that he claims a certain degree of importance in the art history of the past century.




During the decade following the year 1848 genre painting in Germany threw off the shackles of the anecdotic style, and continued a development similar to that of history, which, in the same country, flourished long after it was moribund elsewhere. After the elder artists, who showed so much zeal in producing perfectly ineffective little pictures, executed with incredible pains and a desperate veracity of detail, there followed, from 1850, a generation who were technically better equipped. They no longer confined themselves to making tentative efforts in the manner of the old masters, but either borrowed their lights directly from the historical painters in Paris, or were indirectly made familiar with the results of French technique through Piloty. Subjects of greater refinement were united with a treatment of colour which was less offensive.

The childlike innocence which had given pleasure in Meyerheim and Waldmüller was now thought to be too childlike by far. The merriment which radiated from the pictures of Schroedter or Enhuber found no echo amidst a generation which was tired of such cheap humour: the works of Carl Hübner were put aside as lachrymose and sentimental efforts. When the world had issued from the period of Romanticism there was no temptation to be funny over modern life nor to make socialistic propaganda; for after the Revolution of 1848 people had become reconciled to the changed order of affairs and to life as it actually was—its cares and its worries, its mistakes and its sins. It was the time when Berthold Auerbach’s village tales ran through so many editions; and, hand in hand with these literary productions, painting also set itself to tell little stories from the life of sundry classes of the people, amongst which rustics were always the most preferable from their picturesqueness of costume.


At the head of this group of artists stands Louis Knaus, and if it is difficult to hymn his praises at the present day, that is chiefly because Knaus mostly drew upon that sarcastic and ironical characteristic which is such an unpleasant moral note in the pictures of Hogarth, Schroedter, and Madou. The figures of the old Dutch masters behave as if the glance of no stranger were resting upon them: it is possible to share their joys and sorrows, which are not merely acted. We feel at our ease with them because they regard us as one of themselves. In Knaus there is always an artificial bond between the figures and 195 the frequenters of the exhibition. They plunge into the greatest extravagances to excite attention, tickle the spectator to make him laugh, or cry out to move him to tears. With the exception of Wilkie, no genre painter has explained his purpose more obtrusively or in greater detail. Even when he paints a portrait, by way of variation, he stands behind with a pointer to explain it. On this account the portraits of Mommsen and Helmholtz in the Berlin National Gallery are made too official. Each of them is visibly conscious that he is being painted for the National Gallery, and by emphasis and the accumulation of external characteristics Knaus took the greatest pains to lift these personalities into types of the nineteenth-century scholar.

Since popular opinion is wont to represent the philologist as one careless of outward appearance, and the investigator of natural philosophy as an elegant man of the world,—Mommsen must wear boots which have seen much service, and those of Helmholtz must be of polished leather; the shirt of the one must be genially rumpled, and that of the other must fit him to perfection. By such obvious characterisation the Sunday public was satisfied, but those who were represented were really deprived of character. It is not to be supposed that in Mommsen’s room the manuscripts of all his principal works would lie so openly upon the writing-table and beneath it, so that every one might see them: it is not probable that his famous white locks would flutter so as he sat at the writing-table. Even the momentary gesture of the hand has in both pictures something obtrusively demonstrative. “Behold, with this pen I have written the history of Rome,” says Mommsen. “Behold, there is the famous ophthalmometer which I invented,” says Helmholtz.

But as a genre painter Knaus has fallen still more often into such intolerable stage gesticulation. The picture “His Highness upon his Travels” is usually mentioned as that in which he reached his zenith in characterisation. Yet is not this characterisation in the highest degree exaggerated? Is not the expression apportioned to every figure, like parts to a theatrical company, and does not the result seem to be strained beyond all measure? Just look at the children, see how each plays a part to catch your eye. A little girl is leaning shyly on her elder sister, who has bashfully thrust her finger into her mouth: some are looking on with rustic simplicity, others 196 with attention: a child smaller than the others is puckering up its face and crying miserably. The prince, in whose honour the children are drawn up, passes the group with complete indifference, while his companion regards “the people” haughtily through his eyeglass. The schoolmaster bows low, in the hope that his salary may be raised, whilst the stupid churchwarden looks towards the prince with a jovial smile, as though he were awaiting his colleague from the neighbouring village. Of course, they are all very intelligible types; but they are no more than types. For the painter the mere accident of the moment is the source of all life. Would that six-year-old peasant child who stands with the greatest dignity in Knaus’s picture as “The Village Prince” have ever stood in that fashion, with a flower between his teeth and his legs thrust apart, unless he had been carefully taught this self-conscious pose by the painter himself? So that there may not be the slightest doubt as to which of the shoemaker’s apprentices is winning and which is losing, one of them has to have a knowing smirk, whilst the other is looking helplessly at his cards. And how that little Maccabee is acting to the public in “The First Profit!” The old man in threadbare clothes, who stands in an ante-chamber rubbing his hands in the picture “I can Wait”; the frightened little girl who sees her bit of bread-and-butter imperilled by geese in “In Great Distress,”—they have all the same deliberate comicality, they are all treated with the same palpable carefulness, the same 197 pointed and impertinently satirical sharpness. Even in “The Funeral” he is not deserted by the humorous proclivity of the anecdotist, and the schoolmaster has to brandish the bâton with which he is conducting the choir of boys and girls as comically as possible. Knaus uses too many italics, and underlines as if he expected his public to be very dull of understanding. In this way he appeals to simple-minded people, and irritates those of more delicate taste. The peasant sits in his pictures like a model; he knows that he must keep quiet, and neither alter his pose nor his grimace, because otherwise Knaus will be angry. All his pictures show signs of the superior and celebrated city gentleman, who has only gone into the country to interest himself in the study of civilisation: there he hunts after effectively comical features, and, having arranged his little world in tableaux vivants, he coolly surrenders it to the derision of the cultivated spectator.

(By permission of the Berlin Photographic Co., the owners of the copyright.)
(By permission of the Berlin Photographic Co., the owners of the copyright.)

But such a judgment, which seems like a condemnation, could not be maintained from the historical standpoint. Germany could not forget 198 Knaus, if it were only for the fact that in the fifties he sided with those who first spread the unusual opinion that painting was incomprehensible without sound ability in the matter of colour. He was not content, like the elder generation, to arrange the individual characters in his pictures in well-disposed groups. He took care to make his works faultless in colouring, so that in the fifties he not only roused the enthusiasm of the great public by his “poetic invention,” but made even the Parisian painters enthusiastic by his easy mastery of technique.

To the following effect wrote Edmond About in 1855: “I do not know whether Herr Knaus has long nails; but even if they were as long as those of Mephistopheles, I should still say that he was an artist to his fingers’ ends. His pictures please the Sunday public and the Friday public, the critics, the bourgeois, and (God forgive me!) the painters. What is seductive to the great multitude is the clearly expressed dramatic idea, while artists and connoisseurs are won by his knowledge and thorough ability. Herr Knaus has the capacity of satisfying every one. His pictures attract the most incompetent eyes, because they tell pleasant anecdotes; but they likewise fascinate the most jaded by perfect execution of detail. The whole talent of Germany is contained in the person of Herr Knaus. So Germany lives in the Rue de l’Arcade in Paris.”

In the fifties all the technical ability which was to be gained from the study of the old Dutch masters and from constant commerce with the modern French reached its highest point in Knaus. Even in his youth the great Netherlandish painters, Ostade, Brouwer, and Teniers, must have had more effect upon him than his teachers, Sohn and Schadow, since his very first pictures, “The Peasants’ Dance” of 1850 and “The Card Sharpers” of 1850, had little in common with the Düsseldorf school, and therefore so much the more with the Netherlandish chiaroscuro. “The Card Sharpers” is precisely like an Ostade modernised. By his migration to Paris in 1852 he sought to acquire the utmost perfection of finish; and when he returned home, after a sojourn of eight years, he had at his command such a sense for effect and fine harmony of tone, such a knowledge of colour, and such a disciplined and refined taste, that his works indicate an immeasurable advance on the motley harshness of his predecessors. His “Golden Wedding” of 1858—perhaps his finest picture—had nothing of the antiquated technique of the older type of Düsseldorf pictures of peasant life; technically it stood on a level with the works of the French.


(By permission of Messrs. Goupil & Co., the owners of the copyright.)




And Knaus has remained the same ever since: a separate personality which belongs to history. He painted peasant pictures of tragic import and rustic gaiety; he recognised a number of graceful traits in child-life, and, having seen a great deal of the world, he made a transition, after he had settled in Berlin, from the character picture of the Black Forest to such as may be painted from the life of cities. He even ventured to touch on religious subjects, and taught the world the limitations of his talent by his “Holy Families,” composed out of reminiscences of all times and all schools, and by his “Daniel in the Lions’ Den.” Knaus is whole-heartedly a genre painter; though that, indeed, is what he has in common with many other people. But thirty years ago he had a genius for colour amid a crowd of narrative and character painters, and this makes him unique. He is a man whose significance does not merely lie in his talent for narrative, but one who did much for German art. It may be said that in giving the genre picture unsuspected subtleties of colour he helped German art to pass from mere genre painting to painting pure and simple. In this sense he filled an artistic mission, and won for himself in the history of modern painting a firm and sure place, which even the opponent of the illustrative vignette cannot take from him.

Seemann, Leipzig.

Vautier, who must always be named in the same breath with Knaus, is in truth the exact opposite of the Berlin master. He also is essentially a genre painter, and his pictures should not be merely seen but studied in detail; but where Knaus has merits Vautier is defective, and where Knaus is jarring Vautier has merits. In technique he cannot boast of similar qualities. He is always merely a draughtsman who tints, but has never been a colourist. As a painter he has less value, but as a genre painter he is more sympathetic. In the pictures of Knaus one is annoyed by the deliberate smirk, by his exaggerated 202 and heartlessly frigid observation. Vautier gives pleasure by characterisation, more delicately reserved in its adjustment of means, and profound as it is simple, by his wealth of individual motives and their charm, and by the sensitiveness with which he renders the feelings and relationship of his figures. A naïve, good-humoured, and amiable temperament is betrayed in his works. He is genially idyllic where Knaus creates a pungently satirical effect, and a glance at the portraits of the two men explains this difference.

Kunst für Alle.

Knaus with his puckered forehead, and his searching look shooting from under heavy brows, is like a judge or a public prosecutor. Vautier, with his thoughtful blue eyes, resembles a prosperous banker with a turn for idealism, or a writer of village tales à la Berthold Auerbach. Knaus worried himself over many things, brooded much and made many experiments; Vautier was content with the acquisition of a plain and simple method of painting, which appeared to him a perfectly sufficient medium for the expression of that which he had realised with profound emotion. The one is a reflective and the other a dreamy nature. Vautier was a man of a happy temperament, one with whom the world went well from his youth upwards, who enjoyed an existence free from care, and who had accustomed himself as a painter to see the world in a rosy light. There is something sound and pure in his characters, in his pictures something peaceful and cordial; it does not, indeed, make his paltry pedantic style of painting any the better, but from the human standpoint it touches one sympathetically. His countrymen may be ashamed of Vautier as a painter when they come across him amongst aliens in foreign exhibitions, but they rejoice in him none the less as a genre painter. It is as if they had been met by the quiet, faithful gaze of a German eye amid the fiery glances of the Latin nations. It is as if they suddenly heard a simple German song, rendered without training, and yet with a great deal of feeling. A generation ago Knaus could exhibit everywhere as a painter; as such Vautier was only possible in Germany during the sixties. But in Knaus it is impossible to get rid of the impress of 203 the Berlin professor, while from Vautier’s pictures there smiles the kindly sentiment of German home-life. Vautier’s world, no doubt, is as one-sided as that of old Meyerheim. His talkative Paul Prys, his brides with their modest shyness, his smart young fellows throwing amorous glances, his proud fathers, and his sorrow-stricken mothers are, it may be, types rather than beings breathing positive and individual life. Such a golden radiance of grace surrounds the pretty figures of his bare-footed rustic maidens as never pertained to those of the real world, but belongs rather to the shepherdess of a fairy tale who marries the prince. His figures must not be measured by the standard of realistic truth to nature. But they are the inhabitants of a dear, familiar world in which everything breathes of prettiness and lovable good-humour. It is almost touching to see with what purity and beauty life is reflected in Vautier’s mind.


How dainty are these brown-eyed Swabian peasant girls, how tender and sympathetic the women, and how clean and well-behaved the children! You could believe that Vautier mixed with his peasants like a friend or a benevolent god-father, that he delighted in their harmless pleasures, that he took part in their griefs and cares. In his pictures he does not give an account of his impressions with severity or any deliberate attempt to amuse, but with indulgence and cordiality. It is not his design to excite or to thrill, to waken comedy through whimsicalities or mournfulness by anything tragical. Life 204 reveals to him “merely pleasant things,” as it did to Goethe during his tour in Italy, and even in its tragedies only people “who bear the inevitable with dignity.” He never expressed boisterous grief: everything is subdued, and has that tenderness which is associated with the mere sound of his Christian name, Benjamin. Knaus has something of Menzel, Vautier of Memlinc: he has it even in the loving familiarity with which he penetrates minute detail. In their religious pictures the old German and Netherlandish masters painted everything, down to the lilies worked on the Virgin’s loom, or the dust lying on the old service-book; and this thoroughly German delight in still life, this complacent rendering of minutiæ, is found again in Vautier.

Men and their dwellings, animated nature and atmosphere, combine to make a pleasant world in his pictures. Vautier was one of the first to discover the magic of environment, the secret influence which unites a man to the soil from which he sprang, the thousand unknown, magnetic associations existing between outward things and the spirit, between the intuitions and the actions of man. The environment is not there like a stage scene in front of which the personages come and go; it lives and moves in the man himself. One feels at home in these snug and cosy rooms, where the Black Forest clock is ticking, where little, tasteless photographs look down from the wall with an honest, patriarchal air, where the floor is scoured so clean, and greasy green hats hang on splendid antlers. There is the great family bed with the flowered curtains, the massive immovable bench by the stove, the solid old table, around which young and old assemble at meal-times. There are the great cupboards for the treasures of the house, the prayer-book given to grandmother at her confirmation, the filigree ornaments, the glasses and coffee-cups, which are kept for show, not for daily use. Over the bedstead are hung the little pictures of saints painted on glass, and the consecrated tokens. From the window one overlooks other appurtenances of the house; gaudy scarlet runners clamber in from the little garden, blossoming fruit-trees stand in its midst, and the gable of the well-filled barn rises above it. Everything has an air of peace and prosperity, the mood of a Sunday forenoon; one almost fancies that one can catch the chime of the distant church bells through the blissful stillness. But completeness of effect and pictorial harmony are not to be demanded: the illustrated paper is better suited to his style than the exhibition.


(By permission of the Berlin Photographic Co., the owners of the copyright.)




The third member of the alliance is Franz Defregger, a man of splendid talent; of all the masters of the great Munich school of Piloty, he is at once the simplest and the healthiest. True it is, no doubt, that when posterity sifts and weighs his works, much of him, also, will be found too light. Defregger’s art has suffered from his fame and from the temptations of the picture market. Moreover, he had not Vautier’s fine sense of the limitations of his ability, but often represented things which he did not understand. He was less of a painter than any of the artists of Piloty’s school, and more completely tethered by the size of his picture. He could not go beyond a certain space of canvas without suffering for it; and he bound his talent on the bed of Procrustes when he attempted to paint Madonnas, or placed himself with his Hofer pictures in the rank of historical painters. But as a genre painter he stands beside Vautier, in the first line; and by these little genre pictures—the simpler and quieter the better—and some of his genially conceived and charming portrait studies, he will survive. Those are things which he understood and felt. He had himself lived amid the life he depicted, and so it was that what he depicted made such a powerful appeal to the heart.


The year 1869 made him known. The Munich Exhibition had in that year a picture on a subject from the history of the Hofer rising of 1809. It represented how the little son of Speckbacher, one of the Tyrolese leaders, had come after his father, armed with a musket; and at the side of an old forester he is entering the room in which Speckbacher is just holding a council of war. The father springs up angry at his disobedience, but also proud of the little fellow’s pluck. From this time Defregger’s art was almost entirely devoted to the Tyrolese people. To paint the smart lads and neat lasses of Tyrol in joy and sorrow, love and hate, at work and merry-making, at home or outside on the mountain pasture, in all their beauty, strength, and robust health, was the life-long task for which he more than any other man had been created. He had, over Knaus and most other painters of village tales, the enormous advantage of not standing personally outside or above the people, and not regarding them with the superficial curiosity of a tourist—for he belonged to them himself. Others, if ironically disposed, saw in the rustic the stupid, comic peasant; or, if inclined to sentimentalism, introduced into the rural world the moods and feelings of “society,” traits of drawing-room sensitiveness, the heavy air of the town. Models in national costume were grouped for pictures of Upper Bavarian rustic life. But Defregger, who up to the age of fifteen had kept his father’s cattle on the pastures of the Ederhof, had shared the joys 208 and sorrows of the peasantry long enough to know that they are neither comic nor sentimental people.

The roomy old farmhouse where he was born in 1835 lay isolated amid the wild mountains. He went about bare-footed and bare-headed, waded through deep snow when he made his way to school in winter, and wandered about amid the highland pastures with the flocks in summer. Milkmaids and wood-cutters, hunters and cowherds, were his only companions. At fifteen he was the head labourer of the estate, helped to thresh the corn, and worked on the arable land and in the stable and the barn like others. When he was twenty-three he lost his father and took over the farm himself: he was thus a man in the full sense of the word before his artistic calling was revealed to him. And this explains his qualities and defects. When he came to Piloty after the sale of his farm and his aimless sojourn in Innsbruck and Paris he was mature in mind; he was haunted by the impressions of his youth, and he wanted to represent the land and the people of Tyrol. But he was too old to become a good “painter.” On the other hand, he possessed the great advantage of knowing what he wanted. The heroes of history did not interest him; it was only the Tyrolese woodmen who persisted in his brain. He left Piloty’s studio almost as he had entered it—awkward, and painting heavily and laboriously, and but very little impressed by Piloty’s theatrical sentiment. His youth and his recollections were rooted in the life of the people; and with a faithful eye he caught earnest or cheerful phases of that life, and represented them simply and cordially: and if he had had the strength to offer a yet more effectual resistance to the prevalent ideal of beauty, there is no doubt that his stories would seem even more fresh and vigorous.

“The Dance” was the first picture which followed that of “Speckbacher,” and it was circulated through the world in thousands of reproductions. There are two delightful figures in it: the pretty milkmaid who looks around her, radiant with pleasure, and the wiry old Tyrolese who is lifting his foot, cased in a rough hobnail shoe, to dance to the Schuhplattler. At the same 209 time he painted “The Prize Horse” returning to his native village from the show decked and garlanded and greeted exultantly by old and young as the pride of the place. “The Last Summons” was again a scene from the Tyrolese popular rising of 1809. All who can still carry a rifle, a scythe, or a pitchfork have enrolled themselves beneath the banners, and are marching out to battle over the rough village street. The wives and children are looking earnestly at the departing figures, whilst a little old woman is pressing her husband’s hand. Everything was simply and genially rendered without sentimentality or emphasis, and the picture even makes an appeal by its colouring. As a sequel “The Return of the Victors” was produced in 1876: a troop of the Tyrolese levy is marching through its native mountain village, with a young peasant in advance, slightly wounded, and looking boldly round. Tyrolese banners are waving, and the fifes and drums and clarionet players bring up the rear. The faces of the men beam with the joy of victory, and women and children stand around to welcome those returning home. Joy, however, is harder to paint faithfully than sorrow. It is so easy to see that it has been artificially worked up from the model; nor is Defregger’s picture entirely innocent on this charge.




“Andreas Hofer going to his Death” was his first concession to Piloty. Defregger had become professor at the Munich Academy, and was entered in the directory as “historical painter.” The figures were therefore painted life size; and in the grouping and the choice of the “psychic moment” the style aimed at “grand painting.” The result was the same emptiness which blusters through the historical pictures of the school of Delaroche, Gallait, and Piloty. The familiar stage effect and stilted passion has taken the place of simple and easy naturalism. Nor was he able to give life to the great figures of a large canvas as he had done in the smaller picture of the “Return of the Victors.” This is true of “The Peasant Muster” of 1883—which represented the Tyrolese, assembled in an arms manufactory, learning that the moment for striking had arrived—and of the last picture of the series, “Andreas Hofer receiving the Presents of the Emperor Francis in the Fortress of Innsbruck.” All the great Hofer pictures, which in earlier days were honoured as his best performances, have done less for his memory than for that of the sturdy hero. The genre picture was Defregger’s vocation. There lay his strength, and as soon as he left that province he renounced his fine qualities.


Cassell & Co.





And a holiday humour, a tendency to beautify what he saw, is spread over even his genre pictures. They make one suppose that there is always sunshine in the happy land of Tyrol, that all the people are chaste and beautiful, all the young fellows fine and handsome, all the girls smart, every household cleanly and well-ordered, all married folk and children honest and kind; whereas in reality these milk-maids and woodmen are far less romantic in their conduct; and so many a townsman who avoids contact with the living people goes into raptures over them as they are pictures. With Vautier he shares this one-sidedness as well as his defective colour. Almost all his pictures are hard, dry, and diffident in colouring, but, as with Vautier, the man atones for the painter. From Defregger one asks for no qualities of colour and no realistic Tyrolese, since he has rendered himself in his pictures, and gives one a glimpse into his own heart; and a healthy, genial, and kindly heart it is. His idealism is not born of laboriously acquired principles of beauty; it expresses the temperament of a painter—a temperament which unconsciously sees the people through a medium whereby they are glorified. A rosy glow obscures sadness, ugliness, wretchedness, and misery, and shows only strength and health, tenderness and beauty, fidelity and courage. He treasured sunny memories of the cheerful radiance which rested on his home in the hour of his return; he painted the joy which swelled in his own breast as he beheld again the rocks of his native country, heard once more the peaceful chime of its Sabbath bells. And this is what gives his works their human, 214 inward truth, little as they may be authentic documents as to the population of Tyrol.

Later this will be more impartially recognised than it possibly can be at present. The larger the school of any artist, the more it will make his art trivial; and thus for a time the originality of the master himself seems to be mere trifling. The Tyrolese were depreciated in the market by Defregger’s imitators; only too many have aped his painting of stiff leather breeches and woollen bodices, without putting inside them the vivid humanity which is so charming in a genuine Defregger. But his position in the history of art is not injured by this. He has done enough for his age; he has touched the hearts of many by his cheerful, fresh, and healthy art, and he would be certain of immortality had he thrown aside his brush altogether from the time when the progress of painting left him in the rear.

With Defregger, the head of the Tyrolese school, Gabl and Mathias Schmidt, standing at a measurable distance from him, may find a well-merited place. Mathias Schmidt, born in the Tyrolese Alps in the same year as Defregger, began with satirical representations of the local priesthood. A poor image-carver has arrived with his waggon at an inn, on the terrace of which are sitting a couple of well-fed ecclesiastics, and by them he is ironically called to account as he offers a crucifix for sale. A young priest, as an austere judge of morals, reproves a pair of lovers who are standing before him, or asks a young girl such insidious questions at the bridal examination that she lowers her eyes, blushing. His greatest picture was “The Emigration of the Zillerthal Protestants.” Amongst later works, without controversial tendencies, “The Hunter’s Greeting” and “The Lathered Parson” may be named. The latter is surprised by two pretty girls while shaving. To these may be added “The Parson’s Patch,” a picture of a robust housekeeper hastily mending a weak spot in the pastor’s inexpressibles just before service.

Shortly after Defregger had painted his picture of “Speckbacher,” Alois Gabl came forward with his “Haspinger preaching Revolt,” and followed it up by smaller pictures with a humorous touch, representing a levy of recruits in Tyrol, the dance at the inn interrupted by the entrance of the parson, magnates umpiring at the shooting butts, a bar with laughing girls, and the like.

In 1870, Eduard Kurzbauer, who died young, in his “Fugitives Overtaken” executed a work representing an entire class of painted illustrations. A young man who has eloped with a girl is discovered with her by her mother in a village inn. The old lady is looking reproachfully at her daughter, who is overwhelmed by shame and penitence; the young man is much moved, the old servant grave and respectful, the young landlady curious, and the postilion who has driven the eloping pair has a sly smirk. Elsewhere Kurzbauer, who is a fresh and lively anecdotist, painted principally episodes, arraying his figures in the peasant garb of the Black Forest: a rejected suitor takes a sad farewell of a perverse blonde who disdains his love; or the engagement of two lovers is hindered by the interference of the father.


Cassell & Co.




Hugo Kauffmann, the son of Hermann Kauffmann, planted himself in the interior of village taverns or in front of them, and made his dressed-up models figure as hunters, telling incredible tales, dancing to the fiddle, or quarrelling over cards.

Another North German, Wilhelm Riefstahl, showed how the peasants in Appenzell or Bregenz conduct themselves at mournful gatherings, at their devotions in the open air, and at All Souls’ Day Celebrations, and afterwards extended his artistic dominion over Rügen, Westphalia, and the Rhine country with true Mecklenburg thoroughness. He was a careful, conscientious worker, with a discontent at his own efforts in his composition, a certain ponderousness in his attempts at genre; but his diligently executed pictures—full of colour and painted in a peculiarly German manner—are highly prized in public galleries on account of their instructive soundness.

After the various classes of the German peasantry had been naturalised in the picture market by these narrative painters, Eduard Grützner, when religious controversy raged in the seventies, turned aside to discover drolleries in monastic life. This he did with the assistance of brown and yellowish white cowls, and the obese and copper-nosed models thereto pertaining. He depicts how the cellarer tastes a new wine, and the rest of the company await his verdict with anxiety; how the entire monastery is employed at the vintage, at the broaching of a wine cask or the brewing of the beer; how they tipple; how bored they are over their chess or their dice, their cards or their dominoes; how they whitewash old frescoes or search after forbidden books in the monastery library. This, according to Grützner, is the routine in which the life of monks revolves. At times amidst these figures appear foresters who tell of their adventures in the chase, or deliver hares at the cloister kitchen. And the more Grützner was forced year after year to make up for his decline as a colourist, by cramming his pictures with so-called humour, the greater was his success.

It was only long afterwards that genre painting in broad-cloth came into vogue by the side of this genre in peasant blouse and monastic cowl, and stories of the exchange and the manufactory by the side of village and monastic tales. Here Düsseldorf plays a part once more in the development of art. The neighbourhood of the great manufacturing towns on the Rhine could not but lead painters to these subjects. Ludwig Bokelmann, who began by painting tragical domestic scenes—card players, and smoking shop-boys, in the style of Knaus—made the pawnshop a theme for art in 1875, and dexterously crowded into his picture all the types which popular fancy brings into association with the conception: business-like indifference, poverty ashamed, fallen prosperity, bitter need, avarice, and the love of pleasure. In 1877, when the failure of the house of Spitzeder made a sensation in the papers, he painted his picture “The Savings Bank before the Announcement of Failure,” which 218 gave him another opportunity for ranging in front of the splendid building an assembly of deluded creditors of all classes, and of showing how they expressed their emotion according to temperament and education, by excited speeches, embittered countenances, gloomy resignation, or vivid gesticulation. Much attention was likewise excited by “The Arrest.” In this picture a woman was being watched for by a policeman, whilst the neighbours—male and female—loitered round with the requisite expression of horror, indignation, sympathy, or indifferent curiosity. The opening of a will, the last moments of an electioneering struggle, scenes in the entrance hall of a court of justice, the emigrants’ farewell, the gaming-table at Monte Carlo, and a village fire, were other newspaper episodes from the life of great towns which he rendered in paint.

His earlier associate in Düsseldorf, Ferdinand Brütt, after first painting rococo pictures, owed his finest successes to the Stock Exchange. It, too, had its types: the great patrician merchants and bankers of solid reputation, the jobbers, break-neck speculators, and decayed old stagers; and, as Brütt rendered these current figures in a very intelligible manner, his pictures excited a great deal of attention. Acquittals and condemnations, acts of mortgage, emigration agents, comic electors, and prison visits, as further episodes from the social, political, and commercial life of great towns, fill up the odd corners of his little local chronicle.

Thus the German genre painting ran approximately the same course as the English had done at the beginning of the century. At that time the kingdom of German art was not of this world. Classicism taught men to turn their eyes on the art of a past age. Art in Germany had progressed slowly, and at first with an uncertain and hesitating step, before it learnt that what blossoms here, and thrives and fades, should be the subject of its labours. Gradually it brought one sphere of reality after the other into its domain. Observation took the place of abstraction, and the discoverer that of the inventor. The painter went amongst his fellow-creatures, opened his eyes and his heart to share their fortunes and misfortunes, and to reproduce them in his own creation. He discovered the peculiarities of grades of life and professional classes. Every one of the beautiful German landscapes with its peasantry, every one of the monastic orders and every manufacturing town found its representative in genre painting. The country was mapped out. Each one took over his plot, which he superintended, conscientiously, like an ethnographical museum. And just as fifty years before, Germany had been fertilised by England, so it now gave in its turn the principles of genre painting to the powers of the second rank in art.

Even France was in some degree influenced. As if to indicate that Alsace would soon become German once more, after 1850 there appeared in that province certain painters who busied themselves with the narration of anecdote from rustic life quite in the manner of Knaus and Vautier.

Gustave Brion, the grand-nephew of Frederica of Sesenheim, settled in 219 the Vosges, and there gave intelligence of a little world whose life flowed by, without toil, in gentle, patriarchal quietude, interrupted only by marriage feasts, birthdays, and funeral solemnities. He appears to have been rather fond of melancholy and solemn subjects. His interiors, with their sturdy and honest people, bulky old furniture, and large green faïence stoves, which are so dear to him, are delightful in their familiar homeliness and their cordial Alsatian and German character, and recall Vautier; in fact, he might well be termed the French Vautier. He lives in them himself—the quiet old man, who in his last years occupied himself solely with the management of his garden and the culture of flowers, or sat by the hour in an easy-chair at the window telling stories to his old dog Putz. But pictorial unity of effect must be asked from him as little as from Vautier.

Charles Marchal, too, was no painter, but an anecdotist, with a bias towards the humorous or sentimental; and so very refined and superior was he that he saw none but pretty peasant girls, who might easily be mistaken for “young ladies,” if they exchanged their kerchiefs and bodices for a Parisian toilette. His chief picture was “The Hiring Fair” of 1864: pretty peasant girls are standing in a row along the street, bargaining with prospective masters before hiring themselves out.


The most famous of this group of artists is Jules Breton, who after various humorous and sentimental pieces placed himself in 1853 in the front rank of the French painters of rustics by his “Return of the Reapers” (Musée Luxembourg). His “Gleaners” in 1855, “Blessing the Fields” in 1857, and “The Erection of the Picture of Christ in the Churchyard” were pretty enough to please the public, and sufficiently sound in technique not to be a stumbling-block to artists. After 1861 he conceived an enthusiasm for sunsets, and was never weary of depicting the hour when the fair forms of peasant maidens stand gracefully out against the quiet golden horizon. Jules Breton wrote many poems, and a vein of poetry runs through his pictures. They tell of the sadness of the 220 land when the fields sleep dreamily beneath the shadows of the evening, touched by the last ray of the departing sun; but they tell of it in verses where the same rhymes are repeated with wearisome monotony. Breton is a charming and sympathetic figure, but he never quite conquered Classicism. His gleaners moving across the field in the evening twilight bear witness to an attentive, deliberate study of the works of Leopold Robert; and unfortunately much of the emphasis and classical style of Robert has been transmitted to Breton’s rustic maidens. They have most decidedly a lingering weakness for pose, and a sharp touch of the formula of the schools. There is an affectation of style in their garb, and their hands are those of bonnes who have never even handled a rake. Breton, as Millet said of him, paints girls who are too beautiful to remain in the country. His art is a well-bred, idyllic painting, with gilt edges; it is pleasing and full of delicate figures which are always elegant and always correct, but it is a little like flat lemonade; it is monotonous and only too carefully composed, destitute of all masculinity and seldom avoiding the reef of affectation.

Norway and Sweden were fructified from Düsseldorf immediately. When Tidemand had shown the way, the academy on the Rhine was the high school for all the sons of the North during the fifties. They set to translating Knaus and Vautier into Swedish and Norwegian, and caught the tone of their originals so exactly that they almost seem more Düsseldorfian than the Düsseldorfers themselves.

Karl D’Uncker, who arrived in 1851 and died in 1866, was led by the influence of Vautier to turn to little humorous incidents. After “The Two Deaf Friends” (two old people very hard of hearing, who are making comical efforts to understand each other) and “The Vagabond Musician and his Daughter before the Village Magistrates” there followed in 1858 the scene in “The Pawnshop,” which divided the honours of the year with Knaus’s “Golden Wedding.” He is an artistic compromise between Knaus and Schroedter, a keen observer and a humorous narrator, who takes special pleasure in the sharp opposition of characteristic figures. In his “Pawnshop” and his “Third Class Waiting Room” vagabonds mingle in the crowd beside honest people, beggars beside retired tradesmen, old procuresses beside pure and innocent girls, and heartless misers beside warm-hearted philanthropists. In these satirically humorous little comedies Swedish costume has been rightly left out of sight. This ethnographical element was the forte of Bengt Nordenberg, who as a copyist of Tidemand gradually became the Riefstahl of the North. His “Golden Wedding in Blekingen,” his “Bridal Procession,” his “Collection of Tithes,” “The Pietists,” and “The Promenade at the Well,” are of the same ethnographical fidelity and the same anecdotic dryness. He gets his best effects when he strikes an idyllic, childlike note or one of patriarchal geniality. The “Bridal Procession” received in the village with salvoes and music, “The Newly Married Pair” making a first visit to the parents of one of them, the picture of schoolboys playing tricks upon an old organist, 221 that of children mourning over a lamb slain by a wolf, are, in the style of the sixties, the works of a modest and amiable anecdotist, who had a fine sense for the peaceful, familiar side of everyday life in town and country.


In Wilhelm Wallander, as in Madou, noise and frolic and jest have the upper hand. His pictures are like saucy street ditties sung to a barrel-organ. The crowd at the market-place, the gossip in the spinning-room on a holiday evening, hop-pickings, dances, auctions on old estates, weddings, and the guard turning out, are his favourite scenes. Even when he came to Düsseldorf he was preceded by his fame as a jolly fellow and a clever draughtsman, and when he exhibited his “Market in Vingaker” he was greeted as another Teniers. His “Hop-Harvest” is like a waxwork show of teasing lads and laughing lasses. He was an incisive humorist and a spirited narrator, who under all circumstances was more inclined to jest than to touch idyllic and elegiac chords. In his pictures peasant girls never wander solitary across the country, for some lad who is passing by always has a joke to crack with them; it never happens that girls sit lonely by the hearth, there is always a lover to peep out laughing from behind the cupboard door.

Anders Koskull cultivated the genre picture of children in a more elegiac fashion; he has poor people sitting in the sun, or peasant families in the Sunday stillness laying wreaths upon the graves of their dear ones in the churchyard. Kilian Zoll, like Meyer of Bremen, painted very childish pictures of women spinning, children with cats, the joys of grandmother, and the like. Peter Eskilson turned to the representation of an idyllic age of honest yeomen, and 222 has given in his best known work, “A Game of Skittles in Faggens,” a pleasant picture from peasant life in the age of pig-tails. The object of August Jernberg’s study was the Westphalian peasant with his slouching hat, long white coat, flowered waistcoat, and large silver buttons. He was specially fond of painting dancing bears surrounded by a crowd of amused spectators, or annual fairs, for which a picturesque part of old Düsseldorf served as a background. Ferdinand Fagerlin has something attractive in his simplicity and good-humour. If he laughs, as he delights in doing, his laughter is cordial and kind-hearted, and if he touches an elegiac chord he can guard against sentimentalism. In contrast with D’Uncker and Wallander, who always hunted after character pieces, he devotes himself to expression with much feeling, and interprets it delicately even in its finer nuances. Henry Ritter, who influenced him powerfully in the beginning of his career, drew his attention to Holland, and Fagerlin’s quiet art harmonises with the Dutch phlegm. Within the four walls of his fishermen’s huts there are none but honest grey-beards and quiet women, active wives and busy maidens, vigorous sailors and lively peasant lads. But his pictures are sympathetic in spite of this one-sided optimism, since the sentiment is not too affected nor the anecdotic points too heavily underlined.

Amongst the Norwegians belonging to this group is V. Stoltenberg-Lerche, who with the aid of appropriate accessories adapted the interiors of cloisters and churches to genre pictures, such as “Tithe Day in the Cloister,” “The Cloister Library,” and “The Visit of a Cardinal to the Cloister,” and so forth. Hans Dahl, a juste-milieu between Tidemand and Emanuel Spitzer, carried the Düsseldorf village idyll down to the present time. “Knitting the Stocking” (girls knitting on the edge of a lake), “Feminine Attraction” (a lad with three peasant maidens who are dragging a boat to shore in spite of his resistance), “A Child of Nature” (a little girl engaged to sit as model to a painter amongst the mountains, and running away in alarm), “The Ladies’ Boarding School on the Ice,” “First Pay Duty,” etc., are some of the witty titles of his wares, which are scattered over Europe and America. Everything is sunny, everything laughs, the landscapes as well as the figures; and if Dahl had painted fifty years ago, his fair maidens with heavy blond plaits, well-bred carriage, and delicate hands that have never been disfigured by work, would undoubtedly have assured him no unimportant place beside old Meyerheim in the history of the development of the genre picture.

An offshoot from the Munich painting of rustics shot up into a vigorous sapling in Hungary. The process of refining the raw talents of the Magyar race had been perfected on the shores of the Isar, and the Hungarians showed gratitude to their masters by applying the principles of the Munich genre to Magyar subjects when they returned home. The Hungarian rooms of modern exhibitions have consequently a very local impress. Everything seems aboriginal, Magyar to the core, and purely national. Gipsies are playing the fiddle and Hungarian national songs ring forth, acrobats exhibit, slender 223 sons of Pusta sit in Hungarian village taverns over their tokay, muscular peasant lads jest with buxom, black-eyed girls, smart hussars parade their irresistible charms before lively damsels, and recruits endeavour to imbibe a potent enthusiasm for the business of war from the juice of the grape. Stiff peasants, limber gipsies, old people dancing, smart youths, the laughing faces of girls and bold fellows with flashing eyes, quarrelsome heroes quick with the knife, tipsy soldiers and swearing sergeants, drunkards, suffering women and poor orphans, pawnshops and vagabonds, legal suits, electioneering scenes, village tragedies and comic proposals, artful shop-boys, and criminals condemned to death, the gay confusion of fairs and the merry return from the harvest and the vintage, waxed moustaches, green and red caps and short pipes, tokay, Banat wheat, Alfoeld tobacco, and Sarkad cattle,—such are the elements worked up, as the occasion demanded, either into little tales or great and thrilling romances. And the names of the painters are as thoroughly Magyar as are the figures. Beside Ludwig Ebner, Paul Boehm, and Otto von Baditz, which have a German sound, one comes across such names as Koloman Déry, Julius Aggházi, Alexander Bihari, Ignaz Ruskovics, Johann Jankó, Tihamér Margitay, Paul Vagó, Arpad Fessty, Otto Koroknyai, D. Skuteczky, etc.


But setting aside the altered names and the altered locality and garb, the substance of these pictures is precisely the same as that of the Munich pictures of twenty years before: dance and play, maternal happiness, wooing, and the invitation to the wedding. Instead of the Schuhplattler they paint the Czarda, instead of the drover’s cottage the taverns of Pesth, instead of the blue Bavarian uniform the green of the Magyar Hussars. Their painting 224 is tokay adulterated with Isar water, or Isar water with a flavour of tokay. What seems national is at bottom only their antiquated standpoint. It is a typical development repeating itself in the nineteenth century through all branches of art; the sun rises in the West and sets in the East. Any other progress than that of the gradual expansion of subject-matter cannot be established in favour of the productions of all this genre painting. In colour and in substance they represent a phase of art which the leading countries of Europe had already left behind about the middle of the century, and which had to be overcome elsewhere, if painting was again to be what it had been in the old, good periods.

Seemann, Leipzig.

For as yet all these genre painters were the children of Hogarth; their productions were the outcome of the same spirit, plebeian and alien to art, which had come into painting when the middle classes began to hold a more important position in society. Yet their artistic significance ought not to be and cannot be contested. In an age which was prouder of its antiquarian knowledge than of its own achievements, which recognised the faithful imitation of the method of all past periods, the mere performance of a delicate task, as the highest aim of art, these genre painters were the first to portray the actual man of the nineteenth century; the first to desert museums and appeal to nature, and thus to lay the foundation of modern painting. They wandered in the country, looked at reality, sought to imitate it, and often displayed in their studies a marvellous directness of insight. But these vigorous initial studies were too modest to find favour and esteem with a public 225 as yet insufficiently educated for the appreciation of art. Whilst in England the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and in France those of the Paris Salon created, comparatively early, a certain ground for the comprehension of art, the genre painters of other countries worked up to and into the sixties without the appropriate social combinations. After 1828 the Art Unions began to usurp the position of that refined society which had formerly played the Mæcenas as the leading dictators of taste.

Seemann, Leipzig.

Albrecht Adam, who was chiefly responsible for the foundation of the Munich Union, has himself spoken clearly in his autobiography of the advantages and disadvantages of this step. “Often,” he writes, “often have I asked myself whether I have done good or not by this scheme, and to this hour I have not been able to make up my mind. The cultivation of art clearly received an entirely different bias from that which it had in earlier days. What was formerly done by artistic and judicious connoisseurs was now placed for the most part in the hands of the people. Like so much else in the world, that had its advantages, but in practice the shady side of the matter became very obvious.” The disadvantages were specially these: “the people” for a long time could only understand such paintings as represented a story in a broad and easy fashion; paintings which in the narrative cohesion of the subject represented might be read off at a glance, since the mere art of reading had been learnt at school, rather than those which deserved and required careful study. The demand for anecdotic subject was only waived in the case of ethnographical painting, in Italian and Oriental genre; for here the singular types, pictorial costumes, and peculiar customs of foreign countries were in themselves enough to provoke curiosity. What was prized in the picture was merely something external, the subject of representation, not the representation 226 itself, the matter and not the manner, that which concerned the theme, that which fell entirely beyond the province of art. The illustrated periodicals which had been making their appearance since the forties gave a further impetus to this phase of taste. The more inducement there was to guess charades, the more injury was done to the sensuous enjoyment of art; for the accompanying text of the author merely translated the pictures back into their natural element. Painters, however, were not unwilling to reconcile themselves to the circumstances, because, as a result of their technical insufficiency, they were forced, on their side, to try to lend their pictures the adjunct of superficial interest by anecdotic additions. Literary humour had to serve the purpose of pictorial humour, and the talent of the narrator was necessary to make up for their inadequate artistic qualities. As the historical painters conveyed the knowledge of history in a popular style, the genre painters set up as agreeable tattlers, excellent anecdotists: they were in turn droll, meditative, sentimental, and pathetic, but they were not painters.


And painters, under these conditions, they could not possibly become. For though it is often urged in older books on the history of art that modern genre painting far outstripped the old Dutch genre in incisiveness of characterisation, depth of psychological conception, and opulence of invention, these merits are bought at the expense of all pictorial harmony. In the days of Rembrandt the Dutch were painters to their fingers’ ends, and they were able to be so because they appealed to a public whose taste was adequately trained to take a refined pleasure in the contemplation of works of art which had sterling merits of colour. Mieris painted the voluptuous ruffling of silken stuffs; Van der Meer, the mild light stealing through little windows into quiet chambers, and playing upon burnished vessels of copper and pewter, on majolica dishes and silver chattels, on chests and coverings; De Hoogh, the sunbeam streaming like a golden shaft of dust from some bright lateral space into a darker ante-chamber. 227 Each one set before himself different problems, and each ran through an artistic course of development.

The more recent masters are mature from their first appearance; the Hungarians paint exactly like the Swedes and the Germans, and their pictures have ideas for the theme, but never such as are purely artistic. Like simple woodland birds, they sing melodies which are, in some ways, exceedingly pretty; but their plumage is not equal to their song. No man can be painter and genre painter at the same time. The principal difference between them is this: a painter sees his picture, rather than what may be extracted from it by thought; the genre painter, on the other hand, has an idea in his mind, an “invention,” and plans out a picture for its expression. The painter does not trouble his head about the subject and the narrative contents; his poetry lies in the kingdom of colour. There reigns in his works—take Brouwer, for example—an authentic, uniformly plastic, and penetrative life welling from the artist’s soul. But the leading motive for the genre painter is the subject as such. For example, he will paint a children’s festival precisely because it is a children’s festival. But one must be a Jan Steen to accomplish such a task in a soundly artistic manner. The observation of these more recent painters meanwhile ventured no further than detail, and did not know what to do with the picture as a whole. They got over their difficulties because they “invented” the scene, made the children pose in the places required by the situation, and then composed these studies. The end was accomplished when the leading heroes of the piece had been characterised and the others well traced. The colouring was merely an unessential adjunct, and in a purely artistic sense not at all possible. For a picture which has come into being through a piecing together from separate copies of set models, and of costumes, vessels, interiors, etc., may be ever so true to nature in details, but this mosaic work is bound systematically to destroy the pictorial appearance, unity, and 228 quietude of the whole. Knaus is perhaps the only one who, as a fine connoisseur of colour, concealed this scrap-book drudgery, and achieved a certain congruity of colour in a really artistic manner by a subtilised method of harmony. But as regards the pictures of all the others, it is clear at once that, as Heine wrote, “they have been rather edited than painted.” The effectiveness of the picture was lost in the detail, and even the truth of detail was lost in the end in the opulence of subject, seductive as that was upon the first glance. For, as it was held that the incident subjected to treatment—the more circumstantial the better—ought to be mirrored through all grades and variations of emotion in the faces, in the gestures of a family, of the gossips, of the neighbours, of the public in the street, the inevitable consequence was that the artist, to make himself understood, was invariably driven to exaggerate the characterisation, and to set in the place of the unconstrained expression of nature that which has been histrionically drilled into the model. Not less did the attempt to unite these set figures as a composition in one frame lead to an intolerable stencilling. The rules derived from historical painting in a time dominated by that form of art were applied to our chequered and many-sided modern life. Since the structure of this composition prescribed laws from which the undesigned manifestation of individual objects is free, the studies after nature had to be readjusted in the picture according to necessity. There were attitudes in a conventional sense beautiful, but unnatural and strained, and therefore creating an unpleasing effect. An arbitrary construction, a forced method of composition, usurped the place of what was flexible, various, and apparently casual. The painters did not fit the separate part as it really was into the totality which the coherence of life demands: they arranged scenes of comedy out of realistic elements just as a stage manager would put them together.

And this indicates the further course which development was obliged to take. When Hogarth was left behind, painting had once more gained the independence which it had had in the great periods of art. The painter was forced to cease from treating secondary qualities—such as humour and narrative power—as though they were of the first account; and the public had to begin to understand pictures as paintings and not as painted stories. An “empty subject” well painted is to be preferred to an “interesting theme” badly painted. Pictures of life must drive out tableaux vivants, and human beings dislodge character types which curiosity renders attractive. Rather let there be a moment of breathing reality rendered by purely artistic means of expression than the most complete village tale defectively narrated; rather the simplest figure rendered with actuality and no thought of self than the most suggestive and ingenious characterisation. A conception, coloured by the temperament of the artist, of what was simple and inartificial, expressing nature at every step, had to take the place of laborious composition crowded with figures, the plainness and truth of sterling art to overcome what was overloaded and arbitrary, and the fragment of nature seized with spontaneous 229 freshness to supplant episodes put together out of fragmentary observations. Only such painting as confined itself, like that of the Dutch, “to the bare empirical observation of surrounding reality,” renouncing literary byplay, spirited anecdotic fancies, and all those rules of beauty which enslave nature, could really become the basis of modern art: and this the landscape painters created. When once these masters resolved to paint from nature, and no longer from their inner consciousness, there inevitably came a day when some one amongst them wished to place in the field or the forest, which he had painted after nature, a figure, and then felt the necessity of bringing that figure into his picture just as he had seen it, without giving it an anecdote mission or forcing it arbitrarily into his compositions. The landscapist found the woodcutter in the forest, and the woodcutter seemed to him the ideal he was seeking; the peasant seemed to him to have the right to stand amid the furrows he had traced with his plough. He no longer drove the fisher and the sailor from their barks, and had no scruple in representing the good peasant woman, laden with wood, striding forwards in his picture just as she strode through the forest. And so entry was made into the way of simplicity; the top-heavy burden of interesting subject-matter was thrown aside, and the truth of figures and environments was gained. The age contained all the conditions for bringing landscape painting such as this to maturity.




