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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|List of Illustrations||1|
|The Galleries of the Exposition||4|
|The United States||28|
|The Graphic Arts||48|
|Index to Galleries||52|
|Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)||53|
Phyllis --------------------- John W. Alexander Woman and Child: Rose Scarf — Mary Cassatt Morning in the Provence ----- Henri Georget The Promenade --------------- Gustave Pierre The Procession -------------- Ettore Tito The Fortune Teller ---------- F. Luis Mora Water Fall ------------------ Elmer Schofield The Peacemaker -------------- Ernest L. Blumenschein The White Vase -------------- Hugh H. Breckenridge Winter in the Forest -------- Anshelm Schultzberg Winter at Amsterdam --------- Willem Witsen In the Rhine Meadows -------- Heinrich Von Zugel The Mirror ------------------ Dennis Miller Bunker Coming of the Line Storm —— Frederick J. Waugh Lavender and Old Ivory ------ Lilian Westcott Hale Green and Violet: Portrait of Mrs. E. Milicent Cobden — James McNeill Whistler The Dreamer ----------------- Edmund C. Tarbell Whistling Boy --------------- Frank Duveneck Self Portrait --------------- William Merritt Chase Spanish Courtyard ----------- John Singer Sargent Oaks of the Monte ----------- Francis McComas Blue Depths ----------------- William Ritschel Floating Ice: Early Morning — Charles Rosen The Land of Heart’s Desire — William Wendt The Housemaid --------------- William McGregor Paxton My House in Winter ---------- Charles Morris Young Quarry: Evening ------------- Daniel Garber Beyond ---------------------- Chester Beach In the Studio --------------- Ellen Emmet Rand Eucalypti, Berkeley Hills —– Eugen Neuhaus Floor Plan, Palace of Fine Arts
The artistic appeals of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition through architecture and the allied decorative arts are so engrossing that one yields to the call of the independent Fine Arts only with considerable reluctance. The visitor, however, finds himself cleverly tempted by numerous stray bits of detached sculpture, effectively placed amidst shrubbery near the Laguna, and almost without knowing he is drawn into that enchanting colonnade which leads one to the spacious portals of the Palace of Fine Arts.
It was a vast undertaking to gather such numbers of pictures together, but the reward was great — not only to have gratified one’s sense of beauty, but to have contributed toward a broader civilization, on the Pacific Coast specifically, and for the world in general besides. It must be admitted that it was no small task, in the face of many very unusual adverse circumstances, to bring together here the art of the world. Mr. John E. D. Trask deserves unstinted praise for the perseverance with which, under most trying circumstances, unusual enough to defeat almost any collective undertaking, he brought together this highly creditable collection of art. Wartime conditions abroad and the great distance to the Pacific Coast, not to speak of difficulties of physical transportation, called for a singularly capable executive, such as John E. D. Trask has proved himself to be, and the world should gratefully acknowledge a big piece of work well done. I do not believe the art exhibition needs any apologies. Its general character is such as fully to satisfy the standards of former international expositions.
It seems only rational that, with the notorious absence of any important permanent exhibition of works of art on the Pacific Coast, an effort should have been made to present within the exhibit the development of the art of easel painting since its inception, because it seems impossible to do justice to any phase of art without an opportunity of comparison, such as the exposition affords. The retrospective aspects of the exhibition are absorbingly interesting, not so much for the presentation of any eminently great works of art as for the splendid chance for first-hand comparison of different periods. Painting is relatively so new an art that the earliest paintings we know of do not differ materially in a technical sense from our present-day work. Archaeology has disinterred various badly preserved and unpresentable relics of old arts such as sculpture and architecture. It is little so with pictures. Painting is really the most recent of all the fine arts. It must seem almost unbelievable that the greatest periods of architecture and sculpture had become classic when painting made its début as an independent art. It is true enough that the Assyrians and Egyptians used colour, but not in the sense of the modern easel painter. We are also informed, rather less than more reliably, that a gentleman by the name of Apelles, in the days of Phidias, painted still-lifes so naturally that birds were tempted to peck at them, and we know much more accurately of the many delightful bits of wall-painting the rich man of Pompeii and Herculaneum used to have put on his walls, but the easel painting is a creation of modern times.
The sole reason for this can hardly be explained better than by pointing out the long-standing lack of a suitable medium which would permit the making of finer paintings, other than wall and decorative paintings. The old tempera medium was hardly suited to finer work, since it was a makeshift of very inadequate working qualities. Briefly, the method consisted of mixing any pigment or paint in powder form with any suitable sticky substance which would make it adhere to a surface. Sticky substances frequently used were the tree gums collected from certain fruit-trees, including the fig and the cherry. This crude method is known by the word “tempera,” which comes from the Latin “temperare,” to modify or mix, and denotes merely any alteration of the original pigment. Tempera painting, as the only technique known, was really a great blessing to the world, since it prevented the wholesale production in a short time of such vast quantities of pictures as the world nowadays is asked to enjoy. I am not so sure that the two brothers, the Flemish painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck, who are said to have given us the modern oil method, are really so much deserving of praise, since their improved method of painting with oils caused a production of paintings half of which might much better have remained unpainted. The one thing that can be said of all paintings made before
I imagine that practically all true painters would rather do their pictures under and for a given physical condition, to support and be supported by architecture; but with the unfortunate present-day elimination of paintings from most architectural problems, most artists have to paint their pictures for an imaginary condition. The present production of paintings has become absolutely unmindful of the true, function of a painting, which is to decorate in collaboration with the other arts — architecture and sculpture.
It is necessary to bear these facts in mind in trying to do justice to a large aggregate of canvases in an international exhibition, or any exhibition. Thousands of pictures, created by a host of different artists, are temporarily thrown together. The result, of course, can never be entirely satisfying. Many devices are employed to overcome this very disturbing condition and with varying success. The hanging of pictures against neutral backgrounds, the grouping of works of one man, the selection of works of similar tonality, colour schemes, technique, subject, style, etc. — these are all well known methods of trying to overcome the essential artificiality of the methods of exhibition of modern paintings. I doubt whether so long as we insist upon art exhibitions of the conventionally accepted type, we shall ever be able to present pictures with due regard to their meaning. We must not make the mistake of blaming a director of an exhibition for a difficulty which he cannot possibly overcome. So long as painters turn out thousands of pictures, we can expect only the results which are much in evidence in all modern exhibitions. The fault is entirely with the artist, who is forever painting easel pictures, and neglecting the great field of decorative painting. On investigation of our exhibition we shall find that the good picture — that is, the picture of a certain respectful attitude toward its function, which is largely decorative — is far less injured by unavoidable neighbors than the loud-mouthed canvas of the “Look! Here I am!” variety, which is afraid of being overlooked. Art exhibitions of the generally adopted modern type are logically intolerable, and the only solution of the problem of the correct presentation of pictures is to display fewer of them, within certain individual rooms, designed by artists, where a few pictures will take their place with their surroundings in a unity of artistic expression.
It is certainly no small task to enjoy a large exhibit like ours and to preserve one’s peace of mind. The purpose of these pages is to assist in guiding the uninitiated, in his visit and in retrospect, without depriving him of the pleasure of personal observation and investigation. It is not to be expected that all pictures exhibited should be of a superior kind. If so, we should never be able to learn to recognize the good among the bad. So many pictures are only experiments. Only by having the opportunity for comparison can we learn to discriminate. The predominant characteristic of our art exhibition is its instructive value in teaching the development of painting by successive periods, sometimes represented and some times only indicated. The person who never had the opportunity to visit the larger historical collections of paintings abroad, could here obtain an idea of the many changes in subjects, as well as in technique, which have taken place in the relatively short existence of the art of painting. It is unfortunately true that the majority of people are not at all interested in the technical procedure of the making of the picture, but wholly in the subject matter. If this be pleasing, the picture is apt to be declared a success. The artist, on the other hand, and to my mind very justly, looks primarily for what he calls good painting, and a simple statement of these two points of view explains a great deal of very deplorable friction between the artist and the willing and enthusiastic layman, who is constantly discouraged by finding that his artist friend greets his pet canvas with a cynical smile.
The subject of the appreciation of pictures from a theoretical point of view is not exactly the purpose of this book. So enormous is it that it could be dealt with adequately only in a separate volume the writing of which I look forward to with joyful anticipation. What I should like to do — and I should be very glad if I could succeed — is to bring the public a little closer to the artist’s point of view through the discussion of the merit of certain notable works of art. It is my conviction that it is the manifestations of an artists artistic conscience which make exhibitions good, and not the question whether the public likes certain pictures or not. Only by constant study, a serious attitude, and a willingness to follow the artist into his realm can the public hope fully to enjoy the meaning of the artist’s endeavors.
It would seem only logical to begin our investigation with the pictures chronologically oldest, at the same time recognizing that European art has the right to first consideration. We are the hosts to the art of the world. Our own art is the newest, and yet occupies a large number of galleries most conspicuously, but it will not lose by waiting for attention till the end.
Some of the very earliest paintings in the exhibition are found in one of the large center rooms on the left, where a very stately Tiepolo controls the artistic atmosphere of a large gallery. This picture has all the qualities of an old Italian master of the best kind. Its composition is big and dignified and in the interest and richness of its color scheme it has here few equals. The chief characteristic of this splendid canvas is bigness of style. In its treatment it is a typical old master, in the best meaning of the term.
On the left of this Tiepolo, a rather sombre canvas by Ribera claims attention by the peculiar lighting scheme, so typical of this Italian master. While there is what we might call a quality of flood lighting in the Tiepolo, giving an envelope of warm, mellow light to the whole picture, Ribera concentrates his light somewhat theatrically upon his subjects, as in the St. Jerome. The picture is freely painted, with the very convincing anatomical skill that is manifest in most of Ribera’s work. His shadows are sometimes black and impenetrable, a quality which his pictures may not have had at the time of their production, and which may be partly the result of age. The Goya on the same wall is uninteresting — one of those poor Goyas which have caused delay in the just placing of this great Spaniard in the history of art.
The Turner below the Goya has all the imaginative qualities of that great Englishman’s best work. Venice may never look the way Turner painted it, but his interpretation of a gorgeous sunset over a canal is surely fascinating enough in its suggestion of wealth of form and color. Sir William Beechey’s large canvas of a group of children and a dog probably presented no easy task to the painter. The attempt at a skillful and agreeable arrangement of children in pictures is often artificial, and so it is to my mind in this canvas. Nevertheless the colouring, together with the spontaneous technique, put it high above many canvases of similar type. The Spanish painting on the right of the Beechey could well afford to have attached to it the name of one of the best artists of any school. The unknown painter of this Spanish gentleman knew how to disclose the psychology of his sitter in a straightforward way that would have done honor to Velasquez, or to Frans Hals, of whom this picture is even more suggestive.
Below this very fine portrait Sir Godfrey Kneller is represented by a canvas very typical of the eighteenth century English portrait painters. The canvas has a little of the character of everybody, without being sufficiently individual. Reynolds’ “Lady Ballington” has a wonderful quality of repose and serenity, one of the chief merits of the work of all those great English portrait painters of the eighteenth century. No matter whose work it is, whether of Reynolds, Romney, Hoppner, or any of that classic period of the painters of distinguished people, they always impress by the dignity of their composition and colour. We do not know in all cases how distinguished their sitters really were, but like Reynolds’ “Lady Ballington,” they must often have been of a sort superior physically as well as intellectually.
Above the Reynolds a small Gainsborough landscape blends well with the predominant brown of these old canvases. From the point of view of the modern landscape painter, who believes in the superiority of his outlook and attitude toward nature, we can only be glad that Gainsborough’s fame does not depend upon his representation of out-of-doors. This small canvas, like the very big one on the opposite wall, is interesting in design. But neither gives one the feeling of outdoors that our modern landscape painters so successfully impart. Historically they are very interesting, and even though they carry the name of such a master of portraits as Gainsborough undoubtedly was, they are devoid of all the refreshing qualities that modern art has given to the world.
Sir Peter Lely and Sir Henry Raeburn claim particular attention on the north wall — the first by a deftly painted portrait of a lady, and the other by a broadly executed likeness of John Wauchope. As portraits go, the first picture is one of the finest in the gallery. Very conspicuous by their size, the two big Romney portraits on the east wall are not in the same class with either the Lawrence or the Reynolds on the same wall. The great Lawrence portrait, the lady with the black hat, is one of the most superb portraits in the world. There is a peculiar charm about this canvas quite independent of the very attractive Lady Margaret represented in the picture. The luscious blacks and pale reds and the neutral cream silk cape make for a colour harmony seldom achieved. Reynolds’ portrait of John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, is equally rich and full of fine colour contrasts. The shrewd-looking gentleman is psychologically well given, although one’s attention is detracted from the head by the gorgeous raiment of a dignitary of the church.
I think Hogarth’s portrait on the small wall to the right does not disclose this master at his best, nor does Hoppner rise to the level of his best work in the large portrait alongside of it. The Marchioness of Wellesley is better and more sympathetically rendered than her two children, who barely manage to stay in the picture.
On the whole an atmosphere of dignity permeates this gallery of older masters. One may deplore the lack of many characteristics of modern art in many of the old pictures. They are very often lifeless and stiff, but the worst of them are far more agreeable than most of those of our own time. The serene beauty of the Tiepolo, the Lawrence, and the Gainsborough portrait has hardly been surpassed since their day. Our age is, of course, the age of the landscape painter, the outdoor painter, as opposed to the indoor portraits of these great masters. It would not be right to judge a Gainsborough by his landscapes any more than it would be to judge a modern landscape painter by his portraits. But no matter how uninteresting these old landscapes are, their brown tonality insures them a certain dignity of inoffensiveness which a mediocre modern work of art never possesses, I would rather any time have a bad old picture than a bad one of the very recent schools. Modesty is not one of the chief attributes of modern art, and the silent protest of a gallery such as the one we are now in, the artist can well afford to heed.
