STORIES PICTURES TELL
FLORA L. CARPENTER
Instructor in drawing in Waite High School, Toledo, Ohio Formerly supervisor of drawing, Bloomington, Illinois
Illustrated with Half Tones from Original Photographs
RAND MCNALLY & COMPANY
CHICAGO NEW YORK
Copyright, 1918, by RAND MCNALLY & COMPANY All rights reserved Edition of 1928
Made in U. S. A.
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER PAGE
"The Sower" Millet 1
"Highland Shepherd's Chief Mourner" Landseer 13
NOVEMBER, DECEMBER, AND JANUARY
"Children of the Shell" Murillo 23
"Saved" Landseer 31
FEBRUARY AND MARCH
"Pilgrim Exiles" Boughton 43
"Dance of the Nymphs" Corot 51
APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE
"Oxen Plowing" Rosa Bonheur 63
Review of Pictures and Artists Studied
The Suggestions to Teachers 75
Art supervisors in the public schools assign picture-study work in each grade, recommending the study of certain pictures by well-known masters. As Supervisor of Drawing I found that the children enjoyed this work but that the teachers felt incompetent to conduct the lessons as they lacked time to look up the subject and to gather adequate material. Recourse to a great many books was necessary and often while much information could usually be found about the artist, very little was available about his pictures.
Hence I began collecting information about the pictures and preparing the lessons for the teachers just as I would give them myself to pupils of their grade.
My plan does not include many pictures during the year, as this is to be only a part of the art work and is not intended to take the place of drawing.
The lessons in this grade may be used for the usual drawing period of from twenty to thirty minutes, and have been successfully given in that time. However, the most satisfactory way of using the books is as supplementary readers, thus permitting each child to study the pictures and read the stories himself.
FLORA L. CARPENTER
STORIES PICTURES TELL
Questions to arouse interest. What is this man doing? Why do you think so? What does he carry over his shoulder? in his bag? How does he sow the grain? What will be the result of his work? How do you think the grain will be covered? What can you see in the background? Do you think the oxen are plowing the field or covering the grain? why? What time of the day is it? What can you see in this picture to indicate that the man has been working a long time? How is he dressed? How does he wear his hat? What kind of boots is he wearing? What makes you think the ground is soft? Is the man standing still, or walking? Why do you think so? Where does he seem to be looking? Why do you think he looks ahead? What is the cause of the glow in the sky behind him? What do you think are the colors in the sky? the colors in the field? What time of the year is it? in what country? What do you like best about this picture?
Original Picture: Vanderbilt Collection, Metropolitan Museum, New York. Artist: Jean Francois Millet (mē'lĕ''). Birthplace: Gruchy, France. Dates: Born, 1814; died, 1875.
The story of the picture. In this picture Millet has tried to tell us only a few important facts about the man and his work. It is easy to see that he is sowing grain broadcast over the field. The shadows creeping over ground and sky tell us that night is fast approaching. He seems intent upon finishing that last stretch of field before dark, and his steady, rhythmic swing shows none of the physical weariness he must feel.
When we think of the life of this sturdy French peasant, as the artist surely intended we should, we realize the patience and perseverance required in the monotonous day's work, and we are forced to a feeling of respect and admiration for him.
In these days with what ease and skill the same task is performed by the aid of machinery! Riding on the seat of a machine which drills the seed into the ground and covers it up, the man would have found the simple task of guiding his horses a very pleasant one indeed. As he walks along so energetically, his eyes are probably fixed on some stake at the end of the field to guide him as he travels back and forth, sowing the grain.
No doubt he used a team of oxen to plow and harrow the ground before he sowed the seed. We have no way of knowing just what kind of a harrow he had, but very likely it was one made of brush or branches of trees. We can see a team of oxen and a driver in the distance, who seem to be following in the tracks of our sower and covering up the seeds he is sowing.
The artist, Millet, knew all about such work, for he himself had worked out in the fields through the long day. He tells us that his "ancestors were peasants and he was born a peasant."
No doubt the man in our picture started out on his day's work long before the sun was up. His first task, after eating his breakfast and feeding his oxen, was to yoke the oxen ready for the journey to the field where their work was to be done. No doubt the man has been working steadily ever since, for he does not look like a man who would stop to rest very many times. He gives us rather a feeling of physical strength and of steady, faithful effort in the accomplishment of his daily tasks.
At the close of such a day's labor in the field he will be too utterly weary to sit up and read, as most of our farmers do during these days of farm machinery and rural delivery. And yet, there were some who did read even in those days when work was so difficult, for we know that Millet sat up many nights with the village priest, who taught him reading and arithmetic, and with whom he studied Latin and read the works of Shakespeare. It was due to this greater knowledge that Millet became something more than a mere peasant. It was this that gave him such perfect sympathy with and keen insight into the peasants' lives. His own knowledge of the world made him more conscious of the great contrast between their narrow, hard-working lives so full of privation, and those of the men and women in the great world outside so full of opportunity and promise. Yet even in so great a city as Paris, men could starve, as he had found out by his own experience.
Perhaps Millet wished to make us feel the content of a successful day's work such as this, with its well-earned quiet and rest, free from the hurry and noise of the city. Although the sun is sinking over a world of beauty and pleasure, our sower knows nothing and cares for nothing except the accomplishment of his task. His hat, pulled down over his face, shades his heavy, coarse features. Although an expert in his work, doing to the utmost, his mind is probably dull and slow and quite unequal to any great mental task. And yet what a great work is his, after all! How dependent we are upon the men of whom he is a type! The fact that he is doing his own work and doing that work well compels our respect and admiration.
The light from the sun disappearing behind the hill brings out in silhouette the figure of the sower turned toward the dark and earthy field. This man is not posing for his picture. Quite unconscious of our gaze, he swings briskly forward, his feet sinking slightly into the newly plowed field. From the bag hanging from his shoulder he scatters the grain with a long sweep of his strong right arm.
He is actually moving in the picture. Take this position for yourself. The weight of the body falls evenly upon both feet. To raise either foot you must move the entire body. As the right foot goes forward the right arm goes back. If you try taking long strides and swinging your arms you will find this is the natural movement.
The horizon line is slanting or diagonal, and divides the light part of the picture from the dark. The sky and ground are held together by the figure of the sower. Notice the absence of details in the picture.
The art critics of Millet's day did not appreciate the great thought expressed in this picture, for nearly all of them found fault with it. They could see no beauty in "a common laborer in his dirty clothes doing his miserable work," and thought Millet should have chosen something more beautiful to paint. What do you think of the justice of this criticism? What is your opinion of the beauty of this picture? Millet loved these simple, kind-hearted, hard-working peasants, loved their lives of toil in the fields, respected their labors, and being so wholly in sympathy with them, he wished to make us feel so, too.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. Where is the man? in what country? How can you tell what time of the day it is? Why does he not seem weary? Why do you think he must be very tired? How early do the French peasants usually start to work? What must this man do before daybreak? Why do you think he is not lazy? Why do we respect and admire him? How could his work be made easier now? How do most of our farmers sow and plant their seed? How did this man plow his ground? What is a harrow for? What kind of a harrow did this man have? What is the team of oxen at the farther end of the field doing? Does this man seem to be looking at the ground or far ahead? How did the artist, Millet, know so much about this kind of work? What would this man probably do after his day's work? Why did he not read the newspaper, as our farmers do? What did Millet do in the evening? How did this help him? What did Millet wish to make us feel in this picture? How does the horizon line divide the picture? How are the sky and ground held together? Why do you suppose Millet did not paint details, such as the features of the face or the buttons on the coat? What did the critics say about this picture? How many agree with them? why? why not?
To the Teacher: Ask one of the pupils to take this position while the others sketch the action, finishing the sketch from memory—and adding their own background. Use ink silhouette, or charcoal on manila paper.
The story of the artist. Jean Francois Millet was the son of poor French peasants who lived on a farm and worked hard to take care of their large family of eight children. Jean was the eldest boy. The father was very fond of music and of all beautiful things out of doors, and often he would say to his son, "Look at that tree, how large and beautiful! It is as beautiful as a flower." He would call the boy's attention to the beauty of the fields, the sunsets, and all things around them.
Millet's mother worked out in the fields with the father all day long, so it was the grandmother who took care of the little boy. It was she who named him Jean after his father, and Francois after the good Saint Francis. She was a deeply religious woman, and nearly all the pictures Millet saw when a boy were those in her Bible. He copied these pictures many times, drawing them with white chalk on the stone walls of the house. This pleased his grandmother very much, and she encouraged him all she could.