That landscape would become for the nineteenth century even more important than it was for the Holland of the seventeenth century had been clearly announced since the days of Watteau and Gainsborough, and since this tendency, in spite of all coercive rules, could be only momentarily delayed by Classicism, it came to pass that the era which began with Winckelmann’s conception of “vulgar nature” ended a generation later with her apotheosis. The thirty years from 1780 to 1810 denoted no more than a brief imprisonment for modern landscape, the luxuriantly blooming child being arbitrarily confined meanwhile in the strait-waistcoat of history. At first the phrase of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, which declared that landscape was no subject for painting because it had no soul, held painters altogether back from injuring their reputation by such pictures. And when, after the close of the century, some amongst them overcame this dread, Poussin the Classicist was of course set up as the only model. For an age which did not paint men but only statues, nature was too natural. As the figure painter subordinated everything to style and moulded the human body accordingly, landscape became mannered to suit an historical idea, and was used merely as a theatrical background for Greek tragedies. As the draughtsmen of the age freed the human figure from all “individual blemishes,” and thereby abandoned the most essential points of life and credibility which are bound up with personality, the landscapists wished to purify nature from everything “accidental,” with the result that dreary commonplaces were produced from her, the infinitely manifold. As the former sought the chief merit of their works in “well-balanced composition,” the latter regarded trees and mountains, temples and palaces, clouds and rivers, merely as counters which only needed to be changed in their mutual position according to acquired rules of composition to make new pictures. They did not reflect that nature possesses a more original force than the most able self-conscious work of man, or, as Ludwig Richter has so well expressed it, that “what God Almighty has made is always more beautiful than what men can invent.” There were summary rules for landscapes in the Poussin style, the beauty of which was sought above all in an opulent play of noble lines, corresponding to the fine and flowing lines of Carstens’ figures. But the conception was all the more pedantic whilst the drawing was hard and dry and the colour feeble and vitreous. The 231 most familiar of the group is the old Tyrolese Josef Anton Koch, who came to Rome in 1796, and, during two years, had an opportunity of allying himself with Carstens. His pictures are usually composed with motives taken from the Sabine Mountains. A landscape with “The Rape of Hylas” is possessed by the Staedel Institute in Frankfort, a “Sacrifice of Noah” by the Museum in Leipzig, and a landscape from the Sabine Mountains by the New Pinakothek in Munich. All three show little promise in technique; it was only in water-colour that he painted with more freedom.


Without a doubt nature in Italy is favourable to this “heroic” style of landscape. In South Italy the country is at once magnificent and peaceful. The naked walls of rock display their majestic lines with a sharp contour; the sea is blue, and there is no cloud in the sky. As far as the eye reaches everything is dead and nugatory in its colour, and rigid and inanimate in form: a plastic landscape, full of style but apparently devoid of soul. Nowhere is there anything either stupendous or familiar, though, at the same time, there is no country on the earth where there is such a sweep of proud majestic lines. It was not the composition of Poussin, but the classic art of Claude—which aimed at being nothing but the transparent mirror of sunny and transparent nature—that gave perfect expression to this classic landscape; and in the nineteenth century Karl Rottmann, according to what one reads, has most completely represented this same classical form of art. His twenty-eight Italian landscapes in the arcades of the Munich Hofgarten are said to display a sense of the beauty of line and a greatness of conception paralleled by few other landscape works of the century. And those who draw their critical appreciations from books will probably continue to make this statement, with all the greater right since the world has been assured that the Arcade pictures are but a shadow of earlier splendour. To a spectator who has not been primed and merely judges with his own eyes without knowing anything about Rottmann’s celebrity, these pictures with their hard, inept colouring and their pompous “synthetic” composition seem in the majority of cases to be excessively childish, though it is not contested that before their restoration by Leopold Rottmann and their present state of decay they may very possibly have been good. Rottmann’s Grecian landscapes in the New Pinakothek are not ranked high even by his admirers. Standing in the beginning entirely upon Koch’s ground, he was led in these pictures to give more importance to colour and light, and even to introduce unusual phenomena, 232 such as lowering skies, with rainbows, sunsets, moonlight scenes, thunderstorms, and the like. This mixture of classical principles of drawing with effect-painting in the style of Eduard Hildebrandt brought a certain confusion into his compositions, to say nothing of the fact that he never got rid of his harsh and heavy colour, Bengal lights, and a crudeness of execution suggestive of tapestry. His water-colours, probably, contain the only evidence from which it may be gathered that Rottmann really had an eminent feeling for great characteristic lines, and did not unsuccessfully go through the school of Claude with his finely moulded, rhythmically perfected, and yet simple conception of nature.

Gräphische Künst.

Otherwise Friedrich Preller is the only one of all the stylists deriving from Koch who rose to works consistent in execution. To him only was it granted to assure his name a lasting importance by exhaustively working out a felicitous subject. The Odyssey landscapes extend through his whole life. During a sojourn in Naples in 1830 he was struck by the first idea. After his return home he composed for Doctor Härtel in Leipzig the first series as wall decoration in tempera in 1832-34. Then there followed his journeys to Rügen and Norway, where he painted wild strand and fell landscapes of a sombre austerity. After this interruption, so profitably extending his feeling for nature, he returned to the Odyssey. The series grew from seven to sixteen cartoons, which were to be found in 1858 at the Munich International Exhibition. The Grand Duke of Weimar then commissioned him to paint the complete sequence for a hall in the Weimar Museum. In 1859-60 Preller prepared himself afresh in Italy, and as an old man completed the work which he had planned in youth. This Weimar series, executed in encaustic painting, is artistically the maturest that he ever did. Of the entire school he only had the secret of giving his figures a semblance of life, and concealed the artificiality of his compositions. Nature in his pictures has an austere, impressive sublimity, and is the worthy home of gods and heroes. During his long life he had made so many and such incessant studies of nature in North and South—even at seventy-eight he was seen daily with his sketch-book in the Campagna—that he could venture to work with great, simple lines without the danger of becoming empty.

At the time when these pictures were painted the rendering of still-life in 233 landscape had in general been long buried, although even to-day it has scattered representatives in the younger Preller, Albert Hertel, and Edmund Kanoldt. As antique monuments came into fashion with Classicism, German ruins became the mode at the beginning of the romantic period and the return to the national past. For Koch and his followers landscape was only of value when, as the background of classical works of architecture, it directed one’s thoughts to the antique: shepherds had to sit with their flock around them on the ruins of the temple of Vesta, or cows to find pasture between the truncated pillars of the Roman Forum. But now it could only find its justification by allying itself with mediæval German history, by the portrayal of castles and strongholds.


“What is beautiful?—A landscape with upright trees, fair vistas, atmosphere of azure blue, ornamental fountains, stately palaces in a learned architectural style, with well-built men and women, and well-fed cows and sheep. What is ugly?—Ill-formed trees with aged, crooked, and cloven stems, uneven and earthless ground, sharp-cut hills and mountains which are too high, rude or dilapidated buildings, with their ruins lying strewn in heaps, a sky with heavy clouds, stagnant water, lean cattle in the field, and ungraceful wayfarers.”

In these words Gérard de Lairesse, the ancestor of Classicism, defined his ideal of landscape, and in the last clause, where he speaks of ugliness, he 234 prophetically indicated the landscape ideal of the Romanticists, as this is given for the first time in literature in Tieck’s Sternbald. For the young knight in Sternbald who desires to become a painter exclaims with enthusiasm: “Then would I depict lonely and terrible regions, rotting and broken bridges, between two rough cliffs facing a precipice, through which the forest stream forces its foaming course, lost travellers whose garments flutter in the moist wind, the dreaded figures of robbers ascending from the gully, waggons fallen upon and plundered, and battle against the travellers.” Which is all exactly the opposite to what Lairesse demanded from the landscapist. Alexander Humboldt has shown that the men of antiquity only found beauty in nature so far as she was kindly, smiling, and useful to them. But to the Romanticists nature was uncomely where she was the servant of civilisation, and beautiful only in tameless and awe-inspiring savageness. The light, therefore, was never to be that of simple day, but the gloom of night and of the mountain glens. Such phenomena are neither to be seen in Berlin nor in Breslau, and to be a Romanticist was to love the opposite of all that one sees around one. Tieck, who lived in the cold daylight of Berlin with its modern North German rationalism, has therefore—and not by chance—first felt the yearning for moonlight landscapes of primæval forest; Lessing, from Breslau, was the first to give it pictorial expression.


Even in the twenties Koch’s classical heroic landscapes, executed with an ideal sweep of line, were contrasted with castle chapels, ruins, and cloister courts composed in a similarly arbitrary manner. Landscape was no longer to make its appeal to the understanding by lines, as in the work of the Classicists, but to touch the spirit by colour. The various hues of moonlight seemed specially made to awaken sombre emotions. But as yet the technique of painting was too inadequately trained to express this preconceived “mood” through nature itself. To make his intentions clearer, therefore, the painter showed the effect of natural scenery on the figures in his pictures, illustrating the “mood” of the landscape in the “accessories.” Lessing’s early works represent in art that self-consciously elegiac and melancholy sentimental rendering of a mood introduced into literature by Sternbald, in his knights, squires, noble maidens, and other romantic requisites. The melancholy lingers upon rocks savagely piled upon each other, tumble-down chapels and ruined castles, in swamps and sombre woods, in old, decaying trees, half-obliterated paths, and ghostly gravestones; it veils the sky with a dark grey cerement. Amid hills and glens with wayside crosses, mills, and charcoal-burners’ huts may be seen lonely wanderers, praying pilgrims, priests hurrying from the cloister to bring the last consolation to the dying, riders who have lost their way, and mercenary soldiers lying dead. His first picture of 1828 revealed a desolate churchyard beneath a dark and lowering heaven, from which a solitary sunbeam bursts forth to illumine a grave-stead. Then followed the castle by the sea standing upon strangely moulded cliffs heaped in confusion; the churchyard in the snow where the nuns in the cloisters are following 235 a dead sister to the grave; the churchyard cloister, likewise in snow, where an old man has dug a fresh grave; the cloister in the light of evening with a priest visiting the sick; the landscape with the weary, grey-headed crusader, riding on a weary horse through a lonely mountain district, probably meant as an illustration to Uhland’s ballad Das Rosennest

“Rühe hab ich nie gefunden,

Als ein Jahr im finstern Thurm”;

and then came the desolate tableland with the robbers’ den burnt to ashes, and the landscape with the oak and the shrine of the Virgin, before which a knight and noble lady are making their devotions. As yet all these pictures were an arbitrary potpourri from Walter Scott, Tieck, and Uhland, and their ideal was the Wolf’s Glen in the Freischütz.


The next step which Romanticism had to take was to discover such primæval woodland scenes in actual nature, and as Italian landscape seems, as it were, to have been made for Claude, nature, as she is in Germany, makes a peculiar appeal to this romantic temperament. In certain parts of Saxon Switzerland the rocks look as if giants of the prime had played ball with them or piled them one on top of the other in sport. Lessing found in 1832 a landscape corresponding to the romantic ideal of nature in the Eifel district, whither he had been induced to go by a book by Nöggerath, Das Gebirge im Rheinland und Westfalen nach Mineralogischem und Chemischem Bezuge. Up to that time he had only known the romantic ideal of nature through Scott, Tieck, and Uhland, just as the Classicists had taken their ideal from Homer, Theocritus, and Virgil: in the Eifel district it came before him in tangible form. Flat, swampy tracts of shrub and spruce alternated with dark woods, where gigantic firs, weird pines, and primæval oaks raised their branches to the sky. At the same time he beheld the rude and lonely sublimity of nature in union with a humanity which was as yet uncultivated, and for that reason all the simpler and the healthier, judged by the Romanticist’s distaste for civilisation. Defiant cones of rock and huge masses of mountain wildly piled upon each other overlooked valleys in which a stalwart race of peasants passed their days in patriarchal simplicity. Here, for the first time, a sense for actual landscape was developed in him; hitherto it had been alloyed by a 236 taste for knights, robbers, and monks. “Oh, had I been born in the seventeenth century,” he wrote, “I would have wandered after the Thirty Years’ War throughout Germany, plundered, ruined, and run wild as she then was.” Hitherto only “composed” Italian landscapes had been painted, the soil of home ostensibly offering no sujets, or, in other words, not suiting those tendencies which subordinated everything to style: so Lessing was now the first painter of German landscape. His “Eifel Landscape” in the Berlin National Gallery, which was followed by a series of such pictures, introduces the first period of German landscape painting. The forms of the ground and of the rough sides of rock are rendered sharply and decisively, from geological knowledge. On principle he became an opponent of all artistic influence derived from Italy, and located himself in the Eifel district. The landscapes which he painted there are founded on immediate studies of nature, and are sustained by large and earnest insight. He draws the picture of this quarter in strong and simple lines: the sadness of the heath and the dark mist, the dull breath of which rises from swampy moorland. Still he painted only scenes in which nature had taken the trouble to be fantastic. The eye of the painter did not see her bright side, approaching her only when she looked gloomy or was in angry humour. Either he veils the sky with vast clouds or plunges into the darkness of an untrodden forest. Gnarled trees spread around, their branches stretching out fantastically twisted; the unfettered tumult of the powers of nature, the dull sultry atmosphere before the burst of the storm or its moaning subsidence, are the only moments which he represents. But the whole baggage of unseasonable Romanticism, the nuns and monks, pious knights and sentimental robbers, at first used to embody the mood of nature, were thrown overboard. A quieter and more melancholy though thoroughly manly seriousness, something strong and pithy, lies in the representations of Lessing. The Romanticists had lost all sense of the dumb silent life of nature. They only painted the changing adornment of the earth: heroes and the works of men, palaces, ruins, and classic temples. Nature served merely as a stage scene: the chief interest lay in the persons, the monuments, and the historical ideas associated with them. Even in the older pictures of Lessing the mood was exclusively given by the lyrical accessories. But now it was placed more and more in nature herself, and rings in power like an organ peal, from the cloudy sky, the dim lights, and the swaying tree-tops. For the first time it is really nature that speaks from the canvas, sombre and forceful. In this respect his landscapes show progress. They show the one-sidedness, but also the poetry of the Romantic view of nature. And they are no less of an advance in technique; for in making the discovery that his haunting ideal existed in reality, Lessing first began to study nature apart from preconceived and arbitrary rules of composition, and—learnt to paint.


Albert, Munich.





Up to 1840 there stood at his side a master no less powerful, the refractory, self-taught Karl Blechen, who only took up painting when he was five-and-twenty, and became one of the most original of German landscapists, in spite of a ruined life prematurely closing in mental darkness and suicide. He possessed a delicate feeling for nature, inspiration, boldness, and a spirited largeness of manner, although his technique was hard, awkward, and clumsy to the very end. He might be called the Alfred Rethel of landscape painting. He was not moved by what was kindly or formally beautiful in nature, but by loneliness, melancholy, and solitude. Many of his landscapes break away from peaceful melancholy, and are like the pictures in some horrible nightmare, ghastly and terrifying; on the other hand, he often surprises us by the pleasure he takes in homely everyday things, a characteristic hitherto of rare occurrence. Whereas Lessing never crossed the Alps for fear of losing his originality, Blechen was the first who saw even modern Italy without the spectacles of ideal style. From his Italian pictures it would not be supposed that he had previously studied the landscapes of the Classicists, or that beside him in Berlin Schinkel worked on the entirely abstract and ideal landscape. As a painter Blechen has even discovered the modern world. For Lessing landscape “with a purpose” was something hideous and insupportable. He cared exclusively for nature untouched by civilisation, painted the murmuring wood and the raging storm, here and there at most a shepherd who indicated the simplest and the oldest employment on the earth’s surface. But the Blechen Exhibition of 1881 contained an entirely singular phenomenon as regards the thirties, an evening landscape before the iron works in Eberswald: a long, monotonous plain with a sluggish river, behind which the dark outlines of vomiting manufactory chimneys rise sullenly into the bright evening sky. Even in that day Blechen painted what others scarcely ventured to draw: nature working in the service of man, and thereby—to use Tieck’s expression—“robbed of her austere dignity.”

Lessing’s most celebrated follower, Schirmer, appears in general as a weakened and sentimental Lessing. He began in 1828 with “A Primæval German Forest,” but a journey to Italy caused him in 1840 to turn aside from this more vigorous path. Henceforth his efforts were directed to nobility of form and line, to turning out Southern ideal landscapes with classically romantic accessories. The twenty-six Biblical landscapes drawn in charcoal, belonging to the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle, the four landscapes in oil with the history of the Good Samaritan in the Kunsthalle of Carlsruhe, and the twelve pictures on the history of Abraham in the Berlin National Gallery, are the principal results of this second period—his period of ideal style. 240 They are tame efforts at a compromise between Lessing and Preller, and therefore of no consequence to the history of the development of landscape painting. Amongst the many who regarded him as a model, Valentin Ruths of Hamburg is one of the most natural and delicate. His pictures, however, did not display any new impulse to widen the boundary by proceeding more in the direction of healthy and honestly straightforward observation of nature, or by emancipating himself from the school of regular composition and the rendering of an arbitrary mood.


Meanwhile this impulse came from another quarter. At the very time when the genre artists were painting their earliest pictures of rustic life under the influence of Teniers and Ostade, the landscapists also began to return to the old Dutch masters, following Everdingen in particular. Thus another strip of nature was conquered, another step made towards simplicity. The landscape ideal of the Classicists had been architecture, that of the Romanticists poetry; from this time forward it became pure painting. Little Denmark, which fifty years before had exercised through Carstens that fateful influence on Germany which led painters from the treatment of contemporary life and sent them in pursuit of the antique, now made recompense for the evil it had done. During the twenties and thirties it produced certain landscapists who guided the Germans to look with a fresh and unfettered gaze, undisturbed by the ideal, at nature in their own country, after the aberrations of Classicism and the 241 one-sidedness of the Romanticists. Under Eckersberg the Academy of Copenhagen was the centre of a healthy realism founded on the Dutch, and some of the painters who received their training there and laboured in later years in Dresden, Düsseldorf, and Munich spread abroad the principles of this school.


J. C. Dahl taught as professor in the Academy of Dresden. At the present time his Norwegian landscapes seem exceedingly old-fashioned, but in the thirties they evidently must have been something absolutely new, for they raised a hue and cry amongst the German painters as “the most wild naturalism.” In 1788 Johann Christian Clausen Dahl was born in Bergen. He was the son of one of those Norwegian giants who are one day tillers of the soil and on the morrow fishers or herdsmen and hunters, who cross the sea in their youth as sailors and clear the waste land when they return home. As he wandered with his father through the dense, solitary pine forests, along abrupt precipices, sullen lakes, rushing waterfalls, silvery shining glaciers, the majesty of Northern nature was revealed to him, and he rendered them in little coloured drawings, which, in spite of their awkward technique, bear witness to an extraordinary freshness of observation. The course of study at the Copenhagen Academy, whither he proceeded in his twentieth year, enabled him to become acquainted with Everdingen and Ruysdael, and these two old masters, who had also painted Norwegian landscapes, stimulated him to further efforts.


Dahl became the first representative of Norwegian landscape painting, and remained true to his country even when in 1819 he undertook a professorship in Dresden. Italy and Germany occupied his brush as much as Norway, but he was only himself when he worked amongst the Norwegian cliffs. Breadth of painting and softness of atmosphere are wanting in all his pictures. They are hard and dry in their effect, and not seldom entirely conventional; especially the large works painted after 1830. In them he gave the impression of a bewildering, babbling personality. They have been swiftly conceived and swiftly painted, but without artistic love and fine feeling. In his later years Dahl did not allow himself the time to bury himself in nature quietly and with devotion, and finally—especially in his moonlight pictures—took to using a violet-blue, which has a very conventional effect. Everdingen sought by preference for what was forceful and violently agitated in nature; Ruysdael felt an enthusiasm for rushing mountain streams. But for Dahl even these romantic elements of Northern nature were not enough. He approached nature, not to interpret her simply, but to arrange his effects. In his picture the wild Norwegian landscape had to be wilder and more restless than in reality it is. Not patient enough to win all its secrets from the savage mountain torrent, he forced together his effects, made additions, brought confusion into his picture as a whole, and a crudeness into the particular incidents. His large pictures have a loud effect contrasted with the simple intuition of nature amongst the Netherlanders. Many of them are merely fantastically irrational compositions of motives which have been learned by heart.

But there were also years in which Dahl stood in the front rank of his age, and even showed it the way to new aims. He certainly held that position from 1820 to 1830 in those pictures in which, instead of making romantic adaptations of Ruysdael and Everdingen, he resembled them by rendering the weirdness and eeriness and the rough and wild features of Norwegian scenery: red-brown heaths and brownish green turf-moors, stunted oaks and dark pine forests, erratic blocks sown without design amid the roots of trees, branches snapped by the storm and hanging as they were broken, and trunks felled by the tempest and lying where they fell. In certain pictures in the Bergen and Copenhagen Galleries he pointed out the way to new aims. The tendency to gloom and seriousness which reigns in those Dutch Romanticists has here yielded to what is simple and familiar, to the homely joy of the people of the North in the crisp, bright day and the wayward sunbeams. He loves the glimmer of light upon the birch leaves and the peacefully rippling sea. Like Adrian van der Neer, he studied with delight the wintry sky, the snow-clad plains, and the night and the moonshine. He began to feel even the charm of spring. Poor peasant cots are brightly and pleasantly perched upon moist, green hills, as though he had quite forgotten what his age demanded in “artistic composition.” Or the summer day spreads opulent and real between the cliffs, and the warm air vibrates over the fields. Peasants and 243 cattle, glimmering birches and village spires, stand vigorously forth in the landscape; even the execution is so simple that with all his richness of detail he succeeds in attaining a great effect. It is felt that this painting has developed amid a virgin nature, surrounded by the poetry of the fjord, the lofty cliff, and the torrent. In the same measure the Dutch had not the feeling for quietude and habitable, humble, and familiar places. And perhaps it was not by chance that this reformer came from the most virgin country of Europe, from a country that had had no share in any great artistic epoch of the past.


Caspar David Friedrich, that singular painter who carried on his artistic work in Greifswald, and later in Dresden also, is, if anything, almost more original and startling. Like Dahl, he studied under Eckersberg, at the Academy in Copenhagen, and it was this elder artist who opened his eyes to nature, in which he saw moods and humours as romantic as they were modern. His work was not seen in a right light until shown in the German Centenary Exhibition of 1906, when his just place was first, in the history of art, assigned to him.

For Munich a similar importance was won by the Hamburg painter Christian Morgenstern, who, like all artists of this group, imitated the Dutch in the tone of his colour, though as a draughtsman he remained a fresh and healthy son of nature. Even what he accomplished in all naïveté between 1826 and 1829, through direct study of Hamburg landscape, is something unique in the German production of that age. His sketches and etchings of these years assure him a high place amongst the earliest German “mood” painters, and 244 show that as a landscapist he had at that time made the furthest advance towards simplicity and intimacy of feeling. A journey to Norway, undertaken in 1829, and a sojourn at the Copenhagen Academy, where he worked up his Norwegian studies, only extended his ability without altering his principles; and when he came to Munich in the beginning of the thirties his new and personal intuition of nature made a revolution in artistic circles. The landscape painters learnt from him that Everdingen, Ruysdael, and Rembrandt were contemporaries of Poussin, that foliage need not be an exercise of style, and is able properly to indicate the nature of the tree. He discovered the beauty of the Bavarian plateau for the Munich school.

Even the first picture that he brought with him from Hamburg displayed a wide plain shadowed by clouds—a part of the Lüneberg heath—and to this type of subject he remained faithful even in later days. Himself a child of the plains, he sought for kindred motives in Bavaria, and found them in rich store on the shore of the Isar, in the quarries near Polling, at Peissenberg, and in the mossy region near Dachau. His pictures have not the power of commanding the attention of an indifferent spectator, but when they have been once looked into they are seen to be poetic, quiet, harmless, sunny, and thoughtful. He delighted in whatever was ordinary and unobtrusive, the gentle nature of the wood, the surroundings of the village, everything homely and familiar. If Rottmann revelled in the forms of Southern nature, Morgenstern abided by his native Germany; where Lessing only listened to the rage of the hurricane, Morgenstern hearkened to the quiet whisper of the breeze. The shadows of the clouds and the radiance of the sun lie over the dark heath, the moonlight streams dreamily over the quiet streets of the village, the waves break, at one moment rushing noisily and at another gently caressing the shore. Later, when he turned to the representation of the mountains, he lost the intimacy of feeling which was in the beginning peculiar to him. In mountain pictures, often as he attempted ravines, waterfalls, and snowy Alpine summits, he never succeeded in doing anything eminently good. These pictures have something petty and dismembered, and not the great, simple stroke of his plains and skies.

What Morgenstern was for Munich, Ludwig Gurlitt was for Düsseldorf—the most eminent of the great Northern colony which migrated thither in the thirties. His name is not to be found in manuals, and the pictures of his later period which represent him in public galleries seldom give a full idea of his importance. After a journey to Greece in 1859 he took to a brown tone, in which much is conventional. Moreover, his retired life—he resided from 1848 to 1852 in a Saxon village, and from 1859 to 1873 in Siebleben, near Gotha—contributed much to his being forgotten by the world. But the history of art which seeks operative forces must do him honour as the first healthy, realistic landscape painter of Germany, and—still more—as one who opened the eyes of a number of younger painters who have since come to fame.

Gurlitt was a native of Holstein, and, like Morgenstern, received his first 245 instruction in Hamburg, where at that time Bendixen, Vollmer, the Lehmanns, and the Genslers formed an original group of artists. After this, as in the case of Morgenstern also, there followed a longer sojourn in Norway and Copenhagen. In Düsseldorf, where he then went, a Jutland heath study made some sensation on his arrival. It was the first landscape seen in Düsseldorf which had not been composed, and Schadow is said to have come to Gurlitt’s studio, accompanied by his pupils, to behold the marvel. In 1836 he migrated to Munich, where Morgenstern had worked before him, and here he produced a whole series of works, which reveals an artist exceedingly independent in sentiment, and one who even preserves his individuality in the presence of the Dutch. His pictures were grey in tone, and not yellowish, like those of the Dutch; moreover, they were less composed and less “intelligently” dressed out with accessories than the pictures of Dahl; they were glances into nature resulting from earnest, realistic striving. Even when he began to paint Italian pictures, as he did after 1843, he preserved a straightforward simplicity which was not understood by criticism in that age, though it makes the more sympathetic appeal at the present day. The strength of his realism lay, as was the case with all artists of those years, rather in drawing; but at times he reaches, even in painting, a remarkable clearness and delicacy, which at one time verges on the silver tone of Canaletto, at another on the fine grey of Constable.


Realism begins in German art with the entry of these Northern painters 246 into Düsseldorf and Munich. They were less affected by æsthetic prejudices, and fresher and healthier than the Germans. Gurlitt was specially their intellectual leader, the soul, the driving force of the great movement which now followed. Roused by him, Andreas Achenbach emancipated himself from the landscape of style, and, in the years from 1835 to 1839, painted Norwegian pictures even before he knew Norway. Roused by Gurlitt, Achenbach set forth upon the pilgrimage thither, the journey which was a voyage of discovery for German landscape painting.

Until Achenbach’s death in 1905 he yearly exhibited works which were no longer in touch with the surrounding efforts of younger men, and there was an inclination to make little of his importance as a pioneer. What is wanting in his pictures is artistic zeal; what he seems to have too much of is routine. Andreas Achenbach is, as his portrait shows, a man of great acuteness. From his clear, light blue eyes he looks sharply and sagaciously into the world around; his short, thick-set figure, proud and firm of carriage, in spite of years, bears witness to his tough energy. His forehead, like Menzel’s, is rather that of an architect than of a poet; and his pictures correspond to his outward appearance. Each one of his earlier good pictures was a battle fought and won. Realism incarnate, a man from whom all visionary enthusiasm lay at a world-wide distance, he conquered nature by masculine firmness and unexampled perseverance. He appears as a maître-peintre, a man of cool, exact talent with a clear and sober vision. The chief characteristic of his organism was his eminent capacity for appreciating the artistic methods of other artists, and adapting what was essential in them to his own manner of production. One breathes more freely before the works of the masters of Barbizon, and merely sees good pictures in those of Achenbach. The former are captivating by their intimate penetration, where he is striking by his bravura of execution. His landscapes have no chance inspiration, no geniality. Everything is harmonised for the sake of pictorial effect. The structure and scaffolding are of monumental stability. Yet fine as his observation undoubtedly is, he has never surprised the innermost working of nature, but merely turned her to account for the production of pictures. For the French artists colour is the pure expression of nature and of her inward humour, but for Achenbach it is just the means for attaining an effectiveness similar to that of the Dutch. Penetrating everything thoroughly with those sparkling blue eyes of his, he learnt to render conscientiously and firmly the forms of the earth and its outward aspect, but the moods of its life appealing to the spirit like music were never disclosed to him. The paintings of the Dutch attracted him to art, not the impulse to give token to his own peculiar temperament. He thinks more of producing pictures which may equal those of his forerunners in their merits than of rendering the impression of nature which he has himself received. His intelligence quickens at the study of the rules and theories set up by the Dutch, and he seeks for spots in nature where he may exercise these principles, but remains chill at the sight of sky and water, trees 247 and mountains. It is not mere love of nature that has guided his brush, but a refined calculation of pictorial effect; and as he never went beyond this endeavour after rounded expression, as it was understood by the Dutch, though he certainly set German landscape free from a romantic subjection to style like Schirmer’s, he never led it to immediate personal observation of nature. It is not the fragrance of nature that is exhaled from his pictures, but the odour of oil and varnish; and as the means he made use of to attain his effects never alter, the result is frequently conventional and methodic.


But this does not alter the fact that, when the development of German landscape painting is in question, the name of Andreas Achenbach will be always heard in connection with it. He united technical qualities of the higher order with the capacity of impressing the public, and therefore he completed the work that the Danes had begun. He was the reformer who gave evidence that it was not alone by cliffs and baronial castles and murmuring oaks that sentiment was to be awakened; he hated everything unhealthy, mawkish, and vague, and by showing the claws of the lion of realism in the very heart of the romantic period he came to have the significance of a hero in German landscape painting. He forced demure Lower German landscape to surrender to him its charms; he revealed the fascination of Dutch canal scenes, with their quaint architecture and their characteristic human figures; he went to the stormy, raging North Sea, and opposed the giant forces of 248 boisterous, unfettered nature to the tame pictures of the school of Schirmer. Achenbach’s earliest North Sea pictures were exhibited at the very time when Heine’s North Sea series made its appearance, and they soon ousted the wrecks of the French painter Gudin, which, up to that time, had dominated the picture market. For the first time in the nineteenth century sea-pieces were so painted that the water really seemed a fluent, agitated element, the waves of which did not look as if they had been made of lead, and the froth and foam of cotton wool. The things which he was specially felicitous in painting were Rhine-land villages with red-tiled roofs, Dutch canals with yellow sandbanks and running waves breaking at the wooden buttresses of the harbour, Norwegian scenes with stubborn cliffs and dark pines, wild torrents and roaring waterfalls. He did not paint them better than Everdingen and Ruysdael had done, but he painted them better than any of his contemporaries had it in their power to do.

As Gurlitt is connected with the present by Achenbach, Morgenstern is connected with it by Eduard Schleich. The Munich picture rendering a mood took the place of Rottmann’s architectural pictures. Instead of the fair forms of the earth’s surface, artists began to study the play of sunlight on the plain and amid the flight of the clouds, and instead of the build of the landscape they turned to notice its atmospheric mood. Through Morgenstern Schleich was specially directed to Ruysdael and Goyen. In Ruysdael he was captivated by that profound seriousness and that sombre observation of nature which corresponded to something in his own humour; in Goyen by the pictorial harmony of sunlight, air, water, and earth. Schleich has visited France, Belgium, Hungary, and Italy, yet it is only by exception that he has painted anything but what the most immediate vicinity of Munich might offer. He chose the plainest spot in nature—a newly tilled field, a reedy pond, a stretch of brown moorland, a pair of cottages and trees; and under the guidance of Goyen he observed the changes of the sky with great care—the retreat of thunderclouds, the sun shrouded by thin veils of haze, the tremulous moonlight, or the hovering of the morning and evening mists. The Isar district and the mossy Dachauer soil were his favourite places of sojourn. He had a special preference for rain and moonlight and the mood of autumn, in rendering which he toned brown and grey hues to fine Dutch harmonies. His keynote was predominantly serious and elegiac, but he also loved scenes in which there was a restless and violent change of light. Over a wide plateau the sunlight spreads its radiance, whilst from the side an army of dense thunderclouds approaches, threatening storm and casting dark shadows. Over a monotonous plain, broken by solitary clumps of trees, the warm summer rain falls dripping down. Trees and shrubs throw light shadows, and the plain glistens in the beams of the sun. Or else there is a wide expanse of moor. Darkling the clouds advance, the rushes bend before the wind, and narrow strips of moonlight glitter amid the slender reeds. By such works Schleich became the head of the Munich school of landscape without having ever 249 directed the study of pupils. Through him and through Achenbach capacity for the fresh observation of the life of nature was given to German painters.


Undoubtedly amongst the younger group of artists there was a great difference in regard to choice of subject. The modern rendering of mood has only had its origin in Germany; it could not finally develop itself there. Just as figure painting, after making so vigorous a beginning with Bürkel, turned to genre painting in the hands of Enhuber and Knaus, until it returned to its old course in Leibl, landscape also went through the apprentice period of interesting subject, until it once more recognised the poetry of simpleness. The course of civilisation itself led it into these lines. When Morgenstern painted his first pictures the post-chaise still rattled from village to village, but now the whistle of the railway engine screams shrill as the first signal of a new age throughout Europe. Up to that time the possibility of travelling had been greatly circumscribed by the difficulties of traffic. But facilitated arrangements of traffic brought with them such a desire for travel as had never been before. In literature the revolution displayed itself by the rise of books of travels as a new branch of fiction. Hackländer sent many volumes of touring sketches into the market. Theodor Mügge made Norway, Sweden, 250 and Denmark the scene of his tales. But America was the land where the Sesame was to be found, for Germany had been set upon the war-trail with Cooper’s Indians, it had Charles Sealsfield to describe the grotesque mountain land of Mexico, the magic of the prairie, and the landscapes of Susquehannah and the Mississippi, and read Gerstäcker’s, Balduin Möllhausen’s, and Otto Ruppius’ transatlantic sketches with unwearying excitement. The painters who found their greatest delight in seeing the world with the eyes of a tourist also became cosmopolitan.


In Geneva Alexander Calame brought Germany to the knowledge of what is to be seen in Switzerland. Calame was, indeed, a dry, unpoetic landscapist. He began as a young tradesman by making little coloured views of Switzerland which foreigners were glad to bring away with them as mementoes of their visits, just as they now do photographs. Even his later pictures can only lay claim to the merit of such “mementoes of Switzerland.” His colour is insipid and monotonous, his atmosphere heavy, his technique laborious. By painting he understood the illumination of drawings, and his drawing was that of an engraver. An excellent drawing-master, he possessed an unusual mastery of perspective. On the other hand, all warmth and inward life are wanting in his works. Sentiment has been replaced by correct manipulation, and in the deep blue mirror of his Alpine lakes, as in the luminous red of his Alpine summits, there is always to be seen the illuminator who has first drawn the contours with a neat pencil and pedantic correctness. His pictures are grandiose scenes of nature felt in a petty way—in science too it is often the smallest spirit that seeks the greatest heroes. “The Ruins of Pæstum,” like “The Thunderstorm on the Handeck” and “The Range of Monte-Rosa at Sunrise,” merely attain an external, scenical effect which is not improved by crude and unnatural contrasts of light. And as, in later years, when orders accumulated, he fell a victim to an astounding fertility, many of his 251 works give one the impression of a dexterous calligrapher incessantly repeating the same ornamental letters. “Un Calame, deux Calame, trois Calame—que de calamités,” ran the phrase every year in the Paris Salon.


But if France remained cool he found the more numerous admirers in Germany. When, in 1835, he exhibited his first pictures in Berlin, a view of the Lake of Geneva, his appearance was at once hailed with the warmest sympathy. The dexterity, the rounded form, the finish of his pictures, were exactly what gave pleasure, and the distinctness of his drawing made its impression. His lithograph studies of trees and his landscape copies attained the importance of canonical value, and for whole decades remained in use as a medium of instruction in drawing. Amongst German painters Carl Ludwig, Otto von Kameke, and Count Stanislaus Kalkreuth were specially incited by Calame to turn to the sublimity of Alpine nature. Desolate wastes of cliffs, still, clear blue lakes, wild, plunging torrents, and mountain summits covered with glaciers and glowing to rose colour in the reflection of the setting sun are the elements of their pictures as of those of the Genevan master.

After Achenbach there came a whole series of artists from the North who began to depict the mountains of their native Norway under the strong colour effects of the Northern sun. The majestic formations of the fjords, the emerald green walls of rock, the cloven valleys, the terrible forest wildernesses, and the mountains of Norway dazzlingly illuminated and reflecting themselves like glittering jewels in the quiet waters of sapphire blue lakes, were interesting enough to afford nourishment for more than one landscapist.

Knud Baade, who worked from 1842 in Munich, after a lengthy sojourn at the Copenhagen Academy and with Dahl in Dresden, delighted in moonlight scenes, gloomy fir forests, and midnight suns. The sea rises in waves mountain 252 high, and tosses mighty vessels like withered leaves or dashes foaming against the cliffs of the shore. Fantastic clouds chase each other across the sky, and the wan moonlight rocks unsteadily upon the waves. More seldom he paints the sea lit up afar by the moon, or the fjord with its meadows and silver birches; and in such plain pictures he makes a far more attractive effect than in those which are wild and ambitious, for his diffident, petty execution is, as a rule, but little suited to restless and, as it were, dramatic scenes of nature.

Having come to Düsseldorf in 1841, Hans Gude became the Calame of the North. Achenbach taught him to approach the phenomena of nature boldly and realistically, and not to be afraid of a rich and soft scale of colour. Schirmer, the representative of Italian still landscape, guided him to the acquisition of a certain large harmony and sense for style in the structure of his pictures, to beauty of line and effective disposition of great masses of light and shade. This quiet, sure-footed, and robust realism, which had, at the same time, a gift of style, became the chief characteristic of his Northern landscapes, in which, however, the mutable and fleeting moods of nature were all the more neglected. Here are Norwegian mountain landscapes with lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, then pictures of the shore under the most varied phases of light, or grand cliff scenery with a sombre sky and a sea in commotion. Hans Gude, living from 1864 in Carlsruhe, and from 1880 in Berlin, is one of those painters whom one esteems, but for whom it is not possible to feel great enthusiasm—one of those conscientious workers who from their very solidity run the risk of becoming tedious. His landscapes are good gallery pictures, soberly and prosaically correct, and never irritating, though at the same time they seldom kindle any warm feeling.

Like Gude, Niels Björnson Möller devoted himself to pictures of the shore and the sea. Undisturbed by men in his sequestered retreat, August Capellen gave way to the melancholy charms of the Norwegian forest. He represented the tremulous clarity of the air above the cliffs, old, shattered tree-trunks and green water plants, sleepy ponds, and far prospects bounded by blue mountains; but he would have made an effect of greater originality had he thought less of Schirmer’s noble line and compositions arranged in the grand style. Morten-Müller became the specialist of the fir forest. His native woods where the valleys stretch towards the high mountain region offered him motives, which he worked up in large and excessively scenical pictures. His strong point was the contrast between sunlight playing on the mountain tops and mysterious darkness reigning in the forest depths, and his pictures have many admirers on account of “their elegiac melancholy, their minor key of touching sadness.” The Norwegian spring changing the earth into one carpet of moorland, broken by marshes, found its delineator in Erik Bodom. Ludwig Munthe became the painter of wintry landscape in thaw, when the snow is riddled with holes and a dirty brown crust of earth peeps from the dazzling mantle. A desolate field, a pair of crippled trees stretching their 253 naked branches to the dark-grey sky, a swarm of crows and a drenched road marked with the tracks of wheels, a tawny yellow patch of light gleaming through the cloud-bank and reflected in the wayside puddles, such are the elements out of which one of Munthe’s landscapes is composed. Through Eilert Adelsten Normann representations of the fjords gained currency in the picture market. His specialty was the delineation of the steep and beetling rocky fastnesses of Lofodden with their various reflections of light and colour, the midnight sun glaring over the deep clear sea, the contrast between the blue-black masses of the mountains and the gleaming fields of snow.


Others, such as Ludwig Willroider, Louis Douzette, and Hermann Eschke, set themselves to observe the German heath and the German forest from similar points of view; the one painted great masses of mountain and giant trees, the other the setting sun, and the third the sea. Oswald Achenbach, Albert Flamm, and Ascan Lutteroth set out once more on the pilgrimage to the South, where, in contrast to their predecessors, they studied no longer the classic lines of nature in Italy, but the splendour of varied effects of colour in the neighbourhood of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. The most enterprising turned their backs on Europe altogether, and began to paint the primæval 254 forests of South America, to which Alexander Humboldt had drawn attention, the azure and scarlet wonders of the tropics, and the gleam and sparkle of the icy world at the ultimate limits of the Polar regions. Ferdinand Bellermann was honoured as a new Columbus when in 1842 he returned home with his sketches, botanically accurate as they were, of the marvels of the virgin forest. Eduard Hildebrandt, who in 1843 had already gone through the Canary Islands, Italy, Sicily, North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Sahara, and the Northern sea of ice, at the mandate of Frederich Wilhelm IV in 1862 undertook a voyage round the world “to learn from personal view the phenomena that the sea, the air, and the solid earth bring forth beneath the most various skies.” Eugen Bracht traversed Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, and returned with a multitude of studies from the sombre and majestic landscape of the desert, and from that world of ruins and mountains in the East, and developed them at home into as many pictures.

A modicum of praise is due to all these masters for having continually widened the circuit of subject-matter, and gradually disclosed the whole world; and if their works cannot be reckoned as the products of a delicate landscape painting, that is a result of the same taste which prescribed anecdotic and narrative subjects to the genre picture of those years. The landscape painters conquered the earth, but, above all, those parts of it which were geographically remarkable. This they did in the interest of the public. They went with a Baedeker in their pocket into every quarter of the globe, brought with them all the carmine necessary for sunsets, and set up their easels at every place marked with an asterisk in the guidebook. And in these fair regions they noted everything that was to be seen with the said Baedeker’s assistance. Through satisfying the interest of the tourist by a rendering, faithful to a hair’s breadth, of topographically instructive points, they could best reckon on the sale of their productions.

At the same time, their pictures betray that, during this generation, historical painting was throned on a summit whence it could dictate the æsthetic catechism. The historical picture represented a humanity that carried about with it the consciousness of its outward presence, draped itself in front of the glass, and made an artificial study of every gesture and every expression of emotion. Genre painting followed, and rendered the true spirit of life, illustrating it histrionically, but without surprising it in its unconstrained working. And so trees, mountains, and clouds also were forced to lay aside the innocence of unconscious being and wrap themselves in the cloak of affectation. Simple reality in its quiet, delicate beauty, the homely “mood” of nature, touching the forms of landscape with the play of light and air, had nothing to tell an age overstrained by the heroics of history and the grimaces of genre painting. A more powerful stimulus was necessary. So the landscapists also were forced to seek nature where she was histrionic and came forth in blustering magnificence; they were forced to send off brilliant pyrotechnics to fire out sun, moon, and stars in order to be heard, or, more literally, seen.


Instruction or theatrical effect—the aim of historical painting—had also to be that of the landscape painter. And as railroads are cosmopolitan arrangements, he was in a position to satisfy both demands with promptitude. As historical painters in the chase of striking subjects directed their gaze to the farthest historical horizon, and the genre painters sought to take their public captive principally through what was alien and strange, Oriental and Italian, the landscape painters, too, found their highest aim in the widest possible expansion of the geographical horizon. “Have these good people not been born anywhere in particular?” asked Courbet, when he contemplated the German landscapes in the Munich Exhibition of 1869. What would first strike the inhabitant of a Northern country in foreign lands was made the theme of the majority of the pictures. But as the historical painting, in illustrating all the great dramatic scenes from the Trojan War to the French Revolution, yielded at one time to a pædagogical doctrinaire tendency and at another to theatrical impassionedness, so landscape painting on its cosmopolitan excursions became partly a dry synopsis of famous regions, only justifiable as a memento of travel, partly a tricked-out piece of effect which, like everything obtrusive, soon lost its charm. Pictures of the first description which chiefly borrowed their motives from Alpine nature, so imposing in its impressiveness of form—grand masses of rock, glaciers, snow-fields, and abrupt precipices—only needed to have the fidelity of a portrait. Where that was given, the public, guided by the instinct for what is majestic and beautiful in nature, stood before them quite content, while Alpine travellers instructed the laity that the deep blue snow of the picture was no exaggeration, but a phenomenon of the mountain world which had been correctly reproduced. In all these cases there can be no possible doubt about geographical position, but there is seldom any need to make inquiries after the artist. The interest which they excite is purely of a topographical order; otherwise they bear the stamp of ordinary prose, of the aridity and unattractiveness which always creeps in as a consequence of pure objectivity. Works of the second description, which depict exotic regions, striking by the strangeness of various phenomena of light and the splendour and glow of colour, are generally irritating by their professional effort to display “mood.” The old masters revealed “mood” without intending to do so, because they approached nature piously and with a wealth of feeling. The new masters obtain a purely external effect, because they strain after a “mood” in their painting without feeling it; and though art does not exclude the choice of exotic subjects, it is not healthy when a tendency of this sort becomes universal. Really superior art will, from principle, never seek the charm of what is strange and distant, since it possesses the magical gift of bestowing the deepest interest on what lies nearest to it. In addition to this, such effects are as hard to seize as the moment of most intense excitement in the historical picture. As an historical painter Delacroix could render it, and Turner as a landscape painter, but geniuses like Delacroix and Turner are not born every day. As these phenomena 256 were painted at the time in Germany, the right “mood” was not excited by them, but merely a frigid curiosity. Almost all landscapes of these years create an effect merely through their subject; they are entertaining, astonishing, instructive, but the poetry of nature has not yet been aroused. It could only reveal itself when the preponderance of interest in mere subject was no longer allowed. As the figure painters at last disdained through narrative and “points” to win the applause of those who had no sensitiveness for art, so the landscape painters were obliged to cease from giving geographical instruction by the representation of nature as beloved by tourists, and to give up forcing a “mood” in their pictures by a subterfuge. The necessary degree of artistic absorption could only go hand in hand with a revolt against purely objective interest of motive, and with a strenuous effort at the representation of familiar nature in the intimate charm of its moods of light and atmosphere. It was necessary for refinement of taste to follow on the expression of subject-matter; and this impulse had to bring artists back to the path struck by Dahl, Morgenstern, and Gurlitt. To unite the simple, moving, and tender observation of those older artists with richer and more complex methods of expression was the task given to the next generation in France, where paysage intime, the most refined and delicate issue of the century, grew to maturity in the very years when German landscape painting roamed through the world with the joy of an explorer.




How it was that the secrets of paysage intime were reserved for our own century—and this assuredly by no mere accident—can only be delineated in true colours when some one writes a special history of landscape painting, a book which at the present time would be the most seasonable in the literature of art. Wereschagin once declared that in the province of landscape the works of the old masters seem like the exercises of pupils in comparison with the performances of modern art; and certain it is that the nineteenth century, if it is inferior to previous ages in everything else, may, at any rate, offer them an equivalent in landscape. It was only city life that could produce this passionately heightened love of nature. It was only in the century of close rooms and over-population, neurosis and holiday colonies, that landscape painting could attain to this fulness, purity, and sanctity. It was only our age of hurry and work that made possible a relation between nature and the human soul, which really has something of what the Earth Spirit vouchsafed to Faust: “to gaze into her heart as into the bosom of a friend.”

In France also, the tendency which since the eighteenth century had made itself felt in waves rising ever higher, had been for a short time abruptly interrupted by Classicism. Of the pre-revolutionary landscapists Hubert Robert was the only one who survived into the new era. His details of nature and his rococo savour were pardoned to him for the sake of his classic ruins. At first there was not one of the newer artists who was impelled to enter this province. A generation which had become ascetic, and which dreamed only of rude, manly virtue, expressed through the plastic and purified forms of the human body, had lost all sense for the charms of landscape. And when the first landscapes appeared once more, after several years, they were, as in Germany, solemn stage-tragedy scenes, abstract “lofty” regions such as Poussin ostensibly painted. Only in Poussin a great feeling for nature held together the conventional composition, in spite of all his straining after style; whereas nothing but frigid rhetoric and sterile formalism reigns in the works of these newer painters, works which were created at second-hand. The type of the beautiful which had been borrowed from the antique was worked into garden and forest with a laboured effort at style, as it had been worked into 258 the human form and the flow of drapery. A prix de Rome was founded for historical landscapes.

Henri Valenciennes was the Lenôtre of this Classicism, the admired teacher of several generations. The beginner in landscape painting modelled himself upon Valenciennes as the figure painter upon Guérin. His Traité élémentaire de perspective pratique, in which he formulated the principles of landscape, contains his personal views as well as the æsthetics of the age. Although, as he premises, he “is convinced that there is in reality only one kind of painting, historical painting, it is true that an able historical painter ought not entirely to neglect landscape.” Rembrandt, of course, and the old Dutch painters were without any sort of ideal, and only worked for people without soul or intelligence. How far does a landscape with cows and sheep stand below one with the funeral of Phocion, or a rainy day by Ruysdael below a picture of the Deluge by Poussin! Hardly does Claude Lorrain find grace in the eyes of Valenciennes. “He has painted with a pretty fidelity to nature the morning and evening light. But just for that very reason his pictures make no appeal to the intelligence. He has no tree where a Dryad could dwell, no spring in which nymphs could splash. Gods, demigods, nymphs, satyrs, even heroes are too sublime for these regions; shepherds could dwell there at best.” Claude, indeed, loved Italy, but knew the old writers all too little, and they are the groundwork for landscape painters. As David said to his pupil Gros, “Look through your Plutarch,” Valenciennes advised his own pupils to study Theocritus, Virgil, and Ovid: only from these authors might be learnt what were the regions suitable for gods and heroes.

“Vos exemplaria græca

Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.”

If, for example, the landscapist would paint Morning, let him portray the moment when Aurora rises laughing from the arms of her aged spouse, when the hours are yoking four fiery steeds to the car of the sun-god, or Ulysses kneels imploring before Nausicaa. For Noon the myth of Icarus or of Phaëton might be turned to account. Evening may be represented by painting Phœbus hastening his course as he nears the horizon in flaming desire to cast himself into the arms of Thetis. Having once got his themes from the old poets, the landscape painter must know the laws of perspective to execute his picture; he must be familiar with Poussin’s rules of composition, and occasionally he ought even to study nature. Then he needs a weeping willow for an elegy, a rock for the death of Phaëton, and an oak for the dance of the nymphs. To find such motives he should make journeys to the famed old lands of civilisation; best of all on the road which art itself has traversed—first to Asia Minor, then to Greece, and then to Italy.



