|Home -> Paul Elder -> The Galleries of the Exposition -> The United States|
|The United States
Almost one-third of the entire Fine Arts Palace is occupied by the art of the United States, and considering the privileges it enjoys, we have no reason to offer any excuses. One thing should be said, a fact which must force itself immediately upon any careful observer - that we have been very hospitable to the foreign nations at the loss of our own physical comfort. The growing demand from some of the foreign nations for more space than originally applied for has crowded the American section in some instances into rather uncomfortable conditions. On the other hand we do not seem to have acquired such attractive ways of hanging our pictures as the Swedes, Hollanders, or Italians practice; probably for lack of funds. At any rate the American section looks very businesslike and very democratic, without all the frills and fancies of other nations, where every psychological advantage has been taken in order to make things palatable. We have even been criticized for our lack of spaciousness in hanging, but let us not grieve over this, since it does at least save steps in walking from one picture to the next.
Our historical section is largely a mausoleum of portraits which really have no other excuse for existence than historical interest, unless one excepts the always excellent portraits of Gilbert Stuart, who certainly stands out in all that dull company of his fellow-painters of his own time. He is about the only one who can claim professional standards of workmanship as well as lifelike characterization of his sitters. His group of pictures on wall A does his great talent full justice. The mellow richness of the portrait of General Dearborn stands out as a fine painting among the many hard and black historical documents in this gallery. The Captain Anthony portrait above is not less important. I think his technical superiority and breadth of manner must be doubly appreciated when one considers the absence of any artistic inspiration in this country in Stuart's time, although he had the advantage of several lengthy visits abroad, where he was received with approval by profession and public alike. Most other portraits in this gallery are lacking in any individual note and are hopelessly stiff and academic in colour. Not even the very apparent influence of the great English portrait masters of their time could save them from mediocrity. The only pictures worth excepting from this classification, outside of the Stuarts, are Charles Elliott's "Colonel McKenney" and S. B. Waugh's portrait of Thorwaldsen, the Danish sculptor.
In an adjoining gallery toward the north, our chronological investigations bring us into an atmosphere of story-telling pictures of the most pronounced Düsseldorf and Munich styles. This period has always been the source of delight to the populace, which has no concern in the technical qualities of a picture, a contention which led, more than anything else, to the healthy reaction we now enjoy as the modern school. The sentimental tone of most of these pictures and their self-explanatory illustrative motives no doubt make them easily the lazy man's delight, but I cannot help feeling that most of their themes could much more successfully be approached through literature than through the painter's art. Most of them explain themselves immediately, and those which do not are helped along by descriptive titles fastened to the frames, as the taste of that school demands. The great men of this school in Germany were primarily great painters. Men like Defregger, Knaus, Vautier, Grützner, Kaulbach, and others will always command high respect by their technical achievements, no matter how we may disagree with their choice of subjects. The really worthy ones we have produced in this field of genre painting are to be found in other galleries and are represented by men like Hovenden, Currier, and Johnson. The only real painting among the many figure pictures in this gallery is Peter Frederick Rothermel's "Martyrdom of St. Agnes." Very rich in colour and big in composition, it compels great respect.
We have now reached the middle of the last century, when the influence of the Barbizon school asserted itself and caused increasing interest in landscape painting, a field which up to that time had been mixed up with historical motives, as in a typical composite canvas by Cole (Thomas), who generally ranks as the most important of the Hudson River School of landscape painters. There is really not enough artistic moment to this American group to dignify it by the name of a school. For historical reasons, however, this classification is very convenient. Cole's four sketches for the "Voyage of Life" show strong imagination, giving the impression, however, that he was more interested in mythology than in the art of painting.
The first intimation of a really original step in American outdoor painting, as based on the discoveries of the school of 1825, the Barbizon school, one receives in this gallery in a number of small canvases by some of the men we have chosen to classify as the painters of the Great West. Into this group are put Thomas Moran, Thomas Hill, and Albert Bierstadt. They are so very closely identified with the West that they are of particular interest to us. Their artistic careers were as spectacular as their subjects. Stirred by the marvelous tales of the great scenic wonders of the West, they heroically threw themselves into a task that no artist could possibly master. They approached their gigantic subjects with correspondingly large canvases, without ever giving the essential element, of their huge motives, namely, a certain feeling of scale, of monumentality, as compared to the pigmy size of the human figure. Really great pictures of the Yellowstone, the Grand Cañon, and the lofty mountain-tops still remain to be painted. The daring and courage of these men has benefited our art very much in a technical sense. The study of panoramic distances and the necessity for closely observing out-of-doors new subjects which could not be studied in the work of other painters, led to a facility in the handling of paint which really constitutes the chief merit of these artists. In this gallery (59) two small outdoor sketches by Thomas Hill give a good suggestion of this Californian's great dexterity in handling paint. His career has been so closely identified with the Yosemite Valley, where he lived and died, that these two sketches will serve as a reminder of the very faithfully studied larger pictures he for many years produced. Peter Moran, a brother of Thomas, has a cattle picture in this gallery which needs the backing up of the reputation of the whole Moran family to be accepted.
Chronological order is not entirely maintained in gallery 58, where two large Bierstadt pictures are in control. Bierstadt, with all of his good painting, does not get any nearer the real spirit of the lofty mountaintops than all the others of this school. Big and earnest as his efforts were, they fall short of real achievement, not so much for his lack of outdoor colour as for the misunderstanding of what is possible in art and what is impossible. Another landscape in this gallery, belonging to the contemporary school, however, is Henry Joseph Breuer's "Santa Inez Mountains". It is a faithful study of a most difficult subject and very successful in its big feeling, in spite of the introduction of great detail. It is easily the best Breuer in the collection. The note of variety in this gallery is maintained in several portraits and genre pictures of unusual merit. On the right of the Breuer, Thomas Hicks' "Friendly Warning" atones for a multitude of mediocre genre pictures in the preceding gallery. Eastman Johnson's "Drummer Boy" shows good composition, and J. H. E. Partington's study of a man's head is as fine a piece of painting as was ever done in the eighties.
