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Full text of "American masters of sculpture : being brief appreciations of some American sculptors and of some phases of sculpture in America"

MERICAN 




SCULPTURE 



CAFF IN 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant 



http://www.archive.org/details/americanmastersoOOincaff 



AMERICAN MASTERS OF SCULPTURE 



By the same author : 



AMERICAN MASTERS OF PAINTING 
PHOTOGRAPHY AS A FINE ART 




THE SHERMAN MONUMENT 
By Augustus Saint-Gaudens 



AMERICAN MASTERS OF 
SCULPTURE 

BEING 

BRIEF APPRECIATIONS OF SOME AMERICAN 

SCULPTORS AND OF SOME PHASES 

OF SCULPTURE IN AMERICA 



BY 
CHARLES H. CAFFIN 

Author of ' ' American Masters of Painting ' ' 




Garden City New York 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

1913 



Copyright, 1903, by 
Doubleday, Page 8c Company 



INTRODUCTION 

'T^HE year 1876, the date of the Centennial 
■■■ Exhibition, is a landmark in the progress 
of American sculpture as it is in that of American 
painting. Not to be fixed too definitely, and 
yet serving approximately as a starting-point 
of new conditions which have transformed what 
had been a sporadic and largely exotic product 
into a lusty, homogeneous and thoroughly accli- 
matised growth. I speak of the gradual improve- 
ment and spread of taste in the community; 
the steady trend of students to Paris and the 
habit of American sculptors to make their own 
country the scene and inspiration of their labours. 
The earlier tendency had been toward Italy; 
to Rome and Florence, especially, where American 
colonies existed. Here the student adopted the 
Canova tradition of sweetened classicism, or the 
infusion of naturalism into the classic vein, 
represented in the work of a few romanticists; 
and, having learned his craft, remained in Italy 
to practise it. His sources of instruction had not 
been of the best and he worked in an atmosphere 
tainted with artistic and political decadence. 



vi INTRODUCTION 

It is not surprising that much of the sculpture 
of this period, though considerably admired in 
its day, strikes us now as coldly and pedantically 
null, unconvincing and grandiloquent or, at best, 
innocuously sentimental. Only once in a while 
is there a statue of such moment as "The Greek 
Slave," by Hiram Powers, which very closely 
follows and attains to the purity of Canova'a 
style. The more memorable works of this period 
came chiefly from those sculptors who, although 
living abroad, kept in touch with home. Of these 
the most distinguished was William Henry 
Rinehart ; yet his classical pieces will not compare 
in force and dignity with his sitting statue of 
Chief Justice Taney at Annapolis, reproduced in 
Mount Vernon Square, Baltimore, which still 
remains one of the most impressive monuments 
in this country, In like manner Thomas Craw- 
ford's best works were the bronze doors for 
the Capitol, illustrating events in the Revolution, 
the colossal " Liberty " which crowns the dome and 
an equestrian statue of Washington at Richmond. 
Equally it was in another equestrian statue of 
Washington, the one which stands in the Boston 
Public Gardens, that Thomas Ball reached his 
best achievement. But it is inferior in ease and 
dignity to the same subject executed by Henry 
Kirke Brown, whose equestrian statue of General 



INTRODUCTION vii 

Scott at Washington also stands out conspicuously 
among the best we have. Brown, too, studied 
in Italy, but with the conviction that Americans 
should occupy themselves upon American subjects 
returned home and established his studio in 
New York. It would be going too far to attribute 
the excellence of these two statues to the fact 
of their having been conceived and executed in 
the American environment, the more so as Brown's 
work was uneven in quality and did not in other 
subjects reach the dignity of these. Yet his 
deviation from the custom of the time was the 
outcome of a very individual force of character, 
and the influence of the latter upon his work 
may very well have been reenforced by the 
environment. At any rate, his action was con- 
sidered notable in his own day and has always 
been remembered since, and undoubtedly marks 
the beginning of the reaction against self- 
expatriation. 

It will not, however, escape the thoughtful 
student of this period how natural such self- 
expatriation was. A stout heart, indeed, was 
needed to bear up against the dearth of artistic 
incentive at home. Necessarily the time was 
devoted mainly to material expansion and building 
up, especially calling for the heroic qualities of 
brain and muscle, and accompanied inevitably 



viii INTRODUCTION 

by a spirit of materialism. It was not until the 
conscience and soul of the nation had been re- 
awakened by a great moral question and chastened 
by the stern discipline of a tremendous struggle 
that it began to return to the higher enthusiasms 
of its youth. Hero-worship was reborn — or, 
rather, took a nobler, more spiritualised form — 
for a nation will always have its heroes. But now, 
instead of the hero of the market or the stump, 
whose service to the public is subordinate to self- 
aggrandisement, there had sprung up in every 
State — indeed, from every village and most fire- 
sides — heroes of sacrifice. The hero-worship which 
ensued was bound up with a fuller, deeper sense 
of national life, eager to express itself. It found 
vent in the spoken and written word, it sought 
to free itself in visible, tangible expression. As 
the birth of the Republic had been identified with 
the erection of noble buildings, so the rebirth of 
national conscience and soul found in a revived 
architecture the means of expressing its national 
state and civic pride, and in sculpture its worship 
of heroes. And it is a remarkable coincidence 
that the beginning of this esthetic demand fitted 
in with the appearance in America of a band of 
trained artists, returning from their studies 
abroad. The Centennial Exhibition opened the 
eyes of the country to the wonders of foreign art, 



INTRODUCTION ix 

and here were Americans on the spot trained in 
those foreign schools. 

With only a few exceptions all our sculptors 
of the present generation have acquired their 
training, either wholly or in part, in Paris; that 
is to say, in the best school in the world. For 
France, ever since the Middle Ages, has never been 
without a succession of great sculptors. When 
the Gothic spirit had spent itself, that of the late 
Italian Renaissance was imported; and the art, 
continually adjusting itself to the changing 
conditions of national life, has been held in 
uninterrupted honour to the present time. It 
is in this branch of the fine arts that the French 
genius has found its most individual expression. 
Corresponding with the maintenance of fine 
traditions is the excellence of the system of 
teaching. The Institute and the Ecole des Beaux 
Arts perpetuate a standard, characterised by 
technical perfection and elegance of style, while 
the tendency to academic narrowness is offset by 
the influence of independent sculptors ; for there is 
not a thought-wave in modern art that does not 
emanate from or finally reach Paris. It is the 
world's clearing-house of artistic currency. 

The attractions of a city so rich in artistic 
resources, so generous to artists, have allured 
many to extend their sojourn there beyond the 



x INTRODUCTION 

years of studentship, and Paris has been in these 
days, only in a still greater degree, what Florence 
and Rome were half a century ago — a resort for 
self-expatriated Americans. But, with a few 
exceptions, the sculptors have escaped this 
tendency; not so much perhaps from inclination 
as from circumstances. For commissions have 
been plentiful in America, and the need of being 
on the spot in order to secure them drew the 
sculptors home — on the whole to the betterment 
of their art. For it is the same with Paris, a 
university of the arts, as with Harvard, Yale or 
any other university of letters and science. The 
atmosphere is most congenial to the quick develop- 
ment of student years ; but, for the further, more 
gradual development that grows out of the stuff 
which a man has in him, not to be compared to 
the rough-and-tumble contact with the larger 
world. 

For there are some elements of technique 
which can be imparted; others, however, are of 
personal growth. It is a distinction largely of 
manners and feeling. Manners can be imparted 
and acquired; feeling, at best, mainly guided. 
Its finer manifestations are the outcome of self- 
development. Thus in the matter of modelling, 
in which the Parisian student usually excels, 
the hand can be trained to express with exquisite 



INTRODUCTION xi 

precision and delicacy the surface of flesh and 
fabric, the form and texture of each; and the 
feeling for the esthetic charm of these things 
can be aroused and refined. So, too, can that 
larger feeling for the construction of the form and 
the organic relation of its parts, up to the point 
at least of securing accuracy and truth to nature. 
But the still larger feeling, which finds in the 
structure and organic arrangement an expression 
of emotion and manifests itself most amply in 
composition, cannot be taught. To certain 
general principles the student may be directed, 
just as any school of manners may lay down 
rules of conduct, which will be admirable in 
securing propriety and decorum. So far can 
feeling be instilled and regulated; but the freer, 
deeper, really significant feeling has its origin in 
character, in the moral and mental ego of the 
individual, to be further deepened and broadened 
by the experiences of life. In sculpture this 
significant feeling manifests itself appropriately 
in the large field of the general design; in the 
weight, stability and harmonious unity of the 
mass, which make the composition monumental; 
and in the manifestation of character and senti- 
ment, sustained through every part of the whole, 
which renders the composition expressional. 
For convenience one separates the disposition of 



xii INTRODUCTION 

the form from the expression, but really they 
are one and the same act, the sculptor composing 
his plastic material as the musician does his 
chords and harmonies, to give expression to the 
character or sentiment that supplies the theme 
of his work. 

Now, given this natural gift, the reenforcement 
of it must come from the theme itself, from the 
degree to which it has laid hold of and possessed 
the sculptor's imagination. And it is for this 
reason that, when he is executing American 
themes, the true environment for him is America. 
It ought to give him direct incentive, and, even 
if it does not, should at least save him from being 
enticed into a more specious attitude of mind. 
For I think one may note traces of this speciousness 
in the sculpture of Americans working in Paris; 
a parti pris for the smaller elegancies of design 
as opposed to the salient and the large. 

On the other hand, the working upon American 
themes in the American environment can draw 
nothing out of the artist that is not in him ; and 
this higher mastery over form and composition, 
being a gift of the gods, is necessarily rare. 
Perhaps only in a few American sculptors, as 
only rarely in other countries, will you discover 
it ; while skill in modelling, elegance of design and 
a generally sensitive taste will be found more 



••• 



INTRODUCTION xm 

diffused through American sculpture than through 
that of any other country except France. The 
reason, unquestionably, is the peculiar aptitude 
of the American to impressions and his study in 
the best of modern schools. 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

Thanks are due to the Sculptors, to the Century 
Company and to Charles Scribner's Sons, whose 
assistance has made possible the inclusion of the 
illustrations in this edition. 



CONTENTS 





Introduction .... 






V 


I. 


Augustus Saint-Gaudens 






I 


II. 


George Grey Barnard 






19 


III. 


John Quincy Adams Ward 






37 


IV. 


Daniel Chester French 






53 


V. 


Frederick Macmonnies 






7i 


VI. 


Paul Weyland Bartlett , 






87 


VII. 
VIII. 


Herbert Adams 
Charles Henry Niehaus 






97 
117 


IX. 


Olin Levi Warner . 






129 


X. 


Solon Hannibal Borglum 






147 


XI. 


Victor David Brenner . 






163 


XII. 


The Decorative Motive 






173 


XIII. 


The Ideal Motive 

Indsx . . . . " . 






209 
*33 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

THE SHERMAN MONUMENT. By Augustus 

Saint-Gaudens ..... Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

GRIEF. By Augustus Saint-Gaudens ... 8 
A Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, 
D.C. 

THE LINCOLN STATUE. By Augustus Saint- 
Gaudens ........ n 



RELIEF PORTRAIT OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVEN- 
SON. By Augustus Saint-Gaudens . . .16 

PAN. By George Grey Barnard . . . .28 

THE HEWER. By George Grey Barnard . . 29 

TWO FRIENDS. By George Grey Barnard . . 34 
A Memorial Monument. 



THE GREELEY STATUE. By John Quincy Adams 
Ward ......... 



46 



THE BEECHER STATUE. By John Quincy Adams 
Ward 47 

DEATH AND THE SCULPTOR. By Daniel 

Chester French 60 

The Milmore Monument in Forest Hills Cemetery 
near Boston. 

DETAIL OF THE CLARK MONUMENT. By 

Daniel Chester French 6! 

Forest Hills Cemetery. 

ALMA MATER. By Daniel Chester French . 68 
Columbia University. 

DIANA. By Frederick Macmonnies . . ,76 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS— CnnnuiJ 

FACING PAGE 

BACCHANTE. By Frederick Macmonnibs . . 7T 
MICHELANGELO. By Paul Weyland Bartlett . Q2 

Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 
MADONNA. By Herbert Adams .... I0 4 

Tympanum for St. Bartholomew's Church, New 
York. 
PORTRAIT-BUST. By Herbert Adams . . .105 
BUST OF THE ARTIST'S WIFE. By Herbert 

Adams ......... no 

THE DRILLER. By Charles Henry Niehaus . I22 
From the Drake Monument, Titus ville, Penn- 
sylvania. 
THE HAHNEMANN STATUE. By Charles Henry 

Niehaus 123 

From the Hahnemann Memorial, Washington, D. C. 
BUST OF DANIEL COTTIER. By Olin Levi 

Warner 136 

CUPID AND PSYCHE. By Olin Levi Warner . i 37 
DIANA. By Olin Levi Warner .... 144 
COWBOY MOUNTING. By Solon Hannibal 

BORGLUM ........ 152 

LOST IN A BLIZZARD. (Marble.) By Solon Han- 
nibal BORGLUM 153 

TAMED. By Solon Hannibal Borglum . . . 160 
PORTRAIT OF C. P. HUNTINGTON By Victor 

David Brenner . 168 

RECUMBENT FIGURE. By J. Massey Rhind . 192 

From the Tomb of Father Brown in the Church of 
Saint Mary-the- Virgin, New York. 
PUMA. By A. Phimister Proctor .... 193 

From Prospect Park, Brooklyn. 
CHARIOT RACE. By F. G. R. Roth . . .202 
BUST OF A CHILD. By Birtley Canfibld . . 314 
THE STONE AGE. By John J. Boylb . . . ais 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 

TF we value the gift of imagination in an artist 
over that of technique it is not because 
we undervalue the latter. Without technique 
a work of art is not to be thought of; it is as 
essentially the visible expression of the inward 
grace as the human form is the casket of the 
human spirit. But the quality in man or woman 
of purest delight and most enduring significance 
is less the body and its acts than the thought 
that animates them. And is it not so with a 
work of art? 

It is as an artist of superior imagination that 
we regard Saint-Gaudens ; as one who can give to 
the facts of our knowledge a fresh form and sig- 
nificance, attracting us toward the idea contained 
within the actual, the idealisation of character 
or of sentiment. And such imagination in an 
artist must have a twofold working. It fills him 
with a fine idea and it discovers to his hand a 
fine manner of embodying it; it penetrates 
his technique. 

3 



4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

To appreciate fully a sculptor's worthiness in 
this respect one should realise the peculiar rela- 
tion in which he is placed with regard to facts. 
While the painter has a wide range of resources 
for creating an illusion the sculptor is limited to 
a comparatively strict and naive realism. Even 
if he introduces an ideal figure, such as that of 
an angel, he is compelled to give it the clear-cut 
contours, substance and actuality of a distinctly 
visible and tangible form. His only means of 
idealising are the abstract beauty of line and 
form, the character of expression in face and 
gesture and the general feeling of nobility and 
sweetness that he can impart to his work through 
the degree to which the thought that is in 
him inspires his hand. He may, indeed, attempt 
a more obvious trick of idealising, as when 
Greenough represented Washington in the role of 
Olympian Zeus by the device of baring the body 
and placing a mimic thunderbolt in the hand. 
But to modern taste, at any rate, such a pro- 
cedure seems ridiculous. The truth is, that the 
highest form of imagination — indeed, the only 
tolerable one to the modern mind — is that which 
illumines the facts of our common knowledge and 
expression ; in a word, which bases itself on facts. 

But this demands of the sculptor a very high 
degree of creative imagination, in all probability 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 5 

a proportionately higher one than the painter's; 
for if the latter is confronted, for example, with 
a subject of ill-made coat and trousers, he can by 
merging the costume in atmosphere and by toning 
it with the background so gloss over its inartistic 
appearance as to produce a handsome ensemble. 
But, compared with the sculptor's problems, this 
is an evasion of the difficulty. To repeat, the 
sculptor is limited in his presentment to the actual 
facts. But, though it may seem to be a paradox, 
it is almost a truism in art, that the limitations 
of a medium are its most characteristic sources 
of power — at least, when knowingly and coura- 
geously admitted. And, I believe, it can scarcely 
be doubted that the quality in Saint-Gaudens's 
imagination which has most conduced to his great- 
ness as an artist is this: it is kindled by contem- 
plation of the facts, and it finds in the facts its 
keenest and truest impulse. 

Moreover, it has been his good fortune to be 
confronted with large and impressive facts. The 
panorama of American civilization, and especially 
one episode of tremendous import — the Civil 
War — has spread itself behind his work; and the 
latter, as in the case of one of his own reliefs, 
has grown out of and in harmony with the 
background. Other sculptors, also, have had 
the same high incentive, but many have failed to 



6 AMERICAN MASTERS 

respond to it. Saint-Gaudens has had the force 
of imagination which could not only grasp the 
magnitude of his opportunity but interpret its 
impressiveness. 

The conditions in America have demanded that 
his work should be largely of a memorial character 
— monuments to those that are honoured in public 
or mourned in private, and in both directions 
his achievements have placed him in the foremost 
ranks of modern sculptors. This was demon- 
strated at the Paris Exposition of 1900, where 
he was represented among other works by the 
statue of General Sherman and the "Shaw 
Memorial." A comparison of these, respect- 
ively with Dubois's "Joan of Arc "and with 
Bartholomews "Monument to the Dead," helped 
one to divine the special qualities of Saint- 
Gaudens's style. 

He himself had a Paris training. Son of a 
French father and an Irish mother, brought to 
this country when a child, he displayed early an 
aptitude for art, and in course of time went 
through the usual regimen of a student in Paris. 
Thus he came under the influence of the best 
academic traditions and of the modern natural- 
istic movement, and imbibed both to the degree 
that his own temperament and the conditions of 
his inspiration demanded. 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 7 

So in the direction of tradition — that is to say, 
of more or less consecutive descent from an original 
classic type — we may compare his "General 
Sherman" with Dubois's "Joan of Arc"; both 
equestrian statues, monumental in design, full of 
decorative dignity yet so different in character. 
The latter, noble in every particular, has a choice 
propriety of feeling that separates it by an ocean 
of motive from the freer spirit of the other. It 
is at once mannered, more consciously correct 
and studiously discreet and has an air of hauteur 
and aloofness, as becomes its aristocratic descent 
in the direct line from Verrocchio's "Colleoni." 
The "Sherman," however, is of only collateral 
descent, modified by a larger environment and a 
fresher inspiration. The typal form has yielded 
to the individual, abstract dignity to the force of 
character, the fundamental suggestion to that of 
vivid, immediate actuality. 

