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Sargent's picture of two little girls, children of the draftsman Barnard. They posed in a garden, and everybody lent a hand in lighting paper lanterns, and hanging them in the rose-bushes and shrubbery. Canvas, easel, and paint-box were brought, and all made ready. Then for twenty or thirty minutes, at most, the painter worked assiduously in the twilight. The whole day seemed to lead up to that brief period, so much did every one become interested as the picture grew and its beauty developed. It was finished, and entitled "Carnation Lily, Lily Rose.» Everybody in London saw it the next year at the New Gallery, and it was purchased by the Chantrey Fund, thus finding a permanent place in an English public collection.
The artist now found himself so successfully launched that he took a studio in the British capital, and spent the next two years in painting portraits. In the summer of 1887 he came to the United States (his second visit, for he had spent a short time in Philadelphia during the Centennial Exhibition in 1876) to paint a portrait of Mrs. Henry G. Marquand. This portrait, one of the most dignified and excellent in the long series of his works, was painted at Newport, and the following winter Sargent passed in Boston and in New York painting others. Then the painter went back to London. He returned to America in 1890, and spent nearly a year painting the portraits of Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson, and Lawrence Barrett, which hang in the club-house of The Players; the «Carmencita»; the child portrait of << Beatrice » ; and a number of others. In the autumn his father died in England, and he took ship from New York. The commission for the Boston decorations had been offered to him, but the order had not yet been definitely given. Just as the steamer was leaving he received the papers, and so it happened that he carried the commission with him, fittingly crowning a most successful year's work in his own country. In the winter of 1891-92 he went to Egypt, and settled down at El Fayoum, where he made a number of studies, and then returned to England. He joined Edwin A. Abbey at Fairford, where they built a studio of corrugated iron, suitable in its dimensions for the handling of large canvases, and during the next two years he worked there on his decorations, retaining his studio in London meanwhile, and painting portraits, among them being that of Miss Ellen Terry. The decorations were brought to Boston in the summer of 1895, and put in place in the library under the artist's supervision. Before returning to England in the autumn Mr. Sargent
made a visit to Biltmore, North Carolina, and painted there the portraits of Frederick Law Olmsted and the late Richard Morris Hunt for Mr. George Vanderbilt. The owner of «Biltmore » was happily inspired when he gave the commissions for these portraits of the distinguished men who created his beautiful estate, so that they might hang on his walls as memorials in time to come. Mr. Hunt's striking figure is fittingly portrayed in the courtyard of the house he built, and Mr. Olmsted's poetic face is so faithfully and sympathetically interpreted that his most intimate friends have nothing but praise for the work.
Mr. Sargent was elected a member of the Society of American Artists in 1880; he became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1893; he is a member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which holds the Salon of the Champ de Mars, and an associate of the National Academy of Design. When his election as an A. R. A. was talked of in London some time before it came to pass, he is said to have remarked that if it were necessary to become a British subject in order to receive this honor he preferred to do without it, as he would rather retain his American citizenship. He received the election, however, and will probably be made an academician in due time. His list of medals and exhibition honors is a choice one, but it will suffice to note here that, besides being hors concours at the Salon, he received a medal of honor at the Paris Exposition of 1889.
A SPECIES of conservatism generally prevents the same enthusiastic praise being given to a work by a living painter that is so often. freely accorded to the creations of men who have lived in the past. Books have been written about the works of Titian, Rembrandt, Velasquez, and other great painters of portraits, but I fear that if I say that Mr. Sargent has painted one that deserves to be classed with the works of these masters I shall be thought to have overstepped the mark. Yet I feel sure that posterity will give its judgment in just about such terms. The apprehension that a living painter may, before he comes to the end of his career, fall far below the standard set by some single fine work that he has produced is in part the reason why critics shrink from unstinted praise of the work of their contemporaries. It is so easy to deride them if such a falling off occurs. But if the work justifies the highest word, is it not only fair to say it unhesitatingly? Few great artists have collapsed, but
there have been many whose work has deteriorated, and never again reached a certain high plane once attained in some supreme achievement. I do not think that there is anything in Mr. Sargent's work since he painted theBeatrice » to lead us to imagine that he may not again paint a portrait as perfect as this, or even a finer one; but all things being considered, and the factor of personal preference being admitted in the judgment, it is the one that I choose as the best, and if limited to a single canvas, the one upon which I should rest his claim to rank with the world's great painters. This little girl, with pale golden hair tied with a pink ribbon, in a gown of silk with stripes of pink and gray, her small hands joined before her with the finger-tips touching, and the cockatoo in his high gilt cage behind her, presents an adorable picture. That the portrait is delicate and harmonious in color, that the figure and accessories are painted with facile grace and sure precision, that it is captivating in aspect, and that it is complete in the sense that nothing may be taken away, changed, or added to-it is easy to say all this, and it is easy to support the assertions before the picture. To explain its great charm is more difficult than to analyze its merits. The charm seems to lie in the marvelous excellence of the painter's handiwork, expressing, as it does so perfectly, the sweet attraction of beautiful childhood. There are other ways of painting than the manner in which this picture is painted. There are certain more naïve ways of interpreting nature, some that appeal more touchingly, perhaps, by a sort of timidity perceptible in the painter's heart, and made seductive by the justness of the final rendering; but nothing better in this particular way could well be accomplished.