In a big central gallery we meet the more meritorious work of our painters dependent upon foreign influence. Portraits, genre pictures, landscapes, and marines tell the story of many individual men working out their salvation in more or less original fashion. I have spoken at some length about the pitfall of genre painting, but Thomas Hovenden's "Breaking Home Ties" redeems the entire school. Irrespective of the fact that it is a picture very popular with the large public by reason of its sentimental appeal, it is well painted, and it will always be considered a good painting. It is devoid of colour, in the sense of the modern painter, but its very fluent and simple technical character recommends it highly. Hovenden was a master of his trade. Anybody who doubts this from his large canvas can easily be convinced by studying the "Peonies" to the left of it on wall C. The large area of this wall is covered with six canvases by Thomas Eakins, showing a variety of subjects. His "Crucifixion" is very good as an academic study but of no other interest. In the "Concert Singer" he added an interesting subject to very admirable painting. His other canvases are all sincerely studied and well done, and they will always be sure of their place in the history of American painting. Opposite the "Crucifixion," Church's "Niagara" reminds one that the painting of water involves more than mere photographic facility. All that one can say about this serious effort is that if it had been painted under a different star than that which guided the painters of his time in outdoor studies, it would doubtless look more like water. Another canvas on the right, a marine by Richards, has the same feeling for drawing without showing any understanding of either texture or atmosphere. The old and the new overlap in this gallery by the inclusion of some of Remington's paintings and also of a few pieces of sculpture. Remington's paintings will never be classified as anything but very good illustrations, and in the company of easel pictures they look much out of place. Their interest is only of a passing kind. His sculpture is lacking in repose and looks wild and ill-mannered in the presence of the older things. Homer Martin's appeal, in two big landscapes on the same wall, may not be very immediate, but a serious contemplation of these big and noble landscapes will make them reassuringly sympathetic. Martin's pictures are not exhibition pictures. They suffer in an exhibition which is after all as much of a specimen show of conflicting varieties as a display of canned goods in the Food Palace. Martin, while never having enjoyed the popularity of an Inness, will always rank as high as any of our best interpreters of the Barbizon school.
We have to go over into this gallery in order to get the full meaning of that great company of men who had something which is so difficult to discover in many artists, namely, style. Inness and Wyant above everything have style, a quality which carried their otherwise not very original work above that of their fellow-painters. We shall never tire of such canvases as "The Coming Storm," "The Clouded Sun," and the limpid pastorals by Wyant. They maintain their position as classics. Winslow Homer occupies a position all by himself. An entire wall full of specimens by him shows the evolution of the man, his struggle with the problem of the choice of subjects, and his technical development, culminating in that one really great theme in the center, showing his studio in an afternoon fog. Homer's colour is always disappointing, even in his best, but his sense of design and a certain simple restriction to a few essentials make up his chief claim upon distinction. Dennis Bunker's "Lady with a Mirror" would scarcely be believed to belong to the older period of American art. One of the finest pictures ever produced by an American painter, it yields a most unusual degree of artistic pleasure. There is real distinction about this picture, not only in the graceful idealization of the lady, but also in the refined colour scheme. Currier's art is very much like Duveneck's, an observation which is made emphatic by the fact that each one's masterpiece is a whistling boy, of great simplicity. After a discussion of Duveneck's work, Currier's artistic antecedents will easily be established, so no more need be said of his work.
Across the hall more of our academic school of painters are grouped. There is George de Forest Brush, the painter of the "Boston Madonna", in some of his earlier illustrative canvases and a very fine pre-Raphaelite "Andromeda". Brush is so contradictory at times that this small group is quite insufficient to do him full justice. Horatio Walker clings persistently to his conviction of the supremacy of the older methods, without giving any indication of contact with modern art. His superiority depends largely upon the human-interest stories he tells with wonderful breadth and sympathetic understanding. Charles W. Hawthorne's canvases seem fumbled rather than painted. They are very hesitating in a technical way and are not sufficiently endowed with interest to grip one.
In another gallery in this neighborhood, Edwin Abbey's art is presented very comprehensively in a number of large and small illustrations - canvases of more than passing interest. While they are largely illustrations, their interest is made permanent by reason of the subjective note which all of them have. Abbey's intense imagination allowed him to carry a convincingness into his work which is largely responsible for the very high rank he attained. His art is not the art of an American in any sense. It is true he was born in Philadelphia, but a long and successful life spent in Europe has left on his work the imprint of an aristocracy foreign to our interest. In design, in colour, Abbey's work is always supremely interesting, and with the astonishing development of illustration in America, it seems incredible that we should not have been able to make him return to the land of his birth.
Galleries fifty-five and fifty-six are modern in aspect and their contents came into this part of the building for practical reasons. Wedged in between older periods, it is difficult to combine them with the rest of modern American art, largely represented in the north side of the Palace.
Here two interiors in distinctly different styles stand out among the multitude. Marion Powers and Elizabeth Nourse add considerably to the achievement of our women artists in these well-painted canvases. Miss Powers is very original in an older school, while Miss Nourse displays all the technical dexterities of the present day. Hitchcock's "Dutch Tulip Beds," with figural staffage, remind one of a most original American who after a long struggle established himself with these colourful designs. His recent death came entirely too soon.
