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DRAWN FROM LIFE BY CARROLL BECKWITH, APRIL 16, 1876.
orist of restrained strength and comprehensive breadth of scale. The central figure of the group, on his knees, like his companions, but with his arms uplifted, and his face raised to Jehovah, while the other heads are bowed, is a fine piece of painting, simply conceived and as simply wrought. Its place in the group, and the contrasting attitudes of its fellows, not subordinated, but helping to show the idea expressed by this one for all, - the wail of agony and supplication from the twelve tribes of Israel, who have forgotten their God and worshiped the idols of the heathen, and now, with his altar-fire rekindled, turn to implore his mercy and protection, - constitute one of the best illustrations in modern art of a subject interpreted in the plain language of painting, which may not transgress the laws of truth to nature.
The color-scheme of the frieze, as has been said, serves well its purpose in the ensemble of the decoration. The figures of the prophets, taken separately, present some fine characterizations, and in painting them, the composition having been determined, the artist has had a task difficult enough to cause him to exert his best powers, but uncomplicated by the archaic considerations in the lunette and the ceiling. Particularly worthy of note is the management of the strong reds in the New York, and first publicly shown at the exfigures of Joshua and Elijah, on each side hibition of the Society of American Artists. of the Moses, and the intermingling of red- His career has been a cosmopolitan one, and dish tints with the gold in the garment his youth was passed among surroundings and wings that envelop this commanding very different from those that affect the infigure. Not less effective is the strong note tellectual bent of most American boys who given by the blue robe of Isaiah on the right, become painters and sculptors. He was born and those of blue and brown in the group of in Florence, Italy, in 1856, whither his parents Zephaniah and Joel on the side wall at the had gone to live some years before. His father left. Through these, and the prevailing white was Dr. Fitz-Hugh Sargent, a Boston physiand neutral tints of the garments in the other cian, and his mother, whose maiden name was groups, there is a fine play
of color, subdued Newbold, and who belonged to a well-known in just proportion to meet the requirements family of Philadelphia, possessed the accomof the position of the frieze.
plishment of painting very cleverly in watercolors. Educated partly in Italy and partly in
Germany, young Sargent entered the Academy II.
of Fine Arts at Florence at a comparatively The high reputation of John Singer Sargent, early age, and before he was eighteen had the painter of this remarkable work, makes spent several years in art study. He learned him one of the most prominent figures in the to paint in water-colors, as well as to draw modern world of art. No American artist has with the pencil or charcoal, and one summer, occupied such an exalted position as he has when he was in the Tyrol with his mother, attained before reaching his fortieth year; Frederick Leighton, not yet a peer and presinone is more celebrated in Paris, London, and dent of the Royal Academy, but a famous Engthe other art centers of Europe. He has lish artist notwithstanding, meeting them, painted some of his best portraits in the commended the boy's work, and counseled United States, and « La Carmencita,» the pic- him to continue. His advent a year or two ture which represents him in the famous later in the studio of the pupils of Carolus Luxembourg Gallery in Paris, was painted in Duran is thus described by Sargent's intimate
BAS-RELIEF PORTRAIT IN BRONZE OF JOHN S. SARGENT.
means puritanical. The lighter side of his Hle
temperament found satisfaction in music, the theater, and literature, and in the keen
appreciation of everything in the tastes and XL:11:39
amusements of the day that had a new or original flavor. Though an eager reader, he was not a bookman, but an observer. «Alert is the adjective which perhaps best expresses the quality of his predominating characteristic. He was quick to see, and ready to absorb, everything that struck him as novel.
I remember how much we used to like to go to the Colonne concerts at the Châtelet, and to those given by Maître Pasdeloup at the Cirque d'Hiver, on Sunday afternoons. Some of us had heard Berlioz's « Damnation de Faust» at the former place fifteen or sixteen times. Sargent, who dearly loved the music, was struck bytheodd picturesqueness
of the orchestra at Pasdeloup's, seen in the friend and fellow-student in Paris, the well- middle of the amphitheater, the musicians' known portrait-painter, Carroll Beckwith: figures foreshortened from the high point of It was on a Tuesday or Friday, the days when bass-viols
sticking up above their heads, the
view on the rising benches, the necks of the Carolus came to criticize our work, in the spring of 1874, at the old studio on the Boulevard du white sheets of music illuminated by little Mont-Parnasse. I had a place near the door, and lamps on the racks, and the violin-bows movwhen I heard a knock I turned to open it. There ing in unison. While he listened he looked, stood a gray-haired gentleman, accompanied by and one day he took a canvas and painted his a tall, rather lank youth, who carried a portfolio impression. He made an effective picture of under his arm, and I guessed that he must be a it, broad, and full of color. Sargent's musical coming nouveau. politely in French, and I replied in the same lan perceptions should be particularly mentioned politely in French, and I replied in the same lan- in an analysis of his temperament, for they guage, but with less fluency, for I had not been long in Paris myself, telling him that the « patron» are very keen, and his knowledge of good was in the studio at the moment, and asking him music and his love of it are strong factors if they would wait. He evidently saw that I was in his personality. Another strong temperaa fellow countryman, for he then spoke in English, mental trait is his susceptibility to the imand we held a short conversation in subdued tones; press of race characteristics. He has shown for the school etiquette of course forbade talking this in the eager grasp of the picturesque, while the patron was within the walls. At any not only in foreign lands, but whenever he other time the visitors might have had a more met with anything markedly racial in subject demonstrative reception. Carolus soon finished his criticism, and I presented my compatriots.