In its naturalistic tendency and expression of 
profound emotion the "Monument to the Dead," 
by Bartholome, is at one with Saint-Gaudens's 
work; but I found myself comparing it with the 
latter's figure of "Grief" in the Rock Creek 
Cemetery, near Washington. Then its degree of 
naturalism is found to be less. It shows some 
influence of the classic tradition in the use of nude 
figures and in their elaborate disposition along 



8 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the background of masonry ; while the single figure 
by Saint-Gaudens is draped and presented with 
an unaffectedness of arrangement and with an 
intimacy of appeal that is at the same time more 
naturalistic and more poignant. 

So may we not deduce from these comparisons 
one quality inherent in Saint-Gaudens: that of 
daring to be free from conventional restraint, or 
rather the daring to adapt, with a freedom only 
limited by his sense of artistic fitness, the academic 
traditions which his early life experienced? For 
the means by which he has wrought out his free- 
dom are in no sense revolutionary. He does not, 
for example, go as far as Rodin in the latter' s 
disregard of symmetry in composition. His own 
have always a monumental character, studied for 
their effect in the mass, as seen from various points 
of view. Moreover, they are always extremely 
reserved: as far as possible removed from the 
floridness indulged in by many students of the 
academic traditions. A similar reserve con- 
trols his naturalistic tendencies. Evidently it is 
not naturalism of itself which attracts him; 
indeed, all his leaning is primarily toward the 
sculpturesque side of sculpture, as a self-contained 
mass, proportionately impressive, equable in 
outline, decorative and structural in ensemble. 
These principles of technique are at the service of 




GRIEF 
By Augustus Saint-Gaudens 

orial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D. C. 




THE LINCOLN STATUE 
Bv Augustus Saint-Gaudens 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 9 

—perhaps it would be truer to say that they have 
been adapted to — an imagination, which rever- 
ences the character in man and can picture and 
suggest the individual in relation to the larger 
issues of his time; with a capacity of emotional 
expression that has the added poignancy of 
compression. It has been, indeed, continually 
reenforced by the grandeur of the themes that 
have confronted him, and the result upon his 
technique is a gravity of distinction which repre- 
sents the finest kind of style. In that smaller 
kind of style which is limited to the actual tech- 
nique of modelling it would be possible to mention 
sculptors who far excel Saint-Gaudens ; but in 
those qualities of broader and deeper reference 
wherein brain and sensibility cooperate with hand 
for high creative and poetic ends I doubt if he 
has any superior among modern artists. 

Let us trace the gift of idealising as it appears 
in several of his works, selected because they 
represent a descending scale from the purely ideal 
to the idealised fact. And first the statue of 
"Grief" in the Rock Creek Cemetery. I made 
the pilgrimage from Washington one sunny 
autumn afternoon with a companion. The gate- 
keeper directing us, we threaded our way along 
the labyrinth of paths, among the chaos of 
conflicting monuments, so many of which testify 



io AMERICAN MASTERS 

to impotence of taste. Finally a glance behind 
a hedge of cypress — we are indeed on holy ground ! 
Within the little enclosure of solemn greenery a 
bench, marble and of Greek design, invites to sit ; 
the world is all outside, and here before us, 
raised upon a slight pedestal, enough to lift it 
above the level, but not too high for close and 
intimate communion, is the Presence: a woman's 
seated figure, wrapped about in coarse drapery 
that shrouds her head and falls in long, loose, 
heavy folds at her feet. We have heard the story : 
That a husband, robbed of his wife with shock- 
ing suddenness, called upon the sculptor to express 
in plastic shape the void in his life, enjoining him 
to ignore all symbols of hope and to give utterance 
only to the consuming hopelessness of loss. And 
here before us — in the isolation of the figure, in the 
uncompromising sternness of the drapery, in the 
majestic agony of the face, the eyelids lowered in 
pain, the lips full and set in the effort of endurance 
and also in a protest as proud as it is despairing — 
there is expressed a universality of grief that 
sums up the sorrow of the modern world, as well 
as the eternal question of the why and to what 
end. Under the spell of it a wife and husband 
sit on into the golden afternoon, chastened, puri- 
fied, elevated, drawn closer to each other by the 
realisation of the mystery of grief, and with a 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS n 

renewed sense of the sanctity of happiness ere the 
shadow falls. Here indeed is an idealisation, 
complete and absolute ; no helping out with wings 
and symbols, but the rendering of a simple, natural 
fact — a woman in grief ; yet with such deep and 
embracing comprehension that the individual is 
magnified into a type. The emotional appeal is 
universal. 

In this statue the sculptor could give free rein 
to his imagination. Observe how in the "Shaw 
Memorial" he meets the problem of an actual fact 
of history ; the youthful leader riding forth to war 
with his marching regiment of Negroes. What a 
boundless zest he displays for the realism of the 
scene ! He portrays the humble soldiers with 
varying characteristics of pathetic devotion, 
and from the halting uniformity of their move- 
ment, even from the uncouthness of their ill- 
fitting uniforms, from such details as the water- 
bottles and rifles, secures an impressiveness of 
decorative composition, distinguished by virile 
contrasts and repetitions of line and by vigorous 
handsomeness of light and shade. Mingled with 
our enjoyment of these qualities is the emotion 
aroused by the intent and steadfast onward move- 
ment of the troops, whose doglike trustfulness 
is contrasted with the serene elevation of their 
white leader. 



12 AMERICAN MASTERS 

Behind this group looms up the tremendous 
issues of the war ; they were present to the imagi- 
nation of the sculptor and he has suggested them 
to ours. Hence the work is big with fatefulness, 
with a reference reaching beyond the fate of the 
personages represented to the fate of a nation 
trembling in the balance. Ah ! it is a great gift, 
this power to touch upon the fundamental, the 
essentially and genetically vital aspect of a 
matter, and by means so simple and of common 
knowledge. As he worked upon the memorial 
it would seem as if Saint-Gaudens distrusted 
somewhat his possession of this faculty, for to 
increase the idealisation he has introduced a 
figure of Victory floating above the head of the 
leader. It was not necessary and is scarcely in 
accord with the rest of the composition, intro- 
ducing into the energy and concentration of the 
whole a somewhat quavering note. Yet, to 
judge by my own experience, the sense of jar 
yields to indifference; one loses consciousness of 
this figure in the grandeur and elevation of the 
whole. But, if this is the experience also of 
others, it tends to prove how unnecessary was 
its introduction ; and, further, one is inclined to 
resent it as partaking of the obviousness which 
would occur to a smaller sculptor. 

A similar attempt to reenforce the ideal sugges- 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 13 

tion contained in the realistic parts of the group 
with the direct introduction of a symbolic figure 
reappears in the equestrian statue of General 
Sherman. But the figure in this case is more 
intrinsically a part of the general design in perfect 
harmony of character and feeling, and the group 
as it stands, while almost the latest, is probably 
the most completely grand example of Saint- 
Gaudens's art. Sherman leans a little forward in 
the saddle with a handling of the reins that 
keeps in control the impetuosity of his big-boned, 
powerful charger, an action of the hands very 
characteristic of an accomplished horseman. His 
head is bare and his military cloak floats from his 
back in ample folds. Victory moves ahead of his 
left stirrup, palm branch in hand, her drapery 
buoyed up with air; the horse's tail streams 
behind; throughout the whole composition is a 
single impulse of irresistible advance. From 
every point of view the mass is compact with dig- 
nity, ornamental in line and bulk, alive with ele- 
vated and inspiring energy. At closer range one 
may discover the big simplicity and pregnant 
generalisation of the modelling, also the meaning- 
fulness of the characterisation. The horse in 
build and gait is a serviceable beast, bred for 
courage and endurance; the rider, a man of iron 
purpose, indomitable in face and carriage; while 



i 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the woman's figure in the grand spirit of the 
flowing lines and in the lofty sadness of her mien 
touches a chord of triumph and pathos, of the 
glory and the tragedy of victory. 

I compared this statue with Dubois's "Joan of 
Arc," and found it so much less mannered, so far 

IT. 

more vital in the immediateness of its import; 
or, shall we state it in this way: less consciously 
a work of art, more spontaneously the expression 
of an overpowering sentiment. This, if I am not 
mistaken, contains the gist of Saint-Gaudens's art. 
While traditional in its origin, it is a living art, 
rooted in the realities of its environment, modified 
in its growth — that is to say, in its technique — by 
the necessity of responding to its conditions. 

But how does Saint-Gaudens fare when he con- 
fines himself to a factual representation of his 
subject? Let his statue of Lincoln at Chicago 
testify. No grace of line or grandeur of mass; 
only a chair behind the standing figure to eke out 
the stringiness of the legs and in a measure to 
build up the composition. Nor could the sculptor 
snatch an easy triumph through any heroic ren- 
dering of the figure, spare and elongated, in 
clothes uncompromisingly ordinary. But the 
man as he was, and just because he chanced to be 
the man he was, was great, and in the fearless 
acceptance of this fact the sculptor has seized 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 15 

his opportunity. The statue is planted firmly on 
the right foot — not every statue really stands 
upon its feet — the right arm held behind the back 
— these are the characteristic gestures of stability, 
tenacity and reflection; while the advance of the 
left leg and the grip of the left hand upon the lapel 
of the coat bespeak the man of action. With such 
completeness are these complex qualities sug- 
gested and then crowned with the solemn dignity 
of the declined head, so aloof in impenetrable 
meditation, that the homely figure has a grandeur 
and a power of appeal which are irresistible. 
True, our imagination, reenforced by knowledge, 
goes out to reach the artist half-way, thereby 
lessening the space he has to travel in his idealisa- 
tion of facts. Behind this isolated figure looms 
up the scene in which he played so great a part. 
It was precisely because this scene was present 
to the sculptor's imagination, and he knew it 
would be to ours, that he set himself to the most 
realistic rendering of his subject and thereby 
triumphed. 

But once more, turn to his statue of Peter 
Cooper. There is no background here of heroism, 
or any environment of a nation roused to highest 
sacrifice; only the background of a building, ugly 
in itself, though we know it to be the habitation 
of a great educational movement. Homely also 



1 6 AMERICAN MASTERS 

is the general appearance of the founder and bene- 
factor, yet the figure in its loose, slovenly costume, 
seated in a chair, presents in its solid mass a sug- 
gestion of fundamental force ; the left hand grasps 
a walking-cane with a gesture of fine decision, and 
the head, with its long hair and fringe of beard, by 
sheer force of genial, manly directness, so earnest 
and unsophisticated, compels us to realize this man 
to be more than ordinary. He is the prophet of 
a cause, the leader of a peaceful revolution. In 
a word, if one has the mind and sympathy to note 
it, this old and yet alert man, of ungarnished 
simplicity and indomitable confidence, is an 
embodiment of the same sure uplifting of the 
people to which he contributed so largely. 

I have chosen these examples to illustrate 
Saint-Gaudens's ability to idealise his subject , to 
reach through the fact to the soul within the fact. 
But his sensibility to impressions is not only 
moved by the larger aspects of life; it is also 
exquisitely sweet and subtle. Study his numer- 
ous low-relief portraits — for example, the children 
of Prescott Hall Butler, those of Jacob H. Schiff, 
and the single portraits of Miss Violet Sargent 
and of Robert Louis Stevenson. In all these and 
in many others his sensibility is exhibited, not only 
in the sympathetic comprehension of character, 
but also in the extraordinary finesse of the execu- 




RELIEF PORTRAIT OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 
By Augustus Saint-Gaudens 



AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS 17 

tion. The figures are not merely set against the 
background; they grow out of it, forming with it 
an enclosed parterre of beautiful design, of deli- 
cately differing planes of elevation, of subtle tones 
of gray in between the extremes of light and dark. 
The effect is not unlike that revealed at early 
morning when the landscape is flattened in 
appearance by the mist, and, as the latter is 
loosened and dispersed by the sun, the patterned 
forms take on infinitesimal degrees of definition 
and mysteriousness behind the intervening veils 
of lighted vapour. Through such a simile one 
may, perhaps, suggest the essential quality of love- 
liness in these low reliefs. 

Yet they are qualities shared to-day by several 
sculptors in France, sufficient to reveal an artist 
of rare sensibility, but not to measure the grander 
characteristics of Saint-Gaudens's art. In the 
conditions of American civilization he has come 
within a range and depth of inspiration denied 
to modern Frenchmen, and it is in the degree to 
which he has responded to those opportunities 
that his preeminence consists. His position is 
unique, for no other sculptor of our time has so 
attuned the traditions of his art to the key of 
the modern spirit for the expression of grand 
conceptions. 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 



II 

GEORGE GREY BARNARD 

WHILE Saint-Gaudens, an American of Euro- 
pean descent and training, has caught the 
outspoken voice of our national life, George Grey- 
Barnard, of American parentage and practically 
self-taught, expresses its underlying force. To 
the former came a congenial opportunity in the 
demand for memorial sculpture. He turned it to 
great account through his gift of penetrating to 
the central fact of the subject and of illuminating 
it with a generous imagination. Instead of facts, 
however, it is rather with ideas that Barnard's 
imagination has been concerned. They pre- 
ceded his study of sculpture, and he sought the 
latter as an expression for them, influenced in 
his self-instruction by the work of Michelangelo. 
He is from the West, that huge quarry out of 
which a new order of ideas is being gradually 
dug and shaped. The echoes of the clang of tool 
upon inchoate material, of sharp wits and keen 
purpose carving anew at the problems of existence, 
reach us from time to time in this more conven- 

21 



22 AMERICAN MASTERS 

tional East. We may smile at the crudeness of 
some of the results achieved, but cannot disre- 
gard the import of the endeavour. The force 
which animates it is the craving for larger, fuller 
liberty than mankind has yet attained ; a titanic 
force, often brutal in its material manifestation, 
but with inherent mightiness of spirit. It is this 
spirit which has enveloped Barnard's imagina- 
tion since his childhood, and forms, as it were, 
the basis of his art. Its keynote is humanity, 
the elemental relationship of man to man and 
of men to the universe; a liberty of life and 
art, that would shake off the trammels devised 
for narrower theories and conditions and adjust 
itself to the perspective of a wider horizon. A 
boyhood nourished on literature and nature- 
studies sowed the seed from which these matured 
ideals were to spring. 

He was born at Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1863, 
the son of a Presbyterian minister ; but his early 
years up to the age of twelve were spent in Chicago, 
after which the family moved to Iowa. When 
only nine years old he began to learn something 
of shells and minerals from a retired sea captain ; 
later he studied birds and animals, taught himself 
to draw them and by fifteen was an expert 
taxidermist with as many as 1,200 specimens 
in his collection. Then for nearly two years he 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 23 

earned his living as an engraver and worker in 
gold and silver ornaments, learning meanwhile to 
model, until, having saved a little sum of money, 
he returned to Chicago, determined to become 
a sculptor. He was now seventeen and had 
not yet seen a statue. 

There is a hint in this of the instinct that draws 
would-be artists toward sculpture rather than 
painting. It is an instinct for form, a passion 
for its tangible bodiliness, a prepossession so 
strong that it seems to transpose the senses of 
touch and sight; giving to the flat and round- 
topped thumb of the sculptor's strong, square 
hand a sense equivalent to sight, keen and sensi- 
tive as is the touch of the blind, and giving to 
his eye a touch-consciousness. He feels with his 
eye and sees with his thumb. It is by the touch 
that in childhood we all assure ourselves of the 
reality of things, and it is the stimulation of the 
tactile imagination, as Mr. Bernard Berenson 
calls it, which is one of the chief sources of pleas- 
ure in the illusion of a picture. But touch to the 
sculptor is not an illusion. While a painter 
only imagines the form of an arm through his 
sense of sight, the sculptor actually gets his 
sensation through his hands, as he feels it growing 
in form and character, substance and subtlety 
of surface under his manipulation. With him 



24 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the physical delight is added to the mental. I 
imagine, indeed, that the degree to which he 
expresses this twofold delight is largely the meas- 
ure of his ability as a sculptor. 

Barnard thus early had experienced it; but, 
we should notice, so far only through an experi- 
ence of minute work. Yet his communing with 
himself and with nature along the shores of the 
great lake and of the Father of Waters was only 
waiting to discover its effects in a larger field of 
sensations. 

This awakening did not come to him at once 
in Chicago. There was then no Art Institute 
with its array of sculpture casts; no nourishing 
school with its accompanying enthusiasms. Yet, 
possibly that was well for the slow, silent devel- 
opment of this youth, a dreamer of dreams, 
already a student of philosophy and occultism, 
fervently religious, with a religion that felt after 
the mysteries of life and included such dawning 
notions as he had of art. 

He chanced upon a teacher whose stock in 
trade consisted of four casts of the antique statues 
in reduced size, which he drew in every pos- 
sible position, until he had completely mastered 
the representation of an object on the flat. This, 
it will be observed, was a temporary suspension of 
his study of solid form, being indeed, a transpo- 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 25 

sition from actual depth and distance to the 
illusion of a third dimension; and the intense 
application in this direction, with the fascina- 
tion of it, affected his work for some time. I 
think a comparison of "The Boy" with one 
of his later works will show this. The 
early work displays more feeling for light 
and shade than for form, and is, in fact, 
rather a study of planes of varying value 
than of bulk. While this may appear a some- 
what fine-drawn distinction, it does involve an 
important principle, because it affects the way 
in which the subject has been considered, the con- 
ception, indeed, which inspired the work. In 
his later work Barnard is not oblivious to the 
charm of subtle modelling, but the larger motive 
is present in his mind, that of the constructional, 
organic character of the mass, and it becomes the 
distinctive direction in which his genius expresses 
itself. 

He grew to consciousness of this large aspect of 
sculpture through the influence of Michelangelo. 
Hearing that there were some casts of the master's 
work stored away in a room under lock and key 
he sought admission. It was at first denied; 
students by acts of vandalism had abused their 
privileges; the exhibition had been closed to 
them, and no exception could be made in his case. 



26 AMERICAN MASTERS 

"But I must see them," was his simple answer. 
"Michelangelo lived and worked for me as much 
as Jesus did ; his works belong to me — I must see 
them." In presence of such a fervour of con- 
viction the director yielded, and Barnard was 
allowed to come and go as he pleased. 

