Puslapio vaizdai

accented, explained, "completed" by a great artist's soul and sight and touch.

The "Orpheus" was painted in 1861, and in 1866 the splendid "Danse des Amours," which is also in New York, owned by Mr. Charles A. Dana—a surpassingly fine example of one of Corot's most characteristic themes. We need not ask whether this wood is of France or Italy, whether this little temple and these gracious, buoyant figures were painted from fact or fancy. It is the true ideal world - the world of actual nature, but seen in one of its most beautiful aspects, peopled by joyous figures, and with all its fair suggestions amplified and fulfilled.

The "Dante and Virgil" in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is much less complete and magnificent than these, and it shows too clearly Corot's shortcomings as a draughtsman: the tigers crouching at the poet's feet were sketched in by Barye, but his outlines were lost in the painting. Nevertheless, the work is admirable as a whole and most interesting in sentiment - more strongly dramatic than any other Corot I have seen. Seldom has Dante been shown so nearly as he must have looked when, as the Florentine children said, he went down into hell.

The "Lake Nemi," the "Landscape with Cattle," and the "Wood-gatherers," here reproduced, were all in the Morgan collection. The "Nemi" seems to be a picture which, we are told, was painted at Ville d'Avray, but afterwards recast as a memory of the nymphhaunted southland. Its sky is a marvel. The "Wood-gatherers " is one of Corot's very latest works, shown at the last Salon held before his death. The tone is brown and rather dark and the handling very summary; but it has great strength and dignity, and impressive sentiment. In default of an "Orpheus," for example, it is a good Corot for the American public to possess. The placid, sunny little river landscape, with cattle, is a good type of many of Corot's smaller works. Its sky and its distance are its chief beauties, and no distance, no sky, could be lovelier. The "View of the Coliseum" is a much earlier work. It is deeper and stronger in tone, more solid in handling, more dignified in composition-an excellent example to set beside the delicate landscape and the poetic "Orpheus" as proof that Corot's range in art

was not a narrow one.

Thus, it appears, there are Corots in America of the very highest quality; and, indeed, this list of them might be greatly lengthened. Mr. Jay Gould in New York owns a "Danse des Nymphes" only less admirable than the "Danse des Amours." In the collection of Mr. Quincy Shaw at Brookline, Massachusetts, are several perfect examples, representing different epochs

from almost the very earliest. And in a hundred other American galleries hang Corots of more or less distinction. With the best, of course, there are many not so good, and others, alas, which are Corot's only in name. A superficial eye is easily deceived by imitations of Corot's slighter works, and such have been foisted on the public, abroad as well as here, in considerable numbers. But a really fine Corot has qualities beyond the reach of any plagiaristqualities of truth on the one hand, of feeling on the other. We run no risk of seeing a fictitious "St. Sebastian" or a " Danse des Amours" which shall deceive a true lover of Corot.


To understand Corot's influence on art and artists we must recall the times when his work began.

The formalizing, pseudo-classic tendencies of the school of David had just lost their sovereignty. The "romantic" reaction was in its lusty youth under the leadership of Géricault and Delacroix. The fetters of academic tradition were loosened; freedom in thought and practice was proclaimed for every painter; the modern spirit of inquiry and inventiveness, the modern gospel of individuality, were daily winning new disciples. Oddly enough, as it now seems to us, the first fresh impulse in the field of landscape came from across the Channel: certain pictures by Constable and Bonington, exhibited in Paris, gave the first hint that landscape, too, might be painted in free and varied fashions, and made the medium for expressing simple local beauties and personal ideas. But the fact is easily explained: in France landscape painting had meant for generations nothing but a memory of Claude and Poussin, while in England the old Dutch masters — so much more simple, naïve, yet modern in their feeling - had never been lost to sight. Now the hint from England led Frenchmen back to the art of Holland, and its fructifying influence soon showed in France as it has never yet shown in England. Almost instantly a new school was born, a new development begana school and a development which we must call the noblest and completest that modern painting counts.

