PICTURES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
A SELECTION OF THE WORLD'S ART MASTERPIECES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
BY DOLORES BACON
Illustrated from Great Paintings
Besides making acknowledgments to the many authoritative writers upon artists and pictures, here quoted, thanks are due to such excellent compilers of books on art subjects as Sadakichi Hartmann, Muther, C. H. Caffin, Ida Prentice Whitcomb, Russell Sturgis and others.
Man's inclination to decorate his belongings has always been one of the earliest signs of civilisation. Art had its beginning in the lines indented in clay, perhaps, or hollowed in the wood of family utensils; after that came crude colouring and drawing.
Among the first serious efforts to draw were the Egyptian square and pointed things, animals and men. The most that artists of that day succeeded in doing was to preserve the fashions of the time. Their drawings tell us that men wore their beards in bags. They show us, also, many peculiar head-dresses and strange agricultural implements. Artists of that day put down what they saw, and they saw with an untrained eye and made the record with an untrained hand; but they did not put in false details for the sake of glorifying the subject. One can distinguish a man from a mountain in their work, but the arms and legs embroidered upon Mathilde's tapestry, or the figures representing family history on an Oriental rug, are quite as correct in drawing and as little of a puzzle. As men became more intelligent, hence spiritualised, they began to express themselves in ideal ways; to glorify the commonplace; and thus they passed from Egyptian geometry to gracious lines and beautiful colouring.
Indian pottery was the first development of art in America and it led to the working of metals, followed by drawing and portraiture. Among the Americans, as soon as that term ceased to mean Indians, art took a most distracting turn. Europe was old in pictures, great and beautiful, when America was worshipping at the shrine of the chromo; but the chromo served a good turn, bad as it was. It was a link between the black and white of the admirable wood-cut and the true colour picture.
Some of the Colonists brought over here the portraits of their ancestors, but those paintings could not be considered "American" art, nor were those early settlers Americans; but the generation that followed gave to the world Benjamin West. He left his Mother Country for England, where he found a knighthood and honours of every kind awaiting him.
The earliest artists of America had to go away to do their work, because there was no place here for any men but those engaged in clearing land, planting corn, and fighting Indians. Sir Benjamin West was President of the Royal Academy while America was still revelling in chromos. The artists who remained chose such objects as Davy Crockett in the trackless forest, or made pictures of the Continental Congress.
After the chromo in America came the picture known as the "buckeye," painted by relays of artists. Great canvases were stretched and blocked off into lengths. The scene was drawn in by one man, who was followed by "artists," each in turn painting sky, water, foliage, figures, according to his specialty. Thus whole yards of canvas could be painted in a day, with more artists to the square inch than are now employed to paint advertisements on a barn.
The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 came as a glorious flashlight. For the first time real art was seen by a large part of our nation. Every farmer took home with him a new idea of the possibilities of drawing and colour. The change that instantly followed could have occurred in no other country than the United States, because no other people would have travelled from the four points of the compass to see such an exhibition. Thus it was the American's penchant for travel which first opened to him the art world, for he was conscious even then of the educational advantages to be found somewhere, although there seemed to be few of them in the United States.
After the Centennial arose a taste for the painting of "plaques," upon which were the heads of ladies with strange-coloured hair; of leather-covered flatirons bearing flowers of unnatural colour, or of shovels decorated with "snow scenes." The whole nation began to revel in "art." It was a low variety, yet it started toward a goal which left the chromo at the rear end of the course, and it was a better effort than the mottoes worked in worsted, which had till then been the chief decoration in most homes. If the "buckeye" was hand-painting, this was "single-hand" painting, and it did not take a generation to bring the change about, only a season. After the Philadelphia exhibition the daughter of the household "painted a little" just as she played the piano "a little." To-day, much less than a man's lifetime since then, there is in America a universal love for refined art and a fair technical appreciation of pictures, while already the nation has worthily contributed to the world of artists. Sir Benjamin West, Sully, and Sargent are ours: Inness, Inman, and Trumbull.
The curator of the Metropolitan Museum in New York has declared that portrait-painting must be the means which shall save the modern artists from their sins. To quote him: "An artist may paint a bright green cow, if he is so minded: the cow has no redress, the cow must suffer and be silent; but human beings who sit for portraits seem to lean toward portraits in which they can recognise their own features when they have commissioned an artist to paint them. A man will insist upon even the most brilliant artist painting him in trousers, for instance, instead of in petticoats, however the artist-whim may direct otherwise; and a woman is likely to insist that the artist who paints her portrait shall maintain some recognised shade of brown or blue or gray when he paints her eye, instead of indulging in a burnt orange or maybe pink! These personal preferences certainly put a limit to an artist's genius and keep him from writing himself down a madman. Thus, in portrait-painting, with the exactions of truth upon it, lies the hope of art-lovers!"
It is the same authority who calls attention to the danger that lies in extremes; either in finding no value in art outside the "old masters," or in admiring pictures so impressionistic that the objects in them need to be labelled before they can be recognised.
The true art-lover has a catholic taste, is interested in all forms of art; but he finds beauty where it truly exists and does not allow the nightmare of imagination to mislead him. That which is not beautiful from one point of view or another is not art, but decadence. That which is technical to the exclusion of other elements remains technique pure and simple, workmanship—the bare bones of art. A thing is not art simply because it is fantastic. It may be interesting as showing to what degree some imaginations can become diseased, but it is not pleasing nor is it art. There are fully a thousand pictures that every child should know, since he can hardly know too much of a good thing; but there is room in this volume only to acquaint him with forty-eight and possibly inspire him with the wish to look up the neglected nine hundred and fifty-two.
I. Andrea del Sarto, Florentine School, 1486-1531
II. Michael Angelo (Buonarroti), Florentine School, 1475-1564
III. Arnold Bocklin, Modern German School, 1827-1901
IV. Marie-Rosa Bonheur, French School, 1822-1899
V. Alessandro Botticelli, Florentine School, 1447-1510
VI. William Adolphe Bouguereau, French (Genre) School 1825-1905
VII. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, English (Pre-Raphaelite) School, 1833-1898
VIII. John Constable, English School, 1776-1837
IX. John Singleton Copley, English School, 1737-1815
X. Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Fontainebleau-Barbizon School, 1796-1875
XI. Correggio (Antonio Allegri), School of Parma, 1494(?)—1534
XII. Paul Gustave Dore, French School, 1833-1883
XIII. Albrecht Durer, Nuremberg School, 1471-1528
XIV. Mariano Fortuny, Spanish School, 1838-1874
XV. Thomas Gainsborough, English School, 1727-1788
XVI. Jean Leon Gerome, French Semi-classical School, 1824-1904
XVII. Ghirlandajo, Florentine School, 1449-1494
XVIII. Giotto (di Bordone), Florentine School, 1276-1337
XIX. Franz Hals, Dutch School, 1580-84-1666
XX. Meyndert Hobbema, Dutch School, 1637-1709
XXI. William Hogarth, School of Hogarth (English), 1697-1764
XXII. Hans Holbein, the Younger, German School, 1497-1543
XXIII. William Holman Hunt, English (Pre-Raphaelite) School, 1827-
XXIV. George Inness, American, 1825-1897
XXV. Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, English School, 1802-1873
XXVI. Claude Lorrain (Gellee), Classical French School, 1600-1682
XXVII. Masaccio (Tommaso Guidi), Florentine School, 1401-1428
XXVIII. Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, French School, 1815-1891
XXIX. Jean Francois Millet, Fontainebleau-Barbizon School, 1814-1875
XXX. Claude Monet, Impressionist School of France, 1840-
XXXI. Murillo (Bartolome Esteban), Andalusian School, 1617-1682
XXXII. Raphael (Sanzio), Umbrian, Florentine, and Roman Schools, 1483-1520
XXXIII. Rembrandt (Van Rijn), Dutch School, 1606-1669
XXXIV. Sir Joshua Reynolds, English School, 1723-1792
XXXV. Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish School, 1577-1640
XXXVI. John Singer Sargent, American and Foreign Schools, 1856-
XXXVII. Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), Venetian School, 1518-1594
XXXVIII. Titian (Tiziano Vecelli), Venetian School, 1489-1576
XXXIX. Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, 1775-1831
XL. Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Flemish School, 1599-1641
