Puslapio vaizdai

and fragrant gingerbread. She hummed to herself an old cradle-song, and in her soft, motherly black eyes shone a mild, happy radiance. A group of young ragamuffins eyed her longingly from a distance. Court was to open for the first time since the spring. The hour was early, and one by one the lawyers passed slowly in. On the steps of the court-house three men were standing: Thomas Redd, the sheriff; old Peter Leuba, who had just walked over from his music-store on Main street; and little M. Giron, the French confectioner. Each wore mourning on his hat, and their voices were low and grave.

"Gentlemen," the sheriff was saying, "it was on this very spot the day befoah the cholera broke out that I sole 'im as a vagrant. An' I did the meanes' thing a man can evah do. I hel' 'im up to public ridicule foh his weaknesses an' made spoht of 'is infirmities. I laughed at 'is povahty an' 'is ole clo'es. I delivahed on 'im as complete an oration of sarcastic detraction as I could prepare on the spot, out of my own meanness an' with the vulgah sympathies of the crowd. Gentlemen, if I only had that crowd heah now, an' ole King Sol'mon standin' in the midst of it, that I might ask 'im to accept a humble public apology, offahed from the heaht of one who feels himself unworthy to shake 'is han'! But, gentlemen, that crowd will nevah reassemble. Neahly ev'ry man of them is dead, an' ole King Sol'mon buried them."

"He buried my friend Adolphe Xaupi," said François Giron.

"There is a case of my best Jamaica rum for him whenever he comes for it," said old Leuba.

"But, gentlemen, while we are speakin' of old King Sol'mon we ought not to fohget who it is that has suppohted 'im. Yondah she sits on the sidewalk, sellin' 'er apples an' gingerbread."

The three men looked in the direction indicated.

"Heah comes ole King Sol'mon now," exclaimed the sheriff.

Across the open square the vagrant was seen walking slowly along with his habitual air of quiet, unobtrusive preoccupation. A minute more and he had come over and passed into the court-house by a side door.

"Is Mr. Clay to be in court to-day?" "He is expected, I think."

"Then let's go in; there will be a crowd." "I don't know; so many are missing." They turned and entered and found seats as quietly as possible. For a strange and sorrowful hush brooded over the court-room. Until the bar assembled, it had not been realized how many were gone. The silence was that of a common overwhelming disaster. No one spoke with his neighbor, no one observed the vagrant as he entered and made his way to a seat on one of the meanest benches, a little apart from all the others. He had not sat there since the day of his indictment for vagrancy. The judge took his seat and, making a great effort to control himself, passed his eyes slowly over the court-room. All at once he caught sight of old King Solomon sitting against the wall in an obscure corner; and before any one could know what he was doing, he hurried down and walked up to the vagrant and grasped his hand. He tried to speak, but could not. Old King Solomon had buried his wife and daughter-buried them one clouded midnight, with no one present but himself.

Then the oldest member of the bar started up and followed the example; and then all the other members, rising by a common impulse, filed slowly back and one by one wrung that hard and powerful hand. After them came all the other persons in the court-room. The vagrant, the grave-digger, had risen and stood against the wall, at first with a white face and a dazed expression, not knowing what it meant; afterwards, when this was understood, his head dropped suddenly forward and his tears fell thick and hot upon the hands that he could not see. And his were not the only tears. Not a man in all that long file but paid his tribute of emotion as he stepped forward to honor that image of sadly eclipsed but still effulgent humanity. It was not grief, it was not gratitude, nor any sense of making reparation for the past. It was the softening influence of an act of heroism, which makes every man feel himself a brother hand in hand with every othersuch power has a single act of moral greatness to reverse the relations of men, lifting up one, and bringing all others to do him homage.

It was the coronation scene in the life of old King Solomon of Kentucky.

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HAT do we understand by the interest that attaches to an artist's work? First, I think, the interest that may lie in any one of his creations separately judged-in its peculiarities as a piece of beauty and as an interpretation of some aspect of nature or mood of the mind. Then, the larger interest we find when his work is considered as a whole and its revelation of his gifts and methods is thoroughly understood. And, finally, the interest of the work and the man together

as factors in the history of art-as proofs of the development of antecedent tendencies, or types of the general temper of art in their time, or prophets or leaders of the future course of things.

Sometimes an artist who is not very important in himself is extremely important from the historical point of view. But when one who has produced very fine and individual work has likewise been a potent influence in art at large-then, indeed, his claim upon us is insistent. This is the case with Corot. He was one

of the greatest landscape painters who has ever lived, and one of the most influential leaders and teachers that our century has seen.


