warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/iovannet/public_html/grandearte/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

W.C. Brownell

What do we mean by style? Something, at all events, very different from manner, in spite of Mr. Hamerton's insistence upon the contrary. Is the quality in virtue of which—as Mr. Dobson paraphrases Gautier—

"The bust outlives the throne,
The coin Tiberius"

Géricault and Delacroix are the great names inscribed at the head of the romantic roll. They will remain there. And the distinction is theirs not as awarded by the historical estimate; it is personal. In the case of Géricault perhaps one thinks a little of "the man and the moment" theory. He was, it is true, the first romantic painter—at any rate the first notable romantic painter. His struggles, his steadfastness, his success—pathetically posthumous—have given him an honorable eminence.

After Goujon, Clodion is the great name in French sculpture, until we come to Houdon, who may almost be assigned to the nineteenth century. There were throughout the eighteenth century honorable artists, sculptors of distinction beyond contest. But sculpture is such an abstract art itself that the sculpture which partook of the artificiality of the eighteenth century has less interest for us, less that is concrete and appealing than even the painting of the epoch.

Delacroix's color deepens into an almost musical intensity occasionally in Decamps, whose oriental landscapes and figures, far less important intellectually, far less magistrales in conception, have at times, one may say perhaps without being too fanciful, a truly symphonic quality that renders them unique. "The Suicide" is like a chord on a violin.

Having in each case more or less relation with, but really wholly outside of and superior to all "schools" whatever—except the school of nature, which permits as much freedom as it exacts fidelity—is the succession of the greatest of French sculptors since the Renaissance and down to the present day: Houdon, David d'Angers, Rude, Carpeaux, and Barye. Houdon is one of the finest examples of the union of vigor with grace. He will be known chiefly as a portraitist, but such a masterpiece as his "Diana" shows how admirable he was in the sphere of purely imaginative theme and treatment.

But quite aside from the group of poetic painters which stamped its impress so deeply upon the romantic movement at the outset, that to this day it is Delacroix and Millet, Decamps and Corot whom we think of when we think of the movement itself, the classic tradition was preserved all through the period of greatest stress and least conformity by painters of great distinction, who, working under the romantic inspiration and more or less according to what may be called romantic methods, nevertheless possessed the classic temperament in so eminent a degree that to us their work seems hardly le

Carpeaux perhaps never did anything that quite equals the masterpiece of his master Rude. But the essential quality of the "Chant du Départ" he assimilated so absolutely and so naturally that he made it in a way his own. He carried it farther, indeed. If he never rose to the grandeur of this superb group, and he certainly did not, he nevertheless showed in every one of his works that he was possessed by its inspiration even more completely than was Rude himself.

As one has, however, so often occasion to note in France—where in every field of intellectual effort the influence of schools and groups and movements is so great that almost every individuality, no matter how strenuous, falls naturally and intimately into association with some one of them—there is every now and then an exception that escapes these categories and stands quite by itself. In modern painting such exceptions, and widely different from each other as the poles, are Couture and Puvis de Chavannes.

Syndicate content