The sculpture in this gallery has no relation to the historical character of the room, but fits well into the atmosphere. Adolph A. Weinman’s admirable “Descending Night” is so familiar to all Exposition visitors, in its adaptation in a fine fountain in the Court of the Universe, that no more reference need be made to it. Here in bronze on a small scale, it is even more refined. Mrs. Saint Gaudens’ charming family group, in burnt clay, is not so well in harmony with this gallery of older work, but infinitely more appealing than J. Q. A. Ward’s “Hunter” or Cyrus Dallin’s “Indian”. Both of these groups lack suggestive quality. They are carried too far. Edward Kemeys’ “Buffaloes” lacks a sense of balance. The defeated buffalo, pushed over the cliff, takes the interest of the observer outside of the center of the composition, and a lack of balance is noticeable in this otherwise well modelled group.
In this room one is carried farther back into the earlier phases of painting by a Luini of pronounced decorative quality. The picture is probably a part of a larger scheme, but it is well composed into the frame which holds it. Besides, it is of interest as the only piece of old mural painting included in the exhibition. The ground on which the angel is painted is a piece of the plaster surface of the original wall of which this fragment was a part. The method of producing these fresco paintings (al fresco calco) necessitated the employment of a practical plasterer besides the painter. The painting was first drawn carefully on paper and then transferred in its outlines upon freshly prepared plaster, just put upon the wall. Having no other means of making the paint adhere to the surface, the painter had to rely upon the chemical reaction of the plaster, which would eventually unify the paint with itself. It was a very tedious process, which nowadays has been superseded by the method of painting on canvas, which after completion in the studio is fastened to the wall. Above the Luini hangs a very Byzantine looking Timoteo Viti “Madonna” of interesting colour and good design, but with a Christ child of very doubtful anatomy, and also two old sixteenth century Dutch pictures — a Jan Steen and a Teniers. I have my doubts as to the authenticity of the last two pictures. They are both interesting as disclosing the fondness of the Dutch painters of the sixteenth century for over-naturalistic subjects.
On wall B two pictures, without author or title, appeal to one’s imagination. They are both well painted and rich in colour. A certain big decorative quality puts them far above their neighbor — a Dutch canvas of bad composition with no redeeming features other than historical interest. Jacopo da Ponte’s big “Lazarus” has a certain noble dignity. Though it is rather black in shadows, it is not devoid of colour feeling. On either side are two old Spanish portraits of children of royalty. They impress by their very fine decorative note, charmingly enhanced by the wonderful frames. Another Ribera, as forceful as the one mentioned before, easily stands out among the many pictures in this gallery, most of which are only of historical interest. The whole aspect of this little gallery is one of extreme remoteness from modern thought and idea, but as an object lesson of certain older periods it is invaluable.
Chronologically a typical old Charles Le Brun presides over a very interesting lot of pictures, mostly French. This academic canvas, of Darius’ family at the feet of Alexander, has not the simplicity and decorative quality of the Italian pictures of that period, and it is entirely too complex to be enjoyable. The beautiful Courbet on the left, while suggestive of Ribera in its severe disposal of light and shadow, has also a quality of its own, a wonderful mellowness which gives it a unity of expression lacking in its turbulent neighbor on the right.
Among the other bigger pictures in this small gallery, a very poetic Cazin, “The Repentance of Simon Peter,” commands attention by a certain outdoor quality which faintly suggests the Barbizon school. One does not know what to admire most in this fine canvas. As a figural picture it is intensely beautiful, and merely as a landscape it is of convincing charm. It is to my mind one of the finest paintings in the exhibition, and a constant source of great pleasure.
The big Tissot offers few excuses for having been painted at all. It is nothing but a big illustration — all it tells could have been said on a very small canvas. There is no real painting in it, nor composition — nothing else, for that matter. The two Monticellis on the same wall make up for the Tissot. Rich in colour and design, the one to the left is particularly fine. The Van Marcke on the same wall is typical of this painter’s methods, but does not disclose his talent for very interesting pictorial compositions, for which he was known.
On the opposite wall an older Israels gives lone a good idea of the earlier period of this great Dutch painter, justly counted as one of the great figures of the second half of the last century. While of recent date, his art belongs to the older school — without attaching any odium to that classification. The Barbizon school, the most important of the last century, is very fitly represented by two charming and most delicate Corots on either side of the Israels. The one to the right is particularly tender and poetic. While by no means an attempt at a naturalistic impressionistic interpretation of nature, like a modern Metcalf, for instance, their suggestive power is so great as to overcome a certain lack of colour by the convincingness of the mood represented. Daubigny and Rousseau, of that great company of the school of 1825, are merely suggested in two small and very conscientious studies.
This will always be remembered as the gallery of the “Green Madonna”. Whatever caused this “Green Madonna” to be honored by a Grand Prix at Paris will always remain one of those mysteries with which the world is laden. Of all disagreeable colour schemes, it is certainly one of the least appealing ever put upon a canvas. It is hardly a scheme at all, since I do not believe the juxtaposition of so many different slimy greens, nowhere properly relieved nor accentuated by a complementary red, can ever be called a scheme. Technically speaking, the canvas is well painted, but it is hardly worthy of the attention its size and subject win. Dagnan-Bouveret has rendered good service as a teacher and also as a painter of animal life, but in this canvas he surely is not up to his best.
The Barbizon men continue to hold one’s attention by a splendid Troyon. It is one of the best of his canvases I have ever seen. The little Diaz alongside of it is also typical of this very luminous painter, who often attains a lusciousness of colour in his work not reached by any other of the Barbizon men.
Fortuny, in an Algiers picture, shows the same brilliant technical quality which is so much in evidence in a small watercolor in the preceding gallery. Jules Bastien-LePage’s studio nude seems very unhappily placed in a naturalistic background into which it does not fit, and Cazin’s big canvas, while very dignified, hardly comes up to the level of his repenting “Simon Peter”, in the other gallery. Pelouse’s landscape, of singularly beautiful composition and colour, should not be overlooked. It is alongside the Cazin.
While almost all the pictures referred to so far are of the French school, there are three pictures of the older German school — two Lenbachs, one a very accurately drawn portrait of the German philosopher Mommsen, and the other a portrait of himself. They show this powerful artist in two different aspects. While the Mommsen is one of his later, broader pictures, the portrait of himself is of an earlier date, showing the artist as the serious student he has always been. Adolph Schreyer, another German, with his Bedouin pictures, was the pet of the art lovers in his day, and pictures like this can be found in almost every collection in the world.
The miscellaneous sculpture in this gallery is full of interest and gives one a good suggestion of the great mass of small modern sculpture found throughout the galleries. Mora’s Indian figures are particularly interesting from their originality of theme. Mora tries hard to be unconventional, without going into the bizarre, and succeeds very well.
The difference of appearance in the four older galleries discussed and the one now visited is so marked as to lead one to believe that our investigations have not been conducted in the proper chronological order. All the art of the world, up to and including the Barbizon school, is characterized by a predominant brown colour which, on account of its warmth, is never disagreeable, although sometimes monotonous. The daring of the Englishman Constable in painting a landscape outdoors led to the development of a new point of view, which the older artists did not welcome. Constable and the men of the Barbizon school realized for the first time that outdoor conditions were totally different from the studio atmosphere, and while the work of such men as Corot, Millet, Daubigny, Rousseau, and Diaz is only slightly removed from the somber brown of the studio type, it recognizes a new aspect of things which was to be much farther developed than they ever dreamed. Just as Constable shocked his contemporaries by his — for that time — vivid outdoor blues and greens, so the men of the school of 1870,
Pissarro, on either end of the wall opposite the Monet, appeals more in the new method of the neo-impressionists than Monet, by reason of much more interesting subjects. The one Pissarro on the right is of the first order from every point of view, demonstrating the superiority of the neo-impressionistic style applied to a very original and interesting subject. “The River Seine,” by Sisley, is also wonderfully typical of this new style, while of the two Renoirs, only the still-life can really be called successful. There is an unfortunate fuzziness in his landscape which defeats all effect of difference of texture in the various objects of which this picture is composed.
There are a number of canvases in this gallery which have nothing to do with the predominating impressionistic character of the gallery. The Puvis de Chavannes gives one a very fine idea of the idealistic outlook of this greatest of all modern decorators. His art is so genuinely decorative that to see one of his pictures in a frame seems almost pathetic, when we think how infinitely more beautiful it would look as part of a wall. Eugène Carrière is very well represented by a stately portrait of a lady with a small dog. Carrière’s mellow richness is entirely his own and rarely met with in any other artist’s work.
On the west wall opposite the Puvis four very different canvases deserve to be mentioned. In the center a young Russian, Nicholas Fechin, displays a very unusual virtuosity in a picture of a somewhat sensual-looking young creature. Aside from the fascination of this young human animal, the handling of paint in this canvas is most extraordinary, possessing a technical quality few other canvases in the entire exhibition have. There is life, such as very few painters ever attain, and seen only in the work of a master. This work is not entirely a Nell Brinkley in oil, either. I confess I have a strange fondness for this weird canvas.
The international character of this gallery is most pronounced. Directly above the Fechin, Frits Thaulow, the Norwegian, justifies his reputation as the painter of flowing water in a picture of great beauty. Gaston La Touche faintly discloses in a large canvas his imaginative style, carried so much farther in his later work. Joseph Bail, the Frenchman, got into this gallery probably only on the basis of size, to balance the La Touche on the other side. To all appearances Bail has very little in common with the general modern character of this gallery. Nevertheless his canvas has merit in many ways.
A discussion of the impressionistic school makes it almost imperative to continue our investigation by way of the French Section. France is easily to modern art what Italy was to the art of the Renaissance or Greece to antiquity. Almost all countries, with the exception of those of northern Europe, have gone to school at Paris. It becomes quite evident at first glance that a certain very desirable spaciousness in the hanging of the pictures contributes much toward the generally favorable impression of this section of the exhibition, though it is hard to understand why this fine effect should have been spoiled by the pattern used on the wall-covering. It seems unbelievable that a people like the French should so violate a fundamental principle, which a first-semester art student would scarcely do. The otherwise delightful impression of the French section, so excellently arranged, is considerably impaired by this faux pas. There is no chronological succession in evidence in the hanging of pictures in the six galleries of this section, and old and new, conservative and radical, are hung together with no other consideration than harmonious ensemble.
In the western end of the section presided over by a decorative painting of some aras among orange trees (over the west door), a beautiful, almost classic canvas by Henri Georget commands immediate attention. The poetic idealism of this decorative landscape, together with a fine joyousness, give it unusual character. Alongside of it a very intelligently painted little canvas by Albert Guillaume shows the interior of an art dealer’s shop. The agent is making Herculean efforts to bamboozle an unsuspecting parvenu into buying an example of some very “advanced” painting. The canvas is fine persiflage in its clever psychological characterization of the sleek dealer and the stupid helplessness of the bloated customer and his wife, who seem hypnotized by the wicked eye in the picture. As a piece of modern genre in a much neglected field, it is one of the finest things of recent years. On the extreme left of this wall a very fine bit of painting of an Arabian fairy tale by E. Dinet deserves to be mentioned.
Almost opposite this small canvas Lucien Simon has a large picture painted with the bravura for which he is famous. The atmosphere of this fine interior is simply and spontaneously achieved, and the three figures of mother, nurse and balky baby are excellently drawn. The still-life by Moride, to the left of this picture, shows all the earmarks of the modern school without sacrificing a certain delicacy of handling which is often considered by many modern painters a confession of weakness. A fine Dutch canvas on the extreme left of this wall, by Guillaume-Roger, attracts by a fine decorative note seldom found in pictures of French easel painters.
The east wall of this gallery is distinguished by a number of fine landscapes by different men. Beginning on the left side of the door Jules-Emile Zingg presents two tonally skillful winter landscapes of great fidelity, while on the right is Henry Grosjean’s delicate atmospheric study of a broad valley floor. A decorative watercolour of the Versailles Gardens, by Mlle. Carpentier, commands admiration by reason of its fine composition as well as by the economical but effective technique of putting transparent paint over a charcoal drawing. The sculpture in this gallery is of no great moment. Like much of the modern French sculpture it is very well done in a technical sense without disclosing great concentration of mind.
A variety of subjects continues to impress one in this gallery. Portraits, landscapes, and historical subjects, with here and there a genre note, make the general character of the French exhibit, showing at every turn the great technical dexterity for which French art has long been celebrated. There is no picture of outstanding merit in this gallery, unless one would single out a very sympathetic, simple landscape by Paul Buffet and the Lucien Griveau landscape called “The Silver Thread,” diagonally opposite, a canvas of rich tonality and distinctive composition.
An adjoining gallery toward the east has a great number of excellent pictures to hold the attention of the visitor. To begin with the figure painters, the Desch portrait of a little girl in empire costume appeals by its genuinely original design. The carefully considered pattern effect of this canvas is most agreeable and well assisted by a very refined colour scheme. Although a trifle dry, the quality of painting in this canvas is the same as that which makes Whistler’s work so interesting. This painting is one of the great assets of the French section, and to my mind one of the great pictures of the entire exhibition. Balancing the Desch canvas, one finds another figural canvas of great beauty of design, by Georges Devoux. “Farewell,” while of a sentimental character, is strong in drawing and composition. It is very consistent throughout. Everything in the picture has been carefully considered to support the poetic, sentimental character of the painting, which is admirably delicate and convincing without being disagreeably weak.
Jacques-Emile Blanche is represented in this gallery by his well-known portrait of the dancer Nijinski. A certain Oriental splendor of colour is the keynote of this canvas, which is much more carelessly painted than most of Blanche’s very clever older portraits. On the opposite wall Caro-Delvaille shows his dexterity in the portrait of a lady. The lady is a rather unimportant adjunct to the painting and seems merely to have been used to support a magnificently painted gown. There is a peculiar contrast in the very naturalistically painted gown and the severe interpretation of the face of the sitter. Ernest Laurent’s portrait of Mlle. X is typically French in its loose and suggestive style of painting, and easily one of the many good portraits in the gallery.
Among the landscapes Andrè Dauchez’ “Concarneau,” Charles Milcendeau’s “Washerwomen,” on the opposite wall, and last but not least, Renè Mènard’s “Opal Sea” — a small picture of great beauty — deserve recognition. Pierre Roche has a statuette of Loïe Fuller in this gallery which is conspicuous by its daring composition and simple treatment.
Entering this gallery, the first canvas to attract one’s attention, by reason of its boldness of composition and colour, is a large Lucien Simon called “The Gondola.” The versatility of this artist is well brought out by another picture of a baby, about to be bathed, previously referred to, and by a third canvas, of “The Communicants,” near “The Gondola.” Simon seems to have no difficulty in using several mediums and styles of expression equally well, as a comparison between “The Gondola” and “The Communicants” will easily prove. This former picture is the more original of the two technically, in colour as well as in composition. It is in danger of losing one’s sympathy by a badly selected frame. Near it hangs a trifolium of virgins, of very anaemic colour. The drawing, however, is so very sensitive in this canvas that it makes good for the unconvincing anaemic colour scheme.
The gem of this gallery is a small landscape of Amédée-Julien Marcel-Clément, of extraordinarily fine composition. A fine decorative quality is its chief asset, and its sympathetic technical handling adds much to the enjoyment of this picture. Bartholemé’s kneeling figure in the center of the room is of wonderful nobility of expression and entirely free from a certain extreme physical naturalism so often found in modern French sculpture.
Passing into the next gallery, where figural pictures predominate, a very swingy composition of a Brittany festival, by Charles-René Darrieux, is most conspicuous, for the forceful handling and the fine quality of movement which characterize the procession of figures rhythmically moving through the picture. Of the two large nudes on the same wall, one, a Besnard, is vulgarly physical, although well painted, and the other too insipid to make one feel that the French penchant for nudes is sufficiently justified. Le Sidaner’s poetic evening recommends itself for the quiet intimacy with which it is handled. Herrmann Vogel’s portrait of a gentleman in a chair, also on the east wall, while not very spontaneous in handling, is interesting nevertheless in its composition and the psychological characterization of the sitter. Most of the other pictures in this gallery have really not enough individual character to single them out, no matter how high their general standard may be.
The last and smallest of the French galleries is given over to some recent phases of French art. After looking at the serious work of the French in the other galleries, a first-hand acquaintance with this medley of newest pictures is hardly satisfactory. There is a feeling of affected primitiveness about most of them, particularly in a small canvas of a bouquet of flowers in a green vase, which is the acme of absurdity. If Odilon Redon wanted to be trivial, he has achieved something quite wonderful. Certain ultra-modern manifestations of art are never more intolerable than when seen together in large numbers, as in this gallery. Still, the French section can well afford some of these experimenting talents, since the general character of their other work is so high. Maurice Denis’ canvas of a spring procession, in just a few silvery tones, is really lovely; the large number of decorations by him, all around on the second line, scarcely comes up to the beauty of this small canvas.
The French representation deserves much credit for a great number of reasons, not least for an astounding versatility, always accompanied by technical excellence.
Going over into the Italian galleries, the first impression is that while there are certain groups of pictures of a very high order, the general standard of this section is not quite so high as in the French Department. The Italians seem to have the advantage over the French in regard to the selection of a background for their galleries. They made no such mistake as putting a Pullman car floor pattern on the wall, and the general effect is one of calmness. As in the French section, the work of the modern painter seems superior to sculptured work of the same period. The work of Tito and of Mancini, among the painters, stands out in this Italian collection.
Tito, whose work can be found in a group of five pictures in this gallery, has a very pronounced decorative sense, which he employs with great ease in a group of five most excellent pictures. To students of technical procedure his work is worthy of study. His under-painting is done in tempera, and sometimes the complete work, as in the cattle picture, is done in this medium, which, by an application of varnish, is then transformed into an oil. The most interesting pictures in his group of five are the two on the right of his wall. The mythological subjects underlying both canvases have a classic note, but their refreshing colour scheme removes these pictures from any classic affiliation. The woodland scene, enlivened by a few hilarious centaurs pursuing nymphs, is tremendously sure in handling and very gorgeous in the many golden browns and greens which control the colour scheme. The kneeling Venus alongside is unusually alluring in its blue and gold tones, and is one of the really fine pictures in the exhibition. While the Venus and the Centaurs are the backbone of the Italian section, Tito’s “Blue Lady” is very chic and, as a colour arrangement of blue-blacks and flesh colour, most decorative. The canvas in the center, evidently belonging to an older period of the artist, has nothing of the direct method of the accomplished master, although in composition it has a certain bigness. Tito’s art has the full and rich expression of an original personality.
The landscapes in this gallery, of which there are a goodly number, are all typically Italian in their artificiality of colour and in a certain sweetness which makes them lose in one’s estimation the longer one studies them. Clever as they are technically, they do not convince and they do not reflect a thorough knowledge of the spirit of outdoors. All one admires in the Barbizon men — the lyric feeling of a Corot or the more dramatic note of a Rousseau — is missing in the modern Italian landscape as seen in these pictures. They are flippant in their catchy technique and in the absence of any thought.
This room is dominated by three portraits by Antonio Mancini, of unusual cleverness and very fine psychological characterization. Mancini’s work grows on one. While seeming at first rather loose and superficial, these portraits disclose on more intimate study a fine constructive quality. They are not particularly interesting in colour; as a matter of fact they are very monochromatic. Their appeal is based on an intensely serious quality of studious experimentation, which a very sketchy technique cannot hide. To the left of the three Mancinis hangs a simple picture of large proportions called “Maternity,” by Pietro Gaudenzi. This is one of those modern interpretations of the birth of Jesus which appeals by the individualistic note. The picture is sympathetic by reason of its restriction to a few simple facts. No doubt it will fail to receive a wide appreciation, since sociologically any picture of its type disclosing human life under poverty-stricken conditions is rarely approved by the public. Nevertheless one of the greatest of all stories is, with feeling and restraint alike, well rendered on this canvas.
On the opposite wall Arturo Noci has a very striking interior. There is nothing tricky about this most effective canvas. The result is simply and directly attained by good, sound painting. The red curtain in the distant room is a trifle raw and refuses somewhat to take its place in the picture. Two landscapes on this wall deserve mention for their fine skies and their decorative note. Giuseppe Carosi’s little landscape with the oxen is so much better than the one below by the same artist that it is hard to believe both were done by the same man. “La Valle dell’ Aniene,” by Dante Ricci, is big in feeling, well painted, and unquestionably one of the best landscapes in the Italian section.
The east gallery is almost entirely given over to sculpture, with one exception which is notable so far as the dear public is concerned — a painting, “The Arch of Septimius Severus,” by Luigi Bazzani. I cannot fathom why Luigi Bazzani should go to all this trouble in trying to imitate a photograph when the result over which he so painfully laboured could be done by any good photographer for less than five dollars. It seems to me an absolutely futile thing to try to represent something in a medium very badly chosen for this particular stunt. A stunt it is, and always will be, no matter how much we admire the painstaking drawing and the infinite care involved. Texturally the canvas is all wrong, because the sky, the stone, everything in the picture, looks like glass and not like the various things it is intended to represent. However, it is a wonderful piece of patience — so much should be said for it.
Millet’s man with the hoe sitting down is the strongest piece of sculpture in this gallery. The figure doubtless belongs to an older school, as its discolorations as well as its technical treatment indicate. Alongside the rest of the things in this small room it is, in spite of being carried somewhat too far, very forceful and convincing. No matter whether the man succumbed to the dreariness of work or to the malarial fever of the Pontine swamps, all that has ever been said about Millet’s man and the terrible fatalism of his facial expression is found in this piece of sculpture.
Rodin’s influence is making itself felt in most of the other pieces in this room, as in the Vedani kissing pair. The beautiful colour in the marble in this group puts much life into it. Nicolini’s work shows much breadth and a fine mastery of form. A frame of animal plaques by Brozzi adds considerably to the artistic merit of the sculpture. A certain muscular mannerism is evident in all of them, though not in the least disturbing.
Two portraits by Enrico Lionne of very repulsive colour are prominently hung in the east gallery, without convincing one in the least of this artist’s high standing at home. Cold and artificial, they are not deserving of the prominent place they occupy. Near the door on the opposite wall Vincenzo Yrolli presents a street musician and his audience in a canvas riotous with good colour. The composition and the literal technical treatment of this work commend themselves highly by good judgment and spontaneous handling. The two figure pictures by Pietro Chiesa, on an adjoining wall to the right, ought to be remembered, and also an interior on the opposite wall by Vianello.
In the last of the Italian galleries, on the west wall, we observe the unusual spectacle of a whole family of artists distinguishing itself in a group of pictures. There is Beppe Ciardi, the father; Guglielmo, the son; and Emma, the daughter. All of their pictures are conspicuous for their saneness and big feeling. The father, Beppe, with the center canvas, has not the breadth and bigness that is so typical of both the son’s pictures of similar subjects. The skies in the younger man’s pictures are particularly fine. The daughter’s single canvas, on the left, to me seems even better than those of both father and brother. A certain imaginative quality, shown in this big formal garden, constitutes Emma Ciardi’s superiority over the rest of the family. On the whole the showing of this family is excellent in every way.
The landscapes in this gallery are far above those mentioned in the Tito gallery. In fact there are so many other good pictures that a mere mention of names must suffice. From the Ciardi group on toward the right, Guido Marussig’s “Walled City”, Italico Brass’ “Pontoon Bridge”, and particularly Scattola’s “Venice” are all worthy of comment. Scattola’s picture is very sensitively studied, discreetly painted and full of the poetry of a summer night. Before leaving the Italian section, Mentessi’s big imaginative architectural study should be appreciated. It will crystallize the visitor’s opinion of the general excellence of Italy’s contribution to the exhibition.
As a matter of racial tradition, and not so much because of similarity of standards, we are almost obliged to continue our investigations into the other nations most closely allied with the Latin people, of Southern Europe and elsewhere. There is much room to believe that in a contemporaneous art exhibition the Paris influence should make itself felt in more than one way. Paris, after all, is the Mecca of all art students, particularly of the foreign Latin countries. The technical superiority of the French school of painting has for years caused an influx of foreign students into Paris, who are now giving us, in such national sections as those of Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, and the Philippine Islands, the result of this contact. It will easily be seen that unless a distinct national outlook, based on scenery, climate, history, and tradition generally, is added to the mere technical performance, no matter how clever, a national art can hardly develop. So we find that with all the good intentions in the art of any of the countries mentioned, very little typical national expression is brought out. In choice of subject and colour scheme the art of all of these countries is very much alike.
The Portuguese section does not present any great painter such as Spain, for instance, has produced in Sorolla or Zuloaga, though both seem to be very much admired by all Latin painters, as well as by some of the Germanic artists, as a certain canvas of a Dutch lady in the Holland section will demonstrate.
Nudes are still in vogue, or rather naked women, and probably will be as long as the sale of strong drink needs to be increased by the kind of creation commonly known as the saloon picture. There is surely nothing nobler than the truly idealized interpretation of the human figure by artistic means, but the purposely sensuous nude is becoming rather a bore. Painting flesh is one of the most difficult of all things, particularly as to the correct texture, but there ought to be a limit in the production of such a type of picture as the one by Veloso Salgado in the Portuguese section.
Here a great variety of subjects is treated, mostly with entirely too much realism. Photographic truthfulness is not the function of painting, because, first of all, the medium will not allow it without losing a certain quality indicating the fact that it is painting; and secondly, art can only be an approximation anyhow, and it should carry its point by forceful and convincing suggestion rather than by a tightly rendered photographic fact. The great pictures are first those of a strong suggestive quality and, secondly, those possessing a certain something the artist calls design — meaning thereby a more or less arbitrary arrangement of form and colour effects which will please the eye. The idea of design has not struck the Portuguese artist as yet; at least it is not apparent in the pictures of that section. The technical excellence of their work is uniform and in some cases very creditable, particularly in the many small canvases by Senhor de Sousa Lopes, the art commissioner of his country.
Continuing in the western gallery of the Portuguese section, directly opposite the nude referred to, an outdoor sewing circle by José Malhoa arouses interest. The outdoor quality in this canvas is very pronounced, and the gay enlacement of the luxuriant wistaria with the orange trees in the distance, together with the multi-coloured ensemble of children, make for a lovely effect. The middle gallery doubtless holds Portugal’s most important claims upon artistic distinction, in the group of three portraits and two still-lifes by Columbano. The three portraits are unusually dignified and psychologically suggestive enough to show that the painter was not interested in exterior facts alone. The portrait of the bearded gentleman in the middle is fine, though somewhat academic in colour. The two little still-lifes wedged in between the larger portraits are exquisite in every way, and make up for a lot of superficialities found in this section. All around in this gallery, in more than a dozen sketches from Spain and Italy, Sousa Lopes shows fine ability in the handling of paint and great power of observation. All of these apparently recent things by Senhor Lopes are far more enjoyable than a huge “Pilgrimage”, which, while well painted, is too scattered. The unity of feeling in the work of Columbano is much more necessary in a canvas of this size than in a small sketch. (Rembrandt’s
Retracing our steps, we invade the Argentine, in a well-appointed gallery. The first general impression is very good, though on closer examination nothing of really great merit holds one’s attention for any length of time. While naturalism reigns in Portugal, a more pronounced decorative conventional note predominates in this section, particularly in the portraiture. There is a peculiar superabundance of purple and dark reds in the Argentine section, which gives this gallery a morbid quality. On the main wall, in the left corner, Héctor Nava has a very distinguished “Lady in Black”. Among all of the portraits on this wall it is easily the best, although some charming interiors of a singularly cool tonality are not without interest. They are too reminiscent of Frieseke to convince one of their originality. Another “Black Lady”, continuing toward the right on the next wall, has much to recommend her. A better frame would enhance the merit of this canvas.