These æsthetics produced Victor Bertin and Xavier Bidault, admired by their contemporaries for “richness of composition and a splendid selection of sites.” Their methodical commonplaces, their waves and valleys and temples, bear the same relation to nature as the talking machine of Raimundus Lullus does to philosophy. The scholastic landscape painter triumphed; a school it was which nourished itself on empty formulas, and so died of anæmia. Bidault, who in his youth made very good studies, is, with his stippled leaves and polished stems, his grey skies looking sometimes like lead and sometimes like water, the peculiar essence of a tiresome Classicism; and he is the same Bidault who, as president of the hanging committee, for years rejected the landscapes of Théodore Rousseau from the Salon. It is only the figure of Michallon, who died young, that still survives from this group. He too belongs to the school of Valenciennes, through his frigid, meagre, and pedantically correct style; but he is distinguished from the rest, for he endeavoured to acquire a certain truth to nature in the drawing of plants, and was accounted a bold innovator at the time. He did not paint “the plant in itself,” but burs, thistles, dandelions, everything after its kind, and through this botanical exactness he acquired in the beginning of the century a fame which it is now hard to understand. In the persons of Jules Cogniet and Watelet the gates of the school were rather more widely opened to admit reality. Having long populated their classic valleys with bloodless, dancing nymphs and figurants of divine race, they abandoned historical for picturesque landscape, and “dared” to represent scenes from the environs of Paris, castles and windmills. But as they clung even here to the classical principles of composition, 260 it is only nature brushed and combed, trimmed and coerced by rules, that is reflected in their painting. Even in 1822, when Delacroix exhibited his “Dante’s Bark,” the ineffable Watelet shone in his full splendour. Amongst his pictures there was a view of Bar-sur-Seine, which the catalogue appropriately designated not simply as a vue, but as a vue ajustée. Till his last breath Watelet was convinced that nature did not understand her own business, and was always in need of a painter to revise her errors and correct them.

Beside this group who adapted French localities for classical landscapes there arose in the meantime another group, and they proceeded in the opposite direction. Their highest aim was to go on pilgrimage to sacred Italy, the classic land, which, with their literary training and their one-sided æsthetics, they invariably thought more beautiful and more worthy of veneration than any other. But they tried to break with Valenciennes’ arbitrary rules of composition, and to seize the great lines of Italian landscape with fidelity to fact. In going back from Valenciennes to Claude they endeavoured to pour new life into a style of landscape painting which was its own justification, compromised as it had been by the Classic school. They made a very heretical appearance in the eyes of the strictly orthodox pupils of Valenciennes. They were called the Gothic school, which was as much as to say Romanticists, and the names of Théodore Aligny and Edouard Bertin were for years mentioned with that of Corot in critiques. They brought home very pretty drawings from Greece, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, and Bertin did this especially. Aligny is even not without importance as a painter. He aimed at width of horizon and simplicity of line more zealously than the traditional school had done. He is, indeed, a man of sombre, austere, and earnest talent, and the solemn rhythm of his pictures would have more effect if the colour were not so dry, and if a fixed and monotonous light were not uniformly shed over everything in place of a vibrating atmosphere.

Alexandre Desgoffe, Paul Flandrin, Benouville, Bellel, and others drew from the same sources with similar conviction and varying talent. Paul Flandrin, in particular, was in his youth a good painter in the manner of 1690. His composition is noble and his execution certain, recalling Poussin. Ingres, his master, said of him, “If I were not Ingres I would be Flandrin.” It was only later that the singular charm of Claude Lorrain and the Roman majesty of Poussin were transformed under the brush of Flandrin into arid still-life, into landscapes of pasteboard and wadding.


But not from this quarter could the health of a school which had become anæmic be in any way restored. French landscape had to draw a new power of vitality from the French soil itself. It was saved when its eyes were opened to the charms of home, and this revelation was brought about by Romanticism. In the Salon notices, from 1822 onwards, the complaints of critics are repeated with increasing violence—complaints that, instead of fair regions, noble character, and monumental lines, nothing but “malarious lakes, desolate wastes, and terrible cliffs” should be painted, which, in the language of 261 Classicism, means that French landscape painting had taken firm hold of the soil in France. The day when Racine was declared by the young Romanticists to be a maker of fine phrases put an end to the whole school of David and to Classical landscape at the same time. It fell into oblivion, as, sooner or later, every artistic movement which does not rest on the nature and personality of the artist inevitably must. The young revolutionaries no longer believed that an alliance with mythological subjects and “grand composition” could compensate for the lack of air and light. They were tired of pompous, empty, and distant scenery. They only thought of nature, and that amid which they lived seemed the less to forego its charms the more Italy came under suspicion as the home of all these ugly, unpleasant, and academical pictures. That was the birthday of French landscape. At the very time when Delacroix renewed the répertoire of grand painting, enriching art with a world of feeling which was not merely edited, a parallel movement began in landscape. “Dante’s Bark” was painted in 1822, “The Massacre of Chios” in 1824. Almost at the same hour a tornado swept through the branches of the old French oaks, and bent the rustling corn; the sky was covered with clouds, and the waters, which had been hard-bound for so long, sped purling once more along their wonted course. The little paper temples, built on classic heights, toppled down, and there rose lowly rustic cottages, from the chimneys of which the smoke mounted wavering to the sky. Nature awoke from her wintry sleep, and the spring of modern landscape painting broke with its sadness and its smiles.

This is where the development of French art diverges from that of German. After it had stood under the influence 262 of Poussin, the German long continued to have a suspicious preference for scenery that was devoid of soul, for beautiful views, as the phrase is, and it penetrated much later into the spirit of familiar nature. But as early as the twenties this spirit had revealed itself to the French. It was only in the province of poetry that they went through the period of enthusiasm for exotic nature—and even there not to the same extent as Germany. Only in Chateaubriand’s Atala are there to be found pompously pictorial descriptions of strange landscapes which have been in no degree inwardly felt. Chiefly it was the virgin forests of North America that afforded material for splendid pictures, which he describes in grandiloquent and soaring prose. A nature which is impressive and splendid serves as the scenery of these dramas of human life. But with Lamartine the reaction was accomplished. He is the first amongst the poets of France who conceived landscape with an inward emotion, and brought it into harmony with his moods of soul. His poetry was made fervent and glorified by love for his home, for his own province, for South Burgundy. Even in the region of art a poet was the first initiator.




Victor Hugo, the father of Romanticism in literature, cannot be passed over in the history of landscape painting. Since 1891, when that remarkable exhibition of painter-poets was opened in Paris—an exhibition in which Théophile Gautier, Prosper Merimée, the two de Goncourts, and others were represented by more or less important works—the world learnt what a gifted draughtsman, what a powerful dramatist in landscape, was this great Romanticist. Even in the reminiscences of nature—spirited and suggestive of colour as they are—which he drew with a rapid hand in the margin of his manuscripts, the fiery glow of Romanticism breaks out. The things of which he speaks in the text appear in black shadows and ghostly light. Old castles stand surrounded by clouds of smoke or the blinding glare of fire, moonrise makes phantom silhouettes of the trees, waves lashed by the storm dash together as they spout over vessels; and there are gloomy seas and dark unearthly shores, fairy palaces, proud citadels, and cathedrals of fabled story. Whenever one of his finished drawings is bequeathed to the Louvre, Hugo is certain to receive a place in the history of art as one of the champions of Romanticism.

The movement was so universal amongst the painters that it is difficult at the present time to perceive the special part that each individual played in the great drama. This is especially true of Georges Michel, a genius long misunderstood, a painter first made known in wider circles by the World Exhibition in 1889, and known to the narrower circle of art lovers only since his death in 1843. At that time a dealer had bought at an auction the works 264 left behind by a half-famished painter—pictures with no signature, and only to be identified because they collectively treated motives from the surroundings of Paris. A large, wide horizon, a hill, a windmill, a cloudy sky were his subjects, and all pointed to an artist schooled by the Dutch. Curiosity was on the alert, inquiry was made, and it was found that the painter was named Georges Michel, and had been born in 1763; that at twelve years of age he had shirked school to go drawing, had run away with a laundress at fifteen, was already the father of five children when he was twenty, had married again at sixty-five, and had worked hard to his eightieth year. Old men remembered that they had seen early works of his in the Salon. It was said that Michel had produced a great deal immediately after the Revolution, but exceedingly tedious pictures, which differed in no respect from those of the other Classicists; for instance, from Demarne and Swebach, garnished with figures. It was only after 1814 that he disappeared from the Salon; not, as has been now discovered, because he had no more pictures to exhibit, but because he was rejected as a revolutionary. During his later years Michel had been most variously employed: for one thing, he had been a restorer of pictures.


In this calling many Dutch pictures had passed through his hands, and they suggested to him the unseasonable idea of looking more closely into nature in the neighbourhood than he had done in his youth—nature not as she was in Italy, but in the environs of the city. While Valenciennes and his pupils made so many objections to painting what lay under their eyes, Georges Michel remained in the country, and was the first to light on the idea of placing 265 himself in the midst of nature, and not above her; no longer to arrange and adapt, but to approach her by painting her with directness. If any one spoke of travelling to Italy, he answered: “The man who cannot find enough to paint during his whole life in a circuit of four miles is in reality no artist. Did the Dutch ever run from one place to another? And yet they are good painters, and not merely that, but the most powerful, bold, and ideal artists.” Every day he made a study in the precincts of Paris, without any idea that he would count in these times among the forerunners of modern art. He shares the glory of having discovered Montmartre with Alphonse Karr, Gérard de Nerval, and Monselet. After his death such studies were found in the shops of all the second-hand dealers of the Northern Boulevard; they were invariably without a frame, as they had never seemed worth framing, and when they were very dear they were to be had for forty francs. Connoisseurs appreciated his wide horizons, stormy skies, and ably sketched sea-shores. For, in spite of his poverty, Michel had now and then deserted Montmartre and found means to visit Normandy. Painfully precise in the beginning, while he worked with Swebach and Demarne, he had gradually become large and bold, and employed all means in giving expression to what he felt. He was a dreamer, who brought into his studies a unison of lights, and, now and then, beams of sun which would have delighted Albert Cuyp. A genuine offspring of the old Dutch masters—of the grand and broad masters, not of those who worked with a fine brush—already he was aiming at l’expression par l’ensemble, and since the Paris Universal Exhibition he has been fittingly honoured as the forerunner of Théodore Rousseau. His pictures, as it seems, were early received in various studios, and there they had considerable effect in setting artists thinking. But as he ceased to date his pictures after 1814 it is, nevertheless, difficult to be more precise in determining the private influence which this Ruysdael of Montmartre exerted on men of the younger generation.

One after the other they began to declare the Italian pilgrimage to be unnecessary. They buried themselves as hermits in the villages around the capital. The undulating strip of country, rich in wood and water, which borders on the heights of Saint-Cloud and Ville d’Avray, is 266 the cradle of French landscape painting. In grasping nature they proceeded by the most various ways, whilst they drew everything scrupulously and exactly which an observing eye may discern, or wedded their own temperament with the moods of nature.


That remarkable artist Charles de la Berge seems like a forerunner of the English Pre-Raphaelite school. He declared the ideal of art to consist in painting everything according to nature, and overlooking nothing; in carrying drawing to the most minute point, and yet preserving the impression of unison and harmony in the picture—which is as easy to say as it is difficult to perform. His brief life was passed in this struggle. His pictures are miracles of patience: to see that it is only necessary to know the “Sunset” of 1839, in the Louvre. There is something touching in the way this passionate worker had branches and the bark of trees brought to his room, even when he lay on his deathbed, to study the contortions of wood and the interweaving of fibres with all the zeal of a naturalist. The efforts of de la Berge have something of the religious devotion with which Jan van Eyck or Altdorfer gazed at nature. But he died too young to effect any result. He copied the smallest particulars of objects with the utmost care, and in the reproduction even of the smallest aimed at a mathematical precision, neutralising his qualities of colour, which were otherwise of serious value, by such hair-splitting detail.

Camille Roqueplan, the many-sided pupil of Gros, made his first appearance 267 as a landscape painter with a sunset in 1822. He opposed the genuine windmills of the old Dutch masters to those everlasting windmills of Watelet, with their leaden water and their meagre landscape. In his pictures a green plain, intersected by canals, stretches round; a fresh and luminous grey sky arches above. That undaunted traveller Camille Flers, who had been an actor and ballet dancer in Brazil before his appearance as a painter, represented the rich pastures of Normandy with truth, but was diffident in the presence of nature where she is grand. His pupil, Louis Cabat, was hailed with special enthusiasm by the young generation on account of his firm harmonious style. His pictures showed that he had been a zealous student of the great Dutch artists, and that it was his pride to handle his brush in their manner, expressing as much as possible without injuring pictorial effect. He is on many sides in touch with Charles de la Berge. Later he even had the courage to see Italy with fresh eyes, and in a simple manner to record his impressions without regard for the rules and theories of the Classicists. But the risk was too great. He became once more an admirer of imposing landscape, an adherent of Poussin, and as such he is almost exclusively known to us of a younger generation.


Paul Huet was altogether a Romanticist. In de la Berge there is the greatest objectivity possible, in Huet there is impassioned expression. His heart told him that the hour was come for giving passion utterance; he wanted to render the energy of nature, the intensity of her life, with the whole might of vivid colouring. In his pictures there is something of Byronic poetry; the conception is rich and powerful, the symphony of colour passionately dramatic. In every one of his landscapes there breathes the human soul with its unrest, its hopelessness, and its doubts. Huet was the child of an epoch, which at one moment exulted to the skies and at another sorrowed to death in the most violent contrast; and he has proclaimed this temper of the age with all the freedom and power possible, where it is only earth and sky, clouds and trees that are the medium of expression. Most of his works, like Romanticism in general, have an earnest, passionate, and sombre character; nothing of the ceremonial pompousness peculiar to Classical landscapes. He has a passion for boisterous storms and waters foaming over, clouds with the lightning flashing through them, and 268 the struggle of humanity against the raging elements. In this effort to express as much as possible he often makes his pictures too theatrical in effect. In one of his principal works, the “View of Rouen,” painted in 1833, the breadth of execution almost verges on emptiness and panoramic view. Huet was in the habit of heaping many objects together in his landscapes. He delighted in expressive landscapes in the sense in which, at that time, people delighted in expressive heads. This one-sidedness hindered his success. When he appeared in the twenties his pictures were thought bizarre and melancholy. And later, when he achieved greater simplicity, he was treated by the critics merely with the respect that was paid to the Old Guard, for now a pleiad of much brighter stars beamed in the sky.


But we must not forget that Michel and Huet showed the way. Rousseau and his followers left them far behind, as Columbus threw into oblivion all who had discovered America before him, or Gutenberg all who had previously printed books. The step on which these initiators had stood was more or less that of Andreas Achenbach and Blechen. They are good and able painters, but they still kept the Flemish and Dutch masters too much in their memory. It is easy to detect in them reminiscences of Ruysdael and Hobbema and the studies of gallery pictures grown dim with age. They still coloured objects brown, and made spring as mournful as winter, and morning as gloomy as evening; they had yet no sense that morning means the awakening of life, the youth of the sun, the springtide of the day. They still composed their pictures and finished and rounded them off for pictorial effect. The next necessary step was no longer to look at Ruysdael and Cuyp, but at nature—to 269 lay more emphasis on sincerity of impression, and therefore the less upon pictorial finish and rounded expression—to paint nature, not in the style of galleries, but in its freshness and bloom. And the impulse to this last step, which brought French landscape painting to its highest perfection, was given by England.


The most highly gifted work produced in this province between the years 1800 and 1830 is of English origin. At the time when landscape painting was in France and Germany confined in a strait-waistcoat by Classicism, the English went quietly forward in the path trodden by Gainsborough in the eighteenth century. In these years England produced an artist who stands apart from all others as a peculiar and inimitable phenomenon in the history of landscape painting, and at the same time it produced a school of landscape which not only fertilised France, but founded generally the modern conception of colour.

That phenomenon is Joseph Mallord William Turner, the great pyrotechnist, one of the most individual and intellectual landscape painters of all time. What a singular personality! And how vexatious he is to all who merely care about correctness in art! Such persons divide the life of Turner into two halves, one in which he was reasonable and one in which he was a fool. They grant him a certain talent during the first fifteen years of his activity, but from the moment when he is complete master of his instrument, from the moment when the painter begins in glowing enthusiasm to embody his personal 270 ideal, they would banish him from the kingdom of art, and lock him up in a madhouse. When in the forties the Munich Pinakothek was offered a picture by Turner, glowing with colour, people, accustomed to the contours of Cornelius, knew no better than to laugh at it superciliously. It is said that in his last days he sent a landscape to an exhibition. The committee, unable to discover which was the top or which the bottom, hung it upside-down. Later, when Turner came into the exhibition and the mistake was about to be rectified, he said: “No, let it alone; it really looks better as it is.” One frequently reads that Turner suffered from a sort of colour-blindness, and as late as 1872 Liebreich wrote an article printed in Macmillan, which gave a medical explanation of the alleged morbid affection of the great landscape painter’s eyes. Only thus could the German account for his pictures, which are impressionist, although they were painted about the middle of the century. The golden dreams of Turner were held to be eccentricities of vision, since no one was capable of following this painter of momentary impressions in his majesty of sentiment, and the impressiveness and poetry of his method of expression.

S. Low & Co.


S. Low & Co.

In reality Turner was the same from the beginning. He circled round the fire like a moth, and craved, like Goethe, for more light; he wanted to achieve the impossible and paint the sun. To attain his object nothing was too difficult for him. He restrained himself for a long time; placed himself amongst the followers of the painter of light par excellence; studied, analysed, and copied Claude Lorrain; completely adopted his style, and painted pictures which threw Claude into eclipse by their magnificence and luminous power of colour. The painting of “Dido building Carthage” is perhaps the most characteristic of this phase of his art. One feels that the masses of architecture are merely there for the sake of the painter; the tree in the foreground has only been planted in this particular way so that the background may recede into farther distance. The colour is splendid, though still heavy. By the union of the principles of classic drawing with an entirely modern feeling for atmosphere something chaotic and confused is frequently introduced into the compositions of these years. But at the hour when it was said to him, “You are the real Claude Lorrain,” he answered, “Now I am going to leave school and begin to be Turner.” Henceforth he no longer needs Claude’s framework of trees to throw the light beaming into the corners of his pictures. At first he busied himself with the atmospheric phenomena of the land of mist. Then when the everlasting grey became too splenetic for him he repaired to the relaxing, luxuriant sensuousness of Southern seas, and sought the full embodiment of his dreams of light in the land of the sun. It is impossible in words to give a representation of the essence of Turner; even copies merely excite false conceptions. “Rockets shot up, shocks of cannon thundered, balls of light mounted, crackers meandered through the air and burst, wheels hissed, each one separately, then in pairs, then altogether, and even more turbulently one 272 after the other and together.” Thus has Goethe described a display of fireworks in The Elective Affinities, and this passage perhaps conveys most readily the impression of Turner’s pictures. To collect into a small space the greatest possible quantity of light, he makes the perspective wide and deep and the sky boundless, and uses the sea to reflect the brilliancy. He wanted to be able to render the liquid, shining depths of the sky without employing the earth as an object of comparison, and these studies which have merely the sky as their object are perhaps his most astonishing works. Everywhere, to the border of the picture, there is light. And he has painted all the gradations of light, from the silvery morning twilight to the golden splendour of the evening red. Volcanoes hiss and explode and vomit forth streams of lava, which set the trembling air aglow, and blind the eyes with flaring colours. The glowing ball of the sun rises behind the mist, and transforms the whole ether into fine golden vapour; and vessels sail through the luminous haze. In reality one cannot venture on more than a swift glance into blinding masses of light, but the impression remained in the painter’s memory. He painted what he saw, and knew how to make his effect convincing. And at the same time his composition became ever freer and easier, the work of his brush ever more fragrant and unfettered, the colouring and total sentiment of the picture ever more imaginative and like those of a fairy-tale. His world is a land of sun, where the reality of things vanishes, and the light shed between the eye and the objects of vision is the only thing that lives. At one time he took to painting human energy struggling with the phenomena of nature, as in “Storm at 273 Sea,” “Fire at Sea,” and “Rain, Steam, and Speed”; at another he painted poetic revels of colour born altogether from the imagination, like the “Sun of Venice.” He is the greatest creator in colour, the boldest poet amongst the landscape painters of all time! In him England’s painting has put forth its greatest might, just as in Byron and Shelley, those two great powers, the English imagination unrolled its standard of war most proudly and brilliantly. There is only one Turner, and Ruskin is his prophet.

L’Art. S. Low & Co.

As a man, too, he was one of those original characters seldom met with nowadays. He was not the fastidious gourmet that might have been expected from his pictures, but an awkward, prosaic, citizen-like being. He had a sturdy, thick-set figure, with broad shoulders and tough muscles, and was more like a captain in the merchant service than a disciple of Apollo. He was sparing to the point of miserliness, unformed by any kind of culture, ignorant even of the laws of orthography, silent and inaccessible. Like most of the great landscape painters of the century, he was city-bred. In a gloomy house standing back in a foggy little alley of Old London, in the immediate vicinity of dingy, monotonous lodging-houses, he was born, the son of a barber, on 23rd April 1775. His career was that of a model youth. At fifteen he exhibited in the Royal Academy; when he was eighteen, engravings were already being made after his drawings. At twenty he was known, and at twenty-seven he became a member of the Academy. His first earnings he gained by the neat and exact preparation of little views of English castles and country places—drawings which, at the time, took the place of photographs, and for which he received half a crown apiece and his supper. Thus he went over a great part of England, and upon one of his excursions he is said to have had a love-affair à la Lucy of Lammermoor, and to have so taken it to heart that he resolved to remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. In 1808 he became Professor of Perspective at the Academy, and delivered 274 himself, it is said, of the most confused utterances on his subjects. His father had now to give up the barber’s business and come to live with him, and he employed him in sawing, planing, and nailing together boards, which were painted yellow and used as frames for his pictures. The same miserly economy kept him from ever having a comfortable studio. He lived in a miserable lodging where he received nobody, had his meals at a restaurant of the most primitive order, carried his dinner wrapped up in paper when he went on excursions, and was exceedingly thankful if any one added to it a glass of wine. His diligence was fabulous. Every morning he rose on the stroke of six, locked his door, and worked with the same dreadful regularity day after day. His end was as unpoetic as his life. After being several times a father without ever having had a wife, he passed his last years with an old housekeeper, who kept him strictly under the yoke. If he was away from the house for long together he pretended that he was travelling to Venice for the sake of his work, until at last the honest housekeeper learnt, from a letter which he had put in his overcoat pocket and forgotten, that the object of all these journeys was not Venice at all, but Chelsea. There she found him in an attic which he had taken for another mistress, and where he was living under the name of Booth. In this little garret, almost more miserable than the room in the back street where he was born, the painter of light ended his days; and, to connect an atom of poetry with so sad a death, Ruskin adds that the window looked towards the sunset, and the dying eyes of the painter received the last rays of the sun which he had so often celebrated in glowing hymns. He left countless works behind him at his death, several thousands of pounds, and an immortal fame. This thought of glory after death occupied him from his youth. Only thus is it possible to understand why he led the life of a poor student until his end, why he did things which bordered on trickery in the sale of his Liber Studiorum, and kept for himself all those works by which he could have made a fortune. He left them—taken altogether, three hundred and sixty-two oil-paintings and nineteen thousand drawings—to the nation, and £20,000 to the Royal Academy, and merely stipulated that the two best pictures should be hung in the National Gallery between two Claude Lorrains. Another thousand pounds was set aside for the erection of a monument in St. Paul’s. There, in that temple of fame, he lies buried near Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great ancestor of English painting, and he remains a phenomenon without forerunners and without descendants.




For it does not need to be said that Turner, with his marked individuality, could have no influence on the further development of English painting. The dramatic fervour of Romanticism was here expressed just as little as Classicism. It was only the poets who fled into the wilderness of nature, and sang the splendour and the mysteries of the mountains, the lightning and the storm, the might of the elements. In painting there is no counterpart to Scott’s descriptions of the Highlands or Wordsworth’s rhapsodies upon the English lakes, or to the tendency of landscape painting which was represented in 276 Germany by Lessing and Blechen. Wordsworth is majestic and sublime, and English painting lovely and full of intimate emotion. It knows neither ancient Alpine castles nor the sunsets of Greece. Turner, as a solitary exception, represented nature stately, terrible, stormy, glorious, mighty, grand, and sublime; all the others, like Gainsborough, loved simplicity, modest grace, and virginal quietude. England has nothing romantic. At the very time when Lessing painted his landscapes, Ludwig Tieck experienced a bitter disappointment when he trod the soil where Shakespeare wrote the witch scenes in Macbeth. A sombre, melancholy, primæval maze was what he had expected, and there lay before him a soft, luxuriant, and cultivated country. What distinguishes English landscape is a singular luxuriance, an almost unctuous wealth of vegetation. Drive through the country on a bright day on the top of a coach, and look around you; in all directions as far as the eye can reach an endless green carpet is spread over gentle valleys and undulating hills; cereals, vegetables, clover, hops, and glorious meadows with high rich grasses stretch forth; here and there stand a group of mighty oaks flinging their shadows wide, and around are pastures hemmed in by hedges, where splendid cattle lie chewing the cud. The moist atmosphere surrounds the trees and plants like a shining vapour. There is nothing more charming in the world, and nothing more delicate than these tones of colour; one might stand for hours looking at the clouds of satin, the fine ærial bloom, and the soft transparent gauze which catches the sunbeams in its silver net, softens them, and sends them smiling and toying to the earth. On both sides of the carriage the fields extend, each more beautiful than the last, in constant succession, interwoven with broad patches of buttercups, daisies, and meadowsweet. A strange magic, a loveliness so exquisite that it is well-nigh painful, escapes from this inexhaustible vegetation. The drops sparkle on the leaves like pearls, the arched tree-tops murmur in the gentle breeze. Luxuriantly they thrive in these airy glades, where they are ever rejuvenated and bedewed by the moist air of the sea. And the sky seems to have been made to enliven the colours of the land. At the tiniest sunbeam the earth smiles with a delicious charm, and the bells of flowers unfold in rich, liquid colour. The English look at nature as she is in their country, with the tender love of the man nurtured in cities, and yet with the cool observation of the man of business. The merchant, enveloped the whole day long in the smoke of the city, breathes the more freely of an evening when the steam-engine brings him out into green places. With a sharp practical glance he judges the waving grain, and speculates on the chances of harvest. And this spirit of attentive, familiar observation of nature, which is in no sense romantic, reigns also in the works of the English landscape painters. They did not think of becoming cosmopolitan like their German comrades, and of presenting remarkable points, the more exotic the better, for the instruction of the public. Like Gainsborough, they relied upon the intimate charm of places which they knew and loved. And as a centre Norwich first took the place of Suffolk, which Gainsborough had glorified.



John Crome, known as Old Crome, the founder of the powerful Norwich school of landscape, is a healthy and forcible master. Born poor, in a provincial town a hundred miles from London, in 1769, and at first an errand boy to a doctor, whose medicines he delivered to the patients, and then an apprentice to a sign-painter, he lived completely cut off from contemporary England. Norwich was his native town and his life-long home. He did not know the name of Turner, nor anything of Wilson, and perhaps never heard the name of Gainsborough. Thus his pictures are neither influenced by the contemporary nor by the preceding English art. Whatever he became he owed to himself 278 and to the Dutch. Early married, and blessed with a numerous family, he tried to gain his bread by drawing-lessons, given in the great country-houses in the neighbourhood, and in this way had the opportunity of seeing many Dutch pictures. In later life he came to know Paris at a time when all the treasures of the world were collected in the Louvre, and this enthusiasm for the Dutch found fresh nourishment. Even on his deathbed he spoke of Hobbema. “Hobbema,” he said, “my dear Hobbema, how I have loved you!” Hobbema is his ancestor, the art of Holland his model.

His pictures were collectively “exact” views of places which he loved, and neither composed landscapes nor paintings of “beautiful regions.” Crome painted frankly everything which Norfolk, his own county, had to offer him—weather-beaten oaks, old woods, fishers’ huts, lonely pools, wastes of heath. The way he painted trees is extraordinary. Each has its own physiognomy, and looks like a living thing, like some gloomy Northern personality. Oaks were his peculiar specialty, and in later years they only found a similarly great interpreter in Théodore Rousseau. At the same time his pictures of the simplest scenes have a remarkable largeness of conception, and a subtlety of colour recalling the old masters, and reached by no other painter in that age. An uncompromising realist, he drew his portraits of nature with almost pedantic pains, but preserved their relation of colour throughout. And as a delicate adept in colouring he finally harmonised everything in the manner of the Dutch to a juicy brown tone, which gives his beautiful wood and field pictures a discreet and refined beauty, a beauty in keeping with the art of galleries.






Crome took a long time before he made a way for himself. His whole life long he sold his work merely at moderate prices: for no picture did he ever receive more than fifty pounds. Even his end was uneventful. He had begun as a manual worker, and he died in 1821 as a humble townsman whose only place of recreation was the tavern, and who passed his leisure in the society of sailors, shopkeepers, and artisans. Yet the principles of his art survived him. In 1805 he had founded in Norwich, far from all Academies, a society of artists, who gave annual exhibitions and had a common studio, which each used at fixed hours. Cotman, whose specialty was ash-trees, the younger Crome, Stark, and Vincent, are the leading representatives of the vigorous school of Norwich; and by them the name of this town became as well known as an art-centre in Europe as Delft and Haarlem had been in former times.

Their relation to the Dutch was similar to that of Georges Michel in France, or that of Achenbach in Germany. They painted what they saw, rounded it with a view to pictorial effect, and harmonised the whole in a delicate brown tone. They felt more attracted by the form of objects than by their colour; the latter was, in the manner of the Dutch, merely an epidermis delicately toned down. The next step of the English painters was that they became the first to get the better of this Dutch phase, and to found that peculiarly modern landscape painting which no longer sets out from the absolutely concrete reality of objects, but from the milieu, from the atmospheric effect; which values in a picture less what is ready-made and perfectly rounded in drawing than the freshly seized impression of nature.

Hardly twenty years have gone by since “open-air painting” was introduced into Germany. At present, things are no longer painted as they are in themselves but as they appear in their atmospheric environment. Artists care no longer for landscapes which float in a neutral brown sauce; they represent objects flooded with light and air. People no longer wish for brown trees and meadows, for the eye has perceived that trees and meadows are green. The world is no longer satisfied with the indeterminate light of the studio and the conventional tone of the picture gallery; it requires some indication of the hour of the day, since it is felt that the light of morning is different from the light of noon. And it is the English who made these discoveries, which have lent to modern landscape painting its most delicate and fragrant charm.

The very mist of England, the damp and the heaviness of the atmosphere, necessarily forced English landscape painters, earlier than those of other nations, to the observation of the play of light and air. In a country where the sky is without cloud, in a pure, dry, and sparkling air, nothing is seen except lines. Shadow is wanting, and without shadow light has no value. For that reason the old classical masters of Italy were merely draughtsmen; they knew how to prize the value of sunshine no more than a millionaire the value of a penny. But the English understood the charm even of the most scanty ray of light which forces its way like a wedge through a wall of clouds. The entire appearance of nature, in their country, where a damp mist spreads its pearly grey veil over the horizon even upon calm and beautiful summer days, guided them to see the vehicle of some mood of landscape in the subtlest 282 elements of light and air. The technique of water-colour painting which, at that very time, received such a powerful impetus, encouraged them to give expression to what they saw freshly and simply even in their oil-paintings, and to do so without regard for the scale of colour employed by the old masters.

John Robert Cozens, “the greatest genius who ever painted a landscape,” had been the first to occupy himself with water-colour painting as understood in the modern sense. Tom Girtin had experimented with new methods. Henry Edridge and Samuel Prout had come forward with their picturesque ruins, Copley Fielding and Samuel Owen with sea-pieces, Luke Clennel and Thomas Heaphy with graceful portrayals of country life, Howitt and Robert Hills with their animal pictures. From 1805 there existed a Society of Painters in Water-Colours, and this extensive pursuit of water-colour painting could not fail to have an influence upon oil-painting also. The technique of water-colour accustomed English taste to that brightness of tone which at first seemed so bizarre to the Germans, habituated as they were to the prevalence of brown. Instead of dark, brownish-green tones, the water-colour painters produced bright tones. Direct study of nature, and the completion of a picture in the presence of nature and in the open air, guided their attention to light and atmosphere more quickly than that of the oil-painters. An easier technique, giving more scope for improvisation, of itself suggested the idea that rounded finish with a view to pictorial effect was not the final aim of art, but that it was of the most immediate importance to catch the first freshness of impression, that flower so hard to pluck and so prone to wither.

The first who applied these principles to oil-painting was John Constable, one of the greatest pioneers in his own province and one of the most powerful individualities of the century.

East Bergholt, the pretty little village where Constable’s cradle stood, is fourteen miles distant from Sudbury, the birthplace of Gainsborough. Here he was born on 11th June 1776, at the very time when Gainsborough settled in London. His father was a miller, a well-to-do man, who had three windmills in Bergholt. The other famous miller’s son in the history of art is Rembrandt. At first a superior career was chosen for him; it was intended that he should become a clergyman. But he felt more at home in the mill than in the schoolroom, and became a miller like his fathers before him. Observation of the changes of the sky is an essential part of a miller’s calling, and this occupation of his youth seems to have been not without influence on the future artist; no one before him had observed the sky with the same attention.



A certain Dunthorne, an eccentric personage to whom the boy often came, gave him—always in the open air—his first instruction; and another of his patrons, Sir George Beaumont, as an æsthetically trained connoisseur, criticised what he painted. When Constable showed him a study he asked: “Where do you mean to place your brown tree?” For the first law in his æsthetics was this: a good painting must have the colour of a good fiddle; it must be brown. Sojourn in London was without influence on Constable. He was twenty-three years of age, a handsome young fellow with dark eyes and a fine expressive countenance, when, in 1799, he wrote to his teacher Dunthorne: “I am this morning admitted a student at the Royal Academy; the figure which I drew for admittance was the Torso. I am now comfortably settled in Cecil Street, Strand, No. 23.” He was known to the London girls as “the handsome young miller of Bergholt.” He undertook the most varied things, copied pictures of Reynolds, and painted an altar-piece, “Christ blessing Little Children,” which was admired by no one except his mother. In addition he studied Ruysdael, whose works made a great impression on him, in the 284 National Gallery. In 1802 he appears for the first time in the Catalogue of the Royal Academy as the exhibitor of a landscape, and from this time to the year of his death, 1837, he was annually represented there, contributing altogether one hundred and four pictures. In the earliest—windmills and village parties—every detail is carefully executed; every branch is painted on the trees, and every tile on the houses; but as yet one can breathe no air in these pictures and see no sunshine.

But he writes, in 1803, a very important letter to his old friend Dunthorne. “For the last two years,” he says, “I have been running after pictures, and seeking the truth at second-hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elevation of mind with which I set out, but have rather tried to make my performance look like the work of other men. I am come to a determination to make no idle visits this summer, nor to give up my time to commonplace people. I shall return to Bergholt, where I shall endeavour to get a pure and unaffected manner of representing the scenes that may employ me. There is little or nothing in the exhibition worth looking up to. There is room enough for a natural painter.” He left London accordingly, and worked, in 1804, the whole summer “quite alone among the oaks and solitudes of Helmingham Park. I have taken quiet possession of the parsonage, finding it empty. A woman comes from the farmhouse, where I eat, and makes my bed, and I am left at liberty to wander where I please during the day.” And having now returned to the country he became himself again. “Painting,” he writes, “is with me but another word for feeling; and I associate ‘my careless boyhood’ with all that lies upon the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful.” He had passed his whole youth amid the lovely valleys and luxuriant meadows of Bergholt, where the flocks were at pasture and the beetles hummed; he had wandered about the soft banks of the Stour, in the green woods of Suffolk, amongst old country-houses and churches, farms and picturesque cottages. This landscape which he had loved as a boy he also painted. He was the painter of cultivated English landscape, the portrayer of country life, of canals and boats, of windmills and manor-houses. He had a liking for all simple nature which reveals everywhere the traces of human activity—for arable fields and villages, orchards and cornfields. A strip of meadow, a watergate with a few briars, a clump of branching, fibrous trees, were enough to fill him with ideas and feelings. Gainsborough had already painted the like; but Constable denotes an advance beyond Gainsborough as beyond Crome. Intimate in feeling as Gainsborough undoubtedly was, he had a tendency to beautify the objects of nature; he selected and gave them a delicacy of arrangement and a grace of line which in reality they did not possess. Constable was the first to renounce every species of adaptation and arbitrary arrangement in composition. His boldness in the rendering of personal impressions raises him above Crome. Crome gets his effect principally by his accuracy: he represented what he saw; Constable showed how he saw the thing. While the former, following Hobbema, has an air reminiscent of 285 galleries and old masters, Constable saw the world with his own eyes, and was the first entirely independent modern landscape painter. In his young days he had made copies after Claude, Rubens, Reynolds, Ruysdael, Teniers, and Wilson, which might have been mistaken for the originals, but later he had learnt much from Girtin’s water-colour paintings. From that time he felt that he was strong enough to trust his own eyes. He threw to the winds all that had hitherto been considered as the chief element of beauty, and gave up the rounding of his pictures for pictorial effect; cut trees right through the middle to get into his picture just what interested him, and no more.

S. Low & Co.


S. Low & Co.

He set himself right in the midst of verdure; the nightingales sang, the leaves murmured, the meadows grew green, and the clouds gleamed. In the fifteenth-century art there were the graceful spring trees of Perugino; in the seventeenth, the bright spring days of those two Flemings Jan Silberecht and Lucas Uden; in the nineteenth, Constable became the first painter of spring. If Sir George Beaumont now asked him where he meant to put his brown tree, he answered: “Nowhere, because I don’t paint brown trees any more.” He saw that foliage is green in summer, and—painted it so; he saw that summer rain and morning dew makes the verdure more than usually intense, and—he painted what he saw. He noticed that green leaves sparkle, gleam, and glitter in the sun—and painted them accordingly; he saw that the light, when it falls upon bright-looking walls, dazzles like snow in the sunshine—and painted it accordingly. There was a good deal of jeering at the time about “Constable’s snow,” and yet it was not merely all succeeding English artists who continued to put their faith in this painting of light, but the masters of Barbizon too, and Manet afterwards.


The problem of painting light and air, which the older school had left unsolved, was taken up by him first in its complete extent. Crome had shown great reserve in approaching the atmospheric elements. Constable was the first landscape painter who really saw effects of light and air and learnt to paint them. His endeavour was to embody the impression of a mood of light with feeling, without lingering on the reproduction of those details which are only perceptible to an analytical eye. Whereas in the old Dutch masters the chief weight is laid on the effect of the drawing of objects, here it rests upon light, no matter upon what it plays. Thus Constable freed landscape painting from 287 the architectonic laws of composition. They were no longer needed when the principle was once affirmed that the atmospheric mood gave greater value to the picture than subject. He not only studied the earth and foliage in their various tones, according as they were determined by the atmosphere, but observed the sky, the air, and the forms of cloud with the conscientiousness of a student of natural philosophy. The comments which he wrote upon them are as subtle as those in Ruskin’s celebrated treatise on the clouds. A landscape, according to him, is only beautiful in proportion as light and shadow make it so; in other words, he was the first to understand that the “mood” of a landscape, by which it appeals to the human spirit, depends less on its lines and on objects in themselves than on the light and shadow in which it is bathed, and he was the first painter who had the secret of painting these subtle gradations of atmosphere. In his pictures the wind is heard murmuring in the trees, the breeze is felt as it blows over the corn, the sunlight is seen glancing on the leaves and playing on the clear mirror of the waters. Thus Constable for the first time painted nature in all its freshness. His principle of artistic creation is entirely opposed to that which was followed by the Pre-Raphaelites at a later date. Whilst the latter tried to reconstruct a picture of nature by a faithful, painstaking execution of all details—a process by which the expression of the whole usually suffers—Constable’s pictures are broadly and impressively painted, often of rude and brutal force, at times solemn, at times elegant, but always cogent, fresh, and possessing a unity of their own.

S. Low & Co.

A genius in advance of its age is only first recognised in its full significance when following generations have come abreast with it. And that Constable was made to feel. In 1837 he died in poverty at Hampstead, in the modest “country retreat” where he spent the greatest part of his life. He said that his painting recalled no one, and was neither polished nor pretty, and asked: 288 “How can I hope to be popular? I work only for the future.” And that belonged to him.


Constable’s powerful individuality has brought forth enduring fruit, and helped English landscape painting to attain that noble prime which it enjoyed during the forties and fifties.

With his rich, brilliant, bold, and finely coloured painting, David Cox stands out as perhaps the greatest of Constable’s successors. Like Constable, he was a peasant, and observed nature with the simplicity of one who was country-bred. He was born in 1783, the son of a blacksmith, in a humble spot near Birmingham, and, after a brief sojourn in London, migrated with his family to Hereford, and later to Harborne, also in the neighbourhood of Birmingham. The strip of country which he saw from his house was almost exclusively his field of study. He knew that a painter can pass his life in the same corner of the earth, and that the scene of nature spread before him will never be exhausted. “Farewell, pictures, farewell,” he is reported to have said when he took his last walk, on the day before his death, round the walls of Harborne. He has treated of the manner in which he understood his art in his Treatise on Landscape Painting, written in 1814. His ideal was to see the most cogent effect in nature, and leave everything out which did not harmonise with its character; and in Cox’s pictures it is possible to trace the steps by which he drew nearer to this ideal the more natural he became. The magic of his brush was never more captivating than in the works of his last years, when, fallen victim to a disease of the eye, 289 he could no longer see distinctly and only rendered an impression of the whole scene.

Cox is a great and bold master. The townsman when he first comes into the country, after being imprisoned for months together in a wilderness of brick and mortar, does not begin at once to count the trees, leaves, and the stones lying on the ground. He draws a long breath and exclaims, “What balm!” Cox, too, has not painted details in the manner of the Pre-Raphaelites. He represented the soft wind sweeping over the English meadows, the fresh purity of the air, the storms that agitate the landscape of Wales. A delicate silver-grey is spread over most of his pictures, and his method of expression is powerful and nervous. By preference he has celebrated, both in oil-paintings and in boldly handled water-colours, the boundless depths of the sky in its thousand variations of light, now deep blue in broad noon and now eerily gloomy and disturbed. The fame of being the greatest of English water-colour painters is his beyond dispute, yet if he had painted in oils from his youth upwards he would probably have become the most important English landscapist. His small pictures are pure and delicate in colour, and fresh and breezy in atmospheric effect. It is only in large pictures that power is at times denied him. In his later years he began to paint in oils, and in this medium he is a less important artist, though a very great painter. William Müller, who died young, stood as leader at his side.

S. Low & Co.

He was one of the most dexterous amongst the dexterous, next to Turner the greatest adept of English painting. Had he been simpler and quieter he might be called a genius of the first order. But he has sometimes a touch of what is theatrical; it does not always break out, but it does so occasionally. He has an inclination for pageantry, and nothing of that self-sufficiency and quiet tenderness with which Constable and Cox devoted themselves to home scenery. He was at pains to give a trace of largeness and sublimity to modest and unpretentious English landscape, to give to the most familiar subject a tinge of preciosity. His pictures are grandiose in form, and show an admirable lightness of hand, but light and air are wanting in them, the local colour of England and its atmosphere. As a foreigner—he was the son of a Danzig 290 scholar, who had migrated to Bristol—Müller has not seen English landscape with Constable’s native sentiment. He was not content with an English cornfield or an English village; the familiar homeliness of the country in its work-a-day garb excited no emotion in him.


Something in Müller’s imagination, which caused him to love decided colours and sudden contrasts rather than delicate gradations, attracted him to Southern climes. His natural place was in the East, which had not at that time been made the vogue. Here, like Decamps and Marilhat, he found those vivid rather than delicate effects which appealed to his eye. He was twice in the South—the first time in Athens and Egypt in 1838, and once again in Smyrna, Rhodes, and Lycia in 1843-44. In the year during which he had yet to live he collected those Oriental pictures which form his legacy, containing the best that he did. Certain of them, such as “The Amphitheatre at Xanthus,” are painted with marvellous verve; they are not the work of a day, but of an hour. All these mountain castles upon abrupt cliffs, these views of the Acropolis and of Egypt, are real masterpieces of broad painting, their colour clear and their light admirable. Not one of the many Frenchmen who were in the South at this time has represented its sunshine and its brilliant atmosphere with such flattering, voluptuous tones.

Peter de Wint, who was far more true and simple, was, like Constable and Cox, entirely wedded to his own birthplace. At any rate, his sojourn in 291 France lasted only for a short time, and left no traces in his art. From youth to age he was the painter of England in its work-a-day garb—of the low hills of Surrey, of the plains of Lincolnshire, or of the dark canals of the Thames, which he specially portrayed in unsurpassable water-colour paintings. His ancestor in art is Philips de Koning, the pupil of Rembrandt, the master of Dutch plains and wide horizons.


After Cox and de Wint came Creswick, more laborious, more patient, more studious of detail, furnished perhaps with a sharper eye for the green tones of nature, though with less feeling for atmosphere. It cannot be said that he advanced art, but merely that he added a regard for light and sunshine, unknown to the period before 1820, to the study of Hobbema and Waterloo. With those who would not have painted as they did but for Constable, Peter Graham and Dawson may be likewise ranked; and these artists peculiarly devoted themselves to the study of sky and water. Henry Dawson painted the most paltry and unpromising places—a reach of the Thames close to London, or a quarter in the smoky precincts of Dover, or Greenwich; but he painted them with a power such as only Constable possessed. In particular he is unequalled in his masterly painting of clouds. Constable had seldom done this in the same way. He delighted in an agitated sky, in clouds driven before the wind and losing their form in indeterminate contours; in nature he saw merely reflections of his own restless spirit, striving after colour and movement. Dawson painted those clouds which stand firm in the sky like piles of building—cloud-cathedrals, as Ruskin has called them. There are pictures of his consisting of almost nothing but great clouds. But that wide space, the earth, which our eyes regard as their own peculiar domain, is wanting. Colours and 292 forms are nowhere to be seen, but only clouds and undulating yellowish mist in which objects vanish like pallid spectres. John Linnell carried the traditions of this great era on to the new period: at first revelling in golden light, in sunsets and rosy clouds of dusk, and at a later time, in the manner of the Pre-Raphaelites, bent on the precise execution of bodily form.

The young master, who died at twenty-seven, Richard Parkes Bonington, unites these English classic masters with the French. An Englishman by birth and origin, but trained as a painter in France, where he had gone when fifteen years of age, he seems from many points of view one of the most gracious products of the Romantic movement in France, though at the same time he has qualities over which only the English had command at that period, and not the French. He entered Gros’s studio in France, which was then the favourite meeting-place of all the younger men of revolutionary tendencies, but repeated journeys to London did not allow him to forget Constable. In Normandy and Picardy he painted his first landscapes, following them up with a series of Venetian sea-pieces and little historical scenes. Then consumption seized him and took but a brief time in striking him down. On 23rd September 1828 he died in London, whither he had gone to consult a specialist. In consequence of his early death his talent never ripened, but he was a simple, natural, pure, and congenial artist for all that. “I knew him well and loved him much. His English composure, which nothing could disturb, robbed him of none of the qualities which make life pleasant. When I first came across him I was myself very young, and was making studies in the Louvre. It was about 1816 or 1817. He was in the act of copying a Flemish landscape—a tall youth who had grown rapidly. He had already an astonishing dexterity in water-colours, which were then an English novelty. Some which I saw later at a dealer’s were charming, both in colour and composition. Other modern artists are perhaps more powerful and more accurate than Bonington, but no one in this modern school, perhaps no earlier artist, possessed the ease of execution which makes his works, in a certain sense, diamonds by which the eye is pleased and fascinated, quite independently of the subject and the particular representation of nature. And the same is true of the costume pictures which he painted later. Even here I could never grow weary of marvelling at his sense of effect, and his great ease of execution. Not that he was quickly satisfied; on the contrary, he often began over again perfectly finished pieces which seemed wonderful to us. But his dexterity was so great that in a moment he produced with his brush new effects, which were as charming as the first.” With these words his friend and comrade, the great Eugène Delacroix, drew the portrait of Bonington. Bonington was at once the most natural and the most delicate in that Romantic school in which he was one of the first to make an appearance. He had a fine eye for the charm of nature, saw grace and beauty in her everywhere, and represented the spring and the sunshine in bright and clear tones. No Frenchman before him has so painted the play of light on gleaming costumes and 293 succulent meadow grasses. Even his lithographs from Paris and the provinces are masterpieces of spirited, impressionist observation—qualities which he owed, not to Gros, but to Constable. He was the first to communicate the knowledge of the great English classic painters to the youth of France, and they of Barbizon and Ville d’Avray continued to spin the threads which connect Constable with the present.