If one could really know the boy's emotions, 
what a revelation it would be ! To most of us, if 
we can recall our youth, the impressions that 
counted most came gradually, finding us often 
unprepared for them, and through circumstances 
or our own levity of soul unable to receive due 
profit at the time. But to the young Barnard, 
with a seriousness beyond his years, peering into 
the mystery of life, feeling after expression in 
form, the revelation of Michelangelo's genius 
must have been like sudden light to a blind man, 
who, hitherto, had had but vague imaginings of 
light and form. There, in the quiet afternoons, 
until daylight faded into twilight, alone with these 
sublime beings, the boy would sit and sit. Tired 
on one occasion, he sat himself in the lap of the 
"Moses" — for he was small and boyish-looking 
despite his seventeen years — and resting his curly 
head against the statue's beard fell fast asleep, 
his young, eager spirit, wrapped around and 
absorbed by the influence of the mighty dead. Do 
you not perceive in this little story another proof 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 27 

of the boy's physical joy in form, so that after 
drawing from it sustenance to his spirit he nestled 
into contact with the feel of it, as a baby, surfeited 
with nourishment, lies close to the mother's 
breast ? 

And it was with a good deal of a baby's uncon- 
sciousness, I suspect, that Barnard sucked in 
nourishment from the experiences of this time. 
He was not as yet deliberately studying these 
statues, was still ignorant of the technical prob- 
lems which they offered ; but, himself a dreamer 
of dreams, he lost himself in the magnitude of the 
conception, and little by little grew to realise 
how dreams may shape themselves into form. 
He began to have an inkling of the majesty of 
form in the round, as something not to be trans- 
lated into the flat, but to be felt in the bulk; a 
realisation of the wonder of palpable structure, 
when it has become the plastic expression of noble 
thought. It was several years later, and much 
discipline had to be undergone, before the impres- 
sions of this lonely communing were to become 
part of his conscious equipment as a sculptor. 

But I wonder whether the scarcity of artists, 
as compared with the great number of skilful 
practitioners of painting and sculpture, is not 
due, in part at any rate, to the fact that few 
students enjoy a period of subconscious reception 



28 AMERICAN MASTERS 

of impressions. In place of it they are surrounded 
by the clatter of the classroom, share in the 
smart little theories of their fellow-students and 
for the influence of the great masters substitute 
adulation for some teacher who professes to know 
a short cut to success. Most modern education, 
indeed, is a bustling after results, that allows no 
space for the slow, steady, silent growth, such as 
prepares the sapling to take its place among the 
giants of the forests. Yet in our study of the lives 
of all true artists we shall find that the period 
of communing, either with nature or with the 
masterpieces of art, has intervened. Happy for 
the student to whom it comes early ! 

At the end of his eighteenth year he received a 
commission for the portrait bust of a child, and 
discovered for himself the manner of executing 
it in marble. With the sum received, he went to 
Paris, studying for a time under the academician, 
Cavelier, and then establishing himself in a 
humble studio. Twelve years he lived in Paris, 
enduring the extreme of privations, until the 
patronage of an American, Mr. Alfred Corning 
Clark, relieved the pressure of want; and the 
acceptance of seven of his works at the Champ 
de Mars in 1894 and his election as an associate 
of the Soci^te' Nationale des Beaux Arts crowned 
his struggles with artistic recognition. During 




pq 

< O 




THE HEWER 
By George Grey Barnard 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 29 

the intervening years he had shunned the influence 
of modern Paris, drawing nutriment in the 
museums from Phidias and Michelangelo, from 
the divine repose of the one and from the other's 
conflict of soul, conscious of great strivings within 
himself that craved utterance. 

All his early works were so completely in 
response to an impulse from within, that they 
seem to me to reveal themselves as confessions 
of his soul, as manifestations not only of his 
artistic but of his spiritual development. 

The earliest was "The Boy": a nude figure 
seated, asleep, with arched back and with head 
drooping on the breast ; a supple form, with that 
mingling of firmness and languor which a child 
presents in sound, healthy sleep; a composition, 
very fresh in conception and beautiful in its 
rhythmical compact^efs; .expressive, moreover, 
in every part, of the character of profound slum- 
ber. This single theme of feeling flows through 
the whole figure in measured bars of melodious 
movement. I like to think of it as an artist's 
expression, not of a boy, but of boyhood ; his own 
boyhood, in its unalloyed purity and freshness, 
which even in his manhood is " not dead but 
sleepeth " ; abiding with him in its beautiful 
quiescence, perpetual testimony to the living on 
of the child in the artist's soul. 



30 AMERICAN MASTERS 

Then may we not see in "Pan" an embodiment 
of his experiences of passionate youth? Truly 
it is also the reincarnation of the spirit of the 
old golden legend of the world, before it was 
burdened with seriousness, still irresponsible 
and sportive; when the woods and streams were 
haunted by creatures close akin to the animals, 
but gifted also with something of man's higher 
opportunities: lazy, sensuous and luxuriously 
content. But this is only to refer back to a 
mythological type the perennial characteristics 
of the birth of passion in a youth. It seems 
to me quite one with the philosophic bent of 
Barnard's mind that he should have compre- 
hended both intentions in his "Pan." It is as if 
he had analysed himself and then exorcised 
his vagrant desires by imprisoning them in 
bronze. As an artist he takes his opportunity 
in the recumbent figure of enforcing the sensuous 
charm of the long, sinuous limbs, and once more 
indulges in the luxuriousness of firm, soft fleshi- 
ness ; this time, however, with muscles not relaxed 
in sleep but unstrung in the sweet lassitude of 
lazy ease. Then what a subtle insinuation of 
contempt for the type as he conceives it ! He 
sets one long asinine ear acock, and lets the other 
droop ridiculously, while in the slanting eye there 
is a leer of mischievous, foolish wantonness. I 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 31 

do not forget that this is later work, executed 
after Barnard's return to America; yet his 
point of view is so subjective that he can scarcely 
fail sooner or later to express the struggles of 
his own soul. 

But apart from these psychological considera- 
tions the statue is one of extraordinary artistic 
interest ; the composition highly original and to a 
grand degree sculpturesque. It has, that is to 
say, qualities peculiar to sculpture; the impress- 
iveness of bulk, of form in the round, with vig- 
orous appeal to our tactile sense in its bossy 
elevations and deep hollows, and with that 
aptitude for changing effects of light and shadow, 
bold in parts, in others mysteriously subtle. More- 
over, it is remarkable in its expression of character 
in pose and gesture; for subtle expressiveness 
could scarcely be carried further in the line of 
this conception and it is continuous throughout 
the figure and harmoniously complete. These, 
moreover, are the traits conspicuous in all 
Barnard's work. 

We shall find them in the group "I Feel Two 
Natures Struggling Within Me," which, perhaps, 
more than any other of his works breaks away 
from the usual canons of composition. I can 
remember that when I first saw it the abruptness 
of the composition startled me unpleasantly; 



32 AMERICAN MASTERS 

but this feeling has worn off and I recognize an 
inherent reasonableness in the arrangement, a 
harmony of fitness in the conception. It illus- 
trates, in fact, the liberty of the western spirit, 
which dares to free itself from formula; it is not 
to be taken as a subversion of old principles, but as 
a justification of the right of freedom of will, 
where the originality of thought demands some 
freer method of expression. For, as a matter 
of fact, the salient feature of this group is the 
expression of character ; and by the time that you 
fall under the spell of its intention, you are recon- 
ciled to the abruptness of the composition. It may 
interest those who are distrustful of "literary" 
expression in a work of art to know that the 
metaphysical title of this group was an after- 
thought. It had its inception in the chance 
grouping, afterward slightly modified, of two 
models, and the idea was to reproduce the charac- 
ter of pose and gesture. Then the standing 
figure suggested the notion of a conqueror; not 
one of the theatrical sort with action of defiance, 
but one who through defeat has reached an ulti- 
mate victory ; and so by degrees the group began 
to partake of the fulness of the sculptor's own 
thinkings and conclusions, until it finished by 
presenting in generalized form the conflict of the 
two natures of man. 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 33 

The evolution of this group very fairly illus- 
trates the balance of impulses in Barnard's work. 
He is by natural instinct a sculptor ; one whose 
imaginings inevitably shape themselves in form. 
On the other hand he is a thinker of thoughts and 
a dreamer of dreams that press for utterance, 
and he finds the utterance in plastic expression; 
but there is no confusion in his own mind between 
the mode of expression and the thought expressed. 
He recognizes both the possibilities and the 
limitations of his art, and in the working out of 
his thought confines himself to those aspects of 
it which lend themselves to plastic interpretation. 
At the same time his nature is so earnest and 
intense that it would seem impossible and hor- 
rible to him not to use his art to some serious 
end. But, be sure, it is less the bigness of his 
purpose than his power as a sculptor, or, shall 
we say, the happy adjustment of the two, that 
gives ultimate importance to his work. 

In further proof of this let me refer to two more 
of his statues, one of which had its origin in 
chance, the other in deliberation: The former is 
" Maidenhood " which was primarily suggested 
by the pose of a model, spontaneously assumed. 
It had character and was evidently characteristic 
of this individual type of girlhood. He studied 
the figure, first in its ensemble and then in the 



34 AMERICAN MASTERS 

correlation of its parts, and as he worked the flood- 
gates of sentiment were gradually lifted, until 
there poured into the work his pent-up feeling 
and convictions concerning female beauty, his 
personal ones as a man and the abstract devotion 
that he felt for it as an artist. The result is a 
statue, lovely as a piece of technique, lovely also 
in its inspired interpretation of beauty of form 
and soul; a figure that has the allurement of 
individual personality, as well as that higher 
quality of abstract loveliness which belongs to 
an ideal conception, rendered with exquisite 
reverence and a spirit of purest poetry. 

The other statue, " The Hewer," was begun with 
the deliberate purpose of embodying in a series 
of figures the gradual evolution of mankind and, 
I fancy also, of the human soul toward higher 
possibilities. There is nothing unusual in the 
theme, but much in the way in which Barnard 
has comprehended and expressed it. He has felt 
it in its elemental significance and set it forth 
with monumental simplicity. The background 
of his imagination, and he makes it part of ours, 
is the nebulous immensity out of which primitive 
man emerges toward the light. The step is won 
by putting forth of strength; but tentatively, 
gropingly, with only partial consciousness of 
strength; there is an exertion of power, but a re- 




TWO FRIENDS 
By George Grey Barnard 

A Memorial Monument 



GEORGE GREY BARNARD 35 

serve far greater of unexpended power. In 
correspondence with the controlled bigness of 
this conception is the generalized method of the 
actual modelling, so that the eye is not deflected 
to this or that part, but compelled to embrace 
the figure as a whole. It is in this respect that 
Barnard's work differs from that of Rodin, to 
which at a first glance we might feel disposed to 
liken it, in consequence of the expression of char- 
acter in both and the freedom from conventional 
restraint. But each has his separate method of 
attack; for while Rodin reaches his ensemble 
through an elaboration of the parts, Barnard is 
possessed first and foremost of the conception in 
its entirety and keeps the parts subordinate. 
The one entices you to follow the play of subtle 
expression that winds through the figure, while 
the other arrests your eye to its structural sig- 
nificance as a unity. 

In a brief summary of this sculptor's art the 
thing to be noted is that it is distinguished as 
much by breadth of conception as by expression 
of character, and always with an instinctive 
regard for the simplest form of plastic interpre- 
tation. It is this which separates him from the 
hypersensitive tendencies of the old world and 
proves him to be a prophet of the new. His 
vision is less penetrating than embracing; his 



36 AMERICAN MASTERS 

methods more constructive than analytical; his 
emotions ample, sane. His genius indeed has 
not grown with the sinuous convolutions of a 
sapling that enforces its existence in a thicket, 
but like one that stands alone in virgin soil with 
spaciousness around it. 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 



Ill 

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 

"DORN in Urbana, Ohio, in 1830, Ward is 
still an active force among American 
sculptors. His career connects the past with 
the present, spanning the long interval like a 
bridge: one pier, embedded in the old condition 
of things when American sculptors first began 
to make America the scene and inspiration of 
their art, its arch mounting above the indifference 
to, and ignorance of, things artistic which pre- 
vailed before the influence of European art began 
to be felt here, and its other pier firmly incorpor- 
ated into the new order. And there is additional 
fitness in the simile, for Ward's career has 
presented the logical reasonableness of an archi- 
tectural structure ; built up of character, stout as 
granite, shaped by experience and tempered by 
local necessities ; a structure modified by practical 
as well as by esthetic considerations, which has 
been invaluable in its day and embodies some 
features of permanent worth among others that 
time has superseded. For the architect of his 
39 



4 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

own life cannot proceed like the builder of a 
material bridge — establish simultaneously his 
hither and nether pier, and then by ingenious 
underpinning support the weight of the arch 
until he reaches the keystone, which finally locks 
all into a compact whole. He can but start 
with good, firm basis of intention, hew the stones 
as faithfully as he knows and set them in cement 
of honest endeavour, lifting his arch by personal 
force, while the force of gravity, acting outside 
himself, gradually determines the direction of its 
curve. He will be shrewder than most if he 
guesses when he has reached the keystone — 
generally will only discern it after long years 
by looking back; and when he gains the farther 
bank of the stream and once more has the firm 
ground beneath his feet, if he turns round to 
view the work he will be conscious of parts 
which disturb the symmetry of the whole: here 
a bit of inferior craftsmanship which his later 
knowledge detects, there some result of untoward 
circumstances. He is happy if his life presents 
a constancy of purpose and has been of service 
to his fellows. 

Such happiness may fairly be enjoyed by Ward. 
His share in establishing the National Sculpture 
Society, of which he has been president since its 
foundation, would alone entitle him to the 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 41 

permanent consideration of his colleagues, while 
to the sum total of American sculpture he has 
made some very notable contributions. That 
his work includes examples which fall short in 
artistic conception and in technical skill, is 
undeniable. They are the result partly of the 
circumstances of his development and partly 
of his own determined, straightforward charac- 
ter; a combination of meager artistic experiences 
at the start and of a predisposition to the 
objective point of view. 

One imagines that he has always been power- 
fully attracted to the facts of things: the facts 
of American life and the facts of the subjects 
which he has portrayed in his art. If there was 
any fiber of transcendentalism in his mind — and 
few of us are altogether without some vision of 
what is beyond the bounds of actual experience — 
it took the form of speculating upon the future 
of American civilisation, which facts have subse- 
quently indorsed, or, if it entered into his feeling 
toward his subject, made him realise something 
of the spirit embedded in the fact, as in his early 
statue representing the Negro breaking loose his 
fetters. But the various theories concerning art 
which study in Paris might have taught him, 
and which in a measure are the shibboleth of 
people whose faith in facts has dwindled, and, 



42 AMERICAN MASTERS 

unless reallied to actual facts, are but "vacant 
chaff well meant for grain," he had no means of 
learning in his youth, and throughout his man- 
hood, I suspect, has had little patience with. 
Still at the bottom of all theories is the principle 
that it is not in the subject but in the manner of 
presenting it that a work of art is proclaimed ; 
that technique and motive should be indissolubly 
wedded — to their mutual perfection if each is 
choice, and, if either is inferior, to a mutual loss. 
This was not recognised in America in Ward's 
youth, nor until much later; and none of his 
work, it is probably true to say, reveals that par- 
ticular kind of craftsmanlike facility which dis- 
tinguishes the work of the sculptor who has been 
trained abroad, and by the side of this more 
accomplished modelling Ward's statues often 
appear crude. But if they lack the stylistic 
quality, the best of them have a force which more 
than compensates. It results from a strong feel- 
ing for design, the general accumulative effect 
of the whole composition, which itself results 
from a strong antecedent feeling for form. The 
latter seems to characterise all self-taught stu- 
dents,whether sculptors or painters ; and, although, 
as their experience broadens, there may be 
increased subtlety of expression, the primary 
characteristic of their work will continue to be 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 43 

a very strong sense and enjoyment of the struc- 
tural facts of the figure or landscape, and most 
frequently in their simplest and directest mani- 
festations. And in the case of sculpture this is an 
especially valuable gift of vision, since the most 
sculptural quality in sculpture is unquestionably 
that of form: its solidity, stability and natural 
grace or dignity of movement. It is precisely 
in these particulars that some of our foreign- 
taught sculptors, while easily excelling Ward in 
refinements of detail, fall short of him. 

As a boy he had been devoted to fashioning 
with his fingers, and, at the age of nineteen, 
entered the studio of Henry Kirke Brown. The 
latter, after practising as a sculptor at Albany, 
had spent some five years in Europe, chiefly in 
Italy; but, feeling strongly that an American 
should occupy himself with American subjects, 
and to that end should work in his own country, 
resisted the tendency among sculptors of that 
day to join the American colony in Rome or 
Florence. He therefore returned and engaged 
upon the equestrian statue of Washington, now 
in Union Square, New York. Ward assisted 
him in the work and gained thereby a fine 
experience of what makes for nobility in design. 
He must have profited also by companionship 
with a man of such large and generous mind. 



44 AMERICAN MASTERS 

But his stay in the studio was short, and for the 
rest he has been the architect of his own career. 
A fragment remains of his student work, a 
study for a high-relief in which an Indian is 
represented breaking and burning his arrows — 
an episode of the voyage of Hendrik Hudson. 
One cannot help noticing the naivete of the 
composition, the simple intention of representing 
the action just as it might have happened; the 
apparent unconsciousness that any academic 
considerations were involved. It, no doubt, 
represents the attitude of his mind at that time, 
and to a very considerable extent prefigures the 
lines along which his development was to pro- 
ceed. Thus a year or two later, while he was 
working in Washington and executing busts of 
many leading men of the time, and the whole 
country began to seethe with passion over the 
slave question, Ward's contribution to it is 
"The Freedman." It shows simply a Negro, in 
an entirely natural pose, who has put forth his 
strength and is looking very quietly at the broken 
fetters. The whole gist of the matter is thus em- 
bodied in a most terse and direct fashion, without 
rodomontade or sentimentality, but solely as an 
objective fact into which there is no intrusion of 
the sculptor's personal feeling. But of his personal 
point of view toward his art there is abundant 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 45 

testimony. This figure, which was never repro- 
duced larger than statuette size, but in that 
form had a wide popularity, proves how keen 
and true was Ward's instinct for the sculpturesque 
qualities of sculpture and for the limit to which 
it is safe to go in the interpretation of sentiment. 
The latter is simply enforced by the action of the 
figure. 

In order that he might have opportunities of 
studying form in the freedom of movement, he 
visited the western frontier and lived for 
a while among the Indians. A statue of this 
period is "The Indian Hunter," which now stands 
in bronze in Central Park, New York. Again it 
is a strikingly vivid realisation of actual facts; 
of the racial characteristics of both the man and 
his dog, and of their respective kinds of move- 
ment: the man's, stealthy and powerfully con- 
trolled ; the dog's, more keen and alert and need- 
ing to be checked. Again, too, one feels, I think, 
the absence of any preconceived theories of 
technique, so that the group has something of a 
primitive, almost barbarous feeling; which, how- 
ever, seems strangely appropriate to the subject. 

