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He on the waters dared to set his feet,
And through believing planted earth's last race.
What faith in man must in our new world beat,
The west and all the host of stars retreat
Into the silent infinite of space! Xew YORK, Feb. 18, 1892.
George E. Woodberry.
Copyright, 1892, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.
BY THOMAS COUTURE IN THE COLLECTION OF F. BARBEDIENNE.
Y first meeting with Couture, who the crumbling away of one's own fame. And, became one of my best and dear- as often happens, the very public, so eager est friends, was odd and charac- formerly to praise, seems to find a cruel deteristic. It was in 1834 ; I was light in throwing mud at the fallen idol. The not yet one and twenty, and had criticisms which were not spared Baron Gros
just arrived from the United when his last picture was exhibited at the States, well provided for in the way of courage Salon so cut him to the heart that he threw and determination, with a goodly stock of youth- himself into the Seine. His body was found ful illusions, and very little besides. I was just near Saint-Cloud. beginning to understand a few words of French, Gros's pupils dispersed, and I had no opand had entered the studio of the great and un- portunity to make further acquaintance with fortunate painter Gros. If I understood but few my eccentric fellow-student. of the things the master and pupils said to me, Some years later, when the estranged boy I understood the language of the pencil, and that I was in 1834 had become a young man, worked all the harder that I was more estranged. I happened to pass with a comrade, a young
One day, as the model was resting, and I Englishman named Coplis, near the shop of was looking at my morning's work in a some- Desforges, who sold canvases and paints, and what melancholy state of mind, a short, thick- who also exhibited pictures in his window. I set young man, with bright brown eyes and was greatly struck by a picture representing a shaggy hair, unceremoniously pushed me aside, young Venetian, and endeavored to excite my saying, “ Donne moi ta place, petit.” I was companion to enthusiasm. Coplis was hungry,
, going to protest, when I saw my fellow-student and at first thought more of his delayed lunch so absorbed that I grew interested in what he than of the painting. But he soon forgot his was doing. He coolly turned over my sheet hunger, and exclaimed, " By Jove ! I must get of gray paper and sketched the model, who, my brother to buy that.” Lucky fellow! I had resting, had fallen into a far better attitude than a certain respect for a painter whose brother that which we had copied. The outline draw- was rich enough to buy pictures. In those days ing was so strong, so full of life, so easily done, painters were by no means able to build their that I never received better lesson. When own grand studios,and to fill them with wonderhe had finished, he left my place as coolly as ful draperies and precious bric-à-brac; as a he had taken it, seemingly quite unconscious usual thing, they belonged to modest families, of my existence.
who mourned over the son and brother who had I did not then know the name of this free- embraced such a profession. and-easy comrade, but I kept the drawing and Mr. Coplis bought the picture signed Thomas prized it. I am sorry to say that the woman in- Couture, and paid the color-dealer a thousand trusted with the care of my room had but small francs for it. I afterward found out that the respect for the fine arts, and being one day in artist received only three hundred francs. As need of paper to light my fire, took a number it happened, it was I who was commissioned of drawings for that purpose. Among those to go to his studio. As soon as I entered I drawings was the outline sketch by Thomas saw that Couture was no other than the fellowCouture.
student who had so unceremoniously taken my I was scarcely able to profit much by my illus- place. I was so delighted at the coincidence trious master's directions. Baron Gros had been that Couture, who naturally did not recognize a very successful as well as a very great painter. me at all, thought me a little crazy. His - Battle of Eylau” and his “Plague of claimed, “I am so glad that it is you!" I Jaffa" at the Louvre show what he was capable must now confess a little weakness of mine. of doing. But little by little fashion changed; When I am excited and pleased by any unexother painters became the favorites of the mo- pected event, I rather enjoy the bewilderment ment, and Gros was left somewhat in the back- of those who are not in the secret. After all, ground. There are but few sorrows more cruel each must find his pleasure where he can. But than such a sorrow — to feel one's own power; after a while Couture understood that I was not to know that one's rivals are less truly artists the rich amateur who had bought his picture, than one's self; and yet to assist, powerless, at but only a poor devil of a painter like him