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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.

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.

To an intelligence fully and acutely alive, its own time must, I think, be more interesting than any other. The sentimental, the scholastic, the speculative temperament may look before or after with longing or regret; but that sanity of mind which is practical and productive must find its most agreeable sensations in the data to which it is intimately and inexorably related.

From Barye to the Institute is a long way. Nothing could be more interhostile than his sculpture and that of the professors at the École des Beaux-Arts. And in considering the French sculpture of the present day we may say that, aside from the great names already mentioned—Houdon, David d'Angers, Rude, Carpeaux, and Barye—and apart from the new movement represented by Rodin and Dalou, it is represented by the Institute, and that the Institute has reverted to the Italian inspiration. The influence of Canova and the example of Pradier and Etex were not lasting.

Chapu, who died a year or two ago, is perhaps the only eminent sculptor of the time whose inspiration is clearly the antique, and when I add that his work appears to me for this reason none the less original, it will be immediately perceived that I share imperfectly the French objection to the antique. Indeed, nowadays to have the antique inspiration is to be original ex vi termini; nothing is farther removed from contemporary conventions. But this is true in a much more integral sense.


by W.C. Brownell

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