At the age of six he was sent to school. When he was twelve years old, the priest of the village became interested in him and offered to teach him Latin. Millet was only too glad to accept this offer, and many a happy evening the two spent thus together. But his studies were frequently interrupted by his work on the farm, for since he was the eldest son his father depended most upon him. It was the custom in France among the peasants to take a daily hour of rest from their labors. But the boy Millet, instead of sleeping, spent the hour in drawing the homely scenes around him.
One Sunday morning, coming home from church, Millet met an old man who walked very slowly, his back bent over a cane. We have all seen just such old men, and their feebleness has aroused our sympathy and respect. It is not strange, then, that something about this bent figure appealed to young Millet so strongly that he could not resist the desire to draw a portrait of the man.
He drew the portrait on a stone wall, with a piece of charcoal, and so well that people passing on their way home from church recognized it at once and were very much surprised and pleased. His father, perhaps, was the most delighted of all, for once he himself had wished to be an artist. Now he determined that his son should have the chance.
We are sure Millet never forgot that day when the father, mother, grandmother, and his brothers and sisters sat around the table after dinner and talked about his wonderful picture and what they could do to help him become a great painter. And when it was finally decided that his father should take him to the artist (Mouchel) in the next village, you may be sure he worked hard on the drawings he was to take with him. At last the day came for the journey, and the proud father and his happy son set out on foot for the home of the artist.
When shown the drawings Mouchel at first refused to believe the boy had made them, they were so good. Finally convinced, he was glad indeed to take Millet as one of his pupils. But Millet studied with him only two months when his father died and he was obliged to return home to take his father's place on the farm as best he could.
By this time the people of the village had become so much interested in his paintings that they decided to help him. So they raised a large sum of money, sent him back to the artist to study, and finally sent him to the great city of Paris, France. But although he painted wonderful pictures which are worth thousands of dollars to-day, his style of art was not appreciated then and would not sell, and he was glad to paint portraits for a few francs each in order to make a living. His life in Paris was a continuous struggle with poverty, and at last he decided to leave. With his wife and children he settled in a little three-roomed cottage at Barbizon, a tiny little village near a great forest and only a day's journey from Paris.
Here was Millet's home all the rest of his life. Although still very poor, the family did not starve, as they came so near doing while they lived in Paris, for the garden and the fruit trees always provided them with something to eat.
At that time the popular artists were painting beautiful pictures of lovely women and men of the nobility in their fine clothes, or of wonderful saints and angels, and pictures showing only the happier side of life. To them Millet's pictures came as a shock, bringing to mind the dirt and grime of the common, everyday tasks of the poorer French peasants. And, more than that, he made them realize the dreadful condition in which the French Revolution had left many of these same peasants, and that was something of which they did not care to be reminded. So they refused to buy his pictures, and it was not until the last ten years of his life that Millet received a little of the recognition and honor that he so richly deserved. With his increasing fame came better financial conditions, and in 1867 he received the ribbon of the Legion of Honor.
Questions about the artist. Who painted this picture? In what country did he live? Tell about his mother and father. Who took care of Millet when he was a boy? What pictures did he copy? Where did he draw them? With what did he draw? Who encouraged him? What did the priest teach him? Tell about the picture of the old man leaning on the cane. Where did he draw this picture? Who saw it? Why do you think it must have been a good likeness? How did Millet's father feel about it? What did he do? How did they travel? What did the artist think? How long did Millet study with him? Why did he return home? What did his neighbors do for him? What was he obliged to paint for a living? Where did he move? What kind of pictures were the popular artists of that day painting? Why were Millet's pictures not popular? When were his pictures appreciated? Why have his pictures outlived those of the popular artists of that time?
HIGHLAND SHEPHERD'S CHIEF MOURNER
Questions to arouse interest. What do you see in this picture? For whom is the dog grieving? What makes you think the shepherd may have been an old man? a religious man? a lonely man? Is there anything in the picture that would suggest the country in which he lived? What is there in the picture to suggest the time of the year? the occupation of the man? What kind of dog is this? Who painted the picture? Tell something about his life. Do you like this picture? How does it make you feel?
Original Picture: South Kensington Museum, London. Artist: Sir Edwin Landseer (lănd''sēr). Birthplace: London, England. Dates: Born, 1802; died, 1873.
The story of the picture. Here we are looking into the interior of a highland shepherd's hut. Our eyes are immediately attracted to the center of the room, where we see the coffin of the shepherd covered with a blanket against which his dog keeps solitary watch. A well-worn Bible and a pair of glasses on the stool near by, the hat, the cane, all suggest something of the life and age of the shepherd. We are told that he was a very old man who had lived all his life among the hills of Scotland. For the last few years, at least, he had lived here alone except for the companionship of his faithful dog and his sheep.
The good old dog could tell you all about it. How, early in the morning, he would go with his master to drive the sheep to the best grazing ground, where all day long they guarded and watched them, the man and the dog sharing their noonday lunch of coarse bread. And why did they need to watch the sheep so carefully? There were a great many eagles whose nests were high up in the giant oak trees or up in some rocky cliff far away, and they came flying over the hills looking for food. Woe to the sheep if their master was not near to care for them, for then an eagle would swoop down upon his choice and carry it away to his nest. Then, too, there may have been wild animals prowling about, and the sheep must be protected from them. The dog and his master also had to keep watch lest some lamb stray away from the flock and get lost.
In the evening the dog helped his master drive the sheep to shelter in the great sheds where they were kept safe all night. Then up the hill they would climb to their home, where the shepherd prepared the simple evening meal for himself and his dog. Now what could they do after supper? It was too far for the old man to go to the distant village, and no one was likely to come in to see them. No doubt, too, he was very tired, and ready to go to bed very early. You know how sleepy you are after you have been out in the fields all day long. But first he read a little in his Bible; and when the dog saw his master take up the book and put on his spectacles, he probably stretched out on the floor and kept very still.
As time went on, the old man became more feeble and the dog worked all the harder to save his master's strength. It may be that toward the last the dog did almost all the work of caring for the sheep. Then, one morning, the old shepherd did not wake up. Even the tugging and sharp barks of his faithful friend failed to arouse him. It may be that the dog's barks brought some passing drovers to the door.
In the picture the dog presses close to the coffin. His clinging paws have dragged the blanket to the floor. His eyes seem full of tears of hopeless grief, as if he understood his master could not come back. He must have kept that same rigid and sorrowful position since the men left. Some green branches placed upon the coffin have fallen to the floor because of the dog's first frantic tugging at the blanket. The shepherd must have led a lonely life indeed to have no one but his faithful dog to watch beside him. His hat and cane lie where he left them, and all is very quiet.
In another picture Landseer painted a dog lying on the ground over the grave where his master lies buried. We can easily imagine that this dog will follow his master to his last resting place and that he, too, will act as sentinel over the grave of the one he loves so dearly. Landseer wanted to make us feel how good and faithful a friend a dog is.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. Whose home was this? In what country did he live? Tell about his life among the hills. Who helped him care for the sheep? Why must they be cared for? Where did they stay at night? What could the old man do in the evening? When he became feeble, who did nearly all the work of caring for the sheep? When the master did not wake up what did the dog probably do? Why have the branches fallen from the coffin? Why do you suppose there is no one else in the room?
The story of the artist. Sir Edwin Landseer's grandfather was a jeweler and his father also learned that trade. The jewelers of that day were very often asked to engrave the copper plates that were used in printing pictures. Sir Edwin's father soon decided that he would rather engrave pictures than sell jewels, and he became a very skillful engraver.
At that time few people realized what an art it was to be able to cut a picture in copper so that a great many copies of it could be made from one plate. They did not even consider it an art as we do, and so engravers were not allowed to exhibit at the Royal Academy and were given no honors at all. Edwin's father thought this was not right, and gave several lectures in defense of the art. He said that engraving is a kind of "sculpture performed by incision." His talks were of no avail at the time, but within a year after his death the engravers received the recognition due them.
His eldest son, Thomas, also became famous as an engraver, and to him we are indebted for so many fine prints of Sir Edwin Landseer's paintings. Thomas also made an engraving of the "Horse Fair" for Rosa Bonheur. Few can afford to own the paintings, but the prints come within the means of all of us.
Edwin's father taught him to draw, and even when Edwin was only five years old he could draw remarkably well. Edwin had three sisters and two brothers. They lived in the country, and often the father went with his children for a walk through the fields. There were two very large fields separated by a fence over which was built an old-fashioned stile with several steps. The fence was built high so the sheep and cows in the fields could not jump over. One day Edwin stopped at the stile to look at the cows and asked his father to show him how to draw them. His father then gave Edwin his first lesson in drawing a cow. After this Edwin came nearly every day to these fields and his father called them "Edwin's studio."