Georges Michel was one of the very first to feel the new impulse. But he seems a survivor of the old Dutch school rather than a leader in the school of France-a weaker brother of Ruysdael, not his modernized descendant; a forerunner, not a fellow of Rousseau, Corot, Troyon, Millet, and Dupré. Paul Huet was another innovator, but he is better known to us by the influence he had in his time than by his actual work. Rousseau was the first of the

really complete new masters in landscape, and almost on a line with Rousseau stands Corot. It is difficult to say just in how far Corot was formed by this influence or by that. Bonington's spirit seems very near akin to his Mr. Henry Adams in Washington owns a little Bonington which might almost pass for a comparatively early Corot. But there can be no question as of teacher and scholar in the case. Corot can have had no more than a mere glimpse of Bonington's work, and his own was at once immeasurably wider, deeper, and more subtile. For Rousseau he had an immense admiration; but their natures were wholly unlike, and the longer they lived the further apart grew the lines on which they labored. We can say no more of Corot than that the hint of naturalism he got from England, the draught of classicism he imbibed from his first teachers and from the air of Italy, and the Dutch lesson of simplicity and sobriety, germinated and grew together in his soul while eye and hand were training themselves outdoors. It is impossible, again, to attempt any weighing of the intrinsic merits of Corot and his great contemporaries. Odious in most connections, a process of definite comparison is nowhere so detestable as when applied to mighty artists. It is a sin against the first law of computation we were taught at schoolit is an effort to reckon with unrelated quantities. It is as though we took an apple from a pile of peaches and declared the number of peaches less, or compared an apple with a fig to explain its rank among apples, or gauged the breadth of one stream by the depth of another. We may like best the peach or the fig or the apple and confidently declare our liking. But when it comes to comparisons, they should be of figs with figs, of Corots with Corots. To be an artist means to be individual; and individuality can be tested only by its own standard. A Corot is none the worse whatever Rousseau or Troyon may have painted; and it would be none the better had its creator been the only man who ever painted landscapes.

But from the historical standpoint the case is different. If we may not rightly ask of two great contemporaries which was the greater, we may very rightly ask which was the more typical of his time, the more influential upon the world of art. From this point of view Corot seems to me the most significant figure in his generation. Personal, individual, as were all his brethren; boldly, beautifully, as they all preached the gospel of freedom and freshness in art, none except Millet was quite so personal, none quite so fresh as Corot; and to an individuality as strong as Millet's he added other qualities all his own. No art of the time is so complex as Corot's, and its complexity gives it

peculiar value to those who look deeper than the surface of paint. No one departed further from that mock classicism which means academic formality, bloodless self-suppression; yet no one then alive or now alive has done so much to prove the persistent value of true classicism. David tried for the form of ancient art and missed its spirit. Corot, the great apostle of modernness and personality, caught its spirit while casting utterly away its form. A Greek of the time of Pericles might easily prefer his paintings to any others we could show him: yet how thoroughly French they are; and yet, again, how close they lie to the heart of the American of to-day.

There is still another point in Corot's supremacy. The profound and accurate study of values—the knowledge how to keep tone perfect and yet keep color complete and trueis the greatest technical achievement of modern times. Here Corot led all his rivals, and therefore he has become the leader and teacher of all younger painters. In many ways they have carried his lesson further than he went himself. To paint things truthfully in the open air means to-day tasks of a variety and difficulty which Corot never essayed, results of a vividness and splendor he never achieved. But the whole development rests on his own. He was the first great "impressionist," and the modern impressionists are but his more daring sons. Sometimes we- and perhaps they themselves

forget the fact; for there is one great point of difference between him and most of his sons in art. He was a poet on canvas, and most of them are speakers of prose. It is their fashion to rave about "realism," to despise idealismto exalt the mere facts they chance to see above the greater fact which Corot divined and gave. But, do what they will, the best among them are more idealistic than they think; and, say what they will, the world will never agree to rank the reporter above the poet. For the great body of lovers and students of art Corot's supreme merit is that he was the most poetic soul among those who have ever painted landscapes; and his chief value as a teacher is that he showed so well what poetry in painting means. Too many have thought it meant the effort to do with color the same thing that a writer does with words, and have lost the picture in the effort to paint a poem. But with Corot the picture is the first considerationbeautiful forms, beautiful tones, beautiful expression with the brush. The poetry is an infusion merely, an intangible essence breathed from the soul of the maker. Perhaps the time will come when Corot's teaching as regards this point will be more generally heeded than it is to-day. But, of course, conscious effort cannot determine the fact. Any painter can

learn much from Corot in the way of technical secrets; no one can learn from him how to idealize nature except a man who, like himself, chances to be born with a poet's heart; and we can do no more than hope that all new poets who may be born to paint shall be souls of Corot's sort. But we must indeed hope this; for what the world needs just now are not mournful temperaments, reading into nature the sorrow of the human race, but apostles of the joy and peace which those who seek can always find in her, valiant yet tender singers like Corot-happy singers of a glad new day.


THE more we study Corot's art the more we love the man who stands behind it; and I have dwelt at some length on the record of his life because it completes the revelation of a strong and serious will, of perseverance, modesty, and self-reliance, of noble desires, unfailing courage, sincerity, and loving-kindness.

It is a little the fashion nowadays to think of artists as excusing themselves, on the strength of being artists, from the duties and virtues we demand of commoner clay. It is too much our way to think of them as eccentric, egotistic, nervously excitable or morbidly sensitive, at odds with a prosaic world and often at odds with themselves-pushed one way by the artistic impulse, pulled another by mere human loves and obligations. We think too often of them thus to pardon or condemn them accord

ing as we value art or care little for it as a factor in the progress and aspiration of the world.

Corot's story is of priceless value as proving how far wrong are these ideas; and all the more because it is not an exceptional story. Men like Corot, in all the essentials of what even a pharisaical world would call good conduct, have never been rare among artists and are not rare to-day; nor men as courageous and persevering in disappointment, as simple, modest, and laborious in success. As was Corot, so, in a more or less marked degree, were almost all the great painters and sculptors of his great time. Not all of them could be so cheery and happy, but most of them were as single-minded in their devotion to art, as generous and sincere in their dealings with their fellows.

Let me make a good ending now with a few more words from Corot's lips: "Do we know how to render the sky, a tree, or water? No; we can only try to give its appearance, try to translate it by an artifice which we must always seek to perfect. For this reason, although I do not know my craft so very badly, I am always trying to go further. Sometimes some one says: 'You know your business and don't need to study more.' But none of that, I say; we always need to learn. . . . Try to conquer the qualities you do not possess, but above all obey your own instinct, your own way of seeing. This is what I call conscience and sincerity. Do not trouble yourself about anything else, and you will have a good chance of being happy and of doing well." M. G. van Rensselaer.


"T would not be easy, for one who had not been in the midst of it, to realize the enthusiasm that existed among the Southern people for General Lee at the conclusion of the war. Nothing could exceed the veneration and love, the trust and absolute loyalty, which people and soldiery alike had manifested towards him through the struggle. But it was after the war had closed that the affection of the people seemed more than ever a consecrated one. The name given to him universally in the army, "Ole Mars' Robert," is an evidence of the peculiar tenderness with which he was regarded. But after defeat came, all this feeling was intensified by the added one of sympathy. Nowhere could he move abroad without being greeted with such demonstrations of love and interest as always touched his generous and gracious heart.

Living near General Lee as I did, from

1865 till his death, in 1870, I was cognizant of many little instances and scenes which illustrate this feeling, and also serve to bring out some of the finer points of his character in a way no stately biography would condescend to do. It may be worth while to focalize some of these minute side-lights, in order to indicate the less known characteristics of that inner life which shrunk from manifesting itself to the world at large.

A brief period only had passed after the surrender at Appomattox when offers of homes began to be pressed upon him. His family was originally English, and he had many relatives among titled people in the old country, who insisted upon his coming and sharing, for a time, the ease and luxury of their homes. But he positively declined to expatriate himself. "No," he said, "I will never forsake my people in their extremity; what they endure, I will endure, and I am ready to break my

last crust with them." And he refused to leave Virginia. Nothing ever gave him greater pleasure than to witness personal, strenuous effort to overcome the disasters of the war. To see a small farmer attempting to fence his fields with green saplings was to him a sight that made his eyes brighten.

Many homes were urged upon him in his native State; but as my sister, Mrs. E. R. Cocke, of Cumberland, said when he accepted her offer of a vacant plantation adjoining her own, which was a part of her estate, "He chose among these homes one of the most unpretending." With furniture from her own house, she fitted up for him and his family a comfortable abode at "Derwent," Powhatan County; and here he gathered together, for the first time since they had left Arlington, his wife and children around him. "Never shall I forget," she said, "his unaffected gratitude, and his gracious acceptance of this simple home I and my sons had prepared for him. The plantation of Derwent was only two miles from my own, and our great country gardens readily met the wants of the new residents. As I saw the beautiful simplicity with which these trifling supplies were received, it seemed impossible for me to realize that this was the man upon whom the fate of the South had hung; that this was the man for whom thousands were ready to rush to death; that this was the man before whom the hearts of all the Southern Confederacy bowed in reverence. One day, shortly after he came to Derwent, he rode over on Traveler1 (his famous war-horse) to a neighboring country-store, which was also the post-office. The desire of the people, black as well as white, to see the General was intense, for this was but a few weeks after the surrender. He walked quietly into the store, and was engaged with its proprietor in talk about the prospects of the crops, and such like things, when the place began to be crowded by the country people, intent upon catching a glimpse of the great commander. He seemed not to observe them at first; but turning round, and noticing the press about him, he said, in an apologetic way, 'Ah, Mr. Palmer, pardon me for keeping you talking about corn and tobacco so long; for I see I am detaining you from your many customers.' There was nothing whatever to indicate the slightest consciousness that the crowd had pressed in to see him.

"Another incident," she went on to say, "I recall of General Lee, which seems to me worth relating. My head dining-room servant, who had occupied his post for twenty-five years, and whose ancestors for more than a hundred years had been born on the plantation, had 1 For portrait of General Lee on Traveler, see THE CENTURY MAGAZINE for July, 1886.

determined to avail himself of his sudden freedom. We were all sitting at dinner- for it was before the General and his family had taken possession of Derwent - when Shepherd, the man in question, all ready for departure, entered the dining-room, to take leave of the assembled family. I well remember the kindness with which the General rose from his seat, and, shaking the old servant cordially by the hand, gave him some good advice and asked Heaven to bless him. There was no feeling of bitterness towards him because he was leaving his mistress to much distraction and care from which he might have saved her; instead of this, a benediction and a Godspeed."

When homes were being offered to him, both abroad and from one end of the late Confederacy to the other, his eldest daughter, who was visiting in our neighborhood, said one day, in the hearing of a trustee of Washington College, "Why don't they propose to my father some place in which he can work? For he never will accept the gratuity of a home." The remark was caught up, and conveyed to the board of trustees. This college, situated in the very heart of Virginia, was founded before the American Revolution; and after it had received a large endowment from Washington himself its name was changed from Liberty Hall to Washington College- the first institution of any kind whatever that bore the name of the great patriot. Thenceforth this college was the educator of a large number of the prominent men of Virginia. Its buildings had been injured, its professors and students scattered, and its resources crippled by the war. An offer of its presidency was made to General Lee with scarcely a hope that he would accept it; but accept it he did, without hesitation, saying, "I may thus influence my young countrymen."

I once heard it said by Professor White, the professor of Greek in our college, who had himself been a Confederate officer: "The first appearance of the General in our streets was thoroughly characteristic. As I passed up our main street one day in the summer of 1865 I was suddenly confronted by General Lee on his fine war-horse Traveler, dressed in white linen from head to foot, wholly unattended, even by his black groom. Nobody in the town knew he was coming. This was as he wished it, for it was his desire to shun every demonstration. Here was the man who for four years had never moved abroad without being attended by a military staff composed of some of the most brilliant younger men of the South, and who never appeared anywhere without being received with enthusiastic shouts from all beholders — now with only one person to greet him, and an old Confederate to hold his

stirrup! But as every man in the town had been a soldier, it was not long before the street rang with cheers."

