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Title: Art in America - A Critical and Historial Sketch
Author: Benjamin, Samuel Greene Wheeler (S.G.W.), 1837-1914
Language: English
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


The cut on page 28, attributed to Rembrandt Peale, should be credited to
John T. Peele.


The aim of this book has been to give a historical outline of the growth
of the arts in America. But while this has been the dominating idea in
the mind of the writer, criticism has necessarily entered, more or less,
into the preparation of the work, since only by weighing the differences
or the comparative merits of those artists who seemed best to illustrate
the various phases of American art has it been possible to trace its
progress from one step to another.

It is from no lack of appreciation of their talents that the author has
apparently neglected mention of the American artists resident in foreign
capitals--like Bridgman, Duveneck, Wight, Neal, Bacon, Benson, Ernest
Parton, Millet, Whistler, Dana, Blashfield, Miss Gardner, Miss Conant,
and many others who have done credit to American æsthetic culture. But
it was necessary to draw the line somewhere; and to discuss what our
artists are painting abroad would have at once enlarged the scope of the
work beyond the limits of the plan adopted. An exception has been made
in the case of our sculptors, because they have so uniformly lived and
wrought in Europe, and so large a proportion of them are still resident
there, that, were we to confine this branch of the subject only to the
sculptors now actually in America, there would be little left to say
about their department of our arts.

The author takes this occasion cordially to thank the artists and
amateurs who have kindly permitted copies of their paintings and
drawings to be engraved for this volume.




EARLY AMERICAN ART                  13


AMERICAN PAINTERS (1828-1878)       39


AMERICAN PAINTERS (1828-1878)       66


AMERICAN PAINTERS (1828-1878)       97


SCULPTURE IN AMERICA               134




SUBJECT.                                  ARTIST.                PAGE.

PORTRAIT OF A LADY                     _John Singleton Copley_ _Frontispiece_

FAMILY OF BISHOP BERKELEY              _John Smybert_              16

DEATH ON THE PALE HORSE                _Benjamin West_             19

DEATH OF MONTGOMERY                    _John Trumbull_             23

GENERAL KNOX                           _Gilbert Stuart_            25

"BEGGAR'S OPERA"                       _G. Stuart Newton_          27

"BABES IN THE WOOD"                    _Rembrandt Peale_           28

FANNY KEMBLE                           _Thomas Sully_              29

ARIADNE                                _John Vanderlyn_            30

THE HOURS                              _E. G. Malbone_             32

JEREMIAH                               _Washington Allston_        34

DYING HERCULES                         _Samuel F. B. Morse_        35

"MUMBLE THE PEG"                       _Henry Inman_               40

PORTRAIT OF PARKE GODWIN               _Thomas Le Clear_           43

PORTRAIT OF FLETCHER HARPER            _C. L. Elliott_             45

AN IDEAL HEAD                          _G. A. Baker_               48

THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS                 _Henry Peters Grey_         50

MIRANDA                                _Daniel Huntington_         53

A SURPRISE                             _William Sidney Mount_      55

TAKING THE VEIL                        _Robert Weir_               57

DESOLATION. FROM "THE COURSE OF EMPIRE"_Thomas Cole_               59

A STUDY FROM NATURE                    _A. B. Durand_              61

NOON BY THE SEA-SHORE.--BEVERLY BEACH  _J. F. Kensett_             63

ALTORF, BIRTH-PLACE OF WILLIAM TELL    _George L. Brown_           64

BROOK IN THE WOODS                     _Worthington Whittredge_    67

LANDSCAPE COMPOSITION                  _R. W. Hubbard_             70

"THE VASTY DEEP"                       _William T. Richards_       72

HIGH TORN, ROCKLAND LAKE               _Jasper F. Cropsey_         74

THE PARSONAGE                          _A. F. Bellows_             75

LANDSCAPE WITH CATTLE                  _James Hart_                77

SUNSET ON THE HUDSON                   _Sandford R. Gifford_       80

A COMPOSITION                          _Frederick E. Church_       82

A WINTER SCENE                         _Louis R. Mignot_           84

SHIP OF "THE ANCIENT MARINER"          _James Hamilton_            85

"WHOO!"                                _William H. Beard_          87

LAFAYETTE IN PRISON                    _E. Leutze_                 89

PORTRAIT OF A LADY                     _William Page_              91

THE REFUGE                             _Elihu Vedder_              93

CARTOON SKETCH: CHRIST AND NICODEMUS   _John Lafarge_              95

VIEW ON THE KERN RIVER                 _A. Bierstadt_              99

THE YOSEMITE                           _Thomas Hill_              100

THE BATHERS                            _Thomas Moran_             101

LANDSCAPE                              _Jervis M'Entee_           104

COUNTY KERRY                           _A. H. Wyant_              105

THE ADIRONDACKS                        _Homer Martin_             107

A LANDSCAPE                            _J. W. Casilear_           109

SHIP ASHORE                            _M. F. H. De Haas_         111

A FOGGY MORNING                        _W. E. Norton_             112

A MARINE                               _Arthur Quartley_          114

ARGUING THE QUESTION                   _T. W. Wood_               116

THE ROSE                               _B. F. Mayer_              118

DRESS PARADE                           _J. G. Brown_              120

A BED-TIME STORY                       _S. J. Guy_                121

THE MOTHER                             _Eastman Johnson_          123

SAIL-BOAT                              _Winslow Homer_            124

THE SCOUT                              _Wordsworth Thompson_      126

ON THE OLD SOD                         _William Magrath_          127

"A MATIN SONG"                         _Fidelia Bridges_          129

STUDY OF A DOG                         _Frank Rogers_             130

LOST IN THE SNOW                       _A. F. Tait_               132

EVE BEFORE THE FALL                    _Hiram Powers_             135

ORPHEUS                                _Thomas Crawford_          137

  FROM THE BRONZE DOOR         }       _Randolph Rogers_          139

THE GHOST IN "HAMLET"                  _Thomas R. Gould_          141

GEORGE WASHINGTON                      _J. Q. A. Ward_            143

MEDEA                                  _William Wetmore Story_    146

THE PROMISED LAND                      _Franklin Simmons_         147

LATONA AND HER INFANTS                 _W. H. Rinehart_           150

ZENOBIA                                _Harriet Hosmer_           152

EVENING                                _E. D. Palmer_             153

BUST OF WILLIAM PAGE                   _William R. O'Donovan_     155

ABRAHAM PIERSON                        _Launt Thompson_           157

THE CHARITY PATIENT                    _John Rogers_              158

THE WHIRLWIND                          _J. S. Hartley_            159

  ANGELS. ST. THOMAS'S   }             _Augustus St. Gaudens_     160
  CHURCH, NEW YORK       }

THOMAS JEFFERSON'S IDEA OF A MONUMENT                               162

THE MOWING                             _Alfred Fredericks_        165

BIRDS IN THE FOREST                    _Miss Jessie Curtis_       169

  PETER'S COURTSHIP                    _Howard Pyle_              171

SOME ART CONNOISSEURS                  _W. Hamilton Gibson_       173

WASHINGTON OPENING THE BALL            _C. S. Reinhart_           175

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON                                         178

THE ASTONISHED ABBÉ                    _E. A. Abbey_              181

A CHILD'S PORTRAIT                     _B. C. Porter_             184

A BIT OF VENICE                        _Samuel Colman_            185

THE OLD ORCHARD                        _R. Swain Gifford_         187

A LANDSCAPE                            _George Inness_            188

LA MARGUERETTE--THE DAISY              _William M. Hunt_          189

MOONLIGHT                              _John J. Enneking_         191

HAVING A GOOD TIME                     _Louis C. Tiffany_         192

SOUTHAMPTON, LONG ISLAND               _C. H. Miller_             193

A STUDY                                _Frederick Dielman_        195

THE BURGOMASTER                        _H. Muhrman_               197

BURIAL OF THE DEAD BIRD                _J. Alden Wier_            200

THE APPRENTICE                         _William M. Chase_         201

THE PROFESSOR                          _Thomas Eakins_            204

THE GOOSE-HERD                         _Walter Shirlaw_           205

A SPANISH LADY                         _Mary S. Cassatt_          208

STUDY OF A BOY'S HEAD                  _W. Sartain_               209




The art of a nation is the result of centuries of growth; its crowning
excellence does not come except when maturity and repose offer the
occasion for its development. But while, therefore, it is yet too soon
to look for a great school of art in America, the time has perhaps
arrived to note some of the preliminary phases of the art which, we have
reason to hope, is to dawn upon the country before long.

As the heirs of all the ages, we had a right to expect that our
intellectual activity would demand art expression; while the first
efforts would naturally be imitative rather than original. The
individuality which finds vent in the utterance of truth under new
conditions is not fully reached until youth gives place to the vigorous
self-assertion of a manhood conscious of its resources and power. Such
we find to have been the case in the rise of the fine arts in this
country, which up to this time have been rather an echo of the art of
the lands from which our ancestors came, than distinctively original.
Our art has been the result of affectionate remembrance of foreign
achievement more than of independent observation of nature; and while
the number of artists has been sufficiently large, very few of them
stand forth as representatives or types of novel methods and ideas; and
those few, coming before their time, have met with little response in
the community, and their influence has been generally local and
moderate, leading to the founding of nothing like a school except in one
or two isolated cases. But many of them, especially in the first period
of our art, have shared the strong, active character of their time;
and, like the heroes of the Revolution, presented sturdy traits of
character. And thus, while the society in which they moved was not
sufficiently advanced to appreciate the quality of their art, they were
yet able to stamp their names indelibly upon the pages of our history.
But within the last few years the popular interest in art has grown so
rapidly in the country--as indicated by the establishment of numerous
art schools and academies, art galleries, and publications treating
exclusively of art subjects, together with many other significant proofs
of concern in the subject--that it seems safe to assume that the first
preparatory period of American art, so brilliant in many respects, is
about closing, and that we are now on the threshold of another, although
it is only scarcely three centuries since the first English colonists
landed on our shores. The first professional artist of whom there seems
to be any record in our colonial history was possessor of a title that
does not often fall to the lot of the artist: he was a deacon. This fact
indicates that Deacon Shem Drowne, of Boston town, was not only a
cunning artificer in metals and wood-carving, as the old chronicles
speak of him, but also a man addicted to none of the small vices that
are traditionally connected with the artistic career; for people were
very proper in that vicinage in those days of austere virtue and
primness, and deacons were esteemed the very salt of the earth.

During the first century of our colonial existence local painters, often
scarcely deserving the name, are also known to have gained a precarious
livelihood by taking meagre portraits of the worthies of the period, in
black and white or in color. We should know this to have been the fact
by the portraits--quaint, and often rude and awkward--which have come
down to us, without anything about them to indicate who the artists
could have been who painted them. Occasionally a suggestion of talent is
evident in those canvases from which the stiff ruffles and bands of the
Puritans stare forth at us. Cotton Mather also alludes to a certain
artist whom he speaks of as a limner. But in those times there was,
however, at best no art in this country, except what was brought over
occasionally in the form of family portraits, painted by Vandyck,
Rembrandt, Lely, or Kneller. These precious heirlooms, scarcely
appreciated by the stern theologians of the time, were, however, not
without value in advancing the cause of civilization among the wilds of
the Western world. Unconsciously the minds of coming generations were
influenced and moulded by these reminders of the great art of other
lands and ages. No human effort is wasted; somewhere, at some time, it
appears, as the seed sown in October comes forth anew in April,
quickened into other forms, to sustain life under fresh conditions.

The first painter in America of any decided ability whose name has
survived to this day was John Watson, who executed portraits in
Philadelphia in 1715. He was a Scotchman. It is to another Scotchman,
who married and identified himself with the rising fortunes of the
colonies, that we are perhaps able to assign the first distinct and
decided art impulse in this country. And for this we are directly
indebted to Bishop Berkeley, whose sagacious eye penetrated so far
through the mists of futurity, and realized the coming greatness of the


Berkeley is associated with the literature and arts of America in
several ways. He aided the advance of letters by a grant of books to
Yale College, and by founding the nucleus of what later became the
Redwood Library at Newport; thus indirectly suggesting architectural
beauty to a people without examples of it, for in 1750 a building was
erected for the library that sprang from his benefactions. The design
was obtained from Vanbrugh, one of the greatest architects of modern
times; and although the little library is constructed only of wood and
mortar, its plan is so pleasing, tasteful, and harmonious, that it long
remained the most graceful structure in the colonies; and even at this
day is scarcely equalled on the continent as a work of art by many far
more costly and ambitious constructions after the Renaissance order.
And, finally, we owe to Bishop Berkeley the most notable impulse which
the dawning arts received in this country when he induced John Smybert,
the Scotchman, to leave London in 1725 and settle in Boston, where he
had the good fortune to marry a rich widow, and lived prosperous and
contented until his death, in 1751. Smybert was not a great painter. If
he had remained in Europe his position never would have been more than
respectable, even at an age when the arts were at a low ebb. But he is
entitled to our gratitude for perpetuating for us the lineaments of many
worthies of the period, and for the undoubted impetus his example gave
to the artists who were about to come on the scene and assert the right
of the New World to exercise its energies in the encouragement of the
fine arts. It is by an apparently unimportant incident that the
influence of Smybert to our early art is most vividly illustrated. He
brought with him to America an excellent copy of a Vandyck, executed by
himself; and several of our artists, including Allston, acknowledged
that a sight of this copy affected them like an inspiration. The most
important work of Smybert in this country is a group representing the
family of Bishop Berkeley, now in the art gallery at New Haven. A flock
of foreign portrait-painters, following the example of Smybert, now came
over to this country, and rendered good service in perpetuating the
faces of the notable characters and beauties of the time; but none of
them were of special moment, excepting, perhaps, Blackburn and
Alexander. But their labor bore fruit in preparing the way for the
successes of Copley. The first native American painter of merit of whom
there is any authentic record was Robert Feke, who was of Quaker
descent, and settled in Newport, where portraits of his are still to be
seen, notably that of the beautiful wife of Governor Wanton, which is
preserved in the Redwood Library. What little art-education he received
resulted from his being taken prisoner at sea and carried to Spain,
where he contrived to acquire a few hints in the use of pigments. Feke
was a man of undoubted ability; and the same may be said of Matthew
Pratt, of Philadelphia, who was born in 1734, in respect of age
antedating both Copley and West, although not known until after they
had acquired fame, because for many years he contented himself with the
painting of signs and house decorations.

But the latent æsthetic capacity of the colonies displayed itself
suddenly when John Singleton Copley, at the early age of seventeen,
after only the most rudimentary instruction, adopted art as a
profession. But, although a professional and successful artist at so
early an age, Copley seems to have been preceded in assuming the calling
of artist by a Quaker lad of Pennsylvania, one year his junior, but
evincing a turn for art at an earlier age, when hardly out of the

The birth of a national art has scarcely ever been more affecting or
remarkable than that recorded in the first efforts of Benjamin West. He
was born at Springfield, Pennsylvania, in 1738, a year after Copley. The
scientist of the future may perhaps show us that it was something more
than a coincidence that the six leading painters of the first period of
American art came in pairs: Copley and West in 1737 and 1738; Stuart and
Trumbull were born in 1756; Vanderlyn arrived in 1776; and Allston
followed only three years later.

The descendants of the iconoclasts who had beaten down statues and
burned masterpieces of art, who had cropped their hair and passed
sumptuary laws to fulfil the dictates of their creed, and had sought a
wilderness across the seas where they could maintain their rigid
doctrines unmolested, were now about to vindicate the character of their
fathers. They were now to prove that the love of beauty is universal and
unquenchable, and that sooner or later every people, kindred, and tongue
seeks to utter its aspirations after the ideal good by art forms and
methods; and that the sternness of the Puritans had been really
directed, not so much against art and beauty legitimately employed, as
against the abuse of the purest and noblest emotions of the soul by a
debasing art.

As if to emphasize the truth of these observations, as well as of the
famous prophecy of Bishop Berkeley, the artist to whom American art owes
its rise, and for many years its greatest source of encouragement, was
named West, and was of Quaker lineage. Such was the rude condition of
the arts in the neighborhood at that time that the first initiation of
West into art was as simple as that of Giotto. At nine years of age he
drew hairs from a cat's tail and made himself a brush. Colors he
obtained by grinding charcoal and chalk, and crushing the red blood out
from the blackberry. His mother's laundry furnished him with indigo,
and the friendly Indians who came to his father's house gave him of the
red and yellow earths with which they daubed their faces. With such rude
materials the lad painted a child sleeping in its cradle; and in that
first effort of precocious genius executed certain touches which he
never surpassed, as he affirmed long after, when at the zenith of his
remarkable career.

How, from such primitive efforts, the Quaker youth gradually worked into
local fame, went to Italy and acquired position there, and then settled
in England, became the favorite _protégé_ of the king for forty years,
and the President of the National Academy of Great Britain--these are
all matters of history, and, as West never forgot his love for his
native land, entitle him to the respectful remembrance not only of
artists, but of all his countrymen. American art has every reason, also,
to cherish his memory with profound gratitude, for no painter ever
conducted himself with greater kindness and generosity to the rising,
struggling artists of his native land. No sooner did our early painters
reach London but they resorted, for aid and guidance, to West, and found
in him a friend who lent them his powerful influence without grudging,
or allowed them to set up their easels in his studio, and gave them all
the instruction in his power. Trumbull, Stuart, Dunlap, and many others,
long after they had forgotten the natural foibles of West, had reason to
remember how great had been the services he had rendered to the aspiring
artists of his transatlantic home.

Since the death of West--whom we must consider one of the greatest men
our country has produced--it has become the fashion to decry his art and
belittle his character. This seems to be a mistake which reflects
discredit upon his detractors. Men should be judged not absolutely, but
relatively; not compared with perfection, but with their contemporaries
and their opportunities. In estimating men of the past, also, we need to
put ourselves in their places, rather than to regard them by the
standard of the age in which we live. In no pursuit are men more likely
to be misjudged than in art; for artists are liable to be guided by
impulse rather than judgment, and the very vehemence of their likes and
dislikes renders their opinions intense rather than broad and
charitable. Benjamin West appears to have been born with great natural
powers, which matured rapidly, and early ceased to develop in excellence
proportionate to his extraordinary industry and fidelity to art.


But while a general evenness of quality rather than striking excellence
in any particular works was the characteristic of the art of West,
together with a certain brick-red tone in his colors not always
agreeable, yet a share of genius must be granted to the artist who
painted the "Departure of Regulus," "Death on the Pale Horse," and "The
Death of Wolfe." It unquestionably implied daring and consciousness of
power to brave the opposition of contemporary opinions and abandon
classic costume in historical compositions as he did; to win to his side
the judgment of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and create a revolution in certain
phases of art. Notwithstanding this, however, West was emphatically a
man of his time, moulded by it rather than forming it, and inclined to
conventionalism. When he entered the arena, art was in a depressed
condition both in Italy, where he studied, and in England. But while
Reynolds and Gainsborough gave a fresh impulse to art, West's genius,
ripening precociously, early became incapable of achieving further

West established himself as a portrait-painter at the age of fifteen;
and in the following year--1755--Copley also engaged in the same
pursuit, when only seventeen. The former lived to be seventy-nine; the
latter was seventy-eight at his death. The art-life of Copley must be
considered the most indigenous and strictly American of the two.
Although receiving some early instruction from his step-father, Pelham,
and enjoying opportunities denied to West, of studying portraits by
foreign artists, yet Copley's advantages were excessively meagre; and
whatever successes he achieved with his brush, until he finally settled
in England at the age of thirty-nine, were entirely his own, and can be
proudly included among the most valued treasures of our native art. So
highly were the abilities of Copley esteemed in his day, that years
before he crossed the Atlantic his reputation had preceded him, and
assured him ready patronage in London.

It is said that Copley was a very slow and laborious worker. The
elaboration he gave to the details of costume doubtless required time.
But if the popular opinion was correct, we must assume that many of the
paintings now reputed to be by his hand are spurious. It is a common
saying that a Copley in a New England family is almost equivalent to a
title of nobility; and this very fact would lead many to attribute to
him family portraits by forgotten artists, who had, perhaps, caught the
trick of his style. But there yet remain enough well authenticated
portraits by this great painter, in excellent preservation, to render
the study of his works one of great interest to the art student. There
is no mistaking the handling of Copley. Self-taught, his merits and
defects are entirely his own. His style was open to the charge of
excessive dryness; the outlines are sometimes hard, and the figures
stiff almost to ungracefulness. The last fault was, however, less
noticeable in the formal, stately characters and costumes of the time
than it would be under different conditions. In Copley's best
compositions these errors are scarcely perceptible. He was far superior
to West as a colorist, and was especially felicitous in catching the
expression of the eye, and reproducing the elegant dress of the period;
while we have had no artist who has excelled him in perceiving and
interpreting the individuality and character of the hand. A very fine
example of his skill in this respect is seen in the admirable portrait
of Mrs. Relief Gill, taken when she was eighty years old. Gilbert Stuart
remarked of the hand in the portrait of Colonel Epes Sargent, "Prick
that hand, and blood will spurt out." It is indeed a masterpiece. No
painter was ever more in sympathy with his age than Copley; and thus,
when we look at the admirable portraits in which his genius commemorated
the commanding characters of those colonial days, in their brilliant and
massive uniforms, their brocades and embroidered velvets, and choice
laces and scarfs, the imagination is carried back to the past with
irresistible force, while, at the same time, we are astonished at the
ability which, with so little training, could give immortality both to
his contemporaries and his own pencil.

While the fame of Copley will ultimately rest on the masterly portraits
which he bequeathed to posterity, yet it will not be forgotten that he
was one of the ablest historical painters of his time. The compositions
entitled the "Boy and the Squirrel," painted in Boston, the "Death of
Major Pierson," and the "Death of Chatham," will contribute for ages to
the fame of one of the most important American artists of the last

Charles Wilson Peale, the next artist of reputation in the colonies,
owes his celebrity partly to accidental circumstances. Of course a
certain degree of ability is implied in order that one may know how to
turn the winds of fortune to the best account when they veer in his
favor. But in some cases, as with Copley and West, man seems to wrest
fate to his advantage; while in others she appears actually to throw
herself in his way, and offer him opportunities denied to others. At any
rate it seems no injustice to ascribe the continued fame of Charles
Wilson Peale to the fact that he was enabled to associate his art with
the name of Washington: and that his son, Rembrandt, by also following
art pursuits, was able to emphasize the fame of the family name. Peale
the elder was not a specialist; he was rather, like so many born in
America, gifted with a general versatility that enabled him to succeed
moderately well in whatever he undertook, without achieving the highest
excellence in any department. Inclining alternately to science and
mechanics, he finally drifted into art, went over to England and studied
with West, and returned to America in time to enter the army and rise to
the rank of colonel. His versatile turn of mind is well illustrated by
one who says that "he sawed his own ivory for his miniatures, moulded
the glasses, and made the shagreen cases."

It was the good fortune of Peale to paint several excellent portraits of
Washington, representing him during the military part of his career,
both before and during the Revolution. Lacking many of the qualities of
good art, these portraits are yet faithful and characteristic likenesses
of the Father of his Country, and as such are of great interest and

It is to another Revolutionary soldier of superior natural ability,
Colonel John Trumbull, that the country is indebted for a proof of the
national turn for the fine arts. The son of Jonathan Trumbull, Colonial
Governor of Connecticut, he received a classical education at Harvard
University. But here, again, observe the far-reaching influence of one
act. That copy, already alluded to, which was executed by Smybert after
a work of Vandyck--the great painter who was welcomed to the banqueting
halls of merry England by Charles I. and Henrietta Maria--was again to
bear fruit. It inspired the genius of Trumbull with a passion for color
while yet in his youth, and ultimately led to his becoming a great
historical painter.

But first he had to undergo the discipline of war, which gave him that
experimental knowledge of which he afterward made such good use. Of a
high spirit and proud, irascible temper, Trumbull served with
distinction; first as aid to Washington, then as major at the storming
of the works of Burgoyne at Saratoga; and he had reached a colonelcy,
when he threw up his commission and went over to England, and became a
student of West, whose style is perceptible in many of the works of the
younger artist.

If inequality is one sign of genius, then Trumbull possessed it to a
marked degree. The difference in merit between his best paintings, which
were chiefly composed in England, and those he executed in this country,
in the later years of his life, is remarkable. This probably was due in
part to the lack of any appreciable art influences or patronage in his
own country to stimulate the artistic afflatus. The talents of Trumbull
were conspicuous in portraiture and historical painting. The energy of
his nature is illustrated in such powerful portraits as those of
Washington and Hamilton. Deficient in drawing, and unlike in details of
feature, they are life-like in their general resemblance, and seem to
thrill with the spirit of the original. We see before us the heroes who
conducted the struggling colonies successfully to military independence
and political freedom. Trumbull's miniatures in oil of many of the men
who were prominent in the Revolution are also very spirited and
characteristic, and of inestimable historic value. He was less
successful in the representation of feminine beauty. His talents moved
within a limited range, but within that narrow circle displayed certain
excellences quite rare in the Anglo-Saxon art of that period, exhibiting
a correct feeling for color, keen perception of character, and great
force of expression. But let him stray beyond the compass of his powers,
as in the representation of woman, and his coloring becomes unnatural
and his drawing inexpressive.

The art of this great painter, for so we must call him in view of some
of his works, culminated in the historical compositions entitled "The
Signing of the Declaration of Independence," "The Siege of Gibraltar,"
and the immortal compositions representing the "Death of Montgomery" and
the "Battle of Bunker Hill." The last two were not surpassed by any
similar works in the last century, and thus far stand alone in American
historical painting.


Cabinet in size, they combine breadth and detail to an unusual degree.
The faces are in miniature, in many cases portraits from life. They
could be cut out and framed as portraits; each also is stamped with the
individual passions of that terrible hour--hate, exultation, pain,
courage, sorrow, despair. And yet with all this truth of detail the
general spirit and effort of the scene is preserved. The onward
movement, the rush, the onset of war, the harmony of lines, the massing
of _chiaro-oscuro_, the brilliance and truth of color, are all there.
One first gazes astonished at the skill of the artist, and ends by
feeling his heart stirred and his emotions shaken as the leaves of the
forest are blown by the winds of October, and his sympathies carried
away by the grandeur and the terror of battle. Yes, when John Trumbull
painted those two pictures, he was inspired by the fires of genius for
once in his life. His later historical works are so inferior in all
respects as scarcely to seem to be by the same hand.

Trumbull lived to see a taste for the arts growing up among his
fellow-countrymen, and the awakening of the first feeble attempts to
furnish art instruction in his native land to the artists of the future.
He was President of the Academy of Fine Arts, of which he was one of the

In the same year with Trumbull was born the greatest colorist and
portrait-painter we have seen on this side of the Atlantic, Gilbert
Stuart. The town of Narragansett, in the little State of Rhode Island,
was the birth-place of this painter, who came of Scotch and Welsh
descent, an alliance of blood whose individual traits were well
illustrated in the life and character of the painter.

Fortune was becoming a little kinder to our artists. Stuart's dawning
genius was directed at Newport by Cosmo Alexander, a Scotch
portrait-painter of some merit, who took his pupil to Scotland and
placed him in charge of Sir George Chambers. After various vicissitudes,
comprising, as with so many of our early painters, an art apprenticeship
in the studio of West, the young American artist settled for awhile
abroad, and acquired such repute that he rivalled Sir Joshua Reynolds in
the popular esteem: his brush was in demand by the first in the land;
and the unfortunate Louis XVI. was included among his sitters. After
this, in 1793, Stuart returned to America, painted the portraits of the
leading citizens in our chief cities, and finally settled in Boston. The
most important works he executed in this country were his well-known
portraits of Washington, including the famous full-length painting,
which represents the great man, not in the prime of his active days, as
represented by Peale and Trumbull, but when, crowned with glory and
honor in the majesty of a serene old age, he was approaching the sunset
of life.

The character of Stuart was one of marked peculiarities, and offers
points of interest scarcely equalled by that of any other American
artist. The canny shrewdness and penetrating perception of the Scotchman
was mellowed almost to the point of inconsistency by the warm and supple
traits of his Welsh ancestry. An admirable story-teller himself, he in
turn gave rise, by his oddities, to many racy anecdotes, some of which
have been treasured up and well told by Dunlap, who, although inferior
as a painter, deserves to be cordially remembered for his discursive but
valuable book on early American painting.


As regards the art of Stuart, it can be safely affirmed that America has
produced no painter who has been more unmistakably entitled to rank
among men of genius as distinguished from those of talent. We assume
that the difference between the two is not one of degree, but of kind.
In the intellectual progress of the world the first leads, the other
follows. One may have great talents, and yet really not enrich the world
with a single new idea. He simply assents to the accepted, and lends it
the aid of his powers. But genius, not content with things as they are,
either gives us new truths or old truths in a new form. The greatest
minds--Cæsar, Shakspeare, Goethe, Franklin--present us with a just
combination of genius and talent: they both create and organize. Now,
one may have great or little genius, but so far as he tells us
something worth knowing in his own way, it is genius as distinguished
from talent.

And this is why we say that Stuart had genius. He followed no beaten
track, he gave in his allegiance to no canons of the schools. His eagle
eye pierced the secrets of nature according to no prescribed rules. Not
satisfied with surfaces or accessories, he gave us character as well.
Nor did he rest here. In the technical requirements of his art he stands
original and alone. That seemingly hard, practical Scotch nature of his
was yet attuned like a delicate chord to the melody of color. Few more
than he have felt the subtle relation between sound and color--for he
was also a musician. In the handling of pigments, again, he stands
pre-eminent among the artists of his generation. Why is it that his
colors are as brilliant, as pure, as forcible, as harmonious, to-day as
when he laid them on the canvas nearly a century ago? If you carefully
examine his pictures you shall see one cause of the result explained. He
had such confidence in his powers, and such technical mastery, that he
needed not to experiment with treacherous vehicles; and, rarely mixing
tints on the palette, laid pure blues, reds, or yellows directly on the
canvas, and slightly dragged them together. Thus he was able to render
the stippled, mottled semblance of color as it actually appears on the
skin; to suggest, also, the prismatic effect which all objects have in
nature; and, at the same time, by keeping the colors apart, to insure
their permanence. Stuart generally painted thinly, on large-grained
canvas, which gave the picture the softness of atmosphere. But
sometimes, as in the case of the powerful portrait of General Knox, he
loaded his colors. But even in that work he did not depart from his
usual practice in rendering the flesh tints.

It has been alleged by some that Stuart was unable to do justice to the
delicate beauty of woman, especially the refined type which is
characteristic of the United States. He may have more often failed in
this regard than in other efforts; but the force of the accusation
disappears when one observes the extraordinary loveliness of such
portraits as that of Mrs. Forrester, the sister of Judge Story, at
Salem. But, indeed, it seemed to make little difference to him who the
sitter happened to be. He entered into the nature of the individual,
grasped the salient traits of his character, and, whether it was a
seaman or a statesman, a triumphant general or a reigning belle, his
unerring eye and his matchless brush rendered justice to them all.