There is no landscape of any importance in the Argentine section, no matter how hard the effort to find one. They are all singularly artificial. A small harbor picture by Pedro Delucchi is strong in colour, as well as in technical treatment. It has an unusual wealth of colour, and great richness which contrasts strongly with the general coldness of this section.
Here another South American republic holds forth in a small gallery off the Italian section. The gallery is dominated by a large equestrian portrait of General Galarza, by Blanes Viale. A certain fondness for disagreeable greens and for decorative effects is noticeable in this gallery, and one is not convinced of the necessity for a more comprehensive display.
The same remark applies to the Cuban section, where Romanach’s Düsseldorf style of picture shows at least good academic training, without rising, however, above illustration in any one of the very well painted figure pictures. Rodriguez Morey’s big, intimate foreground studies are commendable for their faithfulness and for a certain poetic quality which takes them out of the realm of mere accurate truthfulness.
The small Philippine section makes one curious to know whether there is nothing in the tradition of this people related to the art of Asia that could serve as a basis for their artistic endeavors. To any serious-minded person it must be evident that the Filipino is not going to work out his artistic salvation by way of the Paris studio. It must come out of the soil, so to speak, and must be based on the racial, religious, and other national elements. It would do the Filipino people good to see their collection in close proximity to that of other nations. Aside from that, a natural sequence of artistic development by developing the more decorative arts of making useful things beautiful — such things as pots and pans, rugs, and jewelry — would be much more becoming than this European affectation. The real art of the Filipinos is to be seen in their art industries in the Philippine Building.
For historical reasons alone, if not for supremacy along artistic lines, Japan and China should by right be dealt with at the very beginning. But having had, since time immemorial, a very detached, highly original note, they fit in anywhere, if not best in between the art of the Romanic and Germanic races. Practically the entire world owes a great debt to Japan, for a certain outlook in decorative art has been adopted from Japan by the best artists of the world. Oriental art is so truly an art of the people, devoting itself most closely to the artistic development of the utilitarian things of life, that to see them at their best one has to look at their furniture, including folding screens, pottery, jewelry, rugs, and practically everything else that is needed in the daily life of the people. The art of China and Japan is so old that its real origin is almost a matter of guesswork, and has a certain general obscurity to most outsiders, owing to language, religion, and customs. This has led to a commercial exploitation of their art in Europe, and in America particularly, based mostly on humbug and partly on facts. If all the pottery, rugs and furniture said to have come from distinguished artists and from even more distinguished circles of ownership, mostly palaces of the Ming dynasty, were enumerated, there would be nothing left to have come from the atmosphere of the ordinary Oriental. The Japanese and Chinese are taking quick advantage of the guilelessness of the western lover of art, and much that is to be seen in either one of the two sections is rather a concession to western demand than to native Oriental talent. Only the special student of oriental art will consent to learn enough of the Japanese or Chinese language to familiarize himself with any other than the commonly known artists of these countries, and all that one can do within the frame of an international exhibition is to single out those things which appeal on the basis of certain artistic principles which are the same the world over. To go into the many religious and other sentimental considerations which are sometimes the basic justification for some very extraordinary fantastic things, charmingly exploited by certain art dealers, is impossible within the scope of this book.
The Japanese people, at the extreme southern end of the Palace of Fine Arts, have a representative show of painted screens, of extraordinary beauty. Anyone, without being in the least familiar with the fauna and flora of Japan, must admire the tremendously acute power of observation and surety of drawing which made these designs possible. The two sixfold screens by Taisei Minakami on the east wall of the eastern gallery are probably the most magnificently daring examples of modern Japanese art. To the student of design they offer a most stimulating opportunity for study. Acutely observed, their tropical subjects, very daring in colour, are exhaustively beautiful. The spacing of the design, the relative distribution of the few daring colours against a gold background of wonderful texture, combine in a picture of great vitality. The art of no people is so scientific as that of these people, whose every effort, no matter how insignificant, is technically always sound. Our modern art schools could very profitably imitate the Japanese principle of teaching their young students how to do a thing well and of leaving the choice of subjects to their own inclination.
Almost opposite, a vertical composition of a lumber camp on a mountainside, by Bunto Hayashi, attracts by an unusual subject very descriptively rendered. The picture belongs to the older school, not so much for the lack of colour, which is often erroneously identified with the older Japanese works, as for a certain quality of less decoration and of more detailed treatment of the drawing. The drawing is, of course, the important element in all Japanese art, since all of their work has to yield a great deal of pleasure of the intellectual kind at close distance, on account of the smallness of Japanese dwellings, which keeps the owner of the picture in close proximity with his artistic possessions. A picture of crows in a rainstorm, on the same wall, on the right side of the southern door, and also a very characteristic study of some kind of cedar, with birds on the left of it, give one an excellent idea of the astonishing variety of material that the Japanese artist successfully controls.
In two irregularly shaped triangular galleries adjoining, Shodo Hirata maintains the standard of the first gallery, not to forget, either, Toyen Oka with his oleander bush and the cat on the picturesque fence. Tesshu Okajima’s hollyhock screens are marvels of decorative simplicity, while Kangai Takakura uses a washday as a motive for a double twofold screen decoration. The last two artists can both be found in the second irregular triangular gallery, opposite the first one mentioned. The central octagonal gallery also is devoted to screen pictures, done by means of embroidery. Some of them, largely those of native design, are successful in really giving the quality of the subjects depicted, but cannot grow enthusiastic over two unduly
Sharing the hospitality of the cases with the embroidery pictures are the wood sculptures, some of which are intensely interesting, as, for instance, the “Man with the Spade.” The underlying idea of cubism is very intelligently embodied in this small figure, without any affectation. The many small woodblock prints to be seen here do credit to the reputation which Japanese artists have long enjoyed in this special field.
The remaining smaller galleries are given over to replicas of the originals of older art, modern sculpture, and painting in the modern style. Why the modern Japanese artists want to divorce themselves from the traditions of their forefathers seems incomprehensible. There is not a thing in the western style in this gallery of Japanese painting that comes anywhere near giving one the artistic thrills won by their typically Japanese work. I think the sooner these wayward sons are brought back into the fold of their truly Oriental colleagues, the better it will be for the national art of Japan, the most profound art the world has ever seen.
The first impression of the Chinese section is disappointing. There is no real life in any of the work here displayed, and most of it consists of modern replicas — some of very excellent quality — of their oldest and best art treasures. The Chinese seem to be absolutely content to rest upon their old laurels, the fragrance of which can hardly ever be exhausted; but nevertheless that does not relieve them of the obligation of working up new problems in a new way. There is so much religious and other sentiment woven into their art that to the casual observer much of the pleasure of looking at the varied examples of applied art is spoiled by the necessity of having to read all of the longwinded stories attached to many of them. The freshness of youth, the spirit of progress, which enliven the Japanese section, are entirely missing in this display, which seems like a voice from the past — a solemn monument to an old civilization without any connection with the New Republic and its modern pretensions. I am afraid China is laboring under conditions of internal strife which are detrimental to the development of any artistic expression.
Of all the foreign nations represented, with the exception of Japan and China, none possesses so distinct a national character as the art of Sweden. I cannot help expressing my personal conviction that it is the best national section in the whole exhibition, showing, as it does, not merely easel painting, but also many splendid examples of so-called applied art, which often permits one to get a deeper insight into the standard of art of a people than easel painting alone. It is true that certain examples of painting in the French or American sections are more appealing to us, but in the light of the national characteristics of the people and the country, Swedish art has a very definite quality, consistently shown. Their work has a robustness which has nothing to do with the salon aspect of the art of southern Europe, particularly France. In fact it is almost opposed to the art of the Romanic races, and distinctly apart from the art of Germany. It is fortunate Sweden could make such a splendid showing without the support of the art of such a man as Anders Zorn, who, while decidedly Swedish, is after all much of a cosmopolitan painter, with all the earmarks of an international training. The art of the most artistic of all people, that of the French, is often said to have a decadent note. In comparison, Swedish art may be said to be absolutely robust, healthy, and vigorous, without being coarse. To those who pretend to find a certain physical brutality in Swedish art, I should like to point out that the most delicate pictures in the entire exhibition — those of John Bauer — are the chief asset of the Swedish exhibit. The great variety of the work in this section makes it very interesting, and permits, as said before, close insight into many phases of modern art.
The most pronounced individualities in the collection, covering all fields, are Bruno Liljefors, Gustav Fjaestad, Carl Larsson, John Bauer, Mr. and Mrs. Boberg, David Edström, Mas-Olle, and others too numerous to mention. Bruno Liljefors for many years has been known internationally as one of the best of animal painters, and particularly of sea fowl. He has had the experience common to many great artists, of working himself up from very academic beginnings to a wonderful personality of marked freedom. His canvas of the nine wild swans is perhaps the biggest single picture in the entire Exposition. It is immediately suggestive of a decoration, and to think of it in that sense, as a part of a wall seen from a great distance, makes one almost tremble with expectation. This truly great picture is a rhythmic masterpiece. The placing of these graceful swans is marvelously well studied from the point of view of design, yet none the less does an expression of reality animate these divine birds. There is something about swans which puts them even above the king of birds, the eagle. I can conceive of men killing any animal, but the thought of one of these noble birds falling victim
Of the other painters Mrs. Boberg should be mentioned next. She is the wife of Ferdinand Boberg, the architect of the Swedish Building, who himself, as a true artist excelling in a number of things, has a splendid collection of etchings in the long black and white gallery adjoining the Liljefors’ room. Mrs. Anna Boberg’s pictures, in a very small gallery at the eastern end of this section, are not advantageously hung. Her work is so decorative, and so painted for distant effect, that to see it close at hand is disappointing. The eleven of her pictures are unusual in subject and for that reason win less sympathy than they deserve. All of them were painted on a trip she made with her husband to the Lofoden islands, and when one considers the proverbial coldness of the Arctic seas, her interpretations seem marvelous in their beauty and richness of colour. A study of their titles in the catalogue seems hardly necessary for understanding of their meaning, and I for one am perfectly satisfied to feast on the gorgeous colouring and the great veracity they possess. Some of them are already sold, a most surprising thing when one considers that to most people a picture actually executed in three dimensions is seldom considered meritorious. I do think that while the physical width and height of Mrs. Boberg’s pictures are governed by conventional considerations, a little less depth of paint might accomplish the same solid appearance without making one feel like slipping sideways past them into the next gallery for fear of knocking off a few lumps of paint.
In the adjoining gallery, a somewhat larger one on the east, Gustav Fjaestad’s very fine decorations form what we are in the habit of calling a “one-man show.” Mr. Fjaestad certainly has the decorative feeling, whether he paints a picture or designs a rug. In fact all of his pictures look like designs for rugs. And why not? If a wall rug is a decoration, a picture should be one in just the same way. It is hard to single out among the many good examples the best one, and it may be left to the taste of the individual, who among nothing but good things cannot make a poor choice. The time will come again when our artists will find it honourable and profitable to apply their talents to utilitarian art, as does Fjaestad, and the interrelated activities of the Swedish in both fine and applied arts afford a lesson which is by no means new. It is the basic condition on which the art of the Renaissance flourished that develops men like the Swedes.
There is a big difference between Liljefors and Mrs. Boberg, or again between her and Fjaestad, but not any greater than between all of these artists and John Bauer. John Bauer’s paintings are exquisite, and even such abused adjectives as “sweet” and “delicate” are not out of place when applied to his work. I hope we have some enlightened person among us who can afford to buy the whole batch of them, and do it quickly, before any more of them are sold singly. It takes more time to enjoy these little fairy tales than one can afford to give to them. They possess everything a good illustrative painting ought to have. A wealth of ideas imaginatively represented, good drawing, and intimate feeling tell of the keen pleasure the artist must have had in producing these gems.
As an illustrator, though very different, Carl Larsson appeals in a comprehensive group of pictures in another gallery. Carl Larsson’s extraordinary resourcefulness in getting everything he needs out of the confines of his home has for years been the cause of his great popularity abroad, and in his thirty-three cheerful drawings he discloses his entire home life, in all the variety of happenings which makes married existence a success. His drawing is faultless, his sense of colour supple and refreshing, and his ability to make such extensive use of the relatively narrow atmosphere of his home without exhausting it proves his caliber. Larsson has a roommate of great distinction and modesty in Oscar Bergman, who has contributed some twenty tender bits of northern landscapes and marines. They are reminiscent of the Japanese, although it becomes almost foolish to think of the Japanese every time someone develops a capacity for acute observation and drawing. Bergman’s little lighthouse is particularly convincing and, like most of these things, should not be allowed to return to the artist.
I shall probably have to retrench in attention to the American section if I keep on giving pages to this section. But in spite of their great merit, the work of Kallstenius, Schultzberg, Carlberg, and Osslund will have to go with only meager reference. Osslund’s pictures are somewhat startling at first, owing to a complexity of technical treatment. He does not seem to be working in the right medium, for I believe his Japanesque landscapes could be far more sympathetically presented in watercolour. Of the group comprising his work, his “Waterfall”, “Summer Evening”, and “Evening on Angermann Land” are very fascinating. Mas-Olle’s portraits are interesting not only for good technical painting but also for fine characterization. His portrait of an old peasant of Dalecarlia is almost faultless. Near the Mas-Olle portrait Herman Lindquist has a “Sunny April Day” of unusual poetic claim. Schultzberg’s big sunlit winter scenes hardly need recommendation to justify their increasing popularity. Alfred Bergstrom’s poetic landscapes add more interest, in the small adjoining room on the east. Marine pictures by
The sculpture of the Swedes is of the same unusual excellence that commands so much respect in their other work. Edstrom easily outranks his fellow-artists in his group of naturalistic and conventional architectural heads, in the Liljefors gallery, while in the long and narrow adjoining gallery a multitude of excellent etchings, drawings, and black and white work compel mention. They hardly need any explanation, since in their very character they readily convey their meaning. One could dwell at greater length upon this most representative of all national displays, but I fear that it would have to be done at the expense of the American section, which hospitality has already placed under a disadvantage.
