PAINTING IN FRANCE.

Eugene Delacroix (1799-1863) was the son of a Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was born to position and wealth. But through misfortunes all this was changed, and he was forced to work hard for his living. At last he managed to study under Guérin, and in the studio of the master became the friend of Géricault. The first work which brought Delacroix fame was a picture of a scene from Dante’s “Inferno,” in which Dante sees some of his old acquaintances who were condemned to float upon the lake which surrounds the infernal city. This work was exhibited in 1822, and was bought for the Gallery of the Luxembourg. Baron Gros tried to be his friend; but Delacroix wished to follow his own course, and for some time had but small success.

He travelled in Spain, Algiers, and Morocco, and at length was commissioned by Thiers to do some decorative work in the throne-room of the Chamber of Deputies. He was much criticised, but at length was accepted as a great artist, and was made a member of the Institute in 1857. He received another important order for the Chamber of Peers. Some of his works are at Versailles, and others are seen in various churches of Paris. When they are considered as a whole they are effective, but they do not bear examination; his design was free and spirited and his color good, and he painted a variety of subjects, and was able to vary the expression of his work to suit the impression he wished to produce.

Émile Jean Horace Vernet (1789-1863) was born in the Louvre. He studied under his father, Carle Vernet, who was the son of Claude Joseph Vernet. Carle was a witty man, and it is said that when he was dying he exclaimed, “How much I resemble the Grand Dauphin—son of a king, father of a king, and never a king myself!” In spite of his being less than his father or his son, he was a good painter of horses. When Horace Vernet was but fifteen years old he supported himself by drawing; he studied with Vincent, and drew from living models. In 1814 he showed such bravery at the Barriere of Clichy that he was decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor: before he died he was a grand officer of the order on account of his artistic merits. He was also a member of the Institute and Director of the Academy of Rome.

His best works were executed in Rome, where he spent seven years; he travelled in Algiers, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Russia, and England, and was everywhere received with the honors which his genius merited. His works embraced a great variety of subjects, and it is said that he often finished his picture the first time he went over it, and did not retouch it. There is no doubt that in certain ways the excellence of Vernet has been overestimated, and he has been too much praised; but his remarkable memory, which enabled him truthfully to paint scenes he had witnessed, and his facility of execution, are worthy of honorable mention.

When twenty years old Vernet was married, and from this time he kept an expense account in which all the prices he received for his works are set down. The smallest is twenty-four sous for a tulip; the largest is fifty thousand francs for the portrait of the Empress of Russia.

About 1817 Vernet became the favorite of the Duke of Orleans, and was therefore unpopular with the royal party. In 1820 he had made himself so displeasing to the king by some lithographs which were scattered among the people, that it was thought best for him to leave Paris. However, he overcame all this, and four years later Charles X. sat to him for his portrait. From this time orders and money flowed in from all sides.

The Vernets had originated in Avignon, and in 1826, when the museum there was opened, Horace and his father were invited to be present. Every honor was shown them; poems were read in their praise; they were conducted to the home of their ancestors, which they piously saluted, and inscribed their names upon the door-posts. After they returned to Paris they received rich gifts in return for the pictures they had given to Avignon. The Gallery Vernet, which contains works by Antoine, François, Joseph, Carle, and Horace Vernet, is regarded as a sacred place by the people of that region.

When Horace Vernet was Director of the Academy in Rome he held salons weekly; they were very gay, and all people of distinction who lived in Rome or visited that city were seen at these receptions, dancing and amusing themselves in the lively French manner. But after 1830 he felt that the Villa Medici was a prison. He wished to follow the French army in the East, and three years later did go to Algiers. In the same year the king decided to convert the palace at Versailles into an historical museum, and from this time Vernet had but two ideas, the East and Versailles. Almost every work he did was connected with these two thoughts.

Louis Philippe now desired him to paint four battle-pieces; but Vernet objected that no room was large enough to please him: for this reason a floor was removed, two stories turned into one, and the grand Gallery of Battles made. At length he had a difficulty with the king and went to Russia; but hearing that his father was dying he returned to Paris, and was made welcome back to Versailles, where he was really necessary.