This room is intensely animated by Potthast's six seashore sketches, which are composed and very sympathetic in their fine sunlight. Evelyn McCormick's "Monterey Custom House" is no less sunny, and conscientiously studied in detail.
Of particular interest are the pictures in this gallery, constituting an achievement which few other nations could rival. Devoted exclusively to the work of living American women artists, it contains convincing evidences of the good results which the emancipation of women in this country allowed them to accomplish in the field of art. The standard in this gallery is very high, and one must admit that Mr. Trask's daring innovation of putting all the women artists in one big gallery was justified. They do hold their own, and they do not need any male assistance to convince one of their big part in the honors of the exhibition. On two opposing walls, Mary Cassatt and Cecilia Beaux give full expression of their very vital work. Miss Beaux's work is compelling in its vigorous technique, fine colour, and daring composition. Her study in purple and yellow is bold and unusually successful. On other walls more portraits by Ellen Emmet Rand continue to hold our attention, particularly the little girl and the black cat. The portraits of our women painters are all far more original in composition and colour arrangement than those of the men. Mary Cassatt's reputation is so universally established as not to need any introduction. Her art is more French in the many tone gradations of atmosphere than that of her American colleagues who are more decorative. Among others Jean McLane, Mr. Johansen's wife, and Annie Lang excel in a certain breadth of style; while Mrs. Richardson charms by the sympathetic rendering of the pride and happiness of the young mother. The composition of this picture, while it is unusual, is successfully managed. The impression one gains from this large gallery is most satisfying in every way. The many portraits done by men seen in various galleries of the exhibition would scarcely make as good a showing in a group as the work of the women, and it was very wise not to attempt it.
An approach to the rest of the American section might be made through the one-man rooms, and since we are on the south side, and for other perfectly good reasons - not the least, that of importance - we might start with Whistler.
No gallery reflects so much the really serious artist, in his eternal struggle to express himself simply and exhaustively in line, form, and colour, as does this Whistler group. A feeling of dissatisfaction, expressed by many indications of experimentation and change, of searching for the right line, is clearly indicated in all of these paintings. He often gives you a chance to choose between a number of tantalizing forms and lines. It is very apparent that he set himself a high, almost an unattainable standard, toward which he worked with varying success. His emotions must have been constantly swinging between the greatest heights of joy and the abyss of despair.
The numerous Whistlers in this gallery show him in many periods and many styles. On wall D, at the lower right, a portrait of an auburn girl, one of his many fascinating models, shows Whistler more as a pure painter than any of the other canvases. This doubtless belongs to the period when he was under Courbet's influence. The richness of pure paint, dexterously applied, is scarcely found in the many portraits on the same wall, in which a certain thinness of paint is too much in evidence, no matter how distinguished and suggestive these canvases are. His sense of composition, of the placing of areas of different tones and colour, is markedly evident in all of his work, no matter how experimental and casual it may be. The "Falling Rocket" is the most wonderful example of this quality of design. If it is true that it hung for weeks upside down in the present owner's house, then most decidedly this fact speaks well for its excellent quality of design, irrespective of its pictorial meaning. The many small sparks descending rhythmically from an impenetrable sky are carefully considered in their relative position and size so as to insure that feeling of pattern which he almost instinctively gave to everything he did. This picture of the "Falling Rocket" is of particular interest as the picture which made John Ruskin, the Slade Professor of Art at Oxford, accuse Whistler of flinging a pot of paint at the face of the public and having the impudence of a coxcomb to ask two hundred guineas for it. Surely this carefully and cleanly painted picture shows Whistler as hardly a flinger of paint, and we can only rejoice over the kind fate which saved Mr. Ruskin from extending his career into the present age of paint flingers, who, had they lived in his day, would have proved fatal to the learned professor. The farthing damages which Whistler received in a mock trial were scarcely as valuable as the universal admiration this picture receives.
There never was a painter who manipulated paint with more regard for the medium than did Whistler. His portrait of Mrs. Milicent Cobden has a noble beauty of restraint. It is very sensitively painted, and tender almost to the point of thinness. It fascinates in its subtle appeal, which the observer is induced to supplement by his own emotion. This quality of subtlety is the one attribute which makes his work so beloved by the artist and so difficult of understanding for the layman, who, try as he may, is not equipped with sufficient technical insight to do Whistler's paintings full justice. Uneven as his work is, as every painter admits, it will always be more and more cherished by the profession and remain more or less of a mystery to the puzzled public, who would like to follow this painter into the realm of his interests.
The six figural compositions on the opposite wall show Whistler as concerned with design pure and simple, rather than meaning or psychological expression. They are beautiful for the fragrant looseness of their spacing of delightful, tender areas of neutralized colour, emphasized here and there by a stronger note of vermilion. Things like these express his attitude far more than any other thing he ever did. They show his understanding of the fundamentals of painting - a small part in the whole unity of beauty of which the world consists. His work as a painter is, after all, negligible in comparison with the principles he preached by his many artistic activities. His historical position, as time goes on and as his associates die, becomes more and more mystical, and even at this moment his personality has assumed an almost mythological character.
It is not a far cry to Twachtman, who presents a peculiar combination of Whistlerian tonality with the methods of the modern impressionist. His work is relatively high in key, and devoid of any colour resembling black. The covered skies of early morning, before the breaking through of the sun, are his chief motives. Snow plays also an important part in his work, which is most suggestive in the tender beauty of the few values and colours it is composed of. There is absolutely nothing of the sensational about his work. To most people of not sufficient interest on first acquaintance, on better familiarity they yield to the serious student and sympathetic lover of nature unlimited pleasure. His poetry is of the true sort, and in finished work like "October", "View on the Brette", "Bridge in Spring", and "Greenwich Hills", he rises to a very high level.
