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- Pictures Every Child Should Know - 10/52 -
PLATE--THE COPLEY FAMILY GROUP
In this picture there are seven figures with an open landscape forming the background. The baby of the family plays, with uplifted arms, upon grandfather's knee. The mother on the couch, surrounded by her three other children, is kissing one while another clings to her. Before her stands a prim little maid, gowned in the fashion of grown-folks of her day. A little lock of hair falling upon her forehead suggests that when she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid! She wears a little cap. At the back is the artist himself in a wig and other fashions of the time. A great column rises behind him, forming a part of the architecture or the landscape, one hardly knows which in so artificially constructed a picture.
Copley painted also John Hancock, Judge Graham, Jeremiah Lee, and General Joseph Warren.
JEAN BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT
(Pronounced Zhahn Bah-teest' Cah-mee'yel Coh'roh) _Fontainebleau-Barbizon School_ 1796-1875 _Pupil of Michallon_
About three hundred years before Corot's time there was a Fontainebleau school of artists, made up of the pathetic Andrea del Sarto, the wonderful Leonardo da Vinci, and Cellini. These painters had been summoned from their Italian homes by Francis I., to decorate the Palace of Fontainebleau. The second great group of painters who had studios in the forest and beside the stream were Rousseau, Dupré, Diaz, and Daubigny; Troyon, Van Marcke, Jacque; then Millet, the painter of peasants.
Corot was born in Paris and received what education the ordinary school at Rouen could give him. He was intended by his parents for something besides art, as it would seem that every artist in the world was intended. Corot was to grow up and become a respectable draper; at any rate a draper.
The young chap did as his father wished, until he was twenty-six years old, and dreary years those must have been to him. He did not get on well with his master, nor did the world treat him very well. He found neither riches nor the fame that was his due till he was an old man of seventy. At that age he had become as rich a man as he might have been had he remained a sensible draper.
Best of all, Corot loved to paint clouds and dewy nights, pale moons and early day, and of all amusements in the world, he preferred the theatre. There he would sit; gay or sad as the play might make him, weeping or laughing and as interested as a little child.
After he had anything to give away, Corot was the most madly generous of men. It was he who gave a pension to the widow of his brother artist, Millet, on which she lived all the rest of her days. He gave money to his brother painters and to all who went to him for aid; and he always gave gaily, freely, as if giving were the greatest joy, outside of the theatre, a man could have. Everyone who knew him loved him, and there was no note of sadness in his daily life, though there seems to be one in his poetical pictures. Because of his generous ways he was known as "Pere Corot." He sang as he worked, and loved his fellowmen all the time; but most of all, he loved his sister.
"Rousseau is an eagle," he used to say in speaking of his fellow artist. "As for me, I am only a lark, putting forth some little songs in my gray clouds."
It has been noted that most great landscape painters have been city-bred, a remarkable fact. Constable and Gainsborough were born and bred in the country, but they are exceptions to the rule. Corot's parents were Parisians of the purest dye, having been court-dressmakers to Napoleon I.; and when Corot finally determined to leave the draper's shop and become a painter, his father said: "You shall have a yearly allowance of 1,200 francs, and if you can live on that, you can do as you please." When his son was made a member of the Legion of Honour, after twenty-three years of earnest work, his father thought the matter over, and presently doubled the allowance, "for Camille seems to have some talent after all," he remarked as an excuse for his generosity.
It is told that when he first went to study in Italy, Corot longed to transfer the moving scenes before him to canvas; but people moved too quickly for him, so he methodically set about learning how to do with a few strokes what he would otherwise have laboured over. So he reduced his sketching to such a science that he became able to sketch a ballet in full movement; and it is remarked that this practice trained him for presenting the tremulousness of leaves of trees, which he did so exquisitely.
