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


When we come to Scott after Fielding, says Mr. Stevenson, "we become suddenly conscious of the background." The remark contains an admirable characterization of romanticism; as distinguished from classicism, romanticism is consciousness of the background. With Gros, Géricault, Paul Huet, Michel, Delacroix, French painting ceased to be abstract and impersonal. Instead of continuing the classic detachment, it became interested, curious, and catholic.

He remains, too, one of the very finest, even in a competition constantly growing more exacting since his day. He had a very particular talent, and it was exhibited in manifold ways. He is as fine in relief as in the round. His decorative quality is as eminent as his purely sculptural side. Compared with his Italian contemporaries he is at once full of feeling and severe. He has nothing of Pilon's chameleon-like imitativeness. He does not, on the other hand, break with the traditions of the best models known to him—and, undoubtedly he knew the best.

Aubé is another sculptor of acknowledged eminence who ranges himself with M. Rodin in his opposition to the Institute. His figures of "Bailly" and "Dante" are very fine, full of a most impressive dignity in theensemble, and marked by the most vigorous kind of modelling. One may easily like his "Gambetta" less. But for years Rodin's only eminent fellow sculptor was Dalou. Perhaps his protestantism has been less pronounced than M. Rodin's. It was certainly long more successful in winning both the connoisseur and the public.

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.

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"

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.

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.

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

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.

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