That same Salon of 1822 in which Delacroix exhibited his “Dante’s Bark” brought to Frenchmen a knowledge of the powerful movement which had taken place on the opposite side of the Channel. English water-colour painting was brilliantly represented by Bonington, who sent his “View of Lillebonne” and his “View of Havre.” Copley Fielding, Robson, and John Varley also contributed works; and these easy, spirited productions, with their skies washed in broadly and their bright, clear tones, were like a revelation to the young French artists of the period. The horizon was felt to be growing clear. In 1824, at the time when Delacroix’s “Massacre of Chios” appeared, the sun actually rose, bringing a flood of light. The English had learnt the way to France, and took the Louvre by storm. John Constable was represented by three pictures, and Bonington, Copley Fielding, Harding, Samuel Prout, and Varley were also accorded a place. This exhibition gave the deathblow to Classical landscape painting. Michallon had died young in 1822; and men like Bidault and Watelet could do nothing against such a battalion of colourists. Constable alone passed sentence upon them of eternal condemnation. Familiar neither with Georges Michel nor with the great Dutch painters, the French had not remarked that a landscape has need of a sky expressive of the spirit of the hour and the character of the season. Even what was done by Michel seemed a kind of diffident calligraphy when set beside the fresh strand-pieces of Bonington, the creations of the water-colour artists, bathed as they were in light, and the bold pictures of the Bergholt master, with their bright green and their cloudy horizon. The French landscape painters, who had been so timid until then, recognised that their painting had been a convention, despite all their striving after truth to nature.

Constable had been the first to free himself from every stereotyped rule, and he was an influence in France. The younger generation were in ecstasies over this intense green, the agitated clouds, this effervescent power inspiring everything with life. Though as yet but little esteemed even in England, Constable received the gold medal in Paris, and from that time took a fancy to Parisian exhibitions, and still in 1827 exhibited in the Louvre by the side of Bonington, who had but one year more in which to give admirable lessons by his bright plains and clear shining skies. At the same time Bonington’s friend and compatriot, William Reynolds, then likewise domiciled in Paris, 295 contributed some of his powerful and often delicate landscape studies, the tender grey notes of which are like anticipations of Corot. This influence of the English upon the creators of paysage intime has long been an acknowledged fact, since Delacroix himself, in his article “Questions sur le Beau” in the Revue des Deux Mondes in 1854, has affirmed it frankly.


The very next years announced what a ferment Constable had stirred in the more restless spirits. The period from 1827 to 1830 showed the birth-throes of French landscape painting. In 1831 it was born. In this year, for ever marked in the annals of French, and indeed of European art, there appeared together in the Salon, for the first time, all those young artists who are now honoured as the greatest in the century: all, or almost all, were children of Paris, the sons of small townsmen or of humble artisans; all were born in the old quarter of the city or in its suburbs, in the midst of a desolate wilderness of houses, and destined for that very reason to be great landscape painters. For it is not through chance that paysage intime immediately passed from London, the city of smoke, to Paris, the second great modern capital, and reached Germany from thence only at a much later time.

“Do you remember the time,” asks Bürger-Thoré of Théodore Rousseau in the dedicatory letter to his Salon of 1844,—“do you still recall the years when we sat on the window-ledges of our attics in the Rue de Taitbout, and let our feet dangle at the edge of the roof, contemplating the chaos of houses and chimneys, which you with a twinkle in your eye compared to mountains, trees, and outlines of the earth? You were not able to go to the Alps, into the cheerful country, and so you created picturesque landscapes for yourself out of these horrible skeletons of wall. Do you still recall the little tree in Rothschild’s garden, which we caught sight of between two roofs? It was the one green thing that we could see; every fresh shoot of the little poplar wakened our interest in spring, and in autumn we counted the falling leaves.”

From this mood sprang modern landscape painting with its delicate reserve in subject, and its vigorously heightened love of nature. Up to the middle of the century nature was too commonplace and ordinary for the Germans; and it was therefore 296 hard for them to establish a spiritual relationship with her. Landscape painting recognised its function in appealing to the understanding by the execution of points of geographical interest, or exciting a frigid curiosity by brilliant fireworks. But these children of the city, who with a heartfelt sympathy counted the budding and falling leaves of a single tree descried from their little attic window; these dreamers, who in their imagination constructed beautiful landscapes from the moss-crusted gutters of the roof and the chimneys and chimney smoke, were sufficiently schooled, when they came into the country, to feel the breath of the great mother of all, even where it was but faintly exhaled. Where a man’s heart is full he does not think about geographical information, and no roll of tom-toms is needed to attract the attention of those whose eyes are opened. Their spirit was sensitive, and their imagination sufficiently alert to catch with ecstasy, even from the most delicate and reserved notes, the harmony of that heavenly concert which nature executes on all its earthly instruments, at every moment and in all places.


Thus they had none of them any further need for extensive pilgrimage; to seek impulse for work they had not far to go. Croissy, Bougival, Saint-Cloud, and Marly were their Arcadia. Their farthest journeys were to the banks of the Oise, the woods of L’Isle Adam, Auvergne, Normandy, and Brittany. But they cared most of all to stay in the forest of Fontainebleau, which—by one of those curious chances that so often recur in history—played for a second time a highly important part in the development of French art. 297 A hundred years before, it was the brilliant centre of the French Renaissance, the resort of those Italian artists who found in the palace there a second Vatican, and in Francis I another Leo X. In the nineteenth century, too, the Renaissance of French painting was achieved in Fontainebleau, only it had nothing to do with a school of mannered figure painters, but with a group of the most delicate landscape artists. From a sense of one’s duty to art one studies in the palace the elegant goddesses of Primaticcio, the laughing bacchantes of Cellini, and all the golden, festal splendour of the Cinquecento; but the heart is not touched till one stands outside in the forest on the soil where Rousseau and Corot and Millet and Diaz painted. How much may be felt and thought when one saunters of a dreamy evening, lost in one’s own meditations, across the heath of the plateau de la Belle Croix and through the arching oaks of Bas Bréau to Barbizon, the Mecca of modern art, where the secrets of paysage intime were revealed to the Parisian landscape painters by the nymph of Fontainebleau! There was a time when men built their Gothic cathedrals soaring into the sky, after the model of the majestic palaces of the trees. The dim and sacred mist of incense hovered about the lofty pointed arches, and through painted windows the broken daylight shone, inspiring awe; the fair picture of a saint beckoned from above the altar, touched by the gleam of lamps and candles; gilded carvings glimmered strangely, and overwhelming 298 strains from the fugues of Bach reverberated in the peal of the organ throughout the consecrated space. But now the Gothic cathedrals are transformed once more into palaces of trees. The towering oaks are the buttresses, the tracery of branches the choir screen, the clouds the incense, the wind sighing through the boughs the peal of the organ, and the sun the altar-piece. Man is once more a fire-worshipper, as in his childhood; the church has become the world, and the world has become the church.

How the spirit soars at the trill of a blackbird beneath the leafy roof of mighty primæval oaks! One feels as though one had been transplanted into the Saturnian age, when men lived a joyous, unchequered life in holy unison with nature. For this park is still primæval, in spite of all the carriage roads by which it is now traversed, in spite of all the guides who lounge upon the granite blocks of the hollows of Opremont. Yellowish-green ferns varying in tint cover the soil like a carpet. The woods are broken by great wastes of rock. Perhaps there is no spot in the world where such splendid beeches and huge majestic oaks stretch their gnarled branches to the sky—in one place spreading forth in luxuriant glory, and in another scarred by lightning and bitten by the wintry cold. It is just such scenes of ravage that make the grandest, the wildest, and the most sombre pictures. The might of the great forces of nature, striking down the heads of oaks like thistles, is felt nowhere in the same degree.

Barbizon itself is a small village three miles to the north of Fontainebleau, and, according to old tradition, founded by robbers who formerly dwelt in the forest. On both sides of the road connecting it with the charming little villages of Dammarie and Chailly there stretch long rows of chestnut, apple, and acacia trees. There are barely a hundred houses in the place. Most of them are overgrown with wild vine, shut in by thick hedges of hawthorn, and have a garden in front, where roses bloom amid cabbages and cauliflowers. At nine o’clock in the evening all Barbizon is asleep, but before four in the morning it awakes once more for work in the fields.


Cassell & Co.




Historians of after-years will occupy themselves in endeavouring to discover when the first immigration of Parisian painters to this spot took place. It is reported that one of David’s pupils painted in the forest of Fontainebleau and lived in Barbizon. The only lodging to be got at that time was in a barn, which the former tailor of the place, a man of the name of Ganne, turned into an inn in 1823. Here, after 1830, Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Brascassat, and many others alighted when they came to follow their studies in Barbizon from the spring to the autumn. Of an evening they clambered up to their miserable bedroom, and fastened to the head of the bed with drawing-pins the studies made in the course of the day. It was only later that Père Copain, an old peasant, who had begun life as a shepherd with three francs a month, was struck with the apt idea of buying in a few acres and building upon them small houses to let to painters. By this enterprise the man became rich, and gradually grew to be a capitalist, lending money to all who, in spite of their standing as celebrated Parisian artists, did not enjoy the blessings of fortune. But the general place of assembly was still the old barn employed in Ganne’s establishment, and in the course of years its walls were covered with large charcoal drawings, studies, and pictures. Here, in a patriarchal, easy-going, homely fashion, artists gathered together with their wives and children of an evening. Festivities also were held in the place, in particular that ball when Ganne’s daughter, a godchild of Madame Rousseau, celebrated her wedding. Rousseau and Millet were the decorators of the room; the entire space of the barn served as ball-room, the walls being adorned with ivy. Corot, always full of fun and high spirits, led the polonaise, which moved through a labyrinth of bottles placed on the floor.


They painted in the forest. But they did not take the trouble to carry the instruments of their art home again. They kept breakfast, canvas, and brushes in holes in the rocks. Never before, probably, have men so lost themselves in nature. At every hour of the day, in the cool light of morning, at sunny noon, in the golden dusk, even in the twilight of blue moonlight nights, they were out in the field and the forest, learning to surprise everlasting 302 nature at every moment of her mysterious life. The forest was their studio, and revealed to them all its secrets.

Cassell & Co.

The result of this life en plein air became at once the same as it had been with Constable. Earlier artists worked with the conception and the technique of Waterloo, Ruysdael, and Everdingen, and believed themselves incapable of doing anything without gnarled, heroic oaks. Even Michel was hard-bound in the gallery style of the Dutch, and for Decamps atmosphere was still a thing unknown or non-existent. He placed a harsh light, opaque as plaster, against a background as black as coal. Even the colours of Delacroix were merely tones of the palette; he wanted to create preconceived decorative harmonies, and not simply to interpret reality. Following the English, the masters of Fontainebleau made the discovery of air and light. They did not paint the world, like the other Romanticists, in exuberantly varying hues recalling the old masters: they saw it entouré d’air, and tempered by the tones of the atmosphere. And since their time the “harmony of light and air with that of which they are the life and illumination” has become the great problem of painting. Through this art grew young again, and works of art received the breathing life, the fresh bloom, and the delicate harmony which are to be found everywhere in nature itself, and which are only reached with much difficulty by any artificial method of tuning into accord. After Constable they were the first who recognised that the beauty of a landscape does not lie in objects themselves, but in the lights that are cast upon them. Of course, there is also an 303 articulation of forms in nature. When Boecklin paints a grove with tall and solemn trees in the evening, when he forms to himself a vision of the mysterious haunts of his “Fire-worshippers,” there is scarcely any need of colour. The outline alone is so majestically stern that it makes man feel his littleness utterly, and summons him to devotional thoughts. But the subtle essence by which nature appeals either joyously or sorrowfully to the spirit depends still more on the light or gloom in which she is bathed; and this mood is not marked by an inquisitive eye: the introspective gaze, the imagination itself, secretes it in nature. And here a second point is touched.

Cassell & Co.

The peculiarity of all these masters, who on their first appearance were often despised as realists or naturalists, consists precisely in this: they never represented, at least in the works of their later period in which they thoroughly expressed themselves,—they never represented actual nature in the manner of photography, but freely painted their own moods from memory, just as Goethe when he stood in the little house in the Kikelhahn near Ilmenau, instead of elaborating a prosaic description of the Kikelhahn, wrote the verses Ueber allen Wipfeln ist Ruh. In this poem of Goethe one does not learn how the summits looked, and there is no allusion to the play of light, and yet the forest, dimly illuminated by the rays of the setting sun, is presented clearly to the inward eye. Any poet before Goethe’s time would have made a broad 304 and epical description, and produced a picture by the addition of details; but here the very music of the words creates a picture of rest and quietude. The works of the Fontainebleau artists are Goethe-like poems of nature in pigments. They are as far removed from the æsthetic aridness of the older landscape of composition, pieced together from studies, as from the flat, prosaic fidelity to nature of that “entirely null and void, spuriously realistic painting of the so-called guardians of woods and waters.” They were neither concerned to master nature and compose a picture from her according to conventional rules, nor pedantically to draw the portrait of any given region. They did not think of topographical accuracy, or of preparing a map of their country. A landscape was not for them a piece of scenery, but a condition of soul. They represent the victory of lyricism over dry though inflated prose. Impressed by some vision of nature, they warm to their work and produce pictures that could not have been anticipated. And thus they fathomed art to its profoundest depths. Their works were fragrant poems sprung from moods of spirit which had risen in them during a walk in the forest. Perhaps only Titian, Rubens, and Watteau had previously looked upon nature with the same eyes. And as in the case of these artists, so also in that of the Fontainebleau painters, it was necessary that a genuine realistic art, a long period of the most intimate study of nature, should have to be gone through before they reached this height.

Seemann, Leipzig.



In the presence of nature one saturates one’s self with truth; and after returning to the studio one squeezes the sponge, as Jules Dupré expressed it. Only after they had satiated themselves with the knowledge of truth, only after nature with all her individual phenomena had been interwoven with their inmost being, could they, without effort, and without the purpose of representing determined objects, paint from personal sentiment, and give expression to their humour, in the mere gratification of impulse. Thence comes their wide difference from each other. Painters who work according to fixed rules resemble one another, and those who aim at a distinct copy of nature resemble one another no less. But each one of the Fontainebleau painters, according to his character and his mood for the time being, received different impressions from the same spot in nature, and at the same moment of time. Each found a landscape and a moment which appealed to his sentiment more perceptibly than any other. One delighted in spring and dewy morning, another in a cold, clear day, another in the threatening majesty of storm, another in the sparkling effects of sportive sunbeams, and another in evening after sundown, when colours have faded and forms are dim. Each one obeyed his peculiar temperament, and adapted his technique to the altogether personal expression 306 of his way of seeing and feeling. Each one is entirely himself, each one an original mind, each picture a spiritual revelation, and often one of touching simplicity and greatness: homo additus naturæ. And having dedicated themselves, more than all their predecessors, to personality creating in and for itself, they have become the founders of the new creed in art.


That strong and firmly rooted master Théodore Rousseau was the epic poet, the plastic artist of the Pleïades. “Le chêne des roches” was one of his masterpieces, and he stands himself amid the art of his time like an oak embedded in rocks. His father was a tailor who lived in the Rue Neuve-Saint Eustache, Nr. 4 au quatrième. As a boy he is said to have specially devoted himself to mathematics, and to have aimed at becoming a student at the Polytechnic Institute. Thus the dangerous, doctrinaire tendency, which beset him in his last years, of making art more of a science than is really practicable, and of referring everything to some law, lay even in his boyish tastes. He grew up in the studio of the Classicist Lethière, and looked on whilst the latter painted both his large Louvre pictures, “The Death of Brutus” and “The Death of Virginia.” He even thought himself of competing for the Prix de Rome. But the composition of his “historical landscape” was not a success. Then he took his paint-boxes, left Lethière’s studio, and wandered over to Montmartre. Even his first little picture, “The Telegraph Tower” of 1826, announced the aim which he was tentatively endeavouring to reach.

At the very time when Watelet’s metallic waterfalls and zinc trees were being drawn up in line, when the pupils of Bertin hunted the Calydonian boar, or drowned Zenobia in the waves of the Araxes, Rousseau, set free from the ambition of winning the Prix de Rome, was painting humble plains within the precincts of Paris, with little brooks in the neighbourhood which had nothing that deserved the name of waves.

His first excursion to Fontainebleau occurred in the year 1833, and in 1834 he painted his first masterpiece, the “Côtés de Grandville,” that picture, replete with deep and powerful feeling for nature, which seems the great 307 triumphant title-page of all his work. A firm resolve to accept reality as it is, and a remarkable eye for the local character of landscape and for the structure and anatomy of the earth—all qualities revealing the Rousseau of later years—were here to be seen in their full impressiveness and straightforward actuality. He received for this work a medal of the third class. At the same time his works were excluded from making any further appearance in the Salon for many years to come. Concession might be made to a beginner; but the master seemed dangerous to the academicians. Two pictures, “Cows descending in the Upper Jura” and “The Chestnut Avenue,” which he had destined for the Salon of 1835, were rejected by the hanging committee, and during twelve years his works met with a similar fate, although the leading critical intellects of Paris, Thoré, Gustave Planché, and Théophile Gautier, broke their lances in his behalf. Amongst the rejected of the present century, Théodore Rousseau is probably the most famous. At that period he was selling his pictures for five and ten louis-d’or. It was only after the February Revolution of 1848, when the Academic Committee had fallen with the bourgeois king, that the doors of the Salon were opened to him again, and in the meanwhile his pictures had made their way quietly and by their unassisted merit. In the sequestered solitude of Barbizon he had matured into an artistic individuality of the highest calibre, and become a painter to whom the history of art must accord a place by the side of Ruysdael, Hobbema, and Constable.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

He painted everything in Barbizon—the plains and the hills, the river and the forest, all the seasons of the year and all the hours of the day. The succession of his moods is as inexhaustible as boundless nature herself. Skies gilded by the setting sun, phases of dewy morning, plains basking in light, woods 308 in the russet-yellow foliage of autumn: these are the subjects of Théodore Rousseau—an endless procession of poetic effects, expressed at first by the mere instinct of emotion and later with a mathematical precision which is often a little strained, though always irresistibly forcible. Marvellous are his autumn landscapes with their ruddy foliage of beech; majestic are those pictures in which he expressed the profound sentiment of solitude as it passes over you in the inviolate tangle of the forest, inviting the spirit to commune with itself; but especially characteristic of Rousseau are those plains with huge isolated trees, over which the mere light of common day rests almost coldly and dispassionately.


It is an artistic or psychological anomaly that in this romantic generation a man could be born in whom there was nothing of the Romanticist. Théodore Rousseau was an experimentalist, a great worker, a restless and seeking spirit, ever tormented and unsatisfied with itself, a nature wholly without sentimentality and impassionless, the very opposite of his predecessor Huet. Huet made nature the mirror of the passions, the melancholy and the tragic suffering which agitate the human spirit with their rage. Whilst he celebrated the irresistible powers and blind forces, the elemental genii which rule the skies and the waters, he wanted to waken an impression of terror and desolation in the spirit of the beholder. He piled together masses of rock, lent dramatic passion to the clouds, and revelled with delight in the sharpest contrasts. Rousseau’s pervasive characteristic is absolute plainness and actuality. Such a simplicity of shadow had never existed before. Since the Renaissance artists had systematically heightened the intensity of shadows for the sake of effect; Rousseau relied on the true and simple doctrine that may be formulated in the phrase: the more light there is the fainter and more transparent are the shadows, not the darker, as Decamps and Huet painted them. Or, to speak more generally, in nature the intensity of shadows stands in an inverse relation to the intensity of the light.



Rousseau does not force on the spectator any preconceived mood of his own, but leaves him before a picture with all the freedom and capacity for personal feeling which he would have received from the spectacle of nature herself. The painter does not address him directly, but lets nature have free play, just as a medium merely acts as the vehicle of a spirit. So personal in execution and so absolutely impersonal in conception are Rousseau’s pictures. Huet translated his moods by the assistance of nature; Rousseau is an incomparable witness, confining himself strictly to the event, and giving his report of it in brief, virile speech, in clear-cut style. Huet puts one out of humour, because it is his own humour which he is determined to force. Rousseau seldom fails of effect, because he renders the effect which has struck him, faithfully and without marginal notes. Only in the convincing power of representation, and never in the forcing of a calculated mood, does the “mood” of his landscape lie. Or, to take an illustration from the province of portrait painting, when Lenbach paints Prince Bismarck, it is Lenbach’s Bismarck; as an intellectual painter he has given an entirely subjective rendering of Bismarck, and compels the spectator so to see him. Holbein, when he painted Henry VIII, proceeded in the opposite way: for him characterisation depended on his revealing his own character as little as possible; he completely subordinated himself to his subject, surrendered himself, and religiously painted all that he saw, leaving it to others to carry away from the picture what they pleased. And Théodore Rousseau, too, was possessed by the spirit of the old German portrait painter. He set his whole force of purpose to the task of letting nature manifest herself, free from any preconceived interpretation. His pictures are absolutely without effective point, but there is so much power and deep truth, so much simplicity, boldness, and sincerity in his manner of seeing and painting nature, and of feeling her intense and forceful life, that they have become great works of art by this alone, like the portraits of Holbein. More impressive tones, loftier imagination, more moving tenderness, and more intoxicating harmonies are at the command of other masters, but few had truer or more profound articulation, and not one has been so sincere as Théodore 310 Rousseau. Rousseau saw into the inmost being of nature, as Holbein into Henry VIII, and the impression he received, the emotion he felt, is a thing which he communicates broadly, boldly, and entirely. He is a portrait painter who knows his model through and through; moreover, he is a connoisseur of the old masters who knows what it is to make a picture. Every production of Rousseau is a deliberate and well-considered work, a cannon-shot, and no mere dropping fusilade of small arms; not a light feuilleton, but an earnest treatise of strong character. Though a powerful colourist, he works by the simplest means, and has at bottom the feeling of a draughtsman; which is principally the reason why, at the present day, when one looks at Rousseau’s pictures, one thinks rather of Hobbema than of Billotte and Claude Monet.

His absolute mastery over drawing even induced him in his last years to abandon painting altogether. He designated it contemptuously as falsehood, because it smeared over the truth, the anatomy of nature.

In Rousseau there was even more the genius of a sculptor than of a portrait painter. His spirit, positive, exact, like that of a mathematician, and far more equipped with artistic precision than pictorial qualities, delighted in everything sharply defined, plastic, and full of repose: moss-grown stones, oaks of the growth of centuries, marshes and standing water, rude granite blocks of the forest of Fontainebleau, and trees bedded in the rocks of the glens of Opremont. In a quite peculiar sense was the oak his favourite tree—the mighty, wide-branching, primæval oak which occupies the centre of one of his masterpieces, “A Pond,” and spreads its great gnarled boughs to the cloudy sky in almost every one of his pictures. It is only Rembrandt’s three oaks that stand in like manner, firm and broad of stem, as though they were living personalities of the North, in a lonely field beneath the hissing rain. To 311 ensure the absolute vitality of organisms was for Rousseau the object of unintermittent toil.


Plants, trees, and rocks were not forms summarily observed and clumped together in an arbitrary fashion; for him they were beings gifted with a soul, breathing creatures, each one of which had its physiognomy, its individuality, its part to play, and its distinction of being in the great harmony of universal nature. “By the harmony of air and light with that of which they are the life and the illumination I will make you hear the trees moaning beneath the North wind and the birds calling to their young.” To achieve that aim he thought that he could not do too much. As Dürer worked seven times on the same scenes of the Passion until he had found the simplest and most speaking expression, so Rousseau treated the same motives ten and twenty times. Restless are his efforts to discover different phases of the same subject, to approach his model from the most various points of view, and to do justice to it on every side. He begins an interrupted picture again and again, and adds something to it to heighten the expression, as Leonardo died with the consciousness that there was something yet to be done to his “Joconda.” Sometimes a laboured effect is brought into his works by this method, but in other ways he has gained in this struggle with reality a power of exposition, a capacity of expression, a force of appeal, and such a remarkable insight for rightness of effect that every one of his good pictures could be hung without 312 detriment in a gallery of old masters; the nineteenth century did not see many arise who could bear such a proximity in every respect. His landscapes are as full of sap as creation itself; they reveal a forcible condensation of nature. The only words which can be used to describe him are strength, health, and energy. “It ought to be: in the beginning was the Power.”

S. Low & Co.

From his youth upwards Théodore Rousseau was a masculine spirit; even as a stripling he was a man above all juvenile follies—one might almost say, a philosopher without ideals. In literature Turgenief’s conception of nature might be most readily compared with that of Rousseau. In Turgenief’s Diary of a Sportsman, written in 1852, everything is so fresh and full of sap that one could imagine it was not so much the work of a human pen as a direct revelation from the forest and the steppes. Though men are elsewhere habituated to see their joys and sorrows reflected in nature, the sentiment of his own personality falls from Turgenief when he contemplates the eternal spectacle of the elements. He plunges into nature and loses the consciousness of his own being in hers; and he becomes a part of what he contemplates. For him the majesty of nature lies in her treating everything, from the worm to the human being, with impassiveness. Man receives neither love nor hatred at her hands; she neither rejoices in the good that he does nor complains of sin and crime, but looks beyond him with her deep, earnest eyes because he is an object of complete indifference to her. “The last of thy brothers might vanish off the face of the earth and not a needle of the pine 313 branches would tremble.” Nature has something icy, apathetic, terrible; and the fear which she can inspire through this indifference of hers ceases only when we begin to understand the relationship in which we are to our surroundings, when we begin to comprehend that man and animal, tree and flower, bird and fish, owe their existence to this one Mother. So Turgenief came to the same point as Spinoza.


And Rousseau did the same. The nature of Théodore Rousseau was devoid of all excitable enthusiasm. Thus the world he painted became something austere, earnest, and inaccessible beneath his hands. He lived in it alone, fleeing from his fellows, and for this reason human figures are seldom to be found in his pictures. He loved to paint nature on cold, grey impassive days, when the trees cast great shadows and forms stand out forcibly against the sky. He is not the painter of morning and evening twilight. There is no awakening and no dawn, no charm in these landscapes and no youth. Children would not laugh here, nor lovers venture to caress. In these trees the birds would build no nests, nor their fledglings twitter. His oaks stand as if they had so stood from eternity.

“Die unbegrieflich hohen Werke

Sind herrlich wie am ersten Tag.”

Like Turgenief, Rousseau ended in Pantheism.


S. Low & Co.

He familiarised himself more and more with the endless variety of plants and trees, of the earth and the sky at the differing hours of the day: he made his forms even more precise. He wished to paint the organic life of inanimate nature—the life which heaves unconsciously everywhere, sighing in the air, streaming from the bosom of the earth, and vibrating in the tiniest blade of grass as positively as it palpitates through the branches of the old oaks. These trees and herbs are not human, but they are characterised by their peculiar features, just as though they were men. The poplars grow like pyramids, and have green and silvered leaves, the oaks dark foliage and gnarled far-reaching boughs. The oaks stand fixed and immovable against the storm, whilst the slender poplars bend pliantly before it. This curious distinction in all the forms of nature, each one of which fulfils a course of existence like that of man, was a problem which pursued Rousseau throughout his life as a vast riddle. Observe his trees: they are not dead things; the sap of life mounts unseen through their strong trunks to the smallest branches and shoots, which spread from the extremity of the boughs like clawing fingers. The soil works and alters; every plant reveals the inner structure of the organism which produced it. And this striving even became a curse to him in his last period. Nature became for him an organism which he studied as an anatomist studies a corpse, an organism all the members of which act one upon the other according to logical laws, like the wheels of a machine; and for the proper operation of this machine the smallest plants seemed as necessary as the mightiest oaks, the gravel as important as the most tremendous rock.



Convinced that there was nothing in nature either indifferent or without its purpose, and that everything had a justification for its existence and played a part in the movement of universal life, he believed also that in everything, however small it might be, there was a special pictorial significance; and he toiled to discover this, to make it evident, and often forgot the while that art must make sacrifices if it is to move and charm. In his boundless veneration for the logical organism of nature he held, as a kind of categorical imperative, that it was right to give the same importance to the infinitely small as to the infinitely great. The notion was chimerical, and it wrecked him. In his last period the only things that will preserve their artistic reputation are his marvellously powerful drawings. No one ever had such a feeling for values, and thus he knew how to give his drawings—quite apart from their pithy weight of stroke—an effect of light which was forcibly striking. Just as admirable were the water-colours produced under the influence of Japanese picture-books. The pictures of petty detail which belong to these years have only an historical interest, and that merely because it is instructive to see how a great genius can deceive himself. One of his last works, the view of Mont Blanc, with the boundless horizon and the countless carefully and scrupulously delineated planes of ground, has neither pictorial beauty nor majesty. In the presence of this bizarre work one feels 316 astonishment at the artist’s endurance and strength of will, but disappointment at the result. He wanted to win the secret of its being from every undulation of the ground, from every blade of grass, and from every leaf; he was anxiously bent upon what he called planimétrie, upon the importance of horizontal planes, and he accentuated detail and accessory work beyond measure. His pantheistic faith in nature brought Théodore Rousseau to his fall. Those who did not know him spoke of his childish stippling and of the decline of his talent. Those who did know him saw in this stippling the issue of the same endeavours which poor Charles de la Berge had made before him, and of the principles on which the landscape of the English Pre-Raphaelites was being based about this time. If one looks at his works and then reads his life one almost comes to have for him a kind of religious veneration. There is something of the martyr in this insatiable observer, whose life was one long struggle, and to whom the study of the earth’s construction and the anatomy of branches was almost a religion.

Seemann, Leipzig.

At first he had to struggle for ten years for bread and recognition. It seems hardly credible that his landscapes, even after 1848, when they had obtained entry into the Salon, were a source of irritation there for years, simply because they were green. The public was so accustomed to brown trees and brown grass, that every other colour in the landscape was an offence against decency, and before a green picture the Philistine immediately cried out, “Spinage!” “Allez, c’était dur d’ouvrir la brêche,” said he, in his later years. And at last, at the World Exhibition of 1855, 317 when he had made it clear to Europe who Théodore Rousseau was, the evening of his life was saddened by pain and illness. He had married a poor unfortunate creature, a wild child of the forest, the only feminine being that he had found time to love during his life of toil. After a few years of marriage she became insane, and whilst he tended her Rousseau himself fell a victim to an affection of the brain which darkened his last years. Death came to his release in 1867. As he lay dying his mad wife danced and trilled to the screaming of her parrot. He rests “dans le plain calme de la nature” in the village churchyard at Chailly, near Barbizon, buried in front of his much-loved forest. Millet erected the headstone—a simple cross upon an unhewn block of sandstone, with a tablet of brass on which are inscribed the words:



Rousseau c’est un aigle. Quant à moi, je ne suis qu’une alouette qui pousse de petites chansons dans mes nuages gris.” With these words Camille Corot has indicated the distinction between Rousseau and himself. They denote the two opposite poles of modern landscape. What attracted the plastic artists, Rousseau, Ruysdael, and Hobbema—the relief of objects, the power of contours, the solidity of forms—was not Corot’s concern. Whilst 318 Rousseau never spoke about colour with his pupils, but as ceterum censeo invariably repeated, “Enfin, la forme est la première chose à observer,” Corot himself admitted that drawing was not his strong point. When he tried to paint rocks he was but moderately effective, and all his efforts at drawing the human figure were seldom crowned with real success, although in his last years he returned to the task with continuous zeal. Apart from such peculiar exceptions as that wonderful picture “The Toilet,” his figures are always the weakest part of his landscapes, and only have a good effect when in the background they reveal their delicate outlines, half lost in rosy haze. He was not much more felicitous with his animals, and in particular there often appear in his pictures great heavy cows, which are badly planted on their feet, and which one wishes that he had left out. Amongst trees he did not care to paint the oak, the favourite tree with all artists who have a passion for form, nor the chestnut, nor the elm, but preferred to summon, amid the delicate play of sunbeams, the aspen, the poplar, the alder, the birch with its white slender stem and its pale, tremulous leaves, and the willow with its light foliage. In Rousseau a tree is a proud, toughly knotted personality, a noble, self-conscious creation; in Corot it is a soft tremulous being rocking in the fragrant air, in which it whispers and murmurs of love and joy. His favourite season was not the autumn, when the turning leaves, hard as steel, stand out with firm lines, quiet and motionless, against the clear sky, but the early spring, when the farthest twigs upon the boughs deck themselves with little leaves of tender green, which vibrate and quiver with the least breath of air. He had, moreover, a perfectly wonderful secret of rendering the effect of the tiny blades of grass and the flowers which grow upon the meadows in June; he delighted to paint the banks of a stream with tall bushes bending to the water, and he loved water itself in undetermined clearness and in the shifting glance of light, leaving it here in shadow and touching it there with brightness; the sky in the depths beneath wedded to the bright border of the pool or the vanishing outlines of the bank, and the clouds floating across the sky, and here and there embracing a light shining fragment of the blue. He loved morning before sunrise, when the white mists hover over pools like a light veil of gauze, and gradually disperse as the sun breaks through, but he had a passion for evening which was almost greater: he loved the soft vapours which gather in the gloom, thickening until they become pale grey velvet mantles, as peace and rest descend upon the earth with the drawing on of night.

L’Art. L’Art.

In contradistinction from Rousseau his specialty was everything soft and wavering, 319 everything that has neither determined form nor sharp lines, and that, by not appealing too clearly to the eye, is the more conducive to dreamy reveries. It is not the spirit of a sculptor that lives in Corot, but that of a poet, or still better, the spirit of a musician, since music is the least plastic of the arts. It is not surprising to read in his biography that, like Watteau, he had almost a greater passion for music than for painting, and that when he painted he had always an old song or an opera aria upon his lips, that when he spoke of his pictures he had a taste for drawing comparisons from music, and that he had a season-ticket at the Conservatoire, never missed a concert, and played upon the violin himself. Indeed, there is something of the tender note of this instrument in his pictures, which make such a sweetly solemn appeal through their delicious silver tone. Beside Rousseau, the plastic artist, Père Corot is an idyllic painter of melting grace; beside Rousseau, the realist, he seems a dreamy musician; beside Rousseau, the virile spirit earnestly making experiments in art, he appears like a bashful schoolgirl in love. Rousseau approached nature in broad daylight, with screws and levers, as a cool-headed man of science; Corot caressed and flattered her, sung her wooing love-songs till she descended to meet him in the twilight hours, and whispered to him, her beloved, the secrets which Rousseau was unable to wring from her by violence.

Corot was sixteen years senior to Rousseau. He still belonged to the eighteenth century, to the time when, under the dictatorship of David, Paris transformed herself into imperial Rome. David, Gérard, Guérin, and Prudhon, artists so different in talent, were the painters whose works met his first eager glances, and no particular acuteness is needed to recognise in the Nymphs and Cupids with which Corot in after-years, especially in the evening of his life, dotted his fragrant landscapes, the direct issue of Prudhon’s charming goddesses, the reminiscences of his youth nourished on the antique. He, too, was a child of old Paris, with its narrow streets and corners. His father was a hairdresser in the Rue du Bac, number 37, and had made the acquaintance of a girl who lived at number 1 in the same street, close to the Pont Royal, and was shop-girl at a milliner’s. He carried on his barber’s shop until 1778, when Camille, the future painter, was two years old. Then Madame Corot herself undertook the millinery establishment in which she 320 had once worked. There might be read on the front of the narrow little house, number 1 of the Rue du Bac, Madame Corot, Marchande de Modes. M. Corot, a polite and very correct little man, raised the business to great prosperity. The Tuileries were opposite, and under Napoleon I Corot became Court “modiste.” As such he must have attained a certain celebrity, as even the theatre took his name in vain. A piece which was then frequently played at the Comédie Française contains the passage: “I have just come from Corot, but could not speak to him; he was locked up in his private room occupied in composing a new spring hat.”

S. Low & Co.

Camille went to the high school in Rouen, and was then destined, according to the wish of his father, to adopt some serious calling “by which money was to be made.” He began his career with a yard-measure in a linen-draper’s establishment, ran through the suburbs of Paris with a book of patterns under his arm selling cloth—Couleur olive—and in his absence of mind made the clumsiest mistakes. After eight years of opposition his father consented to his becoming a painter. “You will have a yearly allowance of twelve hundred francs,” said old Corot, “and if you can live on that you may do as you please.” At the Pont Royal, behind his father’s house, he painted his first picture, amid the tittering of the little dressmaker’s apprentices who looked on with curiosity from the window, but one of whom, Mademoiselle Rose, remained his dear friend through life. This was in 1823, and twenty 321 years went by before he returned to French soil in the pictures that he painted. Victor Bertin became his teacher; in other words, Classicism, style, and coldness. He sought diligently to do as others; he drew studies, composed historical landscapes, and painted as he saw the academicians painting around him. To conclude his orthodox course of training it only remained for him to make the pilgrimage to Italy, where Claude Lorrain had once painted and Poussin had invented the historical landscape. In 1825—when he was twenty-eight—he set out with Bertin and Aligny, remained long in Rome, and came to Naples. The Classicists, whose circle he entered with submissive veneration, welcomed him for his cheerful, even temper and the pretty songs which he sang in fine tenor voice. Early every morning he went into the Campagna, with a colour-box under his arm and a sentimental ditty on his lips, and there he drew the ruins with an architectural severity, just like Poussin. In 1827, after a sojourn of two years and a half in Italy, he was able to make an appearance in the Salon with his carefully balanced landscapes. In 1835 and 1843 he stayed again in Italy, and only after this third pilgrimage were his eyes opened to the charms of French landscape.


One can pass rapidly over this first section of Corot’s work. His pictures of this period are not without merit, but to speak of them with justice they should be compared with contemporary Classical productions. Then one finds in them broad and sure drawing, and can recognise a powerful hand and notice an astonishing increase of ability. Even on his second sojourn 322 in Italy he painted no longer as an ethnographical student, and no longer wasted his powers on detail. But it is in the pictures of his last twenty years that Corot first becomes the Theocritus of the nineteenth century. The second Corot has spoilt one’s enjoyment for the first. But who would care to pick a quarrel with him on that score! Beside his later pictures how hard are those studies from Rome, which the dying painter left to the Louvre, and which, as his maiden efforts, he regarded with great tenderness all through his life. How little they have of the delicate, harmonious light of his later works! The great historical landscape with Homer in it, where light and shadow are placed so trenchantly beside each other, the landscape “Aricia,” “Saint Jerome in the Desert,” the picture of the young girl sitting reading beside a mountain stream, “The Beggar” with that team in mad career which Decamps could not have painted with greater virtuosity,—they are all good pictures by the side of those of his contemporaries, but in comparison with real Corots they are like the exercises of a pupil, in their hard, dry painting, their black, coarse tones, and their chalky wall of atmosphere. There is neither breeze nor transparency nor life in the air; the trees are motionless, and look as if they were heavily cased in iron.

(By permission of M. Jules Beer, the owner of the picture.)

Corot was approaching his fortieth year, an age at which a man’s ideas are generally fixed, when the great revolution of French landscape painting was accomplished under the influence of the English and of Rousseau. Trained in academical traditions, he might have remained steadfast in his own province. To follow the young school he had completely to learn his 323 art again, and alter his method of treatment with the choice of subjects, and this casting of his slough demanded another fifteen years. When he passed from Italian to French landscape, after his return from his third journey to Rome in 1843, his pictures were still hard and heavy. He had already felt the influence of Bonington and Constable, by the side of whose works his first exhibited picture had hung in 1827. But he still lacked the power of rendering light and air, and his painting had neither softness nor light. Even in the choice of subject he was still undecided, returning more than once to the historical landscape and working on it with unequal success. His masterpiece of 1843, “The Baptism of Christ,” in the Church of Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, is no more than a delicate imitation of the old masters. The “Christ upon the Mount of Olives” of 1844, in the Museum of Langres, is the first picture which seems like a convert’s confession of faith. In the centre of the picture, before a low hill, Christ kneels upon the ground praying; His disciples are around Him, and to the right, vanishing in the shadows, the olive trees stretch their gnarled branches over the darkened way. A dark blue sky, in which a star is flickering, broods tremulously over the landscape. One might pass the Christ over unobserved; but for the title He would be hard to recognise. But the star shining far away, the transparent clearness of the night sky, the light clouds, and the mysterious shadows gliding swiftly over the ground,—these have no more to do with the false and already announce the true Corot. From this time he found the way on which he went forward resolute and emancipated.



For five-and-twenty years it was permitted to him to labour in perfect ripeness, freedom, and artistic independence. One thinks of Corot as though he had been a child until he was fifty and then first entered upon his adolescence. Up to 1846 he took from his father the yearly allowance of twelve hundred francs given him as a student, and in that year, when he received the Cross of the Legion of Honour, M. Corot doubled the sum for the future, observing: “Well, Camille seems to have talent after all.” About the same time his friends remarked that he went about Barbizon one day more meditatively than usual. “My dear fellow,” said he to one of them, “I am inconsolable. Till now I had a complete collection of Corots, and it has been broken to-day, for I have sold one for the first time.” And even at seventy-four he said: “How swiftly one’s life passes, and how much must one exert one’s self to do anything good!” The history of art has few examples to offer of so long a spring. Corot had the privilege of never growing old; his life was a continual rejuvenescence. The works which made him Corot are the youthful works of an old man, the matured creations of a grey-headed artist, who—like Titian—remained for ever young; and for their artistic appreciation it is not without importance to remember this.

(By permission of M. Jules Beer, the owner of the picture.)

Of all the Fontainebleau painters Corot was the least a realist: he was the least bound to the earth, and he was never bent upon any exact rendering of a part of nature. No doubt he worked much in the open air, but he worked far more in his studio; he painted many scenes as they lay before him, but 325 more often those which he only saw in his own mind. He is reported to have said on his deathbed: “Last night I saw in a dream a landscape with a sky all rosy. It was charming, and still stands before me quite distinctly; it will be marvellous to paint.” How many landscapes may he not have thus dreamed, and painted from the recollected vision!


For a young man this would be a very dangerous method. For Corot it was the only one which allowed him to remain Corot, because in this way no unnecessary detail disturbed the pure, poetic reverie. He had spent his whole life in a dallying courtship with nature, ever renewed. As a child he looked down from his attic window upon the wavering mists of the Seine; as a schoolboy in Rouen he wandered lost in his own fancies along the borders of the great river; when he had grown older he went every year with his sister to a little country-house in Ville d’Avray, which his father had bought for him in 1817. Here he stood at the open window, in the depth of the night, when every one was asleep, absorbed in looking at the sky and listening to the plash of waters and the rustling of leaves. Here he stayed quite alone. No sound disturbed his reveries, and unconsciously he drank in the soft, moist air and the delicate vapour rising from the neighbouring river. Everything was harmoniously reflected in his quick and eager spirit, and his eyes beheld the individual trait of nature floating in the universal life. He began not merely to see nature, but to feel her presence, like that of a 326 beloved woman, to receive her very breath and to hear the beating of her heart.


One knows the marvellous letter in which he describes the day of a landscape painter to Jules Dupré: “On se lève de bonne heure, à trois heures du matin, avant le soleil; on va s’asseoir au pied d’un arbre, on regarde et on attend. On ne voit pas grand’chose d’abord. La nature ressemble à une toile blanchâtre où s’esquissent à peine les profils de quelques masses: tout est embaumé, tout frisonne au souffle fraîchi de l’aube. Bing! le soleil s’éclaircit ... le soleil n’a pas encore déchiré la gaze derrière laquelle se cachent la prairie, le vallon, les collines de l’horizon.... Les vapeurs nocturnes rampent encore commes des flocons argentés sur les herbes d’un vert transi. Bing!... Bing!... un premier rayon de soleil ... un second rayon de soleil.... Les petites fleurettes semblent s’éveiller joyeuses.... Elles out toutes leur goutte de rosée qui tremble ... les feuilles frileuses s’agitent au souffle du matin ... dans la feuillée, les oiseaux invisibles chantent.... Il semble que ce sont les fleurs qui font la prière. Les Amours à ailes de papillons s’ébattent sur la prairie et font onduler les hautes herbes.... On ne voit rien ... tout y est. Le paysage est tout entier derrière la gaze transparente du brouillard, qui, au reste ... monte ... monte ... aspiré par le soleil ... et laisse, en se levant, voir la rivière lamée d’argent, les prés, les arbres, les maisonettes, le lointain fuyant.... On distingue enfin tout ce que l’on divinait d’abord.

At the end there is an ode to evening which is perhaps to be reckoned amongst the most delicate pages of French lyrics: “La nature s’assoupit ... cependant l’air frais du soir soupire dans les feuilles ... la rosée emperle le velours des gazons.... Les nymphes fuient ... se cachent ... et désirent être vues.... Bing! une étoile du ciel qui pique une tête dans l’étang.... Charmante étoile, dont le frémissement de l’eau augmente le scintillement, tu me regardes ... tu me souris en clignant de l’œil.... Bing! une seconde étoile apparaît dans l’eau; un second œil s’ouvre. Soyez les bienvenues, fraîches et charmantes étoiles.... Bing! Bing! Bing! trois, six, vingt 327 étoiles.... Toutes les étoiles du ciel se sont donné rendez-vous dans cet heureux étang.... Tout s’assombrit encore.... L’étang seul scintille.... C’est un fourmillement d’étoiles.... L’illusion se produit.... Le soleil étant couché, le soleil intérieur de l’âme, le soleil de l’art se lève.... Bon! voilâ mon tableau fait.”


Any one who has never read anything about Corot except these lines may know him through them alone. Even that little word “Bing” comprises and elucidates his art by its clear, silvery resonance. The words vibrate like the strings of a violin that have been gently touched, and they want Mozart’s music as an accompaniment. I do not know any one who has described all the feminine tenderness of nature, the dishevelled leaves of the birches, the heaving bosom of the air, the fresh virginity of morning, the weary, sensuous charm of evening, with such seductive tenderness and such highly strung feeling, so voluptuously and yet so coyly.

To these impressions of Rouen, Ville d’Avray, and Barbizon were added finally those of Paris. For Corot was born in Paris, and, often as he left it, he always came back; he passed the greatest part of his life there, and there it was, perhaps, that in his last period he created his most poetic works. In these years he had no more need of actual landscapes; he needed only a sky and they rose before him. Every evening after sundown he left his studio just at the time when the dusk fell veiling everything. He raised his eyes to the sky, the only part of nature which remained visible. And how often does this twilight sky of Paris recur in Corot’s pictures! At the end of his life he could really give himself over to a dream. The drawings and countless studies of his youth bear witness to the care, patience, and exactitude of his 328 preparation. They gave him in after-years, when he was sure of his hand, the right to simplify, because he knew everything thoroughly. Thus Boecklin paints his pictures without a model, and thus Corot painted his landscapes. The hardest problems are solved apparently as if he were improvising; and for that very reason the sight of a Corot gives such unspeakable pleasure, such an impression of charming ease. It is only a hand which has used a brush for forty years that can paint thus. All effects are attained with the minimum expenditure of strength and material. The drawing lies as if behind colour that has been blown on to the canvas; it is as if one looked through a thin gauze into the distance. Whoever has studied reality so many years, with patient and observant eye, as Corot did, whoever has daily satiated his imagination with the impressions of nature, may finally venture on painting, not this or that scenery, but the fragrance, the very essence of things, and render merely his own spirit and his own visions free from all earthly and retarding accessories. There is a temptation to do honour to Corot’s pictures merely as “the confessions of a beautiful soul.”


But Corot was as great and strong as a Hercules. In his blue blouse, with his woollen cap and the inevitable short Corot pipe in his mouth—a pipe which has become historical—one would have taken him for a carter rather than a celebrated painter. At the same time he remained during his whole life—a girl: twenty years senior to all the great landscape painters of the epoch, he was at once a patriarch in their eyes and their younger comrade. His long white hair surrounded the innocent face of a ruddy country girl, and his kind and pleasant eyes were those of a child listening to a fairy-tale. In 1848, during the fighting on the barricades, he asked with childish astonishment: “What is the matter? Are we not satisfied with the Government?” And during the war in 1870 this great hoary-headed child of seventy-four bought a musket, to join in fighting against Germany. Benevolence was the joy of his old age. Every friend who begged for a picture was given one, while for money he had the indifference of a hermit who has no wants and neither sows nor reaps, but is fed by his Heavenly Father. He ran breathlessly after an acquaintance to whom, contrary to his wont, he had refused five thousand francs: “Forgive me,” he said; “I am a miser, but there they are.” And when a picture-dealer brought him ten thousand francs he gave him the following direction: “Send them,” he said, “to the widow of my friend Millet; only, she must believe that you have bought pictures from him.” His one passion was music, his whole life “an eternal song.” Corot was a happy man, and no one more deserved to be happy. In his kind-hearted vivacity and even good spirits he was a favourite with all who came near him and called him familiarly their Papa Corot. Everything in him was healthy and natural; his was a harmonious nature, living and working happily. This harmony is reflected in his art. And he saw the joy in nature which he had in himself.


Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.




Everything that was coarse or horrible in nature he avoided, and his own life passed without romance or any terrible catastrophes. He has no picture in which there is a harassed tree vexed by the storm. Corot’s own spirit was touched neither by passions nor by the strokes of fate. There is air in his landscapes, but never storm; streams, but not torrents; waters, but not floods; plains, but not rugged mountains. All is soft and quiet as his own heart, whose peace the storm never troubled.


No man ever lived a more orderly, regular, and reasonable life. He was only spendthrift where others were concerned. No evening passed that he did not play a rubber of whist with his mother, who died only a little before him, and was loved by the old man with the devoted tenderness of a child. From an early age he had the confirmed habits which make the day long and prevent waste of time. The eight years which he passed in the linen-drapery establishment of M. Delalain had accustomed him to punctuality. Every morning he rose very early, and at three minutes to eight he was in his studio as punctually as he had been in earlier years at the counter, and went through his daily task without feverish haste or idleness, humming with that quietude which makes the furthest progress.

For that reason he had also an aversion to everything passionate in nature, to everything irregular, sudden, or languid, to the feverish burst of storm as to the relaxing languor of summer heat. He loved all that is quiet, symmetrical, and fresh, peaceful and blithe, everything that is enchanting by its 332 repose: the bright, tender sky, the woods and meadows tinged with green, the streamlets and the hills, the regular awakening of spring, the soft, quiet hours of evening twilight, the dewy laughing morning, the delicate mists which form slowly the over surface of still waters, the joy of clear, starry nights, when all voices are silent and every breeze is at rest; and the cheerfulness of his own spirit is reflected in everything.

