Puslapio vaizdai
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

THE promoters of public monuments in our day appear to consider that the act of homage to the illustrious dead is rounded and complete in those physical and temporary proceedings which consist in holding committee-meetings, raising subscriptions, and putting up a stone or bronze structure, with the name of the great man engraved upon it. Nor is this conviction confined to the immediate promoters of memorial works of art, for the public is found to be perfectly willing to subscribe for a proposed monument without the slightest idea as to the artist to be selected, and without any VOL. XXII.-14.

guarantee of its artistic value. We think it would not be hard to prove by statistics that the general sentiment is, that one "statue" is about as good as another-with this exception, that no one would think of erecting a statue of Halleck in Central Park that should be only seven inches in height, or that should be made of butter. To be sure, the sculpture of the "ButterWoman" at the Centennial was the most admired sculpture of the exhibition; yet it should be remembered that the works in marble and bronze there displayed did not, as a rule, rank much higher as works of art; [Copyright, 1881, by Scribner & Co. All rights reserved.]

and, certainly, even the Butter-Woman's wildest admirers would consider her chosen material, even as improved under her latest patents, not just the thing for the Central Park. Yes, all are agreed that a public statue must have not less than a certain height, breadth, and thickness, and that it must be made of good, solid material; something, in fact, that will "last forever," or perpetuate the fame of the great person, at the least, through a succession of centuries.

The people who "get up" the monument are well assured that the getting up requires a very large amount of hard work, covering even a term of years; but it is far from being always the case that a proportionate amount of time and brains is devoted to

secured. Public committees and individual donors have inflicted upon the city a still increasing company of hideous and imbecile monuments,-some home-made and some imported,-the work in certain in

[ocr errors]

stances of well-known but halfeducated and poorly endowed sculptors, and in others of nameless and shameless adventurers; one of whom, by the way, has lately, it is said, been happily foiled in his maneuvers for the capture of a civic order of the first importance.

But it is evident that the time is coming when commissions for public monuments in America will be given with at least as much consideration as is bestowed by a careful person upon the selection of his tailor. We doubt if there



the only point that is of the slightest consequence, upon the only branch of the enterprise that is likely to partake of immortality, or throw the slightest luster upon those who have been active in the movement-namely, the production of a real work of art.

The public parks and squares of New York are a proof that committees have worked with industry to get money, but not with equal industry to find the right man to execute their commissions; and even if the right man has been found, by good management or by good luck, he has sometimes been so hampered or hurried in his work that the very best results have seldom been

is any unerring method of selection in either case. Competition is sometimes found to work well in art matters, sometimes very badly. There was competition for the making of those gates of the Baptistery, at Florence, which Michael Angelo is reported to have said were worthy to be the gates of Paradise. And yet, if one examines the competing panels of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, still preserved in the Bargello, one cannot help wondering why the commission was not given to the former instead of to the latter. Ghiberti's panel strikes one as not only in poorer taste than Brunelleschi's, but also inferior to his own subsequent work




upon the gates themselves. It is very likely, however, that if the choice had fallen upon Brunelleschi instead of upon his rival, Michael Angelo's majestic praise would have still applied. For there were giants in those days; and not only were the artists giants in performance, but "the people" were giants in appreciation and taste. And this is the root of the whole matter: with the quickening of public taste will come the improvement of public monuments of all kinds.

Not only, then, as the memorial of one of the greatest and purest of the heroes of the modern world, but as a work of extraordinary artistic value, and as a sign of the increase of the art spirit in America, we present the accompanying illustrations of the Farragut monument, which is to be unveiled in Madison Square, New York, at about the date of the issue of this magazine.


Soon after the death of Admiral Farragut, a meeting was held at the residence of Moses H. Grinnell, which brought together many of the leading citizens of New York, and at which it was resolved to erect a suitable memorial of the great Admiral. association was formed, among whose members were Moses H. Grinnell, General John A. Dix, Benjamin H. Field, Sylvanus H. Macy, Ex-Governor E. D. Morgan, Charles H. Marshall, Commodore Nicholson, Gen. Lloyd Aspinwall,. John J. Cisco, Marshall O. Roberts, Benjamin B. Sherman, Robert L. Stuart, Charles P. Daly, W. M. Vermilye, Gen. Alexander Shaler. General Dix was the first president of the Farragut Monument Association, being succeeded at his death by Mr. Benjamin H. Field. Mr. John J. Cisco was appointed treasurer, and Mr. James E. Montgomery secretary. In

[ocr errors]

December, 1876, a young and accomplished, though then not widely known, sculptor of New York was accordingly commissioned to make a bronze statue of Farragut.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the sculptor of the Farragut monument, is a native of New York City, and now about thirty-three years of age. At the time when Saint-Gaudens began his studies, it did not take long to exhaust the means of art-instruction available in New York. He went to Paris, and after years spent in the "École des Beaux-Arts," entered the atelier of the sculptor Jouffroy. Later, he studied, and worked upon commissions, in Rome. It was upon his return to America that he received the Farragut commission, among other orders of importance, such as the monument to the memory of the founder of the Sailor's Snug Harbor, Staten Island, and the sculpture for the tomb for the family of Ex-Governor Morgan. A few days before setting out for Paris, with these and other orders, Saint-Gaudens assisted in the



founding of "The Society of American Art- | short it had departed from the spirit of the ists," of which he is now President. Greek.