Gilbert Stuart Newton, the nephew of Stuart, is a painter well known in
England, where he early established himself; and, having been born at
Halifax, and always remained a British subject, he more properly belongs
to foreign art. But his education was gained in the studio of his uncle
in Boston, and his style shows unmistakable traces of the teacher's
methods. Newton executed some good portraits before abandoning his
native land, including one of John Adams, which is in the Massachusetts
Historical Society. He is known abroad chiefly as a _genre_ painter of
semi-literary compositions.

[Illustration: "BEGGAR'S OPERA.--[G. STUART NEWTON.]]

James Frothingham was also a pupil, and in some degree an imitator, of
Stuart, who possessed unusual ability in portraiture, but it was
confined to the painting of the head. Whether from the lack of early
advantages--which was so remarkable that he had not even seen a palette
when, self-taught, he was able to execute a very tolerable likeness--or
because of natural limitation of power, Frothingham's talent seemed to
stop with the neck of the sitter. The face would perhaps be reproduced
with a force, a beauty of color, and a truth of character that
oftentimes suggested the art of Stuart; while the hands or shoulders
were almost ludicrously out of drawing and proportion.


Besides Frothingham, there were a number of American painters of
celebrity, contemporaries of Stuart, but of unequal merit. Colonel
Sargent acquired a repute in his time which it is difficult to
understand at present. He seems to have been more of an amateur than a
professional artist. His ablest work is the "Landing of the Pilgrims,"
of which a copy is preserved at Plymouth. Rembrandt Peale obtained a
permanent reputation for his very able and truthful portrait of
Washington. He bestowed upon it the best efforts of his mature years,
and it received the compliment of being purchased by Congress for
$2000--a large sum for an American painting in those days, when the
purchasing power of money was greater than it is now. His "Court of
Death" is a vast composition, that must candidly be considered more
ambitious than successful. In such works as the "Babes in the Wood,"
Peale seems to foreshadow the _genre_ art which has been so long coming
to us. John Wesley Jarvis, a native of England, also enjoyed at one time
much popularity as a portrait-painter. He was possessed of great
versatility; was eccentric; a _bon vivant_, and excelled at telling a
story. It is melancholy to record that, after many vicissitudes, he
ended his days in poverty.

Thomas Sully was also a native of England, who came to this country in
childhood, and lived to such a great age that it is difficult to realize
that he was the contemporary of Trumbull and Stuart. Sully had great
refinement of feeling, and reminds us sometimes of Sir Thomas Lawrence.
This is shown in a certain favorite ideal head of a maiden which he
reproduced in various compositions. One often recognizes it in his
works. His portraits are also pleasing; but in the treatment of a
masculine likeness the feebleness of his style and its lack of
originality or strength are too often apparent. John Naegle, of
Philadelphia, was a pupil of Sully, but first began his art career as
apprentice to a coach-painter. Like many of our artists of that time, he
tried his hand at a portrait of Washington; but he will be longest and
best remembered by his vivid and characteristic painting of Patrick
Lyon, the blacksmith, at his forge. This picture now hangs in the
elegant gallery of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, where several
of the masterpieces of our early painters may be seen hanging in company
with it, among them West's "Christ Rejected," Vanderlyn's "Ariadne," and
Allston's "Dead Man Restored to Life."

[Illustration: FANNY KEMBLE.--[THOMAS SULLY.]]

Born the year of the Declaration of Independence, John Vanderlyn, like
most of the leading artists of this period of whom we are writing, lived
to old age. His days were filled with hardships and vicissitudes: and,
unless he has since become aware of the fame he left behind, he was one
of many to whom life has been a very questionable boon.

[Illustration: ARIADNE.--[JOHN VANDERLYN.]]

Vanderlyn was a farmer's boy on the Hudson River. It was one of those
curious incidents by which Destiny sometimes makes us think there may
be, after all, something more than blind action in her ways, that Aaron
Burr, passing by his father's house, saw some rude sketches of the
rustic lad with that keen eye of his. Burr discerned in them signs of
promise, and invited him to come to New York. When Vanderlyn arrived
Burr treated him kindly. Eventually the painter made a portrait of
Theodosia, the beautiful and ill-fated daughter of his benefactor; and
when Burr was under a cloud and found himself destitute in Europe, it
was Vanderlyn who received and gave him shelter.

Much of the art-life of this painter was passed at Rome and in Paris.
His varied fortunes, and the constant adversity that baffled him at
every step, obliged him to resort to many a pitiful shift to keep soul
and body together. It is owing to this cause that he so rarely found
opportunity to do justice to the undoubted ability he possessed.

But Vanderlyn left at least two important creations, marked by genuine
artistic feeling and beauty, that will long entitle him to a favorable
position among American painters. "Marius Among the Ruins of Carthage" I
have never seen, and can only speak of it by report; but that it is a
work deserving to rank high in the art of the time seems to be proven
not only by the applause it received at Rome, but also by the fact that
it carried off the gold medal at the Salon in Paris. Such is the irony
of fate that the artist was twice forced to pawn this medal. The second
time he was unable to redeem it.

The "Ariadne" has unfortunately begun to show signs of age, and the
browns into which the flesh tints are painted are commencing to discolor
the delicate grays. An oil-painting, if properly executed, should hold
its qualities for a longer time; but unhappily the works of too many
good artists are affected in the same way. The "Ariadne" is, however, a
noble composition, quite in classic style; and if not strikingly
original, is a most creditable work for the early art of a young people.

Newport, Rhode Island's charming little city by the sea, once a thriving
commercial centre, but now a favorite resort of culture and gayety and
wealth, but always opulent in delightful Colonial and Revolutionary
associations, and doubly attractive for the artistic memories that cling
to it, and the treasures of our art which it contains--this was the
birth-place of Edward G. Malbone, who, after a successful art-life in
his native town and at Charleston, died at Newport, in 1807, at the
early age of thirty-two. Miniature-painting was a favorite pursuit of
our early artists. Some of our best portraits have been done by that
means; but among all who have followed it in the United States none have
excelled Malbone, although some, like John Fraser, of South Carolina,
have been very clever at it. He succeeded in giving character to his
faces to a degree unusual in miniature; while the coloring was rendered
at once with remarkable delicacy, purity, and fidelity. His best works
are probably the likeness of Ray Green, and the exquisitely beautiful
group called the "Hours," which is carefully preserved in the Athenæum
at Providence.

With the general public the name of no American artist of that time is
probably more widely known than that of Washington Allston. He owes this
in part, doubtless, to the fact that as a writer he also became
identified with the literary circle at that time prominent in Eastern
Massachusetts. He was born in 1779, at Waccamaw, South Carolina. Sent
at seven years of age to Newport, both for health and instruction, he
lived there ten years; and very likely associated with Malbone, and
perhaps met Stuart there.

[Illustration: "THE HOURS."--[E. G. MALBONE.] ORIGINAL SIZE.]

Subsequently Allston visited Italy, and then settled in London, where
his talents received such ample recognition as to gain him the position
of Academician. The mistake of his art-life--although it was perhaps
advantageous to his fame at home--was probably his return to the United
States while yet in his prime. The absence of influences encouraging to
art growth, and of that sympathy and patronage so essential to a
sensitive nature like that of Allston's, had a blighting effect on his
faculties; and the many years he passed in Boston were years of
aspiration rather than achievement. Allston has suffered from two
causes. Overrated as an artist in his day, his reputation is now
endangered from a tendency to award him less than justice. The latter
may be due in part to the fact that Allston himself adopted a course of
action that tended to repress rather than develop his art powers. In his
desire to give intellectual and moral value and permanent dignity to his
productions, and in his aversion to sensationalism in art, he treated
his subjects with a deliberate severity which takes away from them all
the feeling of spontaneity which is so delightful and important in works
of the imagination. If his genius had been of the high order claimed by
some, such a result would have been impossible. The emotional element
would have sometimes asserted itself, and given to his finished works
that warmth and attraction the lack of which, while they are
intellectually interesting and worthy of great respect, prevents them
from inspiring and winning our hearts, and has impaired the influence
they might have had in advancing the progress of art in America.

That Allston might have produced paintings of more absolute power, seems
evident from his numerous crayon sketches and studies for paintings,
which are full of fire, energy, and beauty, delicate fancy, and creative
power. One cannot wholly understand Allston's ability until he has seen
those studies; and it cannot be too much regretted that he did not allow
a freer rein to his brush when composing the works upon which he desired
to establish his fame. When he did so far forget himself, we get a
glimpse of the fervor and grandeur of the imagination that burned in
that brain, whose thoughts were greater than its capacity for
expression. It must also be granted that the works of Allston have the
quality peculiar to the productions of original minds: it is not until
they have been seen repeatedly that they reveal all that is in them.
"Uriel in the Sun," "Jeremiah," and "The Dead Man Restored to Life," are
probably the best of the finished works by which the solemn, mysterious,
and impressive imagination of Allston can be best estimated. Without
giving us new revelations regarding the secrets of color, as he was
rather an imitator of the Venetian school than an originator, Allston
can be justly considered one of the most agreeable colorists America has


[Illustration: "DYING HERCULES."--[SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.]]

Few of those who recognize the late Samuel F. B. Morse as the inventor
of our telegraphic system are aware that in early life he was an
artist, and gave evidence of succeeding both in sculpture and painting.
Although his preference was for the latter, we are inclined to think
that he was best fitted to be a sculptor. He became the pupil of Allston
in London, and modelled at that time a statue called the "Dying
Hercules," which won the prize of a gold medal offered by the Adelphi
Society of Arts for the best single figure. From that statue he
afterward composed a painting of the same subject, which is now in New
Haven, a work of unquestioned power, showing thorough anatomical
knowledge and a creative imagination. But, while there was reason to
predict an interesting art career for the young American, circumstances
beyond his control drifted him away from the chosen pursuit of his
youth, and his fame and fortune were eventually achieved in the paths of
science. It is interesting in this connection to read the words which
Morse, suffering from the pangs of disappointment, wrote to one who
asked his advice about becoming a painter: "My young friend, if you have
determined to try the life of an artist, I wish you all success; but as
you have asked my honest opinion, I must say that, if you can find
employment in any other calling, I advise you to let painting alone. I
have known so many young men--some of them of decided talent, too--who,
after repeated trials and failures, became discouraged, gave up further
effort, and went to ruin." Notwithstanding that such were his views when
he abandoned art, did not Morse, in the prosperous hours of his life,
sometimes look back to his early art with a pang of regret? But while he
continued in the profession of art, his activity was such that the
National Academy of Design owes its origin to him, and with him closed
the first period of art in the United States.

We see that this division of our pictorial art--with the exception of
Thomas Birch, of Philadelphia, a marine painter of some repute, and a
few others of less note--was devoted to the figure; and, if sometimes
feeble in result, was inspired by lofty motives. In historical art and
portraiture it was, if not strictly original, yet often very able, and
fairly maintained itself on a level with the contemporary art of Europe.
Owing to the entire want of opportunities for professional education at
home, our leading artists, with few exceptions, were forced to pass a
good part of their lives in foreign studios.

We also find that a feeling for the beauty of form, as indicated in
black and white, or in sculpture, was scarcely perceptible in this stage
of our art. With the exception of Shem Drowne and Patience Wright, who
modelled skilfully in wax, the sense for plastic art was altogether
dormant in the country; while any progress in architecture, until in
recent years, was hopelessly ignored. It is true that the active,
restless intellect of Thomas Jefferson sought to endow the nation with a
sixth order of architecture, called the Columbian, and patriotically
resembling a stalk of Indian-corn. The small pillars made after this
design are in one of the vestibules of the basement of the Capitol at
Washington, where the ardent patriot may visit them, and see for
himself the beginning and the end of the only order of architecture ever
attempted in this country.

Through much tribulation, much earnest faith, and enthusiasm for art,
our early painters prepared the way for the national art of the future.
They met only moderate appreciation in their native land at that time.
But we owe much to them; and in our preference for present
methods--which must in turn be superseded by others--let us not forget
the honor due to the pioneers of American art. In the first articulate
utterances of a child, or in the dialect of an aboriginal tribe, lie the
rudiments of a national tongue eventually carried to a high degree of
culture; and the first rude art or poesy of a young people sometimes
possesses touches of freshness, charming simplicity, or virile force
which are too liable to be softened away beyond recall by the
refinements of a later civilization.




The generation immediately succeeding the American Revolution was
devoted by the people of the young republic to adjusting its commercial
and political relations at home and abroad. Early in this century,
however, numerous signs of literary and art activity became apparent,
and in 1815 the _North American Review_ was founded. We mention this
fact, although a literary event, as indicating the point in time when
the nebulous character of the various intellectual influences and
tendencies of the nation began to develop a certain cohesive and
tangible form. It was about the same time that our art, subject to
similar influences, began to assume a more definite individuality, and
to exhibit rather less vagueness in its yearnings after national

Gilbert Stuart, one of the most remarkable colorists of modern time,
died in the year 1828. In the same year the National Academy of Design
was founded. These two events, occurring at the same time, seem properly
to mark the close of one period of our art history and the dawn of its
successor; for notwithstanding the excellence of Stuart's art, and the
virile character of the art of some of his contemporaries, yet their
efforts had been spasmodic and unequal; much of it had been done abroad
under foreign influences; and there was no sustained patronage or art
organization at home which could combine their efforts toward a
practical and common end. The first president of the new institution was
Samuel F. B. Morse.

The National Academy of Design superseded a similar but less wisely
organized society, which had led a precarious existence since 1801. With
the new institution was collected the nucleus of a gallery of paintings
and casts; and from the outset the idea suggested by its name was
carried out, by furnishing the most thorough opportunities for
art-instruction the country could afford.

[Illustration: "MUMBLE THE PEG."--[HENRY INMAN.]]

Although seemingly fortuitous, the establishment of the Academy of
Design really marks the opening of a distinct era in the history of
American art; during which it has developed into a rounded completeness
to a degree that enables us, with some measure of fairness, to note the
causes which led to it, which have nourished its growth, and which have
made it a worthy forerunner of new methods for expressing the artistic
yearnings of those who are to follow in years to come. It has indicated
a notable advance in our art; it has, in spite of its weakness or
imitation of foreign conventionalisms, possessed certain traits
entirely and distinctively native; and has been distinguished by a
number of artists of original and sometimes unusual ability, whose
failure to accomplish all they sought was due rather to unfortunate
circumstances than to the lack of genuine power, which in another age
might have done itself more justice.

It is interesting to observe at this juncture that our art was
influenced by exactly the same causes as our literature of the same
period; and, like our national civilization, presents a singular
reaching after original expression, modified sometimes by an unconscious
imitation of foreign thought and methods.

There is one fact connected with the early growth of our art which is
entirely contrary to the laws which have elsewhere governed the progress
of art, and is undoubtedly due to the new and anomalous features of our
social economy. Elsewhere the art-feeling has undeviatingly sought
expression first in earthen-ware or plastic art, then in architecture
and sculpture, and finally in painting. We have entirely reversed this
order. The unsettled character of the population--especially at the time
when emigration from the Eastern to the Western States caused a general
movement from State to State--together with the abundance of lumber at
that time, evidently offered no opportunity or demand for any but the
rudest and most rapidly constructed buildings, and anything like
architecture and decorative work was naturally relegated to a later
period; and for the same reason, apparently, the art of sculpture showed
little sign of demanding expression here until after the art of painting
had already formulated itself into societies and clubs, and been
represented by numerous artists of respectable abilities.

The art-feeling, which made itself apparent, vaguely and abortively,
during our colonial period, began to demand freer and fuller expression
soon after the new Republic had declared its independence; and, with
scarce any patronage from the Government, assumed a degree of excellence
surprising under the circumstances, and rarely reached by a nation in so
short a time.

We recall no art of the past the order and conditions of whose growth
resemble those of ours, except that of Holland after its wars of
independence with Spain. The bane and the blessing of our art have been
in the enormous variety of influences which have controlled its action.
This has been a bane, because it has, until recently, prevented the
concentration of effort which might lead to grand results and schools.
It has been a blessing, because individual expression has thus found a
vent, and mannerism has not yet become a conventional net, so thrown
around our art as to prevent free action and growth. The American art of
the last two generations has resembled the restless activity of a
versatile youth, who seeks in various directions for the just medium by
which to give direction to his life-work. If there has been, on the
whole, a national bias in one direction more than another, it has been
for landscape-painting.

Our intellectual state has also resembled the many-sided condition of
Germany in the Middle Ages, waking up from the chaos of the Dark Ages,
but broken up into different States, and representing different
religions and races. But our position has been even more agitated and
diverse; a general restlessness has characterized the community--a vast
intellectual discontent with the present. Although strongly moved by
pride of country, we have also been keenly sensitive to foreign
influences, and have received impressions from them with the readiness
of a photographic plate, although until recently the result has been
assimilation rather than imitation; while internally we have been trying
to harmonize race and sectional differences, which as yet are far from
reaching homogeneity.

Together with all these individual influences must be included one of
general application, to which nearly all our artists, of whatever race
or section, have been subject in turn. In other countries the people
have, by a long preparation, become ready to meet the artist half-way in
appreciating and aiding him in his mission, either from the promptings
of the religious sentiment to which his art has given ocular
demonstration, or from a dominating and universal sense of beauty. With
us it has been quite otherwise; for the artists have been in advance of
public sentiment, and have had the misfortune to be forced to wait until
the people could come up to them. In addition to the fact that in New
England Puritan influences were at first opposed to art, the restless,
surging, unequal, widely differing character of our people, brought face
to face with the elementary problems of existence, founding new forms of
government, and welding incongruous factors into one race and nation--in
a word, wresting from fate our right to be--made us indifferent to the
ideal, except in sporadic and individual cases, which indicated here and
there that below the surface the poetic sentiment was preparing to
assert itself; and that we, in turn, were preparing to acknowledge the
great truth that art is an instinctive yearning of the race to place
itself in accord with the harmony which rules the universe.


The result has been that a very large proportion of the artists of this
period of our history have been compelled to endure far more than the
traditionary hardships of the profession. They have been obliged to
devote some of the best years of their lives to trade, and have not been
able to take up art until late. To accuse American artists, as a class,
of being mercenary--a charge made quite too often--is really something
akin to irony, so much more successful pecuniarily would the majority of
them have been in mercantile pursuits. The heroism of our early
painters, struggling, in obscure corners of the country, for
opportunities to express their yearning after the ideal, without
instruction, without art-influences, meeting little or no sympathy or
encouragement, and in spite of these obstacles often achieving a
respectable degree of excellence, is one of the most interesting,
instructive, and sublime episodes in the history of art.

Growing out of this hesitating condition of our early art may be
discerned a secondary cause, which occurred in so many cases as to be
justly considered one of the forces which formed the careful, minute,
painstaking style of much of our landscape art. We refer to the fact
that many of the best of our early painters were first engravers on wood
and steel. This gave them a minute, formal, and precise method of
treatment, which led them to look at details rather than breadth of

When we turn to the influences from abroad which stimulated American art
during this period, we find that, while they fostered the growth of a
certain æsthetic feeling, they at the same time instilled conventional
methods and principles that deferred the development of a higher kind of
art. It is greatly to be regretted that, notwithstanding the friendly
relations between the United States and France, our art, when it was
first looking to Europe for direction, should not have come in contact
with that of France, which at that time, led by Gericault, Rousseau,
Troyon, Delacroix, and other rising men, was becoming the greatest
pictorial school since the Renaissance. But Italian art at that time was
sunk to the lowest depths of conventionalism; while the good in the
English art of the time was represented less by a school than by a few
individuals of genius--Turner, Wilkie, Constable--who were so original
that they failed to attract students whose first art ideas had been
obtained in Italy.

The influence of Italy on our early art was shown by the tendency of our
painters in that direction--as now they go to France and Germany--and
this was due primarily to Allston and Vanderlyn. The latter, when at
Rome, occupied the house of Salvator Rosa--apparently a trivial
incident, but if we could trace all the influence it may have had on the
fancy and tastes of the young American artist, we might find it was a
powerful contributor to the formation of the early style of the
landscape artists who followed him to Italy. This bias was also greatly
assisted by the many paintings imported at that time from the Italian
peninsula, which were either originals, bought cheaply during the
disturbances which then convulsed Europe, or copies of more or less
merit. These works made their way gradually over our country, from
Boston to New Orleans; and, with the rapidly shifting fortunes of our
families, have often been so completely placed out of sight and
forgotten, that it is not an unfrequent instance for one to be unearthed
in a remote country village, or farm-house that would never be suspected
of harboring high art.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF FLETCHER HARPER--[C. L. Elliott]]

The larger portion of these foreign works came first to Boston, and
were hidden away somewhere in that vicinity, as in the case of the
collection bequeathed to Bowdoin College by its founder; whose best
specimens were eventually sold and scattered for a mere song by a
faculty who were ignorant of their value, and thought they might at the
same time aid morality and add an honest penny to the funds of the
institution by selling its precious nudities, and thus remove them from
the student's eye. As Allston and Stuart, who were colorists, also
settled in Boston, after years of foreign study, these two circumstances
contributed to make the Boston school from the first one of color--a
fact less pronounced in the early art of New York.

It is to West and Allston and Trumbull that we are to attribute the
English element in our arts. The prominent position they then occupied
before the American public made their example and opinions of great
importance with their countrymen, and undoubtedly contributed to suggest
one of the most characteristic traits of American art, that is, the
tendency to make art a means for telling a story, which has always been
a prominent feature of English art. May we not also trace to English
literature the bias which unconsciously led our painters to turn their
attention to landscape with a unanimity that has until recently made our
pictorial art distinctively a school of landscape painting? Cowper,
Byron, and Wordsworth introduced landscape into poetry, and undoubtedly
impelled English art in the same direction; and it was exactly at that
time that our own poet, Bryant, undoubtedly influenced at the
turning-point of his character by Wordsworth's solemn worship of nature,
was becoming the pioneer of American descriptive poetry; while Irving
was introducing the picturesque into our literature; and Cooper, with
his vivid descriptions of our forests, was, like Irving, creating a
whole class of subjects that were to be illustrated by the American
artists of this period.

The influences cited as giving direction to the struggling efforts of
art in our country during the early part of this century are illustrated
with especial force by five portrait, figure, and landscape-painters,
who may almost be considered the founders of this period of our
art--Harding, Weir, Cole, Doughty, and Durand.

[Illustration: AN IDEAL HEAD.--[G. A. BAKER.]]

Chester Harding was a farmer's son, who, after an apprenticeship in
agriculture, took up the trade of chair-maker at twenty-one, the time
when the young Parisian artist has already won his _Prix de Rome_. After
this he tried various other projects, including those of peddling and
the keeping of a tavern; and then took his wife and child and floated
on a flat-boat down the Alleghany to Pittsburgh--at that time a mere
settlement--in search of something by which to earn a bare living. There
he took to sign-painting; and it was not until his twenty-sixth year
that the idea of becoming a professional artist entered his head. An
itinerant portrait-painter coming to the place first suggested the idea
to Harding, who engaged him to paint the portrait of Mrs. Harding, and
took his first art-lesson while looking over the artist's shoulder; and
his first crude attempts so fascinated him that he at once adopted art
as a profession, and in six months painted one hundred likenesses, such
as they were, at twenty-five dollars each, and then settled in Boston,
where he seems to have been taken up with characteristic enthusiasm. On
going to England, Harding, notwithstanding the few advantages he had
enjoyed, seemed to compare so favorably with portrait-painters there
that he was patronized by the first noblemen of the land. Although
belonging also to the latter part of the period immediately preceding
that now under consideration, yet Harding was, on the whole, an
important factor in the art which dates from the founding of the
National Academy, and was one of the strongest of the group of
portrait-painters naturally associated with him, such as Alexander,
Waldo, Jarvis, and Ingham. There was something grand in the personality
of Harding, not only in his almost gigantic physique but also his
sturdy, frank, good-natured, but earnest and indomitable character,
which causes him to loom up across the intervening years as a type of
the people that have felled forests, reclaimed waste places, and given
thews and sinews to the Republic that in a brief century has placed
itself in the front rank of nations.

While Harding, with all his artistic inequalities, fairly represented
the portrait art of Boston at that, period, Henry Inman may be
considered as holding a similar position in New York. As a resident of
that city and a pupil of Jarvis, he enjoyed advantages of early training
superior to those of most of our painters of that day. Exceedingly
versatile, and excelling in miniature, and doing fairly well in _genre_
and landscape, Inman will be best known in future years by his admirable
oil portraits of some of the leading characters of the time. He was a
man of great strength and symmetry of character, who would have won
distinction in any field, and his early death was a misfortune to the

New York became the centre for a number of excellent and characteristic
portrait-painters soon after Inman established his reputation--such as
Charles Loring Elliott, Baker, Hicks, Le Clear, Huntington, and Page,
the contemporaries of Healy, Ames, Hunt, and Staigg, of Boston, and
Sully, of Philadelphia--all artists of individual styles and
characteristic traits of their own. Sully, owing to his great age,
really belonged also to the preceding period of our art.


In Elliott we probably find the most important portrait-painter of this
period of American art. It was a peculiarity of his intellectual growth
that only by degrees did he arrive at the point of being able to seize a
simple likeness. But it is not at all uncommon for genius to falter in
its first attempts; and Elliott was one of the few artists we have
produced who could be justly ranked among men of genius, as
distinguished from those of talents, however marked. Stuart excelled all
our portrait-painters in purity and freshness of color and masterly
control of pigments; but he was scarcely more vigorous than Elliott in
the wondrous faculty of grasping character. Herein lay this artist's
strength. He read the heart of the man he portrayed, and gave us not
merely a faithful likeness of his outward features, but an epitome of
his intellectual life and traits, almost clutching and bringing to light
his most secret thoughts. In studying the portraits of Elliott we learn
to analyze and to discern the essential and irreconcilable difference
between photography and the highest order of painting. The sun is a
great magician, but he cannot reproduce more than lies on the
surface--he cannot suggest the soul. He is like a truthful but unwilling
witness, who gives only part, and not always the best part, of the
truth. But then the genius of the great artist steps in, completes the
testimony, and presents before us suggestions of the immortal being that
shall survive when the mortal frame and the sun which photographs it
have alike passed away.

Baker, on the other hand, has excelled in rendering the delicate color
and loveliness of childhood, and the splendor of the finest types of
American feminine beauty. The miniatures of Staigg are also among the
most winning works of the sort produced by our art. Among other
excellent miniature-painters of this period was Miss Goodrich, of whose
personal history less is known than of any other American artist.

William Page occupies a phenomenal position in the art of this period,
because, unlike most of our painters, he has not been content to take
art methods and materials as he found them, but has been an
experimentalist and a theorist as well, and therefore belongs properly
to more recent phases of our art. Thus, while he has achieved some
singularly successful works in portraiture and historical painting, he
has done much that has aroused respect rather than enthusiasm.

If less refined in aim and treatment than Page in his rendering of
female beauty, Henry Peters Grey, who was also an earnest student of
Italian Renaissance art, succeeded sometimes to a degree which, if far
below that of the masters whom he studied, was yet in advance of most of
such art as has been executed by American painters, at least until very
recently. "The Judgment of Paris" is certainly a clever if not wholly
original work, and the figure of Venus a fine piece of form and color.

Daniel Huntington, the third president of the National Academy of
Design, is a native of New York city, and has enjoyed advantages and
successes experienced by very few of our early artists. A pupil of Morse
and Inman, he is better known by the men of this generation as a
pleasing portrait-painter; but the most important of his early efforts
were in what might be called a semi-literary style in _genre_ and
historical and allegorical or religious art, in which departments he has
won a permanent place in our annals by such compositions as "Mercy's
Dream," "The Sibyl," and "Queen Mary Signing the Death-warrant of Lady
Jane Grey."

While portraiture has been the field to which most of our leading
painters of the figure have directed their attention during this period,
_genre_ has been represented by several artists of decided ability, who,
under more favorable art auspices, might have achieved superior results.
Inman was one of the first of our artists to make satisfactory attempts
in _genre_. If circumstances had allowed him to devote himself entirely
to any one of the three branches he pursued, he might have reached a
higher position than he did. But the most important _genre_ artist of
the early part of this period was William Sidney Mount, the son of a
farmer on Long Island. Associated first with his brother as a
sign-painter, he eventually, in 1828, took up _genre_ painting. Mount
lacked ambition, as he himself confessed; he was too easily influenced
by the rapidly won approval of the public to cease improving his style,
and early returned to his farm on Long Island. Mount was not remarkable
as a colorist, although it is quite possible he might have succeeded as
such with superior advantages; but he was in other respects a man of
genius, who as such has not been surpassed by the numerous _genre_
artists whom he preceded, and to whom he showed by his example the
resources which our native domestic life can furnish to the _genre_
painter. This American Wilkie had a keen eye for the humorous traits of
our rustic life, and rendered them with an effect that sometimes
suggests the old Dutch masters. "The Long Story" and "Bargaining for a
Horse" are full of inimitable touches of humor and shrewd observations
of human nature. F. W. Edmonds, who was a contemporary of Mount,
although a bank cashier, found time from his business to produce many
clever _genre_ paintings, showing a keener eye for color, but less snap
in the drawing and composition, than Mount.

[Illustration: "MIRANDA."--[DANIEL HUNTINGTON.]]

In other departments of the figure at this period of our art, Robert W.
Weir holds a prominent position as one of our pioneers in the
distinctive branch called historical painting. Of Huguenot descent, and
gaining his artistic training in Italy, after severe struggles at home,
his career illustrates several of the influences which have been most
apparent in forming American art. Although not a servile imitator of
foreign and classic art, and showing independence of thought in his
practice and choice of subjects, Weir's style is pleasing rather than
vigorous and original. It shows care and loving patience, as of one who
appreciates the dignity of his profession, but no marked imaginative
force, nor does he introduce or suggest any new truths. Such a massive
composition, however, as the "Sailing of the Pilgrims," while it
scarcely arouses enthusiasm, causes us to wonder that we should so early
have produced an art as conscientious and clever as this. The portrait
of Red Jacket, and the elaborate painting called "Taking the Veil," are
also works of decided merit. Enjoying a serene old age, this revered
painter yet survives, still wielding his brush, and annually exhibiting
creditable pictures in the Academy.


In the works of the figure-painters we have spoken of there is evident
an earnest pursuit of art, attended sometimes with very respectable
results; but, with the exception of here and there a portrait-painter of
real genius, we do not discover in their paintings much that is of value
in the history of art, except as indicating the existence of genuine
æsthetic feeling in the country demanding expression in however
hesitating and abortive a manner. But when we come to the subject of
landscape-painting, we enter upon a field in which originality of style
is apparent, and a certain consistency and harmony of effort. Minds of
large reserve power meet us at the outset, moved by strong and earnest
convictions, and often expressing their thoughts in methods entirely
their own. Thoroughly, almost fanatically, national by nature, even when
their art shows traces of foreign influence, and drawing their subjects
from their native soil, they have created an art which can fairly claim
to be ranked as a school, whatever be the position assigned to it in
future ages. English, French, Irish, African, and Spaniard have alike
vied in painting the scenery of this beautiful country, and mingling
their fame and identifying their lives with "its hills, rock-ribbed and
ancient as the sun," its mountain streams and meadow lands, its primeval
forests, and the waves that break upon its granite shores.

It is to three artists of great natural ability that the origin of
American landscape-painting can be traced--Cole, Doughty, and Durand.
Although the youngest of the three, the first seems to have antedated
Doughty by a few months in adopting this branch of art professionally;
while Durand, older than Cole by several years, yet did not take up
landscape-painting until some years after him.

Thomas Cole died in the prime of life, at the age of forty-seven, but
there are few characters in the history of the country that have made a
deeper impression. Singularly versatile, inspired by a powerful
imagination, possessing a pure and lofty character, and animated by the
noblest of sentiments, we feel before his greatest works--through all
the imperfections of his art, through all the faltering methods with
which his genius sought to express itself--that a vast mind here sought
feebly to utter great thoughts (which he has doubtless already learned
to utter with more truth in another world); we see that unmistakable
sign of all minds of a high order, the evidence that the man was greater
than his works. It is not dexterity, technique, knowledge, that
impresses us in studying the works of Cole, so much as character. One
feels that in them is seen the handwriting of one of the greatest men
who have ever trod this continent.

[Illustration: "TAKING THE VEIL"--[ROBERT WEIR]]

Thomas Cole, the first artist who ever painted landscape professionally
in America--unless we except the few faltering landscape-paintings of
John Frazer, the miniature artist of the previous century--was born in
England, but he was of American ancestry, and his parents returned to
this country in his childhood. The difficulties with which he had to
contend at the outset of his art career form an affecting picture. From
infancy he had been fond of the pencil; and the tinting of wall-paper in
his father's factory at Steubenville, Ohio, gave him a slight practice
in the harmony of colors. In the mean time he took up engraving, but
was diverted from this pursuit by a travelling German portrait-painter,
who gave him a few lessons in the use of oil-colors. He began with
portraiture, and resolved to be an artist, although the failure of his
father's business brought the whole family on him for support. The
struggles through which the youth now passed make a long and painful
story. Through it all he retained his bias for art, and at twenty-two
began to draw scenery, from nature, along the banks of the Monongahela.
Dunlap has well said, "To me the struggles of a virtuous man endeavoring
to buffet fortune, steeped to the very lips in poverty, yet never
despairing, or a moment ceasing his exertions, is one of the most
sublime objects of contemplation."

After several years of this severe hardship, Cole finally drifted to New
York, and eventually attracted notice. When the National Academy of
Design was founded in 1828, Cole and Doughty were simultaneously winning
success, and giving a permanent character to the art which for half a
century was destined to be most prominent on the walls of the Academy.

So far as foreign technical influences can be traced in the compositions
of Cole, they are those of Claude and Salvator Rosa. He revisited
England at the time when Turner and Constable were establishing their
fame, and producing such an influence on the great school of French
landscape art which has since succeeded. It is interesting to think what
would have been the character of our landscape art if Cole had been
favorably impressed by the broad and vigorous style of these painters.
But he does not seem to have been ripe for the audacious and sometimes
more truthful methods of modern landscape, and expressed himself with
warmth regarding what he considered the extravagances of Turner.

The art of Cole was however, largely biassed by the literature of
England. The influence of both Bunyan and Walter Scott can be traced in
his works; while the serious turn of his mind gave a solemn majesty and
a religious fervor to his compositions, which command our deep respect,
even when we fail altogether to concede complete success to his artistic
efforts. For this reason Cole has wielded, more than most of our
artists, a powerful influence outside of his art with a people which,
with all its volatility, yet maintains the traditions of a deeply
religious ancestry. It was in this many-sidedness of his genius, that
brought him into contact with widely varied sympathies, that Cole's
chief power consisted; for if we look at his work from the art point of
view alone, we are impressed with its inequality, the lack of early art
influences which it exhibits, and an attempt sometimes at dramatic force
which occasionally lapses into mere sensationalism. But in all his
compositions there are evident a rapturous love of nature, and the
energy and yearning of a mind seeking to find expression for a vast
ideal. Cole was what very few of our artists have been--an idealist. The
work by which he will be longest and best remembered in the art of his
country is the noble series called the "Course of Empire," consisting of
five paintings, representing a nation's rise, progress, decline, and
fall, and the change which comes over the abandoned scenery as the once
superb capital returns to the wildness and solitude of nature. The last
of the series, entitled "Desolation"--a gray silent waste, haunted by
the bittern, with here and there a crumbling column reflected in the
deserted harbor, where gleaming fleets once floated, and imperial
pageants were seen in the pavilions along the marble piers--is one of
the most remarkable productions of American art. But with all the
enthusiasm which Cole aroused among his contemporaries, his influence
seems to have been to give dignity to landscape art rather than to
impress his thoughts and methods on other artists. It is true that he
seized the characteristics of our scenery with a truth which came not
only from close study, but also from deep affection for the land whose
mountains and lakes he painted, and thus led our first landscapists to
observe the great variety and beauty of their own country. But, on the
other hand, a certain hardness in his technique probably rendered him
less influential as a leader than Doughty and Durand. The former, if
inferior in general capacity to Cole, was more emphatically the artist
by nature.


Thomas Doughty was in the leather business until his twenty-eighth year,
when, without any previous training, he threw up the trade, and adopted
the profession of landscape-painter. There is an audacity, a
self-confidence, in the way our early painters entered on the art
career, without instruction in the theory and practice of their art,
which is charming for the simplicity it shows, but would tend to bring
the efforts of these artists into contempt if the results had not often
justified their audacity, for they were sometimes men of remarkable
ability. There have been many greater landscape-painters than Doughty,
but few who have done so well with such meagre opportunities for
instruction. He seems, also, to have been successful in attracting
favorable notice in England as well as here, although at a time when
English landscape art was at its zenith. The soft, poetic traits, the
tender, silvery tones, that distinguished Doughty's style, were entirely
original with him, and have undoubtedly had much influence in forming
the style of some of the landscapists who succeeded him.

In Asher B. Durand, a Huguenot by descent, and the only one of the three
founders of American landscape-painting who survives to our time to
enjoy a green old age, we find a nature as strong as that of Cole. The
equal of that artist in the sum of his intellectual powers, we discover
in him a different quality of mind. Similar as they are in high moral
purpose and a profound reverence for the Creator, as represented in his
works, Cole was the most imaginative and inspirational of the two,
stirred more by the fire of genius; while Durand, with a more equable
temperament and a larger experience, produced results that are more
satisfactory from an art point of view.

[Illustration: A STUDY FROM NATURE.--[A. U. DURAND.]]

Few artists have shown greater capacity than Durand in successfully
following entirely distinct branches of art. As a steel-engraver, who in
this century has produced work that is much superior to his superb
engraving of Vanderlyn's "Ariadne?" Who of our artists has been able
both to design and to engrave such a work as his "Musidora?" After
employing the burin so admirably, he took up portrait-painting, and by
such portraits as his head of Bryant placed himself by the side of our
leading portrait-painters. Still unsatisfied with the success won thus
far, Durand, in his thirty-eighth year, directed his efforts to
landscape-painting, and at once became not only a pioneer but a master
in this department. The care he had been obliged to give to engraving
was undoubtedly of great assistance to him in enabling him to render the
lines of a composition with truth; while his practice of studying
character in portraiture gave him insight into the individuality of
trees--he invested them with a humanity like that which the ancient
Greeks gave to their forests when they made them the haunt of the
dryads. It is to this that we doubtless owe the massive handling, the
fresh and vigorous treatment of trees in such solemn and majestic
landscapes as "The Edge of the Forest," in the Corcoran Gallery at
Washington. The art of Durand is wholly national: few of our painters
owe less to foreign inspiration. Here he learned the various arts that
gave him a triple fame, here he found the subjects for his compositions,
and his name is destined to endure as long as American art shall endure.


Among the most prominent of the landscape-painters who succeeded the
founders of the art among us, and were, like them, inspired by a
reverent spirit and lofty poetic impulses, John F. Kensett holds a
commanding position. Like Durand, he began his career with the burin,
and after working for the American Bank-note Company, drifted into
painting. Circumstances seem to have favored him beyond many of his
compeers, and he was early permitted to visit England and the Continent,
and spent seven years abroad. Notwithstanding so long an association
with foreign schools, especially the Italian, we find very little
evidence of foreign art in the style of Kensett. He was fully as
original as Durand, and saw and represented nature in his own language.
His methods of rendering a bit of landscape were tender and harmonious,
and entirely free from any attempt at sensationalism. So marked was the
latter characteristic especially, that before the great modern question
of the values began to arouse much attention in the ateliers of Paris,
Kensett had already grasped the perception of a theory of art practice
which has since become so prominent in foreign art; although, naturally,
it is not in all his canvases that this attempt to interpret the true
relations of objects in nature is equally evident. We see it brought out
most prominently in some of his quiet, dreamy coast scenes, in which it
is not so much things as feelings that he tries to render or suggest. In
them also is most apparent an endeavor after breadth of effect, which is
a sign of mastery when successfully carried out. Mr. Kensett's art
consisted in a certain inimitably winning tenderness of tone--a subtle
poetic suggestiveness. His small compositions, as a rule, are more
satisfying than his larger pictures, in which the thinness of his
technique is sometimes too prominent. The career of Kensett, who died
but a few years ago, is one of the most complete and symmetrical in our
art history.


A contemporary of Kensett, but still surviving him, George L. Brown, of
Boston, struggled heroically and successfully with the early
difficulties of his life; and, yielding to the seductive influences of
Italian scenery, devoted his art to representing it, with results that
entitle him to an honorable position. The effects he has sought are
luminousness and color. Mr. Brown's method of using colors was formed,
to a certain extent, on that of the Italian landscape art of the time;
and, while often brilliant and poetic, reminds us sometimes of the
studio rather than of the free, pure, magical opulence of the atmosphere
and sunlight of the scenery he portrayed. It can be frankly conceded,
however, that he has been no slavish copyist of a style; but while
acknowledging the force of foreign influences, has yet given abundant
evidence of a personality of his own: and in such works as his "Bay of
New York," which is owned by the Prince of Wales, and some of his views
among the liquid streets of Venice lined with mouldering palaces, and
skimmed by gondolas darting hither and thither like swallows, he has
shown himself to be a true poet and an admirable painter.




No school of art ever came more rapidly into being than the landscape
school which owes its rise to Cole, Doughty, and Durand. Up to this time
portraiture had been the field in which American painters had achieved
their most signal successes. But now the majority of our artists of
ability turned their attention to the representation of scenery; and for
forty years a long list of painters have made the public familiar with
their native land, and have thus, at the same time, stimulated a popular
interest in art.

It is impossible to mention here more than a few of those who, as
landscape-painters, have won a local or national reputation among us.
Nor is it essential, while recognizing the great importance and
undoubted merit of our landscape art, to exaggerate its relative value
and position. While it has, in most cases, been the result of a true
artistic feeling and a genuine, if not very demonstrative, enthusiasm
for nature on the part of the artists who have devoted their lives to
its pursuit, and while it has given us much that is pleasing, much that
is improving, much that is poetic, and occasionally some examples of a
high order of landscape-painting--yet, as a whole, our school of
landscape seems scarcely to be entitled to the highest rank. The wonder
is that it has been of such average excellence, for the environing
conditions have apparently not been favorable. The influences among
which it sprung have been so often prosaic or uninspiring, that,
notwithstanding its fertility, we find the result to lean to quantity
rather than quality. The ideal and emotional elements in art have not
been sufficiently dominant; while the topographical and the mechanical
notions regarding the end of landscape art have prevailed.


Until recently this school has contented itself with the superficial
aspect of nature rather than with the subtle suggestions by which it
appeals to the soul. An absence of imaginative power has been too
apparent, and a lack of the energy and earnestness born of large natures
and absorbing enthusiasm; and the abundant variety or individuality of
style, while indicating self-reliant, independent action, sometimes has
also been a result of the want of solid training, or failure to grasp
the accepted principles which underlie art practice. There has been a
general average of native ability in the artists--a certain dead level
of excellence in the quality of the works offered at our annual
exhibitions--which was good as far as it went; but, except on rare
occasions, it seldom arrested and enchained attention by the expression
of daring technique or imaginative power, as the outcome of concerted
influences exerted in one direction, and resulting in typical
representative minds of vast resources, bounding into the arena and
challenging the admiration of the world. Artists we have undoubtedly had
occasionally, during this period, who have been endowed with genius to
win renown; but they have, like Cole, either lacked the training and
influences--the long succession of national heredity in art practice
which are well-nigh indispensable to the highest success; or, like
Church, yielding to the impulse of a prosaic environment, they have
stopped short of the highest flights of art, and their imagination has
been curbed to the subordinate pursuit of rendering the actual rather
than the ideal.

In technique, also--if we may be permitted modestly to express an
opinion on the subject--this school has seemed to be, on the whole, weak
and vacillating, being impelled by no definite aim. It has dealt with
detail rather than masses; it has concerned itself with parts rather
than general effect. Thus, while the rendering of details has sometimes
been given with great fidelity, the spirit of the scene has eluded the
artist, and a work which dazzles us at first, fails, therefore, to hold
the imagination of the observer, and becomes flat and insipid on
repeated inspection. The reverse is the case with works of art of the
first order.

We also find in the art of this school weakness in a knowledge of--or at
least in the power of appreciating--the vast significance of the line in
art. Too many American paintings, which have been clever in color, have
been almost ruined by the palpable ignorance they display of the
elements of drawing. Inability to compose effectively--or, in other
words, to perceive the harmony which is the dominant idea of true
art--has also been too frequent a characteristic of this school. While
in the application of colors a lack of nerve has been exhibited which
gives to many of these works an appearance of thinness, that becomes
painfully apparent when they have been painted a few years. These
observations apply no less to the figure-painting than the landscape art
of this period of American art; and a general absence of warmth and
earnestness is the impression which a survey of the field leaves upon
the mind of the candid observer.


There is nothing in this to surprise or to discourage, if we frankly
consider the surrounding circumstances. Great art is the child of
repose; the restlessness, the feverish activity of the country,
eminently encouraging to some pursuits, is, if not fatal to the arts, at
least opposed to their highest development; the vast multiplicity of
aims agitating the people has thus far prevented that concentration of
effort which meets with a response in the enthusiasm of artistic genius.
Instead of being discouraged, therefore, by the quality of the art we
have already produced, we accept it as strong evidence that the American
people have a decided natural turn for the arts, which only awaits a
more favorable condition of the nation to reach a higher plane of

Nor does the general absence of imaginative power in our art seem to us
proof that we are by nature destined to remain a prosaic people. Aside
from the fact that already years ago we had such imaginative artists as
Hamilton, Lafarge, Vedder, and others, we consider that the wonderful
inventive quality of the American mind toward scientific and mechanical
discovery argues a highly creative imagination. Herbert Spencer it is
who proves somewhere that imagination must enter into the working out of
the problems of inventive science. Hitherto the nation's needs have
stimulated the imagination in that direction; but under new conditions
there is little reason to doubt that the same faculty will become
subservient to the creation of an original and powerful school of art in

But while admitting the weak points of our landscape art, and that the
highest flights of which landscape-painting is capable have not always
been reached by our artists, we should be careful, on the other hand,
lest we fail to award them the merit which is justly their due for
persevering endeavor, and frequently for great natural ability. Let us,
in justice, ungrudgingly allow the discriminating praise that some out
of a large number are undoubtedly entitled to claim. If we mention them
individually rather than by the classification of schools, it is simply
because, for the reasons already stated, scarce any of our artists have
founded schools; although we may, perhaps, without inconsistency, speak
of the efforts of artists of altogether different styles, but treating
the same class of subjects, as a school. It is in this sense that we
allude to our school of landscape.

With certain important exceptions, to be noted in another chapter, the
American art of this period has, on the whole, been concerned chiefly
with the objective; and it could not have well been otherwise, for any
other form of art at such a time would have utterly failed to carry the
people with it, and thus missed of producing that gradual æsthetic
education which is the province of a national art.

Not only for this reason has our school of landscape art vindicated its
right to be, and established its claim on our respectful attention, but
also because it has owed little to foreign influences--springing rather
from environing circumstances, as naturally as the flowers of May follow
the departure of winter.


And thus, as after a long winter a few warm spring days cover the
orchard with an affluence of blossoms, so at this time from many
quarters of the land artists appeared, especially in the field of
landscape art; and one can hardly believe that where, but a few years
before, the Indian and the buffalo and the wolf had roamed at their own
wild will, artists now arose, armed with an ability to discern the
beauties of their native land, to direct the prosaic thoughts of the
pioneer to the loveliness of the nature which surrounded him, and to
make for themselves an enduring name. Ohio, the Massachusetts of the
West, for example, which became a State as late as 1800, was in the
early part of this period especially prolific in artists, who, if they
did not find instruction or a public on the spot, were at least enabled,
with the increasing means of communication, to go to New York and
Boston, or to wander over to the studios and art wealth of Europe. In
other lands and ages the poetic sentiment has first found a vent in
lyrics and idyls; but with us the best poetry has been in the
landscape-painting which was created by the sons of those whose ploughs
first broke the soil of this continent with a Christian civilization. At
this period, also, we note the advent of an influence which doubtless
aided to promote a more rapid pursuit of the new art impulse of the
nation. Steam, the mighty magician which drives the locomotive and the
steamship, is in bad repute with the conservatives who are not in
sympathy with the progressive movements of the age; and yet among all
the other results of which it has been the wonderful agent, we must
ascribe its patronage of art. It is undoubtedly to the far greater
facilities for going from place to place, which followed the
introduction of steam, that we must partly attribute the rapid success
of many of the artists who appeared in our country at that time in such
unexpected numbers.

It was in 1841 that Leutze went to Düsseldorf to study, and thus
introduced a new influence into our art, which hitherto, so far as it
had acknowledged foreign influences, had been swayed by the schools of
Italy and Britain. The effect was evident when, a few years later,
Worthington Whittredge, a native of Ohio, went to Düsseldorf, and
studied under the guidance of Achenbach. Very naturally his style showed
for a time the effect of foreign methods; but he was guided by a native
independence of action that enabled him in the end to assimilate rather
than to imitate, like most of our artists at this time, and his later
landscapes are thoroughly individual and American, although doubtless
improved by foreign discipline. As a faithful delineator of the various
phases of American wood interiors, Mr. Whittredge has deservedly won a
permanent place in the popular favor. Some of his landscapes,
representing the scenery of the great West, have also been large in
treatment and effective in composition; but his skies sometimes lack
atmosphere and ideality.

Like his master, Durand, J. W. Casilear began his career as an engraver;
and the success he achieved in this department is attested by his very
clever engraving of Huntington's "Sibyl." Since he drifted into
landscape-painting, Casilear has produced many delicately finished and
poetic scenes, distinguished by elegance and refinement rather than dash
or originality; and somewhat the same observations would apply to the
tender landscapes of James A. Saydam. In such dreamy, pleasant, but not
very vigorous paintings as that of his "Valley of the Pemigewasset,"
Samuel L. Gerry has also attracted favorable attention.


The work of a genuine poet is apparent in the canvases of R. W. Hubbard.
Repose and pensive harmoniousness of treatment characterize his simple
and winsome, if not stirring, transcripts of the more familiar phases of
our scenery. They are idyls in color. What Hubbard has done for New
England landscape, J. R. Meeker, of St. Louis, has attempted for the
"lakes of the Atchafalaya, fragrant and thickly embowered with
blossoming hedges of roses," and the live-oaks spreading their vast
arms, like groined arches of Gothic cathedrals, festooned with the
mystically trailing folds of the Spanish moss, along the lagoons of the
South-west, where the sequestered shores are haunted by the pelican and
the gayly colored crane, and the groves are melodious with the rapturous
lyrics of the mockingbird, the improvisatore of the woods. If not always
successful in the tone of his pictures, it may be conceded that Mr.
Meeker has approached his subject with a reverent and poetic spirit, and
has often rendered these scenes with much feeling and truth.

Still another aspect of our scenery has been reproduced with fidelity by
W. T. Richards, of Philadelphia. We refer to the long reaches of
silvery shore and the sand-dunes which are characteristic of many parts
of our Atlantic coast. He has often painted woodland scenes with great
patience, but, as it seems to us, with too much detail, and with greens
which are open to a charge of being crude and violent. But in his beach
effects Mr. Richards maintains an important position; and if slightly
mannered, has yet developed a style of subject and treatment which very
effectively represents certain distinguishing features of our solemn
coasts. Some of his water-color paintings have scarcely been surpassed,
as, for example, the noble representations of the bleak, snow-like,
cedar-tufted dunes along the Jersey shore.

[Illustration: "THE PARSONAGE"--[A. F. BELLOWS]]

The extraordinary variety of the effects of American landscape is again
shown by the gorgeousness of our autumnal foliage. It has been objected
by some that it is too vivid for art purposes. We consider this a matter
of individual taste. There is nothing more absurd in trying to render
the effects of sunset, or the scarlet and gold of an American forest in
the dreamy days of the Indian summer, than in undertaking to paint the
splendor of many-colored drapery in an Oriental crowd, which is
considered a legitimate subject for the artist who has a correct eye
for color. It is not in the subject, but in the artist, that the
difficulty lies. Some of our painters have seized these autumnal
displays with fine feeling and excellent judgment. Kensett is an
example; another is J. F. Cropsey, who, beginning life as an architect,
became eventually an agreeable delineator of our autumnal scenery, and
at one time executed a number of paintings remarkable for their truth
and artistic beauty. His later work has scarcely sustained the early
reputation he justly acquired. At its best, his style was crisp, strong
in color, and sometimes very bold in composition. Mr. C. P. Cranch, who
was associated with Cropsey in Italy, and who is well known as a writer,
has exhibited in his Venetian landscapes a correct perception of color,
while his method lacks firmness of drawing, and shows traces of foreign
influence more than that of many of our artists who studied abroad at
this time. R. H. Fuller, who was a night-watchman on the police force of
Chelsea, Massachusetts, and died in 1871, was an artist whose
educational opportunities were excessively meagre. But he had a fine eye
for color and atmospheric effect, and some of his landscapes are painted
with a full brush, and are tender and beautiful. F. D. Williams, before
he left Boston for Paris, also developed a strong scheme of handling and
color which was at once pleasing and original. F. H. Shapleigh has
likewise shown an excellent feeling for some of nature's more quiet
effects, and his coast scenes are attractive, although lacking somewhat
in force.


As one considers this field of American art, he is increasingly
astonished to find how strikingly it exemplifies one of the leading
traits of a national school in the entire originality and individuality
with which each of our prominent landscapists of this period interprets
nature, even when he has studied more or less in Europe. Whatever may be
the general defect of refinement rather than strength, and other
weaknesses characteristic of our school of landscape art, it must be
admitted that its representative artists have been often sturdily
independent, and that their merits as well as their defects are entirely
their own. What difference there is between the carefully finished but
rich, massive foliage of David Johnson, suggesting the strength of the
old English masters of landscape, and the dreamy, mellow pastoral meadow
lands, wooded slopes, and dimpling lakes of our Green Mountains, veiled
by a luminous haze and steeped in repose, which are so delicately
portrayed by the brush of J. B. Bristol! Few of the landscape-painters
of this school have produced more agreeable results with their brush.
What points of divergence there are, again, between the landscapes of W.
L. Sonntag and A. F. Bellows!--the one adopting a scheme of tone and
color apparently out of the focus of nature, yet so using it in
rendering ideal compositions as to achieve results which place him by
the side of our leading poets of nature. To him landscape-painting seems
to be not so much a means to give faithful transcripts of actual scenes
as to represent the ideals of his fancy; and as such we accept them with
thankfulness, for they not only serve to give us pleasure, but also to
illustrate the many-sided phases of art. Bellows, on the other hand,
both in oil and _aquarelle_, has attempted minute reproductions of
nature; and, while sometimes suggesting the impression of labor rather
more than is consistent with breadth of effect, has faithfully and
charmingly interpreted the idyllic side of our rural life. If he had not
been a poet in color, we might have expected of him pastoral lyrics
imbued with the spirit of Cowper or Thompson. Early study at the school
of Antwerp, and the pursuit of _genre_ for some years, have enabled Mr.
Bellows skilfully to diversify his attractive village pictures and
representations of our noble New England elms with groups of figures. He
is justly entitled to be called the American Birket Foster.

It is instructive, in this connection, to observe the first landscapes
of George Inness, which properly belong in style to the early and
distinctively American school of landscape, while his recent method has
identified him with the later graduates of the ateliers of Paris. Samuel
Colman is another landscape-painter whose art is identified both with
this school and with that of the period on which we are now entering.
Educated here, and influenced by a fine eye for color, foreign travel
has broadened his sympathies, modified his technique, and led him to
look with favor upon later methods.

The landscapes of William and James Hart represent still another phase
of our art. Both began life as apprentices to a coach-painter, but
gradually identified themselves with the great throng of all ages who
have become the votaries of nature. There is cleverness and dexterity in
their work, a fine perception of the external beauty of the slopes and
vales and woods of our land, and brilliant color; but it is sometimes
marred by hardness of handling, and lack of juiciness or warmth of
feeling; in other words, it is too exclusively objective, as if only the
physical and not also the mental eye had been concerned in the painting
of their works. James Hart has of late years added cattle to his
landscapes with excellent success, and holds a prominent position among
the very few respectable painters of animal life whom the American art
of this period can justly claim.


Mr. Horace Robbins, successful in seizing certain aspects of mountain
scenery, with a fine feeling for atmospheric grays, and Mr. Arthur
Parton, who very pleasingly renders trees, and some of the sober effects
of our dim November days, although among our younger painters, justly
belong to this period, as do also Messrs. James and George Smillie, who
have been equally happy in water and oil colors. The former is another
of our many landscape-painters who began as engravers on steel. The
later style of these talented brothers has been evidently modified with
advantage by the influence of foreign technique, although they have
studied wholly in this country; and they now display an attractive vigor
and freshness in their landscape pieces, and a somewhat original choice
of subjects.

The style of each of the artists we have mentioned can be distinguished
at once. Individuality of expression is stamped upon the canvas of all;
but among them there is no one more thoroughly original than Sanford R.
Gifford, who, if he had lived in Persia or Peru two thousand years ago,
might well have been an enthusiastic fire-worshipper, or daily welcomed
the rising sun with reverent adoration. To him landscape-painting,
whether of scenes in our own Far West, or on the legendary Hudson, or in
the gorgeous East, has been alike the occasion for giving expression to
his feeling for glowing atmospheric effects, for lyrics which on canvas
reproduce the splendor of the sunset sky. But it would be a mistake to
suppose that Mr. Gifford's poetic sense has been confined to the
contemplation of serene and glowing atmospheres: he has also
successfully rendered the lazy mist, the trailing vapor of morning
enmeshed in dusky woodlands by the silent lake. His style combines to a
remarkable degree deliberation and inspiration--a happy union of the
analytical and emotional elements in art.

The objective school of American landscape-painting has found its
culminating excellence, as it seems to us, in the art of Frederick K.
Church. In his art-life the tendencies and aims of the chief national
school we have produced during the last half century have been typically
represented. In his works the technical weakness of this school is
apparent, and, at the same time, its noble sympathy with nature, and its
love for the grander aspects of the external world. It also represents
the restless, unsatisfied genius of our people during this period, ever
reaching out and beyond, and yearning, Venice-like, to draw to itself
the spoils, the riches, the splendors, of the whole round globe. To our
art the paintings of Mr. Church are what the geographic cantos of
"Childe Harold" have been to the poesy of England, or the burning
descriptions of St. Pierre and Châteaubriand to the literature of
France. If such a topic is permissible in letters, may it not also be
allowed sometimes in painting? Whether the one is as lofty as epic
poetry, or the other as great as historical painting or subjective
landscape, is a question which we do not need here to analyze. It is
sufficient that each holds an important position; and to carry off the
palm in either can only be the result of consummate genius. Yes! what
"Childe Harold" did for the scenery of the Old World, the art of Church
has done for that of the New. The vastness and the glory of this
continent were yet unrevealed to us. With the enthusiasm of a Raleigh or
a Balboa he has explored land and sea, combining the characteristics of
the explorer and the artist. A pupil of Cole, he has carried to its full
fruition the aspirations of his master, first gaining inspiration along
the magical shores of the Hudson, and amidst the ideally beautiful
ranges of the legendary Catskills. Our civilization needed exactly this
form of art expression at this period, and the artist appeared who
should teach the people to love beauty, and to find it among the
regions which first rang with the axe of our pioneers.


But, although dealing not so much with nature, as such, as with some of
her little known and more remarkable and startling effects, there is a
very noteworthy absence of sensationalism or staginess in the paintings
of Church; while, on the other hand, the somewhat too careful
reproduction of details has not prevented them from possessing a grand
massing of effect and a thrilling beauty and sublimity. "Cotopaxi," the
"Heart of the Andes," or "Niagara," may transgress many rules laid down
by the schools, but the magnificent ability with which they are
represented disarms criticism. Church's first painting of Niagara
occupies the culminating point in the objective art of this period of
our history, executed by an artist who up to that time had never crossed
the Atlantic, and whose merits and defects were entirely his own.

Mr. Church's "Niagara" is doubtless familiar to many through the fine
chromo-lithographic copy made from it; but those who have not seen the
original have only an incomplete idea of the grandeur of this great
painting. It grows on acquaintance somewhat as does the cataract
itself, until we seem to hear even the roar of the mighty waters that
rushed over those tremendous cliffs ages before this continent was
trodden by man, symbolizing the endless, remorseless, and irresistible
sweep of time. The green flood pouring evermore into the appalling abyss
veiled by mist wreathing up from the surging vortex below; the distant
shore lined with foliage, touched by the burning tints of October; the
rosy gray sky over-arching the scene, and the ethereal bow uniting
heaven and earth with its elusive band of colors--all are there,
rendered with matchless art.

The subjects of Mr. Church's more recent works have been taken from the
storied shores of the Mediterranean. We perceive in them no sign of
failing power, but more breadth and less opulence of detail. The artist
has treated the splendors of classic lands with the dignified reserve of
matured strength and a higher sense of the ideal. The melancholy
grandeur of the Parthenon in ruins has been painted with a stately
reticence in consonance with the character of the subject; and the
magnificent composition called the "Ægean" may well hold its own by the
side of some of the superb Italian canvases of Turner.

A landscape-painter who chose a range of subjects similar to those of
Church, and accompanied him in one of his South American trips, was
Louis R. Mignot, of South Carolina, who died in London some eight years
ago. He was inspired by a rapturous enthusiasm alike for the tender and
the brilliant aspects of nature, and appears to us to have been one of
the most remarkable artists of our country. He can be justly ranked with
the pioneers who first awoke the attention of the nation to a
consciousness of the beauty, glory, and inexhaustible variety of the
scenery of this continent, which had fallen to them as a heritage such
as no other people have yet acquired. Mignot was at once a fine colorist
and one of the most skilled of our painters in the handling of
materials; his was also a mind fired by a wide range of sympathies; and
whether it was the superb splendor of the tropical scenery of the Rio
Bamba, in South America, the sublime maddening rush of iris-circled
water at Niagara, or the fairy-like grace, the exquisite and ethereal
loveliness of new-fallen snow, he was equally happy in rendering the
varied aspects of nature. It is greatly to be regretted that the most
important works of this artist are owned in England, whither he resorted
at the opening of the civil war. "Snow in Hyde Park," which he painted
not long before his death, is one of the noblest productions of American

[Illustration: "A WINTER SCENE."--[LOUIS R. MIGNOT.]]

The American marine art of this period has been represented by a number
of artists, although they have been by no means so numerous or capable
as the maritime character of our people would have led us to expect.
William Bradford, by origin a Quaker, has made to himself a name for his
enterprise in going repeatedly to Labrador to study icebergs, and has
executed some effective compositions, which have won him fame at home
and abroad. Some of his coast scenes are also spirited, although open to
the charge of technical errors. Charles Temple Dix, who unfortunately
died young, painted some dashing, imaginative, and promising
compositions; and Harry Brown, of Portland, has successfully rendered
certain coast effects. But our ablest marine-painter of this period
seems to have been James Hamilton, of Philadelphia, who was beyond
question an artist of genius. His color was sometimes harsh and crude;
but he handled pigments with mastery, and composed with the virile
imagination of an improvisatore. Errors can doubtless be found in his
ships, or the forms of his waves; but he was inspired by a genuine
enthusiasm for the sea, and rendered the wildest and grandest effects of
old ocean with breadth, massiveness, and power. We have had no
marine-painter about whose works there is more of the raciness and
flavor of blue water.

When we turn to the department of animal-painting, we discover what has
been hitherto the weakest feature of American art, both in the number
and quality of the artists who have pursued this branch of the
profession. T. H. Hinckley at one time promised well in painting cattle
and game, but his efforts rarely went beyond giving us Denner-like
representations of stuffed foxes with glass eyes. The hairs were all
there, the color was well enough, although perhaps a little foxy--if one
may be permitted the term in this connection; but there was no life, no
characterization, there. William Hayes showed decided ability in his
representations of bisons and prairie-dogs and other dogs. Weak in
color, he yet succeeded in giving spirit and character to the groups he
painted, and holds among our animal-painters a position not dissimilar
to that of Mount in _genre_.


Walter M. Brackett, who has been able rarely well to enjoy the triple
pleasure of catching, painting, and eating the same fish on a summer's
morning by the limpid brooks of New Hampshire, has justly won a
reputation as an artistic Walton. If he would but paint his rocks and
trees as cleverly as he renders the speckled monarch of the stream, his
compositions would leave little to be desired. Henry C. Bispham has
given us some spirited but sometimes badly drawn paintings of cattle and
horses; and Colonel T. B. Thorpe, an amateur with artistic tastes, in
such semi-humorous satires as "A Border Inquest," representing wolves
sitting on the carcass of a buffalo, struck a vein peculiarly American
in its humor, and carried to a high degree of excellence by William H.
Beard, whose brother, James Beard, can also be justly ranked as an
animal-painter of respectable attainments. Mr. Beard, although
remarkably versatile, has made a specialty, if it may be so termed, of
exposing the failings and foibles of our sinful humanity by the medium
of animal _genre_. Monkeys, bears, goats, owls, and rabbits are in turn
impressed into the benevolent service of taking us off, and repeating
for us the old Spartan tale of the slave made drunk by his master as a
warning to his son. Of the skill which Mr. Beard has exhibited in this
novel line there can be no question. The "Dance of Silenus," the
pertinacious, iterative, pragmatic ape called "The Bore," and "Bears on
a Bender," are masterly bits of characterization. There is also a deal
of comic satire in "The Bulls and Bears of Mammon's Fierce Zoology,"
which, with a multitude of struggling fighting figures, takes off the
eccentricities of the Stock-exchange. Beard can justly be called the
American Æsop. It is asserted by many that this is not art. The fact is
that it is exceedingly difficult to draw the line, and to prescribe what
subjects an artist shall choose. In art the result justifies the means.
And this certainly seems as legitimate a subject for the brush of the
artist as the graphic pictorial satires of Hogarth, or the mildly
comical genres of Erskine Nicol.

[Illustration: "WHOO!"--[WILLIAM H. BEARD.]]

In a previous chapter we alluded to some of the figure, historical, and
_genre_ painters of this period. William Mount was the precursor of a
number of _genre_ artists of more or less ability, among whom may be
mentioned Thomas Hicks, a pupil of Couture, and one of the first of our
painters who studied at Paris. In this admirable school Mr. Hicks became
an excellent colorist, although of late his art has appeared to lose
some of this quality. He has painted landscape and _genre_, meeting with
respectable success in the latter, but portraiture has chiefly occupied
his attention. His portrait of General Meade is a striking and
satisfactory work. Then there was Richard Caton Woodville, who followed
Whittredge to Düsseldorf, and promised much in _genre_. His paintings
show very decided traces of German influence, but behind it all was a
strong individuality that seemed destined to assert itself, and to place
him among our foremost painters. But he died young, and (shall we not
say?) happily for him, since little fame and less appreciation are
destined to the artists who come ere the people are ripe for their art.
George B. Flagg at one time promised well for our _genre_ art, but his
abilities were too precocious, and unfortunately the splendid
opportunities he enjoyed as a pupil of Allston, and as a long resident
in London, do not seem to have been sufficient to give growth or
permanence to his talents.

About this time our frontier life was coming more prominently into view,
and that picturesque border line between civilization and barbarism was
becoming a subject for the pen of our leading writers. Irving, Cooper,
and Kennedy, Street, Whittier, and Longfellow, were tuning the first
efforts of their Muse to celebrate Indian life and border warfare in
prose and verse, while the majestic measures of Bryant's "Prairies"
seemed a prophetic prelude to the march of mankind toward the lands of
the setting sun. "Evangeline," the most splendid result of our poetic
literature, attracted not less for its magnificent generalizations of
the scenery of the West than for the constancy of the heroine, and the
artistic mind responded in turn to the unknown mystery and romance of
that vast region, and gave us graphic pictures of the rude humanity
which lent interest and sentiment to its unexplored solitudes. It is
greatly to be regretted that the work of these pioneers in Western
_genre_ was not of more artistic value; from a historical point of view,
too much importance cannot be attached to the enterprise and courage of
men like Catlin, Deas, and Ranney, who, imbued with the spirit of
adventure, identified themselves with Indian and border life, and
rescued it from oblivion by their art enthusiasm, which, had it been
guided by previous training, would have been of even greater value. As
it is, they have with the pencil done a service for the subjects they
portrayed similar to what Bret Harte has accomplished in giving
immortality with the pen to the wild, picturesque, but evanescent mining
scenes of the Pacific slope. In this connection the fact is worth
recording that the important mutual life-insurance association called
the Artists' Funding Society took its origin in a successful effort to
contribute to the support of the family of Ranney after his death.

Our historical painters of this period rarely created any works
deserving of note or remembrance. Here and there a painting like that of
Huntington's "Republican Court" was produced, which is a graceful and
elegant composition, and one of the best of the kind in American art.
Peter F. Rothermel, the able portrait-painter of Philadelphia, also
composed a number of historical works, of which the last is probably of
most value. His "Battle of Gettysburg" is a bold and not ineffective
representation of one of the critical moments in the world's history,
although open in parts to severe criticism. J. G. Chapman, well known at
one time as a skilful wood-engraver and _genre_ painter, also aspired to
the difficult field of historical painting; but it is to an artist of
German extraction, Emmanuel Leutze, that we owe our best historical art
previous to 1860, excepting perhaps some of the compositions of Copley
and West and two or three of the battle-pieces of Trumbull. Although
born abroad, Leutze may be justly claimed as an American painter, for he
was taken to Philadelphia in childhood, and remained in this country
until thoroughly imbued with a patriotic love for the land and its
history and the spirit of its institutions; and although he
subsequently passed a number of years at Düsseldorf, whither he went at
twenty-seven, the last ten years of his life were here; here he died,
and the subjects of his art were almost entirely inspired by American
scenes, and have become incorporated with the growth of our

[Illustration: "LAFAYETTE IN PRISON."--[E. LEUTZE.]]

Leutze was a man who was cast in a large mould, capable of a grand
enthusiasm, and aspiring to grasp soaring ideals. Although his art was
often at fault, it makes us feel, notwithstanding, that in contemplating
his works we are in the presence of a colossal mind which, under
healthier influences, would have better achieved what he aspired to win.
He drew from wells of seemingly inexhaustible inspiration. He was
Byronic in the impetus of his genius, the rugged incompleteness of his
style, the magnificent fervor and rush of his fancy, the epic grandeur
and energy, dash and daring, of his creations. It is easy to say that he
was steeped in German conventionalism, that he pictured the impossible,
that he was sometimes harsh in his color and technique; and so he was at
times, but, with it all, he left the impression of vast intellectual

We would not be understood as saying that all the works of Leutze are
worthy of unqualified acceptance; we refer rather to their general
character. His art was very prolific, and as a pupil of Lessing and
Schadow it bore the unmistakable stamp of Düsseldorf. Much of his work,
partaking also of the grandiose style of Kaulbach, was of a
semi-decorative character, like the "Landing of the Norsemen," which
represents two fresh, sturdy Scandinavian rovers stepping out of an
impossible ship, bearing aloft a noble princess, and in the very act of
landing snatching the grapes "hanging wanton to be plucked." Spirited as
it is, the manifest absurdity of the composition as a representation of
reality yet requires us to accept it as decorative in design. "Godiva"
is a somewhat coarse but characteristic work of Leutze, and the
"Iconoclast" one of his most interesting and artistic works. In America,
Leutze will be remembered longest by his large and magnificent painting
of "Washington at Princeton," his "Emigration to the West" (a decorative
composition in one of the panels of the stairway of the Capitol at
Washington), and his "Washington Crossing the Delaware." The latter was
executed at Düsseldorf, and the ice was painted from an unusual mass of
shattered ice floating down the Rhine on the breaking up of the winter.
It is another illustration of the apparent caprice with which man is
treated by destiny, that scarcely had Leutze closed his eyes in his last
sleep, at the early age of fifty-one, when a letter arrived from Germany
bringing official tidings that he had just been elected to succeed
Lessing as president of the Düsseldorf Academy of Art.


While we find in Leutze the qualities we have described, it cannot be
said that he sought out any new methods of expression, or that he
undertook to suggest the deeper and more subtle traits of human nature;
he was content to work after the manner of the school in which he
studied. It is to another painter (already referred to), of great
intellectual resource and a thoroughly American discontent with the
actual, that we turn for aspirations after a higher form of art. William
Page, a native of Albany, who studied law, and for a time also theology,
at Andover Seminary, was from the first biassed in favor of art. His
mind presents a combination of the speculative and the practical, and it
is the union of these antithetical qualities which has alternately aided
or hindered the success of Page's efforts and experiments. He is
deliberate rather than inspirational, guided by an exquisite feeling for
color and an admirable sense of form, but too often unduly controlled by
the logical and analytical faculty. Had his fancy only been more
childlike, and been left more to the guidance of its own natural and
correct instincts, Mr. Page's works would have oftener moved us by their
beauty rather than by the dexterity of the technique. Still, it is by
the aid of a few such questioning minds that art makes its advances, and
interprets the secrets of nature. As a portrait painter, Page has placed
himself among the first artists of the age. We see in his portraits a
dignity and repose, a grasp of character, and a harmonious richness of
color that are wonderfully impressive. In attempting to represent the
beauty of the feminine figure Mr. Page has been influenced by great
delicacy and refinement of motive, although in the celebrated painting
of "Venus Rising from the Sea," he gave cause for much discussion as to
the merits of his theories.

[Illustration: "THE REFUGE."--[ELIHU VEDDER.]]

When Page was in his prime, our literature had already become
distinguished by several writers of thoroughly original and mystically
creative imagination, native to the soil, and drawing sustenance from
native inspiration: they were Charles Brockden Brown, Judd, Hawthorne,
and Poe. In point of originality in conceiving of scenes powerfully
weird and imaginative, these writers have had no superiors in this
century. With a style essentially individual, they analyzed the
workings of the human heart, and dealt with the great problems of
destiny. Their genius was cosmopolitan, and for all ages. Our pictorial
art, in a less degree, began soon after to be prompted by a similar

Most prominent among these artists whose faltering efforts have most
distinctly articulated the language and aspirations of the soul are
Elihu Vedder and John Lafarge. It cannot be said that either of these
artists has yet accomplished with complete success the end he has
sought; but their efforts have been in the right direction, and as such
are highly interesting, hopeful, and suggestive.

Mr. Vedder's early _genre_ and landscape compositions are full of subtle
attempts at psychology in color. Outward nature with him is but a means
for more effectively conveying the impressions of humanity; and his
faces are full of vague, mystic, far-off searching after the infinite,
and the why and the wherefore of this existence below. Since Mr. Vedder
took up his residence permanently in Italy, he has improved in
technique, and there is less dryness in his method of using color, as
witnessed by his remarkable painting called a "Venetian Dancing Girl, or
'La Regina;'" but he has not in recent years produced anything so
marvellously imaginative as his "Lair of the Sea-Serpent," or so grand
and desolate as his "Death of Abel." The man who painted the "Lost
Mind," the "Death of Abel," and the "Lair of the Sea-Serpent," did not
need to borrow from the ancients--at least so far as regards forms of
expression. The vast, solemn, appalling solitude of the primeval world,
the terrific sublimity of its first tragedy, are rendered in Mr.
Vedder's painting with the sombre grandeur of Dante; while as a work of
imaginative art, the steel-colored monster reposing his gigantic folds
on the dry grass of a desolate shore by the endless seas, is a
composition of wonderful simplicity and mysterious power, a creation of
pure genius.


Mr. Lafarge is by nature a colorist; to color, the emotional element of
art, his sensitive nature vibrates as to well-attuned harmonies of
music. For form he has less feeling; his drawing is often very
defective, and the lines are hesitating, uncertain, and feeble. But we
have had no artist since Stuart who has shown such a natural sympathy
for the shades and modulations of chromatic effects. But, while his
drawing is open to criticism, this artist is inspired by the general
meaning of form, and has sometimes produced some very weird and
startling compositions entirely in black and white, or camaieu. But
whether it be form or color, the various elements of art are regarded by
Lafarge not so much for what they are as for what they suggest; he is
less concerned with the external than with the hidden meaning it has for
the soul. It is because of his subtle way of regarding the beauty of
this world that he has given us such thoughtful landscapes as "Paradise
at Newport," and such exquisitely painted flowers, rendered with a
tender harmony of color that thrills us like a lyric of Keats or of
Tennyson. It is this serious, reflective turn which has given a
religious hue to his art, and has enabled him to succeed so well in the
most ambitious attempt at decorative-painting yet undertaken in this
country--the frescoes of Trinity Church, in Boston; in which, it should
be added, he was ably assisted by Mr. Lathrop. In these compositions we
see the results of a highly ideal and reverent nature, nourished by the
most abundant art opportunities the age could afford. It is not
difficult to find in them points fairly open to attack; but the promise
they show is so hopeful a sign in our art, the success actually achieved
in them in a direction quite new in this country is so marked, that we
prefer to leave to others any unfavorable criticism they may suggest.




The discovery of the gold mines of California was a signal for
enterprise, daring, and achievement, not only to our commerce and the
thrift of our shifting millions of uneasy settlers, but also to the
literature and landscape-art of the United States. "To the kingdom of
the west wind" hied artist and author alike; and the epic of the
settlement of California, of the scaling of the Rocky Mountains, of the
glory of the Columbia River, and the stupendous horrors of the
Yellowstone was pictured on the canvas of the artist. Taylor and Scott
conquered the Pacific slope; Fremont pointed out the pathway over the
swelling ranges of the Sierras; and our painters revealed to us the
matchless splendor of a scenery which shall arouse increasing
astonishment and reverential awe and rapture in the hearts of
generations yet to be. In the gratitude we owe to these
landscape-painters who dared, discovered, and delineated for us the
scenery of which we were hitherto the ignorant possessors, criticism is
almost left in abeyance, for the service done the people has been a
double one--in leading them to the observation of paintings, and
informing them of the attractions of a little known possession. If the
art of these paintings of our Western scenery had been in all respects
equal to the subject, the country would have been rich indeed. Among the
artist explorers to whom we are most indebted, Messrs. Bierstadt, Hill,
and Moran are the most famous. The former, by his great composition
entitled the "Rocky Mountains," threw the people into an ecstasy of
delight, which at this time it is difficult to understand, and bounded
at one step to celebrity.

Albert Bierstadt is a native of Düsseldorf, but came to this country in
infancy. Subsequently he studied at Düsseldorf and Rome. On returning to
America, he accompanied the exploring expedition of General Lander that
went over the plains in 1858. Fitz Hugh Ludlow, the well-known
_littérateur_, was associated with him in a subsequent trip, and several
graphic articles in which he afterward described the journey undoubtedly
helped to bring Mr. Bierstadt into notice.

The "Rocky Mountains" is not the representation of an actual scene, but
a typical composition, and, thus regarded, is an interesting work,
although it seems to us somewhat too theatrical, and scarcely true in
some of the details. Local truth is desirable in topographical art,
although of quite secondary importance in compositions of a more ideal
character. Since then this artist has executed a number of similarly
ambitious paintings of our Western scenery, including a colossal
painting of the gorge of the Yosemite Valley. All of them are
characterized by boldness of treatment, but sometimes they are crude in
color and out of tone. Of these we prefer, as least sensational and most
artistically correct, the painting of a storm on Mount Rosalie.
Bierstadt's smaller California scenes are generally more valuable than
his large ones for artistic quality: one of the best compositions we
have seen from his easel is a war sketch representing Federal
sharp-shooters on the crest of a hill behind some trees. This is an
excellent piece of work, fresh, original, and quite free from the
Düsseldorf taint; and confirms us in the opinion that Mr. Bierstadt is
naturally an artist of great ability and large resources, and might
easily have maintained a reputation as such if he had not grafted on the
sensationalism of Düsseldorf a greater ambition for notoriety and money
than for success in pure art.


Some of the qualities we have learned to look for in vain in the
canvases of Bierstadt we find emphasized in the paintings of Thomas
Hill, who succeeded him as court painter to the monarch of the Rocky
Mountains. Hill began life as a coach-painter at Taunton, Massachusetts.
After deciding on a professional art career, he visited Europe, and
benefited by observation in foreign studios, especially of France,
although his style is essentially his own. His method of using pigments
is sometimes open to the accusation of hardness; there is too often a
lack of juiciness--a dryness that seems to remind us of paint rather
than atmosphere, which may be owing to the fact, as I have been
informed, that he uses little or no oil in going over a painting the
second time. But Mr. Hill is a good colorist, bold and massive in his
effects, and a very careful, conscientious student of nature. He has
been happy in the rendering of wood interiors, as, for example, bits
from the Forest of Fontainebleau. One of his most remarkable New England
landscapes represents the avalanche in the Notch of the White Mountains,
which was attended with such disastrous results to the dwellers in the
valley. But Mr. Hill will be identified in future with California, where
he has become a resident, and has devoted his energies to painting some
of the magnificent scenery of that marvellous region, where the roar of
the whirlwind and the roll of the thunder reverberate like the tread of
the countless millions who evermore march to the westward. As he sat on
the edge of the precipice, the forerunner of coming ages, and painted
the sublime, solitary depths of the Yosemite, did the artist realize
that with every stroke of the brush he was aiding the advance guard of
civilization, and driving away the desolation which gave additional
grandeur to one of the most extraordinary spots on the planet? In his
great painting of the Yosemite he seems to have been inspired by a
reverential spirit; he has taken no liberties with his subject, but has
endeavored with admirable art to convey a correct impression of the
scene; and the work may be justly ranked with the best examples of the
American school of landscape-painting.

[Illustration: "THE YOSEMITE."--[THOMAS HILL.]]

[Illustration: "THE BATHERS."--[THOMAS MORAN.]]

The first fever of the California rush had subsided when the uneasy
explorer again stirred the enthusiasm of adventurous artists by
thrilling descriptions of the Yellowstone River, its Tartarean gorges,
and the lurid splendor of its sulphurous cliffs and steaming geysers.
Once more the landscape artist of the country was moved to go forth and
make known to us those unrevealed wonders; and Thomas Moran, "taking his
life in his hands," in the language of religious cant, aspired to
capture the bouquet, the first bloom, from this newly-opened draught of
inspiration. We all know the result. Who has not seen his splendid
painting of the "Gorge of the Yellowstone," now in the Capitol at
Washington? Granting the fitness of the subject for art, it can be
frankly conceded that this is one of the best paintings of the sort yet
produced. The vivid local colors of the rocks, which there is no reason
to doubt have been faithfully rendered--for Mr. Moran is a careful and
indefatigable student of certain phases of nature--appear, however, to
give such works a sensational effect.

This seems to us to be the most valuable of the numerous paintings of
Western subjects produced by this artist. It would be a mistake,
however, to judge him wholly by the more ambitious compositions
suggested by tropical or Western scenery. Some of his ideal paintings
are very clever, and show us an ardent student of nature, and a mind
inspired by a fervid imagination. But while conceding thus much to the
talents of this artist--who belongs to an artistic family, two of his
brothers being also well-known painters, one in marine, the other in
cattle painting--we can not accord him great original powers. He has
studied the technique of his calling most carefully, and has bestowed
great attention to the methods of several celebrated artists; but we are
too often conscious, in looking at his works, that his style has leaned
upon that of certain favorite painters. There is great cleverness, but
little genius, apparent in the landscapes of Mr. Moran, for the
imitative faculty has been too much for him.

[Illustration: LANDSCAPE.--[JERVIS M'ENTEE.]]

Contemporary with our school of grand nature, if we may so call it, and
represented by artists native in thought and education, we find
evidences of another beginning to assert itself, of altogether a
different character. The former deals wholly with externals, and the
subject is the first end sought; it concerns itself altogether with
objects, and not with any ulterior thoughts which they may suggest to
the sensitive imagination. The latter, on the other hand, searches out
the mystery in nature, and analyzes its human aspects. It is the vague
suggestions seen in hills and skies, in sere woods and lonely waters,
and moorlands fading away into eternity--it is their symbolism and
sympathy with the soul that an artist like Mr. Jervis M'Entee seeks to
represent on canvas. This is, in a word, the subjective art to which we
have already alluded. To him the voice of nature is an elegy; the fall
of the leaves in October suggests the passing away of men to the grave
in a countless and endless procession; and whenever he introduces the
agency of man into his pictures, it is as if he were fighting with an
unseen and remorseless destiny. Exquisitely poetic and beautiful are the
autumnal scenes of this artist, the reaches of russet woodlands, the
expanses of skurrying clouds, gray, melancholy, wild. His art sings in a
low minor key that finds response in the heart of multitudes who have
suffered, to whom the world has been a battle-field, where the losses
have outweighed the gains, and have left them gazing into the mysterious
future like one who at midnight stands on the brink of a tremendous
abyss into which he must be hurled, but knows not what are the
shuddering possibilities that await the inevitable plunge.

A young artist of Boston died in Syria, four years ago, at the early age
of twenty-five, before he had acquired more than local repute, who gave
promise of standing among the foremost of American landscape-painters. I
refer to A. P. Close. Certainly no artist we have produced has evinced
more abundant signs of genius at so early an age. Nor was he wholly a
landscape-painter; the figure was also one aim of his art, and it was in
the combination of the two that he excelled. He also had an eye for
color that has not been too common in our art; and, wholly untaught,
expressed his moods and fancies with a force that, even in its
immaturity, suggested the master. But the one point in which he
surpassed most of our artists up to this time was in the singular and
inexhaustible activity of the imaginative faculty. It is strange that
one so young should have so early manifested in his art a serious,
almost morbid, view of life. It may have been because he found himself,
before the age of twenty, forced to provide for a fatherless family, and
to devote the greater part of his energies to what was to him the
uncongenial work of drawing on wood.

[Illustration: "COUNTY KERRY."--[A. H. WYANT.]]

Less subjective and morbid, but moved by a similar feeling for the
suggestions of nature, A. H. Wyant displays a sympathy with scenery and
a masterful skill in reaching subtle effects which place him among the
first landscape-painters of the age. In the suggestive rendering of
space and color, of the manifold phases of a bit of waste land, or
mountain glen, or sedgy brook-side, simple enough at first sight, but
full of an infinitude of unobtrusive beauty, he works with the magic of
a high-priest of nature; his style is broad in effect, without being
slovenly and careless, and gives a multitude of details while really
dealing chiefly with one central and prevailing idea. Mr. Wyant's work
occasionally shows traces of foreign influences; but he is an artist of
too much original power to be under any necessity to stunt himself by
the imitation of the style of any other artist, however great.

Homer Martin is another painter who views nature for the sentiment it
suggests, while he is impressed chiefly by color and light; for form he
seems to have less feeling. But he is a lyrist with the brush, and his
sympathy with certain aspects of nature is akin to idolatry. With a few
intense and telling strokes, he brings before us the splendors of sunset
or the quietude of twilight, the gray vapors of morning creeping over
dank woodlands or the sublime pathos of lonely sands, haunted by wild
fowl and beaten by the hollow seas. But we have no painter whose art is
so unequal: in all his works there is absolute freedom, freshness, and
originality; his scheme of color is altogether his own, full of
luminousness and purity; but he is weak in technique, and thus he
alternately startles us by the brilliance, beauty, and suggestiveness of
one painting, and the palpable failure to reach the desired end in
another. However, this very irregularity in achievement shows that he is
subject to inspirations, and thus partakes of the character of genius,
which, if it were of a higher order, would be more often successful in
its attempts.

In the works of these painters we see abundant reason to believe in the
permanent vitality of American landscape art, and evidence that it is
not inclined to run in a conventional groove. Just so long as the
artists who represent it continue to assert their individuality with
such nerve and keen perception of the essential truths of nature, art is
in a healthy and progressive condition. If further evidence of this were
needed, we might cite the landscapes of J. Appleton Brown, who, after a
rather discouraging servitude to Corôt, is at last beginning to show us
the reserve power of which he is capable when he is more concerned with
nature than with imitating the style and thoughts of another. Ernest
Longfellow, a son of the poet, is another exemplar of the sturdy and
healthful personality which everywhere crops out in our landscape art.
While it cannot be said that his paintings suggest greatness, they
breathe a true spirit, and possess a purity of color that is very

D. W. C. Boutelle, long resident at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and rarely
exhibiting in public in late years, is well known by such works as "The
Trout Brook Shower" and engravings of other paintings by him, as an
artist of originality and force, who seems to combine in his style some
of the best traits of the American School of landscape-painting.


E. M. Bannister, of Providence, is also a man of genius. In the matter
of drawing he is weak; but, although he has never been abroad, we
recognize in his treatment of masses, and the brilliance of his method
of managing light and color, the progressive transition through which
our landscape art is passing, even when it does not pay allegiance to
foreign influences.

[Illustration: A LANDSCAPE.--[J. W. CASILEAR.]]

Our marine art of the last fifteen years has shown that the illimitable
aspects of the sea are also receiving increased attention, and are
calling forth some of the best art talent of the country. It may be
partly due to the advent of M. F. H. De Haas, who came here from Holland
already an accomplished artist, who had done so well in his native land
as to be appointed court painter to the queen. An artist of brilliant
parts, although sometimes inclined to sensationalism, he has undoubtedly
created some splendid compositions; and his influence must have been of
decided importance during this period. While he has been working in New
York, two marine painters of Boston have also executed some striking and
beautiful works. I refer to John E. C. Petersen and William E. Norton.
The former died young, in 1876. He was by birth a Dane, and in personal
appearance a viking: tall, handsome, tawny-haired, with a clear, sharp
blue eye, and a bearing that reminded one of an admiral on the
quarter-deck of his frigate swooping down with flying sheets across the
enemy's bow and pouring in a raking fire. Those who have seen him will
never forget the grand figure of Petersen, the very impersonation of a
son of the sea. When he first began to paint in Boston his pictures were
weak in color and rude in drawing. But he improved with marvellous
rapidity, and at the time of his death had few peers in marine art.
Every inch a sailor, to him a ship was no clumsy mass laid awkwardly on
the top of the water, as too many painters represent it, but a thing of
life, with an individuality of its own, graceful as a queen, and riding
the waves like a swan. "Making Sail after a Storm," representing a
clipper ship shaking out her top-sails in the gray gloom that succeeds a
storm, and rising massively but easily against the sky on the crest of
the weltering seas, is a very strong picture. So also is his "After the
Collision," and "A Ship Running before a Squall." When shall we see his
like again?

Mr. Norton began life as a house-painter, and is related to a family of
ship-builders. He has himself made several voyages before the mast, and
is therefore well equipped, so far as observation goes. He has painted
many works, sometimes with more rapidity than comports with artistic
success; and his style is occasionally hard, mannered, and mechanical.
But he is an enthusiast for his art, and sometimes a happy inspiration
enables him to turn off a painting that entitles him to a high rank
among the marine painters of the age. He has been most happy in quiet
effects and fog scenes, and a composition called the "Fog-Horn,"
representing two men in a dory blowing a horn to warn away a steamer
that is stealthily approaching them out of the fog, is a very
interesting work. "Crossing the Grand Banks" is the title of another
painting by this artist, in which the luminous haze of a midday fog and
a large ship threading her way through a fleet of fishing-schooners, are
rendered with a truth of color and majesty of form that give this work
an important position in contemporary American art.

[Illustration: "SHIP ASHORE."--[M. F. H. DE HAAS.]]

Inferior to these artists as a draughtsman or in knowledge of ships,
Arthur Quartley has, however, won a rapid and deserved reputation for
coast scenes and effects of shimmering light on still water. Prettiness
rather than beauty is sometimes too evident in his work; but he composes
with decided originality, showing a real passion for the effects after
which he strives, and his skies are often very strong. A "Storm off the
Isles of Shoals" is one of his most important compositions. Mr. Lansil,
of Boston, seems to be practically ignorant of the first principles of
drawing and perspective, but he has shown a feeling for color and light,
and we have at present few artists who equal him in painting still
harbor scenes, marbled with reflections wavering on a glassy surface.
Among our more clever coast painters we cannot omit the mention of A. T.
Bricher, who renders certain familiar scenes of the Atlantic shore with
much realistic force, but little feeling for the ideal. J. C. Nicoll
seems to show more promise in this direction. The color and technique of
his pictures are very clever and interesting, and well illustrate the
sea as it looks to a landsman from _terra firma_. Both of these artists
have painted extensively in _aquarelle_, in which medium they have
achieved some important results; which may justly be added regarding the
marine paintings of F. A. Silva. As a water-colorist Mr. Nicoll is not
excelled by any of our artists now concerned with coast scenes; and
some of his landscapes in _aquarelle_ sometimes rival his marines. What
we observe in most of our marine-painters, however, is weakness in the
matter of original composition. One would think that no object in nature
would stimulate the imagination and expand the mind more than the sea.
But it does not seem to have that effect in our marine art as yet,
excepting here and there a solitary instance.