One might go further, and say that Corot’s goodness is mirrored in his pictures. Corot loved humanity and wished it well, and he shrank from no sacrifice in helping his friends. And even so did he love the country, and wished to see it animated, enlivened, and blest by human beings. That is the great distinction between him and Chintreuil, who is otherwise so like him. Chintreuil also painted nature when she quivers smiling beneath the gentle and vivifying glance of spring, but figures are wanting in his pictures. As a timid, fretful, unsociable man, he imagined that nature also felt happiest in solitude. The scenery in which Chintreuil delighted was thick, impenetrable copse, lonely haunts in the tangle of the thicket, from which now and then a startled hind stretches out its head, glancing uneasily. Corot, who could not endure solitude, being always the centre of a cheery social gathering, made nature a sociable being. Men, women, and children give animation to his woods and meadows. And at times he introduces peasants at work in the fields, but how little do they resemble the peasants of Millet! The rustics of the master of Gruchy are as hard and rough as they are actual; the burden of life has bowed their figures and lined their faces prematurely; they are old before their time, and weary every evening. Corot’s labourers never grow weary: lightly touched in rather than painted, dreamt of rather than seen, they carry on an ethereal existence in the open air, free and contented; they have never suffered, just as Corot himself knew no sufferings. But as a rule human beings were altogether out of place in the happy fields conjured up by his fairy fantasy; and then came the moment when Prudhon lived again. The nymphs and bacchantes whom he had met as a youth by the tomb of Virgil visited him in the evening of life in the forest of Fontainebleau and in the meadows of Ville d’Avray.


Cassell & Co.





In his pictures he dreamed of pillars and altars near which mythical figures moved once more, dryads sleeping by the stream, dancing fauns, junctæque nymphis gratiæ decentes in classical raiment. In this sense he was a Classicist all his life. His nymphs, however, are no mere accessories; they have nothing in common with the faded troop of classic beings whose old age in the ruins of forsaken temples was so long tended by the Academy. In Corot they are the natural habitants of a world of harmony and light, the logical complement of his visions of nature: in the same way Beethoven at the close of the Ninth Symphony introduced the human voice. No sooner has he touched in the lines of his landscapes than the nymphs and tritons, the radiant children of the Greek idyllic poets, desert the faded leaves of books to populate Corot’s groves, and refresh themselves in the evening shadows of his forests.

For the evening dusk, the hour after sunset, is peculiarly the hour of Corot; his very preference for the harmonious beauty of dying light was the effluence of his own harmonious temperament. When he would, Corot was a colourist of the first order. The World Exhibition of 1889 contained pictures of women by his hand which resembled Feuerbach in their strict and austere beauty of countenance, and which recalled Delacroix in the liquid fulness of tone and their fantastic and variously coloured garb. But, compared with the orgies of colour indulged in by Romanticism, his works are generally characterised by the most delicate reserve in painting. A bright silvery sheet of water and the ivory skin of a nymph are usually the only touches of colour that hover in the pearly grey mist of his pictures. As a man Corot avoided all dramas and strong contrasts; everything abrupt or loud was repellent to his nature. Thus it was that the painter, too, preferred the clear grey hours of evening, in which nature envelops herself as if in a delicate, melting veil of gauze. Here he was able to be entirely Corot, and to paint without contours and almost without colours, and bathe in the soft, dusky atmosphere. He saw lines no longer; everything was breath, fragrance, vibration, and mystery. “Ce n’est plus une toile et ce n’est plus un peintre, c’est le bon Dieu et c’est le soir.” Elysian airs began to breathe, and the faint echo of the prattling streamlet sounded gently murmuring in the wood; the soft arms of the 336 nymphs clung round him, and from the neighbouring thicket tender, melting melodies chimed forth like Æolian harps—

“Rege dich, du Schilfgeflüster;

Hauche leise, Rohrgeschwister;

Säuselt, leichte Weidensträuche;

Lispelt, Pappelzitterzweige

Unterbroch’nen Träumen zu.”

His end was as harmonious as his life and his art. “Rien ne trouble sa fin, c’est le soir d’un beau jour.” His sister, with whom the old bachelor had lived, died in the October of 1874, and Corot could not endure loneliness. On 23rd February 1875—when he had just completed his seventy-ninth year—he was heard to say as he lay in bed drawing with his fingers in the air: “Mon Dieu, how beautiful that is; the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen.” When his old housekeeper wanted to bring him his breakfast he said with a smile: “To-day Père Corot will breakfast above.” Even his last illness robbed him of none of his cheerfulness, and when his friends brought him as he lay dying the medal struck to commemorate his jubilee as an artist of fifty years’ standing, he said with tears of joy in his eyes: “It makes one happy to know that one has been so loved; I have had good parents and dear friends. I am thankful to God.” With those words he passed away to his true home, the land of spirits—not the paradise of the Church, but the Elysian fields he had dreamt of and painted so often: “Largior hic campos æther et lumine vestit purpureo.

When they bore him from his house in the Faubour-Poissonière and a passer-by asked who was being buried, a fat shopwoman standing at the door of her house answered: “I don’t know his name, but he was a good man.” Beethoven’s Symphony in C minor was played at his funeral, according to his own direction, and as the coffin was being lowered a lark rose exulting to the sky. “The artist will be replaced with difficulty, the man never,” said Dupré at Corot’s grave. On 27th May 1880 an unobtrusive monument to his memory was unveiled at the border of the lake at Ville d’Avray, in the midst of the dark forest where he had so often dreamed. He died in the fulness of his fame as an artist, but it was the forty pictures collected in the Centenary Exhibition of 1889 which first made the 337 world fully conscious of what modern art possessed in Corot: a master of immortal masterpieces, the greatest poet and the tenderest soul of the nineteenth century, as Fra Angelico was the tenderest soul of the fifteenth, and Watteau the greatest poet of the eighteenth.


Jules Dupré, a melancholy spirit, who was inwardly consumed by a lonely existence spent in passionate work, stands as the Beethoven of modern painting beside Corot, its Mozart. If Théodore Rousseau was the epic poet of the Fontainebleau school, and Corot the idyllic poet, Dupré seems its tragic dramatist. Rousseau’s nature is hard, rude, and indifferent to man. For Corot God is the great philanthropist, who wishes to see men happy, and lets the spring come and the warm winds blow only that children may have their pleasure in them. His soul is, as Goethe has it in Werther, “as blithe as those of sweet spring mornings.” Jules Dupré has neither Rousseau’s reality nor Corot’s tenderness; his tones are neither imperturbable nor subdued. “Quant derrière un tronc d’arbre ou derrière une pierre, vous ne trouvez pas un homme à quoi ça sert-il de faire du paysage.” In Corot there is a charm as of the light melodies of the Zauberflöte; in Dupré the ear is struck by the shattering notes of the Sinfonie Eroica. Rousseau looks into the heart of nature with widely dilated pupils and a critical glance. Corot woos her smiling, caressing, and dallying; Dupré courts her uttering impassioned complaint and with tears in his eyes. In him are heard the mighty fugues of Romanticism. The trees live, the waves laugh and weep, the sky sings and wails, and the sun, like a great conductor, determines the harmony of the concert. Even the two pictures with which he made an appearance in the Salon in 1835, after he had left the Sèvres china manufactory and 338 become acquainted with Constable during a visit to England—the “Near Southampton” and “Pasture-land in the Limousin”—displayed him as an accomplished master. In “Near Southampton” everything moves and moans. Across an undulating country a dark tempest blusters, like a wild host, hurrying and sweeping forward in the gloom, tearing and scattering everything in its path, whirling leaves from the slender trees. Clouds big with rain hasten across the horizon as if on a forced march. The whole landscape seems to partake in the flight; the brushwood seems to bow its head like a traveller. In the background a few figures are recognisable: people overtaken by the storm at their work; horses with their manes flying in the wind; and a rider seeking refuge for himself and his beast. A stretch of sluggish water ruffles its waves as though it were frowning. Everything is alive and quaking in this majestic solitude, and in the mingled play of confused lights, hurrying clouds, fluttering branches, and trembling grass.

Cassell & Co.


S. Low & Co.

“Pasture-land in the Limousin” had the same overpowering energy; it was an admirable picture in 1835, and it is admirable still. The fine old trees stand like huge pillars; the grass, drenched with rain, is of an intense green; nature seems to shudder as if in a fever. And through his whole life Dupré was possessed by the lyrical fever of Romanticism. As the last champion of Romanticism he bore the banner of the proud generation of 1830 through well-nigh two generations, and until his death in 1889 stood on the ground where Paul Huet had first placed French landscape; but Huet attained his pictorial effects by combining and by calculation, while Dupré is always a great, true, and convincing poet. Every evening he was seen in L’Isle Adam, where he settled in 1849, wandering alone across the fields, even in drenching rain. One of his pupils declares that once, when they stood at night on the bridge of the Oise during a storm, Dupré broke into a paroxysm of tears at the magnificent spectacle. He was a fanatic rejoicing in storms, one who watched the tragedies of the heaven with quivering emotion, a passionate spirit consumed by his inward force, and, like his literary counterpart Victor Hugo, he sought beauty of landscape only where it was wild and magnificent. He is the painter of nature vexed and harassed, and of the majestic silence that follows the storm. The theme of his pictures is at one time the whirling torture of the yellow leaves driven before the wind in eddying 340 confusion; tormented and quivering they cleave to the furrows in the mad chase, fall into dykes, and cling against the trunks of trees, to find refuge from their persecutor. At another time he paints how the night wind whistles round an old church and whirls the screaming weather-cock round and round, how it moans and rattles with invisible hand against the doors, forces its way through the windows, and, once shut in its stony prison, seeks a way out again, howling and wailing. He paints sea-pieces in which the sea rages and mutters like some hoarse old monster; the colour of the water is dirty and pallid; the howling multitude of waves storms on like an innumerable army before which every human power gives way. Stones are torn loose and hurled crashing upon the shore. The clouds are dull and ghostly, here black as smoke, there of a shining whiteness, and swollen as though they must burst. He celebrates the commotion of the sky, nature in her angry majesty, and the most brilliant phenomena of atmospheric life. Rousseau’s highest aim was to avoid painting for effect, and Corot only cared for grace of tone; a picture of his consists “of a little grey and a certain je ne sais quoi.” Jules Dupré is peculiarly the colour-poet of the group, and sounds the most resonant notes in the romantic concert. His light does not beam in gently vibrating silver tones, but is concentrated in glaring red suns. “Ah, la lumière, la lumière!” Beside the flaming hues of evening red he paints the darkest shadows. He revels in contrasts. His favourite key of colour is that of a ghostly sunset, against which a gnarled oak or the dark sail of a tiny vessel rises like a phantom.

Trembling and yet with ardent desire he looks at the tumult of waters, and hears the roll and resonance of the moon-silvered tide. He delights in night, rain, and storm. Corot’s gentle rivulets become a rolling and whirling flood in his pictures, a headlong stream carrying all before it. The wind no longer sighs, but blusters across the valley, spreading ruin in its path. The clouds which in Corot are silvery and gentle, like white lambs, are in Dupré black and threatening, like demons of hell. In Corot the soft morning breeze faintly agitates the tender clouds in the sky; in Dupré a damp, cold wind of evening blows a spectral grey mist into the valley, and the hurricane tears apart the thunderclouds.

“Wenn ich fern auf nackter Haide wallte,

Wo aus dämmernder Geklüfte Schooss

Der Titanensang der Ströme schallte

Und die Nacht der Wolken mich umschloss,

Wenn der Sturm mit seinen Wetterwogen

Mir vorüber durch die Berge fuhr

Und des Himmels Flammen mich umflogen,

Da erscheinst du, Seele der Natur.”







The first of the brilliant pleiad who did not come from Paris itself is Diaz, who in his youth worked with Dupré in the china manufactory of Sèvres. Of noble Spanish origin—Narciso Virgilio Diaz de la Peña ran his high-sounding name in full—he was born in Bordeaux in 1807, after his parents had taken refuge from the Revolution across the Pyrenees, and in his landscapes, too, perhaps, his Spanish blood betrays him now and then. Diaz has in him a little of Fortuny. Beside the great genius wrestling for truth and the virile seriousness of Rousseau, beside the gloomy, powerful landscapes of Dupré with their deep, impassioned poetry, the sparkling and flattering pictures of Diaz seem to be rather light wares. For him nature is a keyboard on which to play capricious fantasies. His pictures have the effect of sparkling diamonds, and one must surrender one’s self to this charm without asking its cause; otherwise it evaporates. Diaz has perhaps rather too much of the talent of a juggler, the sparkle of a magic kaleidoscope. “You paint stinging nettles, and I prefer roses,” is the characteristic expression which he used to Millet. His painting is piquant and as iridescent as a peacock’s tail, but in this very iridescence there is often an unspeakable charm. It has the rocket-like brilliancy and the glancing chivalry which were part of the man himself, and made him the best of good company, the enfant terrible, the centre of all that was witty and spirited in the circle of Fontainebleau.

He, too, was long acquainted with poverty, as were his great brother-artists Rousseau and Dupré. Shortly after his birth he lost his father. Madame Diaz, left entirely without means, came to Paris, where she supported herself by giving lessons in Spanish and Italian. When he was ten years old the boy was left an orphan alone in the vast city. A Protestant clergyman in Bellevue then adopted him. And now occurred the misfortune which he was so fond of relating in after-years. In one of his wanderings through the wood he was bitten by a poisonous insect, and from that time he was obliged to hobble through life with a wooden leg, which he called his pilon. From his fifteenth year he worked, at first as a lame errand boy, and afterwards 344 as a painter on china, together with Dupré, Raffet, and Cabat, in the manufactory of Sèvres. Before long he was dismissed as incompetent, for one day he took it into his head to decorate a vase entirely after his own taste. Then poverty began once more. Often when the evening drew on he wandered about the boulevards under cover of the darkness, opened the doors of carriages which had drawn up at the pavement, and stretched out his hand to beg. “What does it matter?” he said; “one day I shall have carriages and horses, and a golden crutch; my brush will win them for me.” He exhibited a picture on speculation at a picture-dealer’s, in the hope of making a hundred francs; it was “The Descent of the Bohemians,” that picturesque band of men, women, and children, who advance singing, laughing, and shouting by a steep woodland road, to descend on some neighbouring village like a swarm of locusts. A Parisian collector bought it for fifteen hundred francs. Diaz was saved, and he migrated to the forest of Fontainebleau.


His biography explains a great deal in the character of the painter’s art. His works are unequal. In his picture “Last Tears,” which appeared in the World Exhibition of 1855, and which stands to his landscapes as a huge block of copper to little ingots of gold, he entered upon a course in which he wandered long without any particular artistic result. He wanted to be a figure-painter, and with this object he concocted a style of painting by a mixture of various traditions, seeking to unite Prudhon, Correggio, and Leonardo. From the 345 master of Cluny he borrowed the feminine type with a snub nose and long almond-shaped eyes, treated the hair like da Vinci, and placed over it the sfumato of Allegri. His drawing, usually so pictorial in its light sweep, became weak in his effort to be correct, and his colouring grew dull and monotonous by its imitation of the style of the Classicists. But during this period Diaz made a great deal of money, sold his pictures without intermission, and avenged himself, as he had determined to do, upon his former poverty. He, who had begged upon the boulevards, was able to buy weapons and costumes at the highest figure, and build himself a charming house in the Place Pigalle. In all that concerns his artistic position these works, which brought him an income of fifty thousand francs, and, for a long time, the fame of a new Prudhon, are nevertheless without importance. Faltering between the widely divergent influences of the old masters, he did not get beyond a wavering eclecticism, and was too weak in drawing to attain results worth mentioning. It is as a landscape painter that he will be known to posterity. He is said to have been the terror of all game as long as he was the house-mate of Rousseau and Millet in Fontainebleau, and wandered through the woods there with a gun on his arm to get a cheap supper. It is reported, too, that when his pictures were rejected by the Salon in those days he laughingly made a hole in the canvas with his wooden leg, saying: “What is the use of being rich? I can’t have a diamond set in my pilon!” It was however in the years before 1855, when he had nothing to do with any picture-dealer, that the immortal works of Diaz were executed.


The mention of his name conjures up before the mind the recesses of a wood, reddened by autumn, a wood where the sunbeams play, gilding the trunks of the trees; naked white forms repose amid mysterious lights, or on paths of golden sand appear gaily draped odalisques, their rich costume glittering in the rays of the sun. Few have won from the forest, as he did, its beauty of golden sunlight and verdant leaves. Others remained at the entrance of the forest; he was the first who really penetrated to its depths. The branches met over his head like the waves of the sea, the blue heaven vanished, and everything was shrouded. 346 The sunbeams fell like the rain of Danaë through the green leaves, and the moss lay like a velvet mantle on the granite piles of rock. He settled down like a hermit in his verdant hollow. The leaves quivered green and red, and covered the ground, shining like gold in the furtive rays of the evening sun. Nothing was to be seen of the trees, nothing of the outline of their foliage, nothing of the majestic sweep of their boughs, but only the mossy stems touched by the radiance of the sun. The pictures of Diaz are not landscapes, for the land is wanting; they are “tree scapes,” and their poetry lies in the sunbeams which dance playing round them. “Have you seen my last stem?” he would himself inquire of the visitors to his studio.

These woodland recesses were the peculiar specialty of Diaz, and he but seldom abandoned them to paint warm, dreamy pictures of summer. For, like a true child of the South, he only cared to see nature on beautiful days. He knows nothing of spring with its light mist, and still less of the frozen desolation of winter. The summer alone does he know, the summer and the autumn; and the summers of Diaz are an everlasting song, like the springs of Corot. Beautiful nymphs and other beings from the golden age give animation to his emerald meadows and his sheltered woods bathed in the sun: here are little, homely-looking nixies, and there are pretty Cupids and Venuses and Dianas of charming grace. And none of these divinities think about anything or do anything; they are not piquant, like those of Boucher 347 and Fragonard, and they know neither coquetry nor smiles. They are merely goddesses of the palette; their wish is to be nothing but shining spots of colour, and they love nothing except the silvery sunbeams which fall caressingly on their naked skin. If the painter wishes for more vivid colour they throw around them shining red, blue, yellowish-green, or gold-embroidered clothes, and immediately are transformed from nymphs into Oriental women, as in a magic theatre. A fragment of soft silk, gleaming with gold, and a red turban were means sufficient for him to conjure up his charming and fanciful land of Turks. Sometimes even simple mortals—wood-cutters, peasant girls, and gipsies—come into his pictures, that the sunbeams may play upon them, while their picturesque rags form piquant spots of colour.


Diaz belongs to the same category as Isabey and Fromentin, a fascinating artist, a great charmeur, and a feast to the eyes.

When in the far South, amid the eternal summer of Mentone, he closed his dark, shining eyes for ever, at dawn on 18th November 1876, a breath of sadness went through the tree-tops of the old royal forest of Fontainebleau. The forest had lost its hermit, the busy woodsman who penetrated farthest into its green depths; and it preserves his memory gratefully. Only go, in October, through the copse of Bas Bréau, lose yourself amid the magnificent 348 foliage of these century-old trees that glimmer with a thousand hues like gigantic bouquets, dark green and brown, or golden and purple, and at the sight of this brilliant gleam of autumn tones you can only say, A Diaz!

The youngest of the group, Daubigny, came when the battle was over, and plays a slighter rôle, since he cannot be reckoned any longer among the discoverers; nevertheless he has a physiognomy of his own, and one of peculiar charm. The others were painters of nature; Daubigny is the painter of the country. If one goes from Munich to Dachau to see the apple trees blossom and the birches growing green, to breathe in the odour of the cow-house and the fragrance of the hay, to hear the tinkle of cow-bells, the croaking of frogs, and the hum of gnats, one does not say, “I want to see nature,” but “I am going into the country.” Jean Jacques Rousseau was the worshipper of nature, while Georges Sand, in certain of her novels, has celebrated country life. In this sense Daubigny is less an adorer of nature than a man fond of the country. His pictures give the feeling one has in standing at the window on a country excursion, and looking at the laughing and budding spring. One feels no veneration for the artist, but one would like to be a bird to perch on those boughs, a lizard to creep amongst this green, a cockchafer to fly humming from tree to tree.




Daubigny, possibly, has not the great and free creative power of the older artists, their magnificent simplicity in treating objects: the feminine element, the susceptibility to natural beauty, preponderates in him, and not the virile, creative power of embodiment, which at once discovers in itself a telling force of expression for the image received from nature. He seeks after no poetic emotions, like Dupré; he has not the profound, penetrative eye for nature, like Rousseau; in his charm and amiability he approaches Corot, except that mythological beings are no longer at home in his landscapes. They would take no pleasure in this odour of damp grass, the smell of the cow-byres, and the dilapidated old skiffs which rock, in Daubigny’s pictures, fastened to a swampy bank. Corot, light, delicate, and simple as a boy, sitting on a school-bench all his life, is always veiled and mysterious. Daubigny, heavier and technically better equipped, has more power and less grace; he dreams less and paints more. Corot made the apotheosis of nature: his silvery grey clouds bore him to the Elysian fields, where nothing had the heaviness of earth and everything melted in poetic vapour. Daubigny, borne by no wings of Icarus, seems like Antæus beside him; he is bodily wedded to the earth. Dupré made the earth a mirror of the tears and passions of men. Corot surprised her before the peasant is up of a morning, in the hours when she belongs altogether to the nymphs and the fairies. In Daubigny the earth has once more become the possession of human beings. It is not often that figures move in his pictures. Even Rousseau more often finds a 350 place in his landscapes for the rustic, but nature in him is hard, unapproachable, and deliberately indifferent to man. She looks down upon him austerely, closing and hardening her heart against him. In Daubigny nature is familiar with man, stands near him, and is kindly and serviceable. The skiffs rocking at the river’s brink betray that fishers are in the neighbourhood; even when they are empty his little houses suggest that their inhabitants are not far off, that they are but at work in the field and may come back at any moment. In Rousseau man is merely an atom of the infinite; here he is the lord of creation. Rousseau makes an effect which is simple and powerful, Dupré one which is impassioned and striking, Corot is divine, Diaz charming, and Daubigny idyllic, intimate, and familiar. He closed a period and enjoyed the fruits of what the others had called into being. One does not admire him—one loves him.

He had passed his youth with his nurse in a little village, surrounded with white-blossoming apple trees and waving fields of corn, near L’Isle Adam. Here as a boy he received the impressions which made him a painter of the country, and which were too strong to be obliterated by a sojourn in Italy. The best picture that he painted there showed a flat stretch of land with thistles. A view of the island of St. Louis was the work with which he first appeared in the Salon in 1838.

Daubigny is the painter of water, murmuring silver-grey between ashes and oaks, and reflecting the clouds of heaven in its clear mirror. He is the painter of the spring in its fragrance, when the meadows shine in the earliest verdure, and the leaves but newly unfolded stand out against the sky as bright green patches of colour, when the limes blossom and the crops begin to shoot. A field of green corn waving gently beneath budding apple trees in the breeze of spring, still rivers in which banks and bushy islands are reflected, mills beside little streams rippling in silvery clearness over shining white pebbles, cackling geese, and washerwomen neatly spreading out their linen, are things which Daubigny has painted with the delicate feeling of a most impressionable lover of nature. At the same time he had the secret of shedding over his pictures the most marvellous tint of delicate, vaporous air; especially in those representations, at once so poetic and so accurate, of evening by the water’s edge, or of bright moonlight nights, when all things are sharply illuminated, and yet softly shrouded with a dream-like exhalation. His favourite light was that of cool evening dusk, after the sun and every trace of the after-glow has vanished from the sky. Valmandois, where he passed his youth, and afterwards the Oise, with its green banks and vineyards and hedged gardens, the most charming and picturesque river in North France, are most frequently rendered in his pictures. Every day, when nature put on her spring garb, he sailed along the banks in a small craft, with his son Charles. His most vigorous works were executed in the cabin of this vessel: spirited sketches of regions delicately veiled in mist and bound with a magical charm of peace, regions with the moon above them, shedding its clear, silver light—refined etchings which assure him a place of honour in the history of modern etching. The painter of the banks of the Oise saw everything with the curiosity and the love of a child, and remained always a naïve artist in spite of all his dexterity.


(By permission of Mr. L. H. Lefèvre, the owner of the copyright.)





After these great masters had opened up the path a tribe of landscape painters set themselves to render, each in his own way, the vigorous power, the tender charm, and the plaintive melancholy of the earth. Some loved dusk and light, the simple reproduction of ordinary places in their ordinary condition; others delighted in the struggle of the elements, the violent scudding of clouds, the parting glance of the sun, the sombre hours when nature shrouds her face with the mourning veil of a widow.

Although he never tasted the pleasures of fame, Antoine Chintreuil was the most refined of them all—an excessively sensitive spirit, who seized with as much delicacy as daring swiftly transient effects of nature, such as seldom appear: the moment when the sun casts a fleeting radiance in the midst of clouds, or when a shaft of light quivers for an instant through a dense mist; the effect of green fields touched by the first soft beams of the sun, or that of a rainbow spanning a fresh spring landscape. His pupil Jean Desbrosses was the painter of hills and valleys. Achard followed Rousseau in his pictures of lonely, austere, and mournful regions. Français painted familiar corners in the neighbourhood of Paris with grace, although more heavily than Corot, and without the shining light which is poured through the works of that rare genius. The pictures of Harpignies are rather dry, and betray a heavy hand. He is rougher than his great predecessors, less seductive and indeed rather staid, but he has a convincing reality, and is loyal and simple. He is valuable as an honest, genial artist, a many-sided and sure-footed man of talent, somewhat inclined to Classicism. Émile Breton, the brother of Jules, delighted in the agitation of the elements, wild, out-of-the-way regions, and 354 harsh climate. His execution is broad, his tones forcible, and he has both simplicity and largeness. Apart from his big, gloomy landscapes, Léonce Chabry has also painted sea-pieces, with dark waves dashing against the cleft rocks.


The representation of grazing animals plays a great part in the art of almost all of these painters. Some carried the love of animal painting so far that they never painted a landscape without introducing into the foreground their dearly loved herds of cows or flocks of sheep. The key of the landscape, the cheerful and sunny brilliancy of colour or the still melancholy of the evening dusk, is harmoniously repeated in the habits and being of these animals. Thus, too, new paths were opened to animal painting, which had suffered, no less than landscape, from the yoke of conventionality.

Up to the close of the eighteenth century French artists had contented themselves with adapting to French taste the light and superficial art of Nicolaus Berghem. Demarne, one of the last heirs of this Dutch artist, brought, even in the period of the Revolution, a little sunshine, blitheness, and country air amongst the large pictures in the classical manner. The animal painting of the ancien régime expired in his arms, and the “noble style” of Classicism obstructed the rise of the new animal painting. The fact that the great Jupiter, father of gods and men, assumed the form of a four-footed creature when he led weak, feminine beings astray had no doubt 355 given a certain justification to the animal picture during the reign of the school of David. But the artists preferred to hold aloof from it, either because animals are hard to idealise in themselves, or because the received antique sculpture of animals was difficult to employ directly in pictures. In landscapes, which gods and heroes alone honoured with their presence, idealised animals would have been altogether out of place. Only animals which are very difficult to draw correctly, such as sphinxes, sirens, and winged horses—beings which the old tragedians were fond of turning to account—are occasionally allowed to exist in the pictures of Bertin and Paul Flandrin. Carle Vernet, who composed cavalry charges and hunting scenes, had not talent enough seriously to make a breach, or to find disciples to follow his lead. Géricault, the forerunner of Romanticism, was likewise the first eminent painter of horses; and although his great “Raft of the Medusa” is heavily fettered by the system of Classicism, his jockey pictures and horse races are as fresh, as vivid, and as unforced as if they had been painted yesterday instead of seventy years ago. In dashing animation, verve, and temperament Géricault stands alone in these pictures; he is the very opposite of Raymond Brascassat, who was the first specialist of animal pieces with a landscape setting, and was much praised in the thirties on account of his neat and ornamental style of treatment. Brascassat was the Winterhalter of animal painting, neither Classicist nor Romanticist nor Realist, but the embodiment of mediocrity; a man honestly and sincerely regarding all nature with the eyes of a Philistine. His fame, which has so swiftly faded, was founded by those patrons of art who above all demand that a picture should be the bald, banal reproduction of fact, made with all the accuracy possible.

(By permission of M. Frédéric Jacque, the owner of the copyright.)


(By permission of M. Frédéric Jacque, the owner of the copyright.)

It was only when the landscape school of Fontainebleau had initiated a new method of vision, feeling, and expression that France produced a new great painter of animals. As Dupré and Rousseau tower over their predecessors Cabat and Flandrin in landscape, so Constant Troyon rises above Brascassat in animal painting. In the latter there may be found a scrupulous pedantic observation in union with a thin, polished, academic, and carefully arranged style of painting; in the former, a large and broad technique in harmony with wild nature, and a directness and force of intuition without parallel in the history of art. Brascassat belongs to the same category as Denner, Troyon to that of Frans Hals and Brouwer.

There would be no purpose in saying anything of his labours in the china manufactory of Sèvres, of his industrial works, and of the little classical views with which he made a first appearance in the Salon in 1833, or of the impulse which he received from Roqueplan. He first found his own powers when he made the acquaintance of Théodore Rousseau and Jules Dupré, and migrated with them into the forest of Fontainebleau. At the headquarters of the new school his ideas underwent a revolution. Here, in the first instance, as a landscape painter, he was attracted by the massive forms of cattle, which make such a harmonious effect of colour in the atmosphere and against verdure, 357 and the philosophic quietude of which gives such admirable completion to the dreamy spirit of nature. A journey to Holland and Belgium in 1847, in the course of which he became more familiar with the old animal painters, confirmed him in the resolve of devoting himself exclusively to this province. He was captivated not so much by Paul Potter as by Albert Cuyp, with his rich and powerful colouring, and his technique, which is at once so virile and so easy. But above all Rembrandt became his great ideal, and filled him with wonder. In his first masterpiece of 1849, “The Mill,” the influence of the great Dutch artist is clearly recognisable, and from that time up to 1855 it remained dominant. In this year, during a prolonged sojourn in Normandy, he became Troyon, and painted “Oxen going to their Work,” that mighty picture in the Louvre which displays him in the zenith of his creative power. Till then no animal painter had rendered with such a combination of strength and actuality the long, heavy gait, the philosophical indifference, and the quiet resignation of cattle, the poetry of autumnal light, and the mist of morning rising lightly from the earth and veiling the whole land with grey, silvery hues. The deeply furrowed smoking field makes an undulating ascent, so that one seems to be looking at the horizon over the broad face of the earth. A primitive, Homeric feeling rests over it.

Troyon is perhaps not so correct as Potter, nor so lucid as Albert Cuyp, but he is more forcible and impressive than either. No one has ever seized the poetry of these heavy masses of flesh, with their strong colour and largeness of outline, as he has done. What places him far above the old painters is his fundamental power as a landscapist, a power unequalled except in Rousseau. His landscapes have always the smell of the earth, and they smack of rusticity. At one time he paints the atmosphere, veiling the contours of objects with a light mist recalling Corot, and yet saturated with clear sunshine; at another he sends his heavy, fattened droves in the afternoon across field-paths bright in the sunlight and dark green meadows, or places them beneath a sky where dense thunderclouds are swiftly rolling up. Troyon is no poet, but a born painter, belonging to the irrepressibly forceful family of Jordaens and Courbet, a maître peintre of strength and plastic genius, as healthy as he is splendid in colour. His “Cow scratching Herself” and his “Return to the Farm” will always be counted amongst the most forcible animal pictures of all ages.

When he died in 1865, after passing twelve years with a clouded intellect, Rosa Bonheur sought to fill the place which he had left vacant. She had already won the sympathies of the great public, as she united in her pictures all the qualities which were missed in Troyon, and had the art of pleasing where he was repellent. For a long time Troyon’s works were held by amateurs to be wanting in finish. They did not acknowledge to themselves that “finish” in artistic creations is, after all, only a work of patience, rather industrial than artistic, and at bottom invented for the purpose of enticing half-trained connoisseurs. Rosa Bonheur had this diligence, and is indebted to it for the spread of her fame through all Europe, when Troyon was only 358 known as yet to the few. The position has now been altered. Without doubt it is a pleasure to look at her fresh and sunny maiden picture of 1840, “Ploughing in Nivernois,” with its yoke of six oxen, its rich red-brown soil turned up into furrows, and its wide, bright, simple, and laughing landscape beneath the clear blue sky. She had all the qualities which may be appreciated without one’s being an epicure of art—great anatomical knowledge, dexterous technique, charming and seductive colouring. And it is an isolated fact in the history of art that a woman has painted pictures so good as the “Hay Harvest in Auvergne” of 1853, with its brutes which are almost life-size, or the “Horse Fair” of 1855, which is perhaps her most brilliant work, and for which she made studies, going in man’s clothes for eighteen months, at all the Parisian manèges, amongst stable-boys and horse-dealers. Until her death, from the Château By, between Thomery and Fontainebleau, she carried on an extensive transpontine export, and her pictures are by no means the worst of those which find their way from the Continent to England and America. She was perhaps the only feminine celebrity of the century who painted her pictures, instead of working at them like knitting. But Troyon is a strong master who suffers no rival. His landscapes, with their deep verdure, their powerful animals, and their skies traversed by heavy clouds, are the embodiment of power. Rosa Bonheur is an admirable painter with largeness of style and beauty of drawing, whose artistic position is between Troyon and Brascassat.

Troyon’s only pupil was Émile van Marcke, half a Belgian, who met the elder master in Sèvres, and for a long time worked by his side at Fontainebleau. He united the occupation of a painter with that of a landed proprietor. The cattle which he bred on an extensive scale at his property, Bouttencourt in Normandy, had a celebrity amongst French landowners, as he had the reputation of rearing the best fat cattle. He too had not the impressiveness of Troyon, though he was, none the less, a healthy and forcible master. His animals have no passions, no movement, and no battles. They seem lost in endless contemplation, gravely and sedately chewing the cud. Around them stretch the soft green Norman pastures, and above them arches the wide sky, which at the horizon imperceptibly melts into the sea.

Jadin is a painter of horses and dogs who had once a great reputation, though to-day his name is almost, if not entirely forgotten. He was fond of painting hunting scenes, and is not wanting in life and movement; but he is too impersonal to play a part in the history of painting. Having named him, some mention must likewise be made of Eugène Lambert, the painter of cats, and Palizzi, who painted goats. Lambert, who was fond of introducing his little heroes as the actors of comical scenes, is by admission the chief amongst all those who were honoured amongst the different nations with the title of “Raphaels of the Cat.” Palizzi, an incisive master of almost brutal energy, a true son of the wild Abruzzo hills, delighted, like his compatriots Morelli and Michetti, in the blazing light of noon, shining over rocky heights, and throwing 359 a dazzle of gold on the dark green copse. Lançon, a rather arid painter, though a draughtsman with a broad and masculine stroke, was the greatest descendant of Delacroix in the representation of tigers, lions, bears, and hippopotamuses. An unobtrusive artist, though one of very genial talent, was Charles Jacque, the Troyon of sheep. He has been compared with the rageur of Bas Bréau, the proud oak which stands alone in a clearing. A man of forcible character, over whom age had no power, he survived until 1894 as the last representative of the noble school of Barbizon. He has painted sheep in flocks or separately, in the pasture, on the verge of the field-path, or in the fold; and he loved most of all to paint them in the misty hours of evening twilight, at peace and amid peaceful nature. But in spirited etchings he has likewise represented old weather-beaten walls, the bright films of spring, the large outlines of peasant folk, the tender down of young chickens, the light play of the wind upon the sea, murmuring brooks, and quiet haunts of the wood. Like Millet, he had in an eminent degree the gift of simplification, the greatest quality that an artist can have. With three or four strokes he could plant a figure on its feet, give life to an animal, or construct a landscape. He was the most intimate friend of Jean François Millet, and painted part of what Millet painted also.




Whence has Millet come?

It was the time when art, still blind to the life around, could find no subjects worthy of it except in the past and in the distance. Then Millet came and overthrew an art vegetating in museums or astray in tropical countries. It was the time when Leopold Robert in Italy tested the noble pose of the school of David upon the peasant, and when the German painters of rustics recognised in the labourer an object for pleasantries and pathetic little scenes. Then Millet stepped forward and painted, with profound simplicity, the people at work in the field, or in their distress, without sentimentality and without beautifying or idealising them. That great utterance, “I work,” the utterance of the nineteenth century, is here spoken aloud for the first time. Rousseau and his fellow-artists were the painters of the country. Millet became the painter of the labourer. He, the great peasant, is the creator of that painting of peasants which is entwined with the deepest roots of intimate landscape. Misunderstood in the beginning, it proclaimed for the first time the new gospel of art before which the people of all nations bow at the present date. What others did later was merely to advance on the path opened by Millet. And as time passes the figure of this powerful man shines more and more brilliantly. The form of Jean François Millet rises so powerfully, so imperiously, and so suddenly that one might almost imagine him to have come from Ibsen’s third kingdom; for he is without forerunners in art. An attempt has been made to bring him into relation with the social and political movement of ideas in the forties, but certainly this is unjust. Millet was in no sense revolutionary. During his whole life he repudiated the designs which some of the democratic party imputed to him, as well as the conclusions which they drew from his works.

Millet’s life in itself explains his art. Never have heart and hand, a man and his work, tallied with each other as they did in him. He does not belong to those painters who, even when one admires them, give one nevertheless a sense that they could just as easily have produced something different. Let any one consider his works and read the letters published in Sensier’s book: the man whom one knows from the letters lives in his works, and these works are the natural illustration of the book in which the man has depicted himself. 361 In the unity of man and artist lies the source of his strength, the secret of his greatness.

S. Low & Co.

Even the circumstances over which he triumphed necessitated his being the painter that he actually was, if he became one at all. He was not born in a city where a child’s eyes are everywhere met by works of art—pictures which no doubt early awaken the feeling for art, but which just as easily disturb a free outlook into nature. Moreover, he did not spring from one of those families where art is itself practised, or where art is discussed and taste early guided upon definite lines. He was a peasant, whose father and grandfather were peasants before him, and whose brothers were farm labourers. He was born in 1814, far away from Paris, in a little Norman village hard by the sea, and there he grew up. The regular and majestic plunge of the waves against the granite rocks of the coast, the solemn murmurs of the ebb and flow of the 362 sea, the moaning of the wind in the apple trees and the old oaks of his father’s garden, were the first sounds which struck upon the ear in Gruchy, near Cherbourg. It has been adduced that his father loved music, and had had success as the leader of the village choir. But though there may have always been a dim capacity for art in the youngster’s blood, there was nothing calculated to strengthen it in his education. Millet’s sturdy father had no idea of making an artist of his son; the boy saw no artist at work in the neighbourhood; nature and instinct guided him alone.

For a man brought up in a city and trained at an academy all things become hackneyed. Many centuries of artistic usage have dimmed their original freshness; and he finds a ready-made phrase coined for everything. Millet stood before the world like the first man in the day of creation. Everything seemed new to him; he was charmed and astonished, and a wild flood of impressions burst in upon him. He did not come under the influence of any tradition, but approached art like the man in the age of stone who first scratched the outline of a mammoth on a piece of ivory, or like the primæval Greek who, according to the legend, invented painting by making a likeness of his beloved with a charred stick upon a wall. No one encouraged him in his first attempts. No one dreamt that this young man was destined to any life other than that of a peasant. From the time he was fourteen until he was eighteen he did every kind of field labour upon his father’s land in the same way as his brothers—hoeing, digging, ploughing, mowing, threshing, sowing the seed, and dressing the ground. But he always had his eyes about him; he drew upon a white patch of wall, without guidance, the picture of a tree, an orchard, or a peasant whom he had chanced to meet on a Sunday when going to church. And he drew so correctly that every one recognised the likenesses. A family council was held upon the matter. His father brought one of his son’s drawings to a certain M. Mouchel in Cherbourg, a strange personage who had once been a painter and had the reputation of being a connoisseur; and he was to decide whether François “had really enough talent for painting to gain his bread by it.” So Millet, the farm-hand, was twenty when he received his first lessons in drawing. He was learning the A B C of art, but humanly speaking he was already Millet. What had roused his talent and induced him to take a stump of charcoal in his hand was not the study of any work of art, but the sight of nature—nature, the great mother of all, who had embraced him, nature with whom and through whom he lived. Through her, visions and emotions were quickened in him, and he felt the secret impulse to give them expression.



Of what concerned the manual part of his art he understood nothing, and his two teachers in Cherbourg, Mouchel and Langlois, who were half-barbarians themselves, gave him the less knowledge, as only two months later, in 1835, his father died, and the young man returned to his own people as a farm-labourer once more. And it was only after an interruption of three years that a subsidy from the community of Cherbourg, which was collected by his teacher Langlois, and a small sum saved by his parents—six hundred francs all told—enabled him to journey up to Paris. He was twenty-three years of age, a broad-chested Hercules in stature, for till that time he had breathed nothing but the pure, sharp sea air; his handsome face was framed in long fair locks, which fell wildly about his shoulders. What had this peasant to do in the capital! In Delaroche’s school he was called l’homme des bois. He had all the awkwardness of a provincial, and the artist was only to be surmised from the fire in the glance of his large dark blue eyes. At first Delaroche took peculiar pains with his new pupil. But to submit to training is to follow the lead of another person. A man like Millet, who knew what he wanted, was no 364 longer to be guided upon set lines. The pictures of Delaroche made no appeal to him. They struck him as being “huge vignettes, theatrical effects without any real sentiment.” And Delaroche soon lost patience with the clumsy peasant, whom he—most unfairly—regarded as stiff-necked and obstinate.

Other aims floated before Millet, and he could not now learn to produce academical compositions, so, as these were alone demanded in the school of Delaroche, he never cleared himself from a reputation for mediocrity. It was the period of the war between the Classicists and the Romanticists. “An Ingres, a Delacroix!” was the battle-cry that rang through the Parisian studios. For Millet neither of these movements had any existence. His memory only clung to the plains of Normandy, and the labourers, shepherds, and fishermen of his home, with whom he mingled in spirit once more. Incessantly he believed himself to hear what he has called “le cri de la terre,” and neither Romanticists nor Classicists caught anything of this cry of the earth. He lived alone with his own thoughts, associating with none of his fellow-artists, and indeed keeping out of their way. Always prepared for some scornful attempt at witticism, he turned his easel round whenever he was approached, or gruffly cut all criticism short with the remark: “What does my painting matter to you? I don’t trouble my head about your bread and grease.” Thus it was that Delaroche certainly taught him very little of the technique of painting, though, at the same time, he taught him no mannerism. He did not learn to paint pretty pictures with beautiful poses, flattering colour, and faces inspired with intellect. He left the studio as he had entered it in 1837, painting with an awkward, thick, heavy, and laborious brush, though with the fresh, untroubled vision which he had had in earlier days. He was still the stranger, the incorrigible Norman peasant.

For a time he exerted himself to make concessions to the public. At seven-and-twenty he had married a Cherbourg girl, who died of consumption three years afterwards. Without acquaintances in Paris, and habituated to domestic life from his youth upwards, he married a second time in 1845. He had to earn his bread, to please, to paint what would sell. So he toiled over pretty pictures of nude women, like those which Diaz had painted with such great success—fair shepherdesses and gallant herdsmen, and bathing girls, in the genre of Boucher and Fragonard. And he who did this spoke of both of them afterwards as pornographists. But the attempt was vain, for he satisfied neither others nor himself. The peasant of Gruchy could not be piquant, easy, and charming; on the contrary, he remained helpless, awkward, and crude. “Your women bathing come from the cow-house” was the appropriate remark of Diaz in reference to these pictures. When Burger-Thoré, who was the first to take notice of Millet, declared, on the occasion of “The Milkmaid” being exhibited in 1844, that Boucher himself was surpassed in this picture, the critic took a literary licence, because he had a human pity for the poor painter. How little the picture has of the fragrance of the old masters! how laboured it seems! how obvious it is that it was painted 365 without pleasure! Millet was not long at pains to conceal his personality. An “Œdipus” and “The Jewish Captives in Babylon” were his last rhetorical exercises. In 1848 he came forward with a manifesto—“The Winnower,” a peasant in movement and bearing, in his whole character and in the work on which he is employed. Millet returns here to the thoughts and feelings of his youth; for the future he will paint nothing but peasants in all the situations of their rude and simple life. In 1849 he made a great resolve.

(By permission of M. F. Jacque, the owner of the copyright.)

The sale of his “Winnower” had brought him five hundred francs, and these five hundred francs gave him courage to defy the world. “Better turn bricklayer than paint against conviction.” Charles Jacque, the painter of animals, who lived opposite to him in the Rue Rochechouard, wanted to quit Paris in 1849 on account of the outbreak of cholera. He proposed that Millet should go with him into the country for a short time; he did so, and the peasant’s son of former times became once more a peasant, to end his days amongst peasants. “In the middle of the forest of Fontainebleau,” said Jacque, “there is a little nest, with a name ending in ‘zon’—not far off and cheap,—Diaz has been telling me a great deal about it.” Millet consented. One fine June day they got into a heavy, rumbling omnibus, with their wives and their five children, and they arrived in Fontainebleau that evening after two hours’ journey. “To-morrow we are going in search of our ‘zon.’” And the next day they went forward on foot to Barbizon, Millet with his two 366 little girls upon his shoulders, and his wife carrying in her arms the youngest child, a boy of five months old, having her skirt drawn over her head as a protection against the rain.

(By permission of M. F. Jacque, the owner of the copyright.)

As yet the forest had no walks laid out as it has to-day; it was virgin nature, which had never been disturbed. “Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, que c’est beau!” cried Millet, exulting. Once more he stood in the presence of nature, the old love of his youth. The impressions of childhood rushed over him. Born in the country, he had to return to the country to be himself once again. He arrived at Ganne’s inn just as the dinner-hour had assembled twenty persons at the table, artists with their wives and children. “New painters! The pipe, the pipe!” was the cry which greeted the fresh arrivals. Diaz rose, and, in spite of his wooden leg, did the honours of the establishment to the two women with the dignity of a Spanish nobleman, and then turned gravely to Millet and Jacque, saying: “Citizens, you are invited to smoke the pipe of peace.” Whenever the colony of Barbizon received an addition this was always taken down from its sacred place above the door. An expressly appointed jury had then to decide from the ascending rings of smoke whether the new-comer was to be reckoned amongst the “Classicists” or the “Colourists.” Jacque was with one voice declared to be a “Colourist.” As to Millet’s relation to the schools, there was a discrepancy of opinion. “Eh bien,” said Millet, “si vous êtes embarrassés, placez-moi dans la mienne.” 367 Whereupon Diaz, as the others would not let this pass, cried: “Be quiet; it is a good retort, and the fellow looks powerful enough to found a school which will bury us all.” He was right, even though it was late before his prophecy was fulfilled.

Quantin, Paris. Neurdein Frères, photo.
(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)  

Millet was thirty-five when he settled in Barbizon; he had reached the age which Dante calls the middle point of life. He had no further tie with the outward world; he had broken all the bridges behind him, and relied upon himself. He only went back to Paris on business, and he always did so unwillingly and for as short a time as possible. He lived at Barbizon in the midst of nature and in the midst of his models, and to his last day unreservedly gave himself up to the work which in youth he had felt himself called to fulfil. Neither criticism, mockery, nor contempt could lead him any more astray; even if he had wished it, he would have been incapable of following the paths of official art. “Mes critiques,” said he as though by way of excuse, “sont gens instruits et de goût, mais je ne peux me mettre dans leur peau, et comme je n’ai jamais vu de ma vie autre chose que les champs, je tâche de dire comme je peux ce que j’y ai éprouvé quand j’y travaillais.” When such a man triumphs, when he succeeds in forcing upon the world his absolutely personal art, it is not Mahomet who has come to the mountain, but the mountain to Mahomet.

Millet’s life has been, in consequence, a continuous series of renunciations. It is melancholy to read in Sensier’s biography that such a master, even during his Paris days, was forced to turn out copies at twenty francs and portraits at five, and to paint tavern signs or placards for the booths of rope-dancers and horse-dealers, each one of which brought him in a roll of thick sous. When the Revolution of June broke out his capital consisted of thirty francs, which the owner of a small shop had paid him for a sign, and on this he and 368 his family lived for a fortnight. In Barbizon he boarded with a peasant and lived with his family in a tiny room where wheat was stored and where bread was baked twice in the week; then he took a little house at a hundred and sixty francs a year. In winter he sat in a workroom without a fire, in thick straw shoes and with an old horse-cloth over his shoulders. Living like this he painted “The Sower,” that marvellous strophe in his great poem on the earth. By the produce of a vegetable garden he endeavoured to increase his income, lived on credit with grocer and butcher, and at last had creditors in every direction—in particular Gobillot, the baker of Chailly, from whom he often hid at his friend Jacque’s.

He was forced to accept a loaf from Rousseau for his famishing family, and small sums with which he was subsidised by Diaz. “I have received the hundred francs,” he writes in a letter to Sensier, “and they came just at the right time; neither my wife nor I had tasted food for four-and-twenty hours. It is a blessing that the little ones, at any rate, have not been in want.”


Levy et ses Fils, photo.

