THE OLD AND NEW SALONS.—II.
BEBNARD.—This is the painter who paints so much of flesh as is firelight, or moonlight, or sealight In the Salon three years ago, it was firelight on a woman crouching by the hearth. Last year it was sealight on a Siren,—lewd face and tones of colour as bewitching as any song. This year it is sunlight. It blazes through a screen of russet chestnut-trees (the gaps of bare sky are slabs of emerald green when you look close), and burns orange and crimson and cream in the flowers of a thicket of rhododendron. And these colours, reverberated, as it were, from a luxurious fancy, evoke the Vision de Femme enthroned in their midst,—her flesh the playground, the battleground of green and violet and red reflections, and the whole figure a dreamy obsession, a nightmare at high noon. Besides this great debauch of light and colour, there are less dis- quieting visions,—one of a woman sleeping in a band of yellow morning sunshine, another of a woman starting up by blue candlelight. Then on the ceiling of one of the galleries there is a circular decorative design, which is to go to the Salon des Sciences at the Hotel de Ville. The subject is La Write entrainant les Sciences a sa suite, repand sa Lumihre sur lee Hommes, or some nonsense of that sort. It has been gravely discussed whether Truth is in order in leading the Sciences in her train, instead of the Sciences bringing her in their train (other critics fondle the opinion that it would be salvation for M. Besnard if yellow could be kept from his palette). Far be it from us to decide who takes down whom at allegoric routs, or what lady of them all has precedence ; but never did Culture and her crew swoop down more remorselessly on sinful Man than here, or stranger constellations wheel and flare above that tragic spectacle.
Cazin.—With him all is gentleness of feeling and delicacy of colour. In one picture there are two girls bathing in a piece of water. Behind it rises a low, grassy hill. Among the rashes on the bank, a napkin is spread with a frugal meal and flowers. In the rosy sky above, a little cloud is lit. And everything, down to the wine-bottle and the plates, is painted so as to be delightful to the senses, and somehow to the spirit, as if the artist had a trick for mixing a grain of poetry with every colour ground upon his palette. In another picture two travellers, a man and woman, pause for a moment amid the bent grass of the dunes. He has put his load down, and holds the child. She ties up her hair. A green moon begins to shine.
Carriere.—With him there is hardly colour at all. Every- thing is seen as if through a brown, smoky veil. But this is the procedure of an art that limits itself, making precise the matter in hand, and omitting all the rest with its distractions. Out of the smoky penumbra the subject comes into light, felt and rendered with extraordinary tenderness. In the group of six pictures here, the subjects are little children. In one, a mother is asleep with her baby,—a beautiful group of the two heads and the mother's arms. In another, she kisses the baby's head, one of her hands, as she holds it, distorting the puckered little face. In the rest there are single figures of children amusing themselves in various ways, always given with the same beauty of modelling and with the same veil upon the colour.
Pavia de Chavannes.—There is a more remarkable absence in the art of this painter. He is a designer who cannot draw. Nothing could be more feeble than his reduction of the body to a few limp and stiff outlines, and of clothes to an abstract of modern dress which has all the want of bodily habit and character of the tailor's plate, without having any of its pre- cision. But he is a designer in the way in which he plots the grouping of his figures and distributes them over the space, as in this Inter Artes et Naturam. Occasionally, too, there is a beautiful intention in a figure, though it is blurred in the execution. And above all, he is a decorative colourist in large spaces of pure cool tones.
Carolas Duran.—In his work, by way of contrapt to that of the last painter, there is supreme power .of rendering brute nature in paint, and complete vulgarity of spirit; unbridled luxury of plush curtains and velvet gowns, wealthy exuberant sitters, an art almost as repulsive as the nature it competes with. Of Roll there is very much the same to be said, as he shows in the present exhibition. The force and relief of his Portrait de M. Coquelin cadet are extraordinary ; the mere living people in the galleries are much less aggressive. Boldini is a portrait-painter with a turn for caricature. His painting is chalky, but his likenesses have the appearance of being impudently good. J. E. Blanche has some of the same defects in technique, but has much graver artistic qualities. Picard, too, is an artist in portraiture; and Dannat, the painter of the Lady in Red in this year's Academy, attains a Yelasquez-like, silvery quality of colour. VeL9.aquez is one of the names of which the work of Ribot provokes the memory; Rembrandt and Ribera are others; the fusion of such ingredients is in itself an achievement, and the fusion is not a mechanical one. No one will pass quickly before the ten canvases of this painter; for the chance of seeing him at all is a rare one. Perhaps the finest here is the head called Une Flamande. Dagnan Bouveret is not present in great force, but he shows two fine pastels,—one of them a girl's head, dark against light ; the other, a mother and child. An artist now settled in London, T. Roussel, sends two portraits of Mr. Menpes, the figure of the sitter telling, in the black and white of evening dress, against very beautiful combinations of colour on .the wall and floor. In one case, there is a fan lying on the carpet that is desirable enough as a note of colour, but much too obviously arranged with that intent. Sargent sends a not very good full length of a lady, and his last year's por- trait of Miss Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth. It is splendid in conception and in character, and a splendid failure in colour. Another London exhibitor is Mr. Shannon (not the painter of portraits, but the painter of little chimeras). His water- colour drawing of Circe is one of the most imaginative things in design and colour in the whole exhibition. Lhermitte is a black-and-white artist, painting in colours. Gervex is best in his own portrait. Meissonier is Meissonier. Readers of Marie Bashkirtseff will be interested in the very talented work of her rival, Mademoiselle Breslau.
Among the artists of the open air, there are many skilful workmen, and some poets. Of experimentalists in the track of Monet, Zorn is the strongest ; Sisley is another. Of attempts to render full sunshine, Gronwold's little children in a field, Jour d'Ate en Norvege is the most notable. Dinet's Combat autaur d'un Sou (Laglu)uat) is remarkable for its' Oriental sunshine, but still more for the dash and vigour of its action,—a mad scramble of a troop of Arab boys for a halfpenny. Durst is on the track of Mauve. Damoye has great talent, but has pleased himself too soon with a manner. The flick of his brash is unmistakable in the shop-window. Boudin is charming as ever with his blue harbour scenes ; and Dauphin has something of the same atmospheric beauty- Billotte has some fine wintry pieces from the outskirts of Paris; and a Swedish artist, Thaulow, some remarkable snow-scenes from his own country. Alexandre Harrison is not altogether happy in his sea-piece, La Nuit, though. it shows close study ; but there is poetic feeling in his liiviere, a canal-like stream under an evening sky. Amblet's seaside studies are the pleasantest things he sends. Brandon's. quiet interiors of churches and synagogues are singu- larly attractive. La Toache's garden scenes come near being very good. Other names, Ribarz, Lebourg, Lepere,. Verstinete, Thoren, Iwill, Rosset-Granger, Mathey, Kuehl, Guerard—to mention only a few—deserve to be dwelt upon, if space allowed; and there is a good deal of fine work among the drawings and studies that must be passed over. In sculpture,. there is a notable figure of Victor Noir, by Dalou, recumbent on his tomb in Gothic fashion, but in modern dress. Rodin sends a desperate little nude of an old woman, some sketches- for groups, and a noble head, the Baste de Madame B., to be executed in silver.
Such was the Exhibition of the Seceders in 1890, an effort they are hardly likely to repeat with equal force ; and doubly delightful because surrounded by the desert spaces of the Exposition, in which to lounge and dream over the pictures between the first look and the second and the third.