When he was only thirteen years old, two of his pictures were exhibited at the Royal Academy. One was a portrait of a mule, and the other was of a dog and puppies. Edwin painted from real life always, not caring to make copies from the work of others. All the sketches he made when he was a little boy were kept carefully by his father, and now if you go to England you may see them in the South Kensington Museum in London.
Landseer was only sixteen years old when he exhibited his wonderful picture "Fighting Dogs Getting Wind." A very rich man whose praise meant a great deal bought the picture, and the young artist's success was assured.
It was about this time, too, that he painted an old white horse in the stable of another wealthy man. After the picture was finished and ready to deliver, it suddenly disappeared. A diligent search was made for it, but it was not found until twenty-four years afterwards. A servant had stolen it and hidden it in a hayloft. He had been afraid to sell it or even to keep it in his home, for no one would have failed to recognize the great artist's work.
For many years Landseer lived and painted in his father's house in a poor little room without even a carpet. The only furniture, we are told, were three cheap chairs and an easel. Later he had a fine studio not far from Regent's Park. Here was a small house with a garden and a barn. The barn was made over into a studio. Here so many people brought their pets for him to paint that he had to keep a list, and each was obliged to wait his turn. But Sir Edwin was not a very good business man, so he left all his affairs to his father, who sold his pictures for him and kept his accounts.
Landseer made a special study of lions, too. A lion died at the park menagerie and he dissected its body and studied and drew every part. He painted many pictures of lions. He also modeled the great lions at the base of the Nelson Monument in Trafalgar Square, London.
Although Landseer painted so many wild animals, birds, and hunting scenes, he did not care to shoot animals. His weapons were his pencil and sketch book. Sometimes he hired guides to take him into the wildest parts of the country in search of game. But he quite disgusted the guides when, a great deer bounding toward him, he would merely make a sketch of it in his book.
Many of Landseer's paintings are of scenes in Scotland, as is this one, "Highland Shepherd's Chief Mourner." When Sir Edwin Landseer went to visit Scotland one of his fellow travelers was Sir Walter Scott, the great novelist. The two became close friends. Sir Walter Scott tells us: "Landseer's dogs were the most magnificent things I ever saw, leaping and bounding and grinning all over the canvas." Landseer painted Sir Walter Scott's dog "Maida Vale" many times, and he named his studio for the dog.
At twenty-four Landseer became an associate of the Royal Academy, which was an unusual honor for so young a man.
In 1850 the honor of knighthood was conferred upon him.
This story is told of him at a social gathering in the home of a well-known leader of society in London. The company had been talking about skill with the hands, when some one remarked that no one had ever been found who could draw two things at once. "Oh, I can do that," said Landseer; "lend me two pencils and I will show you." Quickly he drew the head of a horse with one hand while with the other he drew a stag's head and antlers. Both sketches were so good that they might well have been drawn with the same hand and with much more study.
Sir Edwin Landseer felt that animals understand, feel, and reason just like people, so he painted them as happy, sad, gay, dignified, frivolous, rich, poor, and in all ways just like human beings. This appealed to the people, and he became very popular.
Sir Edwin did and said all he could against the custom of "cropping" the ears of dogs. He said that nature intended to protect the ears of dogs that "dig in the dirt," and man should not interfere. People paid attention to what he said, and the custom lost favor.
Landseer died in London in 1873 at the age of seventy-one. A tablet placed to his memory in the notch of one of the windows at Westminster Abbey has a medallion portrait of him at the top, and below this, carved in light relief, is a copy of one of his most famous paintings, "The Highland Shepherd's Chief Mourner."
Questions about the artist. Tell about Sir Edwin Landseer's father. What did he do? Why were engravers not allowed to exhibit their work? What did Edwin's father do to defend his art? What did Edwin's brother, Thomas, accomplish? Why are we so indebted to him? Who taught Edwin how to draw? Tell about his brothers and their walks in the fields. What animal did Edwin draw first? Where was "Edwin's studio"? Which two of his pictures were exhibited when he was only thirteen years old? What became of the sketches he made when he was a boy? Tell about his two studios. Tell about his picture of the old white horse. With whom did Sir Edwin Landseer travel through Scotland? What did Sir Walter Scott say about Landseer's dogs? How did Landseer happen to name his studio "Maida Vale"? What weapons did Sir Edwin use when he hunted? Why did he not shoot the animals? Tell about his drawing with both hands. In what ways are animals like people according to Landseer's judgment?
CHILDREN OF THE SHELL
Questions to arouse interest. Where do these children seem to be? Which of the two children seems to be the older? What is the boy at the right doing? From what is he drinking? Why do you think the boy at the left has given him a drink? How is he helping him now? What does the boy who is drinking hold in his left hand? How is he standing? What is the lamb doing? Who else seems to be watching them? Why do you think the picture is called "Children of the Shell"? Do you like this picture? why?
=Original Picture:= Prado Gallery, Madrid, Spain. =Artist:= Bartolome Esteban Murillo (m[=oo] rēl''yō). =Birthplace:= Seville, Spain. =Dates:= Born, 1618; died, 1682.
The story of the picture. The great religious painter, Murillo, has given us many pictures of the Christ child and John the Baptist, but perhaps none more pleasing than this one which critics have so often declared the most beautiful picture of children ever painted.
We must go back in our Bible history to the time when the wicked King Herod reigned over Judea, for it was then that our story begins. This proud king had conquered all his enemies and expected to live at ease in his rich and beautiful palace, surrounded by all that would give him comfort and pleasure. But one day he was made very unhappy when a messenger appeared bringing him most unwelcome news. It was that a child had been born in Bethlehem at just the time and place it had been prophesied that a child should be born who would one day be king over all the world. In a manger of a stable, true to the prophecy, the baby Jesus was born. The three wise men of the East and many others who already worshiped him as king sought and found him there. The thought that the child would grow up to rule over his kingdom alarmed King Herod, and he resolved to remove this possible rival before it was too late. Fearful lest the child should escape, Herod sent out a terrible decree that all boy babies under two years of age should be killed. That must have been a dreadful day, for there was little hope of escape or concealment.
However, Mary and Joseph had been warned by an angel several days before, and with the child Jesus they were already safe on their way to Egypt. They had left in the night, and no one could tell anything about them, or where to look for them. Several years later King Herod died, and almost immediately Mary, Joseph, and the boy Jesus started on the homeward journey. It was during this journey, we are told, that the boy, running on ahead of the donkey Mary was riding, found a cool little spring where he could quench his thirst. Suddenly there appeared another boy wearing a camel's-hair cloak and carrying a wooden stick with a cross carved upon it. He was followed by a lamb. It was John the Baptist, who, although only a child, was living among the hills, eating locusts and wild honey, preparing for the great work he was to do. It is supposed that as the mothers of these two boys often visited each other, the children must have met before. In the picture we see them standing near the cool little spring. Jesus has in his hand a shell which, straightway forgetting his own thirst, he has filled and now offers to his cousin John.
John the Baptist is bending over to drink from the shell which Jesus holds for him. The lamb watches them contentedly, while from the sky above the angels, with clasped hands and smiling faces, look down in silent adoration. Although he does not look at them, Jesus seems conscious of their presence, for he points toward them with his little hand. Light radiates from the clouds and the angels, while deep shadows at the left and the right serve to heighten the effectiveness of the central part of the picture. The lamb, as the symbol of innocence, is the natural playmate of these two healthy, sturdy boys. The little John drinks eagerly, as if he were indeed thirsty and weary, while Jesus, although younger in years, has the kind and thoughtful look of an elder brother caring for a younger.
At this moment they seem to be merely two thirsty boys, little knowing the great work before them or thinking of anything but to quench their thirst. Yet some of the coming greatness shows itself in the generous action of the child Jesus and the gentle acceptance of John the Baptist.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. Whom does this picture represent? For what kind of paintings is Murillo famous? what subjects? Tell about King Herod. Why was he worried when he heard of the birth of Jesus? What did he do in order to be sure the child would be killed? What did the parents of the baby Jesus do? When was it safe for the boy Jesus to return? How did he happen to meet John at the spring? How was John dressed? What followed him? For what does the lamb stand? Who has the shell? What does he do with it? Why do you suppose he did not drink first? To whom does Jesus point or beckon with his left hand? Which boy was the younger? For what is this picture famous?
The story of the artist. A little Spanish boy, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, born into the home of a poor mechanic, and with no opportunities save those of his own making, grew to be one of the greatest of Spanish painters. Both his parents died before he was eleven years old, and he seems to have been left quite to his own devices. Until that time he had attended school, where his ability to draw had shown itself in pictures drawn on the walls of the school building.