The Netherlands representation is conspicuous for its conservative note, together with the absence of any single picture which might unduly excite one by its merit. I do not wish to prejudice the art lover who strolls into this well appointed section, but coming from Sweden, as we do, so to speak, since it is Sweden’s next door neighbor, it gives one rather a shock. Most of the Dutch pictures are good, almost too good, in their academic conventional repetition of the timeworn subjects we have been in the habit of seeing for the last twenty years. The Swedish section is full of real thrills, but the complacency of the Netherlands section can hardly be explained by their national temperament alone. While the Swedish people seem to be blessed just now with an unusual number of men of great gifts in the field of art, the Netherlands have entered into what I hope will be only an interregnum of not overly original painters. The last quarter of the last century saw their glory in the careers of men like the elder Israels, the Mesdags, the Maris, Jacob and Willem, Bosbom, Mauve, Weissenbruch, Poggenbeck, and many others who have departed during the last ten years, or who, if still living, have scarcely maintained their high standards of earlier days. The most illustrious name among the older men is Willem Mesdag, who can hardly be expected at his age to be doing his best. Speaking of Mesdag, one of their best marine painters of the older days, one is forcibly
In the middle gallery, on the right of the big Mastenbroek, Christian Addicks’ “Mother and Child” charms by its richness of colouring, while in the left corner hangs a very decorative still-life in the best manner of such old Dutch painters as Hondekoeter. Nicolaas Bastert has a typical Dutch canal, and Willy Sluiter a good study of a Volendam fisherman. One gallery is entirely devoted to etchings, woodcuts, and mezzotints, and the standard maintained in this gallery is high. Martinus Bauer’s three etchings are among the finest to be seen anywhere in the exhibition, and the work of Harting, van Hoytema, and Haverman do not fall much below his standard. There is young Israels (Isaac) with some very snappy sketches. Nieuwenkamp is intensely interesting in the few things he has there, with a certain sense of humor which is conspicuous for its absence in most Dutch work. The woodcuts of Veldheer are vital and unusually free from any academic feeling. Considering the relative size of the Netherlands, they have a remarkably large number of artists, but scarcely of sufficient bigness of caliber and independence of character to live up to the traditions of this people.
Very modestly tucked away and surrounded by art of the few remaining neutral nations, in a small gallery adjoining Holland and Sweden, Germany unofficially and probably even without her knowledge is represented by a small group of pictures which after many adventures reached the hospitable shores of California. Originally exhibited at the last Carnegie Institute Exhibition at Pittsburgh, they found themselves on the high seas on their return voyage at the beginning of the war, only to be captured by an English cruiser whose captain was so painfully struck by the undeniable evidences of German Kultur that instead of taking them to England he returned them to the United States, to be included eventually in our exhibition. It would be very wrong to generalize upon the standard of German art from this small display, but a number of these pictures can well afford to go entirely upon their own merit.
Zügel’s cattle picture is a canvas of the first order, by one of the very important modern animal painters, a man whose fame has penetrated into all lands where art is at all cultivated. The silvery light of a summer morning, filtering through overhanging willow-trees upon the backs of a few Holstein cows, is full of life and admirably loose in its treatment. Above Zügel, Leo Putz, another Munich man, has a lady near a pond, broadly painted, and executed in the peculiar Putz method of square, mosaic-like paint areas which melt into a soft harmony of tender grays and greens. Stuck’s “Nocturne” is affected and unconvincing and scarcely representative of this master’s style. The many other men give a good account of themselves, particularly Curt Agthe, whose classic “Nude at the Spring” is of wonderful surface quality. Wenk has an Italian marine and Benno Becker a landscape from the same country. Göhler’s “Castle Terrace” has a particularly fine sky and a true rococo atmosphere. Hans von Volkmann’s “Field of Ripe Grain” is typical of this Karlsruhe painter, whose stone lithographs have given German art a unique place in the art world.
Almost one-third of the entire Fine Arts Palace is occupied by the art of the United States, and considering the privileges it enjoys, we have no reason to offer any excuses. One thing should be said, a fact which must force itself immediately upon any careful observer — that we have been very hospitable to the foreign nations at the loss of our own physical comfort. The growing demand from some of the foreign nations for more space than originally applied for has crowded the American section in some instances into rather uncomfortable conditions. On the other hand we do not seem to have acquired such attractive ways of hanging our pictures as the Swedes, Hollanders, or Italians practice; probably for lack of funds. At any rate the American section looks very businesslike and very democratic, without all the frills and fancies of other nations, where every psychological advantage has been taken in order to make things palatable. We have even been criticized for our lack of spaciousness in hanging, but let us not grieve over this, since it does at least save steps in walking from one picture to the next.
Our historical section is largely a mausoleum of portraits which really have no other excuse for existence than historical interest, unless one excepts the always excellent portraits of Gilbert Stuart, who certainly stands out in all that dull company of his fellow-painters of his own time. He is about the only one who can claim professional standards of workmanship as well as lifelike characterization of his sitters. His group of pictures on wall A does his great talent full justice. The mellow richness of the portrait of General Dearborn stands out as a fine painting among the many hard and black historical documents in this gallery. The Captain Anthony portrait above is not less important. I think his technical superiority and breadth of manner must be doubly appreciated when one considers the absence of any artistic inspiration in this country in Stuart’s time, although he had the advantage of several lengthy visits abroad, where he was received with approval by profession and public alike. Most other portraits in this gallery are lacking in any individual note and are hopelessly stiff and academic in colour. Not even the very apparent influence of the great English portrait masters of their time could save them from mediocrity. The only pictures worth excepting from this classification, outside of the Stuarts, are Charles Elliott’s “Colonel McKenney” and S. B. Waugh’s portrait of Thorwaldsen, the Danish sculptor.
In an adjoining gallery toward the north, our chronological investigations bring us into an atmosphere of story-telling pictures of the most pronounced Düsseldorf and Munich styles. This period has always been the source of delight to the populace, which has no concern in the technical qualities of a picture, a contention which led, more than anything else, to the healthy reaction we now enjoy as the modern school. The sentimental tone of most of these pictures and their self-explanatory illustrative motives no doubt make them easily the lazy man’s delight, but I cannot help feeling that most of their themes could much more successfully be approached through literature than through the painter’s art. Most of them explain themselves immediately, and those which do not are helped along by descriptive titles fastened to the frames, as the taste of that school demands. The great men of this school in Germany were primarily great painters. Men like Defregger, Knaus, Vautier, Grützner, Kaulbach, and others will always command high respect by their technical achievements, no matter how we may disagree with their choice of subjects. The really worthy ones we have produced in this field of genre painting are to be found in other galleries and are represented by men like Hovenden, Currier, and Johnson. The only real painting among the many figure pictures in this gallery is Peter Frederick Rothermel’s “Martyrdom of St. Agnes.” Very rich in colour and big in composition, it compels great respect.
We have now reached the middle of the last century, when the influence of the Barbizon school asserted itself and caused increasing interest in landscape painting, a field which up to that time had been mixed up with historical motives, as in a typical composite canvas by Cole (Thomas), who generally ranks as the most important of the Hudson River School of landscape painters. There is really not enough artistic moment to this American group to dignify it by the name of a school. For historical reasons, however, this classification is very convenient. Cole’s four sketches for the “Voyage of Life” show strong imagination, giving the impression, however, that he was more interested in mythology than in the art of painting.
The first intimation of a really original step in American outdoor painting, as based on the discoveries of the school of 1825, the Barbizon school, one receives in this gallery in a number of small canvases by some of the men we have chosen to classify as the painters of the Great West. Into this group are put Thomas Moran, Thomas Hill, and Albert Bierstadt. They are so very closely identified with the West that they are of particular interest to us. Their artistic careers were as spectacular as their subjects. Stirred by the marvelous tales of the great scenic wonders of the West, they heroically threw themselves into a task that no artist could possibly master. They approached their gigantic subjects with correspondingly large canvases, without ever giving the essential element, of their huge motives, namely, a certain feeling of scale, of monumentality, as compared to the pigmy size of the human figure. Really great pictures of the Yellowstone, the Grand Cañon, and the lofty mountain-tops still remain to be painted. The daring and courage of these men has benefited our art very much in a technical sense. The study of panoramic distances and the necessity for closely observing out-of-doors new subjects which could not be studied in the work of other painters, led to a facility in the handling of paint which really constitutes the chief merit of these artists. In this gallery (59) two small outdoor sketches by Thomas Hill give a good suggestion of this Californian’s great dexterity in handling paint. His career has been so closely identified with the Yosemite Valley, where he lived and died, that these two sketches will serve as a reminder of the very faithfully studied larger pictures he for many years produced. Peter Moran, a brother of Thomas, has a cattle picture in this gallery which needs the backing up of the reputation of the whole Moran family to be accepted.
Chronological order is not entirely maintained in gallery 58, where two large Bierstadt pictures are in control. Bierstadt, with all of his good painting, does not get any nearer the real spirit of the lofty mountaintops than all the others of this school. Big and earnest as his efforts were, they fall short of real achievement, not so much for his lack of outdoor colour as for the misunderstanding of what is possible in art and what is impossible. Another landscape in this gallery, belonging to the contemporary school, however, is Henry Joseph Breuer’s “Santa Inez Mountains”. It is a faithful study of a most difficult subject and very successful in its big feeling, in spite of the introduction of great detail. It is easily the best Breuer in the collection. The note of variety in this gallery is maintained in several portraits and genre pictures of unusual merit. On the right of the Breuer, Thomas Hicks’ “Friendly Warning” atones for a multitude of mediocre genre pictures in the preceding gallery. Eastman Johnson’s “Drummer Boy” shows good composition, and J. H. E. Partington’s study of a man’s head is as fine a piece of painting as was ever done in the eighties.
In a big central gallery we meet the more meritorious work of our painters dependent upon foreign influence. Portraits, genre pictures, landscapes, and marines tell the story of many individual men working out their salvation in more or less original fashion. I have spoken at some length about the pitfall of genre painting, but Thomas Hovenden’s “Breaking Home Ties” redeems the entire school. Irrespective of the fact that it is a picture very popular with the large public by reason of its sentimental appeal, it is well painted, and it will always be considered a good painting. It is devoid of colour, in the sense of the modern painter, but its very fluent and simple technical character recommends it highly. Hovenden was a master of his trade. Anybody who doubts this from his large canvas can easily be convinced by studying the “Peonies” to the left of it on wall C. The large area of this wall is covered with six canvases by Thomas Eakins, showing a variety of subjects. His “Crucifixion” is very good as an academic study but of no other interest. In the “Concert Singer” he added an interesting subject to very admirable painting. His other canvases are all sincerely studied and well done, and they will always be sure of their place in the history of American painting. Opposite the “Crucifixion,” Church’s “Niagara” reminds one that the painting of water involves more than mere photographic facility. All that one can say about this serious effort is that if it had been painted under a different star than that which guided the painters of his time in outdoor studies, it would doubtless look more like water. Another canvas on the right, a marine by Richards, has the same feeling for drawing without showing any understanding of either texture or atmosphere.
We have to go over into this gallery in order to get the full meaning of that great company of men who had something which is so difficult to discover in many artists, namely, style. Inness and Wyant above everything have style, a quality which carried their otherwise not very original work above that of their fellow-painters. We shall never tire of such canvases as “The Coming Storm,” “The Clouded Sun,” and the limpid pastorals by Wyant. They maintain their position as classics. Winslow Homer occupies a position all by himself. An entire wall full of specimens by him shows the evolution of the man, his struggle with the problem of the choice of subjects, and his technical development, culminating in that one really great theme in the center, showing his studio in an afternoon fog. Homer’s colour is always disappointing, even in his best, but his sense of design and a certain simple restriction to a few essentials make up his chief claim upon distinction. Dennis Bunker’s “Lady with a Mirror” would scarcely be believed to belong to the older period of American art. One of the finest pictures ever produced by an American painter, it yields a most unusual degree of artistic pleasure. There is real distinction about this picture, not only in the graceful idealization of the lady, but also in the refined colour scheme. Currier’s art is very much like Duveneck’s, an observation which is made emphatic by the fact that each one’s masterpiece is a whistling boy, of great simplicity. After a discussion of Duveneck’s work, Currier’s artistic antecedents will easily be established, so no more need be said of his work.
Across the hall more of our academic school of painters are grouped. There is George de Forest Brush, the painter of the “Boston Madonna”, in some of his earlier illustrative canvases and a very fine pre-Raphaelite “Andromeda”. Brush is so contradictory at times that this small group is quite insufficient to do him full justice. Horatio Walker clings persistently to his conviction of the supremacy of the older methods, without giving any indication of contact with modern art. His superiority depends largely upon the human-interest stories he tells with wonderful breadth and sympathetic understanding. Charles W. Hawthorne’s canvases seem fumbled rather than painted. They are very hesitating in a technical way and are not sufficiently endowed with interest to grip one.