JEAN BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT was born in Paris in the year 1796. His father, a native of Rouen, had been a hair-dresser, but, marrying a milliner, transferred his talents to her service, and in their little shop on the Rue du Bac gradually amassed a snug bit of a fortune. An artist in his way was this elder Corot, and not deprived of such fame as the Muse of Fashion can bestow advertised in a popular comedy which held the stage of the Français for years. "I have just come from Corot's," cries one of

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in a soul which by birth was peculiarly receptive; and we read of long night-watches at his bedroom window filled with vague poetic musings, visions of nymphs, and aspirations towards some more congenial tool than the yardstick. Indeed, the brush was soon the yardstick's rival. An easel was set up in the humble bedroom; a sketch-book was always in hand out-of-doors; and lithographic stones and sheets of scribbled paper strewed the merchant's counter, underneath which they retired with Corot during the pause between one customer and the next.

A casual acquaintance with the young painter Michallon brought about the crisis long deferred by Camille's sweet and docile temper. The tale is the old one of loud parental oppo



the actors, "but I could not see him. He had retired to his cabinet to compose a bonnet à la Sicilienne."

Meanwhile Camille was at school in Rouen, where he remained seven years and gained the whole of his education. From school he went to a cloth-merchant's shop in the Rue de Richelieu, and here eight years were passed. Then his love for art broke through the uncongenial tie. While at Rouen his holidays had been spent with an old friend of his father's in long walks beside the borders of the Seine; and later the unwilling "dry-goods clerk" found solace in summer days at Ville d'Avray, where his people had a little country home. A love for nature was thus gradually fostered


sition, but is not followed by the usual sequel of lasting bitterness. When once convinced that there was nothing else to do, Corot père made a rather sharp bargain with his son, but stuck to it ever after in good faith, if for thirty years with no slightest mitigation of its sharpness. "Your sisters' dowries have been promptly paid, and I meant soon to set you at the head of a respectable shop. But if you insist upon painting, you will have no capital to dispose of as long as I live. I will make you a pension of fifteen hundred francs. Don't count upon ever having more, but see whether you can pull yourself through with that." And Camille, " much moved," fell upon the neck of the artist in Sicilian caps: "A thousand thanks! It is all I



need, and you make me very happy." He too kept his word. For thirty years he lived on his three hundred annual dollars, pulled himself very well through, and was one of the happiest mortals in Paris.

The first day he was free he took easel and brush and set himself down before the first thing he saw a view of the Cité from a spot near the Pont Royal. "The girls from my father's shop," he said in later life," used to run down to the quay to see how Monsieur Camille was getting on. There was a Mademoiselle Rose, for instance, who came most often. She is still alive, and is still Mademoiselle Rose, and still comes to see me now and then. Last week she was here, and oh, my friends, what a change and what reflections it gave birth to! My picture has not budged. It is as young as ever, and keeps still the hour and the weather when it was done. But Mademoiselle Rose? But I? What are we?"

Michallon taught Corot at first and gave him counsel good for a youngster-to put himself face to face with nature, to try to render her exactly, to paint what he saw, and translate the impression he received. But soon he died, and Corot, seeking help elsewhere, chose Victor Bertin, who had been Michallon's own master. Bertin was a landscape painter of the classic school, worshiping Poussin's mastery of form, but in his own execution cold, measured, mechanical, and hard. He might have taught Corot more and hurt him more had he not been forestalled by the long apprenticeship to nature, and an inborn gift. As it was, he taught him two things of priceless value-accurate drawing, and a sense for "style" in composition. VOL. XXXVIII.—34.


In 1825 Corot went to Rome, where most of his fellow-artists laughed at his work, but where all of them loved the worker, gay in spirit as he was, with a good voice for a song, and a modest, patient ear for the spoken words of others. Encouragement first came from Aligny, who, surprising him at work on a study of the Coliseum, declared that it had qualities of the first value-exactness, skillful treatment, and an air of style. Corot smiled as at the chaffing of a friend; but the friend was an authority in the artist circle at the Café Grec, and, repeating there what he had said in private,-protesting that Corot might some day be the master of them all, the bashful young clerk soon found that his art was respected and his future believed in. Many years later, when Aligny's body was brought from Lyons to be re-interred in Paris, Corot was one of the very few who followed it; a "sacred duty," as he said,- the duty of gratitude to his first champion,- bringing him forth in his white hairs under the swirling snow of a bitter winter dawn.