All his efforts to exhibit in Paris were vain. Even in 1859 “Death and the Woodcutter” was rejected by the Salon. The public laughed, being accustomed to peasants in a comic opera, and, at best, his pictures were honoured by a caricature in a humorous paper. Even the most delicate connoisseurs had not the right historical perspective to appreciate the greatness of Millet, so far was it in advance of the age. And all this is so much the sadder when one thinks of the price which his works fetched at a later period, when one reads that drawings for which he could get with difficulty from twenty to forty francs are the works for which as many thousands are now offered. It was only from the middle of the fifties that he began to sell at the rate of from two hundred and fifty to three hundred francs a picture. Rousseau was the first to offer him a large sum, buying his “Woodcutter” for four thousand francs, on the pretext that an American was the purchaser. Dupré helped him to dispose of “The Gleaners” for two thousand francs. An agreement which the picture-dealer Arthur Stevens, brother of Stevens the painter, concluded with him had to be dissolved six months afterwards, since Millet’s time had not yet come. At last, in 1863, when he painted four large decorative pictures—“The Four Seasons,” which are, by the way, his weakest works—for the dining-room of the architect Feydau, superfluity came in place of need. He was then in a position, like Rousseau and Jacque, to buy himself a little house in Barbizon, close to the road by which the place is entered and opposite Ganne’s inn. Wild vine, ivy, and jessamine clambered round it, and two bushes of white roses twisted their branches around the window. It was surrounded by a large garden, in which field-flowers bloomed amongst vegetables and fruit-trees, whilst a border of white roses and elders led to another little house which he used as a studio. Behind was a poultry-yard, and behind that again a thickly grown little shrubbery. Here he lived, simple and upright, with his art and his own belongings, as a peasant and a father of a family, like an Old Testament patriarch. His father had had nine children, and he himself had nine. While he painted the little ones played in the garden, the elder daughters worked, and when the younger children made too much noise, Jeanne, who was seven years old, would say with gravity, 370 “Chut! Papa travaille.” After the evening meal he danced his youngest boy upon his knee and told Norman tales, or they all went out together into the forest, which the children called la forêt noire, because it was so wild, gloomy, and magnificent.

Millet’s poverty was not quite so great as might be supposed from Sensier’s book. Chintreuil, Théodore Rousseau, and many others were acquainted with poverty likewise, and bore it with courage. It may even be said that, all things considered, success came to Millet early. The real misfortune for an artist is to have had success, to have been rich, and later to see himself forgotten when he is stricken with poverty. Millet’s course was the opposite. From the beginning of the sixties his reputation was no longer in question. At the World Exhibition of 1867 he was showered with all outward honours. He was represented by nine pictures and received the great medal. The whole world knew his name, subsistence was abundantly assured to him, and all the younger class of artists honoured him like a god. In the Salon of 1869 he was on the hanging committee. The picture-dealers, who had passed him by in earlier days, now beset his doors; he lived to see his “Woman with the Lamp” for which he had received a hundred and fifty francs, sold for thirty-eight thousand five hundred at Richard’s sale. “Allons, ils commencent à comprendre que c’est de la peinture serieuse.” M. de Chennevières commissioned him to take part in the paintings in the Panthéon, and he began the work. But strength was denied him; he was prostrated by a violent fever, and on 20th January 1875, at six o’clock in the morning, Millet was dead. He was then sixty.

Mansell & Co.

His funeral, indeed, was celebrated with no great parade, for it took place far from Paris. It was a cold, dull morning, and there was mist and rain. Not many friends had come, only a few painters and critics. At eleven o’clock the procession was set in order. And it moved in the rain quickly over the two centimètres from Barbizon to Chailly. Even those who had hastened from various villages, drawn by curiosity, could not half fill the church. But in Paris the announcement of death raised all the greater stir. When forty newspapers were displayed in a picture-dealer’s shop on the morning after his demise, all Paris assembled and the excitement was universal. In the critical notices he was named in the same breath with Watteau, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michael Angelo. The auction which was held soon afterwards in the Hôtel Drouot for the disposal of the sketches which he had left behind him brought his family three hundred and twenty-one thousand francs. And in these days, the very drawings and pastels which were bought for six thousand francs immediately after his death have on the average risen in value to thirty thousand, while the greater number of his pictures rose to a figure beyond the reach of European purchasers, and passed across the ocean to the happy land of dollars. Under such circumstances to speak any longer of Millet being misunderstood, or to sing hymns of praise upon him as a counterblast to the undervaluation of Millet in the beginning, would be knocking at an open door. 371 It is merely necessary to inquire in an entirely objective spirit what position he occupies in the history of modern painting, and what future generations will say of him.

(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)

Millet’s importance is to some extent ethical; he is not the first who painted peasants, but he is the first who has represented them truthfully, in all their ruggedness, and likewise in their greatness—not for the amusement of others, but as they claim a right to their own existence. The spirit of the rustic is naturally grave and heavy, and the number of his ideas and emotions is small. He has neither wit nor sentimentalism. And when in his leisure moments he sometimes gives way to a broad, noisy merriment, his gaiety often resembles intoxication, and is not infrequently its consequence. His life, which forces him to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, always reminds him of the hard fundamental conditions of existence. He looks at everything in a spirit of calculation and strict economy. Even the earth he stands on wakens in him a mood of seriousness. It is gravely sublime, this nature with its wide horizon and its boundless sky. At certain seasons it wears a friendly smile, especially for those who have escaped for a few hours from 372 town. But for him who always lives in its midst it is not the good, tender mother that the townsman fancies. It has its oppressive heats in summer and its bitter winter frosts; its majesty is austere. And nowhere more austere than in Millet’s home, amid those plains of Normandy, swept by the rude wind, where he spent his youth as a farm labourer.

From this peasant life, painting, before his time, had collected merely trivial anecdotes with a conventional optimism. It was through no very adequate conception of man that peasants, in those earlier pictures, had always to be celebrating marriages, golden weddings, and baptisms, dancing rustic dances, making comic proposals, behaving themselves awkwardly with advocates, or scuffling in the tavern for the amusement of those who frequent exhibitions. They had really won their right to existence by their labour. “The most joyful thing I know,” writes Millet in a celebrated letter to Sensier in 1851, “is the peace, the silence, that one enjoys in the woods or on the tilled lands. One sees a poor, heavily laden creature with a bundle of faggots advancing from a narrow path in the fields. The manner in which this figure comes suddenly before one is a momentary reminder of the fundamental condition of human life, toil. On the tilled land around one watches figures hoeing and digging. One sees how this or that one rises and wipes away the sweat with the back of his hand. ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.’ Is that merry, enlivening work, as some people would like to persuade us? And yet it is here that I find the true humanity, the great poetry.”

Perhaps in his conception of peasant life Millet has been even a little too serious; perhaps his melancholy spirit has looked too much on the sad side of the peasant’s life. For Millet was altogether a man of temperament and feelings. His family life had made him so even as a boy. To see this, one needs only to read in Sensier’s book of his old grandmother, who was his godmother likewise, to hear how he felt in after-years the news of his father’s death and of his mother’s, and how he burst into tears because he had not given his last embrace to the departed. Of course, a man who was so sad and dreamy might be expected to lay special stress on the dark side of rustic life, its toil and trouble and exhaustion. He had not that easy spirit which amara lento temperat risu. The passage beneath the peasant-picture in Holbein’s “Dance of Death” might stand as motto for his whole work—

“À la sueur de ton visage

Tu gagneras ta pauvre vie;

Après travail et long usage

Voici la mort qui te convie.”


Mansell, photo.




Neudein Frères, photo.

This grave and sad trait in Millet’s character sets him, for example, in abrupt contrast with Corot. Corot had a cheerful temperament, which noticed what was kindly in nature everywhere. His favourite hour was morning, when the sun rises and the lark exults, when the mists are dissipated and the shining dew lies upon the grass like pearls. His favourite season was spring, bringing with the new leaves life and joy upon the earth. And if he sometimes peopled this laughing world with peasant lads and maidens in place of the joyous creatures of his fancy, they were only those for whom life is a feast rather than a round of hard toil. Compared with so sanguine a man as Corot, Millet is melancholy all through; whilst the former renders the spring, the latter chooses the oppressive and enervating sultriness of summer. From experience he knew that hard toil which makes men old before their time, which kills body and spirit, and turns the image of God into an ugly, misshapen, and rheumatic thing; and perhaps he has been one-sided in seeing only this in the life of the peasant. Nevertheless, it is inapposite to cite as a parallel to Millet’s paintings of the peasant that cruel description of the rustic made in the time of Louis XIV by Labruyère: “One sees scattered over the field dwarfed creatures that look like some strange kind of animal, black, withered, and sun-burnt, fastened to the earth, in which they grub with invincible stubbornness; they have something resembling articulate language, and when they raise themselves they show a human countenance,—as a matter of fact they are men. At night they retire to their holes, where they live on black bread, water, and roots. They save other men the trouble of sowing, ploughing, and gathering in the harvest, and so gain the advantage of not themselves being in want of the bread that they have sown.” Yes, Millet’s peasants toil, and they toil hard, but in bowing over the earth at their work they are, in a sense, proudly raised by their whole peasant nature. Millet has made human beings out of the manikins of illustrated humour, and in this lies his ethical greatness.

As his whole life passed without untruth or artificiality, so his whole endeavour as an artist was to keep artificiality and untruth at a distance. After a period of genre painting which disposed of things in an arbitrary manner, he opened a way for the new movement with its unconditional devotion to reality. The “historical painters” having conjured up the past with the assistance 376 of old masterpieces, it was something to the credit of the genre painters that, instead of looking back, they began to look around them. Fragments of reality were arranged—in correspondence with the principle of Classical landscape painting—according to the rules of composition known to history to make tableaux vivants crowded with figures; and such pictures related a cheerful or a moving episode of the painter’s invention. Millet’s virtue is to have set emotion in the place of invention, to have set a part of nature grasped in its totality with spontaneous freshness in the place of composition pieced together from scattered observation and forcing life into inconsistent relations—to have set painting in the place of history and anecdote. As Rousseau and his fellows discovered the poetry of work-a-day nature, Millet discovered that of ordinary life. The foundation of modern art could only be laid on painting which no longer subjected the world to one-sided rules of beauty, but set itself piously to watch for the beauty of things as they were, and renounced all literary episodes. Millet does not appear to think that any one is listening to him; he communes with himself alone. He does not care to make his ideas thoroughly distinct and salient by repetitions and antitheses; he renders his emotion, and that is all. And thus painting receives new life from him: his pictures are not compositions that one sees, but emotions that one feels; it is not a painter who speaks through them, but, a man. From the first he had the faculty of seeing things simply, directly, and naturally; and to exercise himself in this faculty he began with the plainest things: a labourer in the field, resting upon his spade and looking straight before him; a sower amid the furrows, on which flights of birds are settling down; a man standing in a ploughed field, putting on his coat; a woman stitching in a room; a girl at the window behind a pot of marguerites. He is never weary of drawing land broken up for cultivation, and oftener still he draws huddled flocks of sheep upon a heath, their woolly backs stretching with an undulatory motion, and a shepherd lad or a girl in their midst.

“The Sower” (1850), “The Peasants going to their Work,” “The Hay-trussers,” “The Reapers,” “A Sheep-shearer,” “The Labourer grafting a Tree” (1855), “A Shepherd,” and “The Gleaners” (1857) are his principal works in the fifties. And what a deep intuition of nature is to be found in “The Gleaners”! They have no impassioned countenances, and their movements aim at no declamatory effect of contrast. They do not seek compassion, but merely do their work. It is this which gives them loftiness and dignity. They are themselves products of nature, plants of which the commonest is not without a certain pure and simple beauty. Look at their hands. They are not hands to be kissed, but to be cordially pressed. They are brave hands, which have done hard work from youth upwards—reddened with frost, chapped by soda, swollen with toil, or burnt by the sun.


Seemann, Leipzig.
(By permission of M. Georges Petit, the owner of the copyright.)
(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)

“The Labourer grafting a Tree” of 1855 is entirely idyllic. In the midst of one of those walled-in spaces which are half courtyard and half garden, separating in villages the barns from the house, there is standing a man who has cut a tree and is grafting a fresh twig. His wife is looking on, with their youngest child in her arms. Everything around bears the mark of order, cleanliness, and content. Their clothes have neither spot nor hole, and wear well under the anxious care of the wife. Here is the old French peasant, true to the soil, and living and dying in the place of his birth: it is a picture of patriarchal simplicity. In 1859 appeared “The Angelus,” that work which chimes like a low-toned and far-off peal of bells. “I mean,” he said—“I mean the bells to be heard sounding, and only natural truth of expression can produce the effect.” Nothing is wanting in these creations, neither simplicity nor truth. The longer they are looked at, the more something is seen in them which goes beyond reality. “The Man with the Mattock,” the celebrated picture of 1863, is altogether a work of great style; it recalls antique statues and the figures of Michael Angelo, without in any way resembling them. In his daring veracity Millet despised all the artificial grace and arbitrary beatification which others introduced into rustic life; and while, in turning from it, he rested only on the most conscientious reverence for nature, his profound draughtsmanlike knowledge of the human form has given a dignity and a large style to the motions of the peasant which no one discovered before 378 his time. There is a simplicity, a harmony, and a largeness in the lines of his pictures such as only the greatest artists have had. He reached it in the same way as Rousseau and Corot reached their style in landscape: absorbed and saturated by reality, he was able, in the moment of creation, to dispense with the model without suffering for it, and to attain truth and condensation without being hindered by petty detail.

He himself went about in Barbizon like a peasant. And he might have been seen wandering over the woods and fields with an old, red cloak, wooden shoes, and a weather-beaten straw hat. He rose at sunrise, and wandered about the country as his parents had done. He guarded no flocks, drove no cows, and no yokes of oxen or horses; he carried neither mattock nor spade, but rested on his stick; he was equipped only with the faculty of observation and poetic intuition. He went about like the people he met, roamed round the houses, entered the courtyards, looked over the hedges, knew the gleaners and reapers, the girls who took care of the geese, and the shepherds in their big cloaks, as they stood motionless amongst their flocks, resting on a staff. He entered the wash-house, the bake-house, and the dairies where the butter was being churned. He witnessed the birth of a calf or the death of a pig, or leant with folded arms on the garden wall and looked into the setting sun, as it threw a rosy veil over field and forest. He heard the chime of vesper bells, watched the people pray and then return home. And he returned also, and read the Bible by lamplight, while his wife sewed and the children slept. When all was quiet he closed the book and began to dream. Once more he saw all that he had come across in the course of the day. He had gone out without canvas or colours; he had merely noted down in passing a few motives in his sketch-book: as a rule he never took his pencil from his pocket, but merely 379 meditated, his mind being compelled to notice all that his eye saw. Then he went through it again in his memory. On the morrow he painted.

Quantin, Paris.
(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)

His study seems to have been an incessant exercise of the eye to see and to retain the essential, the great lines in nature as in the human body. Advancing upon Daumier’s path, he divested figures of all that is merely accidental, and simplified them, to bring the character and ground-note more into relief. This simplification, this marvellous way of expressing forcibly as much as possible with the smallest means, no one has ever understood like Millet. There is nothing superfluous, nothing petty, and everything bears witness to an epic spirit attracted by what is great and heroic. His drawing was never encumbered by what was subsidiary and anecdotic; his mind was fixed on the decisive lines which characterise a movement, and give it rhythm. It was just this feeling for rhythm which his harmonious nature possessed in the very highest degree. He did not give his peasants Grecian noses, and he never lost himself in arid and trivial observation; he simplified and sublimated their outlines, making them the heroes and martyrs of toil. His figures have a majesty of style, an august grandeur; and something almost resembling the antique style of relief is found in his pictures. It is no doubt characteristic that the only works of art which he had in his studio were plaster casts of the metopes of the Parthenon. He himself was like a man of antique times, both in the simplicity of his life and in his outward appearance—a peasant in 380 wooden shoes who had, set upon his shoulders, the head of the Zeus of Otricoli. And as his biography reads like an Homeric poem, so his great and simple art sought for what was primitive, aboriginal, and heroic. Note the Michelangelesque motions of “The Sower.” The peasant, striding on with a firm tread, seems to show by his large movements his consciousness of the grandeur of his daily toil: he is the heroic embodiment of man, swaying the earth, making it fruitful and subservient to his own purposes.

“Il marche dans la plaine immense,

Va, vient, lance la graine au loin,

Rouvre sa main et recommence;

Et je médite, obscur témoin,

Pendant que déployant ses voiles

L’ombre où se mêle une rumeur

Semble élargir jusqu’aux étoiles

Le geste auguste du semeur.”


Note the epical quietude of “The Gleaners,” the three Fates of poverty, as Gautier called them, the priestly dignity of “The Woodcutter,” the almost Indian solemnity of “The Woman leading her Cow to Grass.” She stands in her wooden shoes as if on a pedestal, her dress falls into sculpturesque folds, and a grave and melancholy hebetude is imprinted on her countenance. Millet is the Michael Angelo of peasants. In their large simplicity his pictures make the appeal of religious painting, at once plastic and mystical.

But it is in no sense merely through instinct that Millet has attained this altitude of style. Although the son of a peasant, and himself a peasant and the painter of peasants, he knew thoroughly well what he wanted to do; and this aim of his he has not only formulated practically in his pictures, but has made theoretically clear in his letters and treatises. For Millet was not simply a man who had a turn for dreaming; he had, at the same time, a brooding, philosophic mind, in which the ideas of a thinker 381 were harboured beside the emotions of a poet. In the portrait of himself, given on the title-page of Sensier’s book, a portrait in which he has something sickly, something ethereal and tinged with romance, only one side of his nature is expressed. The great medallion of Chappu reveals the other side: the keen, consecutive thinker, to be found in the luminous and remorselessly logical letters. In this respect he is the true representative of his race. In opposition to the esprit and graceful levity of the Parisian, a quieter and more healthy human understanding counts as the chief characteristic of the Norman; and this clear and precise capacity for thought was intensified in Millet by incessant intellectual training.

Mansell, photo.

Even as a child he had received a good education from his uncle, who was an ecclesiastic, and he learnt enough Latin to read the Georgics of Virgil and other ancient authors in the original text. He knows them almost by heart, and cites them continually in his letters. When he came to Paris he spent long hours in the galleries, not copying this or that portion of a picture, but fathoming works of art to their inmost core with a clear eye. In Cherbourg he devoured the whole of Vasari in the library, and read all he could find about Dürer, Leonardo, Michael Angelo, and Poussin. Even in Barbizon he remained throughout his whole life an eager reader. Shakespeare fills him with admiration; Theocritus and Burns are his favourite poets. “Theocritus makes it evident to me,” he says, “that one is never more Greek than when one simply renders one’s own impressions, let them come whence they may.” When not painting or studying nature he had always a book in his hand, and 382 knew no more cordial pleasure than when a friend increased his little library by the present of a fresh one. Though in his youth he tilled the ground and ploughed, and in later days lived like a peasant, he was better instructed than most painters; he was a philosopher, a scholar. His manner in speaking was leisurely, quiet, persuasive, full of conviction, and impregnated by his own peculiar ideas, which he had thoroughly thought out.

“My dear Millet,” wrote a critic, “you must sometimes see good-looking peasants and pretty country girls.” To which Millet replied: “No doubt; but beauty does not lie in the face. It lies in the harmony between man and his industry. Your pretty country girls prefer to go up to town; it does not suit them to glean and gather faggots and pump water. Beauty is expression. When I paint a mother I try to render her beautiful by the mere look she gives her child.” He goes on to say that what has been once clearly seen is beautiful if it is simply and sincerely interpreted. Everything is beautiful which is in its place, and nothing is beautiful which appears out of place. Therefore no emasculation of characters is ever beautiful. Apollo is Apollo and Socrates is Socrates. Mingle them and they both lose, and become a mixture which is neither fish nor flesh. This was what brought about the decadence of modern art. “Au lieu de naturaliser l’art, ils artialisent la nature.” The Luxembourg Gallery had shown him that he ought not to go to the theatre to create true art. “Je voudrais que les êtres que je représente aient l’air voués à leur position; et qu’il soit impossible d’imaginer qu’il leur puisse venir à l’idée d’être autre chose que ce qu’ils sont. On est dans un milieu d’un caractère ou d’un autre, mais celui qu’on adopte doit primer. On devrait être habitué à ne recevoir de la nature ses impressions de quelque sorte qu’elles soient et quelque temperament qu’on ait. Il faut être imprégné et saturé d’elle, et ne penser que ce qu’elle vous fait penser. Il faut croire qu’elle est assez riche pour fournir à tout. Et où puiserait-on, sinon à la source? Pourquoi donc à perpétuité proposer aux gens, comme but suprême à atteindre, ce que de hautes intelligences ont découvert en elle. Voila donc qu’on rendrait les productions de quelques-uns le type et le but de toutes les productions à venir. Les gens de génie sont comme doués de la baguette divinatoire; les uns découvrent que, dans la nature, ici se trouve cela, les autres autre chose ailleurs, selon le temperament de leur flair. Leurs productions vous assurent dans cette idée que celui-là trouve qui est fait pour trouver, mais il est plaisant de voir, quand le trésor est déterré et enlevé, que des gens viennent à perpétuité gratter à cette place-là. Il faut savoir découvrir où il y a des truffes. Un chien qui n’a pas de flair ne peut que faire triste chasse, puisqu’il ne va qu’en voyant chasser celui qui sent la bête et qui naturellement va le premier.... Un immense orgueil ou une immense sottise seulement peut faire croire à certains hommes qu’ils sont de force à redresser les prétendus manques de goût et les erreurs de la nature. Les œuvres que nous aimons, ce n’est qu’à cause qu’elles procèdent d’elle. Les autres ne sont que des œuvres pédantes et vides. On peut partir de tous les points pour arriver au sublime, et tout est propre à l’exprimer, si on a une assez haute visée. Alors ce 383 que vous aimez avec le plus d’emportement et de passion devient votre beau à vous et qui s’impose aux autres. Que chacun apporte le sien. L’impression force l’expression. Tout l’arsenal de la nature est à la disposition des hommes. Qui oserait décider qu’une pomme de terre est inférieure à une grenade.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)
(By permission of M. Charles Millet.)

Thus he maintains that when a stunted tree grows upon sterile soil it is more beautiful in this particular place, because more natural, than a slender tree artificially transplanted. “The beautiful is that which is in keeping. Whether this is to be called realism or idealism I do not know. For me, there is only one manner of painting, and that is to paint with fidelity.” In what concerns poetry old Boileau has already expressed this in the phrase: “Nothing is beautiful except truth”; and Schiller has thrown it into the phrase, “Let us, ultimately, set up truth for beauty.” For the art of the nineteenth century Millet’s words mean the erection of a new principle, of a principle that had the effect of a novel force, that gave the consciousness of a new energy of artistic endeavour, that was a return to that which the earth was to Antæus. And by formulating this principle—the principle that 384 everything is beautiful so far as it is true, and nothing beautiful so far as it is untrue, that beauty is the blossom, but truth the tree—by clearly formulating this principle for the first time, Millet has become the father of the new French and, indeed, of European art, almost more than by his own pictures.

For—and here we come to the limitations of his talent—has Millet as a painter really achieved what he aimed at? No less a person than Fromentin has put this question in his Maîtres d’autrefois. On his visit to Holland he chances for a moment to speak of Millet, and he writes:—

“An entirely original painter, high-minded and disposed to brooding, kind-hearted and genuinely rustic in nature, he has expressed things about the country and its inhabitants, about their toil, their melancholy, and the nobleness of their labour, which a Dutchman would never have discovered. He has represented them in a somewhat barbaric fashion, in a manner to which his ideas gave a more expressive force than his hand possessed. The world has been grateful for his intentions; it has recognised in his method something of the sensibility of a Burns who was a little awkward in expression. But has he left good pictures behind him or not? Has his articulation of form, his method of expression, I mean the envelopment without which his ideas could not exist, the qualities of a good style of painting, and does it afford an enduring testimony? He stands out as a deep thinker if he is compared with Potter and Cuyp; he is an enthralling dreamer if he is opposed to Terborch and Metsu, and he has something peculiarly noble compared with the trivialities of Steen, Ostade, and Brouwer. As a man he puts them all to the blush. Does he outweigh them as a painter?”


Neurdein Frères, photo.

If any one thinks of Millet as a draughtsman he will answer this question without hesitation in the affirmative. His power is firmly rooted in the drawings which constitute half his work. And he has not merely drawn to make sketches or preparations for pictures, like Leonardo, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Watteau, or Delacroix; his drawings were for him real works of art complete in themselves; and his enduring and firmly grounded fame rests upon them. Michael Angelo, Raphael, Leonardo, Rubens, Rembrandt, Prudhon, Millet; that is, more or less, the roll of the greatest draughtsmen in the history of art. His pastels and etchings, his drawings in chalk, pencil, and charcoal, are astonishing through their eminent delicacy of technique. The simpler the medium the greater is the effect achieved. “The Woman Churning” in the Louvre; the quietude of his men reaping, and of his woman-reaper beside the heaps of corn; “The Water Carriers,” who are like Greek kanephoræ; the peasant upon the potato-field, lighting his pipe with a flint and a piece of tinder; the woman sewing by the lamp beside her sleeping child; the vine-dresser resting; the little shepherdess sitting dreamily on a bundle of straw near her flock at pasture,—in all these works in black and white he is as great as he is as a colourist and as a painter in open air. There are no sportive and capricious sunbeams, as in Diaz. Millet’s 386 sun is too serious merely to play over the fields; it is the austere day-star, ripening the harvest, forcing men to sweat over their toil and with no time to waste in jest. And as a landscape painter he differs from Corot in the same vital manner.

Corot, the old bachelor, dallies with nature; Millet, nine times a father, knows her only as the fertile mother, nourishing all her children. The temperament of the brooding, melancholy man breaks out in his very conception of nature: “Oh, if they knew how beautiful the forest is! I stroll into it sometimes of an evening, and always return with a sense of being overwhelmed. It has a quiet and majesty which are terrible, so that I have often a feeling of actual fear. I do not know what the trees talk about amongst themselves, but they say to each other something which we do not understand, because we do not speak the same language. That they are not making bad jokes seems certain.” He loved what Corot has never painted—the sod, the sod as sod, the sod which steams beneath the rays of the fertilising sun. And yet, despite all difference of temperament, he stands beside Corot as perhaps the greatest landscape painter of the century. His landscapes are vacant and devoid of charm; they smell of the earth rather than of jessamine, yet it is as if the Earth-Spirit itself were invisibly brooding over them. A few colours enable him to attain that great harmony which is elsewhere peculiar to Corot alone, and which, when his work was over, he so often discussed with his neighbour Rousseau. With a few brilliant and easily executed shadings he gives expression to the vibration of the atmosphere, the lustre of the sky at sunset, the massive structure of the ground, the blissful tremor upon the plain at sunrise. At one time he renders the morning mist lying over the fields, at another the haze of sultry noon, veiling and as it were absorbing the outlines and colours of all objects, the light of sunset streaming over field and woodland with a tender, tremulous glimmering, the delicate silver tone which veils the landscape on clear moonlight nights.

S. Low & Co.

There is not another artist of the century who renders night as Millet does in his pastels. One of the most charming and poetic works is the biblical and mystical night-piece “The Flight into Egypt.” As he strides forward Saint Joseph holds upon his arm the Child, whose head is surrounded by a shining halo, whilst the Mother moves slowly along the banks of the Nile riding upon an ass. The stars twinkle, the moon throws its tremulous light uncertainly over the plain. Joseph and Mary are Barbizon peasants, and yet these great figures breathe of the Sistine Chapel and of Michael Angelo. And which of the old masters has so eloquently rendered the sacred silence of night as Millet has done in his “Shepherd at the Pen”? The landscapes which he has drawn awaken the impression of spaciousness as only Rembrandt’s etchings have done, and that of fine atmosphere as only Corot’s pictures. A marvellously transparent and tender evening sky rests over his picture of cows coming down to drink at the lake, and a liquid moonlight washes over the crests of the waves around “The Sailing Boat.” The garden 387 in stormy light with a high-lying avenue spanned by a rainbow—the motive which he developed for the well-known picture in the Louvre—is found again and again in several pastels, which progress from a simple to a more complicated treatment of the theme. Everything is transparent and delicate, full of air and light, and the air and light are themselves full of magic and melting charm.

But it is a different matter when one attempts to answer Fromentin’s question in the form in which it is put. For without in any way detracting from Millet’s importance, one may quietly make the declaration: No, Millet was not a good painter. Later generations, with which he will no longer be in touch through his ethical greatness, if they consider his paintings alone, will scarcely understand the high estimation in which he is held at present. For although many works which have come into private collections in Boston, New York, and Baltimore are, in their original form, withdrawn from judgment, they are certainly not better than the many works brought together in the Millet Exhibition of 1886 or the World Exhibition of 1889. And these had collectively a clumsiness, and a dry and heavy colouring, which are not merely old-fashioned, primitive, and antediluvian in comparison with the works of modern painters, but which fall far below the level of their own time in the quality of colour. The conception in Millet’s paintings is always admirable, but never the technique; he makes his appeal as a poet only, and never as a painter. His painting is often anxiously careful, heavy, and thick, and looks as if it had been filled in with masonry; it is dirty and dismal, and wanting in free and airy tones. Sometimes it is brutal and hard, and occasionally it is curiously indecisive in effect. Even his best pictures—“The Angelus” not excepted—give no æsthetic pleasure to the eye. The most ordinary fault in his painting is that it is soft, greasy, and woolly. He is not light enough with what should be light, nor fleeting enough with what is fleeting. And this defect is especially felt in his treatment of 388 clothes. They are of a massive, distressing solidity, as if moulded in brass, and not woven from flax and wool. The same is true of his air, which has an oily and material effect. Even in “The Gleaners” the aspect is cold and gloomy; it is without the intensity of light which is shed through the atmosphere, and streams ever changing over the earth.

And this is a declaration of what was left for later artists to achieve. The problem of putting real human beings in their true surroundings was stated by Millet, solved in his pastels, and left unsolved in his oil paintings. This same problem had to be taken up afresh by his successors, and followed to its furthest consequences. At the same time, it was necessary to widen the choice of subject.

For it is characteristic of Millet, the great peasant, that his art is exclusively concerned with peasants. His sensitive spirit, which from youth upwards had compassion for the hard toil and misery of the country folk, was blind to the sufferings of the artisans of the city, amid whom he had lived in Paris in his student days. The ouvrier, too, has his poetry and his grandeur. As there is a cry of the earth, so is there also a cry, as loud and as eloquent, which goes up from the pavement of great cities. Millet lived in Paris during a critical and terrible time. He was there during the years of ferment at the close of the reign of Louis Philippe. Around him there muttered all the terrors of Socialism and Communism. He was there during the February Revolution and during the days of June. While the artisans fought on the barricades he was painting “The Winnower.” The misery of Paris and the sufferings of the populace did not move him. Millet, the peasant, had a heart only for the peasantry. He was blind to the sufferings, blind to the charms of modern city life. Paris seemed to him a “miserable, dirty nest.” There was no picturesque aspect of the great town that fascinated him. He felt neither its grace, its elegance and charming frivolity, nor remarked the mighty modern movement of ideas and the noble humanity which set their seal upon that humanitarian century. The development of French art had to move in both of these directions. It was partly necessary to take up afresh with improved instruments the problem of the modern conception of colour, touched on by Millet; it was partly necessary to extend from the painting of peasants to modern life the principle formulated by Millet, “Le beau c’est le vrai,” to transfer it from the forest of Fontainebleau to Paris, from the solitude to life, from the evening gloom to sunlight, from the softness of romance to hard reality.

The fourth book of this work will be devoted to the consideration of those masters who, acting on this principle, extended beyond the range of Millet and brought the art which he had created to fuller fruition.








To continue in Paris what Millet had begun in the solitude of the forest of Fontainebleau there was need of a man of the unscrupulous animal power of Gustave Courbet. The task assigned to him was similar to that which fell to Caravaggio in the seventeenth century. In that age, when the eclectic imitation of the Cinquecento had reached the acme of mannerism, when Carlo Dolci and Sassoferato devoted themselves in mythological pictures to watering down the types of Raphael by idealising, Caravaggio painted scenes amongst dregs of the people and the unbridled soldiery of his age. At a period when these artists indulged in false, artificial, and doctrinaire compositions, which, on a barren system, merely traced the performances of classic masters back to certain rules of art, Caravaggio created works which may have been coarse, but which had an earnest and fruitful veracity, and gave the entire art of the seventeenth century another direction by their healthy and powerful naturalism.

When Courbet appeared the situation was similar: Ingres, in whose frigid works the whole Cinquecento had been crystallised, was at the zenith of his fame. Couture had painted his “Decadent Romans” and Cabanel had recorded his first successes. Beside these stood that little Neo-Grecian school with Louis Hamon at its head—a school whose prim style of china painting had the peculiar admiration of the public. Courbet, with all his brutal weight, pushed between the large symmetrical figures of the thoroughbred Classicists and the pretty confectionery of the Neo-Grecian painters of beauty. But the old panacea is never without effect: in all periods when art has overlived its bloom and falls into mannerism it is met by a strong cross-current of realism pouring into it new life-blood. In painting, nature had been made artificial, and it was time for art to be made natural. Painters still strayed in the past, seeking to awaken the dead, and give life once more to history. The time had come for accentuating the claims of the present more sharply than before, and for setting art amid the seething life of modern cities: it was a development naturally and logically following that of political life; it is historically united with the unintermittent struggle for universal suffrage. Courbet merely fought the decisive battle in the great fight which Jeanron, Leleux, Octave Tassaert, and others had begun as skirmishing outposts. As a painter he towered over these elder artists, whose sentimental 392 pictures had not been taken seriously as works of art, and challenged attention all the more by painting life-size. In this manner the last obstacle was removed which had stood in the way of the treatment of modern subjects. Scanty notice had been taken of Millet’s little peasant figures, which were merely reckoned as accessories to the landscape. But Courbet’s pictures first taught the Academy that the “picture of manners,” which had seemed so harmless, had begun to usurp the place of historical painting in all its pride.

At the same time—and this made Courbet’s appearance of still more consequence than that of his predecessors—a most effective literary propaganda went hand in hand with that which was artistic. Millet had been silent and was known only by his friends. He had never arranged for an exhibition of his works, and quietly suffered the rejections of the hanging committee and the derision of the public. Courbet blustered, beat the big drum, threw himself into forcible postures like a strong man juggling with cannon-balls, and announced in the press that he was the only serious artist of the century. No one could ever embêter le bourgeois with such success, no one has called forth such a howl of passion, no one so complacently surrendered his private life to the curiosity of the great public, with the swaggering attitude of an athlete displaying his muscles in the circus. As regards this method of making an appearance—a method by which he became at times almost grotesque—one may take whatever view one pleases; but when he came he was necessary. In art revolutions are made with the same brutality as in life. People shout and sing, and break the windows of those who have windows to break. For every revolution has a character of inflexible harshness. Wisdom and reason have no part in the passions necessary for the work of destruction and rebuilding. Caravaggio was obliged to take to his weapons, and make sanguinary onslaughts. In our civilised nineteenth century everything was accomplished according to law, but not with less passion. One has to make great demands to receive even a little; this has been true in all times, and this is precisely what Courbet did. He was a remarkable character striving for high aims, an eccentric man of genius, a modern Narcissus for ever contemplating himself in his vanity, and yet he was the truest friend, the readiest to sacrifice himself; for the crowd a cynic and a reckless talker; at home an earnest and mighty toiler, bursting out like a child and appeased the very next moment; outwardly as brutal as he was inwardly sensitive, as egotistic as he was proud and independent; and being what he was, he formulated his purposes as incisively by his words as in his works. Full of fire and enthusiasm, destroying and inciting to fresh creation—a nature like Lorenz Gedon, whom he also resembled in appearance—he became the soul and motive power of the great realistic movement which flooded Europe from the beginning of the fifties. Altogether he was the man of whom art had need at that time: a doctor who brought health with him, shed it abroad, and poured blood into the veins of art. Both as man 393 and artist his entry upon the arena is in some degree like the breaking in of an elemental force of nature. He comes from the country in wooden shoes, with the self-reliance of a peasant who is afraid of nothing. He is a great and powerful man, as sound and natural as the oxen of his birthplace. He had broad shoulders, with which he pushed aside everything standing in his way. His was an instinct rather than a reflecting brain, a peintre-animal, as he was called by a Frenchman. And such a plebeian was wanted to beat down the academic Olympus. In making him great and strong, nature had herself predestined him for the part he had to play: a man makes a breach the more easily for having big muscles. Furnished with the strength of a Samson wrecking the temple of the Philistines, he was himself “The Stone-breaker” of his art, and, like the men he painted, he has done a serviceable day’s work.

L’Art. Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

Gustave Courbet, the strong son of Franche-Comté, was born in 1819, in Ornans, a little town near Besançon. Like his friend and fellow-countryman Proudhon, the socialist, he had a strain of German blood in his veins, and in their outward appearance it gave them both something Teutonic, rugged, and heavy, contrasting with French ease and elegance. On his massive frame was set a thick, athletic neck, and a broad countenance with black hair, and big, strong eyes like those of a lion-tamer, which sparkled like black diamonds. A strong man, who had never been stinted, he was of medium height, broad-shouldered, bluff, ruddy like a slaughterman, and, as the years passed, disposed to acquire a more liberal circumference of body. He went about working like Sisyphus, and never without a short pipe in his mouth, the classic brûle-gueule, loaded with strong caporal. His movements were broad and heavy, and, being a little short in his breathing, he wheezed when he was excited, and perspired over his painting. His dress was comfortable, but not elegant; and his head was formed for a cap rather than the official tall hat. In speech he was cynical, and often broke into a contemptuous laugh. Both in his studio and at his tavern he moved more freely 394 in his shirt-sleeves, and at the Munich Exhibition of 1869 he seemed to the German painters like a thorough old Bavarian, when he sat down to drink with them at the Deutsches Haus in his jovial way, and, by a rather Teutonic than Latin capacity for disposing of beer, threw the most inveterate of the men of Munich into the shade.

Originally destined for the law, he determined in 1837 to become a painter, and began his artistic studies under Flageoulot, a mediocre artist of the school of David, who had drifted into the provinces, and boastfully called himself le roi du dessin. In 1839 he came to Paris, already full of self-reliance, fire and strength. On his first turn through the Luxembourg Gallery he paused before Delacroix’s “Massacre of Chios,” glowing as it is in colour, and said it was not bad, but that he could do that style of thing whenever he liked. After a short time he acquired a power of execution full of bravura by studying the old masters in the Louvre. Self-taught in art, he was in life a democrat and in politics a republican. In 1848, during a battle in June, he had a fair prospect of being shot with a party of insurgents whom he had joined, if certain “right-minded” citizens had not interceded for their neighbour, who was popular as a man and already much talked about as a painter. In the beginning of the fifties he was to be found every evening at a brasserie much frequented by artists and students in the Rue Hautefeuille in the Quartier Latin, in the society of young authors of the school of Balzac. He had his studio at the end of the street, and is said to have been at the time a strong, fine, spirited young man, who made free use of the drastic slang of the studios.

“His notable features,” writes Théophile Silvestre of Courbet at this time,—“his notable features seem as though they had been modelled from an Assyrian bas-relief. His well-shaped and brilliant dark eyes, shadowed by long silken lashes, have the soft quiet light of an antelope’s. The moustache, scarcely traceable beneath his slightly curved aquiline nose, is joined by a fan-shaped beard, and borders his thick, sensuous lips; his complexion is olive-brown, but of a changing, sensitive tone. The round, curiously shaped head and prominent cheek-bones denote stubbornness, and the flexible nostrils passion.”


A great dispute over realism usually took the place of dessert at meal-times. Courbet never allowed himself to be drawn into controversy. He threw his opinion bluntly out, and when he was opposed cut the conversation short in an exceedingly forcible manner. It was another murder of the innocents when he spoke of the celebrities of his time. He designated historical painting as nonsense, style as humbug, and blew away all ideals, declaring that it was the greatest impudence to wish to paint things which one has never seen, and of the appearance of which one cannot have the faintest conception. Fancy was rubbish, and reality the one true muse.


“Our century,” he says, “will not recover from the fever of imitation by which it has been laid low. Phidias and Raphael have hooked themselves on to us. The galleries should remain closed for twenty years, so that the moderns might at last begin to see with their own eyes. For what can the old masters offer us? It is only Ribera, Zurbaran, and Velasquez that I admire; Ostade and Craesbeeck also allure me; and for Holbein, I feel veneration. As for M. Raphael, there is no doubt that he has painted some interesting portraits, but I cannot find any ideas in him. And the artistic kin, the heirs, or more properly the slaves of this great man, are really preceptors of the lowest art. What do they teach us? Nothing. A good picture will never come from their École des Beaux-Arts. The most precious thing is the originality, the independence of an artist. Schools have no right to exist; there are only painters. Independently of system and without attaching myself to any party, I have studied the art of the old masters and of the more modern. I have tried to imitate the one as little as I have tried to copy the other, but out of the total knowledge of tradition I have wished to draw a firm and independent sense of my own individuality. My object was by gaining knowledge to gain in ability; to have the power of expressing 396 the ideas, the manners, and the aspect of our epoch according to an appreciation of my own, not merely to be a painter, but a man also—in a word, to practise living art is the compass of my design. I am not only a socialist, but also a democrat and a republican—that is to say, a supporter of every revolution; and moreover, a sheer realist, which means a loyal adherent to the vérité vraie. But the principle of realism is the negation of the ideal. And following all that comes from this negation of the ideal, I shall arrive at the emancipation of the individual, and, finally, at democracy. Realism, in its essence, is democratic art. It can only exist by the representation of things which the artist can see and handle. For painting is an entirely physical language, and an abstract, invisible, non-existent object does not come within its province. The grand painting which we have stands in contradiction with our social conditions, and ecclesiastical painting in contradiction with the spirit of the century. It is nonsensical for painters of more or less talent to dish up themes in which they have no belief, themes which could only have flourished in some epoch other than our own. Better paint railway stations with views of the places through which one travels, with likenesses of great men through whose birthplace one passes, with engine-houses, mines, and manufactories; for these are the saints and miracles of the nineteenth century.”

These doctrines fundamentally tallied with those which the Neapolitan and Spanish naturalists vindicated in the seventeenth century against the eclectics. For men like Poussin, Leseur, and Sassoferato, Raphael was “an angel and not a man,” and the Vatican “the academy of painters.” But Velasquez when he came to Rome found it wearisome. “What do you say of our Raphael? Do you not think him best of all, now that you have seen everything that is fair and beautiful in Italy?” Don Diego inclined his head ceremoniously, and observed: “To confess the truth, for I like to be candid and open, I must acknowledge that I do not care about Raphael at all.” There are reported utterances of Caravaggio which correspond almost word for word with those of Courbet. He, too, declaimed against the antique and Raphael, in whose shadow he saw so many shallow imitators sitting at their ease, and he declared, in a spirit of sharp opposition, that the objects of daily life were the only true teachers. He would owe all to nature and nothing to art. He held painting without the model to be absurd. So long as the model was out of sight, his hands and his spirit were idle. Moreover, he called himself a democratic painter, who brought the fourth estate into honour; he “would rather be the first of vulgar painters than second amongst the superfine.” And just as these naturalists in the seventeenth century were treated by the academical artists as rhyparographists, Courbet’s programme did not on the whole facilitate his acceptance in formal exhibitions as he desired that it should. A play must be acted, a manuscript printed, and a picture viewed. So Courbet had no desire to remain an outsider. When the picture committee of the World Exhibition of 1855 gave his pictures an unfavourable position, he withdrew them and offered them to public inspection separately in a wooden hut in the vicinity of the Pont de Jena, just at the entry of the exhibition. Upon the hut was written in big letters: REALISM—G. COURBET. And in the interior the theories which he had urged hitherto by his tongue and his pen, at the tavern and in his pamphlets, were demonstrated by thirty-eight large pictures, which elucidate his whole artistic development.






“Lot’s Daughters” and “Love in the Country” were followed in 1844 by the portrait of himself and the picture of his dog, in 1845 by “A Guitarrero,” in 1846 by the “Portrait of M. M——,” and in 1847 by “The Walpurgisnacht”; all works in which he was still groping his way. “The Sleeping Bathers,” “The Violoncello Player,” and a landscape from his native province, belonging to the year 1848, made a nearer approach to his realistic aim, and with the date 1849 there are seven portraits, landscapes, and pictures from popular national life: “The Painter,” “M. H. T—— looking over Engravings,” “The Vintage in Ornans below the Roche du Mont,” “The Valley of the Bue seen from the Roche du Mont,” “View of the Château of Saint-Denis,” “Evening in the Village of Scey-en-Varay,” and “Peasants returning from Mass near Flagey.” All these works had passed the doors of the Salon without demur.

The first picture which brought about a collision of opinion was “A Fire in Paris,” and, according to the account given by contemporaries, it must have been one of his finest works. Firemen, soldiers, artisans in jacket and blouse, were exerting themselves, according to Paul d’Abrest who describes the picture, around a burning house; even women helped in the work of rescue, and formed part of the chain handing buckets from the pump. Opposite stood a group of young dandies with girls upon their arms looking inactively upon the scene. An artillery captain, who was amongst Courbet’s acquaintances, had through several nights sounded the alarm for his men and exercised them on the scaffolding of a wall, so that the painter could make his studies. Courbet transferred his studio to the barracks and made sketches by torch-light. But he had reckoned without the police; scarcely was the picture finished before it was seized, as the Government recognised in it, for reasons which did not appear, “an incitement to the people of the town.” This was after the coup d’état of 1851.

So Courbet’s manifesto was not “The Fire in Paris.” “The Stone-breakers,” two men in the dress of artisans, in a plain evening landscape, occupied once more the first place in the exhibition of 1855, having already made the effect, amongst its classical surroundings in the Salon of 1851, of a rough, true, and honest word, spoken amid elaborate society phrases. There was also to be seen “Afternoon at Ornans,”—a gathering of humble folk sitting after meal-time at a table laid out in a rustic kitchen. A picture which became celebrated under the title of “Bonjour, M. Courbet” dealt with a scene from Courbet’s native town. Courbet, just arrived, is alighting 400 from a carriage in his travelling costume, looking composedly about him with a pipe in his mouth. A respectable prosperous gentleman, accompanied by a servant in livery, who is carrying his overcoat, is stretching out his hand to him. This gentleman is M. Bryas, the Mæcenas of Ornans, who for long was Courbet’s only patron, and who had a whim for having his portrait taken by forty Parisian painters in order to learn the “manners” of the various artists. And there was further to be seen the “Demoiselles de Village” of 1852, three country beauties giving a piece of cake to a peasant-girl. Finally, as masterpieces, there were “The Funeral at Ornans,” which now hangs in the Louvre, and that great canvas, designated in the catalogue as “a true allegory,” “My Studio after Seven Years of Artistic Life,” the master himself painting a landscape. Behind him is a nude model, and in front of him a beggar-woman with her child. Around are portrait figures of his friends, and the heroes of his pictures, a poacher, a parson, a sexton, labourers, and artisans.


The exhibition was, at all events, a success with young painters, and Courbet set up a teaching studio, at the opening of which he again issued a kind of manifesto in the Courrier du Dimanche. “Beauty,” he wrote, “lies in nature, and it is to be met with under the most various forms. As soon as 401 it is found it belongs to art, or rather to the artist who discovers it. But the painter has no right to add to this expression of nature, to alter the form of it and thereby weaken it. The beauty offered by nature stands high above all artistic convention. That is the basis of my views of art.” It is said that his first model was an ox. When his pupils wanted another, Courbet said: “Very well, gentlemen, next time let us study a courtier.” The break-up of the school is supposed to have taken place when one day the ox ran away and was not to be recaptured.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
(By permission of M. Sainctelette, of Brussels, the owner of the picture.)

Courbet did not trouble himself over such ridicule, but painted quietly on, the many-sidedness of his talent soon giving him a firm seat in every saddle. After the scandal of the separate exhibition of 1855 he was excluded from the Salon until 1861, and during this time exhibited in Paris and Besançon upon his own account. “The Funeral at Ornans” was followed by “The Return from Market,” a party of peasants on the high-road, and in 1860 by “The Return from the Conference,” in which a number of French country priests have celebrated their meeting with a hearty lunch and set out on the way back in a condition which is far too jovial. In 1861, when the gates of the Champs Elysées were thrown open to him once more, he received the medal for his “Battle of the Stags,” and regularly contributed to the Salon until 1870. In these years he attempted pictures with many figures less frequently, and painted by preference hunting and animal pieces, landscapes, and the nude figures of women. “The Woman with the Parrot,” a female figure 402 mantled with long hair, lying undressed amid the cushions of a couch playing with her gaudily feathered favourite, “The Fox Hunt,” a coast scene in Provence, the portrait of Proudhon and his family, “The Valley of the Puits-Noir,” “Roche Pagnan,” “The Roe Hunt,” “The Charity of a Beggar,” the picture of women bathing in the gloom of the forest, and “The Wave,” afterwards acquired by the Luxembourg, belong to his principal works in the sixties.

These works gradually made him so well known that after 1866 his pictures came to have a considerable sale. The critics began to take him seriously. Castagnary made his début in the Siècle with a study of Courbet; Champfleury, the apostle of literary realism, devoted to him a whole series of feuilletons in the Messager de l’Assemblée, and from his intercourse with him Proudhon derived the fundamental principles of his book on Realism. The son of Franche-Comté triumphed, and there was a beam in his laughing eyes, always like those of a deer. His talent began more and more to unfold its wings in the sun of success, and his power of production seemed inexhaustible. When the custom arose of publishing in the Parisian papers accounts of the budget of painters, he took care to communicate that in six months he had made a hundred and twenty-three thousand francs. Incessantly busy, he had in his hand at one moment the brush and at another the chisel. And when he gave another special exhibition of his works in 1867, at the time of the great World Exhibition—he had a mania for wooden booths—he was able to put on view no less than a hundred and thirty-two pictures in addition to numerous pieces of sculpture. In 1869 the committee of the Munich Exhibition set apart a whole room for his works. With a self-satisfied smile he put on the Order of Michael, and was the hero of the day whom all eyes followed upon the boulevards.


Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

The nature of the bullfighter was developed in him more strongly than before, and he stretched his powerful limbs, prepared to do battle against all existing opinions. Naturally the events of the following years found no idle spectator in such a firebrand as Courbet; and accordingly he rushed into those follies which embittered the evening of his life. The maître peintre d’Ornans became Courbet le colonnard. First came the sensational protest with which he returned to the Emperor Napoleon the Order of the Legion of Honour. Four weeks after Courbet had plunged into this affair the war broke out. Eight weeks later came Sedan and the proclamation of the Republic, and shortly afterwards the siege of Paris and the insurrection. On 4th September 1870 the Provisional Government appointed him Director of the Fine Arts. Afterwards he became a member of the Commune, and dominated everywhere, with the brûle-gueule in his mouth, by the power of his voice; and France has to thank him for the rescue of a large number of her most famous treasures of art. He had the rich collections of Thiers placed in the Louvre, to protect them from the rough and ready violence of the populace. But to save the Luxembourg he sacrificed the column of the Vendôme. When the Commune fell, however, Courbet alone was held responsible for the destruction of the column. He was brought before the court-martial 404 of Versailles, and, although Thiers undertook his defence, he was condemned to six months’ imprisonment. Having undergone this punishment he received his freedom once more, but the artist had still to suffer a mortal blow. The pictures which he had destined for the Salon of 1873 were rejected by the committee, because Courbet was held morally unworthy to take part in the exhibition.


Soon after this an action was brought against him, on the initiative of certain reactionary papers, for the payment of damages connected with the overthrow of the Vendôme column, and the painter lost his case. For the recovery of these damages, which were assessed at three hundred and thirty-four thousand francs, the Government brought to the hammer his furniture and the pictures that were in his studio, at a compulsory sale at the Hôtel Drouot, where they fetched the absurdly trifling figure of twelve thousand one hundred and eighteen francs fifty centimes. The loss of his case drove him from France to Switzerland. He gave the town of Vevay, where he settled, a bust of Helvetia, as a mark of his gratitude for the hospitality it had extended towards him. But the artist was crushed in him. “They have 405 killed me,” he said; “I feel that I shall never do anything good again.” And thus the jovial, laughing Courbet, that honoured leader of a brilliant pleiad of disciples, the friend and companion of Corot, Decamps, Gustave Planché, Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Silvestre, Proudhon, and Champfleury; the enthusiastic patriot and idol of the fickle Parisians, passed his last years in melancholy solitude, forgotten by his adherents and scorned by his adversaries. He was attacked by a disease of the liver, and privation, disillusionment, and depression came all at once. Moreover, the French Government began again to make claims for indemnification. His heart broke in a prolonged mortal struggle. Shortly before his death he said to a friend: “What am I to live upon, and how am I to pay for the column? I have saved Thiers more than a million francs, and the State more than ten millions, and now they are at my heels—they are baiting me to death. I can do no more. To work one must have peace of spirit, and I am a ruined man.” And Champfleury writes, referring to the last visit which he paid to the dying exile on 19th December 1877: “His beard and hair were white, and all that remained of the handsome, all-powerful Courbet whom I had known was that notable Assyrian profile, which he raised to the snow of the Alps, as I sat beside him and saw it for the last time. The sight of such pain and misery as this premature wreck of the whole man was overwhelming.”

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

The Lake of Geneva, over which he looked from his window in Vevay, was the subject of the last picture that he painted in Switzerland. Far from home 406 and amid indifferent strangers he closed his eyes, which had once been so brilliant, in endless grief of spirit. The apostle of Realism died of a broken heart, the herculean son of Franche-Comté could not suffer disillusionment. Courbet passed away, more or less forgotten, upon New Year’s Eve in 1877, in that chilly hour of morning when the lake which he had learnt to love trembles beneath the first beams of the sun. It was only in Belgium, where he had often stayed and where his influence was considerable, that the intelligence of his death woke a painful echo. In Paris it met with no word of sympathy. Courbetism was extinguished; as impressionists and independents his adherents had gathered round new flags. Zola has done him honour in L’Œuvre in the person of old Bongrand, that half-perished veteran who is only mentioned now and then with veneration.

And the course of development has indeed been so rapid since Courbet’s appearance that in these days one almost fails to understand, apart from historical reasons, the grounds which in 1855 made his separate exhibition of his works an event of epoch-making importance. It was not Cham alone who at that time devoted a large cartoon to Courbet, as he did in “The Opening of Courbet’s Studio and Concentrated Realism.” All the comic journals of Paris were as much occupied with him as with the crinoline, the noiseless pavement, the new tramways, or the balloon. Haussard, the principal representative of criticism, in discussing “The Funeral at Ornans,” spoke of “these burlesque masks with their fuddled red noses, this village priest who seems to be a tippler, and the harlequin of a veteran who is putting on a hat which is too big for him.” All this, he continued, suggested a masquerade funeral, six metres long, in which there was more to laugh at than to weep over. Even Paul Mantz declared that the most extravagant fancy could not descend to such a degree of jejune triviality and repulsive hideousness. In a revue d’année 407 produced at the Odéon, the authors, Philoxène Hoyer and Théodore de Banville, make “a realist” say—

“Faire vrai ce n’est rien pour être réaliste,

C’est faire laid qu’il faut! Or, monsieur, s’il vous plait,

Tout ce que je dessine est horriblement laid!

Ma peinture est affreuse, et, pour qu’elle soit vraie,

J’en arrache le beau comme on fait de l’ivraie.

J’aime les teints terreux et les nez de carton,

Les fillettes avec de la barbe au menton,

Les trognes de Varasque et de coquecigrues,

Les dorillons, les cors aux pieds et les verrues!

Voilà le vrai!”

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.

So it went on through the sixties also. When the Empress Eugénie passed through the exhibition on the opening day of the Salon of 1866, with an elegant walking-stick in her hand, she was so indignant at Courbet’s “Naked Women” that the picture had to be immediately removed. In the beginning of the seventies, when he exhibited in Germany, a few young Munich painters recognised in his pictures something like the cry of a conscience. But otherwise “artists and laymen shook their heads, not knowing what to make of them. Some smiled and went indifferently on, while others were indignant in their condemnation of this degradation of art.” For “Courbet went to the lowest depths of society, and took his themes from a class where man really ceases to be man, and the image of God prolongs a miserable existence as a moving mass of flesh. Living bodies with dead 408 souls, which exist only for the sake of their animal needs; in one place sunk in misery and wretchedness, and in another having never risen from their brutal savagery—that is the society from which Courbet chooses his motives, to gloss over the debility of his imagination and his want of any kind of training. Had he possessed the talent for composition, then perhaps his lifeless technique would have become interesting; as it is he offers a merely arbitrary succession of figures in which coherence is entirely wanting.” In “The Stone-breakers” it was an offence that he should have treated such “an excessively commonplace subject” at all as mere artisans in ragged and dirty clothes. And by “The Funeral at Ornans” it was said that he meant to sneer at the religious ceremony, since the picture had a defiant and directly brutal vulgarity. The painter was alleged to have taken pains to expose the repulsive, ludicrous, and grotesque elements in the members of the funeral party, and to have softened no feature which could excite an unseasonable merriment. In the “Demoiselles de Village” the design had been to contrast the stilted, provincial nature of these village misses with the healthy simplicity of a peasant child. In the picture, painted in 1857, of the two grisettes lying in the grass on the bank of the Seine he had “intentionally placed the girls in the most unrefined attitudes, that they might appear as trivial as possible.” And umbrage was taken at his two naked wrestlers because he “had not painted wrestlers more or less like those of classic times, but the persons who exhibit the strength of their herculean frames at the Hippodrome,” and therefore given “the most vulgar rendering of nudity that was at all possible.” And in his naked women it was said that this love of ugly and brutal forms became actually base.

All these judgments are characteristic symptoms of the same sort of taste which rose in the seventeenth century against Caravaggio. Even his principal work, the altar-piece to St. Matthew, which now hangs in the Berlin Museum, excited so much indignation that it had to be removed from the Church of St. Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. Annibale Carracci has a scornful caricature in which the Neapolitan master appears as a hairy savage, with a dwarf at his side and two apes upon his knees, and, in this fashion, intended to brand the hideousness of his rival’s art and his ape-like imitation of misshapen nature. Francesco Albani called him the “Antichrist of Painting,” and “a ruination to art.” And Baglione adds: “Now a number of young men sit down to copy a head after nature; they study neither the foundations of drawing, nor concern themselves about the more profound conditions of art, merely contenting themselves with a crude reproduction of nature, and therefore they do not even know how to group two figures appropriately, nor to bring any theme into an artistic composition. No one any longer visits the temples of art, but every one finds his masters and his models for a servile imitation of nature in the streets and open places.” The nineteenth century formed a different estimate of Caravaggio. In opposing his fortune-telling gipsies, his tipplers, gamblers, musicians, and dicing mercenaries to the noble figures of the academical artists, with their generalised and carefully balanced forms, their trivial, nugatory countenances, and their jejune colouring, he accomplished the legitimate and necessary reaction against a shallow and empty idealistic mannerism. No one is grateful to the eclectic artists for the learned efforts which it cost them to paint so tediously: in Caravaggio there is the fascination of a strong personality and a virile emphasis in form, colour, and light. The Carracci and Albani were the issue of their predecessors; Caravaggio is honoured as a fearless pioneer who opened a new chapter in the history of art.






Courbet met with a similar fate.

If one approaches him after reading the criticisms of his pictures already cited, a great disillusionment is inevitable. Having imagined a grotesque monster, one finds to one’s astonishment that there is not the slightest occasion either for indignation or laughter in the presence of these powerful, sincere, and energetic pictures. One has expected caricatures and a repulsive hideousness, and one finds a broad and masterly style of painting. The heads are real without being vulgar, and the flesh firm and soft and throbbing with powerful life. Courbet is a personality. He began by imitating the Flemish painters and the Neapolitans. But far more did he feel himself attracted by the actual world, by massive women and strong men, and wide fertile fields smelling of rich, rank earth. As a healthy and sensuously vigorous man he felt a voluptuous satisfaction in clasping actual nature in his herculean arms. Of course, by the side of his admirable pictures there are others which are heavy and uncouth. But if one is honest one paints according to one’s inherent nature, as old Navez, the pupil of David, was in the habit of saying. Courbet was honest, and he was also a somewhat unwieldy being, and therefore his painting too has something bluff and cumbrous. But where in all French art is there such a sound painter, so sure of his effects and with such a large bravura, a maître peintre who was so many-sided, extending his dominion as much over figure-painting as landscape, over the nude as over nature morte? There is no artist so many of whose pictures may be seen together without surfeit, for he is novel in almost every work. He has painted not a few pictures of which it may be said that each one is sui generis, and on the variations of which elsewhere entire reputations might have been founded. With the exception of Millet, no one had observed man and nature with such sincere and open eyes. With the great realists of the past Courbet shares the characteristic of being everywhere and exclusively a portrait painter. A pair of stone-breakers, kneeling as they do in his picture, with their faces protected by wire-masks, were figures which every one saw working at the street corner, and Courbet represented the scene as faithfully as he could, as sincerely and positively as was at all possible. “Afternoon in Ornans” is a pleasant picture, in which he took up again the good tradition of Lenain. And in “The Funeral at Ornans” he has painted exactly the manner in which such ceremonies take place in the country. The peasants and dignitaries of a little country town—portrait figures such as the masters 412 of the fifteenth century brought into their religious pictures—have followed the funeral train, and behave themselves at the grave just as peasants would. They make no impassioned gesticulations, and form themselves into no fine groups, but stand there like true rustics, sturdy and indifferent. They are men of flesh and blood, they are like the people of real life, and they have been subjected to no alteration: on the one side are the women tearfully affected by the words of the preacher, on the other are the men bored by the ceremony or discussing their own affairs. In the “Demoiselles de Village” he gives a portrait of his own sisters, as they went to a dance of a Sunday afternoon. The “Girls lying on the Bank of the Seine” are grisettes of 1850, such as Gavarni often drew; they are both dressed in doubtful taste, one asleep, the other lost in a vacant reverie. His naked women make a very tame effect compared with the colossal masses of human flesh in that cascade of nude women of the plumpest description who in Rubens’ “Last Judgment” plunge in confusion into hell, like fish poured out from a bucket. But they are amongst the best nude female figures which have been created in the nineteenth century. Courbet was a painter of the family of Rubens and Jordaens. He had the preference shown by the old Flemish artists for healthy, plump, soft flesh, for fair, fat, and forty, the three F’s of feminine beauty, and in his works he gave the academicians a lesson well worth taking to heart; he showed them that it was possible to attain a powerful effect, and even grace itself, by strict fidelity to the forms of reality.

Neuerdein, photo.


His portraits—and he had the advantage of painting Berlioz and Baudelaire, Champfleury and Proudhon—are possibly not of conspicuous eminence as likenesses. As Caravaggio, according to Bellori, “had only spirit, eyes and diligence for flesh-tints, skin, blood, and the natural surface of objects,” a head was merely a morceau like anything else for Courbet too, and not the central point of a thinking and sensitive being. The physical man, Taine’s human animal, was more important in his eyes than the psychical. He painted the epidermis without giving much suggestion of what was beneath. But he painted this surface in such a broad and impressive manner that the pictures are interesting as pictorial masterpieces if not as analyses of character.

L’Art. L’Art.

To these his landscapes and animal pieces must be added as the works on which his talent displayed itself in the greatest purity and most inherent vigour: “The Battle of the Stags,” that most admirable picture “The Hind on the Snow,” “Deer in Covert,” views of the moss-grown rocks and sunlit woods of Ornans and the green valleys of the Franche-Comté. He had the special secret of painting with a beautiful tone and a broad, sure stroke dead plumage and hunting-gear, the bristling hide of wild-boars, and the more delicate coat of deer and of dogs. As a landscape painter he does not belong to the family of Corot and Dupré. His landscapes are green no doubt, but they have limitations; the leaves hang motionless on the branches, undisturbed by a breath of wind. Courbet has forgotten the most important thing, the air. Whatever the time of the year or the day may be, winter or summer, evening or morning, he sees nothing but the form of things, regarding the sun as a machine which has no other purpose than to mark the relief of objects by light and shade. Moreover, the lyricism of the Fontainebleau painters was not in him. He paints without reverie, and knows nothing of 414 that tender faltering of the landscape painter in which the poet awakes, but has merely the equanimity of a good and sure worker. In regard to nature, he has the sentiments of a peasant who tills his land, is never elegiac or bucolic, and would be most indignant if a nymph were to tread on the furrows of his fields. He paints with a pipe in his mouth and a spade in his hand, the plain and the hills, potatoes and cabbages, rich turf and slimy rushes, oxen with steaming nostrils heavily ploughing the clods, cows lying down and breathing at ease the damp air of the meadows drenched with rain. He delights in fertile patches of country, and in the healthy odour of the cow-house. A material heaviness and a prosaic sincerity are stamped upon all. But his painting has a solidity delightful to the eye. It is inspiriting to meet a man who has such a resolute and simple love of nature, and can interpret her afresh in powerful and sound colour without racking his brains. His attachment to the spot of earth where he was born is a leading characteristic of his art. He borrowed from Ornans the motives of his most successful creations, and was always glad to return to his parents’ house. The patriotism of the church-spire, provincialism, and a touching and vivid sense of home are peculiar to all his landscapes. But in his sea-pieces, to which he was incited by a residence in Trouville in the summer of 1865, he has opened an altogether new province to French art. Eugène Le Poittevin, who exhibited a good deal in Berlin in the forties, and therefore became very well known in Germany, cannot count as a painter. Théodore Gudin, whose signature is likewise highly valued in the market, was a frigid and rough-and-ready scenical painter. His little sea-pieces have a professional manner, and the large naval battles and fires at sea which he executed by the commission of Louis Philippe for the Museum of Versailles are frigid, pompous, and spectacular sea-pieces parallel with Vernet’s battle-pieces. Ziem, who gave up his time to Venice and the Adriatic, is the progenitor of Eduard Hildebrandt. His water and sky take 415 all the colours of the prism, and the objects grouped between these luminous elements, houses, ships, and men, equally receive a share of these flattering and iridescent tones. This gives something seductive and dazzling to his sketches, until it is at last perceived that he has only painted one picture, repeating it mechanically in all dimensions. Courbet was the first French painter of sea-pieces who had a feeling for the sombre majesty of the sea. The ocean of Gudin and Ziem inspires neither wonder nor veneration; that of Courbet does both. His very quietude is expressive of majesty; his peace is imposing, his smile grave; and his caress is not without a menace.

Courbet has positively realised the programme which he issued in that pamphlet of 1855. When he began his activity, eclectic idealism had overgrown the tree of art. But Courbet stripped off the parasitic vegetation to reach the firm and serviceable timber. And having once grasped it he showed the muscles of an athlete in making its power felt. Something of the old Flemish sturdiness lived once more in his bold creations. If he and Delacroix were united, the result would be Rubens. Delacroix had the fervour and passionate tamelessness, while Courbet contributed the Flemish weight. Each made use of blood, purple, thrones, and Golgothas in composing the dramas they had imagined. The latter pictured creation with the absolutism of complete objectivity. Delacroix rose on the horizon like a brilliant meteor catching flame from the light of vanished suns; he reflected their radiance, had almost their magnitude, and followed the same course amid the same coruscation and blaze of light. Courbet stands firm and steady upon the earth. The former had the second sight known to visionaries, the latter opened his eyes to the world that can be felt and handled. Neurotic and distempered, Delacroix worked feverishly. As a sound, full-blooded being Courbet painted, as a man drinks, digests, and talks, with an activity that knows no exertion, a force that knows no weariness. Delacroix was a small, weakly man, and his whole power rested in his huge head. That of Courbet, as in animals of beauty and power, was dispersed through his whole frame; his big arms and athletic hands render the same service to his art as his eyes and his brain. And as, like all sincere artists, he rendered himself, he was the creator of an 416 art which has an irrepressible health and overflows with an exuberant opulence. His pictures brought a savour of the butcher’s shop into French painting, which had become anæmic. He delighted in plump shoulders and sinewy necks, broad breasts heaving over the corset, the glow of the skin dripping with warm drops of water in the bath, the hide of deer and the coat of hares, the iridescent shining of carp and cod-fish. Delacroix, all brain, caught fire from his inward visions; Courbet, all eye and maw, with the sensuousness of an epicure and the satisfaction of a gourmet, gloats over the shining vision of things which can be devoured—a Gargantua with a monstrous appetite, he buried himself in the navel of the generous earth. Plants, fruit, and vegetables take voluptuous life beneath his brush. He triumphs when he has to paint a déjeuner with oysters, lemons, turkeys, fish, and pheasants. His mouth waters when he heaps into a picture of still-life all manner of delicious eatables. The only drama that he has painted is “The Battle of the Stags,” and this will end in brown sauce amid a cheerful clatter of knives and forks.

L’Art. Baschet.
(By permission of M. Faure, the owner of the picture.)  

Even as a landscape painter he is luxurious and phlegmatic. In his pictures the earth is a corpulent nurse, the trees fine and well-fed children, and all nature healthy and contented. His art is like a powerful body fed with rich nourishment. In such organisms the capacity for enthusiasm and delicacy of sentiment are too easily sacrificed to their physical satisfaction, but their robust health ensures them the longer life. Here is neither the routine and external technique and the correct, academic articulation of form belonging to mannerists, nor the strained, neurotic, sickly refinement of the decadents, 417 but the powerful utterance of inborn, instinctive talent, and the strong cries of nature which rise out of it will be understood at all times, even the most distant. It is hardly necessary to add that the appearance of a genius of this kind was fraught with untold consequences to the further development of French painting.

What is held beautiful in nature must likewise be beautiful in pictorial art when it is faithfully represented, and nature is beautiful everywhere. In announcing this and demonstrating it in pictures of life-size, Courbet won for art all the wide dominion of modern life which had hitherto been so studiously avoided—the dominion in which it had to revel if it was to learn to see with its own eyes. One fragment of reality after another would then be drawn into the sphere of representation, and no longer in the form of laboriously composed genre pictures, but after the fashion of really pictorial works of art.

What Millet had done for the peasant, and Courbet for the artisan, Alfred Stevens did for “society”: he discovered the Parisienne. Until 1850 the graceful life of the refined classes, which Gavarni, Marcellin, and Cham had so admirably drawn, found no adequate representation in the province of painting. The Parisienne, who is so chic and piquant, and can hate and kiss with such fervour, fascinated every one, but Grecian profile was a matter of prescription. Auguste Toulmouche painted little women in fashionable toilette, but less from any taste he had for the graceful vision than from delight in genre painting. They were forced to find forbidden books in the library, to resist worldly marriages, or behave in some such interesting fashion, to enter into the kingdom of art. It was reserved for a foreigner to reveal this world of beauty, chic, and grace.

Alfred Stevens was a child of Brussels. He was born in the land of Flemish matrons on 11th May 1828, and was the second of three children. Joseph, 418 the elder brother, became afterwards the celebrated painter of animals; Arthur, the youngest, became an art-critic and a picture-dealer; he was one of the first who brought home to the public comprehension the noble art of Rousseau, Corot, and Millet. Stevens’ father fought as an officer in the great army at the battle of Waterloo, and is said to have been an accomplished critic. Some of the ablest sketches of Delacroix, Devéria, Charlet, and Roqueplan found their way into his charming home. Roqueplan, who often came to Brussels, took the younger Stevens with him to his Parisian studio. He was a tall, graceful young man, who, with his vigorous upright carriage, his finely chiselled features, and his dandified moustache, looked like an officer of dragoons or cuirassiers. He was a pleasure-loving man of the world, and was soon the lion of Parisian drawing-rooms. The grace of modern life in great cities became the domain of his art. The Parisienne, whom his French fellow-artists passed by without heed, was a strange, interesting phenomenon to him, who was a foreigner—an exotic and exquisitely artistic bibelot, which he looked upon with eyes as enraptured as those with which Decamps had looked upon the East.

L’Art. Baschet.
(By permission of Messrs. Goupil & Co., the owners of the copyright.)  

His very first picture, exhibited in 1855, was called “At Home.” A charming little woman is warming her feet at the fire; she has returned from visiting a friend, and it has been raining or snowing outside. Her delicate hands are frozen in spite of her muff, her cheeks have been reddened by the wind, and she has a pleasant sense of comfort as her rosy lips breathe the warm air of the room. From the time of this picture women took possession of Stevens’ easel. His way was prescribed for him, and he never left it. Robert Fleury, the president of the judging committee in the Salon, said to him: “You are a good painter, but alter your subjects; you are stifling in a sphere which is too small; how wide and grand 419 is that of the past!” Whereon Stevens is said to have showed him a volume of photographs from Velasquez. “Look here at Velasquez,” he said. “This man never represented anything but what he had before his eyes—people in the Spanish dress of the seventeenth century. And as the justification of my genre may be found in this Spanish painter, it may be found also in Rubens, Raphael, Van Dyck, and all the great artists. All these masters of the past derived their strength and the secret of their endurance from the faithful reproduction of what they had themselves seen: it gives their pictures a real historical as well as an artistic value. One can only render successfully what one has felt sincerely and seen vividly before one’s eyes in flesh and blood.” In these sentences he is at one with Courbet, and by not allowing himself to be led astray into doing sacrifice to the idols of historical painting he continues to live as the historical painter of the Parisienne.

In his whole work he sounds a pæan to the delicate and all-powerful mistress of the world, and it is significant that it was through woman that art joined issue with the interests of the present. Millet, the first who conquered a province of modern life, was at the same time the first great painter of women in the century. Stevens shows the other side of the medal. In Millet woman was a product of nature; in Stevens she is the product of modern civilisation. The woman of Millet lives a large animal life, in the sweat of her brow, bowed to the earth. She is the primæval mother who works, bears children, and gives them nourishment. She stands in the field like a caryatid, like a symbol of fertile nature. In Stevens woman does not toil and is seldom a mother. He paints the woman who loves, enjoys, and knows nothing of the great pangs of child-birth and hunger. The one woman lives beneath the wide, open sky, dans le grand air; the other is only enveloped in an atmosphere of perfume. She is ancient Cybele in the pictures of Millet; in those of Stevens the holy Magdalene of the nineteenth century, to whom much will be forgiven, because 420 she has loved much. The pictures of Stevens represent, for the first time, the potent relations of woman to the century. Whilst most works of this time are silent concerning ourselves, his art will speak of our weaknesses and our passions. In a period of archaic painting he upheld the banner of modernity. On this account posterity will honour him as one of the first historians of the nineteenth century, and will learn from his pictures all that Greuze has revealed to the present generation about the civilisation of the eighteenth century.

Baschet. Gaz. des Beaux-Arts.
  (By permission of the Artist.)

And perhaps more, for Stevens never moralised—he merely painted. Painter to his finger tips, like Delacroix, Roqueplan, and Isabey, he stood in need of no anecdotic substratum as an adjunct. The key of his pictures was suggested by no theme of one sort or another, but by his treatment of colour. The picture was evolved from the first tone he placed upon the canvas, which was the ground-note of the entire scale. He delighted in a thick pasty handling, in beautiful hues, and in finely chased detail. And he was as little inclined to sentimentality as to pictorial novels. Everything is discreet, piquant, and full of charm. He was a delicate spirit, avoiding tears and laughter. Subdued joy, melancholy, and everything delicate and reserved are what he loves; he will have nothing to do with stereotyped arrangement nor supernumerary figures, but although a single person dominates the stage he never repeats himself. He has followed woman through all her metamorphoses—as mother or in love, weary or excited, proud or humbled, fallen or at the height of success, in her morning-gown or dressed for visiting or a promenade, now on the sea-shore, now in the costume of a Japanese, or dallying with her trinkets as she stands vacantly before the glass. The surroundings invariably form an accompaniment to the melody. A world of exquisite things is the environment of the figures. Rich stuffs, charming petit-riens from China and Japan, the most delicate ivory and lacquer-work, the finest bronzes, Japanese fire-screens, and great vases with blossoming sprays, fill the boudoir 421 and drawing-room of the Parisienne. In the pictures of Stevens she is the fairy of a paradise made up of all the most capricious products of art. A new world was discovered, a painting which was in touch with life; the symphony of the salon was developed in a delicate style. A tender feminine perfume, something at once melancholy and sensuous, was exhaled from the pictures of Stevens, and by this shade of demi-monde haut-goût he won the great public. They could not rise to Millet and Courbet, and Stevens was the first who gave general pleasure without paying toll to the vicious taste for melodramatic, narrative, and humorous genre painting. Even in the sixties he was appreciated in England, France, Germany, Russia, and Belgium, and represented in all public and private collections; and through the wide reception offered to his pictures he contributed much to create in the public a comprehension for good painting.

In the same way James Tissot achieved the representation of the modern woman. Stevens, a Belgian, painted the Parisienne; Tissot, a Frenchman, the Englishwoman. It was not till they went into foreign countries that these artists perceived the grace of what was not deemed suitable to art at home. In Paris from the year 1859 Tissot had painted scenes from the fifteenth century, to which he was moved by Leys, and he studied with archæological accuracy the costume and furniture of the late Gothic period. When he migrated to England in 1871 he gave up the romantic proclivities of his youth, and devoted himself to the representation of fashionable society. His oil paintings fascinate us by their delicate feeling for cool transparent tone values, whilst his water-colours—restaurant, theatre, and ball scenes—assure him a place among the pioneers of modernity.

At first Stevens found no 422 successors amongst Parisian painters. A few, indeed, painted interiors in graceful Paris, but they were only frigid compositions of dresses and furniture, without a breath of that delicate aroma which exhales from the works of the Belgian. The portrait painters alone approached that modern grace which still awaited its historian and poet.

An exceedingly delicate artist, Gustave Ricard, in whose portraits the art of galleries had a congenial revival, was called the modern Van Dyck in the sixties. Living nature did not content him; he wished to learn how it was interpreted by the old masters, and therefore frequented galleries, where he sought counsel sometimes from the English portrait-painters, sometimes from Leonardo, Rubens, and Van Dyck. In this way Ricard became a gourmet of colour, who knew the technique of the old masters as few others have done, and his works have an attractive golden gallery-tone of great distinction.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts. L’Art.
  (By permission of the Artist.)

In Charles Chaplin Fragonard was revived. He was the specialist of languishing flesh and poudre de riz, the refined interpreter of aristocratic beauty, one on whose palette there might still be found a delicate reflection of the fêtes galantes of the eighteenth century. In Germany he was principally known by those dreamy, frail, and sensual maidens, well characterised by the phrase of the Empress Eugénie. “M. Chaplin,” she said, “I admire you. Your pictures are not merely indecorous, they are more.” But Chaplin had likewise the other qualities of the rococo painter. He was a decorative artist of the first rank, and, like Fragonard, he carelessly scattered round him on all sides grace and beauty, charm and fascination. In 1857 he decorated the Salon des Fleurs in the Tuileries, in 1861-65 the bathroom of the Empress in the Palais de l’Elysée, and from 1865 a number of private houses in Paris, Brussels, and New York; and there is in all these works a refined haut-goût of modern Parisian elegance and fragrant rococo grace. He revived no nymphs, and made no pilgrimage to the island of Cythera; he was more of an epicurean. But Fragonard’s fine 423 tones and Fragonard’s sensuousness were peculiar to him. He had a method of treating the hair, of introducing little patches, of setting a dimple in the chin, and painting the arms and bosom, which had vanished since the rococo period from the power of French artists. Rosebuds and full-blown roses blossom like girls à la Greuze, and fading beauties, who are all the more irresistible, are the elements out of which his refined, indecorous, and yet fragrant art is constituted.

The great engraver Gaillard brought Hans Holbein once more into honour. He was the heir of that method of painting, the eternal matrix of which Jan van Eyck left to the world in unapproachable perfection. His energetic but conscientiously minute brush noted every wrinkle of the face, without doing injury to the total impression by this labour of detail. Indeed, his pictures are as great in conception and as powerful in characterisation as they are small in size. Gaillard is a profound physiognomist who attained the most vivid analysis of character by means of the utmost precision.

Paul Dubois takes us across the Alps; in his portraits he is the same great quattrocentist that he was from the beginning in his plastic works. His ground is that of the excellent and subtle period when Leonardo, who had been in the beginning somewhat arid, grew delicate and allowed a mysterious sphinx-like smile to play round the lips of his women. Manifestly he has studied Prudhon and had much intercourse with Henner in those years when the latter, after his return from Italy, directed attention once more to the old Lombards. From the time when he made his début in 1879, with the portrait of his sons, he received great encouragement, and stands out in these days as the most mature painter of women that the present age has to show. Only the great English portrait painters Watts and Millais, who are inferior to him in technique, have excelled him in the embodiment of personalities.

As the most skilful painter of drapery, the most brilliant decorator of feminine beauty, Carolus Duran was long celebrated. The studies which he had made in Italy had not caused him to forget that he took his origin from 424 across the Flemish border; and when he appeared with his first portraits, in the beginning of the seventies, it was believed that an eminent colourist had been born to French painting. At that time he had a fine feeling for the eternal feminine and its transitory phases of expression, and he was as dexterous in seizing a fleeting gesture or a turn of the head as he was in the management of drapery and the play of its hues. Then, again, he made a gradual transition from delicate and discreetly coquettish works to the crude arts of upholstery. Yet even in his last period he has painted some masculine portraits—those of Pasteur, and of the painters Français, Fritz Thaulow, and René Billotte—which are striking in their vigorous simplicity and unforced characterisation after the glaring virtuosity of his pictures of women.

Gaz. des Beaux-Arts. L’Art.
  (By permission of the Artist.)

Léon Bonnat, the pupil of Madrazos, brought about the fruitful connection between French painting and that of the old Spaniards. By this a large quantity of the fresh blood of naturalism was poured into it once more. Born in the South of France and educated in Spain, he had conceived there a special enthusiasm for Ribera, and these youthful impressions were so powerful that he remained faithful to them in Paris. As early as his residence in Italy, which included the three years from 1858 to 1860, his individuality had been fortified in a degree which prevented him from wasting himself on large academical compositions like the holders of the Prix de Rome; on the contrary, he painted scenes from the varied life of the Roman people. Several religious pictures, such as “The Martyrdom of Saint Andrew” (1863), “Saint Vincent de Paul” (1866), and the “Job” of the Luxembourg, showed that he was steadily progressing on the road paved by Spagnoletto. He had a virtuosity in conjuring on to the canvas visages furrowed by the injustices of life—grey hair, waving grey beards, and the starting sinews and muscles of old weather-beaten frames. In the beginning of the seventies, when he had to paint a Crucifixion for the jury-chamber in the Paris Palais de Justice, he executed a virile figure, the muscles and anatomy of which were as clearly marked as the buttresses in a Gothic cathedral. As in the paintings of Caravaggio, a sharp, 425 glaring light fell upon certain parts of the body, whilst others remained dark and colourless in the gloomy background. He applied the same principles to his portraits. A French Lenbach, he painted in France a gallery of celebrated men. With an almost tangible reality he painted Hugo, Madame Pasta, Dumas, Gounod, Thiers, Grévy, Pasteur, Puvis de Chavannes, Jules Ferry, Carnot, Cardinal Lavigerie, and others. Over two hundred persons, famous or not, have sat to him, and he has painted them with an exceedingly intelligent power, masculine taste, and a learning which never loses itself in unnecessary detail.

The delicate physiognomy of women, the frou-frou of exquisite toilettes, the dreaminess, the fragrance, the coquetry of the modern Sphinx, were no concern of his. On the other hand, his masculine portraits will always keep their interest, if only on historical grounds. In all of them he laid great stress on characteristic accessories, and could indicate in the simplest way the thinker, the musician, the scholar, and the statesman. One remembers his pictures as though they were phrases uttered with conviction, though a German does not hesitate to place Lenbach far above Bonnat as a psychologist. The latter has not the power of seizing the momentary effect, the intimacy, the personal note, the palpitating life peculiar to Lenbach. With the intention of saying all things he often forgets the most important—the spirit of the man and the grace of the woman. His pictures are great pieces of still-life—exceedingly conscientious, but having something of the conscientiousness of an actuary copying a tedious protocol. The portrait of Léon Cogniet, the teacher of the master, with his aged face, his spectacled eyes, and his puckered hands (Musée Luxembourg), is perhaps the only likeness in which Bonnat rivals Lenbach in depth of characterisation. His pictorial strength is always worthy of respect; but, for the sake of variety, the esprit is for once on the side of the German.

Ruled by a passion for the Spanish masters, such as Bonnat possessed, Roybet painted cavaliers of the seventeenth century, and other historical pictures of manners, which are distinguished, to their advantage, from older pictures of their type, because it is not the historical anecdote but the pictorial idea which is their basis. All the earlier painters were rather bent upon archæological accuracy than on pictorial charm in the treatment of such themes. Roybet revelled in the rich hues of old costumes, and sometimes 426 attained, before he strained his talent in the Procrustean bed of pictures of great size, a bloom and a strong, glowing tone which rival the old masters.

L’Art. L’Art.

In all periods which have learnt to see the world through a pictorial medium, still-life has held an important place in the practice of art. A technical instinct, which is in itself art, delights in investing musical instruments, golden and silver vessels, fruit and other eatables, glasses and goblets, coverings of precious work, gauntlets and armour, all imaginable petit-riens, with an artistic magic, in recognising and executing pictorial problems everywhere. After the transition from historical and genre painting had been made to painting proper there once more appeared great painters of still-life in France as there did in Chardin’s days.

Yet Blaise Desgoffe, who painted piecemeal and with laborious patience goldsmith’s work, crystal vases, Venetian glass, and such things, is certainly rather petty. In France he was the chief representative of that precise and detailed painting which understands by art a deceptive imitation of objects, and sees its end attained when the holiday public gathers round the pictures as the birds gathered round the grapes of Zeuxis.

It is as if an old master had revived in Philippe Rousseau. He had the same earnest qualities as the Dutch and Flemish Classic masters—a broad, liquid, pasty method of execution, a fine harmony of clear and powerful tones—and with all this a marvellous address in so composing objects that no trace of “composition” is discernible. His work arose from the animal picture. His painting of dogs and cats is to be ranked with the best of the century. He makes a fourth with Gillot, Chardin, and Decamps, the great painters of monkeys. As a decorator of genius, like Hondekoeter, he embellished a whole series of dining-halls with splendidly coloured representations of poultry, and, like Snyders, he heaped together game, dead and living fowl, fruit, lobsters, and oysters into huge life-size masses of still-life. Behind 427 them the cook may be seen, and thievish cats steal around. But, like Kalf, he has also painted, with an exquisite feeling for colour, Japanese porcelain bowls with bunches of grapes, quinces, and apricots, metal and ivory work, helmets and fiddles, against that delicate grey-brown-green tone of background which Chardin loved.

Antoine Vollon became the greatest painter of still-life in the century. Indeed, Vollon is as broad and nervous as Desgoffe is precise and pedantic. Flowers, fruit, and fish—they are all painted in with a firm hand, and shine out of the dark background with a full liquid freshness of colour. He paints dead salt-water fish like Abraham van Beyeren, grapes and crystal goblets like Davids de Heem, dead game like Frans Snyders, skinned pigs like Rembrandt and Maes. He is a master in the representation of freshly gathered flowers, delicate vegetables, copper kettles, weapons, and suits of armour. Since Chardin no painter depicted the qualities of the skin of fresh fruit, its life and its play of colour, and the moist bloom that rests upon it, with such fidelity to nature. His fish in particular will always remain the wonder of all painters and connoisseurs. But landscapes, Dutch canal views, and figure-pictures are also to be found amongst his works. He has painted everything that is picturesque, and the history of art must do him honour as, in a specifically pictorial sense, one of the greatest in the century. A soft grey-brown wainscoting, a black and white Pierrot costume, and a white table-cloth and dark green vegetables—such is the harmony of colour which he chiefly loved in his figure-pictures.

On the same purely pictorial grounds nuns became very popular in painting, as their white hoods and collars standing out against a black dress gave the opportunity for such a fine effect of tone. This was the province in which poor François Bonvin laboured. Deriving from the Dutch, he conceived an enthusiasm for work, silence, the subdued shining of light in interiors, 428 cold days, the slow movements and peaceful faces of nuns, and painted kitchen scenes with a strong personal accent. Before he took up painting he was for a long time a policeman, and was employed in taking charge of the markets. Here he acquired an eye for the picturesqueness of juicy vegetables, white collars, and white hoods, and when he had a day free he studied Lenain and Chardin in the Louvre. Bonvin’s pictures have no anecdotic purport. Drinkers, cooks, orphan children in the schoolroom, sempstresses, choristers, sisters of mercy, boys reading, women in church, nuns conducting a sewing-class—Bonvin’s still, picturesque, congenial world is made up of elements such as these. What his people may think or do is no matter: they are only meant to create an effect as pictorial tones in space. During his journey to Holland he had examined Metsu, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hoogh, Terborg, and Van der Meer with an understanding for their merits, but it was Chardin in both his phases—as painter of still-life and of familiar events—who was in a special sense revived in Bonvin. All his pictures are simple and quiet; his figures are peaceful in their expression, and have an easy geniality of pose; his hues have a beauty and fulness of tone recalling the old masters.


Even Théodule Ribot, the most eminent of the group, one of the most dexterous executants of the French school, a master who for power of expression is worthy of being placed between Frans Hals and Ribera, made a beginning with still-life. He was born in 1823, in a little town of the department of Eure. Early married and poor, he supported himself at first by painting frames for a firm of mirror manufacturers, and only reserved the hours of the evening for his artistic labours. In particular he is said to have accustomed himself to work whole nights through by lamplight, while he nursed his wife during a long illness, watching at her bedside. The lamplight intensified the contrasts of light and shadow. Thus Ribot’s preference for concentrated light and strong shadows is partially due, in all probability, to 429 what he had gone through in his life, and in later days Ribera merely bestowed upon him a benediction as his predecessor in the history of art.

His first pictures from the years 1861 to 1865 were, for the most part, scenes from household and kitchen life: cooks, as large as life, plucking poultry, setting meat before the fire, scouring vessels, or tasting sauces; sometimes, also, figures in the streets; but even here there was a strong accentuation of the element of still-life. There were men with cooking utensils, food, dead birds, and fish. Then after 1865 there followed a number of religious pictures which, in their hard, peasant-like veracity and their impressive, concentrated life, stood in the most abrupt contrast with the conventionally idealised figures of the academicians. His “Jesus in the Temple,” no less than “Saint Sebastian” and “The Good Samaritan”—all three in the Musée Luxembourg—are works of simple and forceful grandeur, and have a thrilling effect which almost excites dismay. Sebastian is no smiling saint gracefully embellished with wounds, but a suffering man, with the blood streaming from his veins, stretched upon the earth; yet half-raising himself, a cry of agony upon his lips, and his whole body contorted by spasms of pain. In his “Jesus in the Temple,” going on parallel lines with Menzel, he proclaims the doctrine that it is only possible to pour new life-blood into traditional figures by a tactful choice of models from popular life around. And in “The Good Samaritan,” also, he was only concerned to paint, with naturalistic force, the body of a wounded man lying in the street, a thick-set French peasant robbed of his clothes. From the seventies his specialty was heads—separate figures of weather-beaten old folk, old women knitting or writing, old men reading or lost in thought; and these will always be ranked with the greatest masterpieces of the century. Ribot attains a remarkable effect when he paints those expressive faces of his, which seem to follow you with their looks, and are thrown out from the darkness of his canvas. A black background, in which the dark dresses of his figures are insensibly lost, a luminous 430 head with such eyes as no one of the century has ever painted, wrinkled skin and puckered old hands rising from somewhere—one knows not whence—these are things which all lend his figures something phantasmal, superhuman, and ghostly. Ribot is the great king of the under-world, to which a sunbeam only penetrates by stealth. Before his pictures one has the sense of wandering in a deep, deep shaft of some mine, where all is dark and only now and then a lantern glimmers. No artist, not even Ribera, has been a better painter of old people, and only Velasquez has painted children who have such sparkling life. Ribot worked in Colombes, near Paris, to which place he had early withdrawn, in a barn where only tiny dormer-windows let in two sharp rays of light.


By placing his canvas beneath one window and his model beneath the other, in a dim light which allowed only one golden ray to fall upon the face, he isolated it completely from its surroundings, and in this way painted the parts illuminated with the more astonishing effect. No one had the same power in modelling a forehead, indicating the bones beneath the flesh, and rendering all the subtleties of skin. A terrible and intense life is in his figures. His old beggars and sailors especially have something kingly in the grand style of their noble and quiet faces. An old master with a powerful technique, 431 a painter of the force and health of Jordaens, has manifested himself once more in Ribot.


Courbet’s principles, accordingly, had won all down the line, in the course of a few years. “It is only Ribera, Zurbaran, and Velasquez that I admire; Ostade and Craesbeeck also allure me; and for Holbein I feel veneration. As for M. Raphael, there is no doubt that he has painted some interesting portraits, but I cannot find any ideas in him.” In these words he had prophesied as early as 1855 the course which French art would take in the next decade. When Courbet appeared the grand painting stood in thraldom to the beauté suprême, and the æsthetic conceptions of the time affected the treatment of contemporary subjects. Artists had not realism enough to give truth and animation to these themes. When Cabanel, Hamon, and Bouguereau occasionally painted beggars and orphans, they were bloodless phantoms, because by beautifying the figures they deprived them of character in the effort to give them, approximately, the forms of historical painting. Because painters did not regard their own epoch, because they had been accustomed to consider living beings merely as elements of the second and third rank, they never discovered the distinctiveness of their essential life. Like a traveller possessed by one fixed mania, they made a voyage round the world, thinking only how they might adapt living forms to those which their traditional training recommended as peculiarly right and alone worthy of art. Even portrait painting was dominated by this false method, of rendering figures as types, of improving the features and the contour of bodies, and giving men the external appearance of fair, ideal figures.

But now the sway of the Cinquecento has been finally broken. A fresh breeze of realism from across the Pyrenees has taken the place of the sultry Italian sirocco. From the pictures of the Neapolitans, the Spaniards, and the Dutch it has been learnt that the joys and sorrows of the people are just as capable of representation as the actions of gods and heroes, and under the influence of these views a complete change in the cast has taken place.



The figures which in 1855 filled Courbet’s picture “The Studio”—beggar-women, agricultural labourers, artisans, sailors, tippling soldiers, buxom girls, porters, rough members of the proletariat of uncouth stature—now crowd the stage of French art, and impart even to the heroes of history, bred through centuries from degenerated gods, something of their full-blooded, rough, hearty, and plebeian force of life. The artists of Italian taste only gave the rights of citizenship to “universal forms”; every reminiscence of national customs or of local character was counted vulgar; they did not discover the gold of beauty in the rich mines of popular life, but in the classic masters of foreign race. But now even what is unearthly is translated into the terms of earth. If religious pictures are to be painted, artists take men from the people for their model, as Caravaggio did before them—poor old peasants with bones of iron, and bronzed, weather-beaten faces, porters with figures bowed and scarred by labour, men of rough, common nature, though of gnarled and sinewy muscles. The pictures of martyrs, once artificial compositions of beautiful gesture and vacant, generalised countenances, receive a tone local to the scaffold, a trait of merciless veracity—the heads the energy of a relief, the gestures force and impressiveness, the bodies a science in their modelling which would have rejoiced Ribera. As Caravaggio said that the 433 more wrinkles his model had the more he liked him, so no one is any longer repelled by horny hands, tattered rags, and dirty feet. In the good periods of art it is well known that the beauty or uncomeliness of a work has nothing to do with the beauty or uncomeliness of the model, and that the most hideous cripple can afford an opportunity for making the most beautiful work. The old doctrine of Leonardo, that every kind of painting is portrait painting, and that the best artists are those who can imitate nature in the most convincing way, comes once more into operation. The apotheosis of the model has taken the place of idealism. And during these same years England reached a similar goal by another route.










Leopold Boilly:

Jules Houdoy: “L’Art,” 1877, iv 63, 81.

On the History of Caricature in General:

J. P. Malcolm: An Historical Sketch of the Art of Caricaturing. London, 1813.

Th. Wright: A History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art. London, 1875.

Arsène Alexandre: L’Art du rire. Paris, 1892.

E. Bayard: La caricature et les caricaturistes. Paris, 1900.

Fuchs und Krämer: Die Karikatur der europäischen Völker vom Altertum bis zur Neuzeit. Berlin, 1901.

On the English Caricaturists:

Victor Champier: La caricature anglaise contemporaine, “L’Art,” 1875, i 29, 293, ii 300, iii 277 and 296.

Ernest Chesneau: Les livres à caricatures en Angleterre, “Le Livre,” Novembre 1881.

Augustin Filon: La caricature en Angleterre, W. Hogarth, “Revue des Deux Mondes,” 15 Janvier 1885.

Graham Everitt: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humorists of the Nineteenth Century. How they illustrated and interpreted their Times. With 67 Illustrations. London, 1886.


C. M. Westmacott: The Spirit of the Public Journals. 3 vols. 1825-1826.

Joseph Grego: Thomas Rowlandson, the Caricaturist. A selection from his works, with anecdotal descriptions of his famous Caricatures and a sketch of his Life, Times, and Contemporaries. With about 400 Illustrations. 2 vols. London, 1880.

F. G. Stephens: Thomas Rowlandson the Humorist, “Portfolio,” 1891, 141.


Cruikshankiana. Engravings by Richard Dighton. London, 1855.

F. G. Stephens: G. Cruikshank, “Portfolio,” 1872, 77.

G. W. Reid: Complete Catalogue of the Engraved Works of George Cruikshank. London, 1873.

G. A. Sala: George Cruikshank, a Life Memory, “Gentleman’s Magazine,” 1878.

William Bates: George Cruikshank, the Artist, the Humorist, and the Man. With Illustrations and Portraits. London and Birmingham, 1878.

Frederick Wedmore: Cruikshank, “Temple Bar,” April 1878.

W. B. Jerrold: The Life of George Cruikshank. 2 vols. 1882.

H. Thornber: The Early Work of George Cruikshank. 1887.

F. G. Stephens: A Memoir of George Cruikshank. London, 1891.

R. F. H. Douglas: Catalogue of Works by Cruikshank. London, 1903.

John Leech:

Ernest Chesneau: Un humoriste anglais, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1875, i 532.

John Brown: John Leech, and Other Papers. Edinburgh, 1882.

F. G. Kitton: John Leech, Artist and Humorist. London, 1884.

George Du Maurier:

“L’Art,” 1876, iv 279. See also English Society at Home. Fol. London, 1880.

Charles Keene:

Claude Phillips: Charles Keene, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1891, i 327.

G. L. Layard: The Life and Letters of Charles Keene. London, 1892.

On the German Draughtsmen:

Beiträge zur Geschichte der Caricatur, “Zeitschrift für Museologie,” 1881, 13 ff.

J. Grand-Carteret: Les mœurs et la caricature en Allemagne, en Autriche, en Suisse. Paris, 1885.

R. v. Seydlitz: Die moderne Caricatur in Deutschland, “Zur guten Stunde,” Mai 1891.

Hermann: Die deutsche Karikatur im 19 Jahrhundert. Bielefeld, 1901.

Johann Christian Erhard:

Alois Apell: Das Werk von Johann Christian Erhard. Leipzig, 1866-75.

Johann Adam Klein:

F. M.: Verzeichniss der von Johann Adam Klein gezeichneten und radirten Blätter. Stuttgart, 1853.

John: Das Werk von Johann Adam Klein. Munich, 1863.

Ludwig Richter:

Richter-Album. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1861.

Jahn, in Richter-Album, and in the Biographische Aufsätze. Leipzig, 1867.

W. Heinrichsen: Ueber Richters Holzschnitte. Carlsruhe, 1870.

Johann F. Hoff: Adrian Ludwig Richter, Maler und Radirer. List and description of his works, with a biographical sketch by H. Steinfeld. Dresden, 1871.

