|Home -> Other California History Books -> A Brief Guide to the Palace of Fine Arts - Panama-Pacific International Expostion - Post Exposition Period - Chapter 3|
The Individual Rooms
A large number of galleries has been allotted to the work of certain individual artists. The list is as follows:
William M. Chase: Room No. 79
The works of this American master are gathered in Room No. 79. Associated with Duveneck as one of the great influences of modern American art, Chase is even better known as a painter than as a teacher, although his activity in the latter field has been great and far-reaching. He, like Duveneck, studied at Munich in the great days of Piloty, Wagner and Diez, but Chase appears to have been less rigidly formed by the Munich manner than Duveneck, and learned much from such French sources as Carolus-Duran. He has taken a leading part in most of the artistic movements of the last thirty years, with a verve and a continual response to all new aspirations which have kept him a vital force. Portraits, landscapes, genre subjects and still life have occupied his versatile powers. Primarily a painter, in the sense that technical proficiency is his dominant characteristic, Chase can paint a dish of fish with as much distinction as Huysmans, that master of prose style, could write them. Some of his portraits are notable achievements of insight and feeling, especially the well-known "Lady with the White Shawl."
William M. Chase was born in Franklin, Indiana, in 1849, and his early studies were conducted under J O. Eaton in New York. All the great permanent collections in this country contain examples of his work.
Childe Hassam: Room No. 78
Room No. 78 is given over to the oil paintings of this foremost of American Impressionists, while Room No. 106 is devoted to his water colors, and Room No. 32 to his etchings.
One of the first of the painters of this country to fall under the influence of the revolutionary methods of Claude Monet, Hassam is also one of the very few who maintained not only the spirit but the letter, the technical methods, of the pathbreaking Frenchman. Charles H. Caffin, in speaking of Hassam's method of painting in separate points or dabs of color which simulate the vibrancy of sunlight, says that "his earlier efforts are marked by the crudity that is inseparable from experimentation; but of late years he has mastered the difficulties of the process, and his pictures now present a unity of effect, a vibrancy of color and a delicate 'espirit' both of style and of feeling that render them almost unique in American art."
John S. Sargent: Room No. 75
The work of a man beyond all question the most celebrated and conspicuous portrait painter of today, but whose art extends far beyond the domains of its most popular phase, is shown in Room No. 75.
Of American parentage and lineage, John S. Sargent is, however, in most respects a typical cosmopolitan. No artist has been more discussed or more widely known, and apart from strictly artistic considerations and despite his own natural reticence and seclusiveness, his work has a habit of being much in the limelight. In this room, for instance, among the small yet very representative group of paintings, are two which have special notes of public interest. One is the famous Madam Gautreau and the other is the portrait of Henry James. The first canvas proved a veritable storm center when produced not long after Sargent left the studio of Carolus-Duran in Paris, where he served his apprenticeship. Violently denounced and quite as enthusiastically praised, but refused by the Salon, this picture might be termed the turning point of Sargent's career.
He never parted with the picture and it comes, together with most of the others in this room, from his own studio. The Henry James portrait is the one which the militant suffragists slashed in London a year or so ago.
Charles H. Woodbury: Room No. 72
In this gallery is displayed the work of a man who won double honors in the Panama-Pacific Exposition, the Medal of Honor for water-color paintings and a Gold Medal for oil paintings having been bestowed upon him.
Practically all the oil paintings shown in this room are new, having been secured by Mr. Trask when he went east to collect pictures for this present exhibition.
Charles Herbert Woodbury was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1864. He began his studies in Boston, afterwards going to Paris where he was a student of the Julien Academy under Boulanger and Lefebvre. The honors awarded him in San Francisco came as the climax to a long succession of awards since 1895.
Woodbury's special attraction is for the sea. Like Swinburne, one thought seems dominant in his mind: "I will go down to the great Sweet Mothermother and lover of men, the sea!" It is not old ocean in its sombre mood, or in tempest and desolation, which appeals to Woodbury. It is a blithe and lyric spirit in which he approaches his great subject. Bathing girls and fish dispute the first place in his affections; on Wall D, for example, hang five panels which really form one decorative composition. Through swirling, heaving billows, crested with filmy spume the fish are playing; darting, leaping, diving, instinct with energy, and hilarious with the sheer joy of their living. On Wall C appear the bathing girls, a very dexterous use is made of the color notes of their costumes, as the graceful creatures swim, or sun themselves upon the rocks at the edge of the water. A very agreeable place to visit, this bright and briny room!