for a picture at home. His large canvas, « El Sargent's father explained that he had brought Jaleo,» a woman dancing, with a company of his son to the studio that he might become a Spanish singers and time-makers behind her, pupil; the portfolio was laid on the floor, and the and the studies he made of the Javanese drawings were spread out. We all crowded about dancing-girls at the Paris Exposition of 1889, to look, and Carolus spoke favorably. He told the are among the tangible results of this tenyoung artist that he might enter his class, and dency. Besides his native language, he speaks when he had departed we all crowded about again and writes French, Italian, and German. to look more closely at the drawings. We were
Sargent's studio is always a sociable place. astonished at the cleverness shown in the watercolor and pencil work, and his debut was consid- Unlike many artists, the presence of visitors ered a most promising one. He made rapid pro- or companions does not disturb him when he is gress from the day he entered the school, and painting. He seems to work without obvious gradually rose to perfection in academic study. exertion even in his intensest activity. «When
his models are resting, he fills up the gap by The serious and earnest side of Sargent's strumming on the piano or guitar,” says one character always impressed his fellow-stu- of his friends; « his manner while at work is dents in those Latin Quarter days. He had that of a man of consummate address, and no taste for dissipation, though he was by no does not show physical or mental effort. He
knows thoroughly well what he is about and the portrait of Miss Louise Burckhardt, which what his capabilities are, so that, while he together made Sargent's Salon « exhibition,» searches the truth in his pictorial rendering drew so much notice that his reputation took of what is before him, and often repaints a on a quality of generally admitted excelpart of his picture entirely in the effort to lence, and his work was considered of such make it as perfect as possible, he works with distinction that he was in a fair way to beconfidence. He has never been allied with any come, if he had not already become, a portraitrevolutionary movements in art, and, while painter of fashion in Paris. About this time novelty appeals to him in things seen, he the studio in the Rue Notre Dame des Champs shuns all passing crazes or new doctrines. was given up, and a new and larger one taken His feeling in art is of the most intense sort. on the Boulevard Berthier, on the north bank Skill and accomplishment in every field excite of the Seine. At the Salon of 1883 a very his admiration, but his own creed is stable and large canvas, called « Portraits of Children,» unaffected by transitory influences. Possibly, in which four little girls were depicted in a in his youthful days, when he made pencil spacious hall, evoked high praise from critics drawings from the heroic figures in the great and public, more than ever confirming the canvases by Tintoretto, Titian, and Paul Ver- opinion that Sargent's work possessed the onese in Venice and Florence, and drew them highest sort of qualities, and that he was again from memory to show his comrades in destined to become a great figure in modern Paris the grandeur of line in these composi- art. In the summer of the same year at her tions which had so deeply stirred him, he laid country place at Houlgate he painted the the foundations of this stability. This quality portrait of Mme. Gauthereau, a celebrated has been of much benefit to him. Confronted Parisian beauty, and exhibited it at the Salon by one difficult artistic problem after another, the following spring. It aroused a storm of he has presented in every case solutions which, disapproval. Mme. Gauthereau is painted fullthough sometimes more complete and more length, in a ball gown of black, the head brilliant than others, have been uniformly turned in profile to our view, and, judged sound-audacious sometimes, but always sane. merely from a reproduction, the picture is
« En Route pour La Pêche » was the title seen to be one of exquisite style. It is cerof a picture of modest dimensions signed by tainly masterly in line and general dispoJohn S. Sargent, and exhibited at the Paris sition; that much may be seen from a photoSalon of 1878. It represented fisher-girls at graph. Painters who have seen the picture Cancale, setting out for their work with their speak of its marvelous technical qualities, and baskets under their arms, and was bright and of the sensitive drawing of the head. Some of pleasing in color. It bore a look of cleverness Sargent's friends speak of it as his masterthat was unmistakable, but it was no more piece, and others declare that he himself so remarkable than the first picture of many considers it. But it was severely criticized. another young painter of right education. The admirers of Mme. Gauthereau talked in In the same year, in the American gallery the salons and clubs of the extremely poetic of the Universal Exposition, Mr. Sargent type of her beauty, and of the realistic renshowed a competent, well-drawn portrait of dering of externals only that this portrait, in a lady. At the Salon of 1879 appeared a their opinion, presented. There was an upcharming little picture of a young girl among roar about it, in fact, and most of the critics the olive-trees at Capri, and a portrait of took the side of her partizans. The great Carolus Duran. The latter canvas at once artistic merits of the work were almost enattracted attention, and the jury of award tirely overlooked. That spring Sargent went voted an honorable mention to the painter. to London to execute some commissions for In 1880 came the «Smoke of Ambergris,» portraits, and events have so shaped themalready mentioned, and a portrait of Mme. selves in his career that he has never since Pailleron, wife of the celebrated author of had a studio in Paris. « Le monde où l'on s'ennuie.» In 1881 there The village of Broadway, England, is about were two portraits of young ladies, and these twelve miles south of Stratford. In 1885 were of such merit that the jury decreed a Sargent and other artists were spending medal of the second class, and so placed the the summer there, and their days passed artist hors concours. In these successive ex- pleasantly with tennis and cricket in their hibits there was ample proof of artistic abil- leisure hours. Every day an hour before ity, and increasing evidence of individuality the sun went down there was commotion of style. In 1882 « El Jaleo,» which is now in in the little colony, for with the last rays the possession of a gentleman in Boston, and came the time when the effect was on for