L. Richter’s Landschaften. Text by H. Lücke. Leipzig, 1875.

Georg Scherer: Aus der Jugendzeit. Leipzig, 1875. Ernst und Scherz. Leipzig, 1875.

Deutsche Art und Sitte. Published by G. Scherer. Leipzig, 1876.

Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts, i. Nördlingen, 1877, pp. 57 ff.

A. Springer: Zum 80 Geburtstag Ludwig Richter’s, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1883, pp. 377-386.

J. E. Wessely: Adrian Ludwig Richter zum 80 Geburtstag. A Monograph. “Graphische Künste,” 1884, vi 1.

Obituary: “Allgemeine Zeitung,” 1884, No. 175; “Allgemeine Kunst-Chronik,” 1884, 26; G. Weisse, “Deutsches Künstlerblatt,” iii 1.

Lebenserinnerungen eines deutschen Malers: Autobiography of Ludwig Richter. Published by Heinrich Richter. Frankfurt a. M., 1886.

Robert Waldmüller: Ludwig Richter’s religiöse Entwickelung. “Gegenwart,” 37, pp. 198, 218.

Veit Valentin: Kunst, Künstler, und Kunstwerke. 1889.

Richard Meister: Land und Leute in Ludwig Richter’s Holzschnitt-Bildern. Leipzig, 1889.

Die vervielfältigende Kunst der Gegenwart. Edited by C. v. Lützow. Vol. i. Woodcut Engravings. Wien, 1890.

H. Gerlach: Ludwig Richters Leben, dem deutschen Volke erzählt. Dresden, 1891.

Budde: Ludwig Richter, “Preussische Jahrbücher.” Bd. 87. Berlin, 1897.

P. Mohn: Ludwig Richter, “Künstlermonographien,” Edited by Knackfuss. Bd. 14. 2 Aufl. Bielefeld, 1898.

J. Erler: Ludwig Richter, der Maler des deutschen Hauses. Leipzig, 1898.

David Ludwig Koch: Ludwig Richter. Stuttgart, 1903.

Albert Hendschel:

J. E. Wessely: Aus Albert Hendschels Bildermappe, “Vom Fels zum Meer,” 1883, iii 3.

Obituary: “Le Portefeuille,” 1884, 30.

F. Luthmer: Albert Hendschel. “Vom Fels zum Meer,” December 1884.

W. Busch:

Paul Lindau: “Nord und Süd,” 1878, iv 257.

Eduard Daelen: W. Busch, “Kunst für Alle,” 1887, ii 217.

See Busch-Album, Humoristischer Hausschatz. Collection of the twelve most popular works, with 1400 pictures. München, 1885.

Adolf Oberländer:

Adolf Bayersdorfer: Adolf Oberländer, “Kunst für Alle,” 1888, iv 49.

Robert Stiassny: Zur Geschichte der deutschen Caricatur, “Neue Freie Presse,” 20th August 1889.

Hermann Essenwein: Adolf Oberländer, “Moderne Illustratoren.” Bd. 5. Munich, 1903.

See Oberländer-Album. 7 vols. Munich, Braun & Schneider, 1881-89.

On the French Draughtsmen:

Champfleury: Histoire générale de la caricature. 5 vols. Paris, 1856-80.

J. Grand-Carteret: Les mœurs et la caricature en France. Paris, 1888.

Armand Dayot: Les Maîtres de la caricature au XIX siècle. 115 facsimilés de grand caricatures en noir, 5 facsimilés de lithographies en couleurs. Paris, 1888.

Henri Béraldi: Les graveurs du XIX siècle. Paris, 1885.

Paul Mantz: La caricature moderne, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1888, i 286.

Augustin de Buisseret: Les caricaturistes français, “L’Art,” 1888, ii 91.


J. F. Mahérault: L’œuvre de Moreau le jeune. Paris, 1880.

A. Moureau: Les Moreau in “Les artistes célèbres.” 1903.

Emanuel Bocher: Jean Michel Moreau le jeune. Paris, 1882.


Roger Portalis and Henri Béraldi: Les graveurs du XVIII siècle, vol. i. Paris, 1880.

Henri Bouchot, in “Les artistes célèbres.” 1905.

Carle Vernet:

Amédée Durande: Joseph Carle, et Horace Vernet. Paris, 1865.

A. Genevay: Carle Vernet, “L’Art,” 1877, i 73, 96.

Henri Monnier:

Philippe Burty: “L’Art,” 1877, ii 177.

Champfleury: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1877, i 363.

Champfleury: Henri Monnier, sa vie et son œuvre. Paris, 1879.


Champfleury: L’œuvre de Daumier, Essai de catalogue, “L’Art,” 1878, ii 217, 252, 294.

Eugène Montrosier: La caricature politique, H. Daumier, “L’Art,” 1878, ii 25.

H. Billung: H. Daumier, “Kunstchronik,” 24, 1879.

Arsène Alexandre: Honoré Daumier, l’homme et son œuvre. Paris, 1890.

H. Frantz: Daumier and Gavarni. London, 1904.

Erich Klossowski: H. Daumier. Stuttgart, 1906.


Baudelaire: Le peintre de la vie moderne, in the volume “L’Art romantique” of his complete works. Paris, 1869.


Manières de voir et façons de penser, par Gavarni, précédé d’une étude par Charles Yriarte. Paris, 1869.

Edmond et Jules de Goncourt: Gavarni, l’Homme et l’Œuvre. Paris, 1873.

Armelhault et Bocher: Catalogue raisonné de l’Œuvre de Gavarni. Paris, 1873.

G. A. Simcox: “Portfolio,” 1874, p. 56.

Georges Duplessis: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1875, ii 152, 211.

Georges Duplessis: Gavarni, Étude, ornée de 14 dessins inédits. Paris, 1876.

Ph. de Chennevières: Souvenirs d’un Directeur des Beaux-Arts, IIIième partie. Paris, 1876.

Bruno Walden: “Unsere Zeit,” 1881, ii 926.

Eugène Forgues: Gavarni, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1887.

See also Sainte-Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis. Henri Béraldi, Graveurs du XIX siècle. Œuvres choisies de Gavarni. 4 vols. Paris, 1845-48.

Gustave Doré:

K. Delorme, Gustave Doré, peintre, sculpteur, dessinateur, graveur. Avec gravures et photographies hors texte. Paris, Baschet, 1879.

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 105.

Obituary: “Magazine of Art,” March 1883; Fernand Brouet: “Revue artistique,” March 1883; Dubufe: “Nouvelle Revue,” March and April 1883; A. Michel: “Revue Alsacienne,” February 1883; “Chronique des Arts,” 1883, p. 4; “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1883; A. Hustin, “L’Art,” 1883, p. 424.

Van Deyssel: Gustave Doré, “De Dietsche Warande,” iv 5.

Blanche Roosevelt: Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré. London, 1885.

Claude Phillips: Gustave Doré, “Portfolio,” 1891, p. 249.


Marius Vachon: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1879, ii 443.

Felix Ribeyre: Cham, sa vie et son œuvre. Paris, 1884.

Cham-Album. 3 vols. Paris. Without date.


Ad. Racot: Portraits d’aujourd’hui. Paris, 1891.



The Works of James Barry, Esq.—to which is prefixed some account of the Life and the Writings of the Author. 2 vols. London, 1809.

J. J. Hittorf: Notice historique et biographique de Sir J. Barry. 1860.

Alfred Barry: The Life and Works of Sir J. Barry. London, 1867.

Sidney Colvin: James Barry, “Portfolio,” 1873, p. 150.

H. Trueman Wood: Pictures of James Barry at the Society of Arts. London, 1880.

Benjamin West:

John Galt: The Life, Studies, and Works of Benjamin West. London, 1820. Second Edition, 1826.

Sidney Colvin: “Portfolio,” 1873, p. 150.

See also Cornelius Gurlitt: Die amerikanische Malerei in Europa, “Die Kunst unserer Zeit,” 1893.


J. Knowles: Life and Works of Henry Fuseli. 3 vols. London, 1831.

Sidney Colvin: Henry Fuseli, “Portfolio,” 1873, p. 50.


Anna Eliza Bray: Life of Thomas Stothard. London, 1851.


John J. Rogers: Opie and his Works, being a Catalogue of 760 Pictures by John Opie, R. A. Preceded by a biographical sketch. London, 1878.

Claude Phillips: John Opie, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1892, i 299.


John Thackeray Bunce: James Northcote, R. A., “Fortnightly Review,” June 1876.


A. T. Perkins: A Sketch of the Life and a List of the Works of John Singleton Copley. London, 1873.


Life of B. R. Haydon, Historical Painter, from his Autobiography, edited by Tom Taylor. 3 vols. London, 1853.


James Dafforne: Pictures by Maclise. London, 1871.

James Dafforne: Leslie and Maclise. London, 1872.


A. Gilchrist: Life of W. Etty, R. A. 2 vols. London, 1855.

P. G. Hamerton: Etty, “Portfolio,” 1875, p. 88.

W. C. Monkhouse: Pictures by William Etty, with Descriptions. London, 1874.

Edward Armitage:

J. Beavington-Atkinson: “Portfolio,” 1870, p. 49.


William Hagley: The Life of George Romney. London, 1809.

Rev. John Romney (son of the painter): Memoirs of the life and Writings of George Romney. London, 1830.

P. Selvatico: Il pittore Sir Giorgio Romney ed Emma Lyon, “Arte ed Artisti,” p. 143. Padova, 1863.

Sidney Colvin: George Romney, “Portfolio,” 1873, pp. 18 and 34.

Lord Ronald Gower: Romney and Lawrence. London, 1882.

T. H. Ward and W. Roberts: Romney, A biographical and critical essay, with a catalogue raisonné of his works. London, 1904.

G. Paston: George Romney, etc. (Little Books on Art). London, 1903.

Thomas Lawrence:

D. E. Williams: The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence. 2 vols. With 3 Portraits. London, 1831.

F. Lewis: Imitations of Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Finest Drawings. 1 vol. Reproductions in crayon. London, 1839.

A. Genevay: “L’Art,” 1875, iii 385.

Th. de Wyzewa: Thomas Lawrence et la Société anglaise de son temps, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1891, i 119, ii 112, 335.

Lord Ronald Gower: Romney and Lawrence. London, 1882.


Portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn, photographed by Thomas Asman, with biographical sketches. Fol. Edinburgh. No date.

Exhibition of Portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn, “Art Journal,” 1876, p. 349.

Alexander Fraser: Henry Raeburn, “Portfolio,” 1879, p. 200.

Andrew William Raeburn: Life of Sir Henry Raeburn. With 2 Portraits. London, 1886.

Sir W. Armstrong: Sir Henry Raeburn, etc. London, 1901.

George Morland:

John Hassell: Life of the late George Morland. London, 1804.

William Collins, Memoirs of George Morland. London, 1806.

F. W. Blagdon: Authentic Memoirs of the late George Morland. London, 1806.

G. Dawe: The Life of George Morland. London, 1807.

Walter Armstrong: George Morland, “Portfolio,” 1885, p. 1.

Some Notes on George Morland: From the Papers of James Ward, R. A., “Portfolio,” 1886, p. 98.

Other Biographies by R. Richardson, 1895. J. T. Nettleship, 1898; and Williamson, 1904.

James Ward:

F. G. Stephens: “Portfolio,” 1886, pp. 8, 32, 45.


F. G. Stephens: The Early Works of Edwin Landseer. 16 Photographs. London, 1869. New Edition under the title: Memoirs of Sir Edwin Landseer. London, 1874.

F. G. Stephens: “Portfolio,” 1871, p. 165.

James Dafforne: Pictures by Sir Edwin Landseer, R. A. With descriptions and a biographical sketch of the painter. London, 1873.

James Dafforne: Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, “Art Journal,” 1875, passim.

Catalogue of the Works of Sir Edwin Landseer, “Art Journal,” 1875, p. 317.

J. Beavington-Atkinson: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1875, pp. 129 and 163.

M. M. Heaton: “Academy,” 1879, p. 378.

Edw. Leonidas: Sir Edwin Landseer, “Nederlandsche Kunstbode,” 1881, p. 50.

F. G. Stephens: Sir Edwin Landseer. London, 1881.

F. G. Stephens: Landseer, the Dog Painter, “Portfolio,” 1885, p. 32.

J. A. Manson: Sir Edwin Landseer. London, 1902.

On the English Genre Painters:

Frederick Wedmore: The Masters of Genre Painting. With 16 Illustrations. London, 1880.


Allan Cunningham: Life of Wilkie. 3 vols. London, 1843.

Mrs. C. Heaton: The Great Works of Sir David Wilkie. 26 Photographs. London and Cambridge, 1868.

A. L. Simpson: The Story of Sir David Wilkie. London, 1879.

J. W. Mollet: Sir David Wilkie. London, 1881.

Feuillet de Conches: Sir David Wilkie, “Artiste,” August 1883.

F. Rabbe, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

E. Pinnington: Sir David Wilkie, etc. (Famous Scots Series). London, 1900.

W. Bayne: Sir David Wilkie, etc. (Makers of British Art). London, 1903.

William Collins:

W. Wilkie Collins: Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, Esq. 2 vols. London, 1848.

William Powell Frith:

My Autobiography and Reminiscences. London, 1887.

Further Reminiscences. London, 1898.


Sir Henry Cole: Biography of William Mulready, R. A. Notes of Pictures, etc. No date.

F. G. Stephens: Memorials of Mulready. 14 Photographs. London, 1867.

James Dafforne: Pictures by Mulready. London, 1873.

F. G. Stephens: William Mulready, “Portfolio,” 1887, pp. 85 and 119.

R. Liebreich: Turner and Mulready. London, 1888.


James Dafforne: Pictures by Leslie. Plates. London, 1873.

Autobiographical recollections, edited by Tom Taylor. London, 1860.


In General:

Arsène Alexandre: Histoire de la peinture militaire en France. Paris, 1890.

Horace Vernet:

L. Ruutz-Rees: Horace Vernet and Paul Delaroche. Illustrations. London, 1879.

Amédée Durande: Josephe, Carle, et Horace Vernet, Correspondence et Biographies. Paris, 1865.

Theophile Silvestre: Les artistes français, p. 355.

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains. Paris, 1873, p. 65.

A. Dayot: Les Vernet. Paris, 1898.


De la Combe: Charlet, sa vie et ses lettres. Paris, 1856.

Eugène Veron: “L’Art,” 1875, i 193, 217.

F. L’homme, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1893.


Auguste Bry: Raffet, sa vie et ses œuvres. Paris, 1874.

Georges Duplessis: “L’Art,” 1879, i 76.

Notes et croquis de Raffet, mis en ordre et publiés par Auguste Raffet fils. Paris, Amand-Durand, 1879.

Henri Béraldi: Raffet, Peintre National. Paris, 1891.

F. L’homme, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

A. Dayot: Raffet et son œuvre, etc. Paris, 1892.

On the Young Military Painters:

Eugène Montrosier: Les Peintres militaires, contenant les biographies de Neuville, Detaille, Berne-Bellecour, Protais, etc. Paris, 1881.

Jules Richard: En campagne. Tableaux et dessins de Meissonier, Detaille, Neuville, etc. 2 vols. Paris, 1889.


Francis Wey: Exposition des œuvres d’Hippolyte Bellangé, Étude biographique. Paris, 1867.

Jules Adeline: Hippolyte Bellangé et son œuvre. Paris, 1880.


Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains. Paris, 1873, p. 150.


L. Becq de Fouquières: Isidore Pils, sa vie et ses œuvres. Paris, 1876.

Roger-Ballu: L’œuvre de Pils, “L’Art,” 1876, i 232-258.


Alfred de Lostalot: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1885, ii 164.


Jules Claretie: L’Art et les artistes français contemporains. Paris, 1876, p. 56.

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 249.

G. Goetschy: Les jeunes peintres militaires. Paris, 1878.


E. Chesneau: Notice sur G. Régamey. Paris, 1870.

Eugène Montrosier: “L’Art,” 1879, ii 25.

Albrecht Adam:

Albrecht Adam: Autobiography, 1786-1862. Edited by H. Holland. Stuttgart, 1886.

Das Werk der Münchener Künstlerfamilie Adam. Reproductions after originals by the painters Albrecht, Benno, Emil, Eugen, Franz and Julius Adam. Text by H. Holland. Nuremberg, Soldan, 1890.

P. Hess:

H. Holland: P. v. Hess. München, 1871. Originally in “Oberbayerisches Archiv,” vol. xxxi.

F. Krüger:

A. Rosenberg: Aus dem alten Berlin, Franz Krüger-Ausstellung, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1881, xvi 337.

H. Mackowski, in “Das Museum,” vi 41. See Vor 50 Jahren, Porträtskizzen berühmter und bekannter Persönlickkeiten von F. Krüger. Berlin, 1883.

Franz Adam:

Friedrich Pecht: Franz Adam, “Kunst für Alle,” 1887, ii 120.

Théodor Horschelt:

Ed. Ille: Zur Erinnerung an den Schlachtenmaler Théodor Horschelt. München, 1871.

H. Holland: Théodor Horschelt, sein Leben und seine Werke. München, 1889.

Heinrich Lang:

H. E. von Berlepsch: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1892.

On the more recent Düsseldorf Painters:

Adolf Rosenberg: Düsseldorfer Kriegs- und Militärmaler, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1889, xxiv 228.


Leopold Robert:

E. J. Delécluze: Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de Leopold Robert. Paris, 1838.

Feuillet de Conches: Leopold Robert, sa vie, ses œuvres, et sa correspondance. Paris, 1848.

Charles Clement: Leopold Robert d’après sa correspondance inédite. Paris, 1875.


H. Holland, in the “Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie,” 1889, and books which are there cited.

On the Painters of the East in General:

Charles Gindriez: L’Algérie et les artistes, “L’Art,” 1875, iii 396; 1876, i 133.

Hermann Helferich: Moderne Orientmaler, “Freie Bühne,” 1892.


Marius Chaumelin: Decamps, sa vie et son œuvre. Marseilles, 1861.

Ernest Chesneau: Mouvement moderne en peinture: Decamps. Paris, 1861.

Ad. Moreau: Decamps et son œuvre, avec des gravures en facsimilé des planches originales les plus rares. Paris, 1869.

M. E. Im-Thurn: Scheffer et Decamps. Nîmes, 1876. (Extr. des Mém. de l’Académie du Gard, année 1875.)

Charles Clement, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1886.


G. Gonnot: Marilhat et son œuvre. Clermont, 1884.


Jean Rousseau: “L’Art,” 1877, i 11, 25.

L. Gonse: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1878-1880. Published separately under the title “Eugène Fromentin peintre et écrivain. Ouvrage augmenté d’un Voyage en Egypte et d’autres notes et morçeaux inédits de Fromentin, et illustré de 16 gravures hors texte et 45 dans le texte.” Paris, Quantin, 1881.


Paul Leroi: “L’Art,” 1882, iii 228.

Exposition des œuvres de Guillaumet. Préface par Roger-Ballu. Paris, 1888.

Gustave Guillaumet: Tableaux algériens. Précédé d’une notice sur la vie et les œuvres de Guillaumet. Paris, 1888.

Adolphe Badin: “L’Art,” 1888, i 3, 39, 53.

Ary Renan: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1887, i 404.

Wilhelm Gentz:

L. v. Donop: Ausstellung der Werke von Gentz in der Berliner Nationalgalerie. Berlin, Mittler, 1890.

Obituary in “Chronique des Arts,” 1890, 29.

Adolf Rosenberg: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1891, p. 8.

Adolf Schreyer:

Richard Graul: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1888, xxiii 153.

Richard Graul, in “Graphische Künste,” 1889, xii 121, and in “Velhagen und Klasings Monatshefte,” 1893.


H. Bürkel:

C. A. R.: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1870, v 161.

Alfred Lichtwark: Hermann Kauffmann und die Kunst in Hamburg. München, 1893.


C. A. Regnet: “Münchener Künstler,” 1871, ii 268-276.

Graf Schack: “Meine Gemäldegalerie,” 1881, pp. 189-191.

O. Berggruen: “Graphische Künste,” 1883, v.

F. Pecht, Supplement “Allgemeine Zeitung,” October 1885, and “Geschichte der Münchener Kunst,” 1888, p. 154.

“Münchener Kunstvereinsbericht,” 1885, p. 69.

C. A. Regnet: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1886, xxi 77.

Spitzweg-Album. München, Hanfstaengl, 1890.

Spitzweg-Mappe, with preface by F. Pecht. München, Braun & Schneider, 1890.

H. Holland: Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 1893.

Hermann Kauffmann:

Alfred Lichtwark: Hermann Kauffmann und die Kunst in Hamburg, 1800-1850. München, 1893.

Eduard Meyerheim:

Autobiography, supplemented by P. Meyerheim. Introduction by L. Pietsch. With preface by B. Auerbach and the likeness of Eduard Meyerheim. Berlin, Stilke, 1880.

A. Rosenberg: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1881, xvi 1.

Ludwig Pietsch: Die Künstlerfamilie Meyerheim, “Westermanns Monatshefte,” 1889, p. 397.


Friedrich Pecht: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1868, iii 53

On the Viennese Genre Picture:

C. v. Lützow: Geschichte der k. k. Akademie der bildenden Künste. Vienna, 1877.

R. v. Eitelberger: Das Wiener Genrebild vor dem Jahre 1848, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1877, xii 106. Also in his collected studies on the history of art, i 66.

Dr. Cyriak Bodenstein: Hundert Jahre Kunstgeschichte Wiens, 1788-1888. Wien, 1888.

Albert Ilg: Kunstgeschichtliche Charakterbilder aus Oesterreich-Ungarn (The Nineteenth Century, by A. Nossig). Wien, 1893.

Ludwig Hevesi: Die österreichische Kunst im 19 Jahrhundert. Leipzig, 1902.


Albert Ilg: Raimund und Danhauser, in Kabdebo’s “Osterreichisch-ungarische Kunstchronik.” Vienna, 1880, iii 161.


“Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1866, i 33.

Oskar Berggruen: “Graphische Künste,” x 57.

R. v. Eitelberger: J. Danhauser und Ferdinand Waldmüller, in “Kunst und Künstler Wiens,” p. 73. (Vol. i of his works on the history of art. Vienna, 1879.)


R. v. Eitelberger: Friedrich Gauermann, in “Kunst und Künstler Wiens,” 1878, p. 92. (Vol. i of his works on the history of art. Vienna, 1879.)


Obituary by Kaulen in the “Deutsches Kunstblatt,” 1884, 11 and 12.

M. G. Zimmermann, in the “Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie.”


A. Fahne: Hasenclevers Illustrationen zur Jobsiade. Bonn, 1852.

Rudolf Jordan:

Friedrich Pecht: “Kunst für Alle,” 1887, ii 241.


C. Dietrichson: Adolf Tidemand, hans Liv og hans Vaerker. 2 vols. Christiania, 1878-79.

Adolf Tidemand, utvalgte Vaerker. 24 etchings by L. H. Fischer. Christiania, 1878.


Camille Lemonnier: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1870, i 385.

Ferdinand de Braekeleer:

L. v. Keymeulen: Ferdinand de Braekeleer, “Revue artistique,” 1883, pp. 170, 171.


L. Boivin: Notice sur M. Biard, ses aventures, son voyage en Japonie avec Mme. Biard, Examen critique de ses tableaux. Paris, 1842.

Obituary in the “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” ix 1874. Supplementary Sheet, p. 769.


In General:

Emil Reich: Die bürgerliche Kunst und die besitzlosen Klassen. Leipzig, 1892.


Bernard Prost: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1886, i 28.

Carl Hübner:

M. Blanckarts: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” xv 1312.


Louis Labarre: Antoine Wiertz, étude biographique. Brussels, 1866.

Ed. F.: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1866, i 273.

H. Grimm: Der Maler Wiertz, in “15 Essays,” New Series, Berlin, 1875, p. 1.

J. Beavington-Atkinson: “Portfolio,” 1875, pp. 124, 133, 152.

C. E. Clement: Antoine Jos. Wiertz, “American Art Review,” 1881, 13.

Catalogue du Musée Wiertz, précédé d’une notice biographique par Em. de Laveleye. Brussels, 1882.

L. Schulze Waldhausen: Anton Wiertz, “Deutsches Kunstblatt,” 1882, 5; 1883, 12.

W. Claessens: Wiertz. Brussels, L. Hochsteyn, 1883.

L. Dietrichson: En abnorm Kunstner. Fra Kunstverden, Kopenhagen, 1885, p. 209.

Max Nordau: Vom Kreml bis zur Alhambra. Leipzig, 1886, pp. 201-250.

Robert Mielke: Antoine Wiertz, “Das Atelier,” 1893, No. 66.



Alfred de Lostalot: Louis Knaus, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1882, i 269, 316.

V. K. Schembera: Louis Knaus, “Die Heimath,” vii 40.

L. Pietsch: Ludwig Knaus. Photographs after originals by the master. Berlin Photographische Gesellschaft.

Friedrich Pecht: Zu Knaus 60 Geburtstag, “Kunst für Alle,” 1890, v 65.

G. Voss: “Tägliche Rundschau,” 1889, p. 233.

L. Pietsch, Louis Knaus in the “Künstlermonographien,” ed. by Knackfuss. Bielefeld, 1896.


Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts. Third Series. Nördlingen, 1881, p. 351.

E. Heilbuth: Knaus und Vautier. Text to Behrens’ work upon the gallery, reprinted in “Kunst für Alle,” 1892, 2.

Adolf Rosenberg, Vautier in the “Künstlermonographien,” ed. by Knackfuss. Bd. 23. Bielefeld, 1897.


P. K. Rosegger: Wie Defregger Maler wurde. “Oesterr.-ungarische Kunstchronik,” 1879, iii 2.

Friedrich Pecht: Franz Defregger, sein Leben und Wirken, “Vom Fels zum Meer,” iii 1.

K. Raupp: Franz Defregger und seine Schule, “Wartburg,” viii 4, 5.

Ludwig Pietsch: Franz Defregger, “Westermanns Monatshefte,” February 1889.

F. Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts. München, 1888.

Adolf Rosenberg, in the “Künstlermonographien,” ed. by Knackfuss. Bd. 18. Bielefeld, 1893.

Franz Hermann Meissner in the “Kunstlerbuch.” Berlin, 1901.

See also Karl Stieler und F. Defregger, Von Dahoam. München, 1888.


H. Holland: Wilhelm Riefstahl. Altenburg, 1889.

M. Haushofer: “Kunst für Alle,” 1889, iv 97.

W. Lübke: “Nord und Süd,” 1890, 163.

H. E. v. Berlepsch: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1890, 8.


G. Ramberg: “Vom Fels zum Meer,” 1890, 2.

Friedrich Pecht: “Kunst für Alle,” 1890, 12.

J. Janitsch: “Nord und Süd,” 1892, 182.

Fritz von Ostini, in the “Künstlermonographien,” ed. by Knackfuss. Bd. 58. Leipzig, 1902.


Adolf Rosenberg: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1892.

Gustave Brion:

Paul Leroi: “L’Art,” 1878, i 10.

Jules Breton:

Autobiography. Vie d’un artiste. Paris, 1891.

The Swedish Genre Painters:

Georg Nordensvan: Svensk Konst och Svenska Konstnärer i 19^de Arhundradet. Stockholm, 1892. (German Translation:) Die schwedische Kunst im 19 Jahrhundert. Leipzig, 1903.

The Hungarian Genre Painters:

A. Ipolyi: Die bildende Kunst in Ungarn, “Ungarische Revue,” 1882, 5.

Szana Tamáz: Magyar Müvészek. Budapest, 1887.

Heinrich Glücksmann: Die ungarische Kunst der Gegenwart, “Kunst für Alle,” 1892, vii 129, 145.


J. A. Koch:

David Friedrich Strauss: Kleine Schriften biographischen, literarischen, und kunstgeschichtlichen Inhalts. Leipzig, 1862, p. 303.

Th. Frimmel, in Dohmes Kunst und Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts, No. 9. Leipzig, 1884.

C. v. Lützow: Aus Kochs Jugendzeit, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1874, ix 65.

See also J. A. Koch: Moderne Kunstchronik. Briefe zweier Freunde in Rom und in der Tartarei über das moderne Kunstleben. Karlsruhe, 1834.


Otto Baisch: Johann Christian Reinhart und seine Kreise, ein Lebens- und Kulturbild. Leipzig, 1882.

Friedrich Schiller und der Maler Johann Christian Reinhart. Supplement to the “Leipziger Zeitung,” 1883, 89, 90.


A. Teichlein: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1869, iv 7, 72.

A. Bayersdorfer: Karl Rottmann. München, 1871. Reprinted in A. Bayersdorfer’s Leben und Schriften. München, 1902.

O. Berggruen: Die Galerie Schack, “Graphische Künste,” v 1.

Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts. Nördlingen, 1879, ii pp. 1-26.

C. A. Regnet, in Dohmes Kunst und Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts, No. 10.

See also Rottmann’s Italienische Landschaften. After the Frescoes in the Arcades of the Royal Garden in Munich, carried out by Steinbock. München, Bruckmann, 1876.


R. Schöne: Fr. Preller’s Odysseelandschaften. Leipzig, 1863.

L. v. Donop: Der Genelli-Fries von Fr. Preller. “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1874, ix 321.

Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts. Nördlingen, 1877, vol. i pp. 271-289.

C. Ruland: Zur Erinnerung an Friedrich Preller. Weimar, 1878.

Obituary in “Unsere Zeit,” 1879, 8.

M. Jordan: Katalog der Preller Ausstellung in der Berliner Nationalgalerie, 1879.

A. Dürr: Preller und Goethe, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1881, xvi 357-365.

J. Beavington-Atkinson: Frederick Preller, “Art Journal,” 1881, 9.

W. Lübke: Friedrich Preller, “Allgemeine Zeitung,” 1882, No. 117.

Preller und Goethe, “Allgemeine Zeitung,” 1882, No. 342.

O. Roquette: Preller und Goethe, “Gegenwart,” 1883, 42.

Friedrich J. Frommann: Zur Charakteristik Friedrich Prellers, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1884, No. 31.

See also Homer’s Odyssee mit 40 Original compositionen von Friedrich Preller. Leipzig, 1872. Popular edition with biography, Leipzig, 1881. Italienisches Landschaftsbuch, zehn Originalzeichnungen von Friedrich Preller. Carried out in wood-cut by H. Kaeseberg and K. Oertel, with Text by Max Jordan. Leipzig, 1875. Friedrich Prellers Figurenfries zur Odyssee. 16 Compositions reproduced in 24 coloured lithographs. Leipzig, 1875.

K. F. Lessing:

Karl Koberstein: Karl Friedrich Lessing, “Nord und Süd,” 14, 1880, p. 312.

K. F. Lessing’s Briefe mitgetheilt von Th. Frimmel, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1881, 6.

Rudolf Redtenbacher: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1881, xvi 2.

M. Schasler: “Unsere Zeit,” 1880, 10.

W. Dohme: “Westermanns illustrierte Monatshefte,” 1880, ix 729.

A. Rosenberg: Lessing-Ausstellung in der Berliner Nationalgalerie, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1880, No. 5.

Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts, iii. Nördlingen, 1881, p. 294.


Robert Dohme, in “Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie,” 1875.

Ludwig Pietsch: Wie ich Schriftsteller wurde. Berlin, 1893, passim.

H. Mackowsky, in the “Museum,” viii. Berlin, Spemann.


Johann Wilhelm Schirmer: Düsseldorfer Lehrjahre, “Deutsche Rundschau,” 1878.

Alfred Woltmann, in “Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie.” Works cited in it.


Andreas Aubert: Maleren Professor Dahl 1788-1857, et Stykke av aarhundredets Kunst- og Kulturhistorie. Kristiania, Aschehoug, 1893.


Obituary by Pecht: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1867, ii 80.

Alfred Lichtwark: Hermann Kauffmann und die Kunst in Hamburg von 1800 bis 1850. München, 1893.

Andreas Achenbach:

Ludwig Pietsch: “Nord und Süd,” 1880, xv 381.

Friedrich Pecht: Deutsche Künstler des 19 Jahrhunderts. Third Series. Nördlingen, 1881, p. 328.

Theodor Levin: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1886, xxi, No. 1.

Eduard Schleich:

C. A. Regnet: Zu Eduard Schleichs Gedächtniss, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1874, ix 161.

O. Berggruen: Die Galerie Schack, “Graphische Künste,” v 1.

Alexander Calame:

E. H. Gaullier: Alexander Calame. Genève, 1854. (Le Musée Suisse, vol. i.)

H. Delaborde: La peinture de paysage en Suisse; Alexander Calame: “Revue des Deux Mondes,” Février, 1865.

J. M. Ziegler: Mittheilungen über den Landschaftsmaler Alexander Calame. Zurich, 1866.

C. Meyer: Alexander Calame, “Dioskuren.” Stuttgart, 1866.

A. Bachelin: Alexander Calame. Lausanne, 1880.

Wilhelm Rossmann, in the text to work of engravings from the Dresden Gallery. 1881, etc.

E. Rambert: Alexander Calame, sa vie et son œuvre d’après les sources originales. Paris, 1884.

Adolf Rosenberg: “Grenzboten,” 1884, ii 371.


A. Rosenberg: Die Düsseldorfer Schule. “Grenzboten,” 1881, 35.

Af. Dietrichson: H. Gude liv og vœrker. Kristiania, 1899.

Eduard Hildebrandt:

Bruno Meyer: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1869, iv 261, 336.

F. Arndt: Eduard Hildebrandt, der Maler des Kosmos, Sein Leben und seine Werke. Second Edition. Berlin, 1869.

Ada Pinelli: Hildebrandt und Schirmer. Berlin, 1871.

Louis Douzette:

Adolf Rosenberg: “Graphische Künste,” 1891, xiv 13.


In General:

Victor de Laprade: Le sentiment de la nature chez les modernes. Second Edition. Paris, 1870.


Aligny et la paysage historique, “L’Art,” 1882, i 251; ii 33.

See also the etchings Vues des Sites les plus célèbres de la Grèce antique. Paris, 1845.

Victor Hugo:

Les dessins de Victor Hugo, “L’Art,” 1877, i 50.

H. Helferich: Malende Dichter, “Kunst für Alle,” 1891, 21.

Paul Huet:

Philippe Burty: Paul Huet, Notice biographique. Paris, 1869.

E. Legouvé: Notice sur Paul Huet. Paris, 1878.

Ernest Chesneau: Peintres et statuaires romantiques. Paris, 1880.

Léon Mancino: Un précurseur, “L’Art,” 1883, i 49.

On the English:

William Bell Scott: Our British Landscape-Painters, from Samuel Scott to D. Cox. With 16 Engravings. London, 1876.

J. Comyns Carr: Modern Landscape. With Illustrations. Paris and London, 1883.


Alice Watts: J. M. W. Turner. London, 1851.

John Burnet and Peter Cunningham: Turner and his Works. London, 1852. Edition of Henry Murray. London, 1859.

John Ruskin: Notes on the Turner Collection. London, 1857.

Walter Thornbury: J. M. W. Turner. 2 vols. London, 1862. New Edition, 1897.

Philip G. Hamerton: Turner et Claude Lorrain, “L’Art,” 1876, iv pp. 270, 289.

Philip G. Hamerton: Turner, “Portfolio,” 1876, pp. 28-188; 1877, pp. 44-145; 1878, pp. 2-178.

A. Brunet-Desbaines: The Life of Turner. London, 1878.

John Ruskin: Notes on his Collection of Drawings by the late J. M. W. Turner, also a list of the engraved works of that master. London. Fine Art Society, 1878.

F. Wedmore: Turner’s Liber Studiorum, “Academy,” 1879, Nos. 377, 389, 399, and in “L’Art,” 1879, 232-234.

Philip G. Hamerton: J. M. W. Turner. London, 1879.

Cosmo Monkhouse: J. M. W. Turner. London, 1879.

Hart: Turner, the Dream-Painter. London, 1879.

A. W. Hunt: Turner in Yorkshire, “Art Journal,” 1881, New Series, 1, 2.

W. G. Rawlinson: Turner’s Liber Studiorum, “Art Journal,” 1881, New Series, 4.

James Dafforne: The Works of J. M. W. Turner. With a biographical sketch. London, 1883.

G. Radford: Turner in Wharfedale, “Portfolio,” May, 1884.

Philip G. Hamerton: J. M. W. Turner, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1889.

Robert de la Sizeranne: Deux heures à la Turner Gallery. Paris, 1890.

F. Wedmore: Turner and Ruskin. 2 vols. London, 1900.


The Harbours of England. London, 1856.

Liber Studiorum, illustrative of Landscape Composition. London, 1858-59.

The Turner Gallery. London, 1862.

Turner’s Celebrated Landscapes. Reproduced by the Autotype Process. London, 1870.

A. W. Callcott:

Sir A. W. Callcott’s Italian and English Landscapes. Lithographed by T. C. Dibdin. London, 1847.

James Dafforne: Pictures by Sir A. W. Callcott, R. A. With descriptions and a biographical sketch of the painter. London. No date.

John Crome:

Etchings of Views in Norfolk. With a biographical memoir by Dawson Turner. Norwich, 1838.

J. Wodderspoon: John Crome and his Works. Norwich, 1858.

Frederick Wedmore: John Crome, “L’Art,” 1876, iii 288.

Mary M. Heaton: John Crome, “Portfolio,” 1879, pp. 33 and 48.

R. L. Binyon: John Crome and John Sell Colman. London, 1897.

On English Water-Colour Painting:

Cosmo Monkhouse: The Earlier English Water-Colour Painters. London, Seeley & Co., 1890.

John Lewis Roget: A History of the “Old Water-Colour Society.” 2 vols. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1891.

Samuel Palmer:

The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer, Painter and Etcher. Edited by A. H. Palmer. With Illustrations. 1891.


Charles Robert Leslie: The Memoirs of John Constable. London, 1845.

H. Perrier: De Hugo v. d. Goes à Constable, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” March, 1873.

Frederick Wedmore, “L’Art,” 1878, ii 169.

G. M. Brock-Arnold: Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, in “Illustrated Biographies of the Great Artists.” London, Low, 1881.

P. G. Hamerton: Constable’s Sketches, “Portfolio,” 1890, p. 162.

Robert Hobart: in “Les artistes célèbres.”


Various subjects of Landscape, characteristic of English Scenery, from pictures painted by John Constable. 22 Plates. London, 1830. Second Edition, London, 1833.

English Landscape, from pictures painted by John Constable. 20 Plates engraved by D. Lucas. London. No date.

English Landscape Scenery: 40 mezzotinto engravings from pictures painted by John Constable. Fol. London, 1855.

David Cox:

N. Neal Solly: Memoir of the Life of David Cox. London, 1873.

Basil Champneys: David Cox, “Portfolio,” 1873, p. 89.

J. Beavington-Atkinson, “Portfolio,” 1876, p. 9.

Frederick Wedmore: “Gentleman’s Magazine,” March, 1878.

W. Hall: David Cox. London, 1881.

William J. Muller:

N. Neal Solly: Memoir of the Life of William James Muller. London, 1875.

J. Beavington-Atkinson: William Muller, “Portfolio,” 1875, pp. 164, 185.

Frederick Wedmore: W. Muller and his Sketches, “Portfolio,” 1882, p. 7.

Peter de Wint:

Walter Armstrong: Memoir of Peter de Wint. Illustrated by 24 Photogravures. London, Macmillan & Co., 1888.

Henry Dawson:

Alfred Dawson: The Life of Henry Dawson, Landscape Painter, 1811-1878. London, 1891.

John Linnell:

F. G. Stephens: “Portfolio,” 1872, p. 45.


Al. Bouvenne: Catalogue de l’œuvre gravé et lithographié de R. P. Bonington. Paris, 1873.

Paul Mantz: “Gazette des Beaux Arts,” 1876, ii 288.

Edmond Saint-Raymond: Bonington et les côtes normandes de Saint Jouin, “L’Art,” 1879, i 197.

P. G. Hamerton: A Sketchbook of Bonington at the British Museum, “Portfolio,” 1881, p. 68.


In General:

Roger-Ballu: Le paysage français au XIX siècle, “Nouvelle Revue,” 1881.

John W. Mollet: The Painters of Barbizon. (1. Corot, Daubigny, Dupré; 2. Millet, Rousseau, Diaz.) In “Illustrated Biographies of the Great Artists.” London, Low, 1890.

David Croal Thomson: The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc. With One Hundred and Thirty Illustrations. London, 1891.

See also the articles by G. Gurlitt in “Die Gegenwart,” 1891, the Text of H. Helferich to Behrens’ work on the gallery, etc.

Théodore Rousseau:

A. Teichlein: Théodore Rousseau und die Anfänge des Paysage intime, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1868, iii 281.

Alfred Sensier: Souvenirs sur Théodore Rousseau, suivis d’une conférence sur le Paysage et orné du portrait du maître. Paris, 1872.

Philippe Burty: Théodore Rousseau, paysagiste, “L’Art,” 1881, p. 374.

Emile Michel, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

Walter Gensel: Millet und Rousseau, Bd. 57 in the “Künstlermonographien” ed. by Knackfuss. Bielefeld, 1902.


Edmond About: Voyage à travers L’Exposition des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1855.

Henri Dumesnil: Corot, souvenirs intimes: avec un portrait dessiné par Aimé Millet, gravé par Alphonse Leroy. Paris, Rapilly, 1875.

Charles Blanc: Les Artistes de mon temps. Paris, 1879.

Leleux: Corot à Montreux, “Bibliothèque universelle et Revue suisse,” September 1883.

Alfred Robaut: Corot, peintures décoratives, “L’Art,” 1883, p. 407.

Jean Rousseau: Camille Corot: avec gravures. Paris, 1884.

Armand Silvestre: Galerie Durand-Ruel: avec 28 gravures à l’eauforte d’après des tableaux de Corot. Paris. No date.

Albert Wolff: La capitale de l’Art. Paris, 1886.

Charles Bigot: Peintres contemporains. Paris, 1888.

L. Roger-Milès: Corot, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1891.

Album classique des chefs d’œuvre de Corot. Paris, 1896.

Julius Meier-Gräfe: Corot und Courbet. Stuttgart, 1906.


Les hommes du jour: M. Jules Dupré, 1811-1879, par un critique d’art. Paris, 1879.

R. Ménard: “L’Art,” 1879, iii 311; iv 241.

A. Michel: “L’Art,” 1883, p. 460.

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 177.

A. Hustin, in “Les artistes célèbres.”


Jules Claretie: Narcisse Diaz, “L’Art,” 1875, iii 204.

Exposition des œuvres de Narcisse Diaz à l’école des Beaux-Arts. Notice biographique par M. Jules Claretie. Paris, 1877.

Roger-Ballu: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1877, i 290.

Jean Rousseau: “L’Art,” 1877, i 49.

T. Chasrel: L’exposition de Narcisse Diaz, “L’Art,” 1877, ii 189.

Hermann Billung: Narcisse Virgilio Diaz, ein Lebensbild, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1879, xiv 97.

A. Hustin, in “Les artistes célèbres.”


Karl Daubigny: Ch. Daubigny et son œuvre. Paris, 1875.

Frédéric Henriet: Charles Daubigny et son œuvre. Paris, 1878.

Frédéric Henriet, in “L’Art,” 1881, p. 330.

A. Hustin, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

Robert J. Wickenden: Charles François Daubigny, “Century Magazine,” July 1892.


Frédéric Henriet: Chintreuil: Esquisse biographique. Paris, 1858.

A. de la Fisèliere, Champfleury, et F. Henriet: La vie et l’œuvre de Chintreuil. Paris, 1874.

“Portfolio,” 1874, p. 99.


Charles Tardieu: Henry Harpignies, “L’Art,” 1879, xvi 269, 281.


J. G. Prat: François Louis Français, “L’Art,” 1882, i 48, 81, 368.


M. Cabat: Notice sur Brascassat. Paris, 1862.

Charles Marionneau: R. Brascassat, sa vie et son œuvre. Paris, 1872.


Henri Dumesnil: Constant Troyon, Souvenirs intimes. Paris, 1888.

A. Hustin: “L’Art,” 1889, i 77; ii 85.

A. Hustin, in “Les artistes célèbres.” Paris, 1893.

Rosa Bonheur:

Laruelle: Rosa Bonheur, sa vie, ses œuvres. Paris, 1885.

René Peyrol: Rosa Bonheur, her Life and Work. With three engraved Plates and Illustrations, “The Art Annual.” London, 1889.

Roger-Milès: Rosa Bonheur. Paris, 1901.

Emile van Marcke:

Emile Michel: “L’Art,” 1891, i 145.

Eugène Lambert:

Chiens et chats, Text by G. de Cherville. Paris, 1888.


Alfred de Lostalot: Un peintre animalier, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1887, ii 319.

Charles Jacque:

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 297.


Ernest Chesneau: Jean François Millet, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1875, i 429.

Ph. L. Couturier: Millet et Corot. Saint-Quentin, 1876.

A. Piedagnel: Jean François Millet. Souvenirs de Barbizon. Avec 1 portrait, 9 Eaux-fortes, et un facsimilé d’autographe. Paris, 1876.

A. Sensier: La vie et l’œuvre de Jean François Millet. Manuscrit publié par P. Mantz, avec de nombreux fascimilés, 12 heliographies hors texte, et 48 gravures. Paris, Quantin, 1881.

W. E. H.: Millet as an Art-Critic, “Magazine of Art,” 1883, p. 27.

Charles Yriarte: Jean François Millet. Portrait et 24 Gravures. Paris, 1885.

André Michel: Jean François Millet et l’exposition de ses œuvres a l’école des Beaux-Arts, “Gazette des Beaux Arts,” 1887, ii 5.

Charles Bigot: Peintres contemporains. Paris, 1888.

R. Graul: Jean François Millet, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” New Series, ii 29.

Le livre d’or de Jean François Millet. Illustré de 17 Eaux-fortes par Frédéric Jacque. Paris, 1892.

Emile Michel, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

H. Naegely: Millet and Rustic Art. London, 1897.

W. Gensel: Millet und Rousseau. Leipzig, 1902.

Julia Cartwright: Jean François Millet, His Life and Letters. London, 1901. German Edition. Leipzig, 1902.

Arthur Thomson: Jean-François Millet and the Barbizon School. London, 1903.

Richard Muther in his series “Die Kunst.” Berlin, 1904.



Champfleury: Grandes figures d’hier et d’aujourd’hui. (Balzac, Wagner, Courbet.) Paris, Poulet-Malassis, 1861.

Th. Silvestre: Les artistes français, p. 109. Paris, 1878.

P. d’Abrest: Artistische Wanderungen durch Paris, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1876, xi 183, 209.

Comte H. d’Jdeville: Gustave Courbet: Notes et documents sur sa vie et son œuvre. Paris, 1878.

T. Chasrel: “L’Art,” 1878, i 145.

Paul Mantz: Gustave Courbet, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1878, i 514; ii 17, 371.

Émile Zola: Mes Haines. Proudhon et Courbet. Paris, 1879, p. 21.

Gros-Kost: Courbet, Souvenirs intimes. Paris, 1880.

H. Billung: Supplement to the “Allgemeine Zeitung,” 1880, p. 240.

Eug. Véron: G. Courbet, Un enterrement à Ornans, “L’Art,” 1882, i 363, 390; ii 226.

A. de Lostalot: L’exposition des œuvres de Courbet, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1882, i 572.

Carl v. Lützow: “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1889.

Camille Lemonnier: Les peintres de la vie. Cap. I, Courbet et son œuvre. Paris, 1888.

Abel Patoux, in “Les artistes célèbres.”

Julius Meier-Gräfe: Corot und Courbet. Stuttgart, 1906.


Paul d’Abrest: Artistische Wanderungen durch Paris. Ein Besuch bei Alfred Stevens, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst,” 1875, x 310.

L. Cardon: Les modernistes: Alfred Stevens, “La fédération artistique,” 23-26.

Camille Lemonnier: Alfred Stevens, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1878, i 160, 335.

Camille Lemonnier: Les peintres de la vie. Cap. II, Alfred Stevens. Paris, 1888.


Moriz Hartmann: Büsten und Bilder. Frankfurt-a-M., 1860.

Paul de Musset: Notice sur la vie de Gustave Ricard. Paris, 1873.

Louis Brés: Gustave Ricard et son œuvre. Paris, 1873.


L. Gauchez, “L’Art,” 1888, i 249, ii 41, 61.

Paul Lefort: Philippe Rousseau et François Bonvin, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1888, i 132.

Charles Chaplin:

Paul Lefort: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1891, i 246.


G. Dargenty: “L’Art,” 1887, i 149, 179.

L. Gonse: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1887, i 221.

V. Guillemin: F. Gaillard, graveur et peinture, originaire de la Franche-Comté, 1834-1887. Notice sur sa vie et son œuvre. Besançon, 1891.

Georges Duplessis, in “Les artistes célèbres.”


Roger Ballu: Les peintures de M. Bonnat, “L’Art,” 1876, iii p. 122.

B. Day: L’atelier Bonnat, “Magazine of Art,” 1881, p. 6.

Jules Claretie, Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 129.

Carolus Duran:

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 153.


Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 201.

Philippe Rousseau:

Paul Lefort: “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1888, i 132.

Paul Dubois:

Jules Claretie: Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains, II Série. Paris, 1884, p. 321.


Georges Lafenestre: Elie Delaunay, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1891, ii 353, 484.


E. Véron: Théodule Ribot, Exposition générale de ses œuvres, “L’Art,” 1880, p. 281.

Firmin Javel: Théodule Ribot, “Revue des Musées,” 1890, iii 55.

L. Fourcaud: Maîtres modernes: Théodule Ribot, sa vie et ses œuvres. With Illustrations. Paris, 1890.

Paul Lefort: Théodule Ribot, “Gazette des Beaux-Arts,” 1891, ii 298.

Printed by Morrison & Gibb Limited, Edinburgh





Hellenica World