After school and on Saturdays he had assisted an artist, doing such work as cleaning brushes, grinding paints, and running errands. An uncle had secured this position for him, but seemed to be unable to help him further. By these means and by painting banners and pictures for the weekly market, the boy earned his own living. The peasants came to Seville from all the country around, bringing in their fruits, vegetables, and wares to sell. Here the young Murillo took his paintings, which were on coarse, cheap cloth instead of on canvas, which he could not afford. Sometimes it was a Madonna, sometimes a portrait of the buyer which he would finish quickly while the crowd watched, or sometimes one of the beggar boys in the gypsy quarters of the city.
But Murillo had a boy friend who went to London to study with the great Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and who, when he returned, brought such news of the wonderful paintings in the galleries of London and Paris that Murillo began to dream of seeing them. Before he had saved enough money to go, however, the artist Van Dyck died, and Murillo decided to go to Madrid, where one of his own countrymen, Velasquez, had won great fame. He walked nearly all the way, presenting his letter of introduction to Velasquez, who received him most kindly.
Murillo was now twenty-four years old, enthusiastic, ambitious, and manly. Velasquez soon discovered his great talent, and not only received him as a pupil but took him into his own home, where he remained three years. When, at the end of that time, he returned to Seville, his fame as an artist was established and pupils came to him from all over the country. His friends could be found among the very poorest beggars as well as among the most influential men of the city, and he was idolized by his pupils. Always of a deeply religious nature, he chose religious subjects for most of his paintings. In his studio all swearing and ill conduct were forbidden, and his religious paintings were produced only after much prayerful meditation.
He gave so generously to the poor about him that it was said he gave away all he earned.
Often his wife, who was very beautiful, his lovely daughter, or his two handsome sons posed for his paintings, and so we find the same faces repeated in several pictures.
One day when Murillo was painting on the walls of a convent the cook there asked him to paint a small picture for him on a napkin, which was all he had to offer for a canvas. Without hesitation Murillo painted a beautiful Madonna and Child which has since become famous as the "Virgin of the Napkin."
While painting the ceiling in a church in Cadiz the scaffolding broke and he fell, injuring himself so seriously that he died shortly after.
Every Sunday afternoon, which is a free day at the gallery in Madrid, crowds of the poor, men, women, and children, may be seen gathered around the paintings by Murillo, which they regard with an admiration which is almost worship. To them Murillo is little less than a saint.
Questions about the artist. In what country did Murillo live? What nationality do his pictures represent? Tell about his boyhood. In what did he excel at school? What work did he do after school and on Saturdays? What else did Murillo do to earn money? Tell about the weekly market. What did Murillo paint for the market? Whom did he paint? What did his boy friend tell him that made him want to go to London? Why did he not go? What happened before he had saved enough money to go? To whom did he go then? How did he go? How old was he by that time? What did the artist Velasquez do for him? What kind of people were Murillo's friends? What kind of pictures did he like to paint best? How did he prepare for this? What rules did he have in his studio? Tell about the cook at the convent and the napkin. What is this picture called? How was Murillo hurt? How do some of the Spanish people regard Murillo?
Questions to arouse interest. What has happened? Where are the dog and the child? Why do you think it could not have been a shipwreck? Why are the sea gulls flying around? What can you see in the distance? What kind of a beach is it?
Artist: Sir Edwin Landseer (lănd''sēr). Birthplace: London, England. Dates: Born, 1802; died, 1873.
The story of the picture. This fine Newfoundland dog has just saved the life of a little child. We can see even in this print of the picture that they are both dripping wet, and so we know the child must have fallen into the water and was about to drown when the dog swam out and brought her safely to the shore.
We can only guess how the accident occurred. It could not have been a shipwreck, for then there would be others for the good old dog to save; besides, although the sky is partly cloudy, there is no evidence of a storm, and we see sailboats in the distance.
The child evidently had not been wading out into the water and gone beyond her depth, because she has on her shoes and stockings and is dressed for a day in the warm sunshine, perhaps out on the beach. Probably she had been playing on the wharf or on the rocky shore and had reached out too far or had slipped on a rock.
The dog, hearing her cry, must have immediately plunged into the water after her. Then holding the child firmly by her dress, he had battled against the waves until he reached a sandy beach from which he had dragged himself to this place.
Although we cannot see the parents, nurse, or playmates, no doubt they are running toward the child and the dog. The dog seems to be watching their approach as he lies there exhausted, guarding the precious burden lying across his paws. His great tongue hangs out and we can almost hear him pant as he gasps for breath after his fierce struggle against the waves.
The child is still unconscious, her large shade hat held by a rubber band under her chin; her arm lies limp and lifeless, yet we are sure the great dog has been in time, and she will soon open her eyes. The sea gulls circle about the two as if they were glad of the rescue, and were trying to show the parents where to find the child.
These powerful Newfoundland dogs are strong swimmers. At the first cry of alarm they usually plunge unbidden into the water, and rarely fail to accomplish a rescue. In France they are kept on the banks of the Seine as important members of the life-saving crew. Here they are carefully trained for this purpose by their masters, who throw a stuffed figure of a man into the water and teach the dogs to bring it back to shore. They are taught always to hold the head of the figure above the water. They seem to understand perfectly just what is wanted of them and why.
A story is told, and it is claimed to be true, of a woman who, while washing clothes on the bank of a river, placed her baby in the clothes basket to keep it safe. In some way the child tipped the basket, rolling out of it and down the bank into the deep water below. The woman screamed but she was helpless. Hearing her cry, a large Newfoundland dog that she had never seen before came swimming down the stream and saved the child, carrying it to the opposite shore.
The woman ran down the bank of the river and secured the help of a ferryman and his grandson, a boy about ten years old. When the boat reached the opposite shore the big dog was licking the hands and face of the cooing child, but growled and barked viciously at the people who were approaching him. No one dared go near him. They tried every device, but no, he could not be coaxed away from the baby.
At last the boy said he had an idea, and off he ran down the bank and jumped into the boat. Rowing out some distance into the river, he suddenly jumped from the boat into the water, uttering a loud cry of distress. He struggled a while, and then to all appearances sank out of sight. The grandfather knew the boy could swim and dive, and yet the suddenness with which he sank alarmed him greatly, and he called out, too.
Immediately the great dog recognized the cry of alarm and, forgetting all else, left his small charge and rushed to the help of the larger one, bringing the boy safely to the shore. Meanwhile, of course, the mother had taken up the baby. The dog, though showing surprise at the quick recovery of the boy he supposed to be nearly drowned, still determined to guard him in the same way he had guarded the baby.
About this time, however, the dog's owner, a huntsman, appeared. The dog greeted him joyously, running from the child to the boy and then to his master as if to tell him what he had done and how he had guarded them until his master came.
Many times it has been told of a Newfoundland that, when annoyed by some small dog that persisted in barking and snapping at him, he would finally seize it by the back of the neck, carry it to the river, and drop it into the water. After watching the struggles of the little dog, which seldom was able to swim, the Newfoundland would plunge in and rescue him. After that you may be sure the little dog took care not to annoy the big one.
A humorous incident is told of two boatmen who, on a wager, started to swim across a stream. When one of the men was in midstream his Newfoundland dog plunged in after him and in spite of his struggles brought him back to the shore by his hair. The crowd which had been watching was greatly amused, but the chagrined sailor was able to laugh in turn when the great animal, mistaking the emotion of the onlookers, brought the other man back also.
A lady who owned a fine Newfoundland dog allowed him one day to carry her parasol. When they came to a baker's shop she bought a bun for him. The next day the dog met another lady coming down the street carrying a parasol. He immediately seized it and ran on ahead until he came to the baker's shop. The lady went in and asked the baker to help her secure her parasol. He suggested that she give the dog a bun as his mistress had done. Then the dog gave up the parasol willingly. He had to be punished very severely before he could be broken of this habit.
Cases have been known of these dogs rescuing even so delicate a thing as a canary bird that had fallen into the water.
Intelligent and faithful, perhaps there is no other dog, unless it be the St. Bernard, which rescues travelers in the snow-covered Alps, that has done so much for man or has saved so many lives.
These dogs show remarkable kindness not only toward man but toward other animals. When another dog has been injured they have been known to carry bones and other food to it.
A Newfoundland was once taken to a dog pound with numerous other dogs. He soon gnawed his rope in two and was about to escape when, hearing the piteous cries of the other dogs, he went from one to another, setting them all free.
Even abuse will not make these loyal animals turn against a master, although they have been known to run away from a cruel one. A story is told of a man who, while rowing a boat, pushed his Newfoundland dog into the stream. The dog followed the boat for some time but, growing tired at last, tried to get back into the boat. The man pushed him away several times, finally pushing so hard that he overturned the boat and was about to drown. The good dog, however, caught hold of his coat and held him above water until help came.