One learns something of this painter of early dawn and soft evening from a letter he wrote to his friend Dupré:
One gets up at three in the morning, before the sun; one goes and sits at the foot of a tree; one watches and waits. One sees nothing much at first. Nature resembles a whitish canvas on which are sketched scarcely the profiles of some masses; everything is perfumed, and shines in the fresh breath of dawn. Bing! the sun grows bright but has not yet torn aside the veil behind which lie concealed the meadows, the dale, and hills of the horizon. The vapours of night still creep, like silvery flakes over the numbed-green vegetation. Bing! bing!--a first ray of sunlight--a second ray of sunlight--the little flowers seem to wake up joyously. They all have their drop of dew which trembles--the chilly leaves are stirred with the breath of morning--in the foliage the birds sing unseen--all the flowers seem to be saying their prayers. Loves on butterfly wings frolic over the meadows and make the tall plants wave--one sees nothing--yet everything is there--the landscape is entirely behind the veil of mist, which mounts, mounts, sucked up by the sun; and as it rises, reveals the river, plated with silver, the meadow, the trees, cottages, the receding distance--one distinguishes at last everything that one had divined at first.
In all the world there can hardly be a more exquisite story of daybreak than this; and so beautiful was the mood into which Corot fell at eventime, as he himself describes it, that it would be a mistake to leave it out. This is his story of the night:
Nature drowses--the fresh air, however, sighs among the leaves--the dew decks the velvety grass with pearls. The nymphs fly--hide themselves--and desire to be seen. Bing! a star in the sky which pricks its image on the pool. Charming star--whose brilliance is increased by the quivering of the water, thou watchest me--thou smilest to me with half-closed eye! Bing!--a second star appears in the water, a second eye opens. Be the harbingers of welcome, fresh and charming stars. Bing! Bing! Bing!--three, six, twenty stars. All the stars in the sky are keeping tryst in this happy pool. Everything darkens, the pool alone sparkles. There is a swarm of stars--all yields to illusion. The sun being gone to bed, the inner sun of the soul, the sun of art awakens. Bon! there is my picture done!
In writing those letters, Corot made literature as well as pictures. That little word "bing!" appears also in his paintings, as little leaves or bits of tree-trunk, some small detail which, high-lightened, accents the whole.
PLATE--DANCE OF THE NYMPHS
There could hardly be a more charming painting than this which hangs in the Louvre. It is of a half-shut-in landscape of tall trees, their branches mingling; and all the atmospheric effects that belong to Corot's work can here be seen.
On the open greensward is a group of nymphs dancing gaily, while over all the scene is the veil of fairy-land or of something quite mysterious. At the back and side, satyrs can be seen watching the nymphs. There is here less of the blur of leaves than that seen in later pictures, but the same soft effect is found, and the little "bings" are the accents of light placed upon a leaf, a nymph's shoulder, or a tree-trunk.
This picture was painted in 1851, when Corot had not yet developed that style which was to mark all his later work.
Besides this picture he painted "Paysage," "The Bathers" "Ville d'Arvay," "Willows near Arras," "The Bent Tree," "A Gust of Wind," and others.
CORREGGIO (ANTONIO ALLEGRI)
(Pronounced Cor-rage'jyo Ahl-lay'gree) _School of Parma_ 1494(?)-1534 _Pupil of Mantegna_
When Correggio was a little boy, he lived in the odour of spices, which were kept upon his father's shop-shelves. He was a highly-spiced little boy and man, although the most timid and shrinking. His imagination was the liveliest possible.
The spice merchant lived in the town of Correggio, and thus the artist got his name. Correggio knew what should be inside the lovely flesh of his painted figures before he began to paint them, because he studied anatomy in a truly scientific manner before he studied painting. Probably no other artist up to that time, had ever begun with the bare bones of his models, but Correggio may be said to have worked from the inside out. He learned about the structure of the human frame from Dr. Giovanni Battista Lombardi, and showed his gratitude to his teacher by painting a picture "Il Medico del Correggio" (Correggio's Physician), and presenting it to Doctor Lombardi.
Now Correggio's childhood, or at least his early manhood, could not have been spent in poverty, because it is known that he used the most expensive colours to paint with, painted upon the finest of canvas, while greater artists had often to be content with boards. He also painted upon copper plates, and it is said that he hired Begarelli, a sculptor of much fame, to make models in relief for him to copy for the pictures he painted on the cupolas of the churches in Parma. That sculptor's services must have been expensive.
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