Yet it is easy to understand that for a young 
sculptor, so resolutely facing natural facts and 
untrained in academic teaching of what is right 
and what is wrong, a table of doctrines which may 



46 AMERICAN MASTERS 

easily lead to dry formalism, but which yet holds 
many directions and warnings of value, there 
will be shoals ahead. The actual may readily 
drift into the commonplace; and that some of 
Ward's portrait-statues should be of small account 
was to be expected from the circumstances of 
his self -wrought development and peculiar per- 
sonal point of view. They were the stepping- 
stones by which he gradually rose to higher 
things. For the thing to be noticed is that he 
eventually reached the power that is exhibited 
in such works as the "Greeley," "Washington," 
"Lafayette," "General Thomas," and in that 
masterpiece, the "Beecher" statue, by following 
with undeviating persistence the promptings of 
his youth; only that with matured experience 
came a clearer discrimination of the salient facts, 
and a deeper understanding of what they truly 
signified. In a word, he reached beyond the 
fact to its significance. 

It may be mainly the significance of clothes, 
as in that remarkable statue of "Lafayette" at 
Burlington, Vermont, in which he represents the 
hero of two revolutions as a middle-aged dandy. 
I cannot say whether he saw behind Lafayette's 
support of liberty, as Carlyle did, but at any rate 
the figure has simply the easy dignity of a well- 
bred man, whose embonpoint has modified but 




THE GREELEY STATUE 
By John Quincy Adams Ward 




THE BEECHER STATUE 
By John Quincy Adams Ward 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 47 

not effaced his debonair demeanour and whose 
clothes set gracefully to his person. Yet the 
person is unmistakably enforced. The man is not 
lost in the millinery, as one may have noticed 
in some costume statues ; and it is in this respect 
that Ward has shown his true appreciation of the 
significance of clothes. They not only envelop 
the figure as naturally as a skin, and with no 
hindrance to the imagining of the body inside 
them, but they adapt themselves completely to 
the character of the man as shown in the pose 
of the body and expression of the head. They 
have been reduced, in fact, to an abstraction 
corresponding to the sculptor's conception of the 
man. 

In the "Washington" statue, which stands 
upon the steps of the Sub-Treasury Building in 
Wall Street, the sculptor had the advantage of a 
picturesque costume, and he has treated it with 
the same masterful ease. Yet on this occasion 
our attention is not divided between the sig- 
nificance of the clothes and that of the figure. 
The latter represents Washington in the cere- 
mony of taking the oath of office in 1789, an 
event which happened near the spot now occu- 
pied by the statue. The pose is entirely free 
from heroics : that of a noble, true-hearted gentle- 
man, conscious of the dignity and responsibility 



4& AMERICAN MASTERS 

of the occasion. One could have wished that the 
legs were planted more squarely on the ground, as 
it would have increased the statuesque assertive- 
ness of the figure ; but it is quite possible that the 
sculptor intentionally avoided this, in the desire 
to suggest that it was at the call of duty and not 
of personal ambition that Washington accepted 
office. So he has taken the weight off the right 
foot and advanced it slightly, thus giving a 
pliant, curving motion to the body, and with it a 
touch of hesitancy to the pose. Backed by the 
classic fagade of the Sub-Treasury Building the 
statue is very happily placed, and amid the 
turmoil of the neighbourhood strikes a note which 
is refreshingly true and noble. 

No less turmoil surrounds the Greeley monu- 
ment in Newspaper Row and, outwardly at any 
rate, of a less savoury character. Moreover, its 
pedestal abuts upon a narrow sidewalk, and the 
figure, seated in an armchair, has the unhelpful 
background of a large plate-glass window. It is 
itself, too, of shambling build, uncouthly costumed, 
the large, round face, oddly fringed with a rim 
of whiskers. The legs are wide apart; one arm 
rests on the back of the chair, the other lies upon 
the thigh, its hand holding a sheet of paper; 
the round shoulders droop forward, and the head 
is inclined so as to bring into view the flat, dome- 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 49 

like skull. Yes, the whole composition is the 
very reverse of what we usually understand by 
statuesque, and thousands pass and repass it 
daily without any recognition, so occupied are 
they in threading their way through the swarm 
of loud-lunged sellers of chronic "specials." 
Yet if you will step back into the roadway, 
at the risk of being demolished by trolley-cars or 
wagons full of mile-long rolls of paper, you cannot 
fail to be impressed by the very strangeness of 
the figure. How full of character it is ! Sitting 
back almost in a heap, pondering some point, 
the figure yet suggests that it is about to rise 
and put its resolve into action, so remarkable is 
the mixture of downrightedness and alacrity. 
It is indeed a representation of character truly 
original and of a convincing force, that bears the 
stamp of genius. Let us place it in our respect 
alongside of Saint-Gaudens's "Peter Cooper," 
as equally a triumph of art over uncompromising 
material, and, indeed, along similar lines of un- 
flinching acceptance of the actual facts of the 
problem, and of broad, ample sympathy with 
nobility, though it does not lie upon the surface. 
For the convenience of analysing Ward's 
methods I have ventured to regard these three 
statues as examples of the significance, respect- 
ively, of clothes, form and character. Not 



5 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

quite accurately, I admit, because the three 
motives unite in all in various proportions; but 
perhaps I am right in feeling a preponderance of 
the one in each. However that may be, we 
shall find a completely balanced union of all three 
in the Beecher monument. The sculptor had 
particularly in mind the episode of Henry Ward 
Beecher's visit to England in 1863, on a special 
mission from President Lincoln, for the purpose 
of bringing to English public notice the true 
position of the North. He was met by noisy 
opposition, but bore it down by indomitable 
endurance and intellectual force. In the strongly 
marked, mobile features ; in the intellectuality of 
the head, carried so resolutely above the broad 
chest; in the striking simplicity of the quiet, 
stalwart pose, no less than in the absence of all 
rhetorical gesture in the arms, which are sus- 
pended at the sides; even to such a detail as the 
right hand, not clenched aggressively or held in 
indecision, but with the fingers drawn up to the 
thumb, a gesture that mingles alertness with 
poise, the figure expresses character, rocklike 
will and mental preeminence. The Inverness 
cape serves to give increased weight and breadth 
to the form; one arm being restrained within its 
folds, the other free for a fling of action if the 
occasion require it. The figure bears down 



JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WARD 51 

upon its pedestal, column-like, monumental in 
the highest degree. It is a portrait-statue of 
most extraordinary impressiveness. 

The equestrian statue of General Thomas at 
Washington, District of Columbia, is a spirited and 
arresting composition. The rider presents a por- 
trait study of considerable power, but the sculptor in 
his zeal for the actual has seized upon the fact that 
Thomas was not a practised horseman. He does 
not move in his seat with the motion of the horse, 
his bridle-hand lacks control, and the action of 
the horse's head proclaims it. One may enjoy a 
detail so minute as that of the hand in the Beecher 
statue, because it is contributory to the total 
effect, and equally regret this insistence upon a 
personal peculiarity of the General, since the 
total effect is thereby diminished. Such a 
detail is local and insignificant, only to be appre- 
ciated by a few of his comrades ; but the statue 
will endure and be judged for what it presents; 
a general and his horse — do they move as one? 
is the personal supremacy of the rider main- 
tained ? 

The pedestal of the "Beecher" is embellished 
with figures. On one side a woman and on the 
other a little girl is depositing a wreath, and a 
boy is steadying the latter figure. They are 
well modelled in natural and graceful movement, 



52 AMERICAN MASTERS 

but they impart a touch of sentimentality, so alien 
to Ward's habit and, indeed, to the spirit of the 
statue, that I wonder whether they were not a 
concession to the wish of the subscribers. Figures 
again adorn the pedestal of the Garfield monu- 
ment in Washington, and among them is to be 
found a most successful treatment of the nude. 
"The Student" is an admirable example of 
Ward's knowledge of form and of his discretion 
in rendering it. His ability as a decorative 
sculptor was shown in the group of "Sea-horses 
and Victory" which crowned the temporary 
Naval Arch in 1899, though executed many 
years before. Equally pronounced were the 
joyous elevation of the forms against the sky and 
the harmonious unity of the whole as a mass. 
It proved that Ward's management of composition 
was as thorough in a complicated group as in a 
single figure. He is now engaged upon the 
pediment for the recently erected Stock Exchange 
Building in New York. As I have seen only the 
model — and that has been subjected to various 
modifications — it would be premature to discuss 
it. But it bids fair to be a most memorable 
work, fitly crowning by its magnitude and 
importance a long and honourable career. 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 



IV 

DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 

A MONG the earlier works of Daniel C. 
French is a bust of Emerson, a truly 
admirable rendering of the mingled nobility and 
sweetness of the well-known face, of the human 
kindliness which warmed the pure and abstract 
elevation of his mind. It reminds us that in 
his youth French enjoyed acquaintance with the 
philosopher of Concord and came under the 
influence of other famous spirits who formed the 
little group of high thinkers and plain livers, 
with whom it was also an axiom, of more than 
incidental importance, that Americans should 
shake their minds free of the European point of 
view and develop a culture for themselves out 
of the genius of their own conditions. 

French, himself of New England stock, born 
at Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1850, came under 
these influences at the impressionable age of 
eighteen, when he began to model under the 
instruction of a member of the Alcott family, 

55 



56 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the head of which, Amos Bronson, had been one 
of the leading writers in The Dial. Moreover, 
his own nature, one may suspect, furnished 
congenial soil for the germination of the seeds 
which it received during this time, since the 
fruit of his maturity savours unmistakably of 
these conditions. And this, notwithstanding that 
he spent many subsequent years in Florence, 
where his master was Thomas Ball, a blithe, 
sweet nature, gentle, refined, and full of bon- 
homie. Here again was a continuance of, at 
least, the gracious influences which had surrounded 
French's growth from the beginning, and it was 
in the light of these that he sucked in nourishment 
from the environment of Florence. To judge 
by the tenor of his afterwork, the treasures of 
the city did not affect him very directly; here 
and there we may find a hint of assimilated style, 
notably in the angels for the Clark monument in 
the Forest Hills Cemetery; but for the most part, 
apparently, the impressions of these days served 
to give artistic indorsement to the gracious 
elevation of the earlier literary ones. Even the 
work upon which he engaged himself at that time, 
a statue of "Endymion," was a following of 
the Canova tradition, still lingering in Italy, 
rather than of the beckonings of the older art, 
and chiefly characteristic of himself by reason 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 57 

of the calm, passionless purity of the emotion 
involved. 

The degree and quality of emotion which 
enters into an artist's work must constitute one 
of the most important elements in his art and 
will even affect that other essential element, 
the character of his technique. How his work 
will affect ourselves will largely depend upon 
the extent to which we respond, either by nature 
or by a habit of cultivation, to the particular 
kind of emotion which he portrays. On the 
other hand, a great number of people seem unable 
to appreciate the emotional quality in a work 
of art and look only for the intellectual, while 
more than a few artists display little or nothing 
of the latter quality and exaggerate the sensuous. 
Especially are they apt to limit the range of 
the emotions to one kind, that of love, and to 
regard it exclusively in its sexual manifestation. 
In this way the word passion, with its deep 
significance of an emotion so strong as to bring 
suffering, has been belittled. Some art is the 
product of this nobler kind of passion, a good 
deal is only a tiresome reiteration of the lower 
kind, and, again, there is art which emanates 
from a tranquillity of spirit undisturbed by either 
kind of passion. It is in this last category that 
French's art seems to belong. 



58 AMERICAN MASTERS 

My own appreciation of it recalls the memory 
of a certain mountain pool. I had made an 
early start on a summer's day, rising in the 
cheerless glimmer before the dawn and spending 
some two hours as one of many sleepy passengers 
in a stuffy train. Alighting at a drowsy little 
town, where small farmers congregate to pursue 
their petty barterings, I began the ascent by a 
bridle path, steep, stony and dusty, winding 
frequently as it steadily mounted. By noon 
I had reached an elevation midway between the 
last belt of trees and the snow-line and could 
look down upon the cloud-mists that clung like 
patches of wool to the forest, and farther down 
to the green bowl of the valley, with its flashes 
of river and thin spirals of gray smoke. Above 
me was a more venturesome climb, to have 
accomplished which would have entailed stouter 
endurance and more painful effort, crowned, it 
may be, with a keener, fiercer exaltation. But, 
as it was I felt exalted. The spacious prospect, 
the crystalline purity of the air, a labour that 
had fully taxed my natural strength, combined 
to produce a condition of most perfect spiritual 
exhilaration, stealing over me so unconsciously 
as at last to be realised with surprise. The 
memory of it represents to me the clearest 
comprehension of passionless emotion and of 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 59 

the mental atmosphere in which a work of art 
that has not been conceived in the throes of 
passion may spring forth and be matured. 

Full to the brim of this sensuous elation, I 
wandered from the path and found myself beside 
a pool that caught within its deep hollow some- 
thing of the sky's blue and the glint of a passing 
cloud; otherwise mirroring only the surrounding 
banks and my own figure, bending over to peer 
through the cold, clear water to the bottom. 
Quite near it was to the dusty, beaten track, 
yet secluded, cradled within its own niche of the 
great mountain, placidly exhaling its water to 
the sky, whence it was in turn to receive its 
sustenance. Again I am helped to understand 
the beautiful reasonableness of art; although it 
may not be of the kind which mirrors the wide 
experiences of life, holds within it the mystery 
of impenetrable depth, or stirs the soul to loftiest 
heights of sensuous and intellectual compre- 
hension. For, if the artist sets his art at the 
highest spot that his powers permit, keeps it 
secluded from the passing traffic of the world, 
unsullied, fresh, that it may give clear reflection 
to the figures of the imagination which, in the 
calm elation of this upper air, he brings to its 
margin, then he has done something for which the 
world is infinitely better. 



60 AMERICAN MASTERS 

It is an art of this kind which French, if I 
mistake not, represents — elevated, but passion- 
less; always true to its noblest and sweetest 
promptings; mingling intellectual grace with the 
graciousness of pure emotion. 

His first statue was the " Minute Man, " erected 
on the old battle-field at Concord in 1875. The 
young farmer is standing with one hand upon 
the plow and in the other grasping a musket, 
his head alert, as if he were waiting for a summons, 
the body held ready to advance. Though a 
work of immaturity and giving little promise 
of its author's subsequent accomplishment, it 
yet has something of the sweet uplifting of 
sentiment that will reappear later with more 
assurance of conviction and with maturer technical 
expression. The next important work was the 
seated figure of John Harvard, unveiled at 
Cambridge in 1884. During that interval of 
nine years French had made extraordinary 
progress. Whether we consider the conception 
of the personality or the character of the tech- 
nique, this statue is the work of a man who has 
attained to a realization of his true bent and to 
a freedom and force of craftsmanship. The 
dignity of quietude, a self-contained aloofness, 
the tender graciousness of a refined spirit, a 
gentle, unforced sincerity — these are the qualities 




DEATH AND THE SCULPTOR 
By Daniel Chester French 

tium the Milmore Monument, Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston 




DETAIL OF THE CLARK MONUMENT 
By Daniel Chester French 

Forest Hills Cemetery 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 61 

in himself which the sculptor has imparted to 
this figure. He has represented in it the fine 
flower of Puritan scholarship and devotion to 
the higher claims of humanity. It is impossible 
not to detect in this characterisation an echo of 
the sculptor's own early memories, and more or 
less they abide with him up to the present time. 
In correspondence with the development of his 
own ideals is that of his technique. It has 
acquired a breadth and unity of feeling, a regard 
for the mass and a tact of choice in the selection 
of details, a mingling of suavity and monumental 
stability, a disposition of the drapery, natural 
and yet enriched with elegant surprises. The 
statue is at once imposing and full of grace. 

During the next decade French had opportuni- 
ties for developing the imaginative tendencies 
which had already shown themselves during his 
student days. The chief works of this period 
are the "Gallaudet Memorial" in Washington, 
District of Columbia, the Milmore monument 
in Forest Hills Cemetery, better known as 
"Death and the Sculptor," the "John Boyle 
O'Reilley Memorial," and the "Statue of the 
Republic" at the Chicago Exposition. The 
"Gallaudet" represents the great teacher of deaf 
and dumb mutes in the act of instructing his 
first pupil. He has his arm around the girl, 



62 AMERICAN MASTERS 

and each raises a hand to fashion the silent talk, 
while they gaze into each other's faces in the 
rapt effort of mutual comprehension. The group 
is thus realistic in its conception, but developed 
with a degree of sympathy that passes into lovely 
imaginativeness as the sculptor penetrates the 
mystery of communication between these two 
creatures. Purely imaginative, however, is the 
following work: The untimely death of the 
sculptor, Martin Milmore, is here commemorated 
by an allegory of Death arresting the hand of a 
sculptor as he is engaged in perfecting his work. 
He is scarcely more than a youth, well-knit and 
lithe in figure, with a sweet seriousness of face; 
and as he plies the mallet and chisel, carving 
anew at the world-old problem of the Sphinx, 
putting forth his brave young strength in pursuit 
of a yet undimmed ideal, a gentle touch inter- 
poses between his hand and work. He turns his 
head from the enigma to face the reality of a 
Presence — a female figure, her head tenderly 
bowed in the shadowed obscurity of a heavy 
veil, mighty wings calmly folded at her back, a 
bunch of poppies in her grasp. The youth has 
not yet comprehended who and what she is, 
only the ineffable sadness of her face rivets his 
questioning gaze. He is face to face with another 
enigma — that of Death. 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 63 

This memorial has won more admirers than 
perhaps any other of the sculptor's works, and 
the reason is not far to seek. The allegory 
conveys a human story with such precision and 
tender sincerity that all can read it and few can 
fail to be affected. Moreover, the story is told 
with artistic propriety, the character of the 
memorial being sculpturesque. The dignity of 
form in the round has been boldly asserted; the 
device of clothing the youth's figure in a tightly 
fitting suit permits a contrast of vigorous, clean- 
cut form with the drowsy, sensuous suggestion 
of the sweeps and folds of drapery on the other 
figure, and these again are relieved by the strong, 
simple modelling of the wings. Moreover, the 
varied emphasis of these figures in the round, 
placed against the quiet, smooth levels of low- 
relief in the background, results in a colour- 
scheme of striking handsomeness ; the gradations 
from dark to light mingling richness and delicacy 
of tone, while the passages are distributed with 
such variety of bold and subtle contrasts as to 
be exceptionally decorative. And it is by these 
devices, as well as by the action of the two figures 
and the expression of their faces, that the senti- 
ment of the subject is conveyed. 