Manship's small statuettes are very effective features of this gallery. Their linear decorative architectural quality has put Manship into the front rank of our younger men, and he will have no trouble to maintain his place.
In an adjoining gallery, Edmund Tarbell is much more striking, in a number of canvases containing certain qualities, which easily account for the great popularity he justly enjoys as one of the best of our American painters. To the student of pictures who does not care whether they are well painted or not, they are intensely interesting subjects, reflecting the happy domestic atmosphere of the painter's home, which has furnished him for years inexhaustible material for many delightful interpretations of similar subjects. This ability to produce so many things of equal excellence in a relatively small circle, in one way proves his greatness. In the last analysis, he has practically everything in his work one looks for in a work of art. In addition to having an easily understood idea, his pictures are well composed, without showing the consciousness of it, as does Whistler. Fine in colour and handling, beside the idealization of everything he includes in his work he achieves a certain something which we recognize as style. He may be a realist in every sense, but he shows how to deal arbitrarily with his figures in such a way as to endow them with admirable distinction, without losing the expression of reality. His recent outdoor work has not the unity of expression of his indoor subjects. It is difficult, and not really necessary, to single out any work in a one-man representation of unusual uniformity of excellence. Every one of his pictures has the earmarks of having been carefully studied.
Bela Pratt's statue of Nathan Hale is much less academic than the other sculptures arranged in this gallery. Compared with the high standard of American small plastic art his works are somewhat dry, though always conscientiously done.
As a realistic painter of the outdoors, E. W. Redfield holds an enviable position in the field of American art. He is the painter par excellence, without making any pretension at being anything else. The joy of putting paint on canvas to suggest a relatively small number of things which make up the great outdoor country, like skies, distance, land foregrounds, is his chosen task. He is the most direct painter we have. With a heavily loaded brush, without any regard for anything but immediate effect, he expresses his landscapes candidly and convincingly. He is plain-spoken, truthful, free from any trickery - as wholesome as his subjects. His a la prima methods embody, to the professional man, the highest principle of technical perfection, without falling into a certain physical coarseness so much in evidence in most of our modern work. His sense of design is keen, without being too apparent, and the impression one gains from his works is that they are honest transcriptions of nature by a strong, virile personality. Winter subjects predominate in his pictures, and he expresses them probably more convincingly than others - though his Autumn is marvelous in its richness of colour, and in the two night effects of New York he shows his acute power of observation in two totally different subjects. His art is altogether most refreshing and free from all artificialities.
Paradoxical as it may seem, Duveneck's art is carried by the same painter-qualities found in Redfield. From his dark colour it is self-evident that he belongs to an older German school - a school which has been superseded in the affection of Americans by French methods. We know relatively little, entirely too little, about the generous methods of the best men of the Munich school, of which Duveneck is so conspicuous a member. His importance in the history of art can hardly be set too high, for the soundness of his methods alone. Only the greatest ever attain the capacity for direct painting which characterizes this astonishing collection of his pictures. Juiciness is the only word which will adequately express the result of his brush. The pictures here are most interesting for the reason that they were all done while he was not yet twenty-five and while he lived in an atmosphere of workers of whom Leibl was probably the most famous. There are few paintings - and then only the greatest - which give one the same satisfaction at a big distance as well as at close range as Duveneck's do. Men of his caliber appear only at great intervals. This Duveneck collection, if brought together permanently, as we are fortunate enough to see it temporarily here in San Francisco, would become the Mecca of all painters who want to refresh their memory as to what constitutes real painting. Unfortunately these canvases are owned by different people, and to think that they will all have to be scattered again among individual owners is a shocking thought. The uniformity of excellence in the Duveneck room forbids any attempt at picking out individual works; however, Duveneck's equally great accomplishments on another wall, in the field of etching, are apt to be easily overlooked. The sarcophagus of his wife, done by his versatile hand, increases the admiration that we, must hold for this liberal genius. Duveneck's art, no matter how much it is rooted in foreign soil, will forever make its influence felt for the best of American art.
Balancing Duveneck's gallery on the south, William M. Chase continues the Munich traditions, in the successful treatment of a variety of subjects for which he has always been famous. Closely associated with Duveneck, and showing all the rich qualities of the Munich men, Chase's picturesque personality finds a reflection in his subjects, which all seem to have been chosen to give him an opportunity to display a certain bravado of handling which characterizes all of his work. The Chase collection gives a good idea of the career of this most useful of all American painters, who in an astonishingly active life has been teacher, friend, and counsellor to hundreds of the younger people in the field of art. His life has been most useful - always in the interest of the very best, with conspicuous success in aiding the uplift of American art. His still-lifes have for years been famous for their fidelity of interpretation of a variety of contrasting things, like fishes, copper bowls, and onions. No less interesting have been his portraits of the great mass of people who have sat for him. He has never been afraid of painting anything, and whatever it may be, he has treated it with great breadth, fine pictorial feeling, and charm of colour. His "Woman with the White Shawl" has become a classic during his lifetime, and some of his still-lifes are sufficient to serve as a permanent solid foundation for his reputation. Chase's art, while decidedly academic, excels in esprit, in a certain elegant yet energetic expression which after all is nothing but the painter's own personality reflected in his work. The delightful set of small landscapes of Italian and American subjects adds much interest in this collection, which is very well hung against an effective blue background.