Alson Skinner Clark: Room No. 73
Because of the appropriateness of the subject matter of his work, as shown in this room, dealing exclusively with aspects of the Panama Canal, the honor of a special gallery was allotted to Alson Skinner Clark.
Born in Chicago in 1876, he studied under Chase in New York, and Simon, Cottet, Whistler and others in Paris. He has won honors at several exhibitions, and was awarded a bronze medal by the Panama-Pacific Exposition jury.
Walter Griffin: Room No. 45
The work of Walter Griffin, one of the winners of the Medal of Honor, is displayed in this gallery, where a large number of new paintings have been added to those exhibited during the Exposition. It is work of first-class importance. It is work which brings a rich, full-bodied sense of pleasure. The exceptionally luscious color quality, and the strong and powerful sense of design, combined with the inherent interest and beauty of the subject matter, constitute a highly individual and attractive ensemble. If there are painters whose work is akin to poetry, or to music, Walter Griffin is one whose color harmonies are orchestral, not lyric. The pictures are principally views of Venice, but are not simply reproductions of observation; they are composed with originality. Walter Griffin was born in Maine in 1861, studied in Boston, New York and Paris, and his present success is the culmination of a remarkable and dramatic story of artistic progress.
John McLure Hamilton: Room No. 49
Room 49 is devoted to the pastel drawings of John McLure Hamilton, a number of his oil paintings being placed in Room 49.
A member of the International Jury of Awards, and therefore, hors concours, John McLure Hamilton is one of the most distinguished of contemporary American artists. Born in Philadelphia in 1853, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Antwerp, and Paris. A recipient of many honors, and represented at all the great exhibitions of Europe and the United States, since 1878 he has lived in London. He has painted the portraits of many eminent people, among them being Gladstone. The pastels in Room 49 have been a special attraction of the exhibition, their verve and charm and swift, truthful drawing being most remarkable.
Jules Guerin: Room No. 43
In this room the work of Jules Guerin will soon be installed. His paintings call attentionn to the versatility of an artist who is already locally celebrated for his activities in connection with the color scheme of the Panama-Pacific Exposition. A great part of the credit for the color triumph of the Exposition belongs to Jules Guerin.
Born in St. Louis in 1866, Guerin, studied with Constant and Laurens in Paris. He has been the recipient of many honors at previous expositions, and he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Panama-Pacific. Practically all the pictures shown in this room are color harmonies drawn from the Orient or Italy.
The Herter Tapestries: Room No. 95
An exhibition of tapestries from the Herter looms has been placed in this gallery. The work of Albert Herter, founder and chief designer of these celebrated looms, is well known in San Francisco because of his decorations in the dining room of the St. Francis Hotel. He is prominent as a painter as well as a designer specializing in tapestries and textiles. A native of New York, born in 1871, he studied in that city under Harold Beckwith, and later in Paris under Laurens and Cormon.
John W. Alexander
At the time this book was compiled the group of paintings by John W. Alexander which was secured by Mr. Trask on his trip to the east in the interests of the present Exhibition had not been received in time to state where the work would be shown, but it was known that a separate gallery in the North Wing would be allotted to it.
Arthur B. Davies: Room No. 87
This gallery is unquestionably one of the most interesting and important features of the new exhibition; for in Arthur B. Davies we encounter one of the most potent influences and interesting personalities in modern American art. Moreover this collection, together with the large mural shown elsewhere (in Room No. 108) forms a most representative and complete showing of the work of this puzzling and powerful painter.
Arthur B. Davies was born in Utica, New York, in 1862. He studied in Utica, New York and Chicago. For many years he has made his home at Rockland Lake in New York, New York City being, however, the center of his work.
What makes Davies so puzzling is the mingling in him of the creative artist, one whose vision is essentially poetical, and of the painter technically and passionately interested in the process of his medium.
There are paintings in this room which apparently are frank parallels of the weirdest and wildest experiments of the cubists. There also are pictures which are the product of a rarely original spirit of beauty, done in a fashion comprehensible to the least initiated of observers. And in between these extremes are all sorts of frankly personal and daringly unconventional works.