The quality of the sentiment in this particular 
group is fairly characteristic of French's range 



64 AMERICAN MASTERS 

of emotional expression. It has more of elevation 
than of breadth and depth. Not that it is lacking 
in either candour or sincerity, but, like Truth 
at the bottom of the well, it exists in a cool, clear, 
undisturbed element, its gaze concentrated on 
the circle of sky above, a glimpse of abstract 
inspiration, checkered by the occasional passage 
of a bird or by some wayfarer's shadow. Sepa- 
rated from the turmoil of human passion it 
touches the theme of humanity with a gracious 
tenderness that leans toward an elegant ideali- 
sation and to an attitude of feeling that is far 
less human than artistic. I would cite, as an 
illustration of what I am trying to express, the 
fact that Death has been symbolised by a woman 
of noble and inviting mien, whose arms might 
fold themselves around the young sculptor's 
form as with a mother's caress, while, she pressed 
the poppies on his brow and wooed him to eternal 
sleep. It is a beautiful idea, which touches our 
fancy, but not the heart that has experienced 
the pain of loss; and in its lyrical melodiousness 
we miss the snapping discord that would hint at 
the tragedy of a career of promise abruptly cut. 
Similarly, a delicate fancy rather than imagina- 
tion pervades the monument erected to the 
memory of the poet O'Reilley. This group of 
three figures may be felt also to establish a doubt, 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 65 

aroused by the previous work, as to whether the 
sculptor is fortunate in the treatment of a com- 
position which involves more than one figure. 
Neither of them is conspicuous for organic unity 
or for relational value in the parts. It is, indeed, 
in the management of a single figure that French 
produces the most complete ensemble. Among 
these the colossal "Statue of the Republic" 
at the Chicago Exposition marks, if I mistake 
not, a turning-point in his art. Here, for the 
first time, his matured powers came into direct 
contact with the influence of architecture. 

Hitherto his imagination had played around 
the subject represented; now it became absorbed 
in the architectonic significance of the statue 
itself, as a feature of isolated and conspicuous 
emphasis in a great scheme of monumental 
architecture. Removed from the surroundings 
for which it was conceived, the "Republic" is 
scarcely beautiful, the contours being rigid, the 
pose monotonous; yet these qualities became in 
its appointed place the very source of its 
indubitable stateliness; of its value as a focus- 
point in the long vista of the Court of Honour 
and as an expression in heroic shape of the dignity 
of the Republic. 

At this time French came into close contact 
with the architect, Charles F. McKim, and the 



66 AMERICAN MASTERS 

intimacy has ripened into very frequent col- 
laboration, so that, although he has executed 
other commissions, such as that clever character- 
study, the statue of Rufus Choate, and, in 
cooperation with E. C. Potter, a spirited and 
impressive equestrian statue of Washington, 
his work has become more and more identified 
with sculpture in its relation to architecture. 
To a mind like his, that seems always to have 
leaned toward the abstract, this alliance with an 
art so free from direct human allusion must have 
followed quite naturally. Yet we may be disposed 
to regret a transition which has in a measure, if 
I may use the word, dehumanised his art, which 
broke off his development when it had acquired 
a charm of poetical expression not too usual in 
this country, and would appear to have curtailed 
the freedom and individuality of his manner. 
Certainly, the series of figures for the Capitol 
at St. Paul, Minn., lack the distinction and vital 
worthiness of some of his earlier work; and even 
the latest statue of "Alma Mater," beautiful 
as it unquestionably is, I can hardly feel 
belongs among his best. 

In the centre of the spacious paved court that 
forms the southern and chief approach to Columbia 
University, at the foot of the steps which lead 
up to the library — one of McKim's most choice 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 67 

and impressive designs — she sits enthroned; 
clothed in a loose robe and college gown, a volume 
open on her knees, the arms extending upward 
from the elbows which rest upon the chair, one 
hand holding a scepter, the other open with a 
gesture of welcome. The face is of a familiar 
type of American beauty, corresponding with 
the very modern suggestion of the whole figure. 
Yet the sculptor has invested the head with an 
air of dispassionate refinement which gives it a 
certain aloofness; scarcely more, however, than 
the self-possession, consciously unconscious, with 
which the American woman can carry her beauty. 
It is almost as if one of them had mounted the 
pedestal and, with a ready wit embracing the 
situation, were enacting the part of patroness to 
the university. Every student will love her 
and her influence will be altogether one of sweet 
nobility ; but whether he will receive any inspira- 
tion in the direction of the highest art and 
scholarship is less sure. The immediate 
fascination of the statue is that in feeling it is 
thoroughly modern and American; and, if it fails 
to comprehend the complex elements drawn from 
all sources and times which mingle in our highest 
civilisation, it is precisely because it is limited 
in character to the local and contemporary. 
We recall that French in his youth came under 



68 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the influence of Emerson, one of whose tenets 
was, as far as possible, to ignore European 
traditions, and to draw his illustrations from the 
society and manners of the United States; that 
French himself lived some time in Florence 
without assimilating its influence directly, has 
habitually confined himself to rendering types 
of American character and has gradually dis- 
covered for himself a personal form of technical 
expression. To this personal isolation may be 
traced both the excellence and the limitations 
of his technique. 

It is distinguished by a pure and poignant 
serenity, by a monumental feeling penetrated 
with a sort of gentle sprightliness ; for the 
expression which he puts into the modelling of 
the limbs can scarcely be characterised by a 
word of more sensitive application. In his 
handling of an arm or hand, still more of the 
articulation of a wrist, his method is so dis- 
passionate as to betray little fascination in the 
loveliness of form and movement. In this 
respect his technique, as compared with modern 
French sculpture, is deficient in the stylistic 
quality, lacking the raciness and the suggestive 
piquancy of craftsmanlike precision. As to the 
finer quality, that of style, in which thought is 
wedded to technique in a union choicely appro- 




ALMA MATER 
By Daniel Chester French 

Columbia University 



DANIEL CHESTER FRENCH 69 

priate, indefinably distinguished, one may detect 
it in his angels for the Clark monument, par- 
ticularly in the treatment of the head and wings. 
But these panels are, perhaps, the only examples 
of his work in which a direct influence of his 
sojourn in Florence can be traced. They are 
imbued with the spirit of the Renaissance. 
When, as usually, he works in an atmosphere 
circumscribed by local considerations, I doubt 
if we shall find this added savour of style. He 
handles drapery with evident delight, but scarcely 
with an independent control of the material. 
Having arranged it upon the model with perfect 
taste, he copies the folds and volumes. They 
seldom display that touch of artistic arbitrariness 
which a master of style would give them, com- 
pelling them to yield to the precise shade of 
expression demanded by the subtle union of 
his hand and brain. In the "Death and the 
Sculptor" the drapery reaches a measure of 
style, but scarcely in the "Alma Mater"; and 
this is precisely one of the reasons of the suggestion 
that a woman has been suddenly metamorphosed 
into a statue. The drapery is not idealised. 

Yet, if it is only on rare occasions that French's 
work evinces style, it is never without a very 
rare and fine distinction — the impress of a man 
who reverences his art and has yielded her the 



70 AMERICAN MASTERS 

devotion of a refined and elevated spirit. If the 
localness of its range may have been at the 
expense of some desirable qualities, it has 
endeared it to the greater number of people and 
presented an invaluable incentive to many a 
young artist to seek his ideals in his own country. 
If it fails to touch the deeper chords of human 
emotion, it is always purifying and uplifting. 
With maturity it has lost nothing of its original 
freshness, and has had an abiding influence for 
good upon American art and life. 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 



V 

FREDERICK MACMONNIES 

PENETRATING the American temperament 
is a strong vein of boyishness, alertness, 
elasticity of mind, a happy disregard of difficulty 
and a buoyant hopefulness; a predisposition to 
humour and a refusal, except in really serious 
matters, to take life seriously; a national grace 
of gaiety. It is this phase of Americanism that 
is reflected in the sculpture of Frederick Mac- 
monnies. 

He is himself a remarkable example of maturity 
in youth. To-day, in this year 1903, he is but 
forty, yet in variety and quality the work accom- 
plished has been prodigious, and he has long since 
reached a notable eminence both at home and in 
Paris. The latter has been pretty constantly 
his place of sojourn since 1884, and he has proved 
himself fully in touch with its spirit, at least with 
that exhalation of elegant materialism which 
hovers over its deeper qualities. For, except in 
the statues of Nathan Hale and James S. T. 
Stranahan, and possibly in his "Shakespeare" 

73 



74 AMERICAN MASTERS 

of the Congressional Library, Macmonnies has 
shown himself more alive to the external charm 
of form than to its expression of underlying 
qualities of deeper significance. 

At the age of seventeen he had the good 
fortune to be received into the studio of Saint - 
Gaudens as an apprentice-pupil, where he worked 
for some four years, meanwhile attending the 
life classes at the Academy of Design and the 
Art Students' League. Even in those days he 
developed an extraordinary manual skill, and 
his drawings also are remembered by his fellow- 
students as being quite unusually graceful and 
true. He had, moreover, the privilege of working 
under the master, at the time of his greatest 
productivity, when his studio was the resort of 
the best architects, sculptors and painters; so 
that he grew up under the most favoured conditions, 
corresponding in kind to those experienced by 
apprentices of the fifteenth century in the bottegas 
of the Florentine masters. 

Accordingly, when Macmonnies went to Europe, 
in 1884, his experience and knowledge were far 
beyond what students of his age usually possess. 
However, the first visit to Paris was abruptly 
terminated by the cholera, before which he 
retreated to Munich, and for some months studied 
painting. Then followed a tour on foot over the 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 75 

Alps, when a summons from Saint-Gaudens 
recalled him home. For a year he assisted the 
master and then returned to Paris, this time 
entering the Ecole des Beaux Arts and studying 
under Falguiere; with such success that he 
twice won the Prix d' Atelier, which ranks next 
to the Prix de Rome and is the highest prize 
open to foreigners. Then, taking a studio of 
his own, he executed his first statue, a "Diana," 
which gained an Honourable Mention at the 
Salon. A commission for three angels in bronze 
for the Church of St. Paul in New York was 
followed in 1889 and 1890 by orders for the 
Hale and Stranahan statues, for the latter 
of which he received a Second Medal at the 
Salon, the only instance of an American sculptor 
being thus honoured. After executing two small 
fountain designs, for which he modelled a " Pan of 
Rohallion" and a "Faun with Heron," he found 
himself confronted with the big problem of the 
Columbia fountain, the most important sculptural 
group at the Chicago Exposition. Since then, 
in addition to many statuettes, medallions, busts 
and low-relief portraits he has accomplished 
such notable works as the "Bacchante," the 
statue of Sir Harry Vane, the "Shakespeare," 
pediments for the Bowery Savings Bank and 
spandrils for the Washington Arch in New York, 



76 AMERICAN MASTERS 

a quadriga for the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial 
Arch in Brooklyn and horse groups for the 
entrance to Prospect Park, a "Victory" for the 
battle monument at West Point and colossal 
groups for the Indiana State Soldiers' and Sailors' 
Memorial at Indianapolis. The mere enumera- 
tion of this incomplete list of works, representing 
a period that scarcely exceeds ten years, testifies 
to the artist's energy and inventiveness. That 
such an exuberance of output should affect the 
quality of his work was almost inevitable. The 
precise way in which it seems to have done so is 
interesting, in relation not only to Macmonnies's 
career, but to the art generally. It has, indeed, 
a reference to the artist's manner of using his 
model, to the degree in which his imagination 
maintains a control over or succumbs to the facts 
of the living subject. 

It is true the model will frequently suggest 
an idea to the artist. Some arrest of action, 
momentary gesture, or the movement of relaxa- 
tion, as the figure, tired with posing, extends 
itself, will supply the artist's eye, ever on the 
alert for impressions, with the hint of a motive 
which his imagination will develop into a serious 
and beautiful work. He will use the model to 
build up the structural fabric of his ideas, and, 
if need be, to elaborate the facts, but unless he 




By permission of Theodore B. Starr, New York 

DIANA 
By Frederick Macmonnies 




By permission of Theodore B. Starr, New York 



BACCHANTE 
By Frederick Macmonnies 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 77 

can modify the facts of the figure by elimination 
or accentuation and invest his rendering of them 
with that intangible something which does not exist 
in the model, but in the impression which the latter 
has made upon his imagination, the result will 
scarcely fail to bear the earmark of being a copy. 
Doubtless the artist will lessen the probability 
of this, indeed, may entirely remove it, by his 
absorption in the technical subtleties of obtaining 
an illusion of actual facts out of his inert material ; 
but this, after all, is one of the active forms of 
his artistic imagination. If he exercises it with 
enthusiasm he is still maintaining his ascendency 
over the objectivity of the model. This is the 
kind of realism in which the Japanese carver 
indulges on his sword hilt. The facts are for him 
merely an excuse for revelling in the enjoyment 
of his skill — the closer his rendering of them the 
greater his triumph over the medium — and we 
ourselves in examining his work lose cognisance 
of the facts in our wonder at the skill of crafts- 
manship. 

This is a very different kind of realism from 
that exhibited in the statue which crowned the 
principal entrance of the recent Paris Exposition. 
The figure presumably was to symbolise modern 
Paris. Perhaps it was in a spirit of mischief, 
certainly without much sense of humour and 



78 AMERICAN MASTERS 

with no imagination, that the sculptor sought his 
model in a well-known magazin des modes, 
selecting the most famous of the young ladies, 
on whose beautiful figure the mantles and cloaks 
are set, that the patronesses of the establishment 
may see by a supreme effort of the imagination 
how they will set upon themselves. He repre- 
sented her in a costume a la mode. The statue 
stood against the sky, a monument of common- 
place, trivial and ridiculous. 

But, without going to any such lengths in 
demeaning his imagination, the artist may still 
allow it to become hypnotised by his model. I 
was very much struck by the remark of a painter, 
whose nudes are exquisitely pure and poetical 
in type, that it was his habit as soon as he had 
secured the facts of the figure to discontinue the 
model, since he found that otherwise he was apt 
to become possessed by it. And is it not a fact 
that in very many statues and pictures one 
detects the evidence of this possession? Is it 
absent in Macmonnies's later work? 

The earlier is alive with spontaneous, creative 
energy, which shows itself most characteristically 
in works like the "Cupid on Ball," "Boy with 
Heron," and the "Diana." The last has been 
criticised for being "nervous and strained" in 
manner. Not quite justly, perhaps, since the 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 79 

long, lean limbs are precisely those of one accus- 
tomed to swift movement; the movement in this 
case is free and elastic, and the whole gesture of 
the body expressive of keen and practiced energy ; 
no antique type, it is true, but its modern anti- 
thesis, the girl whose graceful lines have been 
strung and whose grace of action liberated by 
physical activities. The figure has the buoyancy 
and poise of mass and charm of living lines which 
distinguish the work of Macmonnies as much as 
the actual beauty of modelling. These traits 
reappear in a most fascinating way in the artless 
grace of the "Cupid," bounding along with head 
and shoulders thrown back, as he discharges 
an arrow behind him. The action of the body 
is quick with naturalness, and yet the disposition 
of every part, even to such a detail as the fingers, 
reveals the shrewd arrangement of a choicely 
refined taste — an instinctive taste, operating 
almost unconsciously, with a frank, boyish impul- 
siveness, high spirited and not without a spice of 
mischievous humour. For note the redoubtable 
struggle between the "Boy with Heron"; the 
youngster planted firmly and putting forth his 
strength so stubbornly, the bird thrashing the 
air with its wings and writhing its body angrily. 
How will it end ? Is it only a tumble of sport, or 
will the young creature of the earth not let go 



80 AMERICAN MASTERS 

until the creature of the air is subdued, perhaps 
maimed, killed? Or, again, in the "Pan of 
Rohallion" the boy stands upon a ball supported 
by miniature dolphins, which spout their streams 
of water and look up as if listening, while he blows 
the two reeds that issue at a broad angle from his 
impish mouth, leaning back to inflate his chest 
until his body describes an arc. It is the attitude 
of a saucy child that has taken the measure of 
its little self from the affectionate indulgence 
that surrounds it; again, not an antique type, 
nor rustically impish like a Puck, but with the 
engaging elegance and self-conscious roguery of a 
certain kind of modern urchin. 

Yes, modernity is the key to which all Mac- 
monnies's work is pitched ; an echo not of the 
modern mind, but of the modern temperament. 
So we may be disposed to prefer the earlier ones, 
while his temperament was still fresh and frank 
and exuberant with the insouciance of youth. 
Later on the exuberance is at once more conscious 
and less spontaneous, In the "Diana" there 
was an abounding healthfulness of liberated 
energy; in the "Bacchante" a suggestion of 
energy, reenforced with champagne. Truly, this 
is not an inapt suggestion for a bacchante to 
make ; but we are a long way from the anthropo- 
morphic tendency of the antique mind which 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 81 

personified the power of wine in its social and 
beneficent aspects, and saw in Bacchus the god 
of civilisation and in his devotees the frenzy of 
divine inspiration. Moreover, there is no sugges- 
tion of this in the statue. The figure is of modern 
type, rendered with undisguised naturalness. 
After being declined by the trustees of the Boston 
Public Library, it is now in the Metropolitan 
Museum, where among the variety of impressions 
it loses its startling emphasis and takes its place 
naturally as one of the cleverest pieces of modern 
sculpture. For of its exceeding cleverness there 
can be no doubt. The action is such as no model 
could maintain in its vivacity for more than a 
moment; the artist has seized it in all its flow 
and suppleness of movement and held it in his 
imagination to the finish. It is a statue which 
we can almost accept as an example of the 
predominance of technique over the facts of the 
living model, except for a certain look-at-me- 
ishness which seems to result from the artist's 
consciousness that his problem was a daring 
exhibition of skill. There is just a little too much 
protestation of skill in the whole conception, 
just as there is too much protestation of hilarity 
in the girl's face. Her gaiety is hysterical, the 
composition lacking in artistic sanity. 

