Manet, Degas, Monet and Renoir will present themselves as a glorious quartet of masters, in the history of painting. We must now speak of some personalities who have grown up by their side and who, without being great, offer nevertheless a rich and beautiful series of works.

Of these personalities the most considerable is certainly that of M. Camille Pissarro. He painted according to some wise and somewhat timid formulas, when Manet's example won him over to Impressionism to which he has remained faithful. M. Pissarro has been enormously productive. His work is composed of landscapes, rustic scenes, and studies of streets and markets. His first landscapes are in the manner of Corot, but bathed in blond colour: vast cornfields, sunny woods, skies with big, flocking clouds, effects of soft light—these are the motifs of some charming canvases which have a solid, classic quality. Later the artist adopted the method of the dissociation of tones, from which he obtained some happy effects. His harvest and market scenes are luminous and alive. The figures in these recall those of Millet. They bear witness to high qualities of sincere observation, and are the work of a man profoundly enamoured of rustic life. M. Pissarro excels in grouping the figures, in correctly catching their attitudes and in rendering the medley of a crowd in the sun. Certain fans in particular will always remain delightful caprices of fresh colour, but it would be vain to look in this attractive, animated and clear painting for the psychologic gifts, the profound feeling for grand silhouettes, and the intuition of the worn and gloomy soul of the men of the soil, which have made Millet's noble glory. At the time when, about 1885, the neo-Impressionists whom we shall study later on invented the Pointillist method, M. Pissarro tried it and applied it judiciously, with the patient, serious and slightly anxious talent, by which he is distinguished. Recently, in a series of pictures representing views of Paris (the boulevards and the Avenue de l'Opéra) M. Pissarro has shewn rare vision and skill and has perhaps signed his most beautiful and personal paintings. The perspective, the lighting, the tones of the houses and of the crowds, the reflections of rain or sunshine are intensely true; they make one feel the atmosphere, the charm and the soul of Paris. One can say of Pissarro that he lacks none of the gifts of his profession. He is a learned, fruitful and upright artist. But he has lacked originality; he always recalls those whom he admires and whose ideas he applies boldly and tastefully. It is probable that his conscientious nature has contributed not little towards keeping him in the second rank. Incapable, certainly, of voluntarily imitating, this excellent and diligent painter has not had the sparks of genius of his friends, but all that can be given to a man through conscientious study, striving after truth and love of art, has been acquired by M. Pissarro. The rest depended on destiny only. There is no character more worthy of respect and no effort more meritorious than his, and there can be no better proof of his disinterestedness and his modesty, than the fact that, although he has thirty years of work behind him, an honoured name and white hair, M. Pissarro did not hesitate to adopt, quite frankly, the technique of the young Pointillist painters, his juniors, because it appeared to him better than his own. He is, if not a great painter, at least one of the most interesting rustic landscape painters of our epoch. His visions of the country are quite his own, and are a harmonious mixture of Classicism and Impressionism which will secure one of the most honourable places to his work.

Pissarro - Rue de l'Epicerie, Rouen


Pissarro - Boulevard Montmartre


Pissarro - The Boildieaux Bridge at Rouen


Pissarro - The Avenue de l'Opera


There has, perhaps, been more original individuality in the landscape painter Alfred Sisley. He possessed in the highest degree the feeling for light, and if he did not have the power, the masterly passion of Claude Monet, he will at least deserve to be frequently placed by his side as regards the expression of certain combinations of light. He did not have the decorative feeling which makes Monet's landscapes so imposing; one does not see in his work that surprising lyrical interpretation which knows how to express the drama of the raging waves, the heavy slumber of enormous masses of rock, the intense torpor of the sun on the sea. But in all that concerns the mild aspects of the Ile de France, the sweet and fresh landscapes, Sisley is not unworthy of being compared with Monet. He equals him in numerous pictures; he has a similar delicacy of perception, a similar fervour of execution. He is the painter of great, blue rivers curving towards the horizon; of blossoming orchards; of bright hills with red-roofed hamlets scattered about; he is, beyond all, the painter of French skies which he presents with admirable vivacity and facility. He has the feeling for the transparency of atmosphere, and if his technique allies him directly with Impressionism, one can well feel, that he painted spontaneously and that this technique happened to be adapted to his nature, without his having attempted to appropriate it for the sake of novelty. Sisley has painted a notable series of pictures in the quaint village of Moret on the outskirts of the Forest of Fontainebleau, where he died at a ripe age, and these canvases will figure among the most charming landscapes of our epoch. Sisley was a veteran of Impressionism. At the Exhibition of 1900, in the two rooms reserved for the works of this school, there were to be seen a dozen of Sisley's canvases. By the side of the finest Renoirs, Monets and Manets they kept their charm and their brilliancy with a singular flavour, and this was for many critics a revelation as to the real place of this artist, whom they had hitherto considered as a pretty colourist of only relative importance.