XLI. Velasquez (Diego Rodriguez de Silva), Castilian School, 1599-1660
XLII. Paul Veronese (Paolo Cagliari), Venetian School, 1528-1588.
XLIII. Leonardo da Vinci, Florentine School, 1452-1519.
XLIV. Jean Antoine Watteau, French (Genre) School, 1684-1721
XLV. Sir Benjamin West, American, 1738-1820
The Avenue, Middleharnis, Holland—Hobbema
Madonna of the Sack—Andrea del Sarto
Daniel—Michael Angelo (Buonarroti)
The Isle of the Dead—Arnold Bocklin
The Horse Fair—Rosa Bonheur
The Hay Wain—John Constable
A Family Picture—John Singleton Copley
The Holy Night—Correggio (Antonio Allegri)
Dance of the Nymphs—Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
The Virgin as Consoler—Wm. Adolphe Bouguereau
The Love Song—Sir Edward Burne-Jones
The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine—Correggio
Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law—Paul Gustave Dore
The Nativity—Albrecht Durer
The Spanish Marriage—Mariana Fortuny
Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan—Thomas Gainsborough
The Sword Dance—Jean Leon Gerome
Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizi—Ghirlandajo (Domenico Bigordi)
The Nurse and the Child—Franz Hals
The Meeting of St. John and St. Anna at Jerusalem—Giotto (Di Bordone)
The Avenue—Meyndert Hobbema
The Marriage Contract—Wm. Hogarth
The Light of the World—William Holman Hunt
Robert Cheseman with his Falcon—Hans Holbein, the Younger
The Berkshire Hills—George Inness
The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner—Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
The Artist's Portrait—Tommaso Masaccio
Acis and Galatea—Claude Lorrain
Retreat from Moscow—Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier
The Angelus—Jean Francois Millet
The Immaculate Conception—Murillo (Bartolome Esteban)
Haystack in Sunshine—Claude Monet
The Sistine Madonna—Raphael (Sanzio)
The Night Watch—Rembrandt (Van Rijn)
The Duchess of Devonshire and Her Daughter—Sir Joshua Reynolds
The Infant Jesus and St. John—Peter Paul Rubens
Carmencita—John Singer Sargent
The Miracle of St. Mark—Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti)
The Artist's Daughter, Lavinia—Titian (Tiziano Vecelli)
The Fighting Temeraire—Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Children of Charles the First—Sir Anthony Van Dyck
Equestrian Portrait of Don Balthasar Carlos—Velasquez (Diego Rodriguez de Silva)
The Marriage at Cana—Paul Veronese
The Death of Wolfe—Sir Benjamin West
The Artist's Two Sons—Peter Paul Rubens
The Last Supper—Leonardo da Vinci
Fete Champetre—Jean Antoine Watteau
ANDREA DEL SARTO
(Pronounced Ahn'dray-ah del Sar'to) Florentine School 1486-1531 Pupil of Piero di Cosimo
Italian painters received their names in peculiar ways. This man's father was a tailor; and the artist was named after his father's profession. He was in fact "the Tailor's Andrea," and his father's name was Angelo.
One story of this brilliant painter which reads from first to last like a romance has been told by the poet, Browning, who dresses up fact so as to smother it a little, but there is truth at the bottom.
Andrea married a wife whom he loved tenderly. She had a beautiful face that seemed full of spirituality and feeling, and Andrea painted it over and over again. The artist loved his work and dreamed always of the great things that he should do; but he was so much in love with his wife that he was dependent on her smile for all that he did which was well done, and her frown plunged him into despair.
Andrea's wife cared nothing for his genius, painting did not interest her, and she had no worthy ambition for her husband, but she loved fine clothes and good living, and so encouraged him enough to keep him earning these things for her. As soon as some money was made she would persuade him to work no more till it was spent; and even when he had made agreements to paint certain pictures for which he was paid in advance she would torment him till he gave all of his time to her whims, neglected his duty and spent the money for which he had rendered no service. Thus in time he became actually dishonest, as we shall see. It is a sad sort of story to tell of so brilliant a young man.
Andrea was born in the Gualfonda quarter of Florence, and there is some record of his ancestors for a hundred years before that, although their lives were quite unimportant. Andrea was one of four children, and as usual with Italians of artistic temperament, he was set to work under the eye of a goldsmith. This craftsmanship of a fine order was as near to art as a man could get with any certainty of making his living. It was a time when the Italian world bedecked itself with rare golden trinkets, wreaths for women's hair, girdles, brooches, and the like, and the finest skill was needed to satisfy the taste. Thus it required talent of no mean order for a man to become a successful goldsmith.
Andrea did not like the work, and instead of fashioning ornaments from his master's models he made original drawings which did not do at all in a shop where an apprentice was expected to earn his salt. Certain fashions had to be followed and people did not welcome fantastic or new designs. Because of this, Andrea was early put out of his master's shop and set to learn the only business that he could be got to learn, painting. This meant for him a very different teacher from the goldsmith.
The artist may be said to have been his own master, because, even when he was apprenticed to a painter he was taught less than he already knew.
That first teacher was Barile, a coarse and unpleasing man, as well as an incapable one; but he was fair minded, after a fashion, and put Andrea into the way of finding better help. After a few years under the direction of Piero di Cosimo, Andrea and a friend, Francia Bigio, decided to set up shop for themselves.
The two devoted friends pitched their tent in the Piazza del Grano, and made a meagre beginning out of which great things were to grow. They began a series of pictures which was to lead at least one of them to fame. It was in the little Piazza, del Grano studio that the "Baptism of Christ" was painted, a partnership work that had been planned in the Campagnia dello Scalzo.
"The Baptism" was not much of a picture as great pictures go, but it was a beginning and it was looked at and talked about, which was something at a time when Titian and Leonardo had set the standard of great work. In the Piazza del Grano, Andrea and his friend lived in the stables of the Tuscan Grand Dukes, with a host of other fine artists, and they had gay times together.
Andrea was a shy youth, a little timid, and by no means vain of his own work, but he painted with surprising swiftness and sureness, and had a very brilliant imagination. Its was his main trouble that he had more imagination than true manhood; he sacrificed everything good to his imagination.
After the partnership with his friend, he undertook to paint some frescoes independently, and that work earned for him the name of "Andrea senza Errori"—Andrea the Unerring. Then, as now, each artist had his own way of working, and Andrea's was perhaps the most difficult of all, yet the most genius-like. There were those, Michael Angelo for example, who laid in backgrounds for their paintings; but Andrea painted his subject upon the wet plaster, precisely as he meant it to be when finished.
He was unlike the moody Michael Angelo; unlike the gentle Raphael; unlike the fastidious Van Dyck who came long afterward; he was hail-fellow-well-met among his associates, though often given over to dreaminess. He belonged to a jolly club named the "Kettle Club," literally, the Company of the Kettle; and to another called "The Trowel," both suggesting an all around good time and much good fellowship The members of these clubs were expected to contribute to their wonderful suppers, and Andrea on one occasion made a great temple, in imitation of the Baptistry, of jelly with columns of sausages, white birds and pigeons represented the choir and priests. Besides being "Andrew the Unerring," and a "Merry Andrew," he was also the "Tailor's Andrew," a man in short upon whom a nickname sat comfortably. He helped to make the history of the "Company of the Kettle," for he recited and probably composed a touching ballad called "The Battle of the Mice and the Frogs," which doubtless had its origin in a poem of Homer's. But all at once, in the midst of his gay careless life came his tragedy; he fell in love with a hatter's wife. This was quite bad enough, but worse was to come, for the hatter shortly died, and the widow was free to marry Andrea.
After his marriage Andrea began painting a series of Madonnas, seemingly for no better purpose than to exhibit his wife's beauty over and over again. He lost his ambition and forgot everything but his love for this unworthy woman. She was entirely commonplace, incapable of inspiring true genius or honesty of purpose.
A great art critic, Vasari, who was Andrea's pupil during this time, has written that the wife, Lucretia, was abominable in every way. A vixen, she tormented Andrea from morning till night with her bitter tongue. She did not love him in the least, but only what his money could buy for her, for she was extravagant, and drove the sensitive artist to his grave while she outlived him forty years.
About the time of the artist's marriage he painted one fresco, "The Procession of the Magi," in which he placed a very splendid substitute for his wife, namely himself. Afterward he painted the Dead Christ which found its way to France and it laid the foundation for Andrea's wrongdoing. This picture was greatly admired by the King of France who above all else was a lover of art. Francis I. asked Andrea to go to his court, as he had commissions for him. He made Andrea a money offer and to court he went.
He took a pupil with him, but he left his wife at home. At the court of Francis I. he was received with great honours, and amid those new and gracious surroundings, away from the tantalising charms of his wife and her shrewish tongue, he began to have an honest ambition to do great things. His work for France was undertaken with enthusiasm, but no sooner was he settled and at peace, than the irrepressible wife began to torment him with letters to return. Each letter distracted him more and more, till he told the King in his despair, that he must return home, but that he would come back to France and continue his work, almost at once. Francis I., little suspecting the cause of Andrea's uneasiness, gave him permission to go, and also a large sum of money to spend upon certain fine works of art which he was to bring back to France.
We can well believe that Andrea started back to his home with every good intention; that he meant to appease his wife and also his own longing to see her; to buy the King his pictures with the money entrusted to him, and to return to France and finish his work; but, alas, he no sooner got back to his wife than his virtuous purpose fled. She wanted this; she wanted that—and especially she wanted a fine house which could just about be built for the sum of money which the King of France had entrusted to Andrea.
Andrea is a pitiable figure, but he was also a vagabond, if we are to believe Vasari. He took the King's money, built his wretched wife a mansion, and never again dared return to France, where his dishonesty made him forever despised.
Afterward he was overwhelmed with despair for what he had done, and he tried to make his peace with Francis; but while that monarch did not punish him directly for his knavery; he would have no more to do with him, and this was the worst punishment the artist could have had. However, his genius was so great that other than French people forgot his dishonesty and he began life anew in his native place.