Davies is a seeker; never contented with conventionalities, a bold experimenter, and through his wildest vagaries there is always apparent a profound sense of beauty. The sharp, biting, repellent angles and ripsaw lines of so much of the cubist eccentricities acquire a strange charm when manipulated by Arthur Davies.
Nevertheless the more one views these interesting works the more one is inclined to ask whether they show innate originality, or whether they are simply the products of an absorbent eclecticism. Moreover, these dreams and reveries which find such fantastic expression are of a second-rate and imitative kindthe effects upon a sensitive nature of the exotic imaginings of other minds, transmitted, one feels, at second hand, through books, music, and color and line. There is no trace of real originality in any of them.
Edward W. Redfield: Room No. 88
Edward W. Redfield was a member of the Exposition jury, and the honor of an individual room came as the culminating point of a highly successful career that is now in its prime. Redfield has lived for many years, since his return from Paris, near the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, and most of his work deals with varied aspects of this country in summer and in winter, though of late he has turned to New York City scenes, especially nocturnes.
Essentially an Impressionist whose work, while always conveying a strong, sometimes insistent note of reality, are nevertheless personal interpretations rather than pictorial reporting. Redfield is a proof also of how well American painting has mastered the lessons taught by France.
Born in 1868 in Delaware, Redfield's early training was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then under Bouguereau and Fleury in Paris. It would take a page or two of this guide to catalogue all the honors he has won and the permanent collections where his pictures hang.
A large number of the paintings that first were exhibited in this room have been soldmany of them to California patronsso that this room contains at present practically a new collection.
John Marin: Room No. 90
This gallery contains one of the most interesting items of the many notable new collections secured in the east by Mr. Trask, containing as it does probably the most complete and representative exhibitions so far put together of the revolutionary water colors of John Marin.
Marin is considered by many critics to be the most individual and original water-color artist of today. A young man, born in 1875, at Rutherford, New Jersey, be received his early training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Art Students' League of New York; later going to Paris, where he studied etching. Although skilled and interesting with plate and needle, it was in the water color medium that he attracted the attention of the art world. Instinctively an initiator, and not as the generality of modern artists are, merely imitators, Marin progressed from advanced position to advanced position in this branch of art. There is something in his work which recalls the spirit of the Orient, something of the abstract and lucid simplicity of Chinese and Japanese landscapes distinguish his powerful little pictures. He seeks the essentials of the scene which he views, and then deliberately arranges what he selects to suit his own individual sense of beauty. Like all experimenters he often fails to achieve the effects desired; but he never fails to be interesting and suggestive.
John H. Twachtman: Room No. 91
It may yet be recognized that in Twachtman modern, native American art has reached the highest point to which it has yet developed. Whistler and Sargent are cosmopolites. Twachtman lived year in and year out upon a farm in the hills of Connecticut, and with a soul in vibrant accord with the spirit of nature as it manifests itself amid New England fields and woods and hills, he created masterpieces of artistic beauty which stem from American soil.
It was not the facts, nor even the glorified garments, of nature which attracted this artist. He sought to interpret the finer forces of nature, the subtle soul of it, that inner life which the painters of olden times, the days of faith, felt as sacramental, and which most modern artists either ignore or fail to realize. It was particularly the austere yet splendid and crystalline synthesis of winter which Twachtman reacted to.
It is not the cold, the duskiness, the dread, the torpor of the brumal season which his pictures render; nor the brilliant sparkle and crisp, metallic surfaces which more materialistic painters delight to show us. The light which bathes with such tender, veiled radiance these winter harmonies (which some American Debussy should set to music) seems to emanate from within. Technically, Twachtman was a modern of the moderns, and he was a leader in that development of painting which seeks its motive in the abstract.
John H. Twachtman was born in Cincinnati in 1853. He began his art studies in the School of Design in that city, where for two years he studied under Frank Duveneck. Then followed some years of study in Munich. Returning to America, he lived a retired life devoted to an art which necessarily could never be widely popular. He died in 1902.
It is most gratifying to know that San Francisco art lovers have purchased several of Twachtman's pictures, which will thus remain to influence the art of the West.
George Bellows: Room No. 93
This gallery is a notable tribute to the success of one of the most forceful and promising personalities among the younger American artists. George Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1882. He studied under Robert Henri and Hayes-Miller in New York. For many years his original and highly dramatic pictures were almost entirely winter scenes; and until his story became known it was supposed that, like other artists, he simply had a natural liking for the rigorous aspects of the brumal season. There was another reason, however; and one which was highly characteristic of George Bellows, As many and many observers have noted, artists may be divided into two groups, namely, the initiators, and the imitators; the first a very small group, the second, a multitudinous mob. Bellows belongs in the first group. Determining early in his career not to commercialize his art, and to maintain at all hazards his own point of view, he made up his mind to earn his living in some other way than by painting, and simply to devote his spare time to his art. He had no talent for business, but he could play baseball; so summer after summer he hired out to minor leagues, and his tall lanky figure became familiar on the first base of many a baseball diamond. Saving as much as he could of his summer's salary, he devoted his winter time to painting. Hence the preponderance of winter scenes in his early work. It is the drama of real life, modern, up-to-date American life, which irresistibly attracts the art of George Bcllows. Among the pictures shown here is a portrait of Judge Olney which was ordered by the Harvard Club, but rejected when finished because of what was deemed an excess of realism on the part of the artist. There is no painter today in this country of whom more is expected than George Bellows.
James McNeil Whistler
Room No. 29 is given over to Whistler's prints. In Room No. 89 will be found three paintingsthe Mrs. Huth, the "Daughter of the Concierge," and the "Mrs. Cobden."
His is the greatest name contributed by the United States to the art of the world, and his influence has been of the most profound and positive kind. The pictures are worthy examples of the volatile yet solid master who passed on from that earlier period when he was strongly influenced by the realism of Gustave Courbet, through the exquisite nocturnes and the marvelous portraits, to the almost transcendental loveliness of the last series of color studies which belong to the Whistler who, passing from perfection achieved, experimented in regions where pictorial art seems to enter upon a mystical marriage with the secrets of music.
In Room No. 29 the etchings and lithographs open other vistas into the magical region where quintessential good taste and a psychic perceptiveness to the finer forces of beauty are mingled in the alembic of Whistler's art. Far indeed did he travel from the preoccupation with material reality which was the formula of Courbet. He found himself more and more intent upon suggesting the essential inner spirit which vivifies all outward manifestation. Almost as clairvoyantly as in the case of the pictures do the etchings relate the story of this magician of line and color, whose work is the greatest evocation of spiritual beauty which modern painting has known.
Room No. 31 is given over to the work of one of the very foremost of living artists in black and whiteJoseph Pennell. The wide range of his subject-matter is indicated by the titles of the various groups into which his lithographs and etchings are divided, namely, the Panama series, the New York series, Pittsburgh and Chicago series, San Francisco, Washington, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, Belgium, English, German, Creek, Italian, London in War Time, and others. He is a member of the jury, and hors concours.
Frank W. Benson: Room No. 28
The etchings of Frank W. Benson, shown in this room, reflect directly the outdoor life of this Boston artist, who stands in the forefront of the American artists of today. There are a number of his paintings shown in Room No. 88. Born in Salem, in 1862, and trained at the Boston Museum School, and later under Boulanger and Lefebvre in Paris, Frank Benson's career has been a long series of successes. A healthy, red-blooded interest in normal life, and in healthy normal people, is expressed in his sound and always interesting productions, whether of brush or of the etcher's needle.
Axel Gallen-Kallela: Room No. 17
In the chapter of the Edition de Luxe of the Exposition's catalogue, J. Nilsen Laurvik states that the art of Axel Gallen-Kallela "is like a window turned toward the outer world through which we are permitted to look upon the soul of the Finnish people. And after the first shock of surprise we soon discover that this art is neither Scandinavian nor Slav, nor yet a mixture of these, but something quite other, strange and unfamiliar in which a faint and tantalizing echo of a new and alien race persists. Though obviously of French origin in its technical derivation (as what art today is not?), in its deepest significance it appears related to the Magyars, or some such Eastern race whose racial virility has preserved intact the heritage of their forefathers."
This artist lives in Helsingfors, "once the proud capital of Finland, now the center of its deferred aspirations." The work of no other artist shown in these galleries so fully and thoroughly illustrates, in so characteristic a case, the full story of modern art tendency away from detailed realism to an abstract and synthetic search after essential reality. As Mr. Laurvik so justly states: "From the photographic realism of the 'Mother and Infant,' painted at the age of twenty-four, to the impressionistic naturalism of his African hunting series, finished four years ago, we have the completed cycle of his evolution."