I well remember the first visit I paid to Mrs. Lee on the General's taking possession of the house of the college president. There were many visitors present, who all came, with a sort of exalted reverence, to pay their formal respects to the General and Mrs. Lee. When we rose to take leave, my little son, who accompanied me, could not find his cap. What was my surprise to hear Mrs. Lee interrupt her husband in his animated talk with some distinguished gentlemen present-not to ask him to summon a servant to do her errand, but to say:

"Robert, Herbert Preston has lost his cap; will you go into the back parlor and see if he has left it there?"

We were not used then to hear the leader of our armies bidden to wait on a child!

At one of the first Commencements-I think the very first — at which General Lee presided after he became president of the college, the hall was filled with an immense crowd to whom he was the central object of interest. During the progress of the speeches, a little boy four years old became separated from his parents and went wandering up one of the aisles in frightened search of them. The General noticed the child's confusion, and, gaining his eye, beckoned him to come to him on the platform, where he sat surrounded by many of the brilliant officers of the late Confederacy. The tender signal was irresistible to the child. He instantly made his way to the feet of the General, sat down there, and leaned his head against his knee, looking up in his face with the utmost trust, apparently thoroughly comforted. Thus resting, he fell asleep, with his protector's arm around him, and when the time came for the General to take his part in the prescribed ceremonies we who were looking on were touched in no little degree as we saw him carefully rise from his seat and adjust the little head softly upon the sofa so as not to waken the confiding little sleeper.

His love for children was one of his most marked traits. He possessed the royal attribute of never forgetting faces or names; and not a boy in our streets ever took off his cap to salute him as he passed by on Traveler, nor a little girl courtesied to him on the sidewalk, that he did not for a moment check his rein to give an answering salute, invariably naming them, and perhaps the pleasure of a ride on the saddle before him. We found him early one Christmas morning at our door. He had come to bring some Christmas presents to my little boys; and I discovered that he had done the same for all the children of his friends. He told me once of an amusing scene he encountered, in which chilVOL. XXXVIII.—36.

dren played a part, from which he laughingly said he retreated, ignominiously defeated. A few miles out of the town he was overtaken in his ride by a thunder-storm, and sought refuge in the house of a gentleman whom he knew. Mr. W and his wife were absent, but a group of children who were playing marbles on the parlor carpet came forward at once and made him welcome. But the attractions of the game were too powerful for their politeness and that of the little visitors they had with them; and as the General begged them not to stop their playing, they took him at his word and went on with their game. In a little while an altercation arose.


Now, Mary," said Tom, "I call that cheating! You did n't do that thing fairly!" "Take that back, Tom!" broke out Charlie. "You sha'n't say my sister cheats!"

"But she did," cried Tom, with sullen persistence, "and I'll say it again!" With that Charlie rose in his wrath and collared Tom; and Mary, trying to separate the combatants, burst into tears and cried out, "O General Lee, please don't let them fight!"

"My good fellows," said the General, grasping each boy by the shoulder, "there 's some better way to settle your quarrels than with your fists." But in vain he tried to separate the little wrestlers. "I argued, I remonstrated, I commanded; but they were like two young mastiffs, and never in all my military service had I to own myself so perfectly powerless. I retired beaten from the field, and let the little fellows fight it out."

His ability to recall a name, after he had once heard it, was peculiar. One of the college professors told me that in riding out with him one day they passed an old mill, at the door of which stood the dusty German miller, with the most barbarous of German names, waiting with the hope of receiving a handshake from the leader under whom his sons had served. His wish was gratified, and the old man was made proud and happy. Not long after, the same professor was passing the same mill, when at the door the miller again presented himself. By no effort of memory could the queer German name be recalled by the professor; but before he had time to speak, the General rode straight to the door, and, with a cheerful" Good-morning," named the old man at once.

He had the gentlest way possible of giving counsel and administering rebuke. I remember hearing him say, in a presence where such testimony was worth more than a dozen temperance lectures: "Men need no stimulant; it is something, I am persuaded, that they can do without. When I went into the field, at the beginning of the war, a good lady

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