[Illustration: "A FOGGY MORNING."--[W. E. NORTON.]]

No fact better attests the active and prosperous character of American
art than the rapid success which the culture of water-colors has
achieved among us. In 1865 a collection of English water-color paintings
was brought to this country, and exhibited in New York. It attracted
much attention; and although a few artists, like Messrs. Parsons and
Falconer, had already used this medium here, generally as amateurs, this
seems to have been the first occasion that stimulated our artists to
follow the art of water-color painting seriously. A society, headed by
such men as Messrs. Samuel Colman, G. Burling, well known
notwithstanding his early death, as a painter of game birds, J. M.
Falconer, and R. Swain Gifford, was formed within a year; Mr. Colman was
the first president, and the first annual exhibition was held in the
halls of the Academy of Design in 1867. Twelve exhibitions have now been
held, and Messrs. James Smillie and T. W. Wood have in turn succeeded
Mr. Colman in the presidency. A numerous school of artists has sprung
up, finding expression wholly in water-colors, like Miss Susan Hale or
Henry Farrar, the able landscape-painter; while many of our leading
artists in landscape and _genre_ have learned in this short period to
work with equal success in _aquarelle_ and oil. The later exhibitions
have been characterized by an individuality and strength that compare
most favorably with the exhibitions of the older societies of London.

Another interesting feature of the last part of the period under
consideration is the increasing attention bestowed on the drawing of the
figure. The number of _genre_ artists has notably increased; and the
quality of their work has, on the whole, been on a higher plane. The war
gave an impetus to this department, with its many sad or comic
situations, and the increasing immigration of the peasantry of Europe,
and the growing variety of our national types and street scenes, have
all contributed to attract and stimulate the artistic eye and fancy. To
mention all the artists among us who have, especially of late, achieved
more or less success in this line, would be to enumerate a long
catalogue, and we must content ourselves with the brief mention of a few
who seem, perhaps, to be the most noteworthy, and, at the same time,
indigenous in their style.

[Illustration: "A MARINE."--[ARTHUR QUARTLEY.]]

J. B. Irving, who has but recently passed away, executed some very
clever cabinet compositions, delicately drawn and painted, somewhat in
the modern French style, generally interiors, with figures in old-time
costume. A very favorable specimen of his work is represented in a
painting entitled "The End of the Game." B. F. Mayer, of Annapolis, has
also devoted himself to a similar class of subjects successfully. He is,
however, very versatile, and gives us at will a gentleman in Louis
Quatorze costume, elaborately painted, or a bluff tar on the forecastle
on the lookout, or aloft tarring down the rigging, or a religious
ceremonial in the wigwams of the North-west. Marcus Waterman, of
Providence, has displayed much dash in _genre_ combined with landscape,
and is fresh and vigorous in style; while such a carefully executed work
as his "Gulliver at Lilliput" is highly creditable to our art. J. W.
Champney studied abroad under Frère, and also at Antwerp, and is one of
the most broad-minded of our younger artists; indeed, it is refreshing
to meet an artist so unbiassed by prejudice. His foreign studies have in
no wise narrowed his intellectual sympathies. His small _genre_
compositions, especially of child life, often together with landscape,
have been carefully finished--latterly with an especial regard to the
values. Professor John F. Weir, who comes of an artistic family, and is
Superintendent of the Academy of Art at New Haven, has shown capacity
and nerve in his well-known painting called "Forging the Shaft,"
forcibly representing one of the most striking incidents in a foundry;
and A. W. Willard, of Cincinnati, has struck out in a similar vein.
Energy of action, and an effort after effect verging on exaggeration and
caricature, are the characteristics of the style with which he has
attempted such novel compositions as "Yankee Doodle" and "Jim Bludsoe."
They suggest in color the literature of Artemus Ward and Walt Whitman.
At the same time, we recognize in such thorough individuality a very
promising attempt to assert the possibilities of certain phases of our
national _genre_. These traits have been treated with less daring but
with more artistic success by two of our best-known _genre_ painters--T.
W. Wood and J. G. Brown. Mr. Wood, who is president of the Water-color
Society, and employs both oil and water colors, spent several of the
first years of his career at the South, and discovered of what
importance our colored citizens might prove in our art--their squalor,
picturesqueness, broad and kindly humor, and the pathos which has
invested their fate with unusual interest. This artist's first
successful venture in _genre_ was with a painting of a quaint old negro
at Baltimore; and since then he has given us many characteristic
compositions suggested by the lot of the slave, although he has not
confined himself to this subject, but has also picked up excellent
subjects among the newsboys in our streets, and amidst the homespun
scenes of rural life. Mr. Wood's style is notable for _chiar-oscuro_,
and his drawing is generally careful, correct, and forcible, and his
compositions harmonious.

Mr. Brown has also found that success and fame in _genre_ can be
obtained without going abroad to seek for subjects. To him the _gamins_
of our cities are as artistically attractive as those of Paris, and a
girl wandering by our sea-shore as winsome as if on the beach at Nice or
Scheveningen, and an old fisherman at Grand Menan as pictorial as if he
were under the cliffs at Etretât. Fault is sometimes found with the fact
that the street lads painted by Mr. Brown have always washed their faces
before posing, which is according to the commands of St. Paul, but not
of art canons, if we accept Mr. Ruskin's dictum regarding the artistic
value of dirt. Bating this apparently trifling difficulty, however, it
must be admitted that he often offers us a very characteristic and
successful bit of _genre_. Gilbert Gaul and J. Burns, pupils of Mr.
Brown, merit a word of praise in this connection, for giving us reason
to hope in time for some satisfactory work from their easels.

Child life finds a warm friend and delineator in S. J. Guy, who has made
many friends by the kindly way in which he has treated the simple pathos
and humor of childhood. He is an admirable draughtsman, and finishes his
work with great nicety--sometimes to a degree that seems to rob the
picture of some of its freshness and piquancy; but it cannot be denied
that Mr. Guy has often struck a chord in the popular heart, not merely
by his choice of subjects, but by legitimately earned success in his art
as well. Scenes of domestic life have also been treated sometimes very
interestingly by Messrs. B. F. Reinhart, Ehninger, Blauvelt, Satterlee,
Howland, Wilmarth, and Virgil Williams. Oliver J. Lay, although a slow,
careful artist, has executed some thoughtful and refined in-door scenes,
taken from domestic life, which show a thorough appreciation of the fact
that art, for itself alone, is the only aim the true artist should
pursue. E. L. Henry surprises one by the elaboration of his work, and is
open to the charge of crudeness in color and hardness in outline; but
occasionally he gives us a well-balanced composition, like the beach
scene, with horses and a carry-all in the foreground, entitled "Waiting
for the Bathers."

[Illustration: "ARGUING THE QUESTION."--[T. W. WOOD.]]

But it is in the works of Messrs. Eastman Johnson and Winslow Homer that
we find the most successful rendering of American _genre_ of the present
day as distinguished from that which bears unmistakable evidence of
foreign inspiration. Mr. Johnson, as a student at Düsseldorf and other
art centres of Europe, might be expected to show the fact in his art;
but, instead of doing so, we have no painter who has a more individual
style. There is uncertainty in his drawing sometimes, but his color and
composition are generally excellent, and the choice of subjects are at
the same time popular and artistic. We have had no painter since Mount
who has done more to elevate the character of _genre_ art in the
community. Successful in portraiture and ideal heads, Mr. Johnson has
achieved his best efforts in the homely scenes of rustic negro life, or
from a thorough sympathy with the simplicity and beauty of childhood.
None who have seen his painting called the "Old Stage-Coach,"
representing a rollicking group of boys and girls playing on the rusty
wreck of an abandoned mail-carriage, can ever doubt again the
possibilities of _genre_ art in this country, although some of his
simpler compositions are more to our liking. There is, however, nothing
startling or especially novel in the style of Mr. Johnson. It is quiet
and unsensational.

It is to the eccentric and altogether original compositions of Winslow
Homer that we turn for a more decided expression of the growing
weariness of our people with the conventional, and a vague yearning
after an original form of art speech. The freshness, the crudity, and
the solid worth of American civilization are well typified in the
thoroughly native art of Mr. Homer. No artist has shown more versatility
and inventiveness in choice of subject, and greater impatience with
accepted methods. Impatience, irritability, is written upon all his
works--he is evidently striving after the unknown. But the key-note of
his art seems to be a realistic endeavor to place man and nature,
landscape and _genre_, in harmonious juxtaposition; never one alone, but
both aiding each other, they are ever the themes of his brush. His
figures are often stiff or posed in awkward attitudes, and yet they
always arrest the attention, for they are inspired by an active,
restless brain, that is undoubtedly moved by the impulse of genius. It
is the values, or true relations of objects as they actually appear in
nature, that this artist also seeks to render; while in his reach after
striking subjects or compositions he not rarely borders on the
sensational. But in some of his masterly water-color sketches, which are
almost impressionist in treatment, or such more finished works as "The
Cotton Pickers," a scene from Southern plantation life, Mr. Homer
asserts his right to be considered the founder of a new school of
_genre_ painting. The repose which is lacking in his style at present
may come to him later, or be grafted upon it by those who come after

George Fuller, of Boston, is another artist in whose works we see an
additional proof of the growing importance attached to the painting of
the figure in our art. His paintings indicate the presence among us of a
vigorous, original personality, that is, of a genius striving for
utterance. They are incomplete, rarely altogether satisfactory; but we
feel, in the presence of such a subtle, suggestive, mysterious
composition as the "Rommany Girl," vaguely thrilling us with the deep
meaning of her weirdly glancing eyes, and weaving a mystic spell over
our fancy, that a mind akin to that of Hawthorne is here striving for
utterance, and unconsciously infusing new vitality into our _genre_ art.

[Illustration: "THE ROSE."--[D. F. NAYER.]]

As an influence in the same direction, the compositions of William
Magrath command sincere attention. It is not so many years ago since he
was painting signs in New York, and now we see him one of the strongest
artists in _genre_ on this side of the Atlantic. Mr. Magrath generally
paints single figures, associated with rural life--a milkmaid, or a
farmer. Naturally there is inequality in the results achieved, and
sometimes manifest weakness. But we note a constant progress in the
quality of his art, and an evidence of imagination which has been
unfortunately too rare in American _genre_ since the days of William
Mount. By this we mean the identification of the artist with his
subject, which renders it dramatic, and inspires it with that touch of
nature that makes the whole world kin. In this respect he occasionally
suggests the inimitable humanity which is the crowning excellence of the
paintings of Jean François Millet.

It is with additional pleasure that we note the works of some of our
more recent native _genre_ artists, because we see indicated in them a
growing perception of the fact that abundant subjects may be found at
our own doors to occupy the pencil of the ablest minds. It is not
uncommon to hear young artists who have studied in the ateliers of Paris
and Munich, and who have returned here to work, complaining that they
find no sources of inspiration here, no subjects to paint at home. This
dearth of subjects certainly would be a very grave obstacle to the
ultimate development of a great American school of art, if it actually
existed. But on examining the question, it seems to us that the
difficulty lies not in the lack of subjects, but in the way the artist
has learned to look at things, and the range of sympathies to which he
has become accustomed by his foreign experiences.

The artist who is the man of his time and his country never yet lacked
material for inspiration in the every-day life and every-day objects
around him. Goethe has said that the truest poetry is that woven out of
the suggestions gained from simple things. There has never yet been such
a state of society or such an order of scenery that the artist who was
in sympathy with it could not find some poetry, some color, some form or
light or shade in it that would stir the finer elements of his genius,
stimulate his fancy, and arouse his inventive powers. Some quality of
beauty is there, concealed like the water in the rock; the magician
comes whose rod can evoke the imprisoned element, and others then see
what he had first seen.

As we stroll, for example, through the streets and squares of New York's
metropolis, by its teeming wharves, and among its dilapidated avenues of
trade, we are astounded to think that any one could ever look on this
seething mass of humanity, these various types of man, and the various
structures he has erected here, and find in them no inspiration for his
brush or his pen. What if there are no feluccas or painted sails in our
harbor; one has but to cross the river on the ferry-boat at sunrise or
sunset to see wonderful picturesqueness and beauty in our sloops and
schooners, our shipping thronging the piers, all smitten by the glory of
the rosy light, or over-canopied by scowling gray masses of storm-driven

Or if one saunters up our streets and gazes on the long vista of
Broadway toward nightfall, as the lazy mist gradually broods over the
roofs and delicately tones and softens the receding rows of buildings,
he shall see effects almost as entrancing and poetic as those which
charm the enthusiast who beholds the sun, a crimson disk, couching in a
gray bank of smoke at the end of the boulevards of Paris, on an evening
in October.

Is there nothing picturesque and artistic in the Italian fruit venders
at the street corners, especially when after dark they light their
smoking torches, that waver with ruddy glow over brilliant masses of
oranges and apples?

[Illustration: "DRESS PARADE."--[J. G. BROWN.]]

There is yet another scene which we often encounter, especially early in
the morning, at a time when perhaps most artists are yet wrapped in
dreams. We refer to the groups of horses led through the streets to the
horse-market. Untrimmed, unshorn, massively built, and marching in files
by fours and fives with clanging tread, sometimes thirty or forty
together, they present a stirring and powerful effect, which would
thrill a Bonheur or a Schreyer. Why have none of our artists attempted
to paint them? Have we none with the knowledge or the power to render
the subject with the vigor it demands?

[Illustration: "A BED-TIME STORY."--[S. J. GUY.]]


No, we lack not subjects for those who know how to see them; while
nothing is more certain than the truth that a national art can only be
founded and sustained by those who are wholly in sympathy with the
influences of the land whose art they are aiding to establish. Those who
are familiar with American art will easily recall a number of our
artists, educated both at home and abroad, who have no difficulty in
finding material around home, and at the same time take the lead among
us in point of artistic strength.

While indicating, however, some of the many subjects which address one
at every turn in our land, and render it unnecessary for artists to go
abroad for a supply of fuel for their fancy, we would not, on the other
hand, imply that an artist should, in order to be an exponent or leader
of a native art, be confined exclusively to one class of subjects.
Although it is one of the most remarkable and indisputable laws in
literature and art that those who are identified with nature and human
nature, as it appears in their native country, are at the same time most
cosmopolitan, still it is, after all, not so much in the subjects as in
the treatment that the individuality of a national art is best
demonstrated. It is when the artist is so thoroughly imbued with the
spirit of the institutions of his native land that it appears in his
art, whatever be the subject--it is then that he is most national. We
hear a great deal about the French school and the English school; but it
is not because each school finds its subjects invariably at home that it
possesses an individuality of its own, but because we see unconsciously
reflected in it the influences of the land that gave it birth. For this
reason, if an English and a French painter shall each take the same
scene, and that a wholly foreign one, say an Oriental group, although
the subject be a foreign subject and identical in each canvas, you can
discern at once that one picture is English, the other French in
treatment. Each artist has stamped upon his work the impression of the
influences of the people to which he belongs.

[Illustration: SAIL-BOAT.--[WINSLOW HOMER.]]

Patriotism, a wholesome enthusiasm for one's own country, seems, then,
in some occult way to lie at the basis of a native art, and native art
founded on knowledge is therefore always the truest art; while the
artist who is thus inspired will generally find material enough to call
forth his æsthetic yearnings and arouse his creative faculties at his
own door.

In passing from _genre_ to our later portraiture we do not find the same
proportionate activity and intelligent progress that we see in other
departments of our art, although some creditable painters in this
department can be mentioned. Harvey A. Young, of Boston, has shown a
good eye for color, and seizes a likeness in a manner that is
artistically satisfactory, while he does not so often grasp the
character of the sitter as his external traits. Mr. Custer, of the same
city, charmingly renders the infantile beauty of childhood, its merry
blue eyes, the dimpled roses of the cheeks, and the flaxen curls that
ripple around the shoulders. There is, however, too much sameness in his
work--a too apparent tendency to mannerism. Mrs. Henry Peters Grey has a
faculty of making a pleasing likeness. She has executed some portrait
plaques in majolica that are remarkable evidences of the progress
ceramic art is now making in the United States. Mrs. Loop is one of our
successful portrait-painters. Her works are not strikingly original, but
they are harmonious in tone and color, and poetical in treatment. Henry
A. Loop has also executed some pleasing portraits and ideal
compositions; of the latter, his "Echo" is perhaps the most successful
rendering of female beauty he has attempted. George H. Story should be
included among the most important portrait-painters of this period. His
work is characterized by vigor of style and pleasing color; he seizes a
likeness without any uncertainty in technique. His _genre_ compositions
and ideal heads are also inspired by a refined taste and correct
perception of the principles of art. William Henry Furness, of
Philadelphia, who died in 1867, just as he reached his prime, was allied
in genius to the great masters of portraiture of the early stages of our
art. He matured slowly. His first efforts showed only small promise; but
he had the inestimable quality of growth, and has been equalled by few
of our painters in the study and rendering of character. When he had a
sitter he would give days to a preliminary and exhaustive study of his
mental and moral traits.

In Darius Cobb, of Boston, great earnestness is apparent in the pursuit
of art, together with an exalted opinion of what should be the aims of
æsthetic culture. Mr. Cobb has attempted sculpture, monumental art,
portraiture, and the painting of religious compositions. We consider it
a promising sign to see an artist of such energy seeking to exalt the
character of his pursuit. His works seem, however, to show the lack of a
systematic course of training in the rudiments of technique; but in such
strong and characteristic portraits as that of Rufus Choate he has
exhibited decided ability.


The historic art of the period has been neither prolific nor attractive,
with a few exceptions. The late war has given rise to some important
works, like Winslow Homer's notable "Prisoners to the Front;" and Julian
Scott has been measurably successful in such paintings as "In the
Cornfield at Antietam," representing a charge in that memorable battle,
which belongs to a class of pictures of which we hope to have more in
the future. There is a striving after originality in his paintings that
is in the right direction. Mrs. C. A. Fassett, who has executed some
excellent portraits, has also recently composed an important painting of
the "Electoral Commission," of whose merits the writer can only speak by

[Illustration: "ON THE OLD SOD."--[WILLIAM MAGRATH.]]

In Wordsworth Thompson we find an artist who seems to realize the
possibilities of American historical art. Although a pupil of Gleyre,
and for a number of years a resident abroad, there is no evidence of
servile subserviency to any favorite school or method in the style of
Mr. Thompson. He is an excellent draughtsman, his color is a happy
medium between the high and low keys of different schools--fresh, cool,
and crisp--and his work is thoroughly finished, and yet broad in
effect. He evidently has no hobbies to ride. As a designer of horses he
has few equals in this country. If we have a fault to find with him, it
is in a certain lack of snap, of warmth, of enthusiasm in the handling
of a subject, which renders it less impressive than it might otherwise

[Illustration: "A MATIN SONG."--[FIDELIA BRIDGES.]]

Mr. Thompson, in his Mediterranean wanderings, gathered material for a
number of attractive coast scenes, effective in atmosphere and in the
rendering of figures, feluccas, and waves, all tending to illustrate his
versatility. But he deserves to be most widely known on account of
scenes taken from Southern life, and historic compositions suggested by
the late war, or illustrating notable events of the Revolution. For
pictures of this description Mr. Thompson seems to us to rank next to
Trumbull, whose masterly paintings of the "Death of Montgomery" and the
"Battle of Bunker Hill," now at New Haven, have hitherto been by far the
most remarkable military paintings produced by an American artist. There
is less action, fire, and brilliance of color in Mr. Thompson's works,
but they possess many admirable qualities that entitle them to much
respect. Among the most notable is an elaborate composition representing
the Continental army defiling before General Washington and his staff at
Philadelphia. The group of officers and horses in the foreground is one
of the best pieces of artistic work recently painted by an American.

[Illustration: STUDY OF A DOG.--[FRANK ROGERS.]]

When we come to a consideration of animal painting in this period of our
æsthetic culture, we find that it is the most barren of good results of
any branch of our art. We are at a loss to account for this, especially
as the evidences of promise are also less prominent than in landscape
and _genre_. Not only has the number of the artists who have pursued
this department been proportionately small, but the quality of their
work has been of a low average, and lacking in the originality elsewhere

In the painting of pastoral scenes, with cattle, Peter Moran, of
Philadelphia, probably shows the most originality and force; and Thomas
Robinson, of Boston, has displayed exceptional vigor in painting the
textures of cattle, but without much invention in composition. James
Hart for the past twelve years has made a specialty of introducing
groups of cattle into his idyllic landscapes. They are often well drawn
and carefully painted, and are in general effect commendable, although,
like most of our animal painters, Mr. Hart does not seem to have got at
the character of the animal as Snyders, Morland, or Landseer would have
done. Mr. Dolph has painted some creditable cats and pugs in combination
with interiors; and two young artists, Messrs. George Inness, Jun., and
J. Ogden Brown, have executed some promising cattle pieces.

Miss Bridges must be credited with developing a charming and original
branch of art, of which thus far she seems to enjoy a monopoly. There is
exquisite fancy, as well as capital art, in the method in which, with
water-colors, she composes stalks of grain or wild-flowers in
combination with field birds, meadow-larks, linnets, bobolinks,
sparrows, or sand-pipers, balancing on the apex of a wavering stalk, or
flying over the wheat or by the sands of the sea-beat shore.

Mr. Frank Rogers, who is still a very young man, takes especial interest
in painting dogs, although not intending to confine himself to that
branch of animal life, and has already achieved considerable success in
his attempts to represent canine traits. He has trained several dogs to
pose for him for ten to fifteen minutes at once. In the decided ability
and success already shown by Mr. Rogers we can see that it is now
possible for our artists, availing themselves of influences already at
work here, combined with an intense love of nature and the ideal, to do
strong original work without devoting half their lives to foreign study,
and thus carry on to a higher stage the national art for which so many
clamor unreasonably, not considering that new schools of art are not
born in a day, nor evolved without the conditions which have invariably
prepared the way for the national art of other people. Art travels by no
royal road.

[Illustration: "LOST IN THE SNOW."--[A. F. TAIT.]]

Our continent is not so plentifully stocked with wild beasts and game as
some parts of the Old World, but we yet have the panther and the bison,
although now fast fading into a mere traditionary existence before the
rifle of the pioneer. R. M. Shurtleff has a pleasant fancy for
catamounts and deer, and has been a careful student of their habits, of
which the results appear in dramatic bits of the wild life of the woods
introduced into effective paintings of forest scenery; "A Race for Life"
is the title of a weird, savage, and powerful composition by this
artist, representing a flock of ravening wolves pursuing their victim
over fields of frozen snow, behind which the low red sun is setting;
and A. F. Tait has also devoted his life to rescuing from oblivion
species which are rapidly becoming extinct, unless our game-laws are
better enforced than they have been hitherto. There is often too
finished a touch to the style of Mr. Tait, which deprives it of the
force it might otherwise have; but he has, on the other hand, painted
both game and domestic animals with remarkable truth, and he brings to
the subject an inventive fancy that greatly adds to the variety and
interest of his works. We might add in this connection an allusion to
the ingenious carvings of Alexander Pope, a young artist who not only
cuts out groups of game from a block of wood with much cleverness, but
also truthfully colors the grouse and teal his skilful knife carves out
of pine.

There is a branch of art which latterly has attracted much attention in
this country. We refer to still-life. George H. Hall, who is also known
as a _genre_ painter, justly earned a reputation years ago for effective
painting of fruit and flowers, in which he has hitherto had few equals
in this country; and M. J. Heade has devoted his attention successfully
to the rendering of the wonderful gorgeousness of tropical vegetation.
The ideal flower-painting of Mr. Lafarge we have already mentioned. Miss
Robbins, of Boston, is at present one of the most prominent artists we
have in this department. She composes with great taste, and lays on her
colors with superb effect. Some of her paintings suggest the rich,
massive coloring of Van Huysams. Messrs. Seavey, of Boston, Way, of
Baltimore, and Lambdin, of Philadelphia, have produced some interesting
results in this direction; and Miss Dillon and Mrs. Henshaw must be
credited with some very beautiful floral compositions. The list of
ladies who have been measurably successful in realistic flower-painting
is very large, and indicates the strong tendency toward decorative art
in the country, which must result ere long in a distinctly national type
of that branch of æesthetic culture.

In arriving at the close of the second period of American painting, we
are encouraged by abundant evidences of a healthy activity. While some
phases of our art, after a growth of half a century, are passing through
a transition period, and new methods and theories are grafting
themselves upon the old, there is everywhere apparent a deeper
appreciation of the supreme importance of the ideal, and a gathering of
forces for a new advance against the strongholds of the materialism that
wars against the culture of the ideal, combined with a rapidly spreading
consciousness on the part of the people of the ethical importance of
art, and a disposition to co-operate in its healthful development. At
the same time new influences are entering into the national culture of
æsthetics, and branches which have hitherto received little attention
from our artists are coming rapidly into prominence, suggesting that we
are about entering upon a third stage of American art.



It is a generally conceded fact that since the death of Michael Angelo
the art of sculpture has made little progress in the expression of the
ideal. It has rather indicated, until recently, a lack of steadiness of
purpose, and a want of freshness and intellectual grasp that place the
plastic art of the last three centuries in a lower rank than that of the
Classic and the Middle Ages. It is, therefore, a matter of surprise that
in a people apparently so unideal as our own, and engaged in struggling
to win for itself a right to exist among the wilds of a new world, that
we find that so much evidence has already been shown of an appreciation
for sculpture. It is true that we have not yet produced any masterpieces
that can rank with those of antiquity; but, on the other hand, some of
our plastic art compares favorably with the best that has been created
in modern times.

But what might have been expected under the circumstances has proved to
be the case. Originality has been the exception and not the rule, even
with our best sculptors. Naturally led to study the antique in Europe,
and also to master there the technical elements of the art of sculpture,
owing to the entire absence of facilities for art education here, it was
only to be expected that they would at first yield to the art influences
whose guidance they sought. It was not their fault that, until recently,
those influences were conventional, and based upon a false perception of
the principles of art.


Some of our most successful sculptors have never been abroad, or at
least have not systematically placed themselves under the tuition of a
foreign master; while a number of them have indicated in their
tendencies a natural sympathy with the later movement of modern
sculpture, which is rather in the direction of allegory, portraiture,
and _genre_ suggested by domestic life. When the ancients represented
Venus or Jove in marble, they sculptured a being in whose actual
existence they believed, and thus a profound reverence inspired the work
of the master. When the sculptor of the Middle Ages carved the deeds of
the Saviour, or the saints, or represented the Last Judgment, he was
moved by deep love or reverential awe, and an unquestioning belief in
the events he was commemorating. But when the sculptor of this century
undertakes to revive classical subjects and modes of thought, he
encounters an insurmountable obstacle at the outset, which checks all
progress, and relegates his art to a secondary rank, without even the
benefit of a doubt in his favor. The laws and limitations of mind make
it impossible for an art to be of the first order which depends upon the
imitation of other art. It is only by copying nature directly, under the
inspirations of its own age and country, that a school of art has the
slightest chance of immortality. Thorwaldsen, the greatest sculptor
since Michael Angelo, exemplified this truth to a remarkable degree.
Moved by a realization of classic art which no other modern sculptor
except Flaxman has approached, we yet find his classical subjects
inferior to those allegorical subjects in which he gave expression to
the impulses of his own times. A slowly dawning consciousness that art
cannot by any force of will or free agency escape from these limitations
of growth is becoming at last evident in recent sculpture, especially in
the emotional and sometimes sensational sculpture of France. Lacking
repose, it is yet fresh and original, and is destined by continued
self-assertion to reach a high rank.

It is in imitations of the antique or in allegory, and portraiture, that
our sculpture has exerted its best efforts, until within a few years.
General Washington has also proved a sort of Jupiter Tonans to our
sculptors. Elevated to a semi-apotheosis by the people, he has hitherto
been the most prominent subject of the plastic art of the West, and has
thus afforded a fair standard of comparison between the merits of
different artists, since very few of them but have tried their hand with
the national hero. As regards popular appreciation or pecuniary reward,
it must be admitted that our sculptors have relatively little cause for

The art of sculpture was by no means unknown here when the white man
first stepped foot on our shores. The pipe-stone quarries of the West
are an evidence of what had already been attempted by the aboriginal
savages. Tobacco, so much maligned by certain zealous philanthropists,
was at least an innocent cause of some of the earliest attempts at
sculpture made on this continent. The writer has in his possession an
Indian pipe carved out of flint, which represents a man sitting with
hands clasped across his knees. Simple as it is, it indicates good skill
in stone-carving, and considerable observation of race characteristics
and anatomy. Evidences of great technical skill in the plastic arts, but
with an unformed perception of beauty, are being constantly discovered
among the relics of the extinct Mound-builders of the West and South.

[Illustration: "ORPHEUS."--[THOMAS CRAWFORD.]]

Before the Revolution, however, excepting in the carving of
figure-heads, plastic art, unlike painting, seems to have been hardly
known in the United States. And so little sign was there of its dawn
that John Trumbull declared to Frazee, as late as 1816, that sculpture
"would not be wanted here for a century." But even then the careful
observer might have noticed indications that a genius for glyptic art
was awakening in the new republic. In the early part of the last century
Deacon Drowne made a vane for Faneuil Hall, and one for the Province
House, in Boston, which appear to have gained him great repute in his
day in New England. The latter work, although turning with the wind on
an iron spindle, was a life-size statue of an Indian sachem holding a
bow and arrow in the act of aiming. It was hollow, and of copper, and
would seem, from the impression it made, to have been a work of some
merit. Somewhat later, Patience Wright, of Bordentown, New Jersey,
displayed considerable cleverness in modelling miniature wax heads in
relief, and by this process succeeded in making likenesses of Washington
and Franklin, among the celebrities of her time. William Rush, who was
born some twenty years before the Revolution, had also shown already
that even in ship-carving the sculptor may find scope for fancy and
skill, as Matthew Pratt, in the previous generation, had proved that
even in the painting of signs genius can find vent for its inspirations.
Rush was undoubtedly a man of genius; for, although all the art
education he ever had was confined to an apprenticeship with a
ship-carver, his figure-heads of Indians or naval heroes added a
singular merit to the beauty of the merchant marine which first carried
our flag to the farthest seas, and the men-of-war that wrested victory
in so many a hard-fought battle. Hush worked only in wood or clay; but
original strength and talent, which under better circumstances might
have achieved greater results, are evident in some of his portrait
busts, and in a statue of a nymph at Fairmount. A bust of himself,
carved out of a block of pine, is remarkable for a realistic force and
character that entitle it to a permanent place in the records of
American sculpture.