Both the Nathan Hale and the Stranahan 



82 AMERICAN MASTERS 

statues were completed when the artist was only 
twenty-eight years of age. The former, since 
no portrait of Hale exists, is an effort of imagina- 
tion, the latter of observation and by far the 
finer work. For, while Macmonnies is gifted 
with a very delightful imaginativeness, he has 
not so far shown himself possessed of the deeper 
qualities of imagination. The Hale scarcely rises 
above a graceful and touching sentimentality; 
there is a point-device nicety in the carriage of 
the figure; it stands well upon its feet, but with 
an air of debonair primness and too conscious 
rectitude. The point of view is a little imma- 
ture. In the Stranahan, however, the frankness of 
youth has helped the artist. He had seen many 
a sculptor go down before the difficulty of a 
figure in modern civilian garb, but he had also 
seen his master, Saint-Gaudens, triumph over it 
in his " Lincoln." So, as a boy to prove he is not 
afraid, grasps the nettle tightly and is not stung, 
Macmonnies grasped his problem and succeeded. 
He contrives no ingenious arrangement nor 
extenuates any detail of the costume, but actually 
makes it interesting by the charming handling of 
the masses and textures. With equal directness 
he has represented the character of the figure: 
stable, composed, yet animated, while to the 
observation of the head he has brought a sym- 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 83 

pathetic and reverent study, which results in a 
singular nobility and sweetness of expression. 
The statue, in fact, has a very considerable 
measure of monumental dignity, is full of vitality 
and touched all over with fineness of human 
and artistic feeling. 

Full of vitality also, and of artistic feeling 
is the "Sir Harry Vane" in the Boston Library. 
The costume, a beaver with rolled brim and 
plume, doublet and cloak, and breeches tucked 
into riding-boots, offered opportunities of pictur- 
esqueness of which Macmonnies has taken full 
advantage. The gesture, too, as the figure 
stands firmly with one leg advanced, drawing on 
a glove, is manly and of winning courtliness. 
Indeed, the elegance may be felt to be in excess ; 
the conception of the personality being scarcely 
more than that of a fine gentleman engaged in 
the unimportant occupation of putting on his 
gloves. The costume also plays a conspicuous share 
in the statue of "Shakespeare" at Washington. 
The doublet, trunks and surcoat are stiff with 
embroidery, most cunningly modelled, and the 
set of the silk hose upon the strong, shapely 
legs is admirable. The head, too, is admirably 
constructed, the bony portions having been 
copied from the bust in Stratf ord-on-Avon Church 
and the features from the Droeshout portrait, 



84 AMERICAN MASTERS 

commended by Jonson for its fidelity. Thus 
the external facts have been very conscientiously 
compiled, and edited with much mastery of 
craftsmanship; but the soul of the facts, the 
inspired poet inside them, is scarcely suggested. 
The statue illustrates again that Macmonnies does 
not display imagination; that he only approxi- 
mates to it with a certain charm of imaginative- 
ness, finding fittest expression in subjects of a 
decorative character, of which the very beautiful 
central doors of the Library of Congress remain 
the most successful example. 

For the larger compositions, while full of exu- 
berant invention and charm of detail, lack unity 
and dignity of ensemble. The best of them was 
probably the short-lived fountain for the Court of 
Honour at Chicago. Its central feature, the 
"Ship of the Republic," presented a handsome 
silhouette, whereas the quadriga on the Brooklyn 
Arch, when viewed from the back, does not. 
Considering also the necessary haste involved in 
the preparation of the fountain, it was a fairly 
maintained composition, reasonably balanced and 
homogeneous. In spirit, however, it represented 
the verve and gaiety which the Parisian seeks in 
exposition sculpture, and scarcely conformed to 
the graver, more monumental character of the 
architectural scheme at Chicago ; while the natural- 



FREDERICK MACMONNIES 85 

istic rendering of a Parisian model to symbolise 
the Republic, presented a curious and not unin- 
structive contrast to French's "Republic" at 
the other end of the basin. 

For in this figure Macmonnies revealed perhaps 
for the first time, certainly in most marked 
manner, his tendency to lose himself in the 
natural facts of the model. Some extenuation 
might be found in the haste with which the work 
was bound to be completed ; and a similar insuffi- 
ciency of time — as commissions piled upon him 
in unexampled profusion — may account for his 
subsequent addiction to bare naturalism. Yet 
it scarcely excuses it, and still less that the natural- 
ism should take a grosser form, until in the colossal 
groups at Indianapolis it reached a degree of 
coarseness in the female figures which is very 
far indeed from the exquisite feeling of the 
artist's early work. 

In the freshness of his youth he reflected the 
national grace of gaiety. God forbid that the 
grossness of type and orgy of action displayed 
in these latter groups should be indicative of 
anything American! 



PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT 



VI 

PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT 

TN the Metropolitan Museum of New York there 
is a group, called "The Bohemian," which 
represents a man leaning over a young bear, 
endeavouring by voice and gesture to encourage 
it to antics. The attitude and play of move- 
ment are very true to life. 

One knows the action of a trained bear at the 
end of its keeper's chain; how it balances from 
foot to foot, moves its body up and down like a 
huge, slow piston rod, while its head turns this 
way, that way, keeping rude time to the rhythm, 
half chant, half howl, of the man's voice. The 
latter seemed to our childhood's imagination 
to have some affinity with the bear ; both strange 
creatures appearing in the village, whence no 
one knew; performing their uncouth antics, 
silent but for the man's mournful, monotonous 
dirge or an occasional burst of gibberish as he 
rattled the chain; then disappearing, whither? 

In the posturing of the man in this group we can 
anticipate what will be the movement of the 

89 



9 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

bear when it is trained, and feel the suggestion 
also of an animal kinship between them and of 
their outcast, vagrant fellowship. Not only is 
the technique sure and facile, the observation of 
form and action just, but the conception is one 
in which imagination has played a distinct part. 

It is an early work of Paul Weyland Bartlett, 
executed shortly after he had studied with 
Fremiet. One may fancy that he, too, had 
come under the spell of these strange travelling 
companions, and the absorbing question to his 
boy's mind had been: How was the bear 
taught? Then, in after years, when his interest 
in animals, quickened by the example of his 
master, took artistic shape, he bethought him of 
his old-time wonder and set himself to solve it. 
However that may be, it is clear that Bartlett's 
preoccupation in the subject extended beyond 
mere deftness of craftsmanship, and that in some 
way or other his imagination had been roused. 

I urge this point because some of his subse- 
quent works might lead one to suppose that he 
is lacking in imagination and absorbed exclusively 
in the exercise of a very accomplished, graceful 
and refined technique. Thus his statue of " Law " 
in the rotunda of the Library of Congress at 
Washington reveals no higher conception than 
that of a refined young woman in classic draperies, 



PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT 91 

holding a scroll and resting one hand upon a 
table of the law; a personification entirely super- 
ficial and only redeemed from mediocrity by the 
tactful elegance of the modelling. 

But, while he was engaged on this, he was 
pondering another statue which hit his interest 
closely. The artist in him that could not be 
aroused to enthusiasm by an abstraction, such 
as "Law," awoke to the personal matter of por- 
traying the greatest master of his own craft. His 
imagination was enlisted, and after much delay — 
for his conscience was very truly involved in this 
work and he had an ideal that to his utmost 
ability he would reach — the "Michelangelo" 
was completed; a work of sincere imagination; 
of most arresting and moving appeal. 

Then followed a commission for an equestrian 
statue of Lafayette; and, after making the pre- 
liminary sketch for it in New York, he returned 
to Paris to execute it. It was there, too, that he 
had conceived and executed the "Michelangelo" ; 
but with this "Lafayette" his imagination again 
failed him. Through lack of interest in the 
subject, I wonder, or lack of incentive in the 
environment, or lack of stability in himself? 
For from this statue which stands in the Place du 
Carrousel, a gift from the children of America, 
judged at least from the full-sized model tern- 



92 AMERICAN MASTERS 

porarily erected for the ceremony of presenta- 
tion in 1900, one receives mainly an impression 
of elegance. An elegance certainly monumental ; 
raised to the dignity of a motive and incorporated 
into a fine structure of form, yet a little bit pre- 
tentious. It is as if the sculptor had no higher 
purpose than to prove his capability as a stylist. 
He has certainly succeeded; but the statue is 
more than a trifle modish. 

Bartlett had no need, however, to protest his pos- 
session of stylistic qualities. The "Michelangelo" 
sufficiently proclaimed it, rivalling the skill of tech- 
nique displayed in Macmonnies's "Shakespeare " 
in the same rotunda, and displaying even greater 
accent of mastery, since it is the expression of a 
more forceful and imaginative characterisation. 
It is worth while to notice how keenly the sculptor 
has anticipated the material in which the statue 
was to be finished. For, while marble permits a 
great variety of surface effects and delicate con- 
trasts of light and shade, the essential suggestion 
of bronze is its hardness, and consequently its 
special capacity is to express structure and action, 
bone and muscle. In this ' ' Michelangelo ' ' one will 
find no superfluities of detail, little insistence 
upon qualities of surface. A few salient lines of 
planes, with incisive depth of shade here and 
there, suffice for the drawing of the figure. The 




MICHELANGELO 
By Paul Weyland Bartlett 

Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 



PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT 93 

main concern is structural, even the leather 
apron playing no inconsiderable part in the strong, 
stalwart frugality of the whole treatment. 

This instinct for the special qualities of bronze 
has led Bartlett to make experiments in what is 
a thoroughly characteristic method of securing 
surface effect, the colouring of the metal with 
patina of various kinds. On several occasions 
he has exhibited little objects, such as frogs and 
turtles, in which he seemed to have recovered 
some of the secrets of Japanese art, so rich and 
varied were the tones of red and brown and green, 
so exquisite the silky smoothness of the not 
too highly polished surface. Compared with 
the crude effects of commercial pickling the 
colour and texture of these objects was a 
revelation. 

As to the conception of character in the "Michel- 
angelo," opinions seem to differ, some finding 
it deficient in suggestion; as if any statue were 
likely to convey to our imagination the full 
suggestion of the master's genius. Such can only 
be found in his own works. For myself, I find 
abundance of suggestion in the rugged grandeur 
of the head (which in the accompanying illus- 
tration has been unfortunately reduced in size) ; 
a ruggedness, scarred by time and spiritual 
conflict with the fever heat of supreme, unsatis- 



94 AMERICAN MASTERS 

fied passion; a rugged, mountain-like head, 
with deepset eyes, two craters communicating 
with the inner volcanic fire. I am happy in the 
possession of a cast of this head, have lived with 
it several years, turned to it constantly with a 
sense of being strengthened and purified thereby. 
I find, too, in the figure a fair amount of 
correspondence to the character of the head. 
Structurally it is strong and the attitude is that 
of a man completely absorbed in the thoughts 
that occupy his brain. Indeed, one of the most 
notable things in the composition is the entire 
absence of any suggestion of preconceived pose; 
the figure stands in complete, unconscious isola- 
tion. When the illusion from the front is so 
satisfactory it is with repugnance that one pries 
behind the scenes; but this statue in its position 
has to be viewed also from the rear and, so 
viewed, is less dignified. The coat, fitting trimly 
to the waist and finishing in a stiff skirt, again 
with a hint of modishness, belies the stern 
simplicity of the front view. Some smaller motive 
has here intervened, of historical accuracy to a 
little period of costume, quite out of place in 
one who belongs to all subsequent ages; unrea- 
sonable, too, for we fancy that the old hewer of 
marble would never have encumbered himself 
with such sartorial gear, when, as here represented, 



PAUL WEYLAND BARTLETT 95 

he stood with chisel in hand meditating some 
great conception. 

But there is no satisfaction in dwelling on this 
point. The happier thought is that a sculptor, 
still young, could have given us a work so dis- 
tinguished in technique, of so sincere and strong 
appeal. 



HERBERT ADAMS 



VII 

HERBERT ADAMS 

/ TpHE delicately refined sentiment of Herbert 
■*■ Adams, product of a naturally sweet and 
modest temperament, has discovered its fittest 
expression in flowers and in the flower-like forms 
of women and children, influenced in its manner 
by decorative feeling. For he seems to have 
the instinct that leads men to be naturalists; 
of the kind whose gentle mind draws them into 
intimacy with nature's nurslings and frequently 
as well toward very tender sympathy with what 
is most fresh and fragrant in humanity. Such 
a one studies and loves form, but less for its 
organic and structural import than for its visible 
expression of the spirit with which his imagination 
invests it; a very sensitive kind of imagination, 
that must play freely or suffer some impairment 
of its delicate elasticity. 

From his earliest years Adams had desired to 
be a sculptor. He came of an old family of good 
New England stock and was born at West 
Concord, Vermont, in 1858, but passed his boy- 

99 



ioo AMERICAN MASTERS 

hood in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A general 
education at the local grammar and high school 
was supplemented by special studies at the 
Worcester Institute of Technology and the 
Massachusetts Normal Art School. Then followed 
a period of five years in Paris, where he studied 
under Merci6, the pupil of Falguiere. Among 
the many sculptors with whom he came in 
contact, he felt most strongly the influence of 
these two, both natives of Toulouse, in whose art 
the poetry of the south mingles with academic 
elegance and technical perfection. During these 
years, too, he studied in the galleries and fre- 
quented the Louvre, not only for the sculpture, 
but also for the paintings. 

That the latter should have attracted him 
may seem at first sight hardly worth mentioning ; 
since, indeed, no student of art, whatever his 
metier would be likely to escape the fascination 
of the paintings. But Adams seems to have 
been very conscious of it then, and to look 
back upon it now as one of the distinct influences 
of his student days. And that painting had an 
influence, and a very marked one, upon his 
technique and motives as a sculptor, one can 
scarcely doubt. His early work shows more feeling 
for the harmonic rendering of light and shade 
and for the decorative treatment of the surface 



HERBERT ADAMS 101 

than for the structure and character of the form. 
It reveals also, especially in his busts, that 
specialisation of sentiment, limited in range, 
very quietly intense in kind, tinctured frequently 
with enigmatic suggestion, which is so often 
found in Italian sculpture and painting of the 
fifteenth century. That he had felt that influence 
has occurred to many observers of Adams's work ; 
yet it was not until five years ago that he visited 
Italy. Accordingly, it must have been to his 
studies at the Louvre that he owed his acquaint- 
ance with Italian art; and the paintings as well 
as the sculpture, perhaps as much as it, must 
have shaped his impressions. And the work 
of the marble sculptors of the fifteenth century, 
of men like Mino da Fiesole and Maiano, is 
strongly pictorial in character, frequently with 
more of the painter quality than the sculptor, 
with great regard for highly finished surfaces 
and delicate richness of light and shade. They 
represented the higher tendencies of the thought 
of their time: subtle and refined and elegantly 
Platonic. To some corresponding partiality is 
apparently due the inclination of Adams's mind 
toward this particular expression of sculpture. 
For, while sculpture responds to the most 
vigorous conceptions of the artist, it lends itself 
also to the most sensitive idealisation; more so 



102 AMERICAN MASTERS 

in a measure than painting, since the absence 
of the realism of colour makes a greater demand 
upon the imagination and keeps the representation 
more nearly within the region of the abstract. 

In order to increase the sensitiveness of the 
idealisation by merging it in the vague, the refuge 
of the modern world from the too exacting claims 
of the actual, Rodin often leaves part of his 
statues in the rough. So did Michelangelo. 
But the Italian mind of the fifteenth century, 
wedded to perfection and finish as an essential 
of its creed, carried to further sensitiveness the 
tactile suggestion of the marble by briaging its 
surface to a smoothness of polish akin to that of 
jade or ivory, materials which are of peculiarly 
caressing appeal to the sense of touch. The 
effect was also heightened by the use of colour. 

The practice of colouring sculpture dates back 
to the earliest times which archeological research 
has been able to embrace. Continuing without 
interruption to the present times in Oriental 
countries, it was, however, abandoned in the 
West. Yet the Greeks and Romans, the Gothic 
artists, and those of the Italian Renaissance up 
to the sixteenth century resorted to it freely. 
Then the practise, for some reason, fell into 
disuse, and by degrees the strong prejudice 
against it resulted in forgetfulness that it had 



HERBERT ADAMS 103 

ever existed among the greatest artists of 
antiquity, and it was accepted as a matter of 
course that one of the chief beauties of a marble 
statue was its whiteness, and that the colouring 
of a statue was a habit only of barbarians. But 
in comparatively recent times we have learned 
to appreciate the use of colour by the Indians, 
Chinese and Japanese upon their statues and to 
understand its motive, and have discovered, as 
I have said, that the practice was at one time 
universal. Yet even now the prejudice against 
it continues. Some artists object to it because 
the colour tends to make less obvious to the eye 
their skilful nicety of technique, while among 
laymen there exists a very general misunder- 
standing of the motive in using colour. 

They suppose that colour is added to a statue 
to increase its resemblance to nature; as, indeed, 
would seem to be the motive in the cheap images 
commercially produced for churches. But the 
motive of the best artists has never been a realistic 
one. They have added colour, either for 
decorative purposes or to enforce the idea of the 
statue, the meaning that was uppermost in the 
artist's mind as he fashioned it. Thus the 
statue of the god and the cella in which it stood 
were brought into a unity of effect by colouring 
both, so that the divine presence permeated 



104 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the shrine. Or it might be that the latter was 
dimly lighted and the greater part of the statue 
was plunged in mysterious obscurity, when the 
artist would gild the lips and eyes that the benign 
smile and the composure of the glance might 
shine with soft conspicuousness amid the gloom. 
In both these examples artistic fitness would 
regulate the use of colour both to unify the 
effect and to enforce the idea. So, too, in the 
case of a bust, the artist may feel that there is 
an expression in the eyes of the woman whose 
portrait he is modelling or latent in the curve of 
the lips, which summarises the impression of 
her character as he feels it. In his desire to 
emphasise the idea which he has in his mind, he 
will resort to colour in the eyes or lips; he may 
then feel the need of balancing notes of colour 
elsewhere, as in the shadows of the hair or in the 
fillet which binds it or in some ornament of 
jewelry; and, having gone so far, may find it 
desirable to complete by further enrichments 
of colour the general decorative feeling that has 
been produced. Very probably he will be 
influenced in his use of colour by the larger 
decorative intention of making the bust more 
conformable to its place in a room, so that instead 
of standing out in cold distinctness it may merge 
into the warmth of surrounding colour. 




PORTRAIT BUST 
By Herbert Adams 



HERBERT ADAMS 105 

Evidently actuated by such intentions, Adams 
has frequently resorted to colour in portrait 
reliefs and busts, with so choice a feeling that 
they have a quality of very rare distinction. In 
one case, while the form is marble of a pinkish, 
creamy hue, the bodice of the dress and full-puffed 
sleeves are carved in wood of a pale-cedar colour 
and an embroidered band across the bosom is 
sprinkled with gems of lapis lazuli and green. 
This last feature is handled with exquisite finesse, 
while the character of the rest of the design is 
large and simple. Two of his busts are illustrated 
here, and in one case there is colour treatment 
and in the other the marble has been left in its 
purity. The former suffers by reproduction, 
since the photographic process has altered the 
relation between the coloured portions and the 
rest, giving a sharpness of contrast to the eyes 
and mouth; and it is at a further disadvantage, 
for the sake of comparison, because the other 
is an exceptionally fine example of Adams's 
work. A portrait of the artist's wife reveals 
an intimacy of sympathetic comprehension and 
a loving reverence of expression that make it a 
quite unusual work. It is pervaded also with 
an exquisite mystery of feeling, as of something 
beyond the artist's and the husband's knowledge 
hidden behind the veil of the woman's separate 



106 AMERICAN MASTERS 

existence, but a mystery the quality of which 
his knowledge comprehends. For there is 
mystery also in the face of the other bust, but 
more enigmatic; only a partial reading of the 
character and to the rest no clue. While the 
one portrait reveals a character matured and 
comprehensible, notwithstanding that its outlines 
merge into conjecture, the other leaves one 
guessing, as do many of the old Florentine 
women's portraits. 