Childe Hassam's art at first is very disconcerting, particularly under a strong midday light. One has at first the feeling that a religious adherence to a certain impressionistic technique is of more importance to him than anything else. Entering his gallery from the Chase collection, one is almost overcome with the contrast of light and dark presented by these two masters. The contrast of the classic academic atmosphere of Chase's room shows Hassam pronouncedly as the most radical impressionist we have. His interest is light, and always more light, vibration at any cost; which contrasted with Chase's art, or for that matter anybody's else, Duveneck's, or, for instance, even Whistler's, becomes almost irritating in its lack of simple surfaces. He does not eliminate in the sense of the older men, who care more for a unity of expression than for an approximation to the actual outdoors. There is sunlight in his work, without a doubt, but it is not always spread over agreeable subjects. The wooden quality of his figures and the frugal aspects of his fruit, to us Californians are particularly painful. Of all his oils in this gallery the two on either side of the "Aphrodite" on the east wall are by far the best. In them he succeeds in carrying his point agreeably and convincingly. They are both lovely in colour, and they give you the feeling of having been well studied. The two groups of watercolours and gouaches on the side walls are, with the exception of a wash blue sea, very discreet in quality of paint and most intimate in feeling, and to my mind do Hassam more credit than the many other canvases, which seem to be painted for expounding a technical principle rather than to reveal his innermost feelings.
Melchers' style is much more sympathetic than Hassam's without being less personal. Of modern painters I confess to a particularly great fondness for Melchers' art. While standing firmly on classic tradition, it is modern in every sense. One can say everything of good and find little fault with any of these most conscientiously painted canvases which make up his contribution to the exhibition. Beginning with his "Fencing Master", one of his older works, he shows in a great number of similar subjects his loyalty to Egmond aan den Hoef, a little Dutch village where he has worked for years. The quality of pattern and colour in his work is very pronounced, and this, combined with a fine psychology, makes his work always interesting. He is no radical; the best as he sees it in any school he has made subservient to his purpose without any loss of individuality. His pictures yield much pleasure to public as well as to artist, even in sentimental stories like the "Sailor and His Sweetheart", or the "Skaters". His finest note he strikes undoubtedly in the many sympathetic glorifications of motherhood in his fine modern Madonnas. These works will be the sure foundation of his fame. No matter whether he calls them "Madonna of the Fields", "Maternity", or simply "Mother and Child", he presents this greatest of all subjects as few have ever done. His art is wholesome and sane, but endowed with a subtle quality of insight into his subjects that will always assure him a very high place in the history of art. For years he has been one of the reliable painters of the world, and to meet with his work at intervals is always a source of great satisfaction.
A small adjoining gallery is given entirely over to a few Sargents which are quite sufficient to maintain this great stylist, whom many believe the towering giant of the profession. One thing is evident from this work - that for surety of touch and technical directness he stands practically alone, though he does not possess the deliberate ease in which Duveneck rejoices. Sargent's "John Hay" and "Henry James" are absolutely exhaustive as character studies. His "Nubian Girl", however, is woody, no matter how interesting in posture. In nothing does he disclose his marvelous precision of technique so completely as in some of the outdoor studies, like the "Syrian Goats" and the "Spanish Stable". There is nothing like them in the exhibition anywhere, and these two things alone make up for what is really not a comprehensive display of one of the greatest of modern living painters. However, a man whose standard of excellence is relatively very even does not need a large representation.
In two other small galleries of similar size three California painters have their inning. While all these are of different caliber, they have something in common which ties them closely together. It seems peculiar that a country famed for its sunshine should produce men like Keith, Mathews,, and McComas, who surely do reflect a rather somber atmosphere, in a type of work which must be called tonal and arbitrary rather than naturalistic.
Keith's collection, with the mass of modern landscape all around, and even compared with other followers of the Barbizon school, seems somewhat somber, as compared with the vital buoyancy of Redfield and others of Redfield's type. His range of idealistic landscape subjects is intimate, but not characterized by the stirring suggestion of outdoors which Inness, Wyant, and others of his school possess. Keith's marvelous dexterity of brushwork really constitutes his chief claim upon fame, and some of his best things are gems in easy-flowing methods of painting which the best men of the Barbizon school seldom approached. Keith must not be looked upon as a painter of nature nor even an interpreter of nature. He used landscapes simply to express an ever-changing variety of personal emotion. His attitude toward nature in his later work was of the most distant kind, although his early career was that of the most painstaking searcher for physical truthfulness.
Mathews and McComas.
Mathews and McComas do not exactly make good company. While closely related in the decorative quality of their work, they are not alike in any other way. Mathews' art is emotional. It tells something beyond mere colour, form, and composition, while McComas' art is mostly technical, in the clever manipulation of a very difficult medium. His sense of construction and feeling for effect is very acute. He is becoming so expert, however, in the handling of watercolour that one sometimes wishes to see a little more of that accidental charm of surface that his older work possesses.
Having reached far into the heart of the modern American section by way of the one-man galleries, a chronological pursuit of our study is no more necessary nor possible. Almost all of the pictures in the modern American section have been produced since 1904, the year of the last international exhibition, at St. Louis, and they reflect in a very surprising way the tremendous advancement of native art to a point where comparison with the art of the older nations need not be feared. In all the fields of painting, including all subjects, portraits and figures generally, landscapes, marines, and still-life, we can turn proudly to a great number of painters who interpret candidly and vigorously the world in which we live.