Almost all his pictures were on sacred subjects; and finally, when driven from Florence to Luco by the plague, taking with him his wife and stepdaughter, he began a picture called the "Madonna del Sacco" (the Madonna of the Sack).
This fresco was to adorn the convent of the Servi, and the sketches for it were probably made in Luco. When the plague passed and the artist was able to return to Florence, he began to paint it upon the cloister walls.
Andrea, like Leonardo, painted a famous "Last Supper," although the two pictures cannot be compared. In Andrea's picture it is said that all the faces are portraits.
Just before the plague sent him and his family from Florence a most remarkable incident took place. Raphael had painted a celebrated portrait of Pope Leo X. in a group, and the picture belonged to Ottaviano de Medici. Duke Frederick II., of Mantua, longed to own this picture, and at last requested the Medici to give it to him. The Duke could not well be refused, but Ottaviano wanted to keep so great a work for himself. What was to be done? He was in great trouble over the affair. The situation seemed hopeless. It seemed certain that he must part with his beloved picture to the Duke of Mantua; but one day Andrea del Sarto declared that he could make a copy of it that even Raphael himself could not tell from his original. Ottaviano could scarcely believe this, but he begged Andrea to set about it, hoping that it might be true.
Going at the work in good earnest, Andrea painted a copy so exact that the pupil of Raphael, who had more or less to do with the original picture, could not tell which was which when he was asked to choose. This pupil, Giulio Romano, was so familiar with every stroke of Raphael's that if he were deceived surely any one might be; so the replica was given to the Duke of Mantua, who never found out the difference.
Years afterward Giulio Romano showed the picture to Vasari, believing it to be the original Raphael, neither Andrea nor the Medici having told Romano the truth. But Vasari, who knew the whole story, declared to Romano that what he showed him was but a copy. Romano would not believe it, but Vasari told him that he would find upon the canvas a certain mark, known to be Andrea's. Romano looked, and behold, the original Raphael became a del Sarto! The original picture hangs in the Pitti Palace, while the copy made by Andrea is in the Naples Gallery.
The introduction of Andrea to Vasari was one of the few gracious things, that Michael Angelo ever did. About Andrea he said to Raphael at the time: "There is a little fellow in Florence who will bring sweat to your brows if ever he is engaged in great works." Raphael, would certainly have agreed, with him had he known what was to happen in regard to the Leo X. picture.
Notwithstanding Andrea's unfortunate temperament, which caused him to be guided mostly by circumstances instead of guiding them, he was said to be improving all the time in his art. He had a great many pupils, but none of them could tolerate his wife for long, so they were always changing.
Throughout his life the artist longed for tenderness and encouragement from his wife, and finally, without ever receiving it, he died in a desolate way, untended even by her. After the siege of Florence there came a pestilence, and Andrea was overtaken by it. His wife, afraid that she too would become ill, would have nothing to do with him. She kept away and he died quite alone, few caring that he was dead and no one taking the trouble to follow him to his grave. Thus one of the greatest of Florentine painters lived and died. Years after his death, the artist Jacopo da Empoli, was copying Andrea's "Birth of the Virgin" when an old woman of about eighty years on her way to mass stopped to speak with him. She pointed to the beautiful Virgin's face in the picture and said: "I am that woman." And so she was—the widow of the great Andrea. Though she had treated him so cruelly, she was glad to have it known that she was the widow of the dead genius.
PLATE—THE MADONNA DEL SACCO (Madonna of the Sack)
This picture is a fresco in the cloister of the Annunziata at Florence, and it is called "of the sack" because Joseph is posed leaning against a sack, a book open upon his knees.
Doubtless the model for this Madonna is Andrea del Sarto's abominable wife, but she looks very sweet and simple in the picture. The folds of Mary's garments are beautifully painted, so is the poise of her head, and all the details of the picture except the figure of the child. There is a line of stiffness there and it lacks the softness of many other pictures of the Infant Jesus.
PLATE—THE HOLY FAMILY
In this picture in the Pitti Palace, Florence, Andrea del Sarto represents all the characters in a serious mood. There are St. John and Elizabeth, Mary and the Infant Jesus, and there is no touch of playfulness such as may be found in similar groups by other artists of the time. Attention is concentrated upon Jesus who seems to be learning from his young cousin. The left hand, resting upon Mary's arm is badly drawn and in character does not seem to belong to the figure of the child. A full, overhanging upper lip is a dominant feature in each face.
Other works of Andrea del Sarto are "Charity," which is in the Louvre; "Madonna dell' Arpie," "A Head of Christ," "The Dead Christ," "Four Saints," "Joseph in Egypt," his own portrait, and "Joseph's Dream."
MICHAEL ANGELO (BUONARROTI)
(Pronounced Meek-el-ahn-jel-o (Bwone-ar-ro'tee)) Florentine School 1475-1564 Pupil of Ghirlandajo
This wonderful man did more kinds of things, at a time when almost all artists were versatile, than any other but one. Probably Leonardo da Vinci was gifted in as many different ways as Michael Angelo, and in his own lines was as powerful. This Florentine's life was as tragic as it was restless.
There is a tablet in a room of a castle which stands high upon a rocky mount, near the village of Caprese, which tells that Michael Angelo was born in that place. The great castle is now in ruins, and more than four hundred years of fame have passed since the little child was born therein.
The unhappy existence of the artist seems to have been foreshadowed by an accident which happened to his mother before he was born. She was on horseback, riding with her husband to his official post at Chiusi, for he was governor of Chiusi and Caprese. Her horse stumbled, fell, and badly hurt her. This was two months before Michael Angelo was born, and misfortune ever pursued him.
The father of Angelo was descended from an aristocratic house—the Counts of Canossa were his ancestors—and in that day the profession of an artist was not thought to be dignified. Hence the father had quite different plans for the boy; but the son persisted and at last had his way. When he was still a little child his father finished his work as an official at Caprese and returned to Florence; but he left the little Angelo behind with his nurse. That nurse was the wife of a stonemason, and almost as soon as the boy could toddle he used to wander about the quarries where the stonecutters worked, and doubtless the baby joy of Angelo was to play at chiseling as it is the pleasure of modern babies to play at peg-top. After a time he was sent for to go to Florence to begin his education.
In Florence he fell in with a young chap who, like himself, loved art, but who was fortunate enough already to be apprenticed to the great painter of his time—Ghirlandajo. One happy day this young Granacci volunteered to take Michael Angelo to his master's studio, and there Angelo made such an impression on Ghirlandajo that he was urged by the artist to become his pupil.
All the world began to seem rose coloured to the ambitious boy, and he started his life-work with enthusiasm. At that time he was thirteen years old, full of hope and of love for his kind; but his good fortune did not last long. He had hardly settled to work in Ghirlandajo's studio than his genius, which should have made him beloved, made him hated by his master. Angelo drew superior designs, created new art-ideas, was more clever in all his undertakings than any other pupil—even ahead of his master; and almost at once Ghirlandajo became furiously jealous. This enmity between pupil and master was the beginning of Angelo's many misfortunes.
One day he got into a dispute with a fellow student, Torregiano, who broke his nose. This deformity alone was a tragedy to one like Michael Angelo who loved everything beautiful, yet must go through life knowing himself to be ill-favoured.
In height he was a little man, topped by an abnormally large head which was part of the penalty he had to pay for his talents. He had a great, broad forehead, and an eye that did not gleam nor express the beauty of his creative mind, but was dull, and lustreless, matching his broken, flattened nose. Indeed he was a tragedy to himself. In the "History of Painting" Muther describes his unhappy disposition:
"In his youthful years he never learned what love meant. 'If thou wishest to conquer me,' in old age he addresses love, 'give me back my features, from which nature has removed all beauty.' Whenever in his sonnets he speaks of passion, it is always of pain and tears, of sadness and unrequited longing, never of the fulfilment of his wishes."
Then, too, Michael Angelo had a quarrelsome disposition, and he was harsh in his criticism of others. He hated Leonardo da Vinci more for his great physical beauty than for his genius. He quarreled with most of his contemporaries, never joined the assemblies of his brother artists, but dwelt altogether apart. His was a gloomy and melancholy disposition and he never found relief outside his work.
He was all kinds of an artist—poet, sculptor, architect, painter—and although he worked with the irregularity of true genius, he worked indefatigably when once he began. It is said that when he was making his "David" he never removed his clothing the whole time he was employed upon the work, but dropped down when too exhausted to work more, and slept wherever he fell.
His first flight from the workshop of Ghirlandajo was to the gardens of the great Florentine prince, Lorenzo de' Medici, who had sent to Ghirlandajo for two of his best pupils. He wished them to come to his gardens and study the beautiful Greek statues which ornamented them. The choice fell to Angelo and Granacci. Probably those statues in Lorenzo's garden were the first glimpses of really great art that Michael Angelo ever had. Certain it is that he was overwhelmed with happiness when he was given permission to copy what he would, and at once he fell to work with his chisel. His first work in that garden was upon the head of an old faun; and Lorenzo, walking by, curious to know to what use the lad was putting his opportunity, made a criticism:
"You have made your faun old," he said, "yet you have left all the teeth; at such an age, generally the teeth are wanting."