The " Bust of the Artist's Wife" in its melodious 
rendering of light and shade illustrates very 
pointedly the predominance of the colour or 
painter feeling over the sculptural, of expression 
over structure. It is more or less felt in all 
Adams's busts, and is very noticeable in low reliefs, 
such as the "Hoyt Memorial'' and the "Pratt 
Memorial " tablets, where he followed his own 
promptings. But when he works in cooperation 
with an architect, the latter's influence disturbs 
the oneness of his motive and draws him to 
considerations of the architectonic use of form, 
which results in some impairment of the 
expression. 

In the " Hoyt Memorial " two angels, floating 
in the air, support a tablet with inscription. 
Emphasis is given to the heads and arms and, in 
a less degree, to the wings; but the rest of the 



HERBERT ADAMS 107 

form is indicated little more than is necessary to 
explain the arrangement of the streaming folds of 
light drapery. The result is a delicate pattern 
of light and shade, a decoration of sweetly refined 
imagination, corresponding with the gracious 
refinement of the expression in the faces. A 
similar appreciation fits the "Pratt Memorial 
Angel" which he modelled for the Baptist 
Emmanuel Church in Brooklyn, although the 
figure is in the round. In the " Pratt Memorial " 
tablet, executed some years later, Adams reveals 
how exquisitely he can use flower forms as motive 
for decoration. The design forms the border 
of a long, narrow panel. At the top is a winged 
head, symbolising the Angel of the Resurrection, 
and at the foot a head without wings, representing 
the Sleep of Death. The latter is enfolded with 
poppy-flowers and leaves, these forms being 
carried up the sides of the panel, until at the 
middle distance they become interspersed with 
lily-forms which finally assert themselves at the 
top. The modelling is in very low relief with the 
exception of the heads, to the lower of which a 
modest emphasis is given, while to the upper a 
much stronger one. Both these faces are very 
beautiful, the expression being chiefly centred 
in the eyes. The lids in the one case are half- 
raised, as in the act of awakening before con- 



io8 AMERICAN MASTERS 

sciousness has fully dawned; in the other lying 
as softly over the eyeballs as folded petals. The 
exquisite chastity and serenity of these ripe, 
rounded faces are echoed in the floral borders; 
so richly patterned, yet with such reserve and 
tender piquancy. And, in contrast with the 
usual tedious reiteration of time-wearied orna- 
mental motives, how refreshing the novelty and 
imagination in these borders ! The artist has 
gone to nature for his models, and, while 
reproducing the character of Renaissance orna- 
ments, has used the natural forms with so delicate 
an exuberance of fancy that no motive is repeated, 
the whole being quick with fragrant and fresh 
appeal. Indeed, so far as my knowledge goes, 
no plastic decoration has been produced in this 
country which can approach it in beauty ; perhaps 
not even in the actual beauty of the ornamental 
forms, certainly not in the sentiment of pure and 
holy calm which it exhales. 

Nor even in other decorations by Adams shall 
we find, I think, such perfect harmony between 
the form and feeling, for in his other examples 
he was working with divided mind. While the 
floral borders upon the pair of bronze doors 
which he executed for the Library of Congress 
are intrinsically as beautiful as these, displaying 
the same freshness of invention and loving insight 



HERBERT ADAMS 109 

into the decorative suggestion of flowers, they 
have not the same perfectly balanced relation 
to the character and feeling of the whole design. 
The artist was dragged from his own poise by 
two outside influences. The doors had been 
commenced by Olin Warner, and before his death 
the figures in the panels had been planned and 
partly executed. Adams was called upon to 
complete the work and strove loyally to preserve 
as much as possible of the dead artist's intention. 
Consequently, the figures are neither his nor 
Warner's. Moreover, the planning of the doors 
had been originally the architect's, and he, too, 
made his influence felt in the direction of a 
predilection for the profuse exuberance of Roman 
ornament. With this Adams has absolutely no 
sympathy, his own tendency being toward an 
ardent nature-study purified by the influence 
of the antique which prevailed among Floren- 
tines of the fifteenth century. Therefore, again 
he was twisted from what he would have done 
instinctively. Compared with his independent 
work in the " Pratt Memorial " tablet, these 
doors are overloaded and lacking in singleness 
and unity of motive. Yet with what devotion 
Adams worked ! The process of casting in the 
bronze could only reproduce the front surface 
of his decoration; the undercutting of the leaves 



no AMERICAN MASTERS 

and tendrils had to be executed afterward with 
a graving tool, and for weeks he superintended 
the work. Viewed in detail, the borders in these 
doors are unusually alive with beauty, but, as I 
have said, the ensemble is lacking in the crowning 
beauty of harmony of form and feeling. 

He has recently completed a tympanum in 
marble and two bronze doors for the Vanderbilt 
Memorial Entrance, which has been added to 
St. Bartholomew's Church in New York. Here, 
again, he cooperated with the architect. Such 
cooperation necessarily imposes certain conditions 
upon the sculptor's imagination; I had almost 
written limitations or restrictions, except that 
the necessity of having to conform to an archi- 
tectonic plan need be no bar to the freedom of 
imagination, but merely directs it into a certain 
channel. It permits, indeed, a liberty within 
the law; but this is not the sort of cooperation 
that has existed between the sculptor and 
architect on the present occasion. The latter 
has not only established the architectural plan 
of the design — a geometrical arrangement of 
bands and spaces which presents a very agreeable 
ensemble and nice apportionment of graduated 
emphasis — but has also imposed upon the sculptor 
the character of his decoration. The church is 
a modern rendering of the Romanesque style; 




BUST OF THE ARTIST'S WIFE 
By Herbert Adams 



HERBERT ADAMS m 

therefore, the architect has sought the models 
for the decoration in medieval sculpture of the 
eleventh or early twelfth century. It is a 
characteristic example of the way in which the 
American architectural mind frequently works. 
Such a course is so obvious and reasonable, yet 
what a meagerness of imagination it displays ! 
It has mastered the "styles" and lives up to its 
tables of laws and formulas as rigidly, as literally 
and with as little regard for their spirit as the 
Jews of old clung to their Decalogue. It dare 
not, or cannot, rekindle the spirit of the past with 
an infusion of the present, as has been done in 
all living periods of architecture, but to com- 
memorate a New Yorker of the nineteenth 
century, reproduces the ungainly types of figures, 
fashioned at a time when architecture was better 
understood than sculpture. So in the principal 
panels of the doors the architect has arranged 
four apostles — rude, formalistic figures, too short 
in the leg — and filled the subordinate ovals with 
dry little rigid groups; succeeding in his desire 
to remind us of the past and failing utterly to 
affect us in the present. For what possible appeal, 
religious, emotional or esthetic, can these groups 
make to the modern imagination? Yet, from 
the point of view of the subject we are discussing, 
the saddest thing is that a sculptor of "delicately 



ii2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

imagined sensations" should be so distorted from 
the true bent of his genius and compelled to exert 
ingenuity in lieu of imagination. It is an 
incredible waste, for only in the borders can we 
discover Adams's real self; yet, if he had been 
permitted to work in a reasonable liberty of 
imagination, he might have made the groups 
conformable to the style of the building and 
possessed also of some vital elements of beauty 
and of beautiful appeal. 

One effect, however, of this unequal co- 
operation with the architect which may bring 
some compensating benefit to Adams's art has 
been that his mind has been directed more than 
previously to the architectonics of decoration 
and to the sculptural value of form. For, while 
the figures in these doors have no individual 
interest, the sum total of the whole decoration 
has a very marked structural dignity, which 
arouses one's respect, if it does not warm one to 
enthusiasm. And this enforcement of the 
structural quality reappears even more con- 
spicuously in the tympanum, both in the in- 
creased sense of force which the figures convey, 
and in the organic relation of the forms to the 
shape of the space and to its architectural 
function. 

For, as I have said before, Adams's work does 



HERBERT ADAMS 113 

not usually impress one by its qualities of form, 
but rather by its sentiment and expression. 
Even in the portrait-statue of Joseph Henry 
in the Library of Congress and the "Channing, " 
recently unveiled at Boston, one does not feel 
the form and character of the bodies. Both 
figures are represented in gowns and count 
mainly as decorative masses. In the statue of 
Richard Smith, however, which is one of his 
latest, he has shown the professor in his laboratory, 
clad in shirt and trousers, with no accessory 
except an apron caught up on one side; and in 
the treatment of the head and body and more 
especially in the carriage of the hands, as one 
holds a specimen and the other a magnifying 
glass, has obtained a considerable measure of 
structural character. 

Nor do I forget the tympanum, executed in 
1896, for the Senate Reading-Room in the Library 
of Congress, a design of two mermaids supporting 
a cartouche. The nude forms display a thorough 
knowledge of the figure and a truly sculptural 
appreciation of the charm of muscular movement 
rippling over firmly constructed bodies. It seems 
to prove, if it were necessary, that the preference 
which Adams has shown for the pictorial 
possibilities of sculpture is due only to his 
particular temperament; to a reticence of feeling 



ii 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

that shrinks from too exact an expression of the 
idea, around which in his own imagination also 
he preserves a certain zone of vagueness. 

So, in the tympanum for Saint Bartholomew's 
Church, illustrated on an accompanying page, 
he is divided between the motives of expressing 
a sentiment of tender adoration and of giving the 
figures at the same time an architectonic force. 
In the latter direction we may feel that he has 
been the more successful; for in the attention 
paid to form he seems to have become preoccupied 
in the model. The same face appears in each of 
the three figures and with a self -consciousness 
in the eyes that contradicts the devotional 
expression of the mouth ; a self -consciousness that 
I find myself connecting with the little niceties 
of arrangement with which the hair is prinked. 
I conclude by wondering if this tympanum will 
prove a turning-point in the artist's career I 

For when one studies the beauty of form, so 
strongly realised beneath the draperies, its fine 
expression and functional propriety, it is to feel 
that this work, despite a certain lack of Adams's 
usual spirituality of sentiment, is the most 
important in a sculptural sense that he has yet 
done. For, regarded from the point of view of an 
architectural decoration it is unusually distin- 
guished with admirable appropriateness of lines 



HERBERT ADAMS 115 

and masses to the space, a truly architectural 
feeling, and a distribution of light and shade, 
characterised alike by richness and by delicacy. 
It has the choiceness of style of his best portraits, 
reenforced by virility. And, if this latter quality, 
called into play by his cooperation with the 
architect, is maintained in future work, the 
result can scarcely fail to be a betterment of his 
art. For he will find a way of bringing it into 
complete harmony with the expression of his 
sentiment, since there is no necessary incompati- 
bility between virility of style and delicacy of 
feeling. Indeed, the offspring of their union is a 
very special poignancy. 



CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS 



VIII 

CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS 

f^HARLES HENRY NIEHAUS is a con- 
^^ spicuous exception to the general rule 
that our sculptors are Paris-trained. After 
working as a youth at wood -engraving, stone- 
cutting and carving in marble, he became a 
student in the McMicken School of Design, in his 
native city, Cincinnati, Ohio, and thence pro- 
ceeded to Munich. His German training was 
supplemented by extensive travel and later by 
a prolonged visit to Rome, during which he 
devoted himself to the study of the nude under 
the influence of the antique. 

But before the latter interlude in a life other- 
wise filled with the execution of commissions, he 
returned to America. For him the time was 
auspicious. President Garfield had recently been 
assassinated, and the State of Ohio had appro- 
priated funds for a statue to be placed in the 
Capitol at Washington, and by public subscrip- 
tion another was to be erected in Race Street, 
Cincinnati. Both these commissions were awarded 
119 



120 AMERICAN MASTERS 

to the young Ohio sculptor. Each statue com- 
memorates Garfield's gift of oratory, but the 
one at Cincinnati in a more informal way, so that 
it probably represents very fairly Niehaus's 
particular tendency at this time. 

There is a dramatic touch in the pose of the 
figure; the weight firmly on the left foot, the 
other energetically advanced ; both arms extended ; 
one holding a sheaf of paper, the other raised 
slightly in a gesture of maintaining the attention 
of the audience; the handsome head well carried 
above the broad, arched chest. But this dramatic 
suggestion does not pass beyond the limit of 
tolerably natural characterisation; the balance 
between energy and controlling force, manifested 
in the studied carriage ot a speaker accustomed 
to move his hearers; and the naturalism is com- 
pleted by the absence of all affectations of arrange- 
ment in the costume. It comprises simply a 
frock coat and trousers and an overcoat unbut- 
toned and drawn clear of the chest. The figure, 
indeed, is represented in the guise and attitude 
in which it might be familiar to the greatest 
number of people. So, too, is that of William 
Allen, for which Niehaus shortly afterward 
received the commission from the State of Ohio; 
yet with even greater simplicity and naturalness, 
with an absence of the heroic or dramatic which 



CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS iai 

had been fitting enough in the "Garfield," con- 
sidering the circumstances. The "Allen" is an 
intimate portrait of an incisive speaker and 
clear, close reasoner, in an attitude entirely 
unstudied, full of natural resolution. 

From these two statues one may get a very 
fair impression of the sculptor's natural bent as 
influenced by Munich training. Its prime feature 
is a vigorous realism that makes straight for 
character in the subject, rinding it as much in pose 
and gesture as in the head, and giving expression 
to it in the simplest and directest fashion ; if with 
some dramatic play as we have seen, yet without 
any floridness. What we do not yet observe is 
a feeling for the subtler expression of movement 
in the figure, and, in consequence, of subtler 
feeling in the disposition and texture of the 
draperies; qualities which entered into his work 
after his protracted study in Italy. 

For, having completed these commissions, 
Niehaus set out for Rome and established himself 
in a studio just outside the Porta del Popolo, in 
close proximity to the Villa Borghese, devoting 
himself, as I have said, to the study of the nude. 
The only three statues which survive from this 
period — an athlete scraping himself with a strigil, 
another binding on the cestus, and a "Silenus," 
pirouetting on one foot as he blows his pipes — 



i22 AMERICAN MASTERS 

are quite remarkable examples of the modern 
interpretation of the antique. Movement con- 
tinuous through every part of the body and 
absolutely adjusted to the action; a poise of 
balance in the disposition of the torso and limbs, 
which combines the pleasure of repose with that 
of movement; anatomical accuracy that includes 
the structure of the figure and the varieties of 
tension according as the muscles are separately 
employed ; and throughout a salience of modelling 
which imparts a dignity as well as naturalness to 
the whole — these are the qualities so admirably 
attained. The knowledge of form and the feeling 
for it thus perfected has naturally influenced all 
the sculptor's subsequent work. He exhibits 
them obviously in the colossal nude, "The 
Driller," executed for the Drake monument at 
Titusville, Pennsylvania ; but no less in numerous 
portrait-statues. 

An American sculptor has unfortunately few 
opportunities for displaying his ability in the 
treatment of the nude, the commissions which 
perforce engage his time being almost exclusively 
problems of figures in modern civilian garb or in 
the uniform of the army or navy. He may 
occasionally introduce it into a piece of decorative 
sculpture, or fashion some ideal subject for the 
pure love of doing it, since his chances of disposing 




THE DRILLER 
By Charles Henry Niehaus 

From the Drake Monument, Titusville, Pennsylvania 



<mmmm& 




THE HAHNEMANN STATUE 
By Charles Henry Niehaus 

From the Hahnemann Memorial, Washington, D. C. 



CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS 123 

of it are very limited. For while the old Puritan 
objection to the nude may have almost died out in 
America, it has scarcely been succeeded by a true 
appreciation of the abstract expression and beauty 
of the human form when treated by an artist. 
An old-fashioned bluntness of vision fails to see 
more in a nude than nakedness; may enjoy very 
thoroughly the structural and muscular develop- 
ment, play of movement and texture of skin in a 
horse, or the analogies of these qualities in a tree 
or plant, and yet miss entirely their subtler 
manifestations when exhibited in the freely 
exposed human form. Prejudice or lack of 
imagination obscures the fact that it is the 
expression of these qualities in their highest 
possible degree, that is the end and purpose of 
the artist; an obscurity, however, which, it must 
be admitted, not a few nude paintings and 
sculptures tend to perpetuate. 

So Niehaus had to wait very many years before 
he could utilise frankly the results of his studies at 
Rome. The opportunity came with the erection 
of a monument to the memory of Colonel Edwin 
L. Drake, who sunk the first oil well in Pennsyl- 
vania in 1859. The donor, who preserved his 
incognito, but who is supposed to have been one 
of the officials of the Standard Oil Company, 
demanded an architectural structure with planes 



124 AMERICAN MASTERS 

on which the story of Drake's life and achievements 
might be inscribed, and instead of a representation 
of himself a figure typical of his work. Thus 
arose occasion for "The Driller." 

It would be well if public monuments were more 
frequently of this typical character. Our cities 
and parks are peopled in bronze, not as much as 
possible to their embellishment. By all means 
hand down the effigies of great and worthy men ; 
but why not with more regard for the really 
salient thing, the head, introduced as bust or 
bas-relief, and with less for the frock coat and 
trousers, the cut of which can be taken on trust 
or, better still, forgotten ? Instead of demanding 
such prosaic record, how much better it would be 
to call upon the sculptor to create out of his imagi- 
nation some subject that may represent or sym- 
bolise the greatness of the hero and appeal to the 
imagination of succeeding generations, meanwhile 
gladdening all who pass and repass it daily with 
its essential beauties. Have you not seen a 
trousered, frock-coated statue against the pedestal 
of which are a row of seats and sitters with their 
back to the man that is to be remembered? 
Substitute, however, for example, a fountain to 
his memory; and in parched summer weather, at 
least, all eyes would be turned toward its refresh- 
ment, and possibly some hearts reminded of the 



CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS 125 

man in whose honour it was placed; who, if he 
were fit to be remembered, must have brought 
in his lifetime some refreshment and stimulus of 
suggestion to his fellowmen. So with our bat- 
talions of generals, mounted and unmounted, 
scattered over the country. Great men they 
were, but there was greatness also in the volun- 
teers of the rank and file; and I for one shall 
continue to find more incentive to enthusiasm in 
the recognition of this in the Shaw Memorial 
than in dozens of solitary individuals. Once 
more, it is imagination in which we are wont to 
be lacking; and the best that is in our artists is 
seldom called forth because of our insistence 
upon the obvious and trite. 