The gallery nearest to the one just visited gives a good idea of the mastery of a variety of subjects in the art of painting, and to continue our investigations from this point is just as logical as from any other part of the modern American section. In this gallery, easily located by two large parvenu portraits of dubious merit, are some others which are really vital expressions of modern art. Beginning on wall A, going to the right, Luis Mora's "Fortune Teller" and Meakin's landscapes should be singled out. On the west wall Frederic Clay Bartlett's painting of an interior and Norwood McGilvary's nocturne charm in different ways, while on the adjoining wall Ritschel's marine and Rosen's winter scenes display excellent quality of design, with fine outdoor feeling. Miss Fortune's Mission interior deserves its distinction of having been bought by William M. Chase. Robert Nisbet contributes a rare green tree design, and Hayley Lever's harbor pictures are all performances of superior merit,
This gallery is given over entirely to portraits, most of which are so devoid of any real merit that it is relatively very easy to single out the good ones. Flagg's portrait of the sculptor Bartlett, a portrait by Robert David Gauley over the door, the lady with the fur on the second line on wall B, with her neighbor, Lazar Raditz, by himself, are better than the many others, which are all well done but do not interest one enough, for one reason or another. The one picture in this gallery that comes very near being of supreme beauty is the young lady reclining on a chaise lounge, the work of E. K. Wetherill. Very few pictures in this gallery come up to the placid beauty of this distinguished canvas, which is somewhat handicapped in its aesthetic appeal by some unnecessarily tawdry bits of furniture and bric-à-brac used in its make-up.
"Phyllis" here represents John W. Alexander, that most capable artist, lost to the world recently at the height of a very useful career. John W. Beatty's and Francis Murphy' landscapes, on either side, are both beautiful, in the Barbizon spirit. Howard Russell Butler's "Spirits of the Twilight" is very luminous, and Lawton Parker's "Paresse" in its sensual note runs "Stella" a close second in a colour scheme and design of such beauty that one cannot help getting a great deal of aesthetic satisfaction from it, aside from its too apparent sensational character.
This large central gallery averages unusually high in the large number of excellent things it contains. Four big, well studied marines by William Ritschel make one feel proud of the contribution they make to the field of American marine painting. It is very hard to say which one of our four well-represented marine painters, Carlsen, Waugh, Dougherty, and Ritschel, is most captivating. However, a canvas like Ritschel's "In the Shadow of the Cliffs" will always hold its own among the best. Ritschel's work is easily recognized by this robust, healthy tone; it reveals sound values and intimate study. One of Johansen's small landscapes, and another one by H. M. Camp, on the second line of this wall, grow in one's estimation on longer acquaintance. They are in fine style and very big for their size, largely by reason of their monumental skies. Howard Cushing's group in the center is full of skillfully presented detail, without losing in breadth in the many different subjects he paints. His portrait of a lady, in the center, is distinguished in every way, not least so in expression.
Johansen's main group of pictures, all on one wall, stand for breadth and intimate study alike. The Venetian square canvas in the middle is one of the jewels of this exhibition. There is no end of distinctive canvases in this gallery, as one must conclude on going over to the two big Daniel Garbers, which are more of the typical American type than his others in the group. The one on the right is a perfect unit of colour, atmosphere, and pattern. In between, Spencer's backyard pictures reveal a sympathetic younger painter who, for reason of his choice of proletarian subjects, does not get the attention he more than deserves. Most original in technique and charming in tone, they interest wherever one meets them in the exhibition.
On the second line a delightful Speicher landscape should not be overlooked. On wall D an important winter landscape by Schofield reminds one forcibly of the many excellent painters of ice and snow we have in this country. They are really the backbone of our American outdoor artists, and all of them, with the exception of Gardner Symons, can be found in the exhibition. To this group, beside Redfield and Schofield, before mentioned, belong Charles Morris Young, John F. Carlson, Charles Rosen, and others. Leon Kroll's "River Industries" and "Weehawken Terminal," on the second line, are so typically American in subject that they would have been unacceptable to the public here twenty years ago.
This large room continues to hold the attention of the visitor by more excellent specimens of present-day art. Dougherty's marines as well as Waugh's very precise, somewhat metallic seascapes have been referred to before. Dougherty's group of four pictures is augmented by two Spanish canvases by Lewis Cohen, of which the one to the right is far more convincing than the other. They are somewhat artificial in colour. Emil Carlsen's only contribution, a fine open sea, has a quality all its own. The feeling of pattern in sky and water surface, combined with great delicacy and suggestion of absolute truthfulness, gives it a quality quite apart from the energetic art of Waugh, Ritschel, and Dougherty. John F. Carlson always has style to his work, a certain unaffected, noble simplicity, well brought out in three sympathetic pictures grouped near the Emil Carlsen marine. Adding to the conspicuousness of that wall, Charles H. Davis and Leonard Ochtman hold their own in their important setting. The only two figure pictures in this neighborhood are particularly lovely in colour and design, and R. P. R. Neilson deserves much praise for having struck a unique note conspicuous among the many commonplace portraits of the present day. Wendt's "Land of Heart's Desire" is unusually happy, and it supports its title admirably. Very decorative in feeling, it is compelling in its appeal to the public. Maynard Dixon, another Californian, shows an original small canvas, "The Oregon Trail," endowed with big feeling.
Two cases in this gallery encourage investigation of American accomplishments in the field of animal sculpture, and on closer examination of offerings in this most interesting field, we find an unusually creditable lot of work by Frederick Roth, Albert Laessle, Arthur Putnam, and Charles Cary Rumsey. They should be considered in a group if their relative merit is to be fully appreciated. Kemeys and Proctor somewhat antedate them all in their work (in galleries 69 and 72). Roth is next door to Kemeys in 45, among a variety of things done mostly in glazed clay. A very fine sense of humor comes to the surface most conspicuously in "The Butcher", "The Baker", and "The Candlestick Maker". Putnam and Laessle are in this gallery side by side. In sharp contrast with the former's muscular and broad type of modeling, the latter has a very precise and Japanesque quality of detail modeling which is sometimes a little photographic. Charles Cary Rumsey is only a few steps away, in gallery 48. In his original subject of a horse and man drinking he strikes a particularly unique note.