Quite different from the «Beatrice,» but potent in the quality of attraction, is the « Portrait of Miss » (shown on page 176). A characteristic expression is here so rendered in paint as to be almost startling in reality. It is also one of the best examples of his work in composition, and there is great beauty of tone in the black satin gown. In the portrait of «Joseph Jefferson as Dr. Pangloss,» the embodiment of a dramatic rôle, is a picture of live personality (see frontispiece). In that of Miss Dunham there are tenderness of color in the simple painting of the white draperies and sympathetic translation of character. We might go through the whole list of his portraits and find in almost every one of them some distinguishing quality. If we feel impelled to think of prototypes, we may
be reminded at times of Velasquez, at other times of Vandyke. The beautiful «< Portrait of Mrs. Davis and Her Son,» sober and restrained in color, noble in conception, and painted with a fine swing of the brush, will suggest a comparison with the latter master, as the «Beatrice » does with Velasquez. Again Mr. Sargent turns our thoughts to the English school of the last century, as in the «Portrait of Mrs. Manson.» It bears a general resemblance to the school, but a particular resemblance to none of the painters that belong to it. It is suggestive in style only, and not in treatment; for the loose drawing and conventional construction of the famous English masters have nothing in common with the firm yet graceful strength that marks this charming work.
Mr. Sargent's great success as a painter of portraits is no doubt due to the fact that, in addition to a technical equipment of the highest order, he possesses intuitive perceptions which enable him to grasp his sitters' mental phases. His cultivated eye quickly determines the pose which naturally and easily harmonizes the physical side with the mental, and his artistic feeling dictates unerringly by what attributes of costume and surroundings the picture formed in his mind's eye may be best presented on canvas. He rarely neglects to compose his picture; that is, not only to determine the lines of the figure, but also to fill the canvas and balance it. How much this part of the art counts for in portrait-painting every intelligent painter knows; but how many fail to appreciate it, how many are satisfied with a haphazard arrangement, that suffices to bring the figure within the frame, and leaves balance and symmetry to take care of themselves, may be seen in the numerous portraits in the current exhibitions, both at home and abroad, in which good intention and serious study are shorn of their force by careless composition.
Working with a mastery of his tools and medium surpassed by none of his contemporaries, and bringing to the interpretation of his themes concentration of ideas and facility of expression, Mr. Sargent is peculiarly well fitted to paint portraits. Though he may win high honors in other walks of art, we may hope that different ambitions will never draw him away from this field, in which belong some of the world's greatest masterpieces of painting, and in which he has so clearly proved his right to rank with some of the best of those who have made it bright with their glory.
William A. Coffin.
SIR GEORGE TRESSADY
•Gy. Mrs Humphry Ward
Author of "Robert Elsmere" "The History of David Grieve"
[BEGUN IN THE NOVEMBER NUMBER.]
EORGE went back to the House, and stayed speech from a member of a former Liberal cabinet. The speech was one more sign of the new cleavage of parties that was being everywhere brought about by the pressure of the new collectivism.
« We always knew," said the speaker, referring to a ministry in which he had served seven years before, «that we should be fighting socialism in good earnest before many years were over; and we knew, too, that we should be fighting it as put forward by a Conservative government. The hands are the hands of the English Tory, the voice is the voice of Karl Marx.»
The Socialists sent forth mocking cheers, while the government benches sat silent. The rank and file of the Conservative party already hated the bill. The second reading must go through. But if only some rearrangement were possible without rushing the country into the arms of revolutionists, if it were only conceivable that Fontenoy, or even the old Liberal gang, should form a government and win the country, the committee stage would probably not trouble the House long.
Meanwhile, in the smoking-rooms and lobbies the uncertainties of the coming division kept up an endless hum of gossip and conjecture. Tressady wandered about it all like a ghost, indifferent and preoccupied, careful, above all, to avoid any more talk with Fontenoy. While he was in the House itself he stood at the door or sat in the cross benches, so as to keep a space between him and his leader.
A little before twelve he drove home, dressed hastily, and went off to a house in Berkeley Square, where he was to meet Letty.
to be reproachful, and eager for her ball. As they drove toward Queen's Gate she chattered to him of her evening, and of the people and dresses she had seen.
