PARIS LN JUNE, 1878.—No.
SHORTLY before the opening of the Exhibition in 1867, France had lost her two great historical painters, Ingres and Eugene Delacroix. The years that have intervened between that Exhibition and the present have been marked by an extraordinary number of deaths among French artists ; the men of the " move- ment " since 1830 are almost all gone, and the school of landscape
painting has suffered severely. Nevertheless, the Official Catalogue of the Exhibition of the Champ de Mars gives proof in figures of
an immense increase in the artistic activity of France, and in its encouragement by the public, and it also directs atten- tion to the change in the aims and aspects of French paint- ing. " Depuis quelques annees," says the " Notice Sommaire," " nous assistons a un retour marque vers lee etudes serieuses• —vers la peinture historique et monumentale, dont le Jury Inter-
national, en 1867, avait du constater l'abaissement en France, aussi bien que dans les autres pays d'Europe." Monu- mental indeed are the great tones displayed in the French section of the Beaux-Arts collection, and grim to a degree that renders the common-place of the English school a pleasant relief by comparison. There are not many examples of the in- decency which is a leading attribute of this year's Salon, but there are several of the dreary, the terrible, and especially the cruel among historical, religious, and mythological episodes.
The death of Charles XII. of Sweden, the massacre of the Helots, a dreadful scene of fighting between wounded French and Prussian soldiers after Waterloo, a ghastly picture of St.
Sebastian presenting himself before Maximian and showing him the wounds in his breast, Tamar and Absalom nourishing their gloomy hate and ennui, the rebel angels carrying the standard of their revolt through the air, the plague at Rome, with the evil angel striking the fatal blows upon the door of the doomed, under the orders of the good angel ; Thisbe flinging herself upon the body of Pyramus, a frightful picture of the drinking of the blood of their victim by the young Roman conspirators in the house of Aquilius ; an " Interdict," the details taken from a chronicle of the eleventh century,-and full of horror ; the corpse of Pope For- mosus placed in mockery on the Papal Throne, and questioned by Stephen VII. ; Francis Borgia gazing on the corpse of the Empress Isabelle, the body of Caesar carried to his house by three slaves ; these recur to one's memory at random, among the pain- ful sights of the gallery. Some of these, and many other pictures whose subjects are equally disagreeable, are very finely painted ; but the public, considered en masse, are not art critics, and the cultivation of a taste for the cruel and the horrible, the familiar- ising of the people with the aspect of murder and blood, and death in its ghastliest forms and stages, are hardly wise, to say nothing of their being wholly wrong. A nightmare-like impres- sion of pain, misery, violence, terror, gaping wounds, and those consequences of death from which our hearts shrink most in fear and protest, is the strongest that remains from the French picture gallery. One has to set it forcibly aside to recall the fine por- traits, the beautiful landscapes, and the many delicate and fanciful genre pictures which are thrown into obscurity by the huge pro- ductions of the morbid and murderous monumental school.
It is always pleasant to look at a Meissonnier, and one lingers all the longer in the corner occupied by this artist, whose works are so small and so pleasant, because their neighbours are so large and so repulsive. The "Petit Poste de Grand' Garde," "Les Deux Amis," and the "Portrait du Sergent" are old acquaintances, but one looks at them longer than at any other pictures there ; and next to them, at the works of M. Jules Breton, for the free natural life and the open air in them. " La
Glaneuse " and " Les Pecheurs de la Mediterranee " are worth a whole gallery of such productions as " La Peste a Rome " and
the death of Francesca and Paolo, with the murderer and his bloody knife vanishing through the doorway. It is difficult to avoid the appearance of presumption when dealing in the char-
acter of a mere spectator with works of art on which persons of
renown have expended much time and talent, but the truth is that the French collection inspires admiration, dislike, and regret, in equal proportions ; and having studied it, one is neither surprised nor offended by the pretty general comment which classes our English paintings among the " niaiseries de l'Art."
The "English School" was summed up, in the hearing of the present writer, as " La Reine, le Lord-maire, le ' Sunday-school,/ Monsieur, Madame, et Bebe,"—and somehow the satire sounded like praise.
