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yet in the years that immediately preceded this so-called nineteenth century of ours, this childish toy was taken over and improved by a group of progressive French artists, who raised it almost to the level of a fine art. In France the primitive entertainment was entitled Chinese shadows, ombres chinoises; and it was Caran d'Ache who transformed them into French shadows, ombres françaises.
In France these "Chinese shadows" have been popular for now more than a hundred years, since it was in the eighteenth century that the performer who took the name of Séraphin established his little theater and won the favor of the younger members of the royal family by his presentation of the alluring spectacle, the rudimentary little piece, still popular with children and still known by its original title, "The Broken Bridge."
It may not be fanciful to infer that the immediate suggestion for this spectacle was derived from the contemporary vogue of the silhouette itself, this portrait in flat black taking the name from a Frenchman who was minister of finance in 1759. At all events, it was in 1770 that Séraphin began to amuse the children of Paris, and it was more than a century thereafter that Lemercier de Neuville elaborated his ingeniously articulated pupazzi noirs. It It was a little later still that Caran d'Ache delighted the more sophisticated children of a larger growth who were wont to assemble at the Chat Noir with the striking series of military silhouettes resuscitating the mighty Napoleonic epic. And it was at the Chat Noir again that Rivière re
vealed the further possibilities latent in shadow-pantomime and to be developed by the aid of colored backgrounds supplied by a magic lantern. Restricted as the sphere of the shadow-pantomime may seem to be, the native artistic impulse of the French has been rarely better disclosed than by their surprising elaboration of a form of amusement seemingly fitted only to charm the infant mind into an entertainment satisfactory to the richly developed esthetic sense of mature Parisian playgoers. Just as the rustic revels of remote villagers contained the germ out of which the Greeks were able to develop their austere and elevating tragedy, and just as the modern drama was evolved in the course of centuries out of the medieval mysteries, one source of which we may discover in the infant Christ in the cradle still displayed at Christmas-tide in Christian churches throughout the world, so the simple Chinese shadows of Séraphin supplied the root on which Parisian artists were able to graft their ingenious improvements.
The little spectacle proffered originally by Séraphin was frankly infantile in its appeal, and "The Broken Bridge" is as plainly adjusted to the simple likings of the child as is the lamentable tragedy of Punch and Judy or the puppet-show in which Polichinelle exhibits his hump and his terpsichorean agility. The two arms. of the broken bridge arch over a little stream, but fail to meet in the center. A flock of ducks crosses leisurely from one bank to the other. A laborer appears on the right-hand fragment of the bridge and begins to swing his pick to loosen stones at
the end, and these fragments are then seen to fall into the water. The figure of the workman is articulated-or at least one arm is on a separate piece and moves on a pivot, so that a hidden string can raise the pick and let it fall. The laborer sings at his work, and in France he indulges in the traditional lyric about the Bridge of Avignon, where everybody dances in a circle. Then a traveler appears on the lefthand end of the bridge. He hails the laborer, who is hard of hearing, but who finally asks him what he wants. The traveler explains that he wishes to cross, and asks how he can do this. The laborer keeps on picking away, and sings that "the ducks and the geese they all swim over." The irritated traveler then asks how far it is across, and the laborer again sings, this time to the effect that "when you 're in the middle you 're half-way over." Then the traveler inquires how deep the stream may be, and he gets the exasperating response, still sung, that if he will only throw in a stone, he 'll soon find the bot
tom. This dialogue bears an obvious resemblance to that traditionally associated with the tune of the "Arkansaw Traveler."
Then a boatman appears, rowing his little skiff, his backbone pivoted so that his body can move to and fro. The traveler makes a bargain with him, and is taken across after many misadventures, one of them with a crocodile, which opens its jaws and threatens to engulf the boat, this amphibious beast having been a recent addition to the original playlet, and probably borrowed from the green monster not long ago added to the group of Punchand-Judy figures. The exciting conclusion of this entrancing spectacle displays a most moral application of the principle of poetic justice. The ill-natured laborer advances too far out on his edge of the broken bridge and detaches a large fragment. As this tumbles into the water, he loses his footing and falls forward himself, only to be instantly devoured by the crocodile, which disappears with his unexpected
prey, whereupon the placid ducks and geese again swim over, and the curtain falls.
