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By E. VON WINDECK.
The two Paris Salons are under one roof this year, a new palace being now in course of construction on the Champs-Elysées. There is of course a large array of fine works of modern art, yet on the whole the exhibition is not up to the standard of former years. There is nothing startling or sensational, with the exception perhaps of Rodin's statue of Balzac, nothing to make the Salon of '98 a particularly remarkable one in the history of French art. It is not unlikely that the French masters are holding back their best efforts for the great exhibition in 1900. A series of reproductions of the best work in this year's Salon will be published in that interesting magazine The Parisian, devoted principally to French fiction (in English translation), and matters of French society, literature and art, beginning with the July number.
Rodin's Statue of Balzac, of which we are enabled, by the courtesy of the Critic, to present opposite a reproduction, in this year's Paris Salon is suffering the severest criticism. In a meeting of the Societe des Gens de Lettres, the following resolution has been passed and communicated to the sculptor:
"The Committee of the Societe des Gens de Lettres have the duty and the regret to protest against the weak product which Monsieur
misunderstood; but may one be ever so anxious to find traits of genial art in this last production of his-it is really impossible. One is almost inclined to take his statue of Balzac for a huge practical joke played upon the committee which has in charge the erection of a national monument for Balzac and which has of late become justly impatient with the artist for having done nothing to create a Balzac statue since he was commissioned to do so about fifteen years ago.
Count Tolstoi's latest book What is Art(*) in which he poses, at the age of 66, as a philosopher on art, having hitherto devoted himself principally to moral, religious and economical problems, is creating lively comment and criticism. Tolstoi is always interesting, though often paradoxical, and his theories and ideas always original and noteworthy, though one may not be of the same mind. He tells us that he has been pondering over this question, "What is art for the last fifteen years, and started to answer it six or seven times until at last he had found himself thoroughly able to do so. Tolstoi in his last book pre-eminently polemises against modern art, Richard Wagner and the Decadents, and although we do not agree with all his views and deductions, we are forced to admire the sincerity and strength with which he defends and exposes his doctrines.
He endeavors to prove that all the current, oft repeated definitions of (*) What is Art. By Count Leo N. Tolstoi. Trans
lated from the Russian by Charles Johnston. 12mo. cloth. Price 90 cents. By mail $1.02.
art and of beauty express only the individual taste. And the masses, showing before any manifestation of art, the same emotions and the same sentiments, are nothing but an agglomeration of individuals equal in matters of art.
Our art, he says, errs because the science with which art finds itself constantly in a relation of narrow dependence, is perverse to our times. Moral and political science of our times preach the legitimacy of a false and baneful mode of living, therefore the sentiments provoked thereby upon art can only be antiquated and bad. The experimental sciences on the other hand, as implied by their own nature, cannot furnish any food for art at all. Art must therefore, first of all, emancipate itself from all influences of science. He further asserts that art is not merely a pleasure or an enjoyment, but a vital organ of humanity, which transfers the conceptions of reason into the domain of sentiment. Art has an enormous task to accomplish with the aid of true moral science and under the guidance of religion, a peaceful union of men, which can only be realized by the free and joyful acquiescence of all. Art must destroy in the world the reign of violence and constraint. He then carries out these theories at length with the vigor and precision and with the vitality and strength of conviction which we are accustomed to find in all his promulgations.
The Musical Courier tells the following good story about the famous painter Meissonier, which is not re
peated by his recent biographers; it is in regard to his experience with a new rich" gentleman who had erected a private theatre at his château :
"Meissonier was just then at the height of his fame, and was spending months in painting little pictures about 12 by 18 inches and selling them for a thousand francs an inch. The rich man conceived the brilliant idea that what his theatre most needed was a drop curtain painted by the famous Meissonier. So he went to the artist's studio and proposed the matter to him. 'How large is this curtain to be, Monsieur?' asked Meissonier. 'It will be 10 meters high and 13 meters wide.' Ah, mon ami,' said Meissonier amiably, it will take me thirty years to paint it and it will cost you 30,000,000 francs.' The bargain was not completed."