In the island of Newfoundland these dogs are used much as we use horses, and are very valuable. With them duty is first. We often hear of one of these dogs carrying a basket of meat, a paper, or some other thing for his owner, and bearing any amount of annoyance from other dogs until he has delivered his charge safely; then he promptly goes back and punishes the offenders in such a way that they dare not interfere with him again.
These dogs are noble animals indeed. Their lives are devoted to man, though their devotion is not always appreciated as it should be.
Lord Byron writes:
"In life the firmest friend, The first to welcome, foremost to defend; Whose honest heart is still his master's own; Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone. The rich man's guardian, and the poor man's friend."
No wonder Sir Edwin Landseer loved to paint these noble animals. Their intelligent look and, better still, their brave and noble deeds render them almost human, lacking only the power of speech. It seems sometimes as if they really do talk, and the owners of such dogs declare that their actions prove that the dogs understand every word said to them.
Sir Edwin Landseer has painted another picture of a Newfoundland dog, called "A Member of the Royal Humane Society," which looks so much like this one that it might be the same dog.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. What kind of a dog is this? What has he done? What makes you think he and the little girl have been in the water? that there has not been a shipwreck? Why do you think the child had not been wading? How is she dressed? How do you suppose she happened to fall into the water? How could this dog save her? Where do you suppose the child's playmates and nurse are? Where is the dog lying? Why does he not take the child to them? What makes you think he is tired? How are Newfoundland dogs sometimes trained in France? Tell about the washwoman and her baby. How was the baby rescued? Why could the mother not take the child? What did the boy do? What happened then? When were they released? How do Newfoundland dogs sometimes punish small dogs that annoy them? Why do they not drown? Tell about the two boatmen and their wager. Tell about the dog and the lady's parasol. What do these stories tell us about Newfoundland dogs? What other kind of dogs save many lives? What did the Newfoundland do at the dog pound? How do they sometimes resent abuse? Tell about the boatman and his dog. Upon what island are they used to carry burdens? Tell a story showing that duty comes first with these dogs. What other picture of this dog has Sir Edwin Landseer painted? Why do you think he was especially fond of Newfoundland dogs?
To the Teacher: Short stories of the bravery and faithfulness of dogs may take the place of other talks on kindness to animals.
SUBJECTS FOR COMPOSITIONS
A Description of a Newfoundland Dog. How a Dog Saved a Child from Drowning. The Smartest Dog I Ever Saw. The Bravest Dog I Ever Heard of. A Description of a St. Bernard Dog. How to Treat a Dog. Why We Should Be Kind to Dogs.
The story of the artist. When Edwin Landseer was a small boy he lived in the country. Nearly every day at breakfast the father would ask his boys, "What shall we draw to-day?" The three boys would take turns choosing and sometimes they would vote on it. Then out across the fields the father and his boys would tramp until they came to where the donkeys, sheep, goats, and cows were grazing. Each would choose the animal he wished to draw; then the four would sit down on the grass and make their sketches. Edwin's first choice for a subject was a cow, and his father helped him draw it.
When he was five years old he drew a picture of a dog asleep on the floor that was very much better than any his older brothers could do, and so even then they began to expect much from him.
At this time Edwin had three dogs of his own named Brutus, Vixen, and Boxer. They were always with him, and so intelligent they almost seemed to speak.
In their back yard the children had several pens for pet rabbits and they kept pigeons in the attic of their house. The story is told of how Mr. Landseer once decided to move, selected the house, and thought all was settled, when the landlord refused to rent the house to him because he kept so many animals and birds as pets.
We read of how the father and his sons made many visits to the Zoological Gardens where they could watch and make sketches of lions, bears, and other wild animals. One day they saw a strange sight in one of the store windows in London—a large Newfoundland dog caring for a lion. The lion had been caught in Africa when it was very little and had been cared for by this dog. They had never been separated. Now, although the lion was much larger than the dog, they were still the best of friends.
Sometimes the dog would punish the lion if it did not behave, and the great beast would whimper just as if it could not help itself. All three boys made many sketches of this strange pair and could hardly be persuaded to leave the window.
Every one knew of Sir Edwin Landseer and wanted some one of his pictures of dogs because it looked so much like a dog they knew.
In the story of the picture "Highland Shepherd's Chief Mourner," are further particulars of the life of Sir Edwin Landseer.
Questions about the artist. What other picture have we studied by this artist? Tell about Sir Edwin Landseer's boyhood. How did the brothers decide where to go to sketch? How old was Edwin when he drew a very good picture of a dog? What was the dog doing? Tell about Edwin's dogs; the other pets. Why did the landlord refuse to rent Edwin's father a house? Tell about the Newfoundland dog and the lion. What else can you tell about the artist's life?
Questions to arouse interest. Describe this picture. Where are these people? Who are they? Who were the Pilgrims? Where are they looking? Why do you think they may be homesick or sad? What time of day do you think it is? (Notice the shadows.) What time of year does it seem to be? How is the man dressed? the two women? What relation do you think these people are to each other? Upon what is the older woman sitting? What can you see in the distant background?
Artist: George Henry Boughton (bo''tȯn). Birthplace: Norwich, England. Dates: Born, 1833; died, 1905.
The story of the picture. We all know how, long ago, that sturdy band of one hundred and two Puritans left England in the small and storm-beaten ship called the Mayflower. They were called Puritans because they were dissatisfied with the religion of the Church of England, and demanded purification of all the old observances and doctrines.
When they began to establish in England separate churches of their own, they were driven from place to place. They longed for a land where they could worship God in their own way, so they came to America, determined to endure every danger and to trust in God to care for them. Their wanderings from place to place had given them a new name, "Pilgrim," which means "wanderer." Then, ever since their landing on the rock at Plymouth, they have been called Pilgrim Fathers.
There were many women and children in this band of wanderers. On the journey a little baby was born and was called Oceanus after the great rolling ocean.
The Pilgrims endured many hardships in those first few years, and none more distressing than the frequent attacks by the Indians, who resented the strangers' presence in a land which belonged to them. The Pilgrims carried their guns with them even when they went to church, for they never knew just when they might be attacked.
They arrived in the fall of the year, too late to plant grain or to put by enough provisions for the winter, so they were quite dependent upon the provision boat from England. Often this boat was long delayed because of storms at sea, or because the people in England did not send it on time. This caused much suffering and distress.
In our picture we see three of the first settlers of our New England coast, waiting for the provision ship. The waves come rolling in to this rough and barren shore, but as far as the eye can see there is yet no sign of the awaited boat. On that point of land in the distance are a few rude houses which must be the homes of the Pilgrims. This dreary place, so bleak and barren, makes us wonder how they could ever hope to survive the perils of a winter there.
Our interest is centered upon the three figures at the right in the picture. One can almost read the thoughts expressed in the three faces. The figure of the man stands out strong and erect, and there is that in his fixed gaze which tells us his thoughts are far away. No doubt he is thinking of his old home across the ocean. He is homesick, yet go back he would not; there is no sign of discouragement. His wife, standing beside him, places her hand on his shoulder to comfort him, but she too looks as if she were thinking of that other home and the friends across the sea. Her gentle, refined face is saddened for the moment, yet in it we see expressed the fine courage which has carried her thus far along the way.
The mother, seated on the great rock, has the same thoughtful, far-away gaze. Her hands, clasped in her lap, have more of resignation and patience in them. Probably her thoughts and affections are centered in the two dear ones beside her, and in their welfare, rather than in the friends across the sea.
Notice the Puritan dress, cloaks, shoes, caps, and collars. These people are well dressed, and do not seem to be poor. Perhaps they are simply longing to hear from their friends, and hoping the ship will bring some news of them. It may be that it has been due for several days, and each day they have walked out to this same rocky point, hoping to see it on the distant horizon.
They are dressed in warm clothes. From that fact and from the half-bare branches of the bush that we see growing beside the rock in the foreground of the picture we should judge it to be the fall of the year.
Standing in the bright sunlight, they look anxiously out toward the rolling ocean. The length of the shadows makes us think it must be late in the afternoon.
When at last they catch a glimpse of the dark masts of the approaching ship they will send a glad shout along the shore, and soon the beach will be crowded with an anxious throng of people hoping for some message or news from home.
At what seems to be a long distance from the shore the great ship will cast anchor and send out its rowboats filled with passengers, mail, and provisions. How eagerly the homesick people will crowd around the new arrivals and welcome them! Our three friends will not be standing quiet and alone, but each will be hurrying about to help the others. The spirit of helpfulness was very strong in those days of hardship and toil.
