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598
[MODERN FRENCH
SCULPTURE


to exercise permanent influence for evil. The variety and independence of the British School are such that it is impossible to define any particular tendency in its practice other than towards an ever increasing rise in the level of technical excellence and the power of design. There is, broadly speaking, a general stand against the “ modernity " imported into sculpture by the younger members of the foreign schools, and a disinclination to bend the art to the illustration of everyday life and to the rendering of effects not hitherto considered to be the function of the plastic arts. (M. H. S.) After 1870, when a great artistic movement marked the resuscitation of France after the Franco-German War, sculpture especially revived with exceptional vigour, and the last

'f'e'L';': thirty years of the 19th century were a memorable

sc, ,, ,, ¢u, e epoch in its history. Not that many new and unexpected men of genius suddenly arose, for most of the artists who then came to the front had already distinguished themselves by equally noble work; but sculpture, like the other arts, benefited by the pause for thought, and by the ripe and manly tone stamped on the national mind by the discipline of events. Intense ardour animated the admirable group of French sculptors: the oldest still found some lofty expression; the men in their prime showed their powers with unwonted force and fire; and the younger generations grew up in rapid succession, a close phalanx of sculptors whose number is still increasing, for if we include only living artists, and those who have taken honours in the Salons, we find a list of seven hundred exhibitors. The first generation of survivors of the war, who led the way in the new period, still boasted of such men as Dumont (1801-1884), Cavelier (1814-1894), Bonnassieux (1810-1892), Iouffroy (1806-1882), Schoenewerck (1820-1885), Carrier-Belleuze (1824-1887), Aimé Millet (1819-1891) and Clésinger (1814-1883). These artists, born in the first quarter of the 19th century, were for the most part each the head of a studio, ” their teaching being carried on till the end of the century. Next to them followed their immediate pupils, already their rivals, and some indeed famous before the new era; such were Guillaume, Dubois and Frémiet; others, fresh from the Academy at Rome, at once rose to distinction, and all combined to form the remarkable group of artists to which the modern school of French sculpture owes its world-wide fame. At this time Eugene Guillaume (1822-IQO 5) was exhibiting his “ Roman Marriage, ” his “ Bust of Mgr Darboy, ” his “ Orpheus, ” and “ Andromache, ” works of learned skill and severe distinction. Paul Dubois (1829-1905) executed his “ Narcissus, ” and the “ Tomb of General Lamoriciere, ” on which the decorative figures of Charity, Faith, and Military Courage are popular favourites, full of grave and pathetic feeling. Chapu (1833-1891) executed his exquisite figure of “ Youth ” for the tomb of Henri Regnault, and that of “Thought ” for the tomb of Daniel Stern, his monuments to Berryer and to Mgr Dupanloup. Barrias' (1841-1905) “ First Interment ” won him the medal of honour in 1878; besides his patriotic group of the “ Defence of Paris.” F alguiere (1831-1900) produced a remarkable series of statues, characterized by their life-like power; some dignified or pathetic, as “ St Vincent de Paul, ” “ La Rochejacquelein, ” and “ Cardinal Lavigerie ”; some full of bold and- dashing spirit, as his “ Diana, ” his “ Nereids, ” and “ Hunting Nymphs.” Mercié gave us “ Gloria Victis, ” “ Quand Meme, ” and his monuments, among which that called “ Memory ” must be mentioned; his pediment for the Tuileries; his “ Genius of Art, ” &c. Delaplanche (1836-1890) produced his “ Mother's Teaching, ” “ Music, ” “ The Virgin with a Lily, ” and “ Aurora ”; and Allar “ The Death of Alcestis.” To these names must be added those of Degeorge, who, with Chapu, gave so powerful an impetus to the art of the medallist; of Gautherin, Hiolle, Thomas, Crauck, Lafrance, Maniglier and Moreau-Vauthier-one of the men who, with Gérome (the painter) and Frémiet, revived the taste for coloured sculpture, a style first attempted long before by Simart; besides many more. These artists created a supremely healthy and vital school of sculpture, dignified and elegant, learned and varied, fresh and charming, and, above all, as single-hearted and as well trained as in any period of history. To understand, however, the position of contemporary sculpture in France, it will be necessary to look back even further than 1870. It must be remembered that the whole history of French sculpture, as far back as the 17th century, is connected with the invasion of Italian influence in the 16th century, which remained paramount over French art for more than three hundred years. Statue-making, until then an art of expression-national, popular, human and Christian-lost its primitive character under the dilettante refinement of an aristocratic society closely gathered round a king who made art subservient to his splendour or his pleasure; it sank into superficial and conventional beauty, and became almost exclusively the interpreter of trivial ingenuity or Hattering allegories derived from the dead fables of heathen mythology. The best that would be expected from this was choice elegance of line, a harmonious treatment of mass and composition, a loving study of the nude-in short, a purely plastic type of art. And sculpture had become the art of the nobility and of the court, having no hold, as it had in the past, on the great human family the nation. Still, even at the high tide of Louis XIV.'s reign, some dissatisfaction became evident, even some rebellion, in the great though solitary spirit of Puget, who strove to animate the marble with the passions of humanity. In the next century he found followers-Falconet, Pigalle and Houdon, who also asserted their right to infuse life and passion and movement into their statues, seeking them in the despised province of stern reality. The great cataclysm of the Revolution, which might have been expected to break the bonds of thought, turned men's minds to contemplate the Antique, and though it certainly modified the style of sculpture, was far from changing the source of its inspiration, since it sent it once more to the Antique. Indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century, when the teaching of David was paramount in spite of Gros, who, then in the master's studio, was unconsciously sowing the seed of rornanticism in painting, a robust individuality was developing among French sculptors-a spirit somewhat rugged, independent, and partly trained, beyond the academic pale, prepared to carry on the tradition of Puget, and quite simply, without any revolutionary airs of innovation, to shake off torpid conventionality. By the mere force of a strong plebeian temperament Rude quite naturally happened on a style of art-high art-at once expressive and popular. He was the first to raise the cry of liberty in sculpture, and he left successors who bravely worked out what he had begun. Barye and Carpeaux were both in 1875 on the threshold of an era to which they bequeathed a fruitful influence. Barye carried on Rude's tradition of expression, and transformed what had previously been mere decorative carving into a new style and branch of art now adopted by a whole phalanx of admirable artists: the sculpture, namely, of animals, the first glance that sculpture had till then bestowed on nature apart from man. Carpeaux, who was much younger, was in his dayas Puget had been-an exceptional personality; he carried on the slow revolt of two centuries which was to break the narrow mould of school-training and infuse a soul of more ardent vitality into sculptured forms.

The” importance of these two great artists in relation to contemporary art was not fully seen till after their death. In point of fact Painting had until now amply filled the new part assigned to Art; its vehement efforts had strongly influenced public opinion; and as, in the early years of the 19th century, it had largely extended the field of human vision over the remote past and the domains of feeling, with the promise of surveying all nature, space and time, the spirit of the age asked no more, and did not expect sculpture, too, to abandon old-world myths. It must also be said that those sculptors who at that time carried on the classical tradition had renewed its youth by their learned and enthusiastic love of it; they had reverted to the past, but it was the past of the really great masters, either of antiquity or of the early Florentine school, no less enamoured of life, beauty and nature. Guillaume and Paul Dubois, Chapu and Falguiére, Mercié, and Delaplanche were the rivals in sculpture of the great idealist painters-Puvis de Chavannes, Gustave Moreau, Ricard, Delaunay, Baudry, and Henner-who were

working at the same time.