Angelo had nothing to say and the prince walked on, but when next he came that way, he found that Angelo had broken off two of the faun's teeth; and this recognition of his criticism pleased Lorenzo so much that he invited Angelo to live with him. At first his father objected. He felt himself to be an aristocrat, and sculpture and painting were indeed low occupations for his son, who he had resolved should be nothing less than a silk merchant. Nevertheless, the prince's command, united with the son's pleading, compelled the father to give up his cherished dream of making a merchant of him, and Angelo went to live in the palace.
Then indeed what seemed a beautiful life opened out. He was dressed in fine clothing, dined with princes, and possibly he was grateful to his patron. Some historians say so, and add that when Lorenzo died Angelo wept, and returned sadly to his father's house to mourn, but this tale seems at odds with what else we know of Angelo's unangelic, envious and bitter disposition. It is quite certain, however, that with the death of Lorenzo, Angelo's, fortunes became greatly changed. Another prince followed in line—Pietro de' Medici—but he was a poor thing, who brought little good to anybody. He had small use for Michael Angelo's genius, but it is said that he did give him one commission. After a great storm one day, he asked him to make a snow-man for him, and Angelo obligingly complied. It was doubtless a very beautiful snow-man, but although it was Angelo's it melted in the night, even as if it had been Johnny's or Tommy's snow-man, and left no trace behind.
In Rome there was a high and haughty pope on the throne—Julius II.—who had probably not his match for obstinacy and haughtiness, excepting in the great painter and sculptor. When Angelo went to Rome, he was bound to come in conflict with Julius for it was popes and princes who gave art any reason for being in those days, and the Church prescribed what kind of art should be cultivated. Michael was to come directly under the command of the pope and such a combination promised trouble. Kings themselves had to remove their crowns and hats to Julius, and why not Michael Angelo? Yet there he stood, covered, before the pope, opposing his greatness to that of the pope. Soderini says that Angelo treated the pope as the king of France never would have dared treat him; but Angelo may have known that kings of France might be born and die, times without number, while there would never be born another Michael Angelo. There could be nothing but antagonism between Angelo and Julius, and soon after the artist returned to Florence; but the necessity for following his profession enabled Julius to tame him after all, and it is said that the pope led him back to Rome, later, "with a halter about his neck." This must have been agony to Angelo.
Back in Rome, he was commissioned to make a tomb for the pope. He had no sooner set about the preliminaries—the getting of suitable marble for his work—than he began to quarrel with the men who were to hew it. When that difficulty was settled, and the marble was got out, he had a set-to with the shipowners who were to transport the stone, and that row became so serious that the sculptor was besieged in his own house.
At another and later time, when he was engaged upon the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, he was made to work by force. He accused the man who had built the scaffolding upon which he must stand, or lie, to paint, of planning his destruction. He suspected the very assistants whom he, himself, had chosen to go from Florence, of having designs upon his life. He locked the chapel against them, and they had to turn away when they went to begin work. Because of his insane suspicion he did alone the enormous work of the frescoes. Doubtless he was half mad, just as he was wholly a genius.
By the time he had finished those frescoes he was so exhausted and overworked that he wrote piteously to his people at home, "I have not a friend in Rome, neither do I wish nor have use for any." This of course was not true; or he would not have made the statement. "I hardly find time to take nourishment. Not an ounce more can I bear than already rests upon my shoulders." Even when the work was done he felt no happiness because of it, but complained about everything and everybody.
If Angelo thought this an unhappy day, worse was in store for him. Julius II. died and in his place there came to reign upon the papal throne, Leo X. If Michael Angelo had been restricted in his work before, he was almost jailed under Leo X. Julius had been a virile, forceful man, and Michael Angelo was the same. Since he must be restrained and dictated to, it was possible for the artist to listen to a man who was in certain respects strong like himself, but to be under the thumb of a weak, effeminate person like Leo, was the tragedy of tragedies to Angelo. That was a marvellous time in Rome. All its citizens had become so pleasure-loving that the world, stood still to wonder. When the pope banqueted, he had the golden plates from which fair women had eaten hurled into the Tiber, that they might never be profaned by a less noble use than they had known. From all this riot and madness of pleasure, Michael Angelo stood aside with frowning brow and scornful mien. He approved of nothing and of nobody—despising even Raphael, the gentle and loving man whom the pleasure-crazed people of Rome paused to smile upon and love. The pope said that Angelo was "terrible," and that he filled everybody with fear.
Finally, Rome so resented his frowning looks and his surly ways that work was provided for him at a distance. He was sent to Florence again to build a facade. While there, the city was conquered, and Angelo was one who fought for its freedom, but even so, he fled just at the crisis. Thus he ever did the wrong thing—excepting when he worked. In Florence he had planned to do mighty things, but he never accomplished any one of them. He planned to make a wonderful colossal statue on a cliff near Carrara, and also he resolved to make the tomb of Julius the nucleus of a "forest of statues."
Michael Angelo never married, but he was burdened with a family and all its cares. He supported his brothers and even his nephews, and took care of his father. All of those people came to him with their difficulties and with their demands for money. He chided, quarreled, repelled, yet met every obligation. He would sit beside the sick-bed of a servant the night through, but growl at the demands of his near relatives—and it is not unlikely that he had good reason.
At last he withdrew himself from all human society but that of little children, whom he cared to speak with and to please. He would have naught to do with men of genius like himself; and when he fell from a scaffolding and injured himself, the physician had to force his way through a barred window, in order to get into the sick man's presence to serve him.
An illustration of his determined solitude is given in the "Young People's Story of Art:"
"There had long been lying idle in Florence an immense block of marble. One hundred years before a sculptor had tried to carve something from it, but had failed. This was now given to Michael Angelo. He was to be paid twelve dollars a month, and to be allowed two years in which to carve a statue. He made his design in wax; and then built a tower around the block, so that he might work inside without being seen."
Everything Angelo undertook bore the marks of gigantic enterprise. Although he never succeeded in making the tomb of Julius II. the central piece in his forest of statues, the undertaking was marvellous enough. His original plan was to make the tomb three stories high and to ornament it with forty statues, and if St. Peter's Church was large enough to hold it, the work was to be placed therein; but if not, a church was to be built specially to hold the tomb. When at last, in spite of his difficulties with workmen and shipowners, the marbles were deposited in the great square before St. Peter's, they filled the whole place; and the pope, wishing to watch the progress of the work and not himself to be observed, had a covered way built from the Vatican to the workshop of Angelo in the square, by which he might come and go as he chose, while an order was issued that the sculptor was to be admitted at all times to the Vatican. No sooner was this arrangement completed than Angelo's enemies frightened the pope by telling him there was danger in making his tomb before his death; and with these superstitions haunting him Julius II. stopped the work, leaving Angelo without the means to pay for his marbles. With the doors of the Vatican closed to him, Angelo withdrew, post haste to Florence—and who can blame him? Nevertheless, the work was resumed after infinite trouble on the pope's part. He had to send again and again for Angelo and after forty years, the work was finished. There the sequel of the sculptor's forty-years war with self and the world stands to-day in "Moses," the wonderful, commanding central figure which seems to reflect all the fierce power which Angelo had to keep in check during a life-time.
The command of Julius that he should paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel aroused all his fierce resistance. He did it under protest, all the while accusing those about him of having designs upon his life.
"I am not a painter, but a sculptor," he said.
"Such a man as thou is everything that he wishes to be," the pope replied.
"But this is an affair of Raphael. Give him this room to paint and let me carve a mountain!" But no, he must paint the ceiling; but to render it easier for him the pope told him he might fill in the spaces with saints, and charge a certain amount for each. This Angelo, who was first of all an artist, refused to do. He would do the work rightly or not at all. So he made his own plans and cut himself a cardboard helmet, into the front of which he thrust a candle, as if it were a Davy lamp, and he lay upon his back to work day and night at the hated task. During those months he was compelled to look up so continually, that never afterward was he able to look down without difficulty. When he had finished the work Julius had some criticisms to make.
"Those dresses on your saints are such poor things," he said. "Not rich enough—such very poor things!"
"Well, they were poor things," was Angelo's answer. "The saints did not wear golden ornaments, nor gold on their garments."
After Julius II. and Leo X. came Pope Paul III., and he, like the other two, determined to have Angelo for his workman. Indeed all his life, Michael Angelo's gifts were commanded by the Church of Rome. It was for Paul III. he painted the "Last Judgment." His former work upon the Sistine Chapel had been the story of the creation. All his work was of a mighty and allegorical nature; tremendous shoulders, mighty limbs, herculean muscles that seemed fit to support the universe. These allegories are made of hundreds of figures. To-day they are still there, though dimmed by the smoke of centuries of incense, and dismembered by the cracking of plaster and disintegration of materials.
Angelo's methods of work, as well as their results, were oppressive. In his youth, while trying to perfect himself in his study of the human form, he drew or modelled, from nude corpses. He had these conveyed by stealth from the hospital into the convent of Santo Spirito, where he had a cell and there he worked, alone.