The publication of a monumental work on the Sistin Chapel, under the assistance of the German government, is contemplated by an association of artists and art lovers of Berlin. It is the intention to collect and edit all artistic and historical material on the subject and to illustrate the text with most perfect reproductions.
That excellent work by Joseph Pennell on Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen is now in its third edition, the best proof of its appreciation by art students and lovers of art, although its price ($12.00), due to its sumptuous get-up and the large number of fine illustrations, might seem to be somewhat of a barrier to a large sale. It is undoubtedly the best book ever published on the subject, a work of permanent value and affording a lasting pleasure to its
Among the many periodicals, which we have to peruse in many cases a hard task-there is hardly one which we look forward to with so much pleasure as The Criterion. It is fresh, bright, original, entertaining, interesting and readable from beginning to end. It is anything but heavy and written in a light and dashy style. Yet it is just this style that raises this excellent weekly high above most of the ordinary periodicals. The political events of the day, and literary and artistic topics are dealt with in an independent yet truthful manner; clever short stories, sparkling humor, original essays, bright criticisms of plays, operas and art matters in general fill its pages, illustrated by many quaint and interesting pen and ink sketches. Of late a gallery of our war heroes has been added, presenting a colored supplement with each number which will not fail to please many. The Criterion is doubtless one of our most ably edited, best written periodicals and fully deserves the popular appreciation which it has already gained, and which is increasing with every new number.
A new monthly magazine, on the poster, has lately been started in London under the title The Poster. The June number contains two colored and many black and white reproductions of artistic posters together
with much interesting literary matter including an article on “Caran d' Ache in London."
A similar magazine, called Propaganda has been published in Berlin since last October. It is, however, not devoted to posters exclusively, tising in general, containing many but to artistic and profitable adverinteresting and valuable suggestions for modern composition and press work and reproductions of artistic posters.
The French representative poster periodical Les Maitres de l' Affiche, of which thirty monthly parts have already appeared, brings colored plates only, beautiful reproductions of modern posters on heavy plate paper, but contains no literary matter. French literary matter on posters, in connection with small illustrations in black and white, forms a special feature of that up-to-date French fortnightly paper La Plume (Littéraire Artistique, Sociale).
Two American efforts in that direction The Poster and Poster Lore were only short lived; The Echo, an eclectic humorous paper, which was most ably edited as a representative of fin-de-siecle and poster-art is also of the past, and perhaps the only American magazine which at present contains a poster department is The Inland Printer, edited,
by the way, by Percival Pollard, formerly editor of The Echo, and widely known as author of several volumes of clever short stories, and as contributor to the Chap Book, The Criterion and similar periodicals.
An especially interesting article on modern posters was published in the February number of The Inland Printer, with some characteristic poster designs by prominent artists.
The June number of that excellent monthly, Magazine of Art, one of the most popular of all English art magazines, contains a large number of fine illustrations and interesting articles. We mention a splendid photogravure by Dujardin representing Meissonier's "Reconnaissance"; a beautiful colored plate of a Royal Worcester vase accompanying an illustrated article on recent Royal Worcester ware; a frontispiece of a studyhead in red chalk by John da Costa, accompanying an illustrated article on this artist by Gleeson White; illustrated articles on wooden furniture at Windsor Castle; the French medallist, Oscar Roty; the invention of Aubrey Beardsley by Aymer Vallance; Art from Australia; How a ballet is designed (the Press Ballet " at the London Empire Theatre), etc.
That commendable magazine, The House Beautiful, is most deservedly gaining rapidly in public favor. Everyone interested in the beautify
Mr. Walker, of the Cosmopolitan, has succeeded in running down perfect proof of the genuineness of the alleged autobiography of Napoleon now being published in his magazine. The missing links required to complete the evidence turned up quite unexpectedly, and too late to be given in the June number. The autobiography was written and sent out in duplicate from St. Helena, during Napoleon's lifetime, to influence current opinion. The history of these manuscripts is most romantic, and is given in the July number of the Cosmopolitan. It is a thousand pities such a document should be published in a magazine at this time, when the war is absorbing every one's attention. For, needless to say, its authentication will make it of unparalleled interest as the final effort of Napoleon to explain