Sculpture, however, was much more backward in gaining a foothold in the
country than the sister arts; for it was not until 1824 that the first
portrait in marble by a native was executed--that of John Wells, by John
Frazee, a stone-cutter, whose sole art education was obtained during an
apprenticeship in a yard where rude monumental work was turned out for
the bleak cemeteries in use before such sumptuous retreats as Greenwood
and Mount Auburn were planned. There was a feeling after the ideal in
the nature of this unassisted artist which enabled him to be potential
in influencing younger artists; while his opportunities were unfavorable
to the just development of his own abilities.

Rush began to model in clay in 1789, and at that time not one of the
artists who have since given celebrity to our native sculpture had seen
the light. Frazee was born in 1790; and Hezekiah Augur, of New Haven, in
1791. The latter was engaged in the grocery trade, and failing in that,
took up modelling and wood-carving, without any guide except his natural
instincts. Like many of our first sculptors, his efforts are interesting
rather as evidences of what talent entirely uninstructed and untrained
can accomplish, than for any intrinsic value in his work. Many of the
artists who have succeeded him have also begun life in some trade or
profession altogether at variance with the art to which they afterward
consecrated their lives.

It was not till the year 1805, long after Copley, West, Malbone,
Allston, and Stuart had demonstrated our capacity for pictorial art,
that the genius of the country seemed inclined to allow us a plastic art
of our own. In that year Hiram Powers was born, one of the best known
sculptors of the century. The same year witnessed the birth of Horatio
Greenough. In the remote wilds of Kentucky, still harried by the
Indians, Hart was born in 1810; and Clevenger, Crawford, and Mills
followed in 1812, 1813, and 1815--all artists of note, even if of
unequal merits, and important as pioneers in the art rather than the
creators of a great school of sculpture. Thus we see that without any
apparent previous preparation a strong impulse toward glyptic art and
the men to direct and give it strength simultaneously sprung up in the
land. When one considers the disadvantages under which they labored, and
that, so far as can be known, they were not even aided by any heredity
of genius in this direction, criticism is tempered by surprise that
they achieved the results they did, and that two of them at
least--Powers and Crawford--succeeded in winning for themselves a
European renown which made them almost the peers of some of the leading
foreign sculptors of the age, who were born amidst the trophies of
classic and Renaissance art.


Hiram Powers must always be assigned a commanding position in our
Western art, even by those who are not enthusiastic admirers of his
works. A farmer's boy of the Green Mountains, he early exchanged Vermont
for the bustling streets of Cincinnati, where an ampler scope was
offered to the aspiring energies of the founder of American sculpture.
Like many of our sculptors, a turn for mechanics, characteristic of the
inventive mind of the people, was combined in him with a capacity for
art, and this, which at first found vent in a study of the inventions of
the time, enabled him in maturer life to facilitate the means of art
expression by valuable inventions. Palmer and several other American
sculptors have also aided the art in a similar way. From modelling in
wax, which aroused great local interest, young Powers proceeded to
modelling in plaster, under the tuition of a German artist resident in
Cincinnati, and, aided by the generous patronage of Mr. Longworth--to
whose liberality toward our artists American art is greatly indebted--he
soon received numerous commissions for portrait busts of some of our
most notable public men, such as Webster, Jackson, Marshall, and
Calhoun. Notwithstanding his lack of training and art associations,
Powers executed some of these portraits with a vigor worthy of the
subjects, and scarcely equalled by any of his subsequent work.

In 1837 Powers decided to go to Italy, whither Greenough had already
preceded him, led thither, like many since, by superior art advantages
and economical reasons, which still sway our sculptors at a time when it
would seem that it would be more profitable, so far as native art is
concerned, for them to remain here. Several of our sculptors have
acknowledged to the writer that the time has come for their art to grow
up under the home influences which are to regulate the art of the
future, but that the question of economy forces them to live in Florence
and Rome.

Residing in Florence until his death, Powers devoted his long career to
the creation of many works of high finish, and occasionally of a merit
comparing well with the works of an age whose plastic arts were
conventional. Who has not seen the famous "Greek Slave," inspired by the
enthusiasm for the Greeks struggling with the Turk for existence? The
"Penseroso," "Fisher Boy," and "Proserpine" are also among the most
pleasing works of this artist. The "California," a nude, symbolical
female figure, is less satisfactory in conception, and is also open to
criticism as to its proportions. In these works we see expressed the
thoughts of an artist skilled in the technical requirements of the art,
and moved by a lofty ideal, but marked by tender sentiment rather than
force, and suggesting sometimes a dryness of style and a coldness or
reticence of emotion inherited from the undemonstrative people of New
England, as if when the artist was executing them the stern genius of
Puritanism, jealous of the voluptuous or the passionate in art, had
stood Mentor-like at his side and said, "There, that will do; beware
lest your love of beauty lead you to forget that you are an American
citizen, to whom duty, principle, example, are the watchwords of life."
But sometimes genius proved superior to tradition even with Powers, as
when he composed the two great ideal statues of Eve before and after the
fall. By these noble works, inspired by true, untrammelled artistic
feeling--which we must consider his best ideal compositions--he earned a
rank very near to that of Gibson and Canova, and rendered his art worthy
of lasting remembrance.

[Illustration: "THE GHOST IN HAMLET."--[THOMAS R. GOULD.]]

The art of Powers was best exemplified in his portrait busts. His
imagination was not prolific or active, as one may infer from the
following expressions of his own: "I could never satisfy myself with an
ideal in a hurry. The human form is infinite. It is the image of God. I
have found that, do my best, there was always a _better_ in nature. Once
knowing this, I have hesitated and sought to find it, and this is the
way to fame. One may fail with all his care and labor, but it is the
only way. Not they who have produced the most, but they who have done
the best, stand foremost in the end. I never felt that I had the power
to charge a hundred statues. I exhaust myself on a few. This accounts
for the fact that I found it necessary to give nearly a year's time, in
all, to the model of your statue of 'Paradise Lost.'"

The early educational advantages of Horatio Greenough were superior to
those of Powers; and as one of the first in our country to assert
himself in marble, he won a name which we are reluctantly obliged to
consider in excess of his merits as an artist. He impresses one as a man
of intellectual force and culture, but without any special calling to
sculpture. The work by which he will be known the longest is the Bunker
Hill Monument, whose stately proportions he designed. Greenough executed
a number of vigorous and striking busts, like those of Lafayette and
Fenimore Cooper, which deserve favorable mention. But in venturing after
ideal expression he cannot be said to have accomplished satisfactory
results. The elaborate group called "The Rescue," on the portico of the
Capitol at Washington, is ambitious, but leaves one to regret that so
prominent a position could not have been more appropriately decorated.

Few statues have ever given rise to more conflicting criticisms than
Greenough's "Washington" in the grounds of the Capitol. Colossal in size
and on a massive throne, seated half nude and holding out a Roman sword
in his left hand, some one has jocularly observed that the august hero
of the republic seems to say, "Here is my sword; my clothes are in the
Patent-office yonder." It certainly seems an absurdity in this age to
represent so recent a character in a garb in which he was so rarely seen
by the public, or so closely and incongruously to imitate the style of
the antique. Benjamin West showed more originality and courage when, in
the last century, and in defiance of the opinion of such men as Sir
Joshua Reynolds, he dared to break loose from the conventional, and
created a revolution in historical art by permitting General Wolfe to
die in the clothes in which he went to battle. But in justice to
Greenough, whose statue is in some respects meritorious and important,
especially in the bass-reliefs on the elegant chair, it should be said
that he never designed to have this statue placed in its present
position, but under the dome of the Rotunda, where it would undoubtedly
be far more impressive, and being sheltered from the winter snows, its
nudity would be less incongruous.

[Illustration: GEORGE WASHINGTON.--[J. Q. A. WARD.]]

Last year a sculptor died at Florence who was born in Kentucky nearly
seventy years ago. His education was confined to three months in a
district school, and his first occupation was chimney-building. James
Hart, although successful in portraiture, was also an idealist, who,
after settling in Italy, produced numerous pleasing works, like his
"Angelina" and "Woman Triumphant." There is a delicate, winning sense of
beauty and a refined emotional tendency in his art, which pleases while
it fails to master us, because it was a facile fancy rather than a lofty
imagination that conceived his creations.

Shobal V. Clevenger, a stone-cutter of Ohio, presents another instance
of the sudden yearning toward the plastic art which early in the century
sought vent in various parts of the country. Like so many others, he
turned his face to Italy to find the knowledge which it was impossible
for his native land to give him at that time. The nation owes a debt of
gratitude to him, as to several of our early sculptors, for many
truthfully realistic portraits of our leading statesmen and poets.

In point of date as well as in ability we find that Thomas Crawford, a
native of New York State, was one of the first of our sculptors. If
Powers was remarkable for the refinement of his work, in the sculpture
of Crawford we find a certain grandiose style not too common in our art,
and at the same time so harmoniously rendered as to avoid exaggeration.
Crawford occupies among our sculptors a position corresponding to that
of Allston among our early painters. There is a classic majesty about
his works, a sustained grandeur that is warmed by a sympathetic nature,
and brought within the range of the throes and aspirations of this
tumultuous century. He had what most of our sculptors have
lacked--genius. Were he alive to-day, when a new order of sculpture is
bursting its bonds, he would have few peers. Among his most important
works are the impressive equestrian statue of Washington at Richmond,
and the colossal statue of Beethoven in the Music Hall at Boston. They
were cast in the foundries of Müller at Munich, and were hailed by all,
artists and sovereign alike, with a dramatic enthusiasm which speaks
eloquently for the estimate placed upon them in one of the most notable
art tribunals of Europe.

The bronze door of the Capitol at Washington, containing panel groups
illustrative of the American Revolution, has been considered by some to
be a masterpiece of Crawford, and it certainly indicates imagination and
technical skill unusual among us until recently; but the statue of
Orpheus descending into Tartarus in search of his wife Eurydice seems,
on the whole, to be the most symmetrical and just representative work of
this great sculptor. His stately and graceful statue of "Liberty" on the
dome of the Capitol is also entitled to high consideration, but one can
hardly think of it without indignation, for certainly nothing was ever
devised quite so absurd as to create a work of imagination like this,
and then to perch it up in the air three hundred feet above the ground,
where it is a mere shapeless spot against the sky, its beauty almost as
completely snatched away from human ken as if it were buried as far
beneath the surface of the earth.

[Illustration: "MEDEA."--[WILLIAM WETMORE STORY.]]

The art of the Capitol at Washington presents, indeed, a most
extraordinary farrago of excellence and eccentricity and ignorance. Some
of the alto-relievos in the Rotunda are of such exceptional uncouthness
that one is astounded to think that some of the men are still living who
permitted them to be placed there. They might easily be passed off for
rude Aztec relics. The Sculpture Hall adjoining displays the same
amazing incongruity. Its existence suggests a dim perception in the
builders that at some future time we should need a national gallery of
statuary; while the inequality in the merit of the sculptures already
placed there would indicate that they had been chosen entirely by lot
rather than by deliberate selection. Not until a permanent national art
commission like that of France is appointed can we hope, in the present
unæsthetic condition of Congress, to have such art collected at the
national capital as will be entirely creditable to the country. Such a
commission, owing to the frailty of human nature, might perhaps show
partiality at times toward a favorite school; but what it did admit
would at least be of a higher average merit, and mere tyros in art would
have no chance to storm the public Treasury by the sheer force of


It is to the then absolute ignorance of art on the part of the people
that we owe the equestrian statues of Clark Mills--a contemporary of
Crawford--of which the most noted is probably the statue of General
Jackson opposite the White House, and the one of George Washington, for
which he received $50,000. The former is chiefly notable for the
mechanical dexterity which so balanced the weights that the prancing
steed is actually able to stand in that position without other support
than its own ponderosity. That Mr. Mills has ability is unquestioned,
for it is said that before ever he had seen a statue he was able to take
a portrait bust of Calhoun which is pronounced a striking likeness; but
it is dexterity and talent rather than genius which he possesses. There
is little evidence of art feeling in his works, and the prominence that
has been given to them is a just cause of regret to the lover of art.

It is pleasant among so much poor art to find here and there works like
those of Crawford, Ward, Brown, Randolph Rogers, and Ball, which
indicate an earnest striving after a lofty art ideal. Henry K. Browne,
one of our earliest sculptors, will probably be best known by his two
equestrian statues--of General Washington, in Union Square, New York,
and General Scott, at the capital. It is extremely difficult to tell
what it is which makes such monuments so rarely satisfactory. If the
horse is anatomically correct, it is, perhaps, ungraceful; or if
pleasing in that respect, then the horse-fancier comes along, who tells
you that it cannot be justly admired, for it is incorrect in the
details. Between these two objections one is often at a loss to give an
opinion; and in point of fact the famous statue of Colleoni by
Verrochio, made in the Middle Ages, seems thus far to be almost the only
wholly acceptable equestrian work since the classic times, so thoroughly
does it seem in its firm, massive, yet energetic lines to embody the
description of the war-horse given in the Book of Job, and so nobly does
his mailed rider bestride him. The cause of the difficulty appears to be
the same as in marine painting. To paint a ship one should love it
intensely, and if he does, he is likely to comprehend the action; to
design a horse in motion one should love horses, and in such case the
study of them begins instinctively in childhood. But most sculptors have
no natural equine bias, and, after accepting a commission for an
equestrian statue, they begin to study the horse for the purpose of
information, rather than from sympathetic, enthusiastic feeling.

[Illustration: "LATONA AND HER INFANTS."--[W. H. RINEHART.]]

Mr. Browne has struggled with these difficulties with very creditable
success. Neither of the statues mentioned above gives complete
satisfaction, but they are doubtless among the best yet exhibited in our
country. That of Scott represents the finest horse, and very graceful
and interesting it is, although the proportions are rather those of an
Arab steed than of an American war-horse; while that of Washington is
the most spirited and attractive. It is heroic and impressive in its
general effect. This artist, who still resides at Newburgh, enjoying a
green old age after a successful career, has accomplished much ideal
work, like the pleasing statue of "Ruth," and has shown a fine artistic
feeling in his conceptions, although hardly entitled to a foremost rank
in this branch of the art.

Thomas Ball, who was originally a portrait-painter, and who continues to
adorn our public squares with meritorious sculptures, is another artist
to whom we are indebted for one of the most spirited and correct
equestrian statues in the country. We refer to his "Washington," in the
Public Garden in Boston. Pleasing when regarded artistically, cavalrymen
also like it for its truth to nature. The group called "Emancipation,"
in Lincoln Park, at Washington, is also by Mr. Ball.

An equestrian statue that is destined to occupy a high position in our
native art is that of General Thomas, by J. Q. A. Ward. It is of
colossal size, and has been cast in bronze at Philadelphia. There is a
force in the action, an originality in the pose, a justness in the
proportions of both horse and rider, that render it exceptionally
excellent. In Mr. Ward we see one of the most vigorous and individual
sculptors of the age. As an influence in our art his example is of great
importance, because while placing at its true value the good that may be
obtained by familiarity with the models of classic art, whether by the
study of casts at home or abroad, he recognizes the basal principle of
all true art--that its originating force must proceed from within, and
that culture can only supplement, but cannot supply the want of, genius
in the artist or the people. And thus, while thoroughly conversant with
foreign and antique art, Mr. Ward has worked at home, and drawn the
sources of his inspiration from native influences. He has a mind
overflowing with resources; his fancy is never still; he is ever
delighting to sketch in clay, if the term may be so used. Many are
familiar with the noble statue of Shakspeare and the "Indian Hunter" in
the Central Park. The latter, although not in all respects anatomically
correct, is in spirit and design one of the most notable works produced
by American plastic art. But the bronze statue of Washington recently
set up at Newburyport is, perhaps, the best existing specimen of Mr.
Ward's skill. The subject is not a new one; in fact, it has been treated
so many hundred times in one form or another that especial originality
was needed to render it again with any degree of freshness and interest.
But the effort has been crowned with success. There is in this statue,
which is of colossal size, a sustained majesty, dignity, and repose, and
a harmony of design rarely attained in modern sculpture.

Among the foremost of American sculptors in point of native ability we
must accord a place to Benjamin Paul Akers, of Portland. He was indeed a
man of genius, of a finely organized temperament; but he died before the
maturity of his powers, ere he was able to achieve little more than a
promise of immortality. His "Pearl Diver," which is indeed an exquisite
creation, original, and tenderly beautiful, represents a youth whose
corpse the tide has washed on the rocks, where it lies wrapped by the
sea-weed, and tranquil in the repose of death. The anatomy and
composition of this work are evidently the offspring of a
finely-organized mind well grounded in the principles of his art, and
inspired by tender sympathies and a strongly creative imagination; and
his "St. Elizabeth" is also a lovely piece of sculpture. The noble ideal
bust of Milton, and the "Pearl Diver," are grandly described by
Hawthorne in the "Marble Faun." The admirable description of Kenyon, the
young sculptor mentioned in that weird romance, is intended for a
likeness of Akers.

Edward S. Bartholomew, of Connecticut, who died in his thirty-sixth
year, was another of our most gifted sculptors. There was an affluence
of fancy in his art, rare in our sculpture, which needed pruning rather
than urging by foreign study. Naturally his works are unequal in merit;
but the "Eve Repentant," "Ganymede," and "Hagar and Ishmael" will long
perpetuate his fame. It is a noteworthy circumstance that Bartholomew
was totally color-blind. This, in the opinion of many, is no
disqualification in a sculptor; but some sculptors not only think
otherwise, but are also conscious of a sense of color when creating a

[Illustration: "ZENOBIA."--[HARRIET HOSMER.]]

[Illustration: "EVENING."--[E. D. PALMER.]]

Italy, which has been the home and second mother to most of the artists
we have named, has long given a home to and inspired the art of a number
of our most prominent sculptors, who are now permanently residing in
Florence and Rome--Randolph Rogers, Story, Rinehart, Meade, Gould,
Thompson, Miss Hosmer, and several others, all of whom merit more than a
passing notice. Rogers, who has executed many exquisite works
indicating fine sentiment and fancy, is most favorably known for the
bronze doors in the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. Eight panels,
representing scenes in the history of Columbus, have afforded abundant
scope for the exhibition of a genius which, while it borrowed the idea
from Ghiberti, had yet ability sufficient to give us an original work.
The "Angel of the Resurrection," for the monument of Colonel Colt at
Hartford, is also an important and beautiful creation by this artist.
Larkin J. Meade, of Vermont, has justly won a wide reputation for
portrait and monumental works, like that to Abraham Lincoln at
Springfield, Illinois. It is of colossal dimensions, costing nearly
$300,000, and in size and importance ranks with the majestic monument at
Plymouth designed by Hammatt Billings. One of the noblest art
opportunities of the century was offered when that monument was
proposed. If Mr. Billings's original design had been fully carried out a
work would have been erected of which the country might justly be proud.
Lack of funds and a pitiful lack of enthusiasm resulted in reducing the
dimensions of the work by half. Martin Milmore has also executed some
very important civic monuments, and has turned the late war to account
by numerous military memorials erected to our dead heroes. The one
recently finished at Boston is the most noteworthy. The art represented
in these works is, however, not of a high order, perhaps because such
subjects are so trite that even an artist of very unusual ability would
be staggered in treating them. Franklin Simmons, whose abilities have
been chiefly devoted to a similar class of works with those of Meade and
Milmore, often exhibits true art feeling, and a sense of the beautiful
that makes his art exceptionally attractive. The monument to the Army
and Navy, at Washington, which he has designed, is not wholly
satisfactory, but it contains some effective points. One of his best
works is the statue of Roger Williams. Another Americo-Florentine artist
who has created some remarkable and beautiful ideal works is Thomas R.
Gould. Among these may be mentioned "The Ascending Spirit," at Mount
Auburn, "The Ghost in _Hamlet_," and "The West Wind." The latter is
fascinating rather for the delicate fancy it shows than for technic
knowledge, for it is open to criticism in the details; the drapery, for
example, is so full as to draw away the attention from the figure. This
is a blemish quite too common even in our best sculpture. Mr. Gould has
also been very successful in portraiture, and is now engaged on a
full-sized statue of Kamehameha, late King of the Sandwich Islands. In
the ideals of this artist we notice a powerful originality, and an
attempt to render in marble effects usually left to the higher orders of
pictorial art. Allegory he treats with marked power, and such ideal
conceptions as the heads of Christ and of Satan suggest possibilities
scarcely yet touched by sculpture.

Another of our sculptors, working near the quarries whence comes the
marble into which he stamps immortality, was W. H. Rinehart, of
Baltimore, one of the truest idealists whom this country has produced.
Criticism is almost disarmed as one gazes at his "Sleeping Babes," or
the tender grace of "Latona and her Infants."


In all these artists we find more or less dexterity of execution and
delicacy of sentiment, but are rarely impressed by a sense that any of
them indicate great reserve force. In William W. Story this idea is more
clearly conveyed. No American in the art world now occupies a more
prominent position or shows greater versatility. Possessed of an ample
fortune, and originally a lawyer, and preparing legal tomes, he then
devoted himself to poetry, the drama, and general literature, and has
succeeded as a sculptor to a degree which has caused a leading London
journal to call him the first sculptor of the Anglo-Saxon race since the
death of Gibson. He certainly occupies a commanding place, fairly won,
among the prominent men of the age. But here our praise must be
qualified; for it may be seriously questioned whether we are not dazzled
by the sum of his abilities rather than by any exceptional originality
and daring in anything Story has done. Of his sculpture it may be said
that it indicates the work of a rich and highly cultivated mind; it is
thoughtful, thoroughly finished, and classically severe. But it commands
our respect rather than our enthusiasm. There is in it nothing
inspirational. It is talent, not genius, which wrought those carefully
executed marbles--talent of a high order, it is true. "Jerusalem
Lamenting," "The Sibyl," and "Cleopatra" and "Medea," are works so
noble, especially the first, that one is impatient with himself because
he can gaze upon them so unmoved. The "Salome" is, perhaps, the most
perfect work of this sculptor, who might have done greater things if he
had not depended so exclusively upon foreign inspiration.

Miss Hosmer, who has resided in Italy ever since she took up art, has
achieved a fame scarcely less than that of Mr. Story. This has doubtless
been owing in part to her sex, for from the time of Sabina Von Steinbach
until this century it has been exceedingly rare to see a woman modelling
clay. But Miss Hosmer has a strong personality, and if her creations are
not always thoroughly successful as works of art, they bear the vigorous
impress of individual thought and imagination. She is best known in such
versatile works as "Puck," "The Sleeping Sentinel," "The Sleeping Faun,"
and "Zenobia," in whose majestic proportions the artist has sought to
express her ideal of a woman and a queen. Miss Hosmer took her first
lessons in sculpture with Peter Stephenson, an artist who died too early
to achieve a national reputation, although not too soon to be esteemed
by his fellow-artists for his abilities. He studied awhile at Rome, and
left a number of portrait busts, and a group of "Una and the Lion,"
which indicate undoubted talent. Other ladies who have essayed sculpture
with success are Miss Stebbins, the biographer of Charlotte Cushman, and
Mrs. Freeman, of Philadelphia, who has executed some beautiful works.
Miss Whitney, who studied abroad for a time, but has wisely concluded to
continue her work in this country, has shown a careful, thoughtful study
of the figure, and is moved by a lofty idea of the position of sculpture
among the arts. Among her more important works is an impressive statue
of "Rome," in her decadence, mourning over her past glory; a statue of
"Africa;" and one of Samuel Adams, in the Capitol at Washington.



There are other American sculptors deserving more than mere allusion,
like Dexter, Richard Greenough, Barbee, Volk, Edmonia Lewis, Van Wart,
Ives, Macdonald, Kernys, Ezekiel, Calverly, and Haseltine, who in
portraiture or the ideal have won a more than respectable position; but
our space limits us to a notice of several artists who, like Ward,
combine great natural ability with traits distinctively American. One of
these is Erastus D. Palmer, of Albany, who has won transatlantic fame
by the purity and originality of his art. The son of a farmer, and
exercising the calling of a carpenter until nearly thirty, Palmer did
not yield to the artistic yearnings of his nature until comparatively
late in life. When he at last took up the pursuit of art, it was in his
own town that he studied and sought fame, and his success was rapid and
entirely deserved. Few of our sculptors have been such true votaries of
the ideal, few have been able better to give it expression, and none
have shown a type of beauty so national, or have more truly interpreted
with an exquisite poetic sense the distinctive domestic refinement or
religious thought of our people. It is beauty rather than power that we
see expressed in the works of this true poet--moral beauty identified
with a type of physical grace wholly native. It is an art which finds
immediate response here, for it is of our age and our land. Among the
notable works of Palmer are his "Indian Captive," "Spring," "The White
Slave," and "The Angel of the Sepulchre;" but we prefer to these the
exquisitely beautiful bass-reliefs in which he has embodied with extreme
felicity the domestic sentiments or the yearnings and aspirations of the
Christian soul. The radical fault of Palmer's art is that he has
depended more on his fancy than upon a direct study of nature for his
compositions. The natural result has been that he soon began to lapse
into mannerism, which has become more and more prominent in his later

Another sculptor of great ability owes his first instruction in the
plastic art to Palmer--Launt Thompson. He was a poor lad who early
showed art instincts, but was employed in the office of Dr. Armsby,
until Palmer stated one day that he was in search of an assistant, and
asked Dr. Armsby if he could recommend any one. The doctor suggested
Thompson (who was in the room) as a youth who had a turn that way, but
had been unable to find opportunity to gratify his art cravings. Thus
began the career of one of our strongest portrait sculptors. In the
modelling both of the bust and the full figure, Thompson has been
equalled by very few American sculptors. Among many successful works may
be mentioned his Napoleon, Edwin Booth, General Sedgwick, at West Point,
and President Pierson, at Yale College. It is a cause for just regret
that, after having achieved such success at home, Thompson should have
deemed it necessary to take up his residence permanently in Italy.

[Illustration: "THE WHIRLWIND."--[J. S. HARTLEY.]]


Another artist whose work is entirely native to the soil is John Rogers,
whose numerous statuette groups in clay have made him more widely known
in the country than any other of our sculptors. A native of Salem,
Massachusetts, and for awhile engaged in mechanical pursuits, this
artist was at last able to turn his attention to plastic art, and went
to Europe, where he seems to have gained suggestions from the realistic
and impressional school of the later French sculptors; but this was
rather as a suggestion than an influence, and, finding his mind more in
sympathy with home life, he soon returned, and has ever since worked
here, and from subjects of homely every-day _genre_ around him. The late
war has also furnished Rogers with material for many interesting
groups. The art of Rogers is to the last degree unconventional, and in
no sense appertains to what is called high art, but it springs from a
nature moved by correct impulses, beating in unison with the time, and
occupying the position of pioneer in the art of the future, because he
has been true to himself and his age.

Daniel C. French, a pupil of Ward and Ball, is a young sculptor who,
like Rogers, finds inspiration for his ideals in his native land, and
gives promise of holding a prominent position in the field of American
sculpture. He made a sudden and early strike for fame when, with scarce
any instruction, he modelled the spirited and original, although
anatomically imperfect, statue called the "Minute Man," which is at

Another strong representative of the new realistic school of sculpture
that is gradually springing up in the community is W. R. O'Donovan, of
Richmond, Virginia. Fighting sturdily on the side of the South during
the late war, he as earnestly gives himself now to the pursuit of the
arts of peace. He is not a rapid worker, but handles the clay with
thoughtful mastery, and the results are stamped with the freshness and
individuality of genius. Mr. O'Donovan's efforts have been most
successful in portraiture, of which a striking example is given in the
bronze bust of Mr. Page, the artist. Another bust, of a young boy, is as
full of _naïve_ beauty and refined sentiment and character as this is
vigorous and almost startling in its grasp of individual traits.


The transition stage through which our plastic art is passing is also
indicated by the stirring, realistic, and sometimes sensational art of a
number of earnest and original young sculptors who have studied abroad,
but have wisely concluded to return home, and to found, and grow up
with, a new and progressive school of sculpture. One of these was the
late Frank Dengler, of Cincinnati, who had studied at Munich, and was
professor of sculpture at Boston; and others are Olin M. Warner, of New
York, and Howard Roberts, of Philadelphia, who made the singularly bold
statues of "Hypatia" and "Lot's Wife." To these may be added J. S.
Hartley, who was recently Professor of Anatomy at the Art Students'
League, and is now president of that flourishing institution. He began
his career in Palmer's studio, and afterward studied in London and
Paris. The art of these young sculptors is still immature and highly
emotional or lyrical, and often verges on the picturesque rather than
the severely classic. But if it lacks repose, on the other hand it is
imaginative and powerful; its faults are those of an exuberant fancy
that teems with thought; and these artists are undoubtedly the
forerunners, if not the creators, of a thoroughly national school of
sculpture. Superior in technic skill, moved by a genius thoroughly
trained in the best modern school of plastic art, that of Paris, St.
Gaudens, a native of New York, has given us, in the exquisite groups
called "The Adoration of the Cross by Angels," in St. Thomas's Church,
New York, one of the most important and beautiful works in the country.
The Astor Reredos behind the altar at Trinity Church, designed by Mr.
Withers, and partly executed here, is also a very rich addition to our
plastic art, and is another sign that it is taking a direction little
followed heretofore on this side the Atlantic. Dr. William Rimmer, who
has recently died, powerful in modelling, a master of art anatomy, and
author of a valuable work on that subject, also exerted an important
influence in directing the studies of our rising sculptors. Having
little sense of beauty, he understood art anatomy profoundly, and
modelled with energy if not with grace. His statue of "The Gladiator"
aroused astonishment in Paris; for as it is impossible for a living man
to keep a falling position long enough for a cast to be taken, this
masterly composition was necessarily a creation of the imagination based
upon exhaustive knowledge of the figure.

Wood and stone carving and monumental work, and the decoration of
churches and civic structures, have rarely been satisfactorily attempted
here until recently. A curious paper and design left by Thomas
Jefferson, of which we give a reduced fac-simile, is one of the earliest
attempts at original monumental art in the United States. Here and there
one of our sculptors has executed some good work in this field, but
costly monuments have too often been erected in the country without much
pretension to art. The increasing attention given to wood and stone
carving, as in the new Music Hall at Cincinnati, the State Capitols at
Albany and Hartford, and in some of our later churches, is a favorable
sign that a broader field is opening at last for the fitting utterance
of the rising genius of sculpture; while the numerous schools for
instruction in this art that have been founded within the last decade,
and the well-stored galleries of casts of the masterpieces of antiquity,
are increasing the facilities for the growth of a home art. Enough has
been said in this brief sketch to show that sculpture, if one of the
latest of the arts to demand expression in the United States, has yet
found a congenial soil in the New World.