Sisley - Snow Effect


Sisley - Bougival, at the Water's Edge


Sisley - Bridge at Moret


Paul Cézanne, unknown to the public, is appreciated by a small group of art lovers. He is an artist who lives in Provence, away from the world; he is supposed to have served as model for the Impressionist painter Claude Lantier, described by Zola in his celebrated novel "L'Oeuvre." Cézanne has painted landscapes, rustic scenes and still-life pictures. His figures are clumsy and brutal and inharmonious in colour, but his landscapes have the merit of a robust simplicity of vision. These pictures are almost primitive, and they are loved by the young Impressionists because of their exclusion of all "cleverness." A charm of rude simplicity and sincerity can be found in these works in which Cézanne employs only just the means which are indispensable for his end. His still-life pictures are particularly interesting owing to the spotless brilliancy of their colours, the straightforwardness of the tones, and the originality of certain shades analogous to those of old faience. Cézanne is a conscientious painter without skill, intensely absorbed in rendering what he sees, and his strong and tenacious attention has sometimes succeeded in finding beauty. He reminds more of an ancient Gothic craftsman, than of a modern artist, and he is full of repose as a contrast to the dazzling virtuosity of so many painters.

CÉzanne - Dessert


Berthe Morisot will remain the most fascinating figure of Impressionism,—the one who has stated most precisely the femineity of this luminous and iridescent art. Having married Eugène Manet, the brother of the great painter, she exhibited at various private galleries, where the works of the first Impressionists were to be seen, and became as famous for her talent as for her beauty. When Manet died, she took charge of his memory and of his work, and she helped with all her energetic intelligence to procure them their just and final estimation. Mme. Eugène Manet has certainly been one of the most beautiful types of French women of the end of the nineteenth century. When she died prematurely at the age of fifty (in 1895), she left a considerable amount of work: gardens, young girls, water-colours of refined taste, of surprising energy, and of a colouring as distinguished, as it is unexpected. As great grand-daughter of Fragonard, Berthe Morisot (since we ought to leave her the name with which her respect for Manet's great name made her always sign her works) seemed to have inherited from her famous ancestor his French gracefulness, his spirited elegance, and all his other great qualities. She has also felt the influence of Corot, of Manet and of Renoir. All her work is bathed in brightness, in azure, in sunlight; it is a woman's work, but it has a strength, a freedom of touch and an originality, which one would hardly have expected. Her water-colours, particularly, belong to a superior art: some notes of colour suffice to indicate sky, sea, or a forest background, and everything shows a sure and masterly fancy, for which our time can offer no analogy. A series of Berthe Morisot's works looks like a veritable bouquet whose brilliancy is due less to the colour-schemes which are comparatively soft, grey and blue, than to the absolute correctness of the values. A hundred canvases, and perhaps three hundred water-colours attest this talent of the first rank. Normandy coast scenes with pearly skies and turquoise horizons, sparkling Nice gardens, fruit-laden orchards, girls in white dresses with big flower-decked hats, young women in ball-dress, and flowers are the favourite themes of this artist who was the friend of Renoir, of Degas and of Mallarmé.

