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LANDSCAPE WITH CATTLE. (OWNED BY P. H. SEARS.
shape and color. He had an odd superstition that he ought to read "Polyeucte" through, and began it perhaps a score of times; but he never got to the end, and we find no record of attempts with other works. Music, however, he loved with passion and rare intelligence. Nature he adored, understood, and explained with singular felicity of speech. In his walks abroad he wore a long black coat and a high satin stock; in his studio, a blouse, a gay striped cotton night-cap, and invariably smoked a long clay pipe; and with his shock of white hair and smooth-shaven face-where the very wrinkles did but define a smile around the vigorous mouth - we can well believe that he looked at first sight less like a poetical painter than a roi d'Yvetot or a jolly Norman carter. We smile back with pleasure even at his printed portrait, and wish ourselves among the students of Paris as they clustered, charmed, about the clever, wise, benevolent, and brave old man.
There seems to have been no serious cloud upon his life until the fatal year when France was slaughtered. Then he said he should have gone mad had he not had the refuge of his easel. It was not only wrong but stupid
PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE AMERICAN ART GALLERY.)
when the siege seemed certain, and gave largely from his slender purse not only to relieve the sick but "to drive the Prussians out of the woods of Ville d'Avray." His brush and his summer memories filled part of his time, and the rest was spent among the poor and suffering. During the whole siege he ministered and worked, and some of his loveliest pictures date from these dreary weeks.
When they were shown in 1874 he narrowly missed, for the second time, the grand medal of honor. But a better reward came to him in a letter from a group of artists saying that after all "the greatest honor is to be called Corot." And soon after the same impulse found still more emphatic expression. A gold medal was subscribed for by a long list of artists and amateurs and presented to the venerable master. The state never had a chance to retrieve its error. This was the year when Corot's sister died, and when her death proved the beginning of his own. The day when the medal was given him at a big banquet in the Grand Hotel, when he read its inscription, "To Corot, his brethren and admirers," and could only whisper through deep emotion, "It makes one very happy to be loved like this"
(loved, let me emphasize the characteristic word) this was the last day he was seen in public, and even then he was nervous, weak, and broken.
Dropsy was the final stage of his disease, and he foresaw the fatal end. "I am almost resigned," he said to his pupil Français, watching by his bed," but it is not easy, and I have been a long time getting to the point. Yet I have no reason to complain of my fate-far otherwise. I have had good health for seventyeight years, and have been able to do nothing but paint for fifty. My family were honest folk. I have had good friends, and think I never did harm to any one. My lot in life has been excellent. Far from reproaching fate, I can only be grateful. I must go - I know it; but don't want to believe it. In spite of myself there is a little bit of hope left in me." The next day he asked for a priest, saying his father had done so, and he wished to die like his father. But his last thought was for his art. His feeble fingers believed they held a brush, and he exclaimed," See how beautiful it is! I have never seen such beautiful landscapes." And then he died.
At his funeral the great church was more than full, and the crowd spread through the streets outside. Faure sang his requiem to an air Corot had himself selected—the slow movement from Beethoven's seventh symphony. And by the open grave M. de Chennevières, Director of the Beaux Arts, spoke about him in touching words: "All the youth of Paris loved him, for he loved youth, and his talent was youth eternally new. And in his immortal works he praised God in his skies and birds and trees."
As the last phrase was spoken, we are told, a linnet perched on a branch near by and burst into a gush of song; and when in 1880 a monument to the beloved great painter who talked so often of "mes feuilles et mes petits oiseaux" was set up by his brethren on the border of the little lake at Ville d'Avray, the sculptor carved on it the branch and the singing bird.
EVERY one knows that Corot was a landscape painter with an especial love for the neighborhoods of Ville d'Avray and for effects of springtime foliage and early morning or evening light. But it is a great mistake to think of him as confined to such effects, or even as narrowly devoted to landscape painting. He painted all hours of the day and now and then moonlight too, and all seasons of the year save those when snow lies on the ground. Figures enliven nearly all his landscapes. Sometimes they are peasants laboring
in wood or field; more often classic nymphs or dancers in surroundings that reveal his memories of southern scenes; and occasionally the characters of some antique fable. Twice, for instance, Corot painted Orpheus and once Silenus, Diana at the bath, Homer with a group of shepherds, Democritus, Daphne and Chloe, Biblis, and Virgil serving as a guide to Dante. Sacred history likewise attracted him. Nothing he produced is more remarkable than the "St. Sebastian" now in Baltimore; and he often drew upon the life of Christ and the stories of the Old Testament. He also painted flowers, and still-life subjects and interiors; many street and distant city views; animals; large draped figures and studies of the nude, and no less than forty portraits. Mural decoration he essayed whenever he got the chance - which was by no means so often as he wished. In his later years he etched some delightfully characteristic plates. And whoever glanced through his sketch-book or his letters saw that nothing which had met his eye had appealed to his hand in vain.
But the grossest misconception with regard to Corot is not the one which ignores his width of range. It is a much more serious mistake to believe that because he "idealized "nature he did not represent her faithfully, because he suppressed details he did not see or could not render them, because his maturer work looks "very free" he had not studied conscientiously. Nothing so afflicts a real student of Corot as to hear him called an exponent of superficiality or "dash."
If ever a man worked hard at his art it was Corot. The number of his preparatory studies was immense, and they were made in his latest as well as his earliest years. "Conscience" was his watch-word, the nickname his scholars gave him, the one recipe he gave them when they asked him how to learn to paint. The first thing to produce, he said, were "studies in submission"; later came the time for studies in picture-making. He did not approve of academies and schools, and deemed it enough to study the old masters with the eye, without much attempt at actual copying. He thought the great school of nature might suffice to form soul and sight and hand; but this school one should never desert and could not frequent too diligently. It is true, as a friend once said, that what Corot wanted to paint was "not so much nature as his love for her." But to love her meant to peruse her with patient care, to know her well and fully; and to paint his love meant not to alter her charm, but to bring into clear relief those elements therein which most appealed to him. Individuality in art no man prized more highly. But he defined it as "the individual expression of a truth"; and said