There are a score of other little plays like "The Broken Bridge" adroitly adjusted to the caliber of the juvenile mind. In an English collection may be found a piece representing a succession of appalling episodes supposed to take place in a haunted house; and in a French manual for the use of youthful amateurs may be discovered a rudimentary version of Molière's "Imaginary Invalid" to be performed by silhouettes with articulated limbs. limbs. Here again we perceive the inaccuracy of the term "shadow-pantomime," since most of the figures are not articulated, and, being motionless, are deprived of the freedom of gesture which is the essential element of true pantomime. Moreover, they are all made to take part in various dialogues, and this again is a negation of the fundamental principle of pantomime, which ought to be wordless. Here the French term "Chinese shadows"
is more exact and less limiting than the English "shadow-pantomime." It is perhaps a pity that the old-fashioned term "gallanty-show" has not won a wider acceptance in English.
The little pieces due to Séraphin and his humble followers in France and England, devised to amuse children only, were simple enough in plot, and yet they were sufficient to suggest to admirers of this unpretending form of theatrical art plays of a more imposing proportion. M. Paul Eudel, the art critic, has published an amply illustrated volume in which he collected the fairy pieces and the more spectacular melodramas composed by his grandfather in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, in the dark days that preceded Waterloo. And in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, in the dark days that preceded Sédan, M. Lemercier de Neuville, relinquishing for a while the Punch-and-Judy puppets which he called pupazzi and which he had exhibited in a succession of gentle caricatures
of Parisian personalities with a mildly Aristophanic flavor of contemporary satire, turned to the familiar Chinese shadows of his childhood and devised what he called his pupazzi noirs, animated shadows. He has issued also a coilection of these little pieces with a full explanation of the method of performance, and with half a hundred illustrations, revealing all the secrets of manoeuvering the little figures. Indeed, Lemercier de Neuville's manual is the most ample which has yet appeared; and it is the most interesting in that he was at once his own playwright, his own designer of figures, and his own performer.
As the grandfather of M. Eudel had been more ambitious than Séraphin, so Lemercier de Neuville was more ambitious than the elder Eudel. And yet his procedure was precisely that of his predecessors, and he did not in any way modify the principles of the art. All he did was to elaborate the performance by the use of more scenery, of more spectacular ef
fects, and of more numerous characters. He introduced a company of Spanish dancers, for example; and he did not hesitate to throw on his screen the sable and serrated profile of a long line of ballet-dan
He followed Eudel in arranging a procession of animals, rivaling a circusparade, many of them being articulated so that they could make the appropriate movements of their jaws and their paws. And he paid special attention to his silhouette caricatures of contemporary celebrities, Zola for one and Sarah Bernhardt for another.
Then the Franco-Russian draftsman who called himself Caran d'Ache made a new departure, and started the art of the shadow-pantomime in a new career. He called his figures "French shadows," ombres françaises, and he surrendered the privilege of articulating his figures so that they could move. At least he refrained from this except on rare occasions, preferring the effect of immobility, and relying mainly upon a new principle not before
One of the most attractive items on his program was a representation of the return of vehicles and equestrians from the Bois de Boulogne in the afternoon. Some of the figures were merely characteristic types sharply seized and outlined with all the artist's masterly draftsmanship, and some of them were well-known personages easily recognizable by his Parisian spectators: De Lesseps on horseback, for example, and Rochefort in an open cab. These successive figures were simply pushed across the screen one after another, each of them as motionless as a statue, the men fixed in one attitude, and the legs of
the horses retaining always the same position. This absence of animal movement was, of course, a variation from the facts of life, like that which permits the painter to depict a breaking wave or a sculptor to model a running boy at a single moment of the movement. Yet this artistic convention was immediately acceptable, since the spectator received a simplified impression, and his attention was not distracted by the inevitable jerkiness of the limbs of the men and beasts.
Caran d'Ache's masterpiece, however, and it may honestly be styled a masterpiece, was not "The Return from the Bois de Boulogne," but his "Epopée," his epic evocation of the grand army of Napoleon. Single figures, like the Little Corporal on horseback and Murat and others of the emperor's staff, he projected with a fidelity and a veracity of accent worthy of Detaille or even Meissonier. Yet fine as these single figures might be, they were only what had been attempted by earlier exponents of the art, even if they were