Notice the arrangement of lights and shadows in this picture. Our eye is first attracted to the faces of these three Pilgrims, then carried almost in a circle to the ocean, the rocks at the left side of the picture, to the rock the mother is seated upon, and back to the three faces. Start where we please the play of light leads us back to the three faces brought out by the white collars. Suppose we start with the mother's hands, our eyes follow her apron, the man's shoes, the light on the grass and ocean, then to the man's face and on around. Without these echoes of light, the picture would be unbalanced and much less interesting.
Half close your eyes and study the picture. There is not a single straight line in the composition. Notice the placing of the horizon line, of the distant shore. The artist started his landscape much as we do, with a rectangular space divided into two parts by the horizon line. He chose for his picture a small division for sky; the larger space to be divided into less than half as much water as land. Instead of standing so the shore line would appear exactly horizontal, he chose a position where the near shore line and that of the distant point of land are at an angle, thus relieving the monotony.
The tall, determined figure of the man, and his gentle wife, standing silhouetted against the sky, hold the ground space and the sky space together, while the mother seated on the rock serves as another connecting link. All the figures serve to unite the different parts of the picture into an effect of unity most gratifying to the eye.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. Tell about the Puritans. Why were they so called? Why did they leave England? In what boat did they sail? To what country did they come? Why were they then called Pilgrims? Why did they have such a hard time in this country? Upon what were they dependent? Why was the boat often delayed? What are the three people in our picture waiting for? What do the expressions in their faces tell us? How can we tell what time of year it is? the time of day? What will they do when they see the boat? Who will join them? Where will they come from? What can you see of their homes? Why are they so anxious to have the boat come? Why cannot the ship land at this beach? How will it land its passengers and freight? What do you suppose these three people will be doing then? What can you say of the composition of this picture? What did the artist consider first? What holds the ground and the sky spaces together? What can you say of the light and shade in this picture? Why is the picture called "Pilgrim Exiles"?
The story of the artist. George Henry Boughton was born near Norwich, England, but when he was only a year old his parents came to America. He grew up and was educated at Albany, New York, where he first began to paint.
As soon as he started to school he showed great skill at drawing, by, as he says, "drawing every mortal thing that came under my notice."
When he was nineteen years old he sold enough of his sketches to pay his way back to London, England. He spent several months in England, sketching wherever he went. When he came back to New York he painted a picture called "Winter Twilight," which marked the beginning of his success. Later he spent a year in Paris, finally making his permanent home in London.
His studio in New York City was given up, but, although he lived in England, his art remained distinctly American.
He was especially interested in the history and literature of our country and has been called "the interpreter and illuminator of New England life in the seventeenth century."
Besides painting, he wrote for magazines, illustrating his own stories with great success.
Questions about the artist. Tell about the artist. Where was he born? Where did he grow up? How old was he when he came to America? In what did he excel at school? When did he go back to England? How did he earn the money? What did he do when he came back? Of what country did he paint the most pictures? What part of our history interested him especially? In what else was he successful besides painting?
DANCE OF THE NYMPHS
Questions to arouse interest. Of what is this a picture? What time of the year do you think it is? what time of the day? What are the people doing? Half close your eyes and look at the picture. What do you see first? what next? Where is the sun? How do you know? (Look at the trunks of the trees and the shadows.) What do you see in the foreground to the left? to the right? Do you like this scene? why?
Original Picture: Luxembourg Gallery, Paris, France. Artist: Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (ko'ro''). Birthplace: Paris, France. Dates: Born, 1796; died, 1875.
The story of the picture. The artist who painted this picture, Jean Baptiste Corot, tells us that when he was a small boy he used to lean out of his window at night, long after his mother and father thought him safe in bed, to watch the clouds, the sky, and the trees. He continued this study as a young man, and soon made friends with three other young men, all artists (Rousseau, Daubigny, and Dupre) who were also studying nature. All had studios and painted in the city; but they were always longing for a glimpse of the country. One day the four started out together for a day's outing, each taking his painter's outfit. They went to the end of the omnibus line from Paris and then started on foot for a long tramp across the country. It was then they thought of the great Forest of Fontainebleau, where nature was wild and undisturbed in its wondrous beauty.
"We will go to that beautiful forest and spend our vacation there," they said.
And so it came about several weeks later. In this forest, at all times of the day or night, they could be found wandering about, searching out new vistas and discovering new wonders and beauties in nature.
They hid their paints and brushes in the rocks to keep them from the dew, and they themselves slept under the spreading branches of the great oak trees. These city-bred young men, brought up in the rush and hurry of the great city of Paris, cared for no other shelter than the wide expanse of sky and the protecting branches of the trees.
So when we know that later Corot came to live near this Forest of Fontainebleau, it is easy to guess where he painted this picture called the "Dance of the Nymphs." Sometimes this picture is called "Morning," for Corot painted another picture much like this one, and called it, "The Dance of the Nymphs, Evening."
Corot is often spoken of as the "happy one," and many stories are told of him and how surprising it was to hear him singing lustily as he painted. Seated on his camp stool before his easel, wearing his blue calico blouse and painter's hat, he was indeed happy. He is described as adding the finishing touches to one of his landscapes in this way:
"Let us put that there—tra, la, tra, la,—a little boy,—ding dong, ding dong! Oh, a little boy, he wants a cap—la, la, la, la, tra la!"
People always smiled when they saw Corot start out, carrying his easel, paints, and brushes, and singing or whistling like a care-free boy. But it happened more often that they saw him going toward home in the evening, for he had a way of starting out before sunrise when nobody was about and seating himself in some lovely spot in the woods, waiting breathlessly to see what would happen next.
That is what he did the morning he sketched this picture. The grass was heavy with dew, the birds were still asleep, all was quiet and covered with the veil of night. As the mist slowly lifted, the great trees gradually assumed definite shapes, the birds awoke, the sun shone forth, and all was bright and fresh as the early mornings in spring always are. Look at this picture, then close your eyes and open them slowly, and you yourself can see just such an awakening to life.
Is it any wonder then that, as Corot sat, pencil in hand, this lovely spring morning and watched the trees gradually take shape against the slowly lightening sky, and listened to the birds singing their morning greeting, he should fancy he saw the fairy wood nymphs come out from their secret hiding places and dance joyously about in the bright morning sunlight? It seems most natural indeed that they should be there, and dancing, too. The mere fact of being alive on such a morning as this fills us too with delight.
When Corot began to paint his large picture from the small sketch he made in the woods that morning, he must have sung his merriest tunes. The picture seems full of music, from the quivering leaves, the waving grass, and the shifting clouds to the dancing figures. Although there is not a bird in sight, we know that they are there, and it takes very little imagination to hear them singing.
At the right-hand side of the picture one of the wood nymphs has seized the hand of a timid companion, urging her to come and join in the frolic. So much are we in sympathy with those merry ones that we too find ourselves unconsciously urging her to join in the dance.
When he painted trees, Corot did not pay very great attention to details, and so we cannot always tell what kind of trees they were. He cared most to make us feel the beauty of the sunlight on their tender leaves, their growth, and the protection they offer to birds and men.
A young art student once approached Corot and asked him why he left so many things out of his pictures and put others in. Then pointing to a certain tree in Corot's painting he said, "This tree is not in the landscape." Corot smiled, then whispered to him, "Don't you tell, but I put it there to please the birds."
It would be difficult indeed to find a single straight line in our picture, so full is it of rhythmic curves, from the treetops to the graceful figures in the foreground. The skillful blending of colors, of light and shade, gives it that mysterious, misty quality which is one of its chief charms. Corot's favorite colors were pale green, gray browns, and silvery grays. One little touch of bright color in his pictures makes them alive. The costumes of the nymphs were chosen for the very few bright touches in this painting, and the tall, slender tree near the left-hand side of the picture for the pale green feathery foliage of early spring.
Our eye moves pleasantly through all the leafy maze of this enchanted forest. We are at the edge of the woods. Looking out through the trees we see the wide, open fields beyond, with their high canopy of sky, and we feel a new contentment steal over us as our eye again seeks this sheltered nook in the great Forest of Fontainebleau.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. How had the artist, Corot, studied the clouds, sky, and trees? With whom did he become friends? What were these three young artists doing? Where did they go for an outing? What did they take with them? What forest did they decide would be a good place to spend a vacation? How did they live in this forest? What shelter did they have? What nickname did they give Corot? How did he like to paint? How did he dress? What did he do while painting? Where was this picture painted? What is it sometimes called? What time of day did he usually start out to paint? What are the nymphs doing? What did Corot wish to tell us about the trees? What did a young art student once ask Corot? What was the answer? Of what kind of lines is this picture made up? What colors were used? Where are the bright colors? In what part of the forest is this picture? What can you see through the open space?
The story of the artist. From the very first all things seemed to favor Corot. Of a naturally happy disposition, born into a family of means, and all his life free from financial worries, everything seemed to combine to make his life one of care-free ease and pleasure.
His father and mother kept a millinery store; this must have been a good business, for they soon accumulated a comfortable fortune.
At ten years of age Corot was sent away to school at Rouen in the hope of making a business man of him. He lived with a friend of his father who was a serious man but also a great lover of nature. Corot took many a long walk with him over narrow, unfrequented paths. They took these walks usually at the close of the day, and so Corot's love of the twilight hour grew strong.
Upon his return to Paris seven years later, his father placed him in a drygoods store, where he remained for nearly nine years. Whenever there were no customers the boy would hide under the counter and draw. His employer was a good-natured man and he sympathized with Corot in his desire to be a painter. So he told the father it was of no use to try to make a business man of him as his tastes were all for art.
About this time Corot went to his father and asked his permission to study painting. The father was not at all pleased with the idea, but decided to let him try. He told his son he had set aside a certain sum of money to start him in business for himself and he could choose that or a small income which would be allowed him for the study of art. If he chose the latter, however, he must not expect any other help from his father, as he did not approve of this new venture. But Corot embraced his father most affectionately and declared he had made him the happiest person in the world. He then proceeded at once to the nearest store and bought a complete painter's outfit. Choosing a spot by the river near his father's house, he began to paint. He tells us how the girls who worked in the millinery store slipped away and came to see what he was doing. He never parted with this first painting, but kept it as a reminder of his great happiness when he was at last free to do "what he most desired in the world."
He studied under several artists, but received little encouragement until he went to Rome to study.
Most of the paintings of that time were classical, including Greek temples, shepherds, nymphs, or dryads, and such trees as cedars and palms. That is why Millet's simple peasants and Corot's misty landscapes were not appreciated.
At Rome, Corot became a great favorite among the students because of his happy nature and the rollicking, jolly songs he could sing. But as for his pictures,—they were considered very amusing.
However, one day as he sat sketching the Coliseum a friend who was regarded as an authority on landscape painting praised his work. Corot looked around expecting to be laughed at, but no,—the man was in earnest. That evening, before all the other students, he remarked that Corot might some day become the master of them all. This gave him standing among the artists and was greatly appreciated by Corot, who always felt that this praise was the beginning of his success. It was not long after this that his pictures were exhibited and many honors came to him.
Does it seem strange that Corot and Millet, looking upon the same woods and people, living and painting so near each other, should choose such different subjects? Corot saw the same poor, toilworn peasants, and he helped them most generously when they asked him, but as for painting them—he did not think of it. Millet saw the same beautiful woods, fields, and sky, and loved them all, but to him the peasant came first.
He said, "Corot's pictures are beautiful, but they do not reveal anything new."
Corot said, "Millet's painting is for a new world; I do not feel at home there. I am too much attracted to the old. I see therein great knowledge, air, and depth, but it frightens me; I love better my little music."
In speaking of another artist he said, "He is an eagle; I am only a skylark. I send forth little songs in my gray clouds."
As success came to Corot he was most generous in helping others. Many young artists came to study with him, but he would accept no pay for his instruction and gladly did all he could to encourage and help them.
He did not have the heart to turn a beggar from his door, and often had as many as twenty-five come to him in a day. The story is told of a beggar who demanded a larger sum of money than Corot usually gave, and was refused. After he left, the artist could not paint; his day was spoiled. So he hurriedly ran out after the beggar, gave him the money, and all was well again.
During the siege of Paris he gave both time and money to help the wounded. "Papa Corot," as the people called him, was greatly beloved.
The demand for his paintings increased. He said that when youth left him, honor and fame came to make him still the happiest man in the world.
Questions about the artist. In what ways was Corot favored? What did his father and mother do? What did they hope to make of Corot? Where was he sent? With whom did he live? Where did they walk? How did this influence Corot? Upon his return home, what did he do? What did his employer finally do? What did Corot ask his father? What offer did his father make? What did Corot decide? What did he do at once? Who came to watch him? What became of this first painting? Where did Corot go to study? What subjects did most of the artists of Corot's time choose to paint? What happened that raised Corot in their estimation? Compare the subjects chosen by Corot and Millet. Tell about Corot and the beggar. Why did Corot claim to be the happiest man in the world? Does this picture make you feel happy or sad? why?
Questions to arouse interest. How many of you have ever watched oxen plowing? How are these oxen geared together? How many oxen usually draw one plow? Why do you think they use so many in the field? With what part of the body do the oxen pull the plow? Why is the earth plowed? How can you tell that the soil these men are plowing is moist and fertile? In what direction is the sun? (Look at the shadows.) How is the driver urging the oxen on? Where is the farm house? What do you consider most interesting about the oxen?
Original Picture: Luxembourg Gallery, Paris, France. Artist: Rosa Bonheur (bo'nur''). Birthplace: Bordeaux, France. Dates: Born, 1822; died, 1899.
The story of the picture. It must have been very early in the morning indeed when these men and their oxen started to plow this great field, for although the sun is still low in the sky, each group of oxen has already plowed two furrows. By those long shadows and the light in the sky we know the sun cannot be very high in the heavens, and there is that about the ground, the occupation, and the distant trees that suggests the season, spring.
We are told that Rosa Bonheur went out into the country to paint this picture, and that she had a small shed made into a studio where she could keep her canvas and paints. Every evening when she came home her father would ask anxiously about the picture, for he was not well enough to go to see it and he knew Rosa was working very hard on it.
Even her genius could not make it possible for her to paint such a picture as this without much preparation. In fact, she had been preparing for it for years,—as far back as when she made her first drawing of oxen, and then later when she went to the packing houses and made separate studies of each part of an ox. She knew just how those great muscles did their work, and just how the curving ribs and the joints did their part. In this picture she shows us just enough of their movements to make us feel the great strength and power of those patient animals.
Our wonder grows anew that even one such powerful ox can be controlled by man's will. It is plain to see that the ox nearest us, of the middle pair, does resent the prodding with the stick which the driver uses so vigorously. His great eye rolls and he looks indignant, but it is only for the moment—he accepts all with resignation and indifference, knowing that it will be the turn of one of the other oxen next. These oxen are geared together by a central pole which is fastened to their horns. This causes them to take the entire weight of the plow with their horns instead of with their shoulders as our horses do. It would seem to be a most uncomfortable arrangement, yet they are used to it.
The leaders must be chosen very carefully if the farmer would have a straight furrow. It seems as if these first two oxen in the picture feel the responsibility, and are glad and willing to do their part. There is a look of intelligence about them that makes us certain that they know and understand the worth of the thing they are doing.
Oxen in our country are driven by the words "gee," meaning turn to the right, and "haw," turn to the left. However, the drivers in this picture would not use these words, for they are Frenchmen, and would speak to them in their own language.
It is easy to tell that the ground is soft by the way the feet of the oxen sink down into it, and by the man's wooden shoe which has half slipped off his foot as he starts to lift it from the ground. On this quiet, peaceful morning we can almost hear the heavy tread of the oxen as they pass us, and the harsh call of the drivers as they urge them on. In imagination we can smell the freshly plowed earth. To be sure, it is a hard pull up the hill, but how cheerfully, even proudly, the oxen pull their load! Look at their backs; you will see a slanting line which emphasizes the fact that they are climbing a hill. This line is broken somewhat by the slant of the woods in the distance. Cover up these distant woods with the hand or a piece of paper and we immediately have the uncomfortable feeling that the oxen are going to slip back out of the picture.
In this picture the artist has portrayed the intelligent use man makes of the power and strength of animals and of the soil. We see so few oxen now that we wonder why they were so much used in those days; but of course we know it was because the farmers did not have the machinery for tilling the ground, sowing, and planting grain that we have. Horses were used also, but oxen were cheaper, so all could afford them. Then, too, oxen may have been chosen because of their superior strength, steadiness, and patience.
The artist has centered our attention on the nearest of the two first pairs of oxen. The other oxen and driver are of secondary importance and the landscape itself last of all. The artist has accomplished this by color, light, and shade, and by a more careful treatment of the nearest oxen, showing plainly their intelligent eyes, wrinkled hides, and even the play of muscles as they step forward, pulling their heavy load.
Rosa Bonheur finished this painting only a short time before her father died. As soon as he saw it he knew that his daughter had painted a masterpiece, and almost his last words were in praise of her work.
