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Page:EB1911 - Volume 24.djvu/537

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MODERN FRENCH]
509
SCULPTURE


This it is which accounts for the fact that romanticism then found so little acceptance among sculptors. But in the next generation the sowers of the seed might see their harvest. The pupils of Rude, of Barye and of Carpeaux, allied by school sympathies-the little drawing-school conducted by Lecoq de Boisbaudran, which, in despite of the studios of the Beaux Arts, created a group of independent and highly original artists formed the centre of a distinct force which increased day by day. Young men, fresh from Rome, persistently kept up the spirit of the Antique. A galaxy of learned and refined artists was represented by such men as Hiolle (1833-1887) (“ Arion, ” “ Orpheus ”), Idrac (1840-1884) ( Mercury inventing the Caduceus, ” “ Salammbo ”), Marqueste (“ Galatea, ” “ Eros, ” "Perseus beheading the Gorgon, ” " The Rape of Europa ”), and Coutan (“ Eros, ” “A Woman carrying Loaves, ” “ A Sergeant-at-Arms, ” &c.), Lanson (“ The Iron Age ”), Longepied (1849-1888) (“ Immortality ”), Peinte (“ Orpheus charming Cerberus to Sleep ”), Gustave Michel (“ In a Dream, ” “ Meditation ”), Carlés (“ Innocence, ” “ Abel ”), A. Boucher (“ Earth, ” “ Au but ”), besides Carlier, Léonard and Turcan (1846-1895)soon to be followed by another generation: Puech (“ The Siren, ” “The Muse of André Chénier ”), Verlet (“ The Monument to Maupassant, ” “ Orpheus ”), Larche (“ The Brook and the Meadow, ” “ Violets ”), Sicard (“ Hagar and Ishmael ”), and Daillon, Escoula, St Lami, and many more. In opposition to these there stood a group of sculptors, young and old, who sought their subjects in mythology, legend, history or poetry, or merely in the scenes of daily life, and aimed at presenting the ideal of their time under its external aspects, but more especially the deepest emotions of the modern mind. It was Frémiet, with his striking and vivid conceptions, who led the advance with new and dramatic subjects: primeval man and the fierce beasts with which he disputed his rule (“ A She-Bear and a Man of the Stone Age, ” “ An Oran-utan and a Savage, ” “ Gorillas”), or embodiments of the heroes of the past (“ ]oan of Arc, ” “ Saint Louis, ” “ Saint George, ” “ Louis of Orleans, ” &c.); then followed lust Becquet (1829-1907), the excellent artist who represented the stricken figures of “ Ishmael” and “ Saint Sebastian ”; Christophe (1827-1892), with his symbolical presentments of “ The Human Comedy, ” “ Fortune” and “ The Supreme Kiss ”; Aubé (“ Monument to Gambetta, ” “ Dante, ” “ Bailly, ” &c.); A. Legros the naturalized English painter and sculptor, who executed some fine fountains for the duke of Portland; Injalbert, returned from Rome (“ Hippoméne, ” “Christ on the Cross, ” “ The Herald ”); and, younger than these, Desbois (“ Leda ”), Dampt (“ A Grandmother's Kiss, ” “ Melusine ”), Alexandre Charpentier, Carries, Baffier, Pierre Roche, Madame Marie Cazin and many more.

The disruption of the Salons in 1890 showed very plainly the bent of this group, who seceded to the Champ de Mars, where the leaders were Dalou and Rodin, and where Bartholomé made an unexpected and original appearance. Foreigners added a contingent of the highest merit, such as the American St Gaudens, and, more especially, the Belgian Constantin Meunier, affiliated to France by their early training, to say nothing of descent. Meunier especially, with his statues and statuettes of labouring figures-miners, puddlers, hammerers, glass-blowers, and the like-gave to his art a keynote new to France, which found a response even in academic circles. A broad democratic current was swaying public feeling. The questions which turn on the status of the working man had become the programme of every party, even of the most conservative. Art being the mirror of society, the novel, the drama and painting devoted themselves to the glorification of a new factor in modern life, namely, Labour. Sculpture now, in rivalry with painting, through which Millet had immortalized the peasant, and Courbet the working man, also sought inspiration from such themes; and at the same time the demands of the democratic movement called for monuments to the memory and deeds of great or useful men.