Berthe Morisot - Melancholy


Berthe Morisot - Young Woman Seated


Miss Mary Cassatt will deserve a place by her side. American by birth, she became French through her assiduous participation in the exhibitions of the Impressionists. She is one of the very few painters whom Degas has advised, with Forain and M. Ernest Rouart. (This latter, a painter himself, a son of the painter and wealthy collector Henri Rouart, has married Mme. Manet's daughter who is also an artist.) Miss Cassatt has made a speciality of studying children, and she is, perhaps, the artist of this period who has understood and expressed them with the greatest originality. She is a pastellist of note, and some of her pastels are as good as Manet's and Degas's, so far as broad execution and brilliancy and delicacy of tones are concerned. Ten years ago Miss Cassatt exhibited a series of ten etchings in colour, representing scenes of mothers and children at their toilet. At that time this genre was almost abandoned, and Miss Cassatt caused astonishment by her boldness which faced the most serious difficulties. One can relish in this artist's pictures, besides the great qualities of solid draughtsmanship, correct values, and skilful interpretation of flesh and stuffs, a profound sentiment of infantile life, childish gestures, clear and unconscious looks, and the loving expression of the mothers. Miss Cassatt is the painter and psychologist of babies and young mothers whom she likes to depict in the freshness of an orchard, or against backgrounds of the flowered hangings of dressing-rooms, amidst bright linen, tubs, and china, in smiling intimacy. To these two remarkable women another has to be added, Eva Gonzalès, the favourite pupil of Manet who has painted a fine portrait of her. Eva Gonzalès became the wife of the excellent engraver Henri Guérard, and died prematurely, not, however, before one was able to admire her talent as an exquisitely delicate pastellist. Having first been a pupil of Chaplin, she soon came to forget the tricks of technique in order to acquire under Manet's guidance the qualities of clearness and the strength of the great painter ofArgenteuil; and she would certainly have taken one of the first places in modern art, had not her career been cut short by death. A small pastel at the Luxembourg Gallery proves her convincing qualities as a colourist.

Mary Cassatt - Getting Up Baby


Mary Cassatt - Women and Child


Gustave Caillebotte was a friend of the Impressionists from the very first hour. He was rich, fond of art, and himself a painter of great merit who modestly kept hidden behind his comrades. His picture Les raboteurs de parquets made him formerly the butt of derision. To-day his work, at the Luxembourg Gallery seems hardly a fit pretext for so much controversy, but at that time much was considered as madness, that to our eyes appears quite natural. This picture is a study of oblique perspective and its curious ensemble of rising lines sufficed to provoke astonishment. The work is, moreover, grey and discreet in colour and has some qualities of fine light, but is on the whole not very interesting. Recently an exhibition of works by Caillebotte has made it apparent that this amateur was a misjudged painter. The still-life pictures in this exhibition were specially remarkable. But the name of Caillebotte was destined to reach the public only in connection with controversies and scandal. When he died, he left to the State a magnificent collection of objets-d'art and of old pictures, and also a collection of Impressionist works, stipulating that these two bequests should be inseparable. He wished by this means to impose the works of his friends upon the museums, and thus avenge their unjust neglect. The State accepted the two legacies, since the Louvre absolutely wanted to benefit by the ancient portion, in spite of the efforts of the Academicians who revolted against the acceptance of the modern part. On this occasion one could see how far the official artists were carried by their hatred of the Impressionists. A group of Academicians, professors at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, threatened the minister that they would resign en masse. "We cannot," they wrote to the papers, "continue to teach an art of which we believe we know the laws, from the moment the State admits into the museums, where our pupils can see them, works which are the very negation of all we teach." A heated discussion followed in the press, and the minister boldly declared that Impressionism, good or bad, had attracted the attention of the public, and that it was the duty of the State to receive impartially the work of all the art movements; the public would know how to judge and choose; the Government's duty was not to influence them by showing them only one style of painting, but to remain in historic neutrality. Thanks to this clever reply, the Academicians, among whom M. Gérôme was the most rabid, resigned themselves to keeping their posts. A similar incident, less publicly violent, but equally strange, occurred on the occasion of the admission to the Luxembourg Gallery of the portrait of M. Whistler's mother, a masterpiece of which the gallery is proud to-day, and for which a group of writers and art lovers had succeeded in opening the way. It is difficult to imagine the degree of irritation and obstruction of the official painters against all the ideas of the new painting, and if it had only depended upon them, there can be no doubt that Manet and his friends would have died in total obscurity, not only banished from the Salons and museums, but also treated as madmen and robbed of the possibility of living by their work.