In another gallery in this neighborhood, Edwin Abbey’s art is presented very comprehensively in a number of large and small illustrations — canvases of more than passing interest. While they are largely illustrations, their interest is made permanent by reason of the subjective note which all of them have. Abbey’s intense imagination allowed him to carry a convincingness into his work which is largely responsible for the very high rank he attained. His art is not the art of an American in any sense. It is true he was born in Philadelphia, but a long and successful life spent in Europe has left on his work the imprint of an aristocracy foreign to our interest. In design, in colour, Abbey’s work is always supremely interesting, and with the astonishing development of illustration in America, it seems incredible that we should not have been able to make him return to the land of his birth.
Galleries fifty-five and fifty-six are modern in aspect and their contents came into this part of the building for practical reasons. Wedged in between older periods, it is difficult to combine them with the rest of modern American art, largely represented in the north side of the Palace.
Here two interiors in distinctly different styles stand out among the multitude. Marion Powers and Elizabeth Nourse add considerably to the achievement of our women artists in these well-painted canvases. Miss Powers is very original in an older school, while Miss Nourse displays all the technical dexterities of the present day. Hitchcock’s “Dutch Tulip Beds,” with figural staffage, remind one of a most original American who after a long struggle established himself with these colourful designs. His recent death came entirely too soon.
This room is intensely animated by Potthast’s six seashore sketches, which are composed and very sympathetic in their fine sunlight. Evelyn McCormick’s “Monterey Custom House” is no less sunny, and conscientiously studied in detail.
Of particular interest are the pictures in this gallery, constituting an achievement which few other nations could rival. Devoted exclusively to the work of living American women artists, it contains convincing evidences of the good results which the emancipation of women in this country allowed them to accomplish in the field of art. The standard in this gallery is very high, and one must admit that Mr. Trask’s daring innovation of putting all the women artists in one big gallery was justified. They do hold their own, and they do not need any male assistance to convince one of their big part in the honors of the exhibition. On two opposing walls, Mary Cassatt and Cecilia Beaux give full expression of their very vital work. Miss Beaux’s work is compelling in its vigorous technique, fine colour, and daring composition. Her study in purple and yellow is bold and unusually successful. On other walls more portraits by Ellen Emmet Rand continue to hold our attention, particularly the little girl and the black cat. The portraits of our women painters are all far more original in composition and colour arrangement than those of the men. Mary Cassatt’s reputation is so universally established as not to need any introduction. Her art is more French in the many tone gradations of atmosphere than that of her American colleagues who are more decorative. Among others Jean McLane, Mr. Johansen’s wife, and Annie Lang excel in a certain breadth of style; while Mrs. Richardson charms by the sympathetic rendering of the pride and happiness of the young mother. The composition of this picture, while it is unusual, is successfully managed. The impression one gains from this large gallery is most satisfying in every way. The many portraits done by men seen in various galleries of the exhibition would scarcely make as good a showing in a group as the work of the women, and it was very wise not to attempt it.
An approach to the rest of the American section might be made through the one-man rooms, and since we are on the south side, and for other perfectly good reasons — not the least, that of importance — we might start with Whistler.
No gallery reflects so much the really serious artist, in his eternal struggle to express himself simply and exhaustively in line, form, and colour, as does this Whistler group. A feeling of dissatisfaction, expressed by many indications of experimentation and change, of searching for the right line, is clearly indicated in all of these paintings. He often gives you a chance to choose between a number of tantalizing forms and lines. It is very apparent that he set himself a high, almost an unattainable standard, toward which he worked with varying success. His emotions must have been constantly swinging between the greatest heights of joy and the abyss of despair.
The numerous Whistlers in this gallery show him in many periods and many styles. On wall D, at the lower right, a portrait of an auburn girl, one of his many fascinating models, shows Whistler more as a pure painter than any of the other canvases. This doubtless belongs to the period when he was under Courbet’s influence. The richness of pure paint, dexterously applied, is scarcely found in the many portraits on the same wall, in which a certain thinness of paint is too much in evidence, no matter how distinguished and suggestive these canvases are. His sense of composition, of the placing of areas of different tones and colour, is markedly evident in all of his work, no matter how experimental and casual it may be. The “Falling Rocket” is the most wonderful example of this quality of design. If it is true that it hung for weeks upside down in the present owner’s house, then most decidedly this fact speaks well for its excellent quality of design, irrespective of its pictorial meaning. The many small sparks descending rhythmically from an impenetrable sky are carefully considered in their relative position and size so as to insure that feeling of pattern which he almost instinctively gave to everything he did. This picture of the “Falling Rocket” is of particular interest as the picture which made John Ruskin, the Slade Professor of Art at Oxford, accuse Whistler of flinging a pot of paint at the face of the public and having the impudence of a coxcomb to ask two hundred guineas for it. Surely this carefully and cleanly painted picture shows Whistler as hardly a flinger of paint, and we can only rejoice over the kind fate which saved Mr. Ruskin from extending his career into the present age of paint flingers, who, had they lived in his day, would have proved fatal to the learned professor. The farthing damages which Whistler received in a mock trial were scarcely as valuable as the universal admiration this picture receives.
There never was a painter who manipulated paint with more regard for the medium than did Whistler. His portrait of Mrs. Milicent Cobden has a noble beauty of restraint. It is very sensitively painted, and tender almost to the point of thinness. It fascinates in its subtle appeal, which the observer is induced to supplement by his own emotion. This quality of subtlety is the one attribute which makes his work so beloved by the artist and so difficult of understanding for the layman, who, try as he may, is not equipped with sufficient technical insight to do Whistler’s paintings full justice. Uneven as his work is, as every painter admits, it will always be more and more cherished by the profession and remain more or less of a mystery to the puzzled public, who would like to follow this painter into the realm of his interests.
The six figural compositions on the opposite wall show Whistler as concerned with design pure and simple, rather than meaning or psychological expression. They are beautiful for the fragrant looseness of their spacing of delightful, tender areas of neutralized colour, emphasized here and there by a stronger note of vermilion. Things like these express his attitude far more than any other thing he ever did. They show his understanding of the fundamentals of painting — a small part in the whole unity of beauty of which the world consists. His work as a painter is, after all, negligible in comparison with the principles he preached by his many artistic activities. His historical position, as time goes on and as his associates die, becomes more and more mystical, and even at this moment his personality has assumed an almost mythological character.
It is not a far cry to Twachtman, who presents a peculiar combination of Whistlerian tonality with the methods of the modern impressionist. His work is relatively high in key, and devoid of any colour resembling black. The covered skies of early morning, before the breaking through of the sun, are his chief motives. Snow plays also an important part in his work, which is most suggestive in the tender beauty of the few values and colours it is composed of. There is absolutely nothing of the sensational about his work. To most people of not sufficient interest on first acquaintance, on better familiarity they yield to the serious student and sympathetic lover of nature unlimited pleasure. His poetry is of the true sort, and in finished work like “October”, “View on the Brette”, “Bridge in Spring”, and “Greenwich Hills”, he rises to a very high level.
Manship’s small statuettes are very effective features of this gallery. Their linear decorative architectural quality has put Manship into the front rank of our younger men, and he will have no trouble to maintain his place.
In an adjoining gallery, Edmund Tarbell is much more striking, in a number of canvases containing certain qualities, which easily account for the great popularity he justly enjoys as one of the best of our American painters. To the student of pictures who does not care whether they are well painted or not, they are intensely interesting subjects, reflecting the happy domestic atmosphere of the painter’s home, which has furnished him for years inexhaustible material for many delightful interpretations of similar subjects. This ability to produce so many things of equal excellence in a relatively small circle, in one way proves his greatness. In the last analysis, he has practically everything in his work one looks for in a work of art. In addition to having an easily understood idea, his pictures are well composed, without showing the consciousness of it, as does Whistler. Fine in colour and handling,
Bela Pratt’s statue of Nathan Hale is much less academic than the other sculptures arranged in this gallery. Compared with the high standard of American small plastic art his works are somewhat dry, though always conscientiously done.
As a realistic painter of the outdoors, E. W. Redfield holds an enviable position in the field of American art. He is the painter par excellence, without making any pretension at being anything else. The joy of putting paint on canvas to suggest a relatively small number of things which make up the great outdoor country, like skies, distance, land foregrounds, is his chosen task. He is the most direct painter we have. With a heavily loaded brush, without any regard for anything but immediate effect, he expresses his landscapes candidly and convincingly. He is plain-spoken, truthful, free from any trickery — as wholesome as his subjects. His a la prima methods embody, to the professional man, the highest principle of technical perfection, without falling into a certain physical coarseness so much in evidence in most of our modern work. His sense of design is keen, without being too apparent, and the impression one gains from his works is that they are honest transcriptions of nature by a strong, virile personality. Winter subjects predominate in his pictures, and he expresses them probably more convincingly than others — though his Autumn is marvelous in its richness of colour, and in the two night effects of New York he shows his acute power of observation in two totally different subjects. His art is altogether most refreshing and free from all artificialities.
Paradoxical as it may seem, Duveneck’s art is carried by the same painter-qualities found in Redfield. From his dark colour it is self-evident that he belongs to an older German school — a school which has been superseded in the affection of Americans by French methods. We know relatively little, entirely too little, about the generous methods of the best men of the Munich school, of which Duveneck is so conspicuous a member. His importance in the history of art can hardly be set too high, for the soundness of his methods alone. Only the greatest ever attain the capacity for direct painting which characterizes this astonishing collection of his pictures.
Balancing Duveneck’s gallery on the south, William M. Chase continues the Munich traditions, in the successful treatment of a variety of subjects for which he has always been famous. Closely associated with Duveneck, and showing all the rich qualities of the Munich men, Chase’s picturesque personality finds a reflection in his subjects, which all seem to have been chosen to give him an opportunity to display a certain bravado of handling which characterizes all of his work. The Chase collection gives a good idea of the career of this most useful of all American painters, who in an astonishingly active life has been teacher, friend, and counsellor to hundreds of the younger people in the field of art. His life has been most useful — always in the interest of the very best, with conspicuous success in aiding the uplift of American art. His still-lifes have for years been famous for their fidelity of interpretation of a variety of contrasting things, like fishes, copper bowls, and onions. No less interesting have been his portraits of the great mass of people who have sat for him. He has never been afraid of painting anything, and whatever it may be, he has treated it with great breadth, fine pictorial feeling, and charm of colour. His “Woman with the White Shawl” has become a classic during his lifetime, and some of his still-lifes are sufficient to serve as a permanent solid foundation for his reputation. Chase’s art, while decidedly academic, excels in esprit, in a certain elegant yet energetic expression which after all is nothing but the painter’s own personality reflected in his work. The delightful set of small landscapes of Italian and American subjects adds much interest in this collection, which is very well hung against an effective blue background.
Childe Hassam’s art at first is very disconcerting, particularly under a strong midday light. One has at first the feeling that a religious adherence to a certain impressionistic technique is of more importance to him than anything else. Entering his gallery from the Chase collection, one is almost overcome with the contrast of light and dark presented by these two masters. The contrast of the classic academic atmosphere of Chase’s room shows Hassam pronouncedly as the most radical impressionist we have. His interest is light, and always more light, vibration at any cost; which contrasted with Chase’s art, or for that matter anybody’s else, Duveneck’s, or, for instance, even Whistler’s, becomes almost irritating in its lack of simple surfaces. He does not eliminate in the sense of the older men, who care more for a unity of expression than for an approximation to the actual outdoors. There is sunlight in his work, without a doubt, but it is not always spread over agreeable subjects. The wooden quality of his figures and the frugal aspects of his fruit, to us Californians are particularly painful. Of all his oils in this gallery the two on either side of the “Aphrodite” on the east wall are by far the best. In them he succeeds in carrying his point agreeably and convincingly. They are both lovely in colour, and they give you the feeling of having been well studied. The two groups of watercolours and gouaches on the side walls are, with the exception of a wash blue sea, very discreet in quality of paint and most intimate in feeling, and to my mind do Hassam more credit than the many other canvases, which seem to be painted for expounding a technical principle rather than to reveal his innermost feelings.
Melchers’ style is much more sympathetic than Hassam’s without being less personal. Of modern painters I confess to a particularly great fondness for Melchers’ art. While standing firmly on classic tradition, it is modern in every sense. One can say everything of good and find little fault with any of these most conscientiously painted canvases which make up his contribution to the exhibition. Beginning with his “Fencing Master”, one of his older works, he shows in a great number of similar subjects his loyalty to Egmond aan den Hoef, a little Dutch village where he has worked for years. The quality of pattern and colour in his work is very pronounced, and this, combined with a fine psychology, makes his work always interesting. He is no radical; the best as he sees it in any school he has made subservient to his purpose without any loss of individuality. His pictures yield much pleasure to public as well as to artist, even in sentimental stories like the “Sailor and His Sweetheart”, or the “Skaters”. His finest note he strikes undoubtedly in the many sympathetic glorifications of motherhood in his fine modern Madonnas. These works will be the sure
A small adjoining gallery is given entirely over to a few Sargents which are quite sufficient to maintain this great stylist, whom many believe the towering giant of the profession. One thing is evident from this work — that for surety of touch and technical directness he stands practically alone, though he does not possess the deliberate ease in which Duveneck rejoices. Sargent’s “John Hay” and “Henry James” are absolutely exhaustive as character studies. His “Nubian Girl”, however, is woody, no matter how interesting in posture. In nothing does he disclose his marvelous precision of technique so completely as in some of the outdoor studies, like the “Syrian Goats” and the “Spanish Stable”. There is nothing like them in the exhibition anywhere, and these two things alone make up for what is really not a comprehensive display of one of the greatest of modern living painters. However, a man whose standard of excellence is relatively very even does not need a large representation.
In two other small galleries of similar size three California painters have their inning. While all these are of different caliber, they have something in common which ties them closely together. It seems peculiar that a country famed for its sunshine should produce men like Keith, Mathews,, and McComas, who surely do reflect a rather somber atmosphere, in a type of work which must be called tonal and arbitrary rather than naturalistic.