The much-praised Hungarian paintings do not disappoint the expectations of the visitor ; they are sombre, romantic, interesting, and if one sees them after an inspection of the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian pictures, their richness and depth of colouring are especially attractive, for the lack of both in the former is remarkable. Holland and Belgium are well repre-
sented, and the Dutch and Belgian pictures are much appreciated by the French people. Among the Belgian collection are three really
fine works of what the catalogue would call the " monumental" order ; they are the "Nous vonlons Barabbas!" of Verlat, and
two others, of which the motives are much alike, in each supreme anxiety and suspense in the presence of inexorable power. One is by Wauters, and represents Mary of Burgundy imploring the pardon of the aldermen of Ghent for Hugonot and Humbercourt, her counsellors ; the other is by De Vriendt, and represents Jacqueline of Bavaria interceding for her husband's life with Philip the Good. These are profoundly interesting pictures. The first is full of life, movement, the heaving excitement of a brutal crowd,—the serene calm of the "rejected of men" is beautifully contrasted with the wild passion of the mob and the half-incredu- lous triumph of the popular favourite. The second and third are most impressive pictures ; one could not forget them even among the multitude. Several fine views of Antwerp and street scenes in that city of fierce and cruel, as well as artistic, renown, are of great merit. Does any one care much about modern Italian pictures? It seems unlikely, when one looks at the frivolous and conventional works that represent the " school" here, for they are not more than pretty, and they make no impression upon the memory. It seems odd to come upon a dozen pictures by Signor de Nottis, who lives in Paris, and paints the Green Park, Trafalgar Square, the Bank of England, and other familiar sites, after a fashion on which he is not to be congratulated, and that is about the strongest effect produced by the collection. There is some wonderfully good painting of lace over satin in a picture called " Raison dttat," by Didioni, of Milan, which re- presents the Empress Josephine and Queen Hortense overwhelmed with grief at the announcement of the intended divorce, just made to them by the Emperor Napoleon, who is deliberately walking off, with his back turned to the weeping, half-fainting women. The same subject is treated, with less technical skill, but more sympathy, by Pagliano, of Milan, who shows us Josephine in deep but decorous grief, and Napoleon, with a countenance full of sorrow and misgiving, trying to con- sole her. In the Italian gallery, as, indeed, in most of the others, there are several interesting portaits. A very large number of Eastern subjects catch one's eye in the long journey through the galleries, but they have such a faculty for fatiguing the attention sooner and more thoroughly than any other class of subjects, that one would do well to avoid them, or at least to put them aside for a separate visit. The Spanish pictures are well worth seeing ; they are not so sombre as those works of Spanish artists which we had in London in 1862, and they are full of character. " Philip IL at Hampton Court," by Leon y Escosura, is a curious glimpse, from the Spanish point of view, of a story which we are accustomed to regard exclusively from the English point ; and in the illustrations of Spanish life there is a mingling of stateliness and simplicity which sets these pictures apart. The Swiss landscapes are charming, and Bodmer's paint- ings remain with one, especially the "Menage de Roitelets," which is a perfect gem.
After the oil-paintings the water-colours, and then the engrav- ings, the enamels, the paintings on porcelain, the medallions, the architectural and scientific drawings, the contributions from China and Japan, from Persia and Tunis, from Haiti and Luxem- bourg, from Uruguay, Peru, and the Republic of San Marino. And the sculpture ! If anybody says he or she has seen the whole of these things, put him or her down as belonging to that class which Canning defined by the example of the individual who declared that he liked dry champagne,—the people " who will say anything." In the Greek collection there are several fine busts, and two exquisitely-painted fans; the oil-paintings are quite insignificant. In the gallery appropriated to the United States, we naturally look out with most interest for pictures whose subjects are American, and are disappointed at finding studies in Europe, generally common-place, and of the overdone order ; and genre pictures, singularly deficient in interest, more numerous than the characteristic works that we expect. There are, how- ever, some of the latter in front of which one lingers ; among them, Mr. Kensett's " White Mountains," Mr. du Bois' " View on the Hudson," Mr. Gifford's " New-England Cedars," Mr. Dehaa's " Niagara Rapids," and Mr. Whittredge's "River Plate."
If any one could ever have time to examine them thoroughly, the engraved cameos, with inscriptions in Arabic, exhibited by the Bey of Tunis, would be worth careful inspection, and every one ought to make time to look at the Shah's mosaic glove-boxes and snuff-boxes ; they are marvels of minute workmanship, and delightfully harmonious colouring.