At the close of the fourth chapter of this volume it was briefly stated
that new influences and forms of art expression have recently become
prominent in our art, and are rapidly asserting their growing
importance. With perhaps one or two exceptions, these new influences so
gradually shade out of our former art that it is difficult to tell the
exact moment when they assume an individuality of their own, and appear
as new and distinct factors in the æsthetic culture of our people.

It is only when we take a retrospect of the whole field, and compare one
generation with another, that we discern the vanishing point of one set
of influences and the genesis of new schools, with the introduction of
new branches of art culture in the community. Considering the progress
of American art from this point of view, we find it divided most
decidedly into periods, advancing with regular pace from one phase to
another like the tints of a rainbow, shading off at the edges, but
gradually becoming more intense. Thus we are able to trace in
geometrical ratio the progress from primitive silhouettes and rude
carvings up to the present comparatively advanced condition of the arts
in this country.

And yet a closer inspection into the history of American art enables us
to detect in its growth the same rapid spasmodic action, when once a
start is made in a certain direction, as in other traits of our national
development. There is a tropical vivacity in the manner in which with us
bloom and fruition suddenly burst forth after a period of apparently
unpromising barrenness. Thus West and Copley appeared almost
full-fledged in art genius and capacity to adapt themselves to occupy
prominent positions in Europe, and yet there were but few premonitory
signs to indicate that the country was prepared for the advent of such


Until recently, also, owing to some cause yet unsolved, we have not
seemed able to develop more than one or two forms of art at once. At one
period it was historic painting and portraiture; then portraiture,
including for a time very marked success in miniature painting, headed
by Fraser and Malbone, and continued by such able artists as T. S.
Cummings, J. H. Brown, Miss Goodrich, and Mrs. Hall; then, all at once,
landscape-painting made its appearance, and almost at a bound reached a
good degree of merit. Hand in hand with landscape art came remarkable
facility in line engraving. How rapidly excellence in this art was
achieved in this country may be judged from the fact that in 1788 the
editor of the _American Magazine_ said apologetically, in presenting an
incredibly rude plate of a dredging-machine in the magazine, "The editor
has given the plate of the new machine for clearing docks, etc., because
he had promised it. The want of elegant plates in a work of this kind is
extremely regretted, and will, if possible, be supplied. If it cannot,
the editor flatters himself that the infancy of the arts in America will
be accepted as an apology for the defect." And yet not twenty years from
that time Peter Maverick was doing good steel-engraving in New York; and
scarce ten years later Durand was executing the masterly engravings of
Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence" and Vanderlyn's "Ariadne." And
from that time until recently engravers like James Smillie, senior, A.
H. Ritchie, and John Marshall have carried this art to a high degree of
excellence; while John Sartain has attained celebrity in mezzotint.

Strange as it may seem, while portraiture, landscape, and steel
engraving were pursued with such success by our artists, a feeling for
the other arts could hardly be said to exist. A sympathy with form,
generally the earliest art instinct to show itself, was long in
awakening, as proved by the tardiness of the plastic arts to demand
expression among us; while to the resources of black and white, or
_camieu_, or a perception of the matchless mystery and suggestiveness of
_chiaro-oscuro_, the people have, until within a very short time, seemed
altogether blind. Water-colors, also, were almost hooted at;
wood-engraving was for long in a pitiful condition; and as for
architecture and the decorative arts, nothing worthy of the name, and
scarcely a sign of a perception of their meaning, could be said to exist
on this side of the Atlantic.

Some years ago W. J. Linton, one of the most distinguished
wood-engravers of the century, came to this country to live. Whether
that had anything to do with the very rapid development of
wood-engraving here since that time cannot be stated with certainty;
but, judging from analogy, we should say that he has exerted a marked
influence in stimulating the remarkable progress already reached by our
engravers within a very few years. A.V.S. Anthony was one of the first
to respond to the awakening demand for good wood-engraving here, and has
shown great delicacy and skill in interpreting the drawings of our very
clever artists in black and white. Charles Marsh is also an engraver of
remarkable character and originality of style. In the rendering of a
decorative or highly ideal class of subjects he brings to his aid an
artistic genius not surpassed by any engraver we have produced. Messrs.
Morse, Davis, Hoskin, Wolf, Annin, Juengling, Kingsley, Müller, Cole,
Smithwick and French, Kreul, Dana, Andrew, and King, among a number who
have distinguished themselves in this art, are especially noteworthy,
not only for correct rendering of the spirit of a drawing, but often for
individuality of style.

One of the most interesting phases of the development of wood-engraving
in this country has been the discussion as to its position among the
arts, and the merits of the recent method of engraving drawings or
paintings photographed directly on the wood. This discussion has been
interesting and valuable as another evidence of the activity and
importance which the art question has already assumed in the community.
That engraving is an art, one would think could never be disputed, if
the question had not already been raised with a certain degree of
acrimony on the part--strange as it may seem--of those who are often
dependent upon the genius of the engraver for the recognition of their
abilities by the public--the artists themselves. It seems to us to be
sufficient answer to those who consider it purely a mechanical pursuit,
that the simple fact that the higher the artistic perceptions of the
engraver the better is the engraving he does, proves it to be a work of


On the other hand, it appears that the engraver may in turn assume too
much when he claims to improve upon an illustration, or objects _per se_
to cutting photographs on wood. While granting to engraving the rank of
art, it cannot justly be forgotten that it is, after all, a means to an
end,--an art, it is true, but an art subordinate to other arts which it
is designed to interpret. Once this is allowed, it follows, as a matter
of course, that it is the duty of the engraver to render faithfully the
drawing or painting that is to be cut; and to magnify himself not at the
expense of the artist who made the drawing, but by rendering, as nearly
as possible, a fac-simile of the original picture. If this be granted,
then is it not clear that, instead of opposing, he should hail with
satisfaction any new process which enables him to give on wood or any
other material a closer copy of the style and spirit of the artist whom
he is interpreting. That this can be done by a clever engraver by
photographing a pen-and-ink drawing or painting directly on the wood,
and then studying also the original work as he cuts it, seems to be no
longer an open question. It has been demonstrated by too many excellent
engravers within the last five years.

Another advantage of what we cannot but consider an advance in this art
is, that it admits of a larger variety of styles, and a freer expression
of the designer's methods of thought and feeling, and also enables many
who do not care to work in the cramped limits of a block of wood to make
a large composition in black and white, whether with Indian-ink or
monochrome in oil, which is then photographed on the wood. In this way
far greater freedom and individuality of handling is obtained, and a
nobler utterance of the truths of nature. Can there be any question that
a process which allows of such variety of expression must inure to art
progress, and still more to the instruction of the people, who are
directly benefited by the illustrations which are brought to their own
doors, and placed in the hands of the young at the time when their
tastes and characters are forming, and their imagination is most plastic
and impressionable?

It would seem as if the art of wood-engraving had received in the most
direct manner the action of some unseen hand, impelling it suddenly
forward in this country by concerted action with the genius of
illustration; for apparently by secret agreement that branch of art has
within the last decade developed a comparative excellence yet reached by
none of the sister arts in the land. And this turn for illustration has
naturally been accompanied by an active movement in black and white
drawing, particularly in crayon.

Samuel W. Rowse was one of the first to give an impetus to crayon
drawing by a style of portraiture especially his own. As such he ranks
with our leading portrait-painters; while the fact that he employed
crayon as a medium for a time gave him a position almost entirely alone
in this country. There is a wonderful subtlety in his power of seizing
character and the rendition of soul in the faces he portrays. Equally
happy in all the subjects he treats, he will be longest remembered,
perhaps, for the many beautiful children's portraits he has executed.
The success of Rowse naturally led to similar attempts by other artists;
and in all our leading cities one may now find crayon artists who are
more or less successful in the department of portraiture, among whom may
be mentioned B. C. Munzig and Frederick W. Wright. Out of this has grown
a school of landscape-artists employing charcoal--a medium that Lalanue
and Allongé had already used with magical results. John R. Key, who is
well known as a painter in oil, has, however, done his best work, as it
seems to us, in charcoal. There is great tenderness in his treatment of
light and shade, together with harmonious composition. J. Hopkinson
Smith, known as a water-colorist, also handles charcoal like a master.
He seizes his effects with the rapidity of improvisation, treats them in
masses, and shows a feeling for _chiaro-oscuro_ that is almost unique in
our art.

[Illustration: Representing the manner of PETER'S Courtship.

[Howard Pyle.]]

When we come to the book illustrators we encounter a number of artists
of merit, and occasionally of genius, who are so numerous that we can
select only here and there a few of the most prominent names. Felix O.
C. Darley was one of the first to show the latent capacity of our art in
this branch. His style soon became very mannered, but, at the same
time, undoubtedly showed great originality and invention in seizing
striking characteristics of our civilization, and a refined fancy in
representing both humor and pathos. His linear illustrations to "Rip Van
Winkle" and Judd's "Margaret" placed him, until recently, among our
first two or three _genre_ artists. Less versatile and inventive,
Augustus Hoppin has, however, earned an honorable position among our
earlier illustrators. Louis Stephens also won distinction for an elegant
rendering of humorous subjects. Then followed a group of landscape
illustrators, among whom Harry Fenn holds a high position for poetically
rendering the illimitable aspects of nature and the picturesqueness of
rustic or Old World scenery and ruins. Under the guidance of his facile
pencil how many have been instructed in art, and learned of the varied
loveliness of this beautiful world! Thomas Moran ranks with Mr. Fenn as
a master in this field. It appears to us that in this branch he displays
more originality and imagination than in the elaborate paintings by
which he is best known.

Within a very few years--so recently, in fact, that it is difficult to
see where they came from--a school of _genre_ illustrators have claimed
recognition in our art, educated altogether in this country, and yet
combining more art qualities in their works than we find in the same
number of artists in any other department of American art. It is a
little singular that, notwithstanding the recent interest in black and
white in this country, the _genre_ artists who represent it should at
once have reached an excellence which commands admiration on both sides
of the Atlantic, while our painters in the same department have rarely
achieved more than a secondary rank.


Alfred Fredericks has distinguished himself by combining landscape and
figure in a most graceful, airy style; and Miss Jessie Curtis, in the
delineation of the simplicity and beauty of child life, has delightfully
treated one of the most winsome subjects which can attract the pencil of
the poetic artist. Miss Humphreys, in the choice of a somewhat similar
class of subjects, has yet developed individuality of method marked by
breadth of effect and forcible treatment. Of the ladies who have found
scope for their abilities in the field of illustration perhaps none have
excelled Mrs. Mary Halleck Foote. We cannot always find her style of
composition agreeable, and in invention or lightness of fancy she seems
deficient, while her manner is strong rather than graceful. But she is a
most careful student of nature, and the effects she aims at, and
sometimes reaches, are inspired by an almost masculine nerve and power,
and show knowledge and reserve force. Some of her realistic landscapes
are almost as true and intense in black and white as the daring realisms
of Courbet in color, but showing fine technical facility rather than
imagination. Miss Annette Bishop, who died too early to win a general
recognition of her talents, was gifted with a most delicate poetic
fancy, and singular facility in giving expression to its dreams.

F. S. Church is an artist of imagination, painting in oil and
water-colors, but perhaps best known for striking and weird compositions
in black and white, often treating of animal or bird life. He is an
artist whose advent into our art we hail with pleasure, not because his
style is wholly matured or always quite satisfactory, for it is neither,
but because it is inspired by a genuine art feeling, and yet more
because it shows him to be--what so few of our artists have been--an
idealist. What is art but a reaching out after the ideal, the most
precious treasure given to man in this world? It includes faith, hope,
and charity. To search after the ideal good, to live in an ideal world,
to yearn after and try to create the harmony of the ideal, is the one
boon left to man to give him a belief in immortality and a higher life.
The more of an idealist the poet or the artist, the nearer he comes to
fulfilling his mission. The idealist is the creator, the man of genius;
and therefore we hail with joy the appearance of every idealist who
enters our art ranks, and infuses vitality into the prose of technical
art, and inspiration into the dogmas of the schools. The most hopeless
feature of American art has always been hitherto, as with our
literature, the too evident absence of imagination; and wherever we
recognize an idealist, we set him down as another mile-stone to mark the
progress in art. It is through the idealists that Heaven teaches truth
to man; and hence another reason why we regard with such importance the
present school of artists in black and white. In no department is there
more scope for the imagination than in the drawing of the pure line or
in the suggestions of _chiaro-oscuro_. Therein lies the enormous power
of the art of Rembrandt. He dealt with that seemingly simple but really
inexhaustible medium, light and shade: in the hands of a master, potent
as the wand of a magician to evolve worlds out of chaos.


Barry, Bensell, Shepherd, Davis (who is also known as a decorative
artist), T. A. Richards, Eytinge, Frost, Merrill, Ipsen, Shirlaw,
Lathrop, Lewis, Perkins, and Davison are other artists who have justly
acquired repute for success in the department of black and white, or
book illustration. Kelley has a sketchy style that is very effective,
and of which the correct rendering on wood would have been well-nigh
impossible with the old processes; but there is danger of carrying it to
the verge of sensationalism. The facilities afforded by photographing
a design on wood has seemed to be the occasion for aiding the
development of a class of artist-authors who both write and illustrate
their own articles for the magazines. How remarkably well this can be
done is proved by such clever artists as Howard Pyle and W. Gibson, who
display at once fertility of imagination and technical facility as
draughtsmen. C. S. Reinhart has become widely known as one of the most
versatile illustrators we have produced. Excelling as a draughtsman, he
brings to his aid an active fancy that enables him vividly to realize
the scenes he undertakes to represent; and he seems equally at home in
the portrayal of quaint old-time scenes, or the brilliant costumes and
characters of the present day, combined with forcible delineations of
scenery. The Puritan damsel or the belle of Newport may alike be
congratulated when Mr. Reinhart ushers them before us with the grace of
a master. The success of this school of artists, who have made their
mark in the department of illustration, has doubtless been due in part
to the increasing study of the figure in this country, and the greater
facilities afforded for drawing from the life. Most of these artists are
young men, whose abilities have been vastly assisted by their studies in
life schools, which it would have been well-nigh impossible for them to
find in the earlier periods of our art. Although perhaps better noticed
under the head of Ethics rather than of Æsthetics, we may allude to the
surprising growth and influence of caricature-drawing in this country,
represented by such able artists as Nast, Bellew, Kepler, or Cusack, as
associated with the development of our black and white art.

An artist who seems to combine the qualities we see more or less
represented by other artists in black and white, who has already
accomplished remarkable results, and gives promise of even greater
successes, we find in E. A. Abbey. It must be taken into consideration
that he is still very young; that he now for the first time visits the
studios and galleries of Europe; that his advantages for a regular art
education have been very moderate, and that he is practically
self-educated. And then compare with these disadvantages the amount and
the quality of the illustrations he has turned out, and we see
represented in him genius of a high order, combining almost
inexhaustible creativeness, clearness and vividness of conception, a
versatile fancy, a poetic perception of beauty, a quaint, delicate
humor, a wonderful grasp of whatever is weird and mysterious, and
admirable _chiaro-oscuro_, drawing, and composition. When we note such
a rare combination of qualities, we cease to be surprised at the cordial
recognition awarded his genius by the best judges, both in London and
Paris, even before he had left this country.

If I have spoken strongly in favor of our school of illustrators, it is
because I think such commendation has been rightly earned, and to
withhold it when merited would be as unjust as to give censure when
undeserved. Criticism need not necessarily be the essence of vitriol and
gall, as some critics seem to imagine it to be. A jury is as much bound
to approve the innocent as to condemn the guilty.


In another department of our arts we also feel called to award praise to
a degree that has never before been possible in the history of American
art. I refer to the department of architecture. It is difficult to say
exactly when the new movement toward a fuller expression of beauty in
our civic and domestic building began; but we are conscious that about
ten years ago what was for a time a mere vague feeling after more
agreeable examples of architecture shaped itself into a definite and
almost systematic impulse. The Chicago fire, and more especially the
great fire in Boston, accelerated the action of the forces that already
directed the people to demand nobler forms and types in the
constructions that were henceforth to be erected in our growing cities.
The advance of landscape-gardening, as evidenced in the Central Park of
New York, and the public parks of other cities, doubtless aided to
increase the yearning for material beauty. But whatever the influences
at work, there is no question as to the results already apparent. I
would not be understood as approving all the buildings of importance
that have recently been put up in this country--very far from it. But,
on the other hand, one cannot avoid seeing that the general tendency is
toward improved styles, and that here and there groups of buildings or
single structures have been erected which are at once elegant,
commodious, and artistic; and, if not strictly offering new orders of
architecture, presenting at least graceful adaptations of old orders to
new climatic and social conditions in a way that gives them the merit of

So prominent has this improvement in architecture already become in
American cities, that already their external aspect or profile has begun
to partake of the picturesque character hitherto supposed to belong only
to the Old World, and to present that massing of effect so dear to the
artistic eye. We can illustrate this by mentioning only two or three
examples among many. One who looks toward Philadelphia from the railway
station on the east side of the Schuylkill, may see a cluster of spires
and domes centering around the Academy of Fine Arts, which is so
agreeably composed that one would almost imagine the position of each to
be the deliberate choice of a master in composition. Twenty years ago
one would have looked in vain for any such harmonious outline of
structural beauty in this country. The small, quaint fishing-port of
Marblehead has also found itself suddenly transformed into one of the
most pleasing cities of the Union, as viewed from the Neck across the
harbor; for on the very crest of the hills upon which the place is built
a town-hall has been erected, of brick, neatly faced with stone, and
surmounted by an elegant tower. At once the old town has emerged from
the commonplace into the region of the picturesque. The new structure
has given character and symmetrical outline to the city by producing
convergence to a central point of effect; and when the sun sets behind
it, and brings its outline into bold but harmonious relief against a
golden background, while a mist of glowing rays glazes the whole into
tone, the view is in the highest degree artistic, and so resembles some
of the scenes one so often sees in the Old World that he can hardly
believe he is gazing at an American prospect.

We find a somewhat similar effect, but on a much larger scale, presented
by the new Capitol, or State-house, at Albany. This city, as beheld from
the opposite banks of the Hudson at Greenbush, has always been one of
the most pleasing of American cities, situated as it is on several lofty
hills, divided by ravines in which purple shadows linger when night is
approaching; but the addition of the vast structure now in course of
completion there adds greatly to the glory of the spectacle. It
dominates over the city of eighty thousand inhabitants with superb
dignity; and the whole place borrows beauty from it, and is elevated
above prose into poetry. Again one is reminded of the cathedral towns of
Europe, where some lofty, venerable minster guards through the ages the
roofs that cluster below. Not that this pile, which is rather hybrid in
its style, is to be considered equal to the masterpieces of old-time
architecture; but it is a long step in advance compared with the civic
buildings formerly erected and admired in our cities, and its presence
at the capital of a great State cannot but have an ennobling and
educational influence upon rising generations.

The styles, whether pure or modified, that are most employed by our
architects in this new movement have been chiefly the Romanesque, the
Palladian Renaissance, the French Renaissance of Mansard and Perrault,
and the later Elizabethan or Jacobean. The first two have entered
chiefly into the construction of civic buildings; the second has been
followed in religious edifices; while the last has been used with
excellent effect in domestic architecture. A fine example of the success
achieved in the employment of the Romanesque is seen in the new Trinity
Church on the Back Bay lands, in Boston, designed by Gambrel and
Richardson. This is one of the most conscientious and meritorious
buildings erected on this continent, although less imposing than it
would have been if the original design had been fully carried out. There
is, also, an affectation of strength in the massive blocks of undressed
stone under the windows, in a part where such strength is
disproportionate to that employed in other portions of the building. But
the general effect is excellent, and the covered approaches or cloisters
are quite in the spirit of true architecture. Color enters judiciously
into the selection of the stone used to aid the general effect; and the
same observation may be applied to the very elegant tower of the new Old
South Church, close at hand, designed by Peabody and Robinson, in the
Italian Gothic style, and which for grace, beauty, and majesty has
not been surpassed on this side of the Atlantic. The church edifice to
which it is attached, although sufficiently ornate--perhaps too much
so--is lacking in that repose of outline or just proportions that are
required to bring it into harmony with the campanile.

[Illustration: "THE ASTONISHED ABBE."--[E. A. ABBEY.]]

Other towers and churches are clustered in that neighborhood, erected
within ten years, which present an effect that is really intrinsically
beautiful, without taking at all into question the rapidity of the
transformation which has come over the spirit of our architecture. And
the effect is heightened, to a degree never before attained on this
continent since the Mound-builders passed away, by the excellence of the
domestic architecture which has entered into the construction of the
dwellings of that vicinage, especially on Boylston Street and the
adjacent avenues. Beauty, taste, and comfort are there found combined to
a degree that promises much for the future of architecture in our
country. The gargoyles, gables, cornices, and carvings one meets at
every turn carry one quite back to the Middle Ages. It is interesting to
observe that the sham cornices formerly so common here are gradually
being discarded, together with all the other trumpery decoration so much
in vogue. Good honest work is shown in external decoration, together
with a feeling for color that is adding much to the cheerfulness of our
cities. Brick is made to do service for ornamentation as well as for
mere dead walls, and string courses, or bands of colored tiles or
terra-cotta carvings, all of an enduring character, enter into the
external decorations of private dwellings.

[Illustration: A CHILD'S PORTRAIT.--[B. C. PORTER.]]

Not only is the love of beauty shown in domestic architecture, but it is
found displayed in the construction of banks and stores; and it is again
in Boston that we find whole streets of buildings of rich and elegant
design, and conscientiously constructed, devoted wholly to business
purposes. But a building which, perhaps, more than any other is typical
of the architectural movement now passing over the country is the Museum
of Fine Arts in Boston. It is not so much after any one style as a
choice from different schools of later Gothic adapted to modern
conditions. The terra-cotta groups in relievo in the façade, temper what
would be otherwise too large an expanse of warm color, for it is built
of red brick. The grouped arches, turrets, and oriel windows, and the
numerous terra-cotta decorations at the angles and on the gables, are
elegant, but perhaps so generally distributed as to be a little
confusing. The effect is scattered, and thus weakened, instead of being
massed at one or two central or salient points. This is the most
glaring error we discover in the present importation or adaptation of
foreign and ancient styles to our needs here. It is an error which we
share with the modern British architect, and was forcibly illustrated in
the new Houses of Parliament, by Sir Charles Barry. No buildings of this
century are so profusely ornate as some of the magnificent cathedrals
and town-halls of the Middle Ages; but at the same time all this
sumptuousness of decoration was massed upon one or two effective spots,
surrounded by large spaces comparatively simple and free of
embellishment. Thus grandeur and nobility of outline were preserved,
while extraordinary beauty in color and sculpture could be added without
disturbing the general effect or cloying the imagination. But our
architects, not having yet fully grasped the ideas after which they are
searching, scatter instead of concentrating the external decorations of
their buildings.

[Illustration: A BIT OF VENICE.--[SAMUEL COLMAN.]]

Interior decoration has also naturally assumed importance as the quality
of our architecture has advanced. Elaborate wood-carvings are entering
into the decorations of the houses of our citizens, and painting is
called in to adorn the walls of private and civic buildings, sometimes
with more affectation or extravagance than taste; although it can be
conceded without hesitation that a remarkable and decided improvement is
noticeable within a very few years in the decoration of interiors in
this country. M. Brumidi made a beginning, some twenty years ago, in the
frescoes of the Capitol at Washington; and quite recently Mr. Lafarge
has beautified the interior of Trinity Church, Boston, and other public
buildings, with sacred designs in fresco, and other decorative work in
gold and red, which are very interesting. Among the last, and probably
the most important, works of the late William M. Hunt were the mural
paintings in oil for the new State-house at Albany. Other artists who
have shown promise in this department are Francis Lathrop and Frank Hill

It is not surprising to find that this advance in decorative art,
together with the increasing luxury accompanying it, should create a
demand and develop a talent for toreutic art, or art in metal-work,
especially the precious metals; and such we find to be the case. The
success achieved in this department is, perhaps, the most remarkable yet
attained in American art, excepting possibly that of some of our artists
in black and white, and has justly merited and obtained unqualified
applause abroad as well as at home. It is to such designers as Messrs.
Grosjean, Perring, Wilkinson, and Moore, assisted by the most skilled
artisans of the age, that our toreutic art is indebted for the
recognition it received at the French Exposition.

Another sign of the rapidly increasing activity of the interest taken in
the art question in America is presented by the art museums or galleries
which have almost simultaneously arisen in Boston, New Haven, New York,
and Washington, founded at considerable expense, and entirely without
State aid. With the former two are connected important schools for art
instruction, combined with fine casts of the masterpieces of ancient
plastic art.

Another evidence of the awakening art feeling of a great nation is the
demand for art education--a want which has been met by the establishment
of numerous schools or academies of art in our leading cities all over
the land, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is true that in
Philadelphia, Boston, and New York academies were founded early in the
century, and the last especially had become a very important factor in
stimulating the latent love for art in our people. The Massachusetts
Normal Art School, under the able direction of Mr. Walter Smith, while
devoted chiefly to the advancement of industrial art, has also by its
example greatly assisted the growth of the art feeling in the popular
mind. While much may be urged with reason against compulsory instruction
of art in the public schools, it would seem that few could be found to
object to the education of art instructors, and the addition of an
optional art branch to the State schools for the benefit of those who
are desirous of art instruction, but are too poor to avail themselves of
the advantages offered by such admirable art schools as those of the
Cooper Institute and Artists' League in New York, the National Academy
or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, or the Academy in Philadelphia.
It may, then, be conceded that the founding of the Massachusetts Normal
Art School is not only a strong indication of a growing demand, but that
it has also been a very powerful agent in the diffusion of art knowledge
in the United States.

[Illustration: "THE OLD ORCHARD."--[R. SWAIN GIFFORD.]]

Thus we see that by a cumulative effort the arts are making sudden and
rapid progress in America. And there is still another movement which
strikingly indicates this. Slow to be recognized, and meeting in some
quarters with but cold welcome, it is yet by no means the least
significant indication out of many that we are in the full tide of
æsthetic progress, and have fairly entered on the third period of
American art. From the time of West it has been not uncommon for our
painters to go to Europe for study and observation; but they either had
the misfortune to form their style after that of schools already
conventional and on the wane, or they were not yet sufficiently advanced
to accept the methods and principles of new masters and schools. A
possible explanation, that is more philosophical, but which some may
decline to accept, may be found in the general laws directing human
progress, that obliged us, unconsciously, falteringly to tread one after
the other the successive steps which others have followed before us. For
the same reason, when an artist of unusual ability, like Stuart,
appeared in the country, he had little or no following, because he came
before his time.

[Illustration: A LANDSCAPE.--[GEORGE INNESS.]]

But it has been evident for some years that a new element was entering
our art ranks and demanding expression, which has at last reached a
degree of vigor and organized strength that challenges respectful
attention, if not unqualified acceptance. By associations, schools, and
exhibitions of its own, it has thrown down the gauntlet to conservatism
and conventionalism, and the time has arrived when we can no longer shut
our eyes to the fact that a new force is exerting itself with
iconoclastic zeal to introduce a different order of things into American
art. We cannot justly consider this movement in the light of reform, for
up to this time our art has been very creditable, and, considering the
environing circumstances, full as advanced proportionally as the other
factors of American civilization. We regard it simply as another stage
in our art progress, destined, when it has accomplished its end, to be
in turn succeeded by yet higher steps in the scale of advance; for,
notwithstanding the somewhat demonstrative assumptions of some of its
promoters, the new movement does not comprehend within itself, more than
any other school, all the qualities of great art. To no school of art
has it yet been given to demonstrate and include in itself all the
possibilities of art, or to interpret all the truths of nature and man.
Perhaps some future school may arise, with all the knowledge of the ages
to choose from, which may comprehend the whole sphere of art in its
compass. But they are probably not yet born who shall see it, or give to
it the symmetry of perfection. Until that time, it behooves those
neophytes and disciples, who proclaim that their art includes all that
art has to tell, to be modest in their claims, and to be satisfied if
they have been able by fasting and prayer to enrich the world of art
with one or two new truths. Nowhere is humility more becoming than in
art; arrogance and assumption dig its grave sooner or later; while
humility is by no means incompatible with earnestness, zeal, and


The ripeness of our art for a change before the new movement actually
assumed definite shape had already been suggested and welcomed in
advance by such artists as Eastman Johnson, Homer Martin, and Samuel
Colman, the admirable painter in oil and water colors, strong in
_chiaro-oscuro_, brilliant in color, and, although without academic
training abroad, of a most excellent catholic spirit in all matters
relating to art, ready to accept the good of whatever school, and to aid
progress in the arts of his native land by whomsoever promoted. Benjamin
C. Porter, whose massive characterizations in portraiture, broadly
treated and admirably colored, have been among the most important
achievements in recent American art, and Winslow Homer, A. H. Wyant, and
E. M. Bannister are also among the artists whose sympathies are
naturally with the new movement, although receiving their art training
chiefly in this country, and who have thus indicated and prepared the
way for the assertion of new influences in our art.

R. Swain Gifford should be added to the list of the noteworthy
landscape-painters who have thrown the weight of their influence in
advance to welcome to our shores new elements of progress and change
whereby to quicken American art to fresh conquests. This artist at one
time devoted his efforts to marine-painting, in which he did and still
does some creditable work, his knowledge of ships being sufficiently
technical to satisfy the nautical eye; but since his sojourn in Algeria,
and the observations made in the Continental galleries and studios, he
has devoted himself to landscape, and adopted a bolder style and a truer
scheme of color. The influence of French art is perceptible in his later
methods, but altogether as an influence, and in no sense as an
imitation, for in his works there is always evident a sturdy
self-assertion, whether in subject or treatment. In catching the gray
effects of brooding skies receding in diminishing ranks through an
aërial perspective of great distance and space, and giving with fine
feeling the Druid-like spirit of clumps of sombre russet-hued cedars
moaning by the granite shore of old Massachusetts, and identifying
himself with the mysterious thoughts they suggest, Mr. Gifford has no
superior on this side of the Atlantic. As a professor in the Cooper
Institute, his influence is of great importance to the future of
American pictorial art.

[Illustration: MOONLIGHT.--[JOHN J. ENNEKING.]]

George Inness is another painter who, although without training in
foreign studios, should be included with the artists just named, whose
sympathies have gradually led him to exemplify in his works some of the
most characteristic traits of later Continental methods. At first his
style was not unlike the prevailing style of our middle school of
landscape-painting; like that, giving careful attention to the
reproduction of details. But his emotional nature, and intense
reflection upon the philosophical principles of art, gradually led him
to a broader style and a more free expression of the truths of nature,
dealing with masses rather than with details, and handling his
subjects--especially atmospheric effects--with a daring and an insight
that has never been surpassed in our landscape art. To these he has
added a feeling for light and color that place him, at his best, among
the masters of the art. But there is inequality in his works, and
sometimes a conflict of styles, as when he dashes off a composition, in
two or three sittings, that is full of fire and suggestion; and then,
perhaps with a relic of his first method still lingering in his memory
like a habit, goes over it again, and smooths away some of those bold
touches which, to an imaginative observer, gave it additional force.