He was concentrated, mentally and emotionally, upon himself. The only remark he made after the blow from Torregiano was, "You will be remembered only as the man who broke my nose!" This proved nearly true, since Torregiano was banished, and murdered by the Spanish Inquisition.
All sorts of anecdotes have floated through the centuries concerning this man and his work. For example, he made a statue of a sleeping cupid, which was buried in the ground for a time that it might assume the appearance of age, and pass for an antique. Afterward it was sold to the Cardinal San Giorgio for two hundred ducats, though Michael Angelo received only thirty. Nevertheless, he died a rich man, after having cared for a numerous family, while he himself lived like a man without means. All the tranquillity he ever knew he enjoyed in his old age.
It was characteristic of his perversity that he left his name upon nothing that he made, with one exception. Vasari relates the story of that exception:
"The love and care which Michael Angelo had given to this group, 'In Paradise,' were such that he there left his name—a thing he never did again for any work—on the cincture which girdles the robe of Our Lady; for it happened one day that Michael Angelo, entering the place where it was erected, found a large assemblage of strangers from Lombardy there, who were praising it highly; one of them asking who had done it, was told, 'our Hunchback of Milan'; hearing which Michael Angelo remained silent, although surprised that his work should be attributed to another. But one night he repaired to St. Peter's with a light and his chisels, to engrave his name on the figure, which seems to breathe a spirit as perfect as her form and countenance."
If his youth had been given to sculpture, his maturity to the painting of wondrous frescoes, so his old age was devoted to architecture, and as architect he rebuilt the decaying St. Peter's. In this work he felt that he partly realised his ideal. Sculpture meant more to him, "did more for the glory of God," than any other form of art. When he had finished his work on St. Peter's, he is said to have looked upon it and exclaimed: "I have hung the Pantheon in the air!"
This colossal genius died in Rome, and was carried by the light of torches from that city back to his better loved Florence, where he was buried. His tomb was made in the Santa Croce, and upon it are three female figures representing Michael Angelo's three wonderful arts: Architecture, sculpture and painting. No artist was greater than he.
His will committed "his soul to God, his body to the earth, and his property to his nearest relatives."
This wonderful painting is a part of the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. The picture of the prophet tells so much in itself, that a description seems absurd. It is enough to call attention to the powerful muscles in the arm, the fall of the hand, and then to speak of the main characteristics of the artist's pictures.
It is extraordinary that there is no blade of grass to be found in any painting by Michael Angelo. He loved to paint but one thing, and that was the naked man, the powerful muscles, or the twisted limbs of those in great agony. He loved only to work upon vast spaces of ceiling or wall. Look at this picture of Daniel and see how like sculpture the pose and modelling appear to be. First of all, Michael Angelo was a sculptor, and most of the painting which fate forced him to do has the characteristics of sculpture.
One critic has remarked that he loves to think of this strange man sitting before the marble quarry of Pietra Santa and thinking upon all the beings hidden in the cliff—beings which he should fashion from the marble.
It was said that in Michael Angelo's hands the Holy Family became a race of Titans, and where others would have put plants or foliage, Angelo placed men and naked limbs to fill the space. When his subject made some sort of herbage necessary, he invented a kind of mediaeval fern in place of grass and familiar leaves. Everything appears brazen and hard and mighty, suggestive of Angelo's own throbbing spirit and maddened soul. Most of his work, when illustrated, must be shown not as a whole but in sections, but one can best mention them as entire picture themes. On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are nine frescoes describing "The Creation of The World," "The Fall of Man" and "The Deluge." "The Last Judgment" occupies the entire altar wall in the same chapel of the Vatican. "The Holy Family" is in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
(Pronounced Bek'-lin) Modern German School (Dusseldorf) 1827-1901
This splendid artist is so lately dead that it does not seem proper yet to discuss his personal history, but we can speak understandingly of his art, for we already know it to be great art, which will stand the test of time. His imagination turned toward subjects of solemn grandeur and his work is very impressive and beautiful.
He was born in Basel, "one of the most prosaic towns in Europe." His father was a Swiss merchant, and not poor; thus the son had ordinarily good chances to make an artist of himself. He was born at a time when to be an artist had long ceased to be a reproach, and men no longer discouraged their sons who felt themselves inspired to paint great pictures.
When Bocklin was nineteen years old he took himself to Dusseldorf, with his merchant father's permission, and settled down to learn his art, but in that city he found mostly "sentimental and anecdotal" pictures being painted, which did not suit him at all. Then he took himself off to Brussels, where again he was not satisfied, and so went to Paris. But while in Brussels he had copied many old masters, and had advanced himself very much, so that he did not present himself in Paris raw and untried in art.
At first he studied in the Louvre, then went to Rome, seeking ever the best, and being hard to satisfy. He found rest and tranquillity in Zurich, a city in his native country, but it was Italy that had most influenced his work.
He loved the Campagna of Rome with its ruins and the sad grandeur of the crumbling tombs lining its way, and therefore a certain mysterious, grand, and solemn character made his pictures unlike those of any other artist. He loved to paint in vertical (up-and-down) fines, rather than with the conventional horizontal outlines that we find in most paintings. This method gives his pictures a different quality from any others in the world.
He loved best of all to paint landscape, and it is said of him that "as the Greeks peopled their streams and woods and waves with creatures of their imagination, so Bocklin makes the waterfall take shape as a nymph, or the mists which rise above the water source wreathe into forms of merry children; or in some wild spot hurls centaurs together in fierce combat, or makes the slippery, moving wave give birth to Nereids and Tritons."
Muther, art-critic and biographer, calls our attention to the similarity between Wagner's music and Bocklin's painting. While Wagner was "luring the colours of sound from music," Bocklin's "symphonies of colour streamed forth like a crashing orchestra," and he calls him the greatest colour-poet of the time.
In appearance Bocklin was fine of form, healthy and wholesome in all his thoughts and way of living. In 1848 he took part in revolutionary politics and later this did him great harm. Only the influence of his friends kept him from ruin. After the Franco-Prussian war he was made Minister of Fine Arts. In this office he rendered great service; but because he had to witness the wrecking of the Column Vendome in order to save the Louvre and the Luxembourg from the mob, he was censured; indeed so heavy a fine was imposed that it took his whole fortune to pay it; and he was banished into the bargain. From 1892 to 1901 he lived in or near Florence, and he died at Fiesole, January 16th, 1901.
PLATE—THE ISLE OF THE DEAD
This picture is perhaps the greatest of the many great Arnold Bocklin paintings, and it is both fascinating and awe-inspiring.
It best shows his liking for vertical lines in art. The Isle of the Dead is of a rocky, shaft-like formation in which we may see hewn-out tombs; and there, tall cypress trees are growing.
The traces of man's work in the midst of this sombre, ideal, and mystic scene add to the impressiveness of the picture. The isle stands high and lonely in the midst of a sea.
The water seems silently to lap the base of the rocks and the trees are in black shadow, massed in the centre. It looks very mysterious and still. There is a stone gateway touched with the light of a dying day. It is sunset and the dead is being brought to its resting place in a tiny boat, all the smaller for its relation to the gloomy grandeur of the isle which it is approaching. One figure is standing in the boat, facing the island, and the sunlight falls full upon his back and touches the boat, making that spot stand out brilliantly from all the rest of the picture.
Among Bocklin's paintings are "Naiads at Play," which hangs in the Museum at Basel, "A Villa by the Sea," "The Sport of the Waves," "Regions of Joy," "Flora," and "Venus Dispatching Cupid."
(Pronounced Rosa Bon-er) French School 1822-1895 Pupil of Raymond B. Bonheur
Rosa Bonheur, Landseer, and Murillo maybe called "Children's Painters" in this book because they painted things that children, as well as grown-ups, certainly can enjoy. To be sure, Murillo was a very different sort of artist from Rosa Bonheur or Landseer, but if the two latter painted the most beautiful, animals—dogs, sheep, and horses—Murillo painted the loveliest little children.
Rosa was the best pupil of her father; Raymond B. Bonheur. In Bordeaux they lived together the peaceful life of artists, the father being already a well known painter when his daughter was born. She became, as Mr. Hamerton, who knew her, said, "the most accomplished female painter who ever lived ... a pure, generous woman as well and can hardly be too much admired ... as a woman or an artist. She is simple in her tastes and habits of life and many stories are told of her generosity to others."
After a time the Bonheurs moved to Paris where young Rosa could have better opportunities; and there she put on man's clothing, which she wore all her life thereafter. She wore a workingman's blouse and trousers, and tramped about looking more like a man than a woman with her short hair. This, made everybody stare at her and think her very queer, but people no longer believe that she dressed herself thus in order to advertise herself and attract attention; but because it was the most convenient costume for her to get about in. She went to all sorts of places; the stockyards, slaughter houses, all about the streets of Paris, to learn of things and people, especially of animals, which she wished most to paint. She could hardly have gone about thus if she had worn women's clothing.