When the galleries of the Beaux Arts are exhausted (and oneself with them), only a step over the threshold of the vast palace has been taken ; the visitor has been introduced, like Andersen's duckling, " to the wide, wide world," but by the
sthetic end, and has an immense deal to go through before he can form an adequate idea of its dimensions. The individual who has " done " the Rue des Nations, and taken in the plan of the Exhibition becomes so familiar with " every variety of foreigners," that he becomes incapable of surprise after the first few hours, and on his second day of it would not be disconcerted by meet- ing Mr. Peggotty's " sharks and porkypines " themselves. It is much better not to consult the catalogues, if one is only a ficineur ; they take the edge off one's pleasure by their cold accuracy when they are accurate, and they irritate when they are not. It may be remarked also that we could dispense with the cards attached to the many beautiful objects that are sold, with the names of the fortunate purchasers upon them. It is not generally interesting that Lady G— or the Countess of II— has purchased such and such a vase or screen, and the name-card injures the appearance, and like Lindley Murray's example, " obscures the sense" of the object. The pla- carding proce-s is especially objectionable in the English porcelain departments, where the bits of pasteboard spoil the individual designs and materially interfere with the effect of the whole display. If this vulgar device were resorted to in the first instance to encourager les autres purchasers, it might surely now be abandoned, when Mr. Doulton and Mr. Gillow have nothing left to sell, and Chu Pao has not a bit of ceramic ware to his heathen name. The Chinese furniture is wonderfully decorated, and a screen in silver is a rarely beautiful object ; but perhaps the bronze busts, all of historical personages of that mysterious country which Arch- deacon Gray has made real to us, calling it out of the world of phantoms for the first time, are the most seriously interesting objects in the collection. The enormous cost of the porcelain and the eThisonm:s enamels makes it almost heresy to deny their beauty, but one ventures to be at least a schismatic on many points of this kind, amid the conflicting artistic claims of the monster Exhibition. There is nothing in the Japanese collection more beauti- ful in its way than the lacquered screen, with the cock and hen feed- ing, which is on view at the Bethnal Green Museum ; but there are hundreds of objects as beautiful as that one, and the variety and grace of them are as striking as their ingenuity and exquisite finish. The deep blue vases put all the other porcelain out of countenance, and the tables inlaid with jewelled flowers are un- surpassably beautiful. One does not care for the Japanese imita- tions of Western arts and industries, beyond observing that they are perfect, and that the Land of the Rising Sun contrives to get all the best of foreign civilisation, without losing any of the good and beautiful of its own. The fitineur among the raw materials feels as much embarrassed as Mr. Toots himself ; he knows that all is very majestic, highly educa- tional, and of the deepest importance ; he bows to such testi- mony to the wealth of all nations, and the enterprise of their commercial classes ; but he gets it over with as little delay as possible. Passing on with a confused vision of samples, and especially of substances and fluids, in bottles enough to furnish forth all the museums to which he has ever been taken in his childhood by relatives of imperfect sympathies, ho
follows the multitude who want to see the diamonds, the dresses, the wonderful show of virile, the glass, the furniture, the marvellous machinery, the endless inventions, refinements, decorations of life, which fill the huge building, and overflow into the annexes. The splendour and variety of the jewels, the grand effect of the vast quantity in which they are displayed- Sindbad's valley might have been turned upside down and emptied out upon the Champ de Mars—and the elegant workmanship of the combinations in which they are set, render them very inter-
esting; but the Dress Department is wearisome. Not the magni- ficent shawls, they have art to recommend them ; not the lace, it
has a poetry of its own ; but the gowns, and the things called " confections," which are always bewildering to the male mind, and generally detrimental to the female form. An endless suc- cession of elaborate garments,—without the meaning which clothes have when they are worn,—and concerning whose price rumours are in circulation which, it is to be hoped, are the wildest fictions, is a spectacle from which one escapes as quickly as may be, not without observing how very like children posted on the wrong side of a pastry-cook's window women surveying unattainable finery can look. A great deal has been said about the beauty of the glass exhibited by English and Austrian exposants, and it is all well deserved. Nothing can exceed the grace of the forms, the lustre, the elegance of the objects, or the taste and dexterity of their arrangement. The show leaves an impression of dazzling colour and brightness upon one's mind as pleasurable as that produced by flowers.