[Illustration: "HAVING A GOOD TIME."--[LOUIS C. TIFFANY.]]

In his latest works Mr. Inness has shown a disposition to yield more
and more to a style at present called impressionist. Impressionism pure
and simple, as represented by its most extravagant supporters, is like
trying to represent the soul without the body. This may be well enough
in another world; but in this a material body is needed to give it
support. But, philosophically considered, there is no question that
impressionism--or the attempt to represent nature according to the
impressions it makes upon the mind's eye, rather than the mere
reflections left on the material eye--undoubtedly presents the
quintessence of the spirit of art; and therefore all good art must have
in it more or less evidence of subjective influence. But just so long as
art finds expression with material means, the artist must make
concessions to the limitations of substance. Naturally, of all the arts,
music comes nearest to the ideal which the impressionist is seeking to

It is useless to deny that, extravagant as some of the works of the
contemporary impressionists appear to many, they undoubtedly present a
keen appreciation of aërial chromatic effects, and for this reason are
worthy of careful attention. That they are not carried nearer to
completion, however, indicates a consciousness on the part of the artist
that he is as yet unable to harmonize the objective and subjective, the
material and the spiritual phases of art. A perfect work of art combines
the two; but, alas! such achievements are as yet rare, although that is
the ideal which the artist should keep in view. The artist who gives us
what is called a finished painting is so far right. He represents what
appears to the material eye. In proportion as he combines with this a
suggestion of the intellectual impression also made on his mental
vision, he approaches the ideal in art execution. On the other hand, the
artist who is impatient of details, and deals wholly with a broad, and
sometimes, we regret to say, dauby and slovenly interpretation of
nature, is yet so far right, because he is endeavoring to interpret the
wholly imaginative and intellectual side of art. When to this bias he
adds the balance of power which enables him to give something of the
other phase of art, he in turn approaches the ideal aim of art. Turner
was an impressionist; so was Corot; so, to go farther back, was
Velasquez; so, also, are the Japanese. But these artists, especially
Turner and Velasquez, had the supreme faculty of uniting the two
opposite poles in art in their best works, and hence the commanding
position which they hold, and always will hold, in the art world.


So far as can be ascertained, it is to the late William M. Hunt that we
must ascribe the initiation of the third period in our pictorial art,
and perhaps, in a secondary manner, the general impulse toward foreign
styles now modifying the arts of design in this country. When Mr. Hunt
went to Düsseldorf to study, in 1846, he did no more than many of our
artists had already done. But when, dissatisfied with the
conventionalism of that school, he turned his steps to Paris, and
became a pupil of Couture, and was one of the first to discover, to
admire, and to emulate the art methods of Millet, then, unconsciously,
he became a power, destined by his somewhat narrow but intense
personality to influence the destinies of our art--especially by
returning to Boston, a city easily brought under the magnetism of a
strong individuality, and more ready than any other city in the land to
surrender the guidance of its opinions to those whom it condescends to

The going of Mr. Hunt to Paris meant that technical knowledge and the
perception of the underlying principles of art were now, as never
before, to be systematically mastered and imported to America by our
artists, together with the most advanced theories, truths, or
discoveries in the technical part of the subject. It did not mean that
all our artists who went abroad to study would necessarily be great, or
that any of them would be especially original, but that there would be a
general harmony of action toward improving the means of art education in
America. Regarded in this light, Mr. Hunt must be considered to have
been a most important promoter of the development of art in America. He
was probably not a man of genius--unless great force of character be
considered as such--but he had a true perception of the character and
aims, the limitations and possibilities of art; and the intolerance he
sometimes exhibited was not unusual in those who are introducing new
methods, and have to create a circle of influence. In his own works, as
a landscape, portrait, _genre_, and decorative painter, it cannot be
said that he added greatly to the sum of the world's art by anything
strikingly original; but he exhibited a true perception of the
importance of the ideal in art; and one feels, in contemplating his
works, that he was ever striving to overcome the difficulties of
material means of expressing the ideal. Moved, like most leading
American painters, by a feeling for color rather than for form, yet, in
such compositions as "The Bathers," representing a boy about to dive
from the shoulders of another, who is half immersed in a pool, vanishing
into the green gloom of the wooded banks, we have an admirable example
of the manner in which this artist sometimes combined form,
_chiaro-oscuro_, and color, with a delicacy, force, and suggestion of
outline and tint, to a degree rarely equalled before by American art;
with a technique essentially that of the later French school, yet
modified by individual feeling.


But the life-work of Mr. Hunt was, after all, not more in his paintings
than in that influence by which he gathered about him a school of
admirers and disciples who disseminated his opinions and imitated his
style, although rarely with his success. Among those who directly
profited by his style and influence may be mentioned Mrs. Darrah, who
effectively paints gray coast scenes and landscapes in a low, minor key;
Miss Helen M. Knowlton; Miss Bartol; F. P. Vinton; and S. S. Tuckerman,
the marine painter.

The power of Mr. Hunt was still more widely felt in directing a large
number of young art-students to visit Paris, and eventually also Munich,
at each of which the tendency has been for some years toward bolder
methods in the technics of art. The result has been to introduce to this
country a truer perception of the vital importance of style in the
present stage of our art, and to emphasize the truth that he who has
anything to say will make it much more effective if he knows how to
give it adequate utterance.

Of the many Boston artists who have profited by foreign study and are
now resident in that city, we can mention but three or four. John J.
Enneking, a graduate of the studios of Munich and Paris, can hardly be
called an idealist. There is little evidence of imagination in his
canvases; but in seizing the effects of the brilliant lights of sunset,
or the varied grays of a lowering sky on a cloudy day, he shows himself
equally happy in color, _chiaro-oscuro_, and technical skill in handling
pigments. His versatility is remarkable. He can render the figure from
life with a vigor and freshness scarcely less than that of his
landscapes. There is, unfortunately, an evidence of haste in too many of
his works, which cannot be too much regretted, for he thus fails to do
justice to the very decided ability he possesses. Having studied both in
Munich and Paris, and given careful attention to all the European
schools of art, and adding to this knowledge sturdy independence of
opinion and great earnestness and energy, Mr. Enneking ought to be
strongly influential in the present stage of American art.

We find much that is interesting in the paintings of E. L. Weeks. They
are marked by a powerful individuality, which delights in glowing
effects of light, and revels in the brilliant coloring of tropical
scenery or the varied splendor of Oriental architecture and costumes.
There is something Byronic in the fervor of this artist's enthusiasm for
the East, and the easy adaptability that has enabled a son of New
England to identify himself with the life and scenery of lands so
exactly the opposite of his own. Although a pupil of Bonnât, and an
ardent admirer of the excessive realism now affected by some of the
followers of the later French school, Mr. Weeks is, in spite of himself,
an idealist, and no imitator of any style. This has, perhaps, been an
injury to him, for he finds difficulty in mastering the technical or
mechanical problems of his profession. A lack of knowledge or feeling
for form, a weakness in drawing which is too often perceptible in his
works, and sometimes an apparent opaqueness in his pigments, impair the
quality of compositions which are inspired by the fire of genius.

[Illustration: "THE BURGOMASTER."--[H. MUHRMAN.]]

J. M. Stone, who is one of the professors at the Museum of Fine Arts,
and a graduate of the Munich schools, indicates considerable force in
rendering the figure, both in color and drawing, and a touch of genius
in the painting of dogs and horses. His service in the army during
the war intensified his interest in equine art, and will probably result
in important compositions suggested by that conflict. C. R. Grant has a
delicate poetic feeling for color and form, and a pleasant fancy tinged
with quaintness; and in his choice of treatment and subject suggests the
works of G. H. Boughton. In T. W. Dewing, a pupil of Lefévre, who has
recently settled in Boston, we find much promise in figure-painting, but
altogether after the clear-cut, well-drawn, but somewhat dry method of

J. Foxcroft Cole, who has been a careful student of the best phases of
French landscape art, but has formed, at the same time, a sufficiently
individual style of his own, is an artist whose works command a growing
esteem. Although adding groups of cattle to his compositions, he is
essentially a landscape-painter. We receive from a study of his works an
impression of sameness, like that conveyed by the landscapes of Corot,
chiefly because they are generally on one key, and refer to a class of
subjects so quiet and undemonstrative that only he who observes them
repeatedly and reflectively discovers that each work is the result of a
distinct inspiration, and possesses suggestions and qualities of its
own. Exquisite feeling for space and atmosphere, for the peaceful
effects of pastoral life, and the more subtle aspects of nature,
especially in color, are the characteristics of the style of Mr. Cole.

In reviewing the Boston school, we note in its development much activity
and earnestness, too often combined, however, with crudeness; while the
foreign influence that is, on the whole, most evident in it is that of
the contemporary French school. As Boston is intense rather than broad
in its intellectual traits, and is inclined to follow the lead of its
own first thinkers and artists, it is the more unfortunate that one
influence should predominate, because in such a case the errors as well
as the good qualities of a style are liable to receive too much
attention; while free growth depends on the catholic eclecticism which
supplements the study of nature by culling the good from different
schools, and correcting one by comparison with another, thus enabling
the artist to arrive at a more just and profound view of a question that
proceeds upon irreversible laws. The mind thus educated learns by
balancing the merits of different schools, and the results are not so
much imitation as assimilation, yielding healthy growth and development.

[Illustration: "BURIAL OF THE DEAD BIRD."--[J. ALDEN WIER.]]

In New York there seems to be, with no less activity than that of
Boston, an art movement which is based on broader grounds, and offers
more encouragement for the future of our art. The artists who are the
most influential in this advance are more equally divided between the
French and the German schools than those of Boston, and indicate more
breadth of sympathy and art culture, together with a cosmopolitan love
for the good in the art of all schools, which is one of the most
encouraging of signs in a dawning intellectual reform. So decided had
the tendency toward Munich become soon after 1870, that the colony of
American art students in Munich soon grew sufficiently large to
establish an art association, having stated days of meeting, at which
contributed paintings were exhibited and discussed, and carefully
prepared papers on art topics were read. Opinions were exchanged in this
manly, earnest, sympathetic manner, and breadth and catholicity were
reached in the consideration of the great question in which all were so
profoundly interested. Thus were gained many of the influences which are
destined to affect American art for ages to come.

[Illustration: "THE APPRENTICE."--[WILLIAM M. CHASE.]]

The writer regards as among the most improving and delightful evenings
he has enjoyed those passed with some of these talented and enthusiastic
art students at the table where a number regularly met to dine--at the
Max Emanuel café in Munich. Dinner over, huge flagons of beer were
placed before each one, and pipes were lit, whose wreaths of
upward-curling smoke softened the gleam of the candles, and gave a
poetic haze to the dim nooks of the hall that was highly congenial to
the hour and the topics discussed. The leonine head of Duveneck,
massively set on his broad shoulders, as from time to time behind a
cloud of smoke he gave forth an opinion, lent much dignity to the scene;
while the grave, thoughtful features of Shirlaw, and the dreamy,
contemplative face of Chase, occasionally lit by a flash of impetuous
emotion, aided by an eloquent gesture, made the occasion one of great
interest. Others there were around the board whose sallies of humor or
weighty expressions of opinion made an indelible impression.

Among the resident artists of New York who have recently studied abroad,
Louis C. Tiffany, a follower of the French school, holds a prominent
position. He has done some very clever things in landscape and _genre_
from subjects suggested by his trip to the East, and has succeeded
equally in oil and water colors, and is now giving a preference to
American subjects, and also turning his attention to the pursuit of
decorative art. He is essentially a colorist, to whom the radiant tints
of the iris seem like harmoniously chorded strains of music. William
Sartain, a pupil of Bonnât and Yvon, has also proved himself an
excellent colorist, and shows vigor and truth of drawing both in figure
and architectural perspective, as well as pleasing composition in work
which he has done abroad.

The new phase into which our landscape art is passing under foreign
influence is well indicated by the paintings of Charles Miller, a
graduate of the Munich school, who is inspired by a stirring, breezy
love for nature, especially for her more intense and vivid effects,
strong contrasts of light and shade, glowing sunsets, and masses of dun
gray clouds rolling up in thunderous majesty and gloom over landscapes
fading off into the infinite distance. As a draughtsman Mr. Miller is
less interesting than in rendering such effects as we have suggested
with broad, free handling, in which he is often very successful. He is a
poet moved by a powerful imagination, idealizing what he sees, and
possessed of a memory similar to that of Turner; and thus some of his
most striking canvases are the result of a tenacious memory allied to a
vigorous observation. Some of his canvases suggest the landscapes of

[Illustration: "THE PROFESSOR."--[THOMAS EAKINS.]]

[Illustration: "THE GOOSE-HERD."--[WALTER SHIRLAW.]]

Frederick Dielman, who has pursued his studies in Munich, is destined to
make his mark in _genre_. In color and tone, and especially in drawing,
he has already shown decided ability, and some of his compositions are
very promising. Messrs. Weir and Muhrman, both young artists of much
promise, and both figure-painters, represent the influence of two
different schools. The former comes from an artistic family, his father
being Robert W. Weir, one of our oldest painters. Young J. Alden Weir
studied in Paris. In portraiture he has a remarkable faculty for
seizing character, painting the eye with a truth and life wholly
original. In _genre_ he is sometimes quite successful, although inclined
to mannerism. Mr. Muhrman is from Cincinnati, and has spent two years in
Munich. While there, he placed himself under no master, but observed
keenly, and devoted himself wholly to water-colors. Avoiding the use of
body color, he yet shows dash and originality in technique, and a fine
eye for form and color. The realistic vigor of his work is quite
exceptional among our water-color painters. The brilliance and purity of
his colors, and the delicious _abandon_ with which he handles the brush
to such admirable result, seem to promise that he will become a master
in this art. Frank Waller, Wyatt Eaton, W. A. Low, A. P. Ryder, J. H.
Twachtman, J. C. Beckwith, A. F. Bunner, Miss Helena De Kay, and Miss M.
R. Oakey are among the leading artists who are aiding the new art
movement in New York.

But among the later influences which have entered into our art and
promise striking results, there is none more worthy of our consideration
than the return of Messrs. Shirlaw and Chase from a thorough course of
study in Germany. One of the points of most importance in this
connection is that whereas our art for the last thirty years has been in
the direction of landscape, its tendencies are now rather toward the
painting of the figure, and this is strikingly illustrated by the
circumstance that both of these artists have done their strongest work
in this department, and their influence will undoubtedly give a fresh
impulse to figure-painting. Mr. Shirlaw was for a year professor in the
Students' League, but has now abandoned teaching in order that nothing
may interfere with original work. Trained in the school which has
produced such artists as Defregger, Diez, Braith, and Brandt, he has
mastered all the technical knowledge which Munich can give an artist in
_genre_ in our day. There is no uncertainty or weakness in his method of
handling color; his lines are clearly and carefully drawn, and he
undoubtedly achieves excellent results when he attempts simple
compositions. One of Mr. Shirlaw's best known compositions, representing
a sheep-shearing in Bavaria, has attracted favorable attention at home
and abroad. In compositions which include animals, dogs, and birds, he
has been especially happy. His inclinations to delineate the
characteristics of bird-life are akin to those of the artists of Japan.

[Illustration: "A SPANISH LADY."--[MISS MARY S. CASSATT.]]

The genius of Mr. Chase is rather for single figures than elaborate
compositions; and his independence of action is shown by the fact that,
although he studied with Piloty, the master whom he made his model of
excellence was Velasquez. A noble sense of color is perceptible in all
his works, whether in the subtle elusive tints of flesh, or in the
powerful rendering of a mass of scarlet, as in his notable painting of
the "Court Jester." In the painting of a portrait he endeavors,
sometimes very successfully, to seize character, although occasionally
rather too impressionist in style. His art-life is fired by a lively
enthusiasm, which must result in genuine and exalted art. "Waiting for
the Ride" is a fine, thoughtful ideal figure of a lady by this artist.

[Illustration: STUDY OF A BOY'S HEAD.--[W. SARTAIN.]]

In Philadelphia the new movement has some powerful allies, among whom
should be prominently mentioned Thomas Eakins, a pupil of Gérôme, and at
present professor in the Philadelphia Academy of Art. One of Mr.
Eakins's most ambitions paintings represents a surgical operation before
a class in anatomy. It is characterized by so many excellent artistic
qualities, that one regrets that the work as a whole fails to satisfy.
Admirable draughtsman as this painter is, one is surprised that in the
arrangement of the figures the perspective should have been so
ineffective that the mother is altogether too small for the rest of the
group, and the figure of the patient so indistinct that it is difficult
to tell exactly the part of the body upon which the surgeon is
performing the operation. The monochromatic tone of the composition is,
perhaps, intentional, in order to concentrate the effect on the bloody
thigh and the crimson finger of the operating professor. But as it is,
the attention is at once and so entirely directed on that reeking hand
as to convey the impression that such concentration was the sole purpose
of the painting. In similar paintings by Ribeira, Regnault, and other
artists of the horrible, as vivid a result is obtained without
sacrificing the light and color in the other parts of the picture; and
the effect, while no less intense, is, therefore, less staring and
loud. As to the propriety of introducing into our art a class of
subjects hitherto confined to a few of the more brutal artists and races
of the Old World, the question may well be left to the decision of the
public. In color Mr. Eakins effects a low tone that is sometimes almost
monochromatic, but has very few equals in the country in drawing of the
figure. Some of his portraits are strongly characteristic, and give
remarkable promise. Miss Emily Sartain is devoting herself with good
success to _genre_ and portraiture; and Miss Mary Cassatt merits more
extended notice and earnest praise for the glory of color and the superb
treatment and composition of some of her works.

When we review the various forces now actively at work to hasten forward
the progress of American art, we see that they are, with one or two
exceptions, still immature; while, on the other hand, the sum of their
influence is such as to prove that they are already sufficiently well
established to give abundant promise of vitality, and of a career of
success that seems destined to carry the arts to a degree of excellence
never before seen in America. While the ideal is a more prominent
feature of our art than formerly, the tide also sets strongly toward
realism, together with a clearer practical knowledge of technique. And
while we do not discover marked original power in the artists who
represent the new movement, we find in them a self-reliance and a
sturdiness of purpose which renders them potential in establishing the
end they have in view. It is to their successors that we must look for
the founding of a school that shall be at once native in origin, and
powerful in the employment of the material to express the ideal.


Abbey, E. A., 177.

Academy of Fine Arts (of New York), 24.

Akers, Benjamin Paul, 151.

Alexander, Cosmo, 16, 24.

Alexander, Francis, 49.

Allston, Washington, 16, 29, 31, 44, 47.

American Art Students' Association, Munich, 200.

Ames, Joseph, 49.

Andrew, John, 168.

Annin, P., 168.

Anthony, A. V. S., 168.

Architecture, 178.

Art Education, 186.

Artists' Funding Society, 88.

Artists' League, 186.

Athenæum, Providence, 31.

Augur, Hezekiah, 138.

Bacon, Henry, 7.

Baker, George A., 49.

Ball, Thomas, 149, 150.

Bannister, E. M., 106, 190.

Barry, Charles A., 174.

Bartholomew, Edward S., 152.

Bartol, E. H., 195.

Beard, James, 86.

Beard, William H., 86.

Beckwith, J. C., 207.

Bellew, Frank H. T., 177.

Bellows, A. F., 79.

Bensell, E. B., 174.

Benson, Eugene, 7.

Berkeley, Bishop, 15, 17.

Bierstadt, Albert, 97.

Birch, Thomas, 37.

Bishop, Annette, 174.

Bispham, Henry C., 86.

Blackburn, 16.

Blashfield, Edwin H., 7.

Blauvelt, C. F., 115.

Boutelle, D. W. C., 106.

Bowdoin College, paintings of, 47.

Brackett, Walter M., 85.

Bradford, William, 84.

Bricher, A. T., 111.

Bridgman, Frederick A., 7.

Bridges, Fidelia, 131.

Bristol, John B., 76.

Brown, George L., 64.

Brown, Harry, 84.

Brown, J. Appleton, 106.

Brown, J. G., 115.

Brown, J. H., 167.

Brown, J. Ogden, 131.

Browne, Henry K., 149.

Brumidi, M., 185.

Bunner, A. F., 207.

Burling, Gilbert, 112.

Burns, J., 115.

Calverly, Charles, 156.

Casilear, John W., 73.

Cassatt, Mary, 210.

Catlin, George, 88.

Champney, J. W., 113.

Chapman, J. G., 88.

Chase, William M., 203, 207.

Church, Frederick E., 81.

Church, F. S., 174.

Cincinnati, Music Hall of, 163.

Clevenger, Shobal Vail, 138, 145.

Close, A. P., 104.

Cobb, Darius, 125.

Cole, J., 168.

Cole, J. Foxcroft, 199.

Cole, Thomas, 47, 66.

Conant, Cornelia W., 7.

Colman, Samuel, 79, 112, 190.

Copley, John Singleton, 16, 17, 88, 138, 164.

Cooper Institute, 186.

Cranch, Christopher P., 76.

Crawford, Thomas, 138, 145, 149.

Cropsey, Jasper F., 76.

Cummings, T. S., 167.

Curtis, Jessie, 172.

Cusack, S., 177.

Custer, E. L., 125.

Dana, W. P. W., 7.

Dana, William J., 168.

Darley, Felix O. C., 171.

Darrah, Mrs. S. T., 195.

Davis, J. P., 168.

Davis, T. R., 174.

Davidson, Julian O., 174.

Deas, Charles, 88.

Decorative Art, 186.

De Haas, M. F. H., 109.

De Kay, Helena, 207.

Dengler, Frank, 161.

Dewing, T. W., 199.

Dexter, Henry, 156.

Dielman, Frederick, 204.

Dillon, Julia, 133.

Dix, Charles Temple, 84.

Dolph, J. H., 131.

Doughty, Thomas, 47, 56, 59, 66.

Drowne, Shem, 14, 37, 136.

Dunlap, William, 18.

Durand, Asher B., 47, 56, 59, 66, 167.

Duveneck, F., 7, 203.

Eakins, Thomas, 208.

Eaton, Wyatt, 207.

Edmonds, F. W., 52.

Ehninger, John W., 115.

Elliott, Charles Loring, 49, 50.

Enneking, John J., 196.

Eytinge, Sol, 174.

Ezekiel, Moses J., 156.

Falconer, John M., 112.

Farrar, Henry, 113.

Fassett, Mrs. C. A., 127.

Feke, Robert, 16.

Fenn, Harry, 172.

Flagg, George B., 87.

Foote, Mrs. Mary Halleck, 172.

Fraser, John, 31, 56, 167.

Frazee, John, 136, 138.

Fredericks, Alfred, 172.

Freeman, Mrs. J. E., 156.

French, Daniel C., 161.

Frost, Arthur B., 174.

Frothingham, James, 27.

Fuller, George, 117.

Fuller, R. H., 76.

Furness, William Henry, 125.

Gardner, Elizabeth I., 7.

Gaul, Gilbert, 113.

Gerry, Samuel L., 74.

Gibson, W., 177.

Gifford, R. Swain, 112, 190.

Gifford, Sanford R., 80.

Goodrich, Sarah, 51, 167.

Gould, Thomas R., 152, 154.

Grant, C. R., 199.

Greenough, Horatio, 138, 142.

Greenough, Richard, 156.

Grey, Henry Peters, 51.

Grey, Mrs. Henry Peters, 125.

Grosjean, Charles T., 186.

Guy, S. J., 115.

Hale, Susan, 113.

Hall, Mrs., 167.

Hall, George H., 133.

Hamilton, James, 71, 84.

Harding, Chester, 47, 49.

Hart, James, 79, 130.

Hart, William, 79.

Hart, Joel T., 138, 145.

Hartley, J. S., 161.

Haseltine, H. J., 156.

Hayes, William, 85.

Heade, M. J., 133.

Healy, G. P. A., 49.

Henry, E. L., 115.

Henshaw, Mrs., 133.

Hicks, Thomas, 49, 86.

Hill, Thomas, 97, 98.

Hinckley, T. H., 85.

Homer, Winslow, 117, 190.

Hoppin, Augustus, 172.

Hoskin, Robert, 168.

Hosmer, Harriet, 152, 156.

Howland, A. C., 115.

Hubbard, R. W., 74.

Humphrey, L. B., 172.

Hunt, William M., 49, 185, 193.

Huntington, Daniel, 49, 51, 88.

Impressionism in Art, 192.

Ingham, C. C., 49.

Inman, Henry, 49, 51.

Inness, George, 79, 190.

Inness, George, Jun., 131.

Ipsen, L. S., 174.

Irving, J. B., 113.

Ives, C. B., 156.

Jarvis, John Wesley, 28, 49.

Johnson, David, 76.

Johnson, Eastman, 116, 189.

Juengling, F., 168.

Kelley, J. E., 174.

Kensett, John F., 63, 76.

Kepler, Joseph, 177.

Key, John R., 170.

King, F. S., 168.

Kingsley, E., 168.

Knowlton, Helen M., 195.

Kreul, G., 168.

Lafarge, John, 71, 94, 133, 185.

Lambdin, George C., 133.

Lansil, Walter F., 111.

Lathrop, Francis, 96, 174, 186.

Lay, Oliver I., 115.

Le Clear, Thomas, 49.

Leutze, Emmanuel, 73, 88.

Lewis, Robert, 174.

Linton, W. J., 167.

Longfellow, Ernest, 106.

Longworth, Nicholas, 140.

Loop, Henry A., 125.

Loop, Mrs. Henry A., 125.

Low, Will H., 207.

Macdonald, J. W. A., 156.

M'Entee, Jervis, 103.

Magrath, William, 117.

Malbone, Edward G., 31, 32, 167.

Marsh, Charles, 168.

Marshall, John, 167.

Martin, Homer, 106.

Mather, Cotton, 14.

Maverick, Peter, 167.

Mayer, B. F., 113.

Meade, Larkin J., 152, 153.

Meeker, J. R., 74.

Mignot, Louis R., 83.

Miller, Charles, 203.

Millet, Francis D., 7.

Mills, Clark, 138, 149.

Milmore, Martin, 154.

Moore, E. C., 186.

Moran, Edward, 103.

Moran, Peter, 103, 130.

Moran, Thomas, 97, 100, 172.

Morse, Samuel F. B., 33, 39, 51.

Morse, W. H., 168.

Mount, William Sidney, 52, 86, 117.

Muhrman, William H., 207.

Müller, R. A., 168.

Munzig, B. C., 170.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 186.

Naegle, John, 29.

Nast, Thomas, 177.

National Academy of Design, 37, 39, 49, 51, 58, 186.

Neal, David, 7.

Newton, Gilbert Stuart, 27.

Nicoll, J. C., 111.

Normal Art School of Massachusetts, 186, 187.

Norton, William E., 110.

Oakey, Maria R., 207.

O'Donovan, W. R., 161.

Page, William, 49, 51, 90.

Palmer, Erastus D., 140, 156, 161.

Parsons, Charles, 112.

Parton, Arthur, 80.

Parton, Ernest, 7.

Peale, Charles Wilson, 21.

Peale, Rembrandt, 28.

Pelham, 20.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 29, 187.

Perkins, Charles, 174.

Perring, 186.

Petersen, John E. C., 110.

Pope, Alexander, 132.

Porter, Benjamin C., 190.

Powers, Hiram, 138.

Pratt, Matthew, 16, 137.

Pyle, Howard, 177.

Quartley, Arthur, 111.

Ranney, William S., 88.

Redwood Library, Newport, 15.

Reinhart, B. F., 115.

Reinhart, C. S., 177.

Reynolds, Joshua, 19.

Richards, T. Addison, 174.

Richards, William T., 74.

Rimmer, William, 163.

Rinehart, William Henry, 152, 154.

Ritchie, A. H., 167.

Robbins, Ellen, 133.

Robbins, Horace, 80.

Roberts, Howard, 161.

Robinson, Thomas, 130.

Rogers, Frank, 131.

Rogers, John, 159.

Rogers, Randolph, 149, 152.

Rothermel, Peter F., 88.

Rowse, Samuel W., 170.

Rush, William, 138.

Ryder, A. P., 207.

St. Gaudens, Augustus, 163.

Sargent, Colonel Henry, 28.

Sartain, Emily, 210.

Sartain, John, 167.

Sartain, William, 203.

Satterlee, Walter, 115.

Seavey, G. W., 133.

Shapleigh, F. H., 76.

Shirlaw, Walter, 174, 203, 207.

Shurtleff, R. M., 131.

Silva, Francis A., 111.

Simmons, Franklin, 154.

Smilie, George, 80.

Smilie, James, 167.

Smilie, James, Jun., 80, 113.

Smith, Frank Hill, 186.

Smith, J. Hopkinson, 171.

Smith, Walter, 186.

Smithwick and French, 168.

Smybert, John, 15, 22.

Sonntag, W. L., 79.

Staigg, Richard M., 49, 51.

Stebbins, Emma, 156.

Stephens, Louis, 172.

Stephenson, Peter, 156.

Stone, J. M., 196.

Story, George H., 118.

Story, William W., 152, 154.

Stuart, Gilbert, 17, 20, 24, 39, 47, 49, 187.

Sully, Thomas, 28, 49.

Suydam, James A., 73.

Tait, A. F., 132.

Thompson, Launt, 152, 159.

Thompson, Wordsworth, 128.

Thorpe, T. B., 86.

Tiffany, Louis C., 203.

Trumbull, Colonel John, 17, 21, 47, 88, 130, 136.

Tuckerman, S. S., 195.

Twachtman, J. H., 207.

Vanderlyn, John, 17, 29, 44.

Vandyck, Sir Anthony, 14.

Van Wart, Ames, 156.

Vedder, Elihu, 71, 94.

Volk, Leo W., 156.

Waldo, Samuel, 49.

Waller, Frank, 207.

Ward, J. Q. A., 149, 151.

Warner, Olin M., 161.

Water-Color Society, 112.

Waterman, Marcus, 113.

Watson, John, 15.

Way, A. J. H., 133.

Weeks, E. L., 196.

Weir, J. Alden, 204.

Weir, John F., 114.

Weir, Robert W., 47, 52.

West, Benjamin, 17, 29, 138, 142, 164.

Whistler, J. A. McN., 7.

Whitney, Anne, 156.

Whittredge, Worthington, 73, 86.

Wight, Moses, 7.

Wilkinson, George, 186.

Willard, A. W., 114.

Williams, F. D., 76.

Williams, Virgil, 115.

Wilmarth, Lemuel E., 115.

Wolf, H., 168.

Wood, T. W., 114.

Woodville, Richard Caton, 86.

Wright, Frederick W., 170.

Wright, Patience, 37, 136.

Wyant, A. H., 105, 190.

Young, Harvey A., 125.


       *       *       *       *       *




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