Rosa Bonheur exhibited her first painting at the Salon in 1841, and this was twelve years before her beloved father died; thus he had the happiness of knowing that the daughter whom he had taught so lovingly was on the road to success and fortune. He knew that when fortune should come to her she would use it well. The year that she exhibited her work in the Salon she painted only two little pictures—one of rabbits, the other of sheep and goats—but they were so splendidly done that all the critics knew a great woman artist had arrived.
It was then that her enemies, those who were becoming jealous of her work, said that she was wearing men's clothing in order to attract attention to herself.
Soon her work began to be bought by the French Government, which was a sure sign of her power. She was already much beloved by the people. In the meantime we in America and others in England had heard of Mademoiselle Bonheur, but we heard far less about her painting than we did about her masculine garb. We thought of her mostly as an eccentric woman; but one day came "The Horse Fair," and all the world heard of that, so the artist was to be no longer judged by the clothes she wore but by her art. Finally, she received the cross of the Legion of Honour, and also was made a member of the Institute of Antwerp.
She lived near Fontainebleau; her studio a peaceful retired home, till the Franco-Prussian war came about. Then she and others began to fear that her studio and pictures would be destroyed, so the artist was forced to stop her work and prepared to go elsewhere. But the Crown Prince of Prussia himself ordered that Mademoiselle Bonheur should not even be disturbed. Her work had made her belong to all the world and all the world was to protect her if need be.
Rosa Bonheur had a brother who, some critics said, was the better artist, but if that were true it is likely that his popularity would in some degree have approached that of his sister. Rosa Bonheur did not paint many large canvases, but mostly small ones, or only moderately large; but when she painted sheep it seems that one might shear the wool, it stands so fleecy and full; while her horses rampage and curvet, showing themselves off as if they were alive.
PLATE—THE HORSE FAIR
This picture was exhibited all over the world very nearly. It was carried to England and to America, and won admiration wherever it was seen. Finally it was sold in America. It was first exhibited in 1853, the year in which the artist's father died. Mr. Ernest Gambart was the first who bought the picture, and he wrote of it to his friend, Mr. S.P. Avery: "I will give you the real history of 'The Horse Fair,' now in New York. It was painted in 1852, by Rosa Bonheur, then in her thirtieth year, and exhibited in the next Salon. Though much admired it did not find a purchaser. It was soon after exhibited in Ghent, meeting again with much appreciation, but was not sold, as art did not flourish at the time. In 1855 the picture was sent by Rosa Bonheur to her native town of Bordeaux and exhibited there. She offered to sell it to the town at the very low price 12,000 francs ($2,400). While there, I asked her if she would sell it to me, and allow me to take it to England and have it engraved. She said: 'I wish to have my picture remain in France. I will once more impress on my countrymen, my wish to sell it to them for 12,000 francs. If they refuse, you can have it, but if you take it abroad, you must pay me 40,000 francs.' The town failing to make the purchase, I at once accepted these terms, and Rosa Bonheur then placed the picture at my disposal. I tendered her the 40,000 francs and she said: 'I am much gratified at your giving me such a noble price, but I do not like to feel that I have taken advantage of your liberality; let us see how we can combine in the matter. You will not be able to have an engraving made from so large a canvas. Suppose I paint you a small one from the same subject, of which I will make you a present.' Of course I accepted the gift, and thus it happened that the large work went travelling over the kingdom on exhibition, while Thomas Landseer was making an engraving from the quarter-size replica.
"After some time (in 1857 I think), I sold the original picture to Mr. William P. Wright, New York (whose picture gallery and residence were at Weehawken, N.J.), for the sum of 30,000 francs, but later I understood that Mr. Stewart paid a much larger price for it on the breaking up of Mr. Wright's gallery. The quarter size replica, from which the engraving was made, I finally sold to Mr. Jacob Bell, who gave it in 1859 to the nation, and it is now in the National Gallery, London. A second, still smaller replica, was painted a few years later, and was resold some time ago in London for oe4,000 ($20,000). There is also a smaller water-colour drawing which was sold to Mr. Bolckow for 2,500 guineas ($12,000), and is now an heirloom belonging to the town of Middlesbrough. That is the whole history of this grand work. The Stewart canvas is the real and true original, and only large size 'Horse-Fair.'
"Once in Mr. Stewart's collection, it never left his gallery until the auction sale of his collection, March 25th, 1887, when it was purchased by Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt for the sum of $55,000, and presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
And thus we have the whole story of the "Horse-Fair." The picture is 93-1/2 inches high, and 197 inches wide, and it contains a great number of horses, some of which are ridden, while others are led, and all are crowding with wild gaiety toward the fair where it is quite plain they know they are about to be admired and their beauty shown to the best advantage. Other well-known Rosa Bonheurs are "Ploughing," "Shepherd Guarding Sheep," "Highland Sheep," "Scotch Deer," "American Mustangs," and "The Study of a Lioness."
(Pronounced Ah-lays-sahn'dro Bo't-te-chel'lee) Florentine School, 1447-1510 (Vasari's dates) Pupil of Filippo Lippi and Verrocchio
Botticelli took his name from his first master, as was the fashion in those days. The relation of master and apprentice was very close, not at all like the relation of pupil and teacher to-day.
Botticelli's father was a Florentine citizen, Mariano Filipepi, and he wished his son to become a goldsmith; hence the lad was soon apprenticed to Botticelli, the goldsmith. As a scholar, the little goldsmith had not distinguished himself. Indeed it is said that as a boy he would not "take to any sort of schooling in reading, writing, or arithmetic." It cannot be said that this failure distinguished him as a genius, or the world would be full of genius-boys; but the result was that he early began to learn his trade.
Fortunately for him and us, Botticelli, the smith, was a man of some wisdom and when he saw that the lad originated beautiful designs and had creative genius he did not treat the matter with scorn, as the master of Andrea del Sarto had done, but sent him instead to Fra Filippo (Lippo Lippi) to be taught the art of painting. So kind a deed might well establish a feeling of devotion on little Alessandro's part and make him wish to take his master's name.
Fra Filippo was a Carmelite monk, merry and kindly; simple, good, and gifted, but his temperament did not seem to influence his young pupil. Of all unhappy, morbid men, Botticelli seems to have been the most so, unless we are to except Michael Angelo.
After studying with the monk, Botticelli was summoned by Pope Sixtus IV. to Rome to decorate a new chapel in the Vatican. Before that time his whole life had been greatly influenced by the teachings of Savonarola who had preached both passionately and learnedly in Florence, advocating liberty. From the time he fell under Savonarola's wonderful power, the artist grew more and more mystic and morbid. In Rome it was the custom to have the portraits of conspirators, or persons of high degree who were revolutionary or otherwise objectionable to the state, hung outside the Public Palace, and in Botticelli's time there was a famous disturbance among the aristocrats of the state. In 1478 the powerful Pazzi family conspired against the Medici family, which then actually had control. It was Botticelli who was engaged to paint the portraits of the Pazzi family, which to their shame and humiliation were to be displayed upon the palace walls.
One peculiarity of this artist's pictures was that he used actual goldleaf to make the high lights upon hair, leaves, and draperies. The effect of the use of this gold was very beautiful, if unusual, and it may have been that his apprenticeship as a goldsmith suggested to him such a device.
Also it was he who created certain characteristics of painting that have since been thought original with Burne-Jones. This was the use of long stiff lily-stalks or other upright details in his compositions. Examples of this idea, which produced so weird an effect, will be found in his allegory of "Spring," where stiff tree-trunks form a part of the background. In the "Madonna of the Palms" upright lily-stalks are held in pale and trembling hands. Like Michael Angelo, who came years afterward, Botticelli was a guest of the great Lorenzo the "Magnificent," in Florence. It was by Botticelli's hand that the greater painter sent a letter to Lorenzo from a duchess friend who was also his patron. This was in Angelo's youth; in Botticelli's old age.
All his life was a drama of morbid seeking after the unattainable, and finally he became so poor and helpless that in his old age he would have starved had Lorenzo de' Medici not taken care of him. Lorenzo and other friends who in spite of his gloominess admired his real piety, gathered about him and kept him from starvation.
On his "Nativity," Botticelli wrote: "This picture I, Alessandro, painted at the end of the year 1500 in the troubles of Italy, in the halftime after the time, during the fulfilment of the eleventh of John, in the second woe of the Apocalypse, in the loosing the devil for three and a half years. Afterward he shall be chained according to the twelfth of John, and see him trodden down as in this picture." All of this is interesting because Botticelli himself wrote it, but it is not very easily understood by any child, nor by many grown people.
Botticelli did some very extraordinary things, but whether they are beautiful or not one must decide for himself. They are paintings so characteristic that one must think them very beautiful or else not at all so.
PLATE—LA PRIMAVERA (Spring)
In this picture we have the forerunner of a modern painter, because we see in it certain, qualities that we find in Bocklin. Look at the effect of vertical lines; the tree trunks, and the poses of the slender women. Over all hovers a cupid who is sending love-shafts into the hearts of all in springtime.
Notice the lacy effect of the flowers that bestar the wind-blown gown of "La Primavera," the fern-like leaves that fleck the background; the draperies that do not conceal the forms of the nymphs of the lovely springtime.