Keith’s collection, with the mass of modern landscape all around, and even compared with other followers of the Barbizon school, seems somewhat somber, as compared with the vital buoyancy of Redfield and others of Redfield’s type. His range of idealistic landscape subjects is intimate, but not characterized by the stirring suggestion of outdoors which Inness, Wyant, and others of his school possess. Keith’s marvelous dexterity of brushwork really constitutes his chief claim upon fame, and some of his best things are gems in easy-flowing methods of painting which the best men of the Barbizon school seldom approached. Keith must not be looked upon as a painter of nature nor even an interpreter of nature. He used landscapes simply to express an ever-changing variety of personal emotion. His attitude toward nature in his later work was of the most distant kind, although his early career was that of the most painstaking searcher for physical truthfulness.
Mathews and McComas.
Mathews and McComas do not exactly make good company. While closely related in the decorative quality of their work, they are not alike in any other way. Mathews’ art is emotional. It tells something beyond mere colour, form, and composition, while McComas’ art is mostly technical, in the clever manipulation of a very difficult medium. His sense of construction and feeling for effect is very acute. He is becoming so expert, however, in the handling of watercolour that one sometimes wishes to see a little more of that accidental charm of surface that his older work possesses.
Having reached far into the heart of the modern American section by way of the one-man galleries, a chronological pursuit of our study is no more necessary nor possible. Almost all of the pictures in the modern American section have been produced since 1904, the year of the last international exhibition, at St. Louis, and they reflect in a very surprising way the tremendous advancement of native art to a point where comparison with the art of the older nations need not be feared. In all the fields of painting, including all subjects, portraits and figures generally, landscapes, marines, and still-life, we can turn proudly to a great number of painters who interpret candidly and vigorously the world in which we live.
The gallery nearest to the one just visited gives a good idea of the mastery of a variety of subjects in the art of painting, and to continue our investigations from this point is just as logical as from any other part of the modern American section. In this gallery, easily located by two large parvenu portraits of dubious merit, are some others which are really vital expressions of modern art. Beginning on wall A, going to the right, Luis Mora’s “Fortune Teller” and Meakin’s landscapes should be singled out. On the west wall Frederic Clay Bartlett’s painting of an interior and Norwood McGilvary’s nocturne charm in different ways, while on the adjoining wall Ritschel’s marine and Rosen’s winter scenes display excellent quality of design, with fine outdoor feeling. Miss Fortune’s Mission interior deserves its distinction of having been bought by William M. Chase. Robert Nisbet contributes a rare green tree design, and Hayley Lever’s harbor pictures are all performances of superior merit,
This gallery is given over entirely to portraits, most of which are so devoid of any real merit that it is relatively very easy to single out the good ones. Flagg’s portrait of the sculptor Bartlett, a portrait by Robert David Gauley over the door, the lady with the fur on the second line on wall B, with her neighbor, Lazar Raditz, by himself, are better than the many others, which are all well done but do not interest one enough, for one reason or another. The one picture in this gallery that comes very near being of supreme beauty is the young lady reclining on a chaise lounge, the work of E. K. Wetherill. Very few pictures in this gallery come up to the placid beauty of this distinguished canvas, which is somewhat handicapped in its aesthetic appeal by some unnecessarily tawdry bits of furniture and bric-à-brac used in its make-up.
“Phyllis” here represents John W. Alexander, that most capable artist, lost to the world recently at the height of a very useful career. John W. Beatty’s and Francis Murphy’ landscapes, on either side, are both beautiful, in the Barbizon spirit. Howard Russell Butler’s “Spirits of the Twilight” is very luminous, and Lawton Parker’s “Paresse” in its sensual note runs “Stella” a close second in a colour scheme and design of such beauty that one cannot help getting a great deal of aesthetic satisfaction from it, aside from its too apparent sensational character.
This large central gallery averages unusually high in the large number of excellent things it contains. Four big, well studied marines by William Ritschel make one feel proud of the contribution they make to the field of American marine painting. It is very hard to say which one of our four well-represented marine painters, Carlsen, Waugh, Dougherty, and Ritschel, is most captivating. However, a canvas like Ritschel’s “In the Shadow of the Cliffs” will always hold its own among the best. Ritschel’s work is easily recognized by this robust, healthy tone; it reveals sound values and intimate study. One of Johansen’s small landscapes, and another one by H. M. Camp, on the second line of this wall, grow in one’s estimation on longer acquaintance. They are in fine style and very big for their size, largely by reason of their monumental skies. Howard Cushing’s group in the center is full of skillfully presented detail, without losing in breadth in the many different subjects he paints. His portrait of a lady, in the center, is distinguished in every way, not least so in expression.
Johansen’s main group of pictures, all on one wall, stand for breadth and intimate study alike. The Venetian square canvas in the middle is one of the jewels of this exhibition. There is no end of distinctive canvases in this gallery, as one must conclude on going over to the two big Daniel Garbers, which are more of the typical American type than his others in the group. The one on the right is a perfect unit of colour, atmosphere, and pattern. In between, Spencer’s backyard pictures reveal a sympathetic younger painter who, for reason of his choice of proletarian subjects, does not get the attention he more than deserves. Most original in technique and charming in tone, they interest wherever one meets them in the exhibition.
On the second line a delightful Speicher landscape should not be overlooked. On wall D an important winter landscape by Schofield reminds one forcibly of the many excellent painters of ice and snow we have in this country. They are really the backbone of our American outdoor artists, and all of them, with the exception of Gardner Symons, can be found in the exhibition. To this group, beside Redfield and Schofield, before mentioned, belong Charles Morris Young, John F. Carlson, Charles Rosen, and others. Leon Kroll’s “River Industries” and “Weehawken Terminal,” on the second line, are so typically American in subject that they would have been unacceptable to the public here twenty years ago.
This large room continues to hold the attention of the visitor by more excellent specimens of present-day art. Dougherty’s marines as well as Waugh’s very precise, somewhat metallic seascapes have been referred to before. Dougherty’s group of four pictures is augmented by two Spanish canvases by Lewis Cohen, of which the one to the right is far more convincing than the other. They are somewhat artificial in colour. Emil Carlsen’s only contribution, a fine open sea, has a quality all its own. The feeling of pattern in sky and water surface, combined with great delicacy and suggestion of absolute truthfulness, gives it a quality quite apart from the energetic art of Waugh, Ritschel, and Dougherty. John F. Carlson always has style to his work, a certain unaffected, noble simplicity, well brought out in three sympathetic pictures grouped near the Emil Carlsen marine. Adding to the conspicuousness of that wall, Charles H. Davis and Leonard Ochtman hold their own in their important setting. The only two figure pictures in this neighborhood are particularly lovely in colour and design, and R. P. R. Neilson deserves much praise for having struck a unique note conspicuous among the many commonplace portraits of the present day. Wendt’s “Land of Heart’s Desire” is unusually happy, and it supports its title admirably. Very decorative in feeling, it is compelling in its appeal to the public. Maynard Dixon, another Californian, shows an original small canvas, “The Oregon Trail,” endowed with big feeling.
Two cases in this gallery encourage investigation of American accomplishments in the field of animal sculpture, and on closer examination of offerings in this most interesting field, we find an unusually creditable lot of work by Frederick Roth, Albert Laessle, Arthur Putnam, and Charles Cary Rumsey. They should be considered in a group if their relative merit is to be fully appreciated. Kemeys and Proctor somewhat antedate them all in their work (in galleries 69 and 72). Roth is next door to Kemeys in 45, among a variety of things done mostly in glazed clay. A very fine sense of humor comes to the surface most conspicuously in “The Butcher”, “The Baker”, and “The Candlestick Maker”. Putnam and Laessle are in this gallery side by side. In sharp contrast with the former’s muscular and broad type of modeling, the latter has a very precise and Japanesque quality of detail modeling which is sometimes a little photographic. Charles Cary Rumsey is only a few steps away, in gallery 48. In his original subject of a horse and man drinking he strikes a particularly unique note.
Here Metcalf’s “Blossom Time” reveals the most poetic of our modern American painters. The man who bought it made a good investment. In ten years it will be a classic and worth its weight in gold, including the frame. This canvas gives one more thrills than almost all the others by the same man — good as they are. The “Trembling Leaves” is superb, but a fussy frame destroys half the pleasure. Mrs. Philip Hale’s elegant and refined interior, together with Paxton’s figural work, prove that we have conquered successfully a certain field of genre which the American art-lover has been in the habit of buying in Europe. Paxton’s “Housemaid” is entirely in the spirit of the old Dutch, and his “Bellissima” is most luminous alongside of his other works.
This magnetic collection comes somewhat as a shock to the public, which can’t be blamed for its disapproval of the recent sensational experiments of Henri and Glackens. It is impossible to understand why a man like Glackens should so illogically abandon the soundness of his older work and do those inharmonies of form and colour which he presents on the A wall. His “Woman with Apple” is absolutely absurd and vulgar beyond description. She has “character,” if that is what he is after, because her vulgarity is convincing. The rest of the things are ridiculous in their riotous superficiality. Carles seeks the same expression of individuality for which Glackens strives so hard. In his small, square picture, “Repose,” Carles is most successful. Here he has created a great work of art — beautiful as well as full of character. This canvas is one of the most successful of the new style. It needs no apologies, and it has all the qualities of an old master, with modern virility and colour added to it. Let us have new things like this and we shall not regret having tolerantly and patiently watched all the many idiocities which are paraded around under the pretext of research and experimentation. Breckenridge’s still-lifes are startling at first, but studied singly they reveal a fine sense of colour. They constitute a serious and successful contribution to modern art, without being in the least grotesque. I should like to have one of them in my house, without fear of their very vigorous colour. In a totally different vein Everett L. Bryant gives some still-lifes which continue certain impressionistic methods with wonderful delicacy. In certain surroundings they will add distinction even to a commonplace room. Anshutz’s “Lady in Red” is a very good academic study in a colour which in large quantities is very difficult to handle.
The academic school is continued in spirit in Sergeant Kendall’s refined portraits, augmented by a painted wood sculpture of unusual quality, reminiscent of the masters of the early German Renaissance. Louis Kronberg has his customary ballet girl and Hermann Dudley Murphy some of his typical, refined marines. His surfaces are always delectable and like the inside of a shell in their glistening blues and pinks. Both Nelson and Hansen, two native Californians, are well represented — one by a Monterey coast, the other by a forcefully painted decorative picture called “The Belated Boat.” Lathrop adds two placid pictures, of which the canal is the more skillfully composed.
Peace reigns supreme in this gallery of Tryon and Weir. Tryon reflects all the poetic qualities of the Barbizon group without striking a new note either technically or in composition. His larger canvases are of great beauty, very tender and poetic, and altogether too sweet to have you feel that they were painted for any other reason than to make a pretty picture. His smaller work gives you that feeling more than his larger ones. Alden Weir’s art is the direct opposite of this. Searching for truth, character, and beauty, he labors over simple subjects with great concentration and does not stop until they seem like silver symphonies. His art is personal and must be studied at great length to be fully appreciated. It expects a great deal of concentration, but one willing to take the trouble will be amply rewarded by ever increasing pleasure. The art of McLure Hamilton is more interesting in the power of psychological characterization than in painting. His pictures are painted thinly, more like watercolours than oils.
No noteworthy contribution is made here, unless one excepts the academically clever portraits by Troccoli, a landscape by Vonnoh, and a sumptuous bed of rhododendrons by Edward F. Rook. Two large “Grand Cañons” again demonstrate the utter futility of trying to paint such motives, which, in their success, depend entirely upon a feeling of scale that is almost impossible to attain on a small canvas.
Here Blumenschein’s large Indian compositions are of decorative character. They are well composed and dramatic. The “Peace Maker” is big in feeling. Typically American and very unusual are Colin Campbell Cooper’s New York street perspectives. His originality as a painter is well demonstrated by this choice, which must have taken much courage at a time when American subjects were more or less despised. Richard Millers “Pink Lady” does not look a bit convincing, cleverly as it is painted; it is not interesting enough in the large surfaces of overnaturalistic pink flesh. Half that size would have been just enough for this canvas, which is chiefly a concession to the modern mania for painting large exhibition pictures to attract attention by their size alone. Groll’s desert pictures are disappointing. They have neither interesting colour nor sufficient atmosphere to come up to the standard of this typical desert painter.
There is a lovely note in this gallery, contributed by Ruger Donoho’s garden scenes. Most unusual in subject, they are full of life, vibrant with colour, and altogether very delightful, a most pleasant change from the ordinary run of subjects. Frank Dumond’s work on another wall (B) excels in a pleasant mannerism. His work is most thoughtful and well studied. The two smallest of his paintings are perfect gems in every way - well balanced by two small tender canvases of southern Europe by Mrs. Dumond
Charles Morris Young’s art is so refreshing, so spontaneous in every way, that it catches one’s eye immediately on passing on into this room. His work deserves recognition for more than one reason. His handling of paint is fresh and clear and a direct aiming for a final expression of what he wants to convey. Any one of the six subjects is well handled. They give one the feeling of the artist’s thorough understanding of his material. His own “House in Winter” and the “Red Mill” reach the high-water mark of landscape painting in the exhibition. Griffin’s pictures, on another wall, so openly disregard technical rules in their careless superimposition of unnecessary paint that in spite of a great richness of colour and a certain suggestion of truth, they are not apt to hold one one’s affection very long. They are sincere, I admit, but careless in technique. There is no doubt about it, because heavy paint and bare pieces of canvas will not make durable pictures. Birge Harrison is disappointing in two pastels which seem too chromo-like, too mechanical, to carry their point.
This collection is not at all without interest, but with few exceptions the pictures in it are not strong enough to hold their own with so many good things abounding elsewhere. Ralph Clarkson’s portrait, Bartlett’s schoolyard, Perrine’s technically unique landscape, are all meritorious.