The Caillebotte collection was installed under conditions which the ill-will of the administrators made at least as deplorable as possible. The works were crowded into a small, badly lighted room, where it is absolutely impossible to see them from the distance required by the method of the division of tones, and the meanness of the opposition was such that, the pictures having been bequeathed without frames, the keeper was obliged to have recourse to the reserves of the Louvre, because he was refused the necessary credit for purchasing them. The collection is however beautiful and interesting. It does not represent Impressionism in all its brilliancy, since the works by which it is composed had been bought by Caillebotte at a time, when his friends were still far from having arrived at the full blossoming of their qualities. But some very fine things can at least be found there. Renoir is marvellously represented by the Moulin de la Galette, which is one of his masterpieces. Degas figures with seven beautiful pastels, Monet with some landscapes grand in style; Sisley and Pissarro appear scarcely to their advantage, and finally it is to be regretted, that Manet is only represented by a study in black in his first manner, the Balcony, which does not count among his best pictures, and the famous Olympia whose importance is more historical than intrinsic. The gallery has separately acquired a Young Girl in Ball Dress by Berthe Morisot, which is a delicate marvel of grace and freshness. And in the place of honour of the gallery is to be seen Fantin-Latour's great picture Hommage à Manet, in which the painter, seated before his easel, is surrounded by his friends; and this canvas may well be considered the emblem of the slow triumph of Impressionism, and of the amends for a great injustice.

It is in this picture that the young painter Bazille is represented, a friend and pupil of Manet's, who was killed during the war of 1870, and who should not be forgotten here. He has left a few canvases marked by great talent, and would no doubt have counted among the most original contemporary artists. We shall terminate this all too short enumeration with two remarkable landscapists; the one is Albert Lebourg who paints in suave and poetic colour schemes, with blues and greens of particular tenderness, a painter who will take his place in the history of Impressionism. The other is Eugène Boudin. He has not adopted Claude Monet's technique; but I have already said that the vague and inexact term "Impressionism" must be understood to comprise a group of painters showing originality in the study of light and getting away from the academic spirit. As to this, Eugène Boudin deserves to be placed in the first rank. His canvases will be the pride of the best arranged galleries. He is an admirable seascape painter. He has known how to render with unfailing mastery, the grey waters of the Channel, the stormy skies, the heavy clouds, the effects of sunlight feebly piercing the prevailing grey. His numerous pictures painted at the port of Havre are profoundly expressive. Nobody has excelled him in drawing sailing-boats, in giving the exact feeling of the keels plunged into the water, in grouping the masts, in rendering the activity of a port, in indicating the value of a sail against the sky, the fluidity of calm water, the melancholy of the distance, the shiver of short waves rippled by the breeze. Boudin is a learned colourist of grey tones. His Impressionism consists in the exclusion of useless details, his comprehension of reflections, his feeling for values, the boldness of his composition and his faculty of directly perceiving nature and the transparency of atmosphere: he reminds sometimes of Constable and of Corot. Boudin's production has been enormous, and nothing that he has done is indifferent. He is one of those artists who have not a brilliant career, but who will last, and whose name, faithfully retained by the elect, is sure of immortality. He may be considered an isolated artist, on the border line between Classicism and Impressionism, and this is unquestionably the cause of the comparative obscurity of his fame. The same might be said of the ingenuous and fine landscapist Hervier, who has left such interesting canvases; and of the Lyons water-colour painter Ravier who, almost absolutely unknown, came very close to Monticelli and showed admirable gifts. It must, however, be recognised that Boudin is nearer to Impressionism than to any other grouping of artists, and he must be considered as a small master of pure French lineage. Finally, if a question of nationality prevents me from enlarging upon the subject of the rank of precursor which must be accorded to the great Dutch landscapist Jongkind, I must at least mention his name. His water-colour sketches have been veritable revelations for several Impressionists. Eugène Boudin and Berthe Morisot have derived special benefit from them, and they are valuable lessons for many young painters of the present day.

Jongkind - In Holland


Jongkind - View of the Hague


We do not pretend to have mentioned in this chapter all the painters directly connected with the first Impressionist movement. We have confined ourselves to enumerating the most important only, and each of them would deserve a complete essay. But our object will have been achieved, if we have inspired art-lovers with just esteem for this brave phalanx of artists who have proved better than any aesthetic commentaries the vitality, the originality, and the logic of Manet's theories, the great importance of the notions introduced by him into painting, and who have, on the other hand, clearly demonstrated the uselessness of official teaching. Far from the traditions and methods of the School, the best of their knowledge and of their talent is due to their profound and sincere contemplation of nature and to their freedom of spirit. And for that reason they will have a permanent place in the evolution of their art.