The very spirit of spring is seen in all the half-floating, half-dancing, gliding, diaphanous figures of the forest. The flowers of "La Primavera's" crown are blue and white cornflowers and primroses. She scatters over the earth tulips, anemones, and narcissus. The painting is allegorical and unique. Never were such fluttering odds and ends of draperies painted before, nor such fascinating effects had from canvas, paint, or brush. The picture hangs in Florence in the Uffizi Gallery. A German critic tells us that the "Realm of Venus," is a better title for this picture, and that it was painted after a poem of that name.
Other pictures by this artist are: "The Birth of Venus," "Pallas," "Judith," "Holofernes," "St. Augustine," "Adoration of the Magi," and "St. Sebastian."
WILLIAM ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU
(Pronounced W. A'dolf Bou-gair-roh) French (Genre) School 1825-1905 Pupil of Picot and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts
Bouguereau's business-like father meant his son also to be business-like, but he made the mistake of permitting him to go to a drawing school in Bordeaux and there, to his father's chagrin, the youngster took the annual prize. After that there seemed nothing for the father to do but grin and bear it, because the son decided to be an artist and had fairly won his right to be one.
Young Bouguereau had no money, and therefore he went to live with an uncle at Saintonge, a priest, who had much sympathy with the boy's wish to paint, and he left him free to do the best he could for himself in art. He got a chance to paint some portraits, and when he and his uncle talked the matter over It was decided that he should take the money got for them, and go to Paris. It was there that he sought Picot, his first truly helpful teacher; and there, for the first time he learned more than he already knew about art.
All Bouguereau's opportunities in life were made by himself, by his own genius. No one gave him anything; he earned all. He longed to go to Italy, and in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he won the Prix de Rome, which made possible a journey to the land of great artists. The French Government began to buy his work, and he began to receive commissions to decorate walls in great buildings; thus, gradually, he made for himself fame and fortune.
When this artist undertook to paint sacred subjects, of great dignity, he was not at his best; but when he chose children and mothers and everyday folk engaged about their everyday business, he painted beautifully. Americans have bought many of his pictures and he has had more popularity in this country than anywhere outside of France.
Some authorities give the birthplace of Bouguereau as La Rochelle; at any rate he died there at midnight, on the nineteenth of August, 1905.
PLATE—THE VIRGIN AS CONSOLER
The main distinction about this artist's pictured faces is the peculiarly earnest expression he has given to the eyes. In this picture of the Virgin there is great genius in the pose and death-look of the little child whose mother has flung herself across the lap of Mary, abandoned to her agony. This painting is hung in the Luxembourg. Others by the same master are called "Psyche and Cupid" "Birth of Venus," "Innocence," and "At the Well."
SIR EDWARD BURNE-JONES
English (Pre-Raphaelite) School 1833-1898 Pupil of Rossetti
This artist has been called the most original of all contemporaneous artists. He has also been called the "lyric painter"; meaning that he is to painting what the lyric poet is to literature. His work once known can almost always be recognised wherever seen afterward. He did not slavishly follow the Pre-Raphaelite school, yet he drew most of his ideas from its methods. He was, in the use of stiff lines, a follower of Botticelli, and not original in that detail, as some have seemed to think.
PLATE—CHANT D'AMOUR (The Love-Song)
This is a picture in the true Burne-Jones style: a beautiful woman in billowy draperies, playing upon a harp forms the central figure of the group of three—a listener on either side of her. There is the attractiveness of the Burne-Jones method about this picture, but after all there seems to be no very good reason for its having been painted. The subject thus treated has only a negative value, and little suggestion of thought or dramatic idea.
Another picture of this artist, in which his use of stiff draperies is specially shown, is that of the women at the tomb of Christ, when they find the stone rolled away and, looking around, see the Saviour's figure before them. The scene is low and cavern-like, with a brilliant light surrounding the tomb. This artist also painted "The Vestal Virgin," "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid," "Pan and Psyche," "The Golden Stairs," and "Love Among the Ruins."
English School 1776-1837 Pupil of the Royal Academy
John Constable was the son of a "yeoman farmer" who meant to make him also a yeoman farmer. Mostly we find that the fathers of our artists had no higher expectations for their sons than to have them take up their own business; to begin as they had, and to end as they expected to. But in John Constable's case, as with all the others, the father's methods of living did not at all please the son, and having most of all a liking for picture-making; young John set himself to planning his own affairs.
Nevertheless, the foundation of John's art was laid right there in the Suffolk farmer's home and conditions. He was born in East Bergholt, and the father seems to have believed in windmills, for early in life the signs of wind and weather became a part of the son's education. He learned a deal more of atmospheric conditions there on his father's windmill planted farm than he could possibly have learned shut up in a studio, French fashion. As a little boy he came to know all the signs of the heavens; the clouds gathering for storm or shine; the bending of the trees in the blast; all of these he loved, and later on made the principal subjects of his art. He learned to observe these things as a matter of business and at his father's command; thus we may say that he studied his life-work from his very infancy. All about him were beautiful hedgerows, picturesque cottages with high pitched roofs covered with thatch, and it was these beauties which bred one other great landscape painter besides Constable, of whom we shall presently speak, Gainsborough.
At last, graduating from windmills, John went to London. He had a vacation from the work set him by his father, and for two years he painted "cottages, studied anatomy," and did the drudgery of his art; but there was little money in it for him, and soon he had to go into his father's counting house, for windmills seemed to have paid the elder Constable, considerably better than painting promised to pay young John.
John doubtless liked counting-house work even less than he had done the study of windmills and weather in his father's fields. He was a most persistent fellow, however, and finally he returned to London, to study again the art he loved, this time in the Royal Academy, which meant that he had made some progress.
His father gave him very little aid to do the things he longed to do, but after his father's death he found that a little money was coming to him from the estate—oe4,000. He had already triumphed over his difficulties by painting his first fine pictures; he now knew that he was to become a successful artist, and be able to take care of himself and a wife. Though in love, he had hitherto been too poor to marry. His first splendid work was "Dedham Vale."
Though things were going very well with him, it was not until Paris discovered him that he achieved great success. In 1824 he painted two large pictures which he took to Paris, and there he found fame. The best landscape painting in France dates from the time when Constable's works were hung in the Louvre, to become the delight of all art-lovers.
He received a gold medal from Charles X., and became more honoured abroad than he had ever been at home.
Constable had many enemies, and made many more after he became an Academician. Some artists, who would have liked that honour and who could not gain it for themselves, declared that Constable painted "with a palette knife," though it certainly would not have mattered if he had, since he made great pictures.
He painted things exactly as he saw them, and was not a popular artist. Most of all, he loved to paint the scenes that he had known so well in his youth, and he did them over and over again, as if the subject was one in which he wished to reach perfection.
When he died he left a picture, "Arundel Castle and Mill," standing with its paint wet upon his easel for he passed away very suddenly, on April 1st, leaving behind him many unsold paintings.
He was a sensitive chap, and throughout his youth was greatly distressed by the differences of opinion between himself and his father. He was torn asunder between a sense of duty and his own wish to be an artist; and his greatest consolation in this situation was in the friendship he had formed for a plumber, who, like himself, dearly loved art. The plumber's name was John Dunthorne, and the two men wandered about the country, when not employed at their regular work, and together, by streams and in fields, painted the same scenes. At one time they hired a little room in the neighbouring village which they made into a studio. Constable was a handsome fellow in his youth and was known to all as the "handsome miller." His father, the yeoman farmer with the windmills, was also a miller.
In London he became acquainted with one John Smith, known as "Antiquity Smith," who taught him something of etching. After he was recalled to his father's business, his mother wrote to "Antiquity Smith," that she hoped John "would now attend to business, by which he will please me and his father, and ensure his own respectability and comfort"—a complete expression of the middle-class British mind. Her satisfaction was short-lived, for her son soon returned to London.
When his first pictures were rejected by the Royal Academy he showed one of them to Sir Benjamin West, who said hopefully: "Don't be disheartened, young man, we shall hear of you again; you must have loved nature very much before you could have painted this."
About that time he tried to paint many kinds of pictures, such as portraits and sacred subjects, but he did not seem to succeed in anything except the scenes of his boyhood, which he truly loved. Hence he gave up attempting that which he could do only passably, and kept to what he could do supremely well.
When his friends wished him to continue portrait painting, the only thing that was well paid at that time, Constable wrote: "You know I have always succeeded best with my native scenes. They have always charmed me, and I hope they always will. I have now a path marked out very distinctly for myself, and I am desirous of pursuing it uninterruptedly."
About the time he fell in love and before his father's death, his health began to fail, and the young woman's mother would have none of him. Her father was in favour of Constable, but he could not hold out against the chance of his daughter losing her grandfather's fortune by marrying the wrong man.