After the more or less conscientious inspection of the in- terior has been performed, a tour of the structures in the " pare " will be found restful in comparison. Out in the open we may contemplate the poetry of lock-making, and the adaptation of tiles to an astonishing variety of purposes ; and we may follow in our fancy the ideal emigrant, as he transports to foreign climes an Alsatian house in brightly polished wood, with an external staircase, a painted and very pretty facade, and a stout balcony, with a real creeper actually twining itself about it. We may try a few hundreds of garden seats in succession, and decide in favour of one with a cunningly-contrived back of fern-leaves ; we may admire the porcelaine de Nancy, the black pottery with natural flowers, the huge Chinese monsters glistening and grinning in the sunshine ; the grown-up perambulators, fitted up in pale grey and pink, wherein ladies—and even gentlemen—make the tour of the " pare " and the palaces, gravely drawn by smart young men in neat uniform ; we may walk from end to end of an ambulance train and a field hospital, and while admiring all the ingenuity and forethought these merciful things display, try vainly to escape from the image of them when death and agony, confusion, and the terrible haste of swift emergency are within their trim precincts. We may ascend the steps of the little building devoted to " Photoglyptie," and see some wonderful reproductions of enamels, jewels, ironwork, and other antiquities, chiefly con- nected with the history of Old France ; and passing the stiff and ugly bronze fountain that disfigures the " pare," rest awhile in a lovely little summer-house, the windows of beautifully-engraved glass, the corners covered in with chintz of a charming de- sign—just the arbour for Aladdin's garden—and contemplate a little plot of tobacco, cunningly planted round a kiosk which seems to contain samples of all the cigars in creation. At a little distance there is a very imposing and elegant structure, in polished wood, of the Swiss chalet order, and over the entrance we read the word " Forets." Under its roof and on its walls are specimens of the numberless uses to Which wood is turned in husbandry and every kind of industry. In a quiet nook near we find a stagey bit of rusticity, imitating an English labourer's cottage, much idealised in every respect except its size—it is quite as little as life—and bordered by a garden consisting of a strip of sod, half-a-yard of clay, and two moribund rose-bushes. A deli- cious touch of realism is given by a four-post bed in the second room, covered with a patch-work quilt, an article which, being wholly unknown in France, fills the observers with sentiments of mingled wonder and aversion.
Well placed, conspicuous, and easy of access is the very pretty cottage ornere, which contains the exhibits of the Societe Protec- trice des Animaux, whose gaily-fluttering flag we salute with pleasure and respect. Admirably arranged, and appealing by every device of good-taste and explanation to the perception ; as well as to the pity of all comers, the " exhibits " here are deeply interesting, and they bring a little consolation to those who suffer from the unbearable knowledge of the sufferings of the animal world. Here are the Babonneau bits, curbs, and bridles, "pour adoucir le sort des chevaux ;" merciful methods of shoeing ; the Bruneau mask, " pour rabatage du befall," which saves the creatures terror as well as needless pain ; numerous instruments for tooth- drawing, and for the deliverance of the smaller animals ; books which explain the nature and the sufferings of the dumb creatures, —the " Plainte des Chiens," addressed to Sir Richard Wallace ; treatises against the horrors of vivisection, beautifully illustrated stories of animal life, explanations of the value of birds to agri- culturists, specimens of those species of insects which are the farmers' friends ; innumerable clever and humane inventions, all lucidly explained to the least-educated comprehension. On a window-sill stands a row of natty and convenient-sized travelling- bags. What do they there ? They are a boon to travellers who can neither bear to be parted from their pets, nor to subject them to the misery of the dog-van. Who does not know and sympathise with such people ? who has not seen the timid lady, a transparently extra shawl with a suspicious bulge in it on her arm, who enters a railway-carriage with a depre- cating smile, effaces herself as much as possible in a corner, looks furtively at each of her travelling companions in turn, as though trying how his or her temper will " bear," is effusively ready with her ticket, and in an agony of impatience for the train to be off ? Who has not watched the heaves of the contraband darling under that shawl, and shared the anxiety of its owner lest it should bark just as the guard comes to see that all's right? Who does not know that the lady who belongs to that hidden and precious tyrant would let any male traveller smoke a cigar at one side of his mouth and a pipe at the other, and keep both the windows down, from Paddington to Perth, if only he would connive at her smiling deception ? The travelling-bags mean peace of mind to this typical lady, and a good time to four-footed friends en voyage, for they are merely charmingly contrived and perfectly-ventilated cages, with removable leather cases, which fall away from them at pleasure, when the captives are quite comfortable. They are ordinary bags, to all ap- pearance ; it would be no good to pinch them in hopes of a betray- ing squeak, the leather and the wires are solid ; they are of an orthodox size ; nothing but too manifest care in the carrying of them can let the cat (or dog) out of the bag, while the perils of the platform have yet to be incurred. Nothing that we saw in Paris gave us more unalloyed pleasure than this invention, and we are happy to inform all whom it may concern that the inscrat- table bags are to be had at Drevet's, 166 Boulevard Sevastopol.