Here Metcalf's "Blossom Time" reveals the most poetic of our modern American painters. The man who bought it made a good investment. In ten years it will be a classic and worth its weight in gold, including the frame. This canvas gives one more thrills than almost all the others by the same man - good as they are. The "Trembling Leaves" is superb, but a fussy frame destroys half the pleasure. Mrs. Philip Hale's elegant and refined interior, together with Paxton's figural work, prove that we have conquered successfully a certain field of genre which the American art-lover has been in the habit of buying in Europe. Paxton's "Housemaid" is entirely in the spirit of the old Dutch, and his "Bellissima" is most luminous alongside of his other works.
This magnetic collection comes somewhat as a shock to the public, which can't be blamed for its disapproval of the recent sensational experiments of Henri and Glackens. It is impossible to understand why a man like Glackens should so illogically abandon the soundness of his older work and do those inharmonies of form and colour which he presents on the A wall. His "Woman with Apple" is absolutely absurd and vulgar beyond description. She has "character," if that is what he is after, because her vulgarity is convincing. The rest of the things are ridiculous in their riotous superficiality. Carles seeks the same expression of individuality for which Glackens strives so hard. In his small, square picture, "Repose," Carles is most successful. Here he has created a great work of art - beautiful as well as full of character. This canvas is one of the most successful of the new style. It needs no apologies, and it has all the qualities of an old master, with modern virility and colour added to it. Let us have new things like this and we shall not regret having tolerantly and patiently watched all the many idiocities which are paraded around under the pretext of research and experimentation. Breckenridge's still-lifes are startling at first, but studied singly they reveal a fine sense of colour. They constitute a serious and successful contribution to modern art, without being in the least grotesque. I should like to have one of them in my house, without fear of their very vigorous colour. In a totally different vein Everett L. Bryant gives some still-lifes which continue certain impressionistic methods with wonderful delicacy. In certain surroundings they will add distinction even to a commonplace room. Anshutz's "Lady in Red" is a very good academic study in a colour which in large quantities is very difficult to handle.
The academic school is continued in spirit in Sergeant Kendall's refined portraits, augmented by a painted wood sculpture of unusual quality, reminiscent of the masters of the early German Renaissance. Louis Kronberg has his customary ballet girl and Hermann Dudley Murphy some of his typical, refined marines. His surfaces are always delectable and like the inside of a shell in their glistening blues and pinks. Both Nelson and Hansen, two native Californians, are well represented - one by a Monterey coast, the other by a forcefully painted decorative picture called "The Belated Boat." Lathrop adds two placid pictures, of which the canal is the more skillfully composed.
Peace reigns supreme in this gallery of Tryon and Weir. Tryon reflects all the poetic qualities of the Barbizon group without striking a new note either technically or in composition. His larger canvases are of great beauty, very tender and poetic, and altogether too sweet to have you feel that they were painted for any other reason than to make a pretty picture. His smaller work gives you that feeling more than his larger ones. Alden Weir's art is the direct opposite of this. Searching for truth, character, and beauty, he labors over simple subjects with great concentration and does not stop until they seem like silver symphonies. His art is personal and must be studied at great length to be fully appreciated. It expects a great deal of concentration, but one willing to take the trouble will be amply rewarded by ever increasing pleasure. The art of McLure Hamilton is more interesting in the power of psychological characterization than in painting. His pictures are painted thinly, more like watercolours than oils.
No noteworthy contribution is made here, unless one excepts the academically clever portraits by Troccoli, a landscape by Vonnoh, and a sumptuous bed of rhododendrons by Edward F. Rook. Two large "Grand Cañons" again demonstrate the utter futility of trying to paint such motives, which, in their success, depend entirely upon a feeling of scale that is almost impossible to attain on a small canvas.
Here Blumenschein's large Indian compositions are of decorative character. They are well composed and dramatic. The "Peace Maker" is big in feeling. Typically American and very unusual are Colin Campbell Cooper's New York street perspectives. His originality as a painter is well demonstrated by this choice, which must have taken much courage at a time when American subjects were more or less despised. Richard Millers "Pink Lady" does not look a bit convincing, cleverly as it is painted; it is not interesting enough in the large surfaces of overnaturalistic pink flesh. Half that size would have been just enough for this canvas, which is chiefly a concession to the modern mania for painting large exhibition pictures to attract attention by their size alone. Groll's desert pictures are disappointing. They have neither interesting colour nor sufficient atmosphere to come up to the standard of this typical desert painter.
There is a lovely note in this gallery, contributed by Ruger Donoho's garden scenes. Most unusual in subject, they are full of life, vibrant with colour, and altogether very delightful, a most pleasant change from the ordinary run of subjects. Frank Dumond's work on another wall (B) excels in a pleasant mannerism. His work is most thoughtful and well studied. The two smallest of his paintings are perfect gems in every way - well balanced by two small tender canvases of southern Europe by Mrs. Dumond (on the opposite wall). Two portraits in this gallery, Inez Addams' "Daphne" and Adolphe Borie's "Spring," should not be slighted. Borie's is very strong, and one of the best portraits on exhibition. Alongside of it is a winter landscape by Ernest Albert, which, while a little timid, is nevertheless poetic and more convincing than others of that type near by.