«And, you foolish boy,» she broke out, laughing, and tapping him on the hand with her fan, «you looked so glum this morning when I could n't go to see Lady Tressady; and-what do you think? Why, she has been at a party to-night-at a party, my dear!and dressed! Mrs. Willy Smith told me she had seen her at the Webers'.>>
«I dare say," said George, rather shortly; « all the same, this morning she was very unwell.>>
Letty shrugged her shoulders, but she did not want to be disagreeable and argue the point. She was much pleased with her dress,
with the last glance of herself that she had caught in the cloak-room looking-glass before leaving Berkeley Square,—and, finally, with this well-set-up, well-dressed husband beside her. She glanced at him every now and then as she put on a fresh pair of gloves. He had been very much absorbed in this tiresome Parliament lately, and she thought herself a very good and forbearing wife not to make more fuss. Nor had she made any fuss about his going down to see Lady Maxwell at the East End. It did not seem to have made the smallest difference to his opinions.
The thought of Lady Maxwell brought a laugh to her lips.
«Oh, do you know, Harding was so amusing about the Maxwells to-day,» she said, Copyright, 1895, by Mrs. HUMPHRY WARD. All rights reserved.
turning to Tressady in her most good-humored and confiding mood. «He says people are getting so tired of her, -of her meddling and her preaching, and all the rest of it, and that everybody thinks him so absurd not to put a stop to it. And Harding says that it does n't succeed even-that Englishmen will never stand petticoat government. It's all very well-they have to stand it in some forms!»> Stretching her slim neck, she turned and gave her husband a tiny flying kiss on the cheek.
Mechanically grateful, George took her hand in his, but he did not make her the pretty speech she expected. Just before she spoke he was about to tell her of his evening of the meeting, and of his drive home with Lady Maxwell. He had been far too proud hitherto, and far too confident in himself, to inake any secret to Letty of what he did. And, luckily, she had raised no difficulties. In truth, she had been too well provided with amusements and flatteries of her own since their return from the country to leave her time or opportunities for jealousy. Perhaps, secretly, the young husband would have been more flattered if she had been more exacting.
But as she quoted Harding something stiffened in him. Later, after the ball, when they were alone, he would tell her- he would try to make her understand what sort of woman Marcella Maxwell was. In his trouble of mind a confused plan crossed his thoughts of trying to induce Lady Maxwell to make friends with Letty. But a touch of that charm, that poetry-he asked no more.
He glanced at his wife. She looked pretty and young as she sat beside him, lost in a pleasant pondering of social successes. But he wondered uncomfortably why she must use such a thickness of powder on her still unspoiled complexion, and her dress seemed to him fantastic, and not over-modest. He had begun to have the strangest feeling about their relation, as though he possessed a double personality, and were looking on at himself and her, wondering how it would end. It was characteristic, perhaps, of his halfdeveloped moral life that his sense of ordinary husbandly responsibility toward her was not strong. He always thought of her as he thought of himself as a perfectly free agent, dealing with him and their common life on equal terms.
The house to which they were going belonged to very wealthy people, and Letty was looking forward feverishly to the cotillion.
<< They say, at the last dance they gave the cotillion gifts cost eight hundred pounds,» she
said gleefully to George. They always do things extraordinarily well.>>
No doubt it was the prospect of the cotillion that had brought such a throng together. The night was stifling; the stairs and the supper-room were filled with a struggling mob; and George spent an hour of purgatory wondering at the gaieties of his class.
He had barely more than two glimpses of Letty after they had fought their way into the room. On the first occasion, by stretching himself to his full height so as to look over the intervening crowd, he saw her seated in a chair of state, a mirror in one hand and a lace handkerchief in the other. Young men were being brought up behind her to look into the glass over her shoulder, and she was merrily brushing their images away. Presently a tall, dark fellow, with jet-black mustache and red cheeks, advanced. Letty kept her handkerchief suspended a moment over the reflection in the glass. George could see the corners of her lips twitching with amusement. Then she quietly handed the mirror to the leader of the cotillion, rose, gathered up her white skirt a little, the music struck up joyously, and she and Lord Cathedine spun round the room together, followed by the rest of the dancers.
George, meanwhile, found few people to talk to. He danced a few dances, mostly with young girls in the white frocks of their first season-a species of partner for which, as a rule, he had no affinity at all. But, on the whole, he passed the time leaning against the wall in a corner, lost in a reverie which was a vague compound of this and that, there and here: of the Manx Road school-room, its odors and heats, its pale, uncleanly crowd absorbed in the things of daily bread, with these gay, scented rooms, and this extravagance of decoration, that made even flowers a vulgarity, with these costly cotillion gifts-pins, bracelets, rings-that were being handed round and wondered over by people who had already more of such things than they could wear; of these rustling women, in their silks and diamonds, with that gaunt, stooping image of the loafer's wife, smiling her queer defiance at pain and fate, and letting meddling «lidies >> know that without sixteen hours' «settin'» she could not keep her husband and children alive. Stale commonplace, that all the world knows by heart-the squalor of the pauperum tabernæ dimming the glory of the regum turres. Yet there are only a few men and women in each generation who really pass into the eclipsing shadow of it. Others talk; they feel and struggle. There were many elements in Tres