Questions to help the pupil understand the picture. Why do you think these men and oxen must have started to work very early? Why do you think it is still early? What time of year do you think it is? why? Where did Rosa Bonheur paint this picture? Where did she keep her canvas and paints? What preparation did she make before painting the picture? What is the driver doing? In what humor does the nearest ox seem to be? How are the oxen geared together? Why must they have good leaders? How are oxen driven? Why do you think these drivers would not use the same words that we should? How can you tell that the ground is soft? Do you think the oxen are pulling hard? Why did they use oxen so much in those days? What are used now? Upon which of the oxen has the artist centered our attention? What is next in importance? last of all? How has the artist done this? What did Rosa Bonheur's father think of this picture?
To the Teacher:
SUBJECTS FOR COMPOSITIONS
The Picture and What It Represents. How This Picture Was Painted. What I Would Consider Most Important in a Picture. Why I Like This Picture. Rosa Bonheur as a Little Girl. Rosa Bonheur as an Artist.
The story of the artist. Marie Rosalie Bonheur spent the first ten years of her life in a little country town. It was almost as good as living in the country, for Rosa and her two brothers spent most of their time in the woods or fields. At home they had lambs, rabbits, and squirrels for pets.
The father was an artist, and since he could not sell many pictures in such a little village he decided to move to the great city of Paris. The children liked the gay city with its many surprises, but they missed the woods and their pets. The first place in which they lived was up several flights of stairs and across the street from a butcher's shop. This shop had a queer sign. It was a wild boar roughly carved out of wood, but it looked so much like the little pet pig Rosa had in the country that she used to stop and pet it every time she passed that way.
A man who lived in the same house with the Bonheur family kept a small school for boys. Rosa's two brothers went to this school, and after a while the teacher said Rosa might come too. She was the only girl in the school, but she did not mind that at all. The boys were glad to have her with them, for she knew more games than they did and played just like one of them.
Her father did not do so well with his painting as he had hoped, so they moved into a cheaper house. It was here that Rosa's mother died. The father was obliged to send his children where they could be well cared for, so the baby daughter, Juliette, was sent to her grandmother, the two boys to school, and Rosa went to live with an aunt. This aunt sent her to school. To reach the schoolhouse Rosa had to walk some distance through the woods. Sometimes she would stop and smooth the dust in the road with her hand and then draw pictures in it with a stick. Even then she liked to draw pictures of animals best of all. Often she had such a good time drawing that she forgot to go to school, or was very late, so she did not get along very well and was delighted when her father came to take her home. He had married again and wanted all his children with him. How happy they were!
A great many stories have been told about the pets they kept in their house. Rosa's brother Isidore carried a little lamb on his shoulders down six flights of stairs every morning and evening, that it might nibble the green grass and be out in the fresh air. It became a great pet, and all the children drew its picture in ever so many different positions. Besides, they had a parrot, a monkey, two dogs, and some rabbits and birds for pets. Their father let them keep these pets in a room fitted especially for them.
The father taught in a private school at that time, and was away from home all day, but when he came home at night Rosa would show him what she had been doing while he was gone. Once she had been painting cherries, and her father came home while she was at work on them. He praised her very much and helped her finish painting them.
In the evening Rosa, her two brothers, and her father used to put their easels in different parts of the big room and draw and paint until it was quite late. They would all much rather do this than anything else in the world, and it was the only time their father could help them.
The father belonged to a religious order called the "Saint Simonians." The members wore queer gowns and bonnets with long tassels. Such a bonnet with a big tassel Rosa wore on the street, and sometimes boys shouted and laughed at her, but she paid no attention to that.
The father secured a teaching position in another private school and earned enough money to send his three children there and give them all they needed at home.
Rosa did not behave very well in school. Often she was punished, sometimes by being given nothing to eat but bread and water. Every one liked her, however, for she was good-hearted, kind, and full of fun. But finally she did something that could not be overlooked. This is what she did. The lady who kept the school was very fond of flowers, and above all she loved the stately hollyhocks. She had a beautiful bed of them in the front yard of the school that was very much admired by all who passed. One day Rosa had been reading in the history about war, and she thought it would be fine fun to arrange a battle between the school girls. They used wooden sticks for swords. Very soon the girls on Rosa's side drove their enemies toward the hollyhock bed, where they turned and fled. Seeing the hollyhocks standing guard like soldiers, Rosa thought it would be fun to charge upon them, which she did, cutting off all their heads with her stick. Is it any wonder she was sent home in disgrace?
Her father then sent her to a dressmaker to see if she could learn that trade, but Rosa did not like dressmaking and finally went home without having learned very much. Then some friends gave her some photographs to color. This she liked to do, so her father decided that the only thing to do was to let her paint.
Rosa was willing to walk miles in all kinds of weather, to sit hours in all kinds of uncomfortable positions, and to go without food in order to draw a good picture of some animal. Now she began her study of animals in earnest. She went to all the country horse fairs, to the slaughter houses, and wherever there was an opportunity to study them.
Rosa never had very pretty clothes. She tells us herself that one day a parrot called after her "Ha, ha! That hat!" Now that she was grown up she found she could not get about very easily in her long skirts. There were so many rough men in the packing houses and in other places where she must go to study that she obtained a permit to wear men's clothing. Her hair was short, anyway, and with her blue working blouse and dark trousers she looked just like a man. Then no one noticed her as she went about, for they thought her one of the workmen. People who knew her did not mind her dress, and were ready to help her as much as they could in her work. The first picture she exhibited was of some little rabbits nibbling carrots.
Her pictures became famous the world over. From all over the country she received gifts of fine horses and other animals to paint. Buffalo Bill once sent her two fine horses from Texas. She bought a farm, and had a very large barn built where she could keep her animals.
How proud her father was of her!
One day she was working hard in her studio when a servant came to tell her that the Empress Eugenie had come to see her. It was a great event when this royal lady came to the artist's studio; and there was Rosa dressed in her old blue blouse covered with paint! She did not have time even to slip it off before the empress came in, but they had a most delightful visit. As the Empress Eugenie bent over and kissed Rosa Bonheur, she pinned the Cross of the Legion of Honor on the artist's blue blouse. Rosa did not notice it until after the Empress was gone. How pleased she must have been, for she was the first woman to receive that honor.
Questions about the artist. What is the artist's full name? Where did she live the first ten years of her life? What did the father do for a living? Why did they move to the city? How did the children like this change? In what kind of a house did they live? Tell about Rosa and the wild boar; the school for boys. Why did they move? What became of the children after their mother died? Why was Rosa often late to school? Who came to take her home? Tell about the new home and the pets; Isidore and the lamb. How did they all spend their evenings? Tell about the "Saint Simon" bonnet. How did Rosa behave at the private school? Tell about Rosa and the hollyhocks. How was she punished? What trade did her father wish her to learn? What was she willing to do in order to paint pictures? Where did she go to study animals? How did she dress? Why did she dress like a man? What presents did she receive? Where did she keep them? Tell about the visit of the Empress Eugenie. How did she honor Rosa Bonheur?
THE SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS
Studying the picture. Several days before the lesson is to be taken up, the picture to be studied should be placed where every pupil can see it.
First of all, the children should find out for themselves what is in the picture. The questions accompanying the story of each picture are intended to help them to do this.
Language work. The pupils should be encouraged in class to talk freely and naturally. In this way the lesson becomes a language exercise in which the pupils will gain in freedom of expression and in the ability to form clear mental images.
If a lesson does not occupy the entire drawing period, the children should be asked to retell the story of the picture.
Dramatization and drawing. Most of the stories told by the pictures lend themselves readily to dramatization and, whenever practicable, such stories should be acted out. The stories also offer numerous interesting situations that may be used as subjects for drawing lessons.
The review lesson. The review lesson should cover all pictures and artists studied throughout the year. At this time other pictures available, by the same artists should be on exhibition.
The review work may be conducted as a contest in which the pictures are held up, one at a time, while the class writes the name of the picture and the artist on slips of paper which have been prepared and numbered for that purpose. One teacher who used this device surprised her class by presenting those whose lists were correct with their choice of any of the large-sized Perry pictures studied.
Many teachers, however, will prefer to use this time for composition work, although the description of pictures is often given as an English lesson. Pupils may write a description of their favorite picture. In fact, the lessons can be made to correlate with history, geography, English, spelling, reading, or nature study.
In any event the real purpose of the work is that the pupils shall become so familiar with the pictures that they will recognize them as old friends whenever and wherever they may see them.
It is hoped that acquaintance with the picture and the interest awakened by its story will grow into a fuller appreciation and understanding of the artist's work. Thus the children will have many happy hours and will learn to love the good, the true, and the beautiful in everything about them.
* Some words have accents of different weights. The heavier accent is marked double (''). (Example: bo'nur'')
* Pg 2 Replaced colon with a semi-colon after "1814" located in "Born, 1814:".
* Pg 51 (ko'ro'') and Pg 63 (bo'nur'') contains the + symbol representing an "up tack" not represented in any charts.