Charles Morris Young's art is so refreshing, so spontaneous in every way, that it catches one's eye immediately on passing on into this room. His work deserves recognition for more than one reason. His handling of paint is fresh and clear and a direct aiming for a final expression of what he wants to convey. Any one of the six subjects is well handled. They give one the feeling of the artist's thorough understanding of his material. His own "House in Winter" and the "Red Mill" reach the high-water mark of landscape painting in the exhibition. Griffin's pictures, on another wall, so openly disregard technical rules in their careless superimposition of unnecessary paint that in spite of a great richness of colour and a certain suggestion of truth, they are not apt to hold one one's affection very long. They are sincere, I admit, but careless in technique. There is no doubt about it, because heavy paint and bare pieces of canvas will not make durable pictures. Birge Harrison is disappointing in two pastels which seem too chromo-like, too mechanical, to carry their point.
This collection is not at all without interest, but with few exceptions the pictures in it are not strong enough to hold their own with so many good things abounding elsewhere. Ralph Clarkson's portrait, Bartlett's schoolyard, Perrine's technically unique landscape, are all meritorious.
Frederic M. DuMond's "Sea Carvings" in the corner, and Nahl's decorative composition attract, each in its way, while in another corner a badly skyed portrait by Hinkle is scarcely given a chance.
It will be necessary to make a little journey over to the inner side of the arch of the building to continue and finish the art of modern America. In this small Gallery, adjoining Sargent's, nothing stirring happens. Landscapes predominate, with varying interest, but nothing with any style or unity of expression presents itself, with the exception of Carl Oscar Borg's "Campagna Romana" and a fine sky over the door by William J. Kaula. The landscapes of G. W. Sotter and Will S. Robinson stand out among the rest.
Next door, in 73, Alson Skinner Clark has been given the privilege of almost an entire Gallery, without any other justification than historical interest in his shallow Panama scenes, devoid of any quality. They are illustrations - that is all. Gifford Beal disappoints in some superficial paintings of commonplace subjects, which a skillful technique might easily have turned into something worth while. His "Old Town Terrace" is much the best, but the collection makes one apprehensive for Beal's future performances. Paul King's canvas over the door is excellent, well painted, and interesting in subject.
There seems no end of productiveness of American painters, and justice demands more investigation and undeniably more steps. Ladies with parrots, with and without clothes, are numerous, but the one in here is more interesting than the others. I hope that not all of these parrot pictures are meant symbolically. Walter McEwen arouses memories of times gone by, technically and otherwise, in a huge storytelling Salon picture. More ladies in conventional sitting posture willingly sat for more pictures without adding new thrills. Meyer's portraits, Gertrude Fiske's sketch, Olga Ackerman's group of children, are all deserving of study. Max Bohm's two big figural pictures are decoratively interesting enough, but bad in paint. One of the best landscapes can be found here in Henry Muhrman's work, over the McEwen. There is nothing sensational about it, but its somber dignity stands out among many modern works. On the opposite wall Mrs. Sargent's" Mount Tamalpais" is unusual in composition and rich in colour.
Separated from the rest of the American section by Holland and Sweden, a series of galleries are in grave danger of being overlooked. Undoubtedly, to offset this apparent isolation, some of the most alluring paintings can be found at this end.
Here is Frederic Frieseke, our expatriated American, with his fascinating boudoir scenes. Very high in key and full of detail, at first they seem restless and crowded, which some actually are, in a degree. But canvases like "The Garden" and "The Bay Window" and "The Boudoir" are real jewels of light and colour. "The Bay Window" is the most placid of his canvases and in conception much finer than his outdoor subjects. Frieseke's clear, joyous art is typically modern, and expresses the best tendency of our day. Luis Mora's two watercolours, while illustrative, hold their own in Frieseke's company. Tanner's big religious canvas falls far below this capable painter's usual efforts. Native talent helps out in a delightful marine, honestly painted by Bruce Nelson, and an apple green and pale pink colour-harmony by Charlton Fortune. Very much in the style of the Frieseke, Rittman's "Early Morning in the Garden" is easily taken for the art of his fascinating neighbor, but it should be recognized as the work 0f another kindred spirit.
In 118, landscapes predominate over figural work, at least in quality. Harry Leslie Hoffman's "Spring Mood," Wilbur Dean Hamilton's tender and poetic canvas, and Louise Brumbach's city view bathed in the grays of an early morning call for recognition.
The general character of the next gallery is different from the preceding. Given over to oils, watercolours, pastels, lithographs, and drawings, it presents an interesting appearance. Six pastels by Henry Muhrman and Frank Mura's charcoal drawings are the leaders here, and the drawings generally are the best things among the many oils and watercolours, which were mostly made for purposes of illustration. Drawings by Martinez, pastels by Miss Percy, two sympathetic drawings by Miss Hunter, and a few still-lifes in watercolour, by Miss Boone, all bear testimony to native ability as represented by California.
The last gallery contains Bellow's bold canvases, of which "The Polo Game" is the best known, another fine canvas by Henry Muhrman, and some older American work by Stewart, typical of what we used to send to Europe in years gone by.
In the Garden.
While many plastic works have been mentioned in the survey of the galleries, still great numbers of statues, statuettes, and fountain figures call for investigation, out of doors. Sculpture is, on the whole, not so complex as painting, and dealing with the expression of emotions much more directly than painting, it can easily be understood. Of the many pieces displayed outside, Janet Scudder's fountain figures earn all the applause they receive, and most of the other sculptors are old friends, since they have been met with in the decorative embellishments of the architecture of the Exposition. There is Aitken, with a bust of Taft; Chester Beach, with a young girl in marble, of great charm; Solon Borglum's Washington, Mrs. Burroughs' garden figure, Stirling Calder, and Piccirilli - all well remembered. It is gratifying to meet all these men, and many others, in freer and more detached expression of their art, under conditions where no severe architectural restrictions were put upon them.