Frederic M. DuMond’s “Sea Carvings” in the corner, and Nahl’s decorative composition attract, each in its way, while in another corner a badly skyed portrait by Hinkle is scarcely given a chance.
It will be necessary to make a little journey over to the inner side of the arch of the building to continue and finish the art of modern America. In this small Gallery, adjoining Sargent’s, nothing stirring happens. Landscapes predominate, with varying interest, but nothing with any style or unity of expression presents itself, with the exception of Carl Oscar Borg’s “Campagna Romana” and a fine sky over the door by William J. Kaula. The landscapes of G. W. Sotter and Will S. Robinson stand out among the rest.
Next door, in 73, Alson Skinner Clark has been given the privilege of almost an entire Gallery, without any other justification than historical interest in his shallow Panama scenes, devoid of any quality. They are illustrations — that is all. Gifford Beal disappoints in some superficial paintings of commonplace subjects, which a skillful technique might easily have turned into something worth while. His “Old Town Terrace” is much the best, but the collection makes one apprehensive for Beal’s future performances. Paul King’s canvas over the door is excellent, well painted, and interesting in subject.
There seems no end of productiveness of American painters, and justice demands more investigation and undeniably more steps. Ladies with parrots, with and without clothes, are numerous, but the one in here is more interesting than the others. I hope that not all of these parrot pictures are meant symbolically. Walter McEwen arouses memories of times gone by, technically and otherwise, in a huge storytelling Salon picture. More ladies in conventional sitting posture willingly sat for more pictures without adding new thrills. Meyer’s portraits, Gertrude Fiske’s sketch, Olga Ackerman’s group of children, are all deserving of study. Max Bohm’s two big figural pictures are decoratively interesting enough, but bad in paint. One of the best landscapes can be found here in Henry Muhrman’s work, over the McEwen. There is nothing sensational about it, but its somber dignity stands out among many modern works. On the opposite wall Mrs. Sargent’s” Mount Tamalpais” is unusual in composition and rich in colour.
Separated from the rest of the American section by Holland and Sweden, a series of galleries are in grave danger of being overlooked. Undoubtedly, to offset this apparent isolation, some of the most alluring paintings can be found at this end.
Here is Frederic Frieseke, our expatriated American, with his fascinating boudoir scenes. Very high in key and full of detail, at first they seem restless and crowded, which some actually are, in a degree. But canvases like “The Garden” and “The Bay Window” and “The Boudoir” are real jewels of light and colour. “The Bay Window” is the most placid of his canvases and in conception much finer than his outdoor subjects. Frieseke’s clear, joyous art is typically modern, and expresses the best tendency of our day. Luis Mora’s two watercolours, while illustrative, hold their own in Frieseke’s company. Tanner’s big religious canvas falls far below this capable painter’s usual efforts. Native talent helps out in a delightful marine, honestly painted by Bruce Nelson, and an apple green and pale pink colour-harmony by Charlton Fortune. Very much in the style of the Frieseke, Rittman’s “Early Morning in the Garden” is easily taken for the art of his fascinating neighbor, but it should be recognized as the work 0f another kindred spirit.
In 118, landscapes predominate over figural work, at least in quality. Harry Leslie Hoffman’s “Spring Mood,” Wilbur Dean Hamilton’s tender and poetic canvas, and Louise Brumbach’s city view bathed in the grays of an early morning call for recognition.
The general character of the next gallery is different from the preceding. Given over to oils, watercolours, pastels, lithographs, and drawings, it presents an interesting appearance. Six pastels by Henry Muhrman and Frank Mura’s charcoal drawings are the leaders here, and the drawings generally are the best things among the many oils and watercolours, which were mostly made for purposes of illustration. Drawings by Martinez, pastels by Miss Percy, two sympathetic drawings by Miss Hunter, and a few still-lifes in watercolour, by Miss Boone, all bear testimony to native ability as represented by California.
The last gallery contains Bellow’s bold canvases, of which “The Polo Game” is the best known, another fine canvas by Henry Muhrman, and some older American work by Stewart, typical of what we used to send to Europe in years gone by.
In the Garden.
While many plastic works have been mentioned in the survey of the galleries, still great numbers of statues, statuettes, and fountain figures call for investigation, out of doors. Sculpture is, on the whole, not so complex as painting, and dealing with the expression of emotions much more directly than painting, it can easily be understood. Of the many pieces displayed outside, Janet Scudder’s fountain figures earn all the applause they receive, and most of the other sculptors are old friends, since they have been met with in the decorative embellishments of the architecture of the Exposition. There is Aitken, with a bust of Taft; Chester Beach, with a young girl in marble, of great charm; Solon Borglum’s Washington, Mrs. Burroughs’ garden figure, Stirling Calder, and Piccirilli — all well remembered. It is gratifying to meet all these men, and many others, in freer and more detached expression of their art, under conditions where no severe architectural restrictions were put upon them.
It will be necessary to retrace our steps to take up a series of galleries all along the outer curve of the building. They are devoted to illustrations, miniatures, stained glass, plaques, and the many expressions of graphic art we know as black and white, charcoal and pencil drawing, monotypes, lithotints, etchings, and so on. With Whistler’s etchings on one end of the arch, we find Howard Pyle at the other.
Pyle, since his death a few years ago, is recognized as the most important of American illustrators. His art is most intellectual. It commands immediate respect for its historical interest, which is based on more than mere knowledge of the story illustrated. His milieu is always right, distinctly so when he deals with the West Indian buccaneers. His sense of colour is simple and dignified. It has the typical breadth and decorative feeling that men like Jules Guérin and Maxfield Parrish developed. Pyle was not an ordinary illustrator. His interest in his work showed much depth and great originality. There is nobody to take his place. In the small adjoining gallery (41) his black and white drawings strengthen one’s impression of this versatile man’s art.
Here we have Guérin in all the glory of his rich colour harmonies, which have made the Exposition famous. Painstaking and conscientious as his art is, it is always full of power of suggestion. Every square inch of his most agreeably framed decorations is well considered, with nothing left to accidental effect. Still, they are full of freedom, very loose in handling, and always convincing. To choose the best among his eight is very difficult, although his “Cemetery on the Golden Horn” on longer study does not seem to be free from a certain artificiality of colour, in the reddish hue of the reflected sunlight on the cypresses. The “Blue Mosque at Cairo” is wonderfully poetic, and his “Temple of Sunium” has all the tragic feeling of the classic ruins of Asia Minor. Opposite Guérin Mr. and Mrs. Hale display unusual refinement and grace of form in a unit wall of drawings and pastels. Mrs. Hale’s drawings are the quintessence of delicacy, without possessing any of the sugary disagreeable sweetness of so many of our popular illustrators. Mr. Hale’s pastels are no less enchanting in his outdoor compositions in many soft greens — a difficult colour to deal with. The many other things in this gallery are all worth studying in their conservatism and radicalism.
Miniatures abound here and endless sighs are heard of entranced ladies who have succumbed to the sentimental insipidness of these misplaced artistic efforts. Miniature painting holds no charm for me. Most of them are technical stunts and concessions to a faddism which has never had anything to do with the real problem of painting. Practically all of the miniatures in the cases are very well done, but when I think of the physical discomfort of adjusting one’s eyes to this pigmy world, then I cannot help feeling that, considering the low cost of canvas, a great effort deal of fine effort has been wasted. Looking at miniatures, I am always reminded of the man who spent several years of his useless life in writing the Old Testament on the back of a postage stamp.
McLure Hamilton has a fascinating group of anatomical sketches in this small gallery. They are all charming fragments of a lady one would like to know more about. As drawings they are spirited and full of rhythmic linework. Their fragrant rococo style brings one back into that original atmosphere the destinies of which were so largely controlled by similar attractions. The apotheosis in his collection is furnished by a drawing of a recently abandoned or to-be-occupied nest, presented in a most suggestive manner. In the cases plaques and medallions abound, the interest of which is largely attributable to Fraser’s excellent work.
This room continues to hold one’s interest, with some small pieces of plastic art, all of great merit.
Watercolours make up the chief problems of study in this long room, without convincing one that we have any too many great painters in this medium. The best thing among the many commonplace paintings is a marine by Woodbury which takes you far out on the open sea. In spite of its size it is a big picture, one of the really big ones in any medium in the whole exhibition. All of Woodbury’s paintings are big in their way, and prove what can be done in this medium. Many other things here are only coloured photographs and technical experiments, the exceptions being Dawson’s clever flower studies, Miss Schille’s market scenes, and Henry McCarter’s “King of Tara”. Murphy’s small Venetian sketches are not so good as they seem at first.
Things look up considerably in the last of the galleries on the north. A fine watercolour by Mrs. Mathews, good drawings by Sandona and Fortune, exposition sketches by Donna Schuster, decorative designs by Lucy Hurry, are all compelling in their way, while in the cases are any number of good caricatures, and especially worthy of mention the bird designs by Charles Emile Heil.
Across the vestibule the graphic arts are continued, beginning with colour lithographs and monotypes, and continued with etchings. George Senseney, Arthur Dow, Helen Hyde, Pedro Lemos, Clark Hobart, and others too numerous to mention excite considerable interest. A battle of elephants by Anna Vaughan Hyatt is worthy of study on account of its unusual subject, so handled.
This room is entirely devoted to etching and is full of good people. Auerbach Levy has some portraits splendidly characterized. Arthur Covey, Mahonri Young, Lester Hornby, Clifford Addams, and Robert Harshe are all equally well represented, in their many fine etchings, and Perham Nahl with some monotypes of fine quality.
Gallery 32 contains George Aid, Frank Armington, D. C. Sturges (reminiscent of Zorn), and Ernest Roth. Franklin T. Wood’s dry-point portraits are noteworthy as examples of a very difficult technique.
Galleries 31 and 30.
Pennell’s admirable lithographs and etchings of various scenes are so descriptive, aside from their technical excellence, that they are not in need of further recommendation. And neither are Mullgardt’s lithographs nor those of Worth Ryder next door.
The general character of all of these somewhat inconspicuous galleries is most satisfactory. They contain in well-arranged fashion the real art of the people, the things that people who cannot afford to buy paintings can easily afford to own. Original etchings, mezzotints, and wood block prints and other process work often more truly contain the real point of artistic effort than big paintings done laborously with no other interest than to make a large painting for some show. It is gratifying and it speaks well for our public to see so many of these small works of art sold and
Much of this work to all indications, is going to remain with us, and the success of our exposition can hardly be measured better than by the ever-increasing number of purchasers. Art has to live, and in our country it exists only by the patronage which comes directly from the people, since federal, state and municipal governments seldom contribute toward its support. Not until the community feels it a privilege rather than a duty to give substantial encouragement to our artists will they ever feel completely at home or will they be able to do their best work.
Art is becoming more of a necessity in our midst, while not so long ago it was more or less an affected interest of the rich. We have all the conditions and the talent to allow us to push ahead into the front rank of the art of the world, and an exposition like this gives more than encouraging evidence of the awakening spirit of national American art. May this exposition mark an epoch in the art of America! — and particularly of the West, as other expositions have in the westward march of civilization, which has now found its goal where it must either achieve or perish. For us to stand still or to return to the pre-exposition period would be calamity. We have here in California, of all the states of the Union, conditions to offer, which, if properly availed of, would give us a unique position on the continent. Climatically and historically we have all the stimulating necessities for a great art, and it is our duty to take advantage of them.
To the student and lover of art, a list of helpful reference books and periodicals might be of interest, and the following publications are recommended as sources of reference, of information and for study. They cover a wide range of subjects treated historically, technically and biographically, and they will be found very interesting as a nucleus for a home library of art.
Art For Life’s Sake — Chas. H. Caffin
American Masters of Painting — Chas. H. Caffin
American Masters of Sculpture — Chas. H. Caffin
How to Study Pictures — Chas. H. Caffin
The Story of American Painting — Chas. H. Caffin
Short History of Art — Edited by Charles H. Caffin — Julia De Forest
The Classic Point of View — Kenyon Cox
What is Art? — John C. Van Dyke
Art and Progress
The International Studio
Argentina — Gallery 112
China — Gallery 94-97
Cuba — Gallery 20
— Gallery 13-18
— Gallery 13
— Gallery 14
— Gallery 15
— Gallery 16
— Gallery 17
— Gallery 18
Germany — Gallery 108
— Gallery 21-25
— Gallery 21
— Gallery 22
— Gallery 23
— Gallery 24
— Gallery 25
Japan — Gallery 1-10
Holland — Gallery 113-116
Norway — Gallery 144-150 (Annex)
Philippines — Gallery 98
Portugal — Gallery 109-111
Sweden — Gallery 99-107
Uruguay — Gallery 19
— Gallery 61
— Gallery 62
— Gallery 63
— Gallery 91
— Gallery 92
— Gallery 26
— Gallery 27
— Gallery 28-29 (Whistler)
— Gallery 30, 31
— Gallery 32, 33, 34, 36
— Gallery 35 (Vestibule)
— Gallery 37, 38, 39
— Gallery 40, 41, 42
— Gallery 43, 44
— Gallery 45
— Gallery 46, 47
— Gallery 48, 49
— Gallery 50
— Gallery 51
— Gallery 52, 53 (Offices)
— Gallery 54
— Gallery 55, 56
— Gallery 57
— Gallery 58
— Gallery 59
— Gallery 60
— Gallery 61
— Gallery 62
— Gallery 63
— Gallery 64
— Gallery 65
— Gallery 66
— Gallery 67
— Gallery 68, 69, 70
— Gallery 71
— Gallery 72
— Gallery 73
— Gallery 74
— Gallery 75 (Sargent)
The Galleries of the Exposition, by Eugen Neuhaus, Published by Paul Elder and Company, San Francisco, was printed at their Tomoye Press, under the direction of H. A. Funke, in July Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen
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