Sculpture, under this modern tendency, assumed an unexpected aspect; its highest expression is seen in the work of three men very dissimilar: Dalou, Rodin, and Bartholomé. In Belgium, as has been said, where modern social questions are strongly felt, Constantin Meunier had interpreted the democratic impulse in a very striking manner, under the influence, no doubt, of J. F. Millet. In France, lules Dalou (1838-1902), with a broader view, aimed at creating an art which should represent the aspirations and dreams of this phase of society while adhering to the fine old traditions of the art of Louis XIV., stamped with magnificence and grandeur, but applied with graver, simpler and severer feeling to the glorification of the people. He revived the older style of sculpture, giving it greater power and truer dignity by a close study of life, supported by a scholarly and serious technique. In his “ Triumph of the Republic, ” and the monuments to “Alphand, ” to “ Delacroix, ” to “Floquet, ” to “ Victor Hugo, ” and others, he strove to create a style apart from life, to which he is alien and indifferent, but based on life, the outcome of the needs of society, the impersonation of its characteristics, the expression in eloquent form of its nature, spirit, and moral idiosyncrasy.

Treading the same path, though in a different step, is Auguste Rodin. He disregards every contingent fact; even when he takes his subject from legend or history, whether “ Eve ” or “ St John the Baptist, ” “ The Age of Bronze ” or“' The Burgesses of Calais, ” “Victor Hugo ” or “ Balzac, ” he avoids all the conventional details and attributes of his personages to embody the very essence of humanity as expressed in the quivering flesh. He, like Carpeaux, has gone back, to Dante and to Michelangelo to force the “ Gates of Hell ”-the subject chosen for the entrance to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs+and to read the deepest mysteries of the human soul. His is the art of suffering, anguish and terror, of cruel and despairing pleas urea wild cycle of proud and bitter melancholy. All the efforts made in the past to infuse life into Art, all that Puget, F alconet, Pigalle and Houdon tried to effect, and that Rude, Barye and Carpeaux strove for in their turn-all this was part of the endeavour of these their successors, but with a clearer purpose and more conscious aim. By good hap or providence they were greeted on their way by the voice of the most devoted apostle who was to preach the new doctrine, namely, Louis Courajod, the founder of the French sculpture gallery in the Louvre. From his professor's chair in the schools he cursed the Italian intruders of the 16th century for having debased French art with “noble attitudes, ” extravagant gestures and allegorical antics; and he carried his pupils and his hearers back to the great national period of French sculpture, which, in the dark medieval ages, had created the splendid stone images of the noble French cathedrals.

A marked individuality now appeared in protest against academic traditions-Albert Bartholomé. He, after beginning as a painter, was tempted by sculpture, more particularly, in the first instance, by a wish to execute a monument to a comrade he had loved. From this first effort, carried out in his studio, without any school training, but with a firm determination to master technical difficulties and fulfil his dream, followed a broader purpose to execute a great expressive and vitally human work which should appeal to the heart of the populace. From this arose the idea of a “ Monument to the Dead ” in Pere Lachaise. Bartholomé had started without a guide, but he instinctively turned to the great tradition of Northern Christianity, which his mind subsequently associated with that of the antique race who had ever done most honour to Death, the people of Egypt. 7

Thus two currents contended, as it were, for the guidance of French sculpture, each claiming a descent from the historic past; one inheriting the classic tradition of the Renaissance, of Latin and Hellenic origin, to which the French school, since the time of lean Goujon, has owed three centuries of glory. This is the pagan art of the South; its marks are balance, reasonableness and lucidity; it was the composer of apotheoses, the preserver of the ideal of beauty. The other, reverting, after centuries of resignation or of impotent rebellion, to the genuine

French past which produced the noble works of the rrth, I2th