Naples as well as Rome was visited at this time, and perhaps Venice too. In 1827 Corot returned to France and sent his first picture to the Salon exhibition; and thereafter, until his death, in 1875, he was never once absent from its walls. In 1834 he went again to Italy, but got no farther than Venice, coming promptly home when his father wrote how much he missed him. In 1842 it was Italy again for some five or six months. In 1847 his father died. During all his later years Corot traveled much in Switzerland and various parts of France, and once he went to England and the

Netherlands. In 1874 the widowed sister with whom he had lived for many years died, and his own health broke down. And on the 23d of February, 1875, his spirit passed away.

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This is not much to tell of a life which lasted seventy-nine years; but it is all there is to be said about Corot's, except as it was bound up with his art. He never married, for, he said, he had a wife already · a little fairy called Imagination, who came at his call and vanished when he did not need her. He lived chiefly at Ville d'Avray, with always a pied-àterre and studio in Paris, and mixed in no society but that of his brother artists.



IN 1833 Corot got a minor medal for one of his exhibited pictures; but almost the first mention of his name that can be traced in print is where Alfred de Musset, writing of the Salon of 1836 in the "Revue des Deux Mondes," speaks of "Corot, whose Roman Campagna' has its admirers." The next year Gustave Planche praised a "St. Jerome," which now hangs (the gift of Corot) in the little church at Ville d'Avray. In 1846 he was decorated for a scene in the forest of Fontainebleau. In 1855 he received a first class medal, and in 1867, oddly enough, one of the second class, but accompanied by the higher decoration of the Legion of Honor; and year by year artists and critics were louder in his praise. But the public was long in learning the fact that he even existed, and his father was quite as long in believing that his art was really art. When the first decoration came, " Tell me," he said to one of Corot's comrades, "has Camille actually any talent?" Nothing would convince him that he was "the best of us all"; nevertheless he doubled his pension.

Fifty years old when he thus achieved an income of six hundred dollars, Corot was sixty before any one bought his pictures, save now and then a brother artist. When the first customer departed with his purchase, "Alas!" he cried in humorous despair," my collection has been so long complete, and now it is broken!" And when others followed he could hardly believe them serious, or be induced to set prices on his work. "It is worth such and such a sum; but no one will give that, and I will not sell it for less. I can give my things away if I see fit, but I cannot degrade my art by selling them below their value." When he actually dared to price one at ten thousand francs, and heard that it had been sold, he was sure he had dropped a zero in marking the figures, and wrote to the Salon secretary repeating the sum in written-out words. When a sale of his works was held at the Hôtel Drouot in 1858 he ac

cused his friends of kindly cheating because it brought him $2846; yet there were thirtyeight pictures, and among them five of great importance.

Fortunately, Corot lived long enough to see the prices he thought no one would pay increased twenty-fold at public sales. A picture he had sold for 700 francs went many years later in the auction-room for 12,000, and Corot "swam in happiness," for, he felt, "it is not I that have changed, but the constancy of my principles that has triumphed." Never, indeed, did artist pursue his own path with a steadier disregard of public praise; and rarely has an artist so persistently neglected lived to enjoy his fame so long. It is a record to set against Millet's for the reviving of faith in the justice of Heaven.

Yet even had Corot died at seventy-nine without seeing a ray of the coming aureole, we can fancy no despairing exit. Material cares never weighed upon him in his bachelorhood, and he had the merry heart that goes all the day with less discomfort than a somber spirit finds in the first mile or two. The fact of living and the act of painting were almost enough for him, and the appreciation of a few brother artists filled his cup. We read of seasons of brief discouragement, and there were tears in his eyes sometimes when he came home from a Salon where his pictures were obscurely placed and he had overheard a scoffing phrase. But a look at his easel soon brought comfort, and the darling children of his hand were there in a "complete collection" to assure him that he had not lived in vain. "It must be confessed," he once exclaimed, "that if painting is a folly it is a sweet one one that should excite envy, not forgiveness. Study my looks and my health and I defy any one to find a trace of those cares, ambitions, and remorseful thoughts which ravage the features of so many unfortunate folk. Ought one not to love the art which procures peace and contentment and even health to him who knows how to regulate his life?" But just here was Corot's talisman, shared, alas, with how few! He knew how to regulate his life, and knew that it meant to live for his painting and to paint for himself.

In his young days he was the liveliest among the lively. Tall of stature and herculean in build, possessed of perfect health, high spirits, and a gentle temper, student balls and studio suppers were his delight, and he was the delight of their frequenters. Yet wherever he was he never failed to disappear for a while at 9 o'clock, when la belle dame, as he called his mother, awaited him for a hand at cards. In his old age he was "Papa Corot" to the whole artist world of Paris- -no one more respected, more beloved and cherished; no one so ready with


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