France is to-day, and has been for a long time, the home and best school of art. a city like Paris, where marbles and bronzes are produced in such immense quantities, it is hardly to be wondered at that much of the production-in fact, most of it that one sees in public places-should be meretricious. But he is a shallow observer who concludes that, because hundreds of pieces of sculpture on the buildings and in the gardens of Paris are not as remarkable for solid as for superficial qualities, therefore, French sculpture is throughout brilliant but empty. The fact is that the most severe, the most powerful, the most beautiful, the best, modern sculpture is French. This is not the place to enlarge upon the subject, but no argument is necessary with those acquainted with the work of such men as Falguière, Dubois, Mercié, Le Feuvre, Saint-Marceaux, and the late Barye.

As often happens in the case of original minds, the influences which have been strongest in forming the character and art of Saint-Gaudens have not been those of his actual teachers. As a sculptor living in As a sculptor living in France and associating with the best men there, both painters and sculptors, he has himself, perhaps unconsciously, been a part of that movement in art whose origins are many, but with which will always be preeminently associated the name of JeanFrançois Millet.

It is hardly necessary to say, however, that the most abiding influence upon this young sculptor has been that of the antique art. The more experience the world acquires the more convinced does it become that for the canon of plastic art we must go to the Greeks. Paris points to Rome, Rome to Athens. It is true that Athens points still eastward toward Egypt and Asia; but it was in Greece that plastic art reached its culmination. Michael Angelo is the mightiest artistic individuality that the world knows, personally and intimately; but wherever Michael Angelo departed from the Greek canon, he was less beautiful, less noble, less complete. As splendid as was his time in great artists, nevertheless, as compared with the epoch of Phidias, the great Florentine fell upon evil days. It, indeed, took his own times and country to make him the giant that he was, nor would we ask to see him other than these made him; but it is still true that his art had its origin in that of the Greek masters, and that where it fell

In speaking of "the canon," we shall be misunderstood if it is supposed that the word is used in a limited sense,—as, for instance, having reference merely to such a matter as the exact proportions of the human figure. The Greeks had a keen perception of the fitness of things, and a dominating sense of beauty. They understood, as has been well said, the "not too much." They could express power, without degenerating into ugliness. But their art doubtless had its limitations; at least, it was left to Michael Angelo to give expression to ideas more modern, individual, and intimate. It was necessary that he should be different from the Greek; but where, although different, he was still governed by the essential spirit of the Greek taste, he was most successful, most great. Yet one must not push a theory such as this to its extremes; it is making too nice an inquiry into values which, after all, cannot be exactly determined. Who shall say which is better-the gigantic, yet compressed and artful power of Sophocles, or the spontaneous, boisterous, untamable, and tremendous energy of Shakspere?

Saint-Gaudens has done well to hold fast to the principles of the antique art. In carrying out these principles his work has, however, taken a likeness to that of the Florentine Renaissance, with which he is by nature in close sympathy, and which he has studied with devotion.

In modeling severe, broad, yet minute in finish and modern in expression,-in character alert, eager, reticent, full of dignity and reserved force,-Saint-Gaudens's bronze Farragut might almost be called the work of some new Donatello.* Yet, as in

*The Farragut statue was exhibited in plaster in the Paris Salon of 1880. Saint-Gaudens also exhibited several medallions, and received "mention" for these and for the statue. The critic of the "Revue

des Deux Mondes" said of the statue:

"The city of New York may congratulate itself on the choice that it has made of one of its sons, Mr. Saint-Gaudens, for the statue to be erected to Admiral Farragut; it may be doubly proud—both of the model and of the sculptor. There is the sailor with his simple and well-ordered costume, the frock-coat buttoned close, the skirt loose in the

[ocr errors]

wind, the figure well balanced, with the legs a little apart, as is natural on a moving ground. Above all, he has shown the chief conscious of his responsibility, invested with that supreme power which confides to his intelligence and integrity the life of so many men and the honor of his country. The mouth, forehead, eye-all the features, in fact-express the seriousness, the coolness, and the moral strength which accompany authority. But there is still more here,

[graphic][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »