PAINTING IN FRANCE.

Sebastian Bourdon (1616-1671), who was born at Montpelier, made his studies in Rome. He brought himself into notice by a picture of the Crucifixion of St Peter, which is now in the Louvre. He was one of the earliest members of the French Academy. Bourdon resided in Sweden for some years; but was in Paris, and held the position of Rector of the Academy when he died. He painted a few genre subjects, and two of his portraits by himself are in the Louvre; but his best works were landscapes, and in these his style was like that of Salvator Rosa. It has been said that Rigaud assisted him in his portraits of himself. Bourdon made some engravings, and collectors prize his plates very much.

There were other French painters who studied in Italy, but those that I have mentioned are the important ones. Of those who studied in their own country only, Eustache le Sueur (1617-1655) was the first of any importance; but his life was short and uneventful, and he was not appreciated. His most important works are in the Louvre.

Charles le Brun (1619-1690) was very prominent in his day. His father was a sculptor, and was employed by the Chancellor Segnier. This nobleman’s attention was attracted to the son, and he at length sent the young Le Brun to Italy to study. He remained there six years, and after his return to Paris he was made painter to the king, and became the favorite of the court. He used his opportunities to persuade Louis XIV. to found the Royal Academy at Paris, which was done in 1648. All his principal pictures are in the Louvre.

Pierre Mignard (1612-1695) has been called “the Roman,” because he lived in Rome twenty-two years, and while there was patronized by three successive popes. In 1664 he was made President of the Academy of St. Luke in Rome. At length Louis XIV. invited him to return to France. In 1690 he succeeded Le Brun as court painter, and was made Chancellor of the Academy. His portraits are his best works, and these are seen in the galleries of various European countries.

Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743) became the most distinguished French portrait painter of his time; but his pictures are not very attractive or interesting in our day. He finished them too much, and so gave them an artificial appearance. Then, too, the costume of his day was such that his portraits seem to be the portraits of wigs and not of people. They are very numerous. He often painted the portrait of Louis XIV., and had illustrious people from all parts of Europe among his sitters.

Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was the first to practise a new style of painting. The habit of the French court was to pass much time in elegant out-door amusements. Watteau represented the scenes of thefêtes galantes and reunions then so much in fashion. His pictures are crowded with figures in beautiful costumes. There are groups of ladies and gentlemen promenading, dancing, love-making, and lounging in pleasant grounds with temples and fountains and everything beautiful about them. The pictures of Watteau are fine, and are seen in many galleries. His color is brilliant, and to their worth as pictures is added the historical interest which belongs to them, because they give us the best idea of court life, dress, and manners of the reign of Louis XIV. which can be had from any paintings.

The followers of Watteau were numerous, but are not of great importance. There were a few painters of animals and flowers in the French school; but we shall pass to the genre painters, among whom Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) was important. He painted very beautiful pictures of young girls and children. His color is very agreeable, and some of his works are finished as finely as if they were done on ivory. Most of his pictures are in private galleries, but they are seen in some public collections. Probably the “Broken Jug,” in the Louvre, is his best known work. His pictures sell for very large prices. At the Forster sale in 1876, “A Little Girl with a Lap Dog in her Arms” brought six thousand seven hundred and twenty pounds; in 1772 the same picture was sold for three hundred pounds, and in 1832 it was again sold for seven hundred and three pounds. Thus we see that in fifty-four years its value had increased to more than nine times its price, and in one hundred and four years it brought twenty-two times as much as it was first sold for.

Claude Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) was the best marine painter of the French school. Louis XV. commissioned him to paint the seaports of France. Fifteen of these pictures are in the Louvre. There have been many engravings after his works. His pictures of Italian seaports and views near Rome and Tivoli are among his best paintings. His color has little variety; but his drawing is correct, and his finish is very careful and fine. Vernet also made a few etchings.