The lady was not so distractingly in love as young Constable was, and she did not entirely like the idea of poverty, even with John, so she held off, and with so much anxiety Constable became downright ill. For five years the pair lived apart, and then the artist and the young woman, whose name was Maria Bicknell, lost their mothers about the same time, This drew them very closely together; and to help the matter on, John's attendance upon his father in his last illness brought him to the same town as Miss Bicknell. After his father's death, he urged the young lady so strongly to be his wife that she consented They were married and her father soon forgave her, but not so her grandfather, who declared that he never would forgive her, but he really must have done so from the first, for when he died it was found that he had left her a little fortune of oe4,000. This was about the same amount the artist had received from his father, so that they were able to get on very well.
After Constable's marriage he went on a visit to Sir George Beaumont, and there an amusing incident occurred which is known to-day as the story of Sir George's "brown tree." It seems that Constable's ideas of colour for his landscapes were so true to nature that a good many people did not approve of them, and one day while painting, Sir George declared that the colour of an old Cremona fiddle was the best model of colour tone that a landscape could have. Constable's only answer was to place the fiddle on the green lawn in front of the house. At another time his host asked the artist, "Do you not find it very difficult to determine where to place your brown tree?" "Not at all," was Constable's reply, "for I never put such a thing into a picture in my life."
In painting one picture many times he declared, "Its light cannot be put out because it is the light of nature." A Frenchman called attention to one of his pictures thus: "Look at these landscapes by an Englishman. The ground appears to be covered with dew."
Notwithstanding the little fortune of his wife and himself, Constable was not quite carefree, because he had to raise a good sized family of six children so that when his wife's father died and left his daughter oe20,000 he said to a friend: "Now I shall stand before a six-foot canvas with a mind at ease, thank God!" In the very midst of this happiness, his beloved wife became ill with consumption, and was certain to die. He no longer cared very much for life and wrote very sadly:
"I have been ill, but am endeavouring to get work again, and could I get afloat upon a canvas of six feet, I might have a chance of being carried from myself." When he became a member of the Royal Academy, he said: "It has been delayed until I am solitary and cannot impart it," meaning that without his dear wife to share his good fortune, it seemed an empty honour to him.
Strange things are told which show how little his work was valued by his countrymen. After he had become a member of the Academy one of his small pictures was entered but rejected; nobody knowing anything about it. It was put on one side among the "outsiders." Finally, one of his fellow members glancing at it was attracted.
"Stop a bit! I rather like that. Why not say 'doubtful'?" Later Constable acknowledged the picture as his, and then they wished to hang it, but he refused to let them. Another Academy story is about his picture "Hadleigh Castle." On Varnishing Day, Chartney, a brilliant critic, told Constable that the foreground of the picture was "too cold," and so he undertook to "warm it," by giving it a strong glaze with asphaltum with Constable's brush which he snatched from the artist's hand. Constable gazed at him in horror. "Oh! there goes all my dew," he cried, and when Chartney's back was turned he hurriedly wiped the "warmth" all away and got back his "dew."
Even the amusing things that happened to him, seem to have a little sadness about them. He wrote to a friend: "Beechey was here yesterday, and said: 'Why d—n it Constable, what a d—n fine picture you are making; but you look d—n ill, and you've got a d—n bad cold!' so," added Constable, "you have evidence on oath of my being about a fine picture and that I am looking ill."
An illustration of his painstaking and truthfulness to nature is that he once took home with him from a visit bottles of coloured sand and fragments of stone which he meant to introduce into a picture; and on passing some slimy posts near a mill, he said to his host, "I wish you could cut those off and send their tops to me."
Constable was a loyal friend, the most persistent of men, and several anecdotes are told of his characteristics. His friend Fisher said to him:
"Where real business is to be done, you are the most energetic and punctual of men. In smaller matters, such as putting on your breeches, you are apt to lose time in deciding which leg shall go in first."
PLATE—THE HAY WAIN
This picture was first called "Landscape," and it was painted in 1821. In his letters about it, however, Constable also called it "Noon," and others wrote of it as "Midsummer Noon." This tells us what a wealth of hot sunlight is suggested by the painting.
It shows a little farmhouse upon the bank of a stream, a spot well known as "Willy Lott's Cottage." The owner had been born there and he died there eighty-eight years later, without ever having left his cottage for four whole days in all those years. Upon the tombstone of Lott, which is in the Bergholt burial ground, his epitaph calls the house "Gibeon Farm." It was a favourite scene with Constable, and he painted it many times from every side. It is the same house we see in the "Mill Stream," another Constable painting, and again in "Valley Farm." In this last picture he painted the side opposite to the one shown in the "Hay Wain."
The stream near which the house stands spreads out into a ford, and in the picture the hay cart, with two men upon it, is passing through the ford. The horses are decked out with red tassels. On the right of the stream there is a broad meadow, golden green in the sunlight, "with groups of trees casting cool shadows on the grass, and backed by a distant belt of woodland of rich blues and greens." On the right is a fisherman, half hidden by a bush, standing near his punt.
Constable wrote to his friend, Fisher, "My picture goes to the Academy on the tenth." This was written on April 1st, 1821. "It is not so grand as Tinney's." This shows us, that Constable had not vanity enough to interfere with his self-criticism. Again in a letter written to him by a friend: "How does the 'Hay Wain' look now it has got into your own room again?" adding that he wished to see it there, away from the Academy which to him was always "like a great pot of boiling varnish."
Later Fisher wrote: "I have a great desire to possess your 'Wain,' but I cannot now reach what it is worth;" and he begged Constable not to sell it without giving him a chance to try once more to raise the money to buy it. He wrote that the picture would become of greater value to his children if the artist left it hanging upon the walls of the Academy, "till you join the society of Ruysdael, Wilson, and Claude. As praise and money will then be of no value to you, the world will liberally bestow both."
Later a Frenchman wished to buy it for exhibition purposes, and when Constable wrote to Fisher of this, his friend replied that he had better sell it to the Frenchman "for the sake of the eclat it may give you. The stupid English public, which has no judgment of its own, will begin to think there is something in it if the French make your works national property. You have long lain under a mistake; men do not purchase pictures because they admire them, but because others covet them."
Finally, the "Hay Wain" was sold to the French dealer for oe250, and Constable threw in a picture of Yarmouth for good measure. Later a friend declared that he had created a good deal of argument about landscape painting, and that there had come to be two divisions, for he had practically founded a new school. He received a gold medal for the "Hay Wain," and the French nation tried to buy it. In the Louvre are "The Cottage," "Weymouth Bay," and "The Glebe Farm." Elsewhere are "Hampstead Heath," "Salisbury Cathedral," "The Lock on the Stour," "Dedham Mill," "The Valley Farm," "Gillingham Mill," "The Cornfield," "Boat-Building," "Flatford Mill on the River Stour," besides many others.
JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY
English School 1737-1815
A little boy with a squirrel was the first picture that pointed this artist toward fame and that was painted in England and exhibited at the Society of Arts.
This American-born Irishman had no family or ancestry of account, but he himself was to become the father of Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, and he did some truly fine things in art.
About the same time America had another painter, Benjamin West, marked out for fame, but he got his start in Europe while Copley had already become a successful artist before he left Boston, his native place.
He liked best to paint "interiors"—rooms with fine furniture and curtains, women in fine clothing and men in embroidered waistcoats and bejewelled buckles.
In 1777 he got into the Royal Academy, and on the whole had considerable influence on European art. If we study the portraits that he painted while in Boston, we can get a very complete idea of the surroundings of the "Royalists" at the time of our colonial history.
PLATE—THE COPLEY FAMILY GROUP
In this picture there are seven figures with an open landscape forming the background. The baby of the family plays, with uplifted arms, upon grandfather's knee. The mother on the couch, surrounded by her three other children, is kissing one while another clings to her. Before her stands a prim little maid, gowned in the fashion of grown-folks of her day. A little lock of hair falling upon her forehead suggests that when she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid! She wears a little cap. At the back is the artist himself in a wig and other fashions of the time. A great column rises behind him, forming a part of the architecture or the landscape, one hardly knows which in so artificially constructed a picture.
Copley painted also John Hancock, Judge Graham, Jeremiah Lee, and General Joseph Warren.
JEAN BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT
(Pronounced Zhahn Bah-teest' Cah-mee'yel Coh'roh) Fontainebleau-Barbizon School 1796-1875 Pupil of Michallon
About three hundred years before Corot's time there was a Fontainebleau school of artists, made up of the pathetic Andrea del Sarto, the wonderful Leonardo da Vinci, and Cellini. These painters had been summoned from their Italian homes by Francis I., to decorate the Palace of Fontainebleau. The second great group of painters who had studios in the forest and beside the stream were Rousseau, Dupre, Diaz, and Daubigny; Troyon, Van Marcke, Jacque; then Millet, the painter of peasants.
Corot was born in Paris and received what education the ordinary school at Rouen could give him. He was intended by his parents for something besides art, as it would seem that every artist in the world was intended. Corot was to grow up and become a respectable draper; at any rate a draper.
The young chap did as his father wished, until he was twenty-six years old, and dreary years those must have been to him. He did not get on well with his master, nor did the world treat him very well. He found neither riches nor the fame that was his due till he was an old man of seventy. At that age he had become as rich a man as he might have been had he remained a sensible draper.