"The Driller," therefore, was an unusual 
opportunity for Niehaus, of which he has made 
characteristic use. That is to say, the realism of 
the figure as it kneels with hammer uplifted to 
drive the drill into the ground, is admirably true, 
while the figure has a classic dignity of composi- 
tion; and its expression of control, as well as of 
the putting forth of force, brings it within the 
domain of ideal beauty. In some groups which 
were among the ephemeral sculpture of the Pan- 
American Exposition he also freely introduced 
the nude, in a number of figures symbolising 
various kinds of industry. Individually they 



126 AMERICAN MASTERS 

were excellent, but the combined effect was 
unfortunate. The composition as a whole lacked 
cohesion and dignity, representing little more 
than an aggregation of figures, separately em- 
ployed; so that one missed the idealising touch 
and found their realism of the crudely, story- 
telling kind. 

And this last characteristic — I do not know 
whether it is a symptom of German genre feeling 
derived from Munich — reappears elsewhere in his 
work. While his statues are strongly sculptural, 
his bas-reliefs betray not only a very pictorial 
feeling, but that particular genre phase of it 
which is mainly occupied with enforcement of 
the facts. Not, however, in his earliest work of 
the kind, the historical doors of Trinity Church, 
New York, in which the representation of inci- 
dents was demanded. These he represented 
very realistically, but with a regard for the 
decorative charm of full and empty spaces and 
of receding planes of distance. Compared with 
the pictorial nuance displayed in these six panels, 
the treatment of the four which embellish the 
Hahnemann monument is very deficient in 
artistic imagination. They represent the founder 
of homeopathy in a series of scenes which are 
baldly illustrative and seem to have little interest 
of subject and still less of decorative value. 



CHARLES HENRY NIEHAUS 127 

Yet they are affixed to a monument setting off 
a portrait-statue which is Niehaus's finest work, 
and equalled by few others in the country. The 
expression of benign dignity in the head flows 
through the whole length of the figure, which is 
disposed in lines that are as suave as they are 
noble. From every point of view it has the 
grandeur of monumental repose, softened, one 
might almost say humanised, by this exquisite 
winding movement. Among modern portrait- 
statues I can remember few that make so sweet 
and serious an impression. In the composition 
of this figure one can trace unmistakably the 
effect of the sculptor's close study of the antique, 
not only in the suppleness of movement and 
statuesqueness of pose, but also in the abstract 
appeal to one's esthetic enjoyment that the 
composition of the figure yields. Moreover, this 
freedom, force and sensitiveness extend to the 
handling of the drapery, in which every fold has 
a grace of naturalness and also a value of expres- 
sion. These qualities are again happily united 
in the sitting statue of Lincoln at Muskegon, 
Michigan. While it is neither so forceful nor 
so persuasive as the " Hahnemann," it yet has a 
liberal measure of graciousness and dignity and a 
finery monumental feeling. 

In these statues and in some others, as in 



128 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the Gibbon in the Library of Congress and, 
though perhaps by more apparently contrived 
means, in the standing statue of Stephen Girard, 
Niehaus obtains from the composition of the single 
figure a degree of decorative effect which seems 
to fail him in treating groups. Thus the pediment 
of the Appellate Court, New York, while good in 
detail, is without much unity or harmonious 
feeling. It is, indeed, in the portrayal of charac- 
ter — as in his fine, straightforward rendering of 
Farragut, or in those striking busts of Rabbi 
Gottheil and of Ward, the sculptor, and in the 
statues already noticed, wherein the pose and 
drapery, besides contributing to the character, 
yield an additional suggestion of monumental 
dignity — that he is at his best. 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 



IX 

OLIN LEVI WARNER 

TN these days when we are trying to raise 
"artists," as we do chickens, by a process 
akin to incubation, we regard it as an anomaly 
if one emerges to eminence from surroundings 
which, according to our system, do not seem 
congenial. And people have expressed surprise 
that Warner, the child of a New England Method- 
ist minister, brought up in a community which 
had no artistic inclinations, should have made 
up his mind to become a sculptor before he had 
ever seen a statue. But the history of art is full 
of such surprises; and the thoughts of youth 
are ever like the wind, "which bloweth where it 
listeth; thou canst not tell whence it cometh or 
whither it goeth." The greater and more beau- 
tiful surprise is that the boy had foundation of 
character on which to nourish the flowers of his 
imagination, and that when in after years they 
were matured, it was found that he had kept them 
so choicely select, that their fragrance was not 
unlike that of the flowers which in old time 

x 3* 



i 3 2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

bloomed on the hills of Hellas. Something of 
the old Greek spirit had been revived in this son 
of Connecticut: intellectual stability, moral bal- 
ance and spiritual serenity. Presently we shall 
consider how these qualities became translated 
into terms of art in his work — into a feeling for 
form, monumental rather than picturesque, a 
rhythmical and harmonious reserve, a peculiar 
sensitiveness to the significance of the essential 
facts in the design — but at the moment let us 
note how they affected his early conduct. 

By the time that he left school at the age of 
nineteen, the desire of bemg a sculptor had so 
grown upon him as to press for a decision. Accord- 
ingly he arranged for himself a test. He would 
attempt a bust of his father, and thus determine 
once and for all the "to be or not to be" of his 
ambition. So, in ignorance of the easier way by 
which sculptors proceed, he bought some plaster 
of Paris, converted it into a block, and set to 
work with a knife. His only notion of art was 
to produce a good likeness, and in this he suc- 
ceeded. The bust was exhibited and commended 
at the State Fair, and Warner felt that his 
cherished wish was justified. But the delibera- 
tion which had characterised the choice of a 
profession was followed by an equal seriousness 
in determining the means of attaining it. He 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 133 

could not have known that sculpture in America 
at that time was in a poor way; he had, in fact, 
no acquaintance even with the mediocre kinds of 
statue; but the old-fashioned, New England 
conscience within him viewed the matter very 
earnestly. Already he felt a reverence for the 
work to which he was to devote his life, and that 
the best of preparations must be made. He 
would seek it in Paris. But he had no funds nor 
could his father spare them, so he quietly laid 
aside his longings and proceeded to earn the 
necessary money. Mastering the trade of tele- 
graph operator, he pursued it for six years, not, 
as may be supposed, without some ultimate 
benefit to the facility and delicacy of his manipu^ 
lation. At length, with his savings of $1,500 he 
started for Paris. This was in 1869, when he 
was twenty-five years of age. 

Arriving in the great city without introduction, 
friends or knowledge of the language, he made his 
way to the Louvre. Here were students busy 
copying; fellows such as he meant to be, and he 
was drawn toward them, wandering from easel 
to easel, until upon the woodwork of one he 
espied a name, "Arthur Wilson." He ventured 
to address the owner and tell him of his quest, 
and was directed to a studio occupied by two 
young sculptors, an American and an English- 



i 3 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

man. With them he studied for nine months, 
until, through the influence of United States 
Minister Washburne, he was admitted to the 
Ecole des Beaux Arts. Here he worked in the 
studio of Francois Jouffroy, where he had the 
benefit of associating with such artists as Fal- 
guiere, an older pupil of the master, and with 
Falguiere's pupil, Mercie, a man of his own age. 
Both of these artists had broken away from the 
master's severely academic style and were 
tempering their own with the life and movement 
of the new naturalistic tendencies. Warner 
also in modelling from nature incurred the old 
master's strictures, because his sturdy individual- 
ism refused to lend itself to conventional methods ; 
but, on the other hand, his studies from the 
antique were commended. In time, however, his 
funds were exhausted, and, having to find em- 
ployment, he entered as an ordinary workman 
the studio of Carpeaux, the strongest decorative 
sculptor in France since Rude, whose pupil he 
had been. Warner's ability was recognised by 
the master, and he received the great compliment 
of an invitation to remain and study in the studio. 
But he declined, being eager by this time to return 
home. 

The years of studentship had been diversi- 
fied by the thrilling events of the Siege of Paris 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 135 

and the Commune. Warner in his own country- 
had experienced the war-fever, and, eager to 
join the Army of the Republic as a drummer- 
boy, had been dissuaded by his father, who 
during the stormy days of the Civil War carried 
him off to a quiet spot among the Vermont 
hills, that he might continue his studies. So, 
when the empire fell and a republic was estab- 
lished, he regarded the action of the Germans 
in continuing the war as an attack upon liberty, 
and enlisted with many of his comrades in the 
Foreign Legion. But his duties were confined 
to mounting guard upon the fortifications. 

When, in 1872, Warner returned to New York 
it was to suffer the hard experience of disillusion- 
ment. In Paris he had found art occupying a 
prominent position in the public and private life 
of the community, artists honoured and encour- 
aged by the State and his own ability acknowl- 
edged by some of the masters of his craft. He 
returned to his native country to find a pre- 
vailing ignorance concerning art; to find the 
trained artist competing for jobs with the com- 
mercial stonecutter and metal-worker, the compe- 
titions decided more by political favoritism and 
wire-pulling than by artistic merit; to find, 
indeed, that he was transplanting the delicate 
growth of his ideals from a congenial soil to what 



136 AMERICAN MASTERS 

was, artistically speaking, very much of an arid 
and howling wilderness. These words are scarcely 
too strong to express the conditions of the field 
of art in this country more than a quarter of a 
century ago, before the Centennial Exhibition had 
sounded the tocsin of an improved taste ; before 
the students of art had begun to return in num- 
bers from the foreign schools, and schools of art 
in this country had been put upon a better basis ; 
before the importation of all sorts of works of 
art from Europe and the East, and the travel 
of our own people abroad had become so exten- 
sive; before the spread of interest and knowl- 
edge which all these causes operated to produce. 
Even now the slime of politics is very apt to 
foul the fair working of competitions, and it is 
often difficult for a sculptor, unless he is at the 
very top of his profession, to secure a public 
commission without some degree of wire-pulling. 
But in 1872, when the factories kept on hand 
a stock of military statues, complete in every 
particular except the number of the regiment — 
which was riveted on to suit the requirements 
of the intending purchasing committee — the out- 
look for an unknown artist with high ideals, clean 
of purpose, who reverenced his profession as his 
life, was dark indeed. Warner held hunger 
and despair at arm's length for four years, and 




BUST OF DANIEL COTTIER 
By Olin Levi Warner 




CUPID AND PSYCHE 
By Olin Levi Warner 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 137 

then decided that he had better return to his 
trade of telegraph operator. 

So he wrote to Mr. Plant, the president of the 
Southern Express Company, with whom he had 
previously been employed, asking for a position. 
This gentleman, however, learning the circum- 
stances of the case, met them with a commission 
for a portrait-bust of himself, followed by one of 
Mrs. Plant. About this time, too, Warner made 
the acquaintance of Mr. Daniel Cottier, who had 
recently opened a gallery for the display of the 
objects of art which he was importing, and now 
invited the sculptor to make an exhibition of his 
works. This proved to be the turning-point of 
his affairs; commissions began to come in with 
increasing frequency, until he was fully engaged 
upon a number of important works. He was 
elected a full member of the National Academy, 
and was one of the original group of painters 
and sculptors who founded the Society of 
American Artists. 

In the too short period left to him before his sud- 
den death in 1896, which resulted from a bicycle 
accident in Central Park, New York, he produced 
a variety of works of high merit. They comprise 
portrait-busts, among the best of which are those 
of Daniel Cottier, Alden Weir, W. C. Brownell 
and Miss Maud Morgan; three heroic statues, 



138 AMERICAN MASTERS 

representing, respectively: Governor Bucking- 
ham of Connecticut, William Lloyd Garrison 
and General Devens ; fountains for Union Square, 
New York, and for Portland, Oregon; many 
medallion portraits, including some of Indian 
Chiefs; ideal subjects, "Twilight," "The Dancing 
Nymph" and " Diana" ; an alto-relievo of " Cupid 
and Psyche" and one of the sets of bronze doors 
for the Library of Congress at Washington. 
In all these works, covering so wide a range of 
motive, there is present a union of monumental 
feeling with extreme sensitiveness, which gives 
them in a marked degree the sculpturesque 
character and invests them with a singular 
individuality. 

I shall never forget the impression made on 
me by a memorial exhibition, held in 1897, of a 
considerable number of his busts and medallions 
and of the "Psyche." It may sound a little 
incongruous, but they suggested the impression 
that a highly bred, finely trained race-horse makes 
upon the imagination; an intensity of force and 
suppleness, nothing superfluous, everything ex- 
pressive of its function, the whole an embodiment 
of keen vitality, of power and grace. There 
was a similarly high-bred feeling in these heads, 
the sign-manual of an unusually keen perception 
of facts and of a most refined sensibility in the 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 139 

rendering of them. I doubt if anywhere in 
modern art, except in that of Rodin, will you 
find busts of such vital power. They exhibit the 
same regard for the structural significance of 
the head ; something more than the suggestion of 
form and bulk — a rich, strong, jubilant recognition 
of these facts as the ones of peculiar interest to 
the sculptor, offering him the opportunity of 
indulging his especial delight. They exhibit 
also, as do Rodin's, the same delicately precise 
handling of details: like the obligato which a 
musician composes upon his basic theme, yet 
with a different range of motive. Warner's 
work does not reveal the psychological analysis 
of Rodin's; the penetrating, almost troublous 
intensity of his bust of Dalou, for example. He 
is scarcely less keen or subtle in his analysis than 
the French master, but studies the ripple of flesh 
above the muscles, the tremor or fold of an 
eyelid, the curves of nose or mouth, the disposi- 
tion of the hair, with a pure delight in their 
expressional force or grace. He views the head 
as a type rather than as an individuality, and 
seeks to extract from it the essence of its character. 
It is in this respect, among others, that he shows 
himself to be imbued with the kind of spirit that 
animated the Greeks. As compared with Rodin, 
whose vision grasps the complexities of modern 



i 4 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

emotion and the underlying sadness of an age 
that has come late in time and whose energy is 
enclosed in a frail web of nerves, Warner is a 
child-man, with a man's reserve and poise, and 
a child's unsophisticated eagerness of eye 
and its pure delight in beauty and the joy of 
living. 

And this strain of the Greek temperament in 
sculpture is a very different thing from the motive 
of the so-called "classic" school. The latter 
drew its primary inspiration from Roman 
sculpture, in a search for something supposedly 
heroic, that would fit the genius of the new 
republicanism which had arisen out of the chaos 
of the Revolution. It was at first grandiloquent, 
but, growing senile, fell to babbling of the abstract 
beauty of line and form, always without direct 
reference to nature and gradually with the 
increased formalism that grew from the perpetu- 
ation of certain arbitrary rules and precedents. 
Such "classic" statues, when they are the work 
of a master, have their beauty, but it is inert, 
without the thrill of life; when the work of a 
mere practitioner, they are unspeakably jejune 
and paltry. Both kinds are alike in their divorce 
from nature-study, from the inspiration which it 
gives to an intimate appreciation of line and 
form. They will not show the fluidity of line, 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 141 

the delicate surprises of curve, the infinite 
subtleties of modelling that invite caress, the 
texture and quality of flesh, nor the mingling of 
firm and supple in the form, the pliant movement 
adjusted to the action of the figure — in a word, 
the stir of life within the material. Warner 
gives us this sensation and with so choice an 
instinct for the exact point at which the naturalism 
should melt into plastic immobility, with a love 
so keen and unalloyed for the manifestations of 
nature and in a spirit so seriously jocund, that we 
recognise, as I have said, his affinity with the 
old Greek ideal. 

We may trace it also in his feeling for the 
monumental rather than for the picturesque; 
for those qualities in sculpture which belong to 
it preeminently, as opposed to those which it 
derives by analogy from painting. It appears 
in the alto-relievo, "Cupid and Psyche," most 
conspicuously, because the subject might have 
been treated differently. The modern sculptor, 
working from the background to the front plane 
by repeated superlayers of clay, can introduce 
a variety of subtly differentiated planes, and may 
become absorbed in this composition of light 
and shade, producing an effect which we can 
describe as full of colour and which is exceedingly 
beautiful. The artist of old time, however, 



i 4 2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

graving the marble, wood or metal, started with 
the form of the figures under his hand, absorbed 
himself in them and regarded the open spaces 
of his composition, when he reached them, simply 
as a background. Instead of a quasi-pictorial 
subtlety of light and shade he strove for a purely 
sculptural tangibility of modelled form. It is 
this insistence upon form which is so conspicuous 
in the "Psyche"; in the contrast between the 
child's podgy softness and the maiden's long, 
lithe, firm figure. 

This principle, applied to decoration, is most 
successfully represented in the artist's last 
completed work, the bronze doors of the Library 
of Congress. In the lunette-shaped spaces above 
the doors the figures are in very high relief, and 
the background is modelled with forms of moun- 
tains and clouds, producing an effect of great 
richness, while upon each valve of the door is a 
single figure in low relief; the flesh parts having 
an emphasis of roundness, the draperies being 
flattened, yet amply indicating the dignity of 
the form beneath. The left-hand figure with 
the lyre (how I wish that it were possible to 
reproduce it here !) is supremely beautiful in its 
poise between life and art, in its exquisite rhythm 
of lines and in the alternate ebb and flow of the 
planes of surface. 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 143 

But it was in his rendering of the nude that 
Warner exhibited the loveliest qualities of his 
art. He viewed it, as one views a flower, with 
single vision for its exquisite abstract beauty. 
Flower-like and fragrant, the "Psyche," the 
"Dancing Nymph" and "Diana," have the 
quivering sensibility of contour that one finds 
in the free growth of nature; united, however, to 
a firmness of texture and strength of structure 
and to a conscious play of movement, responding 
to the play of spirit, which in their perfect alliance 
are only to be found in the human form. The 
spirit which animates these figures is, of course, 
the sculptor's, and it reveals itself most choicely 
in the serenity of the "Diana," in the suspense 
between absolute repose and projected movement. 
For the figure seems about to rise; the carriage 
of the head and body alike suggest the activity 
inherent in the languor. One may believe that 
in the precision of beauty displayed in this statue, 
in the complete adjustment, that is to say, of 
every one of its qualities of beauty to the supreme 
idea of discovering that imaginary line upon 
which life merges into art, the mobile into the 
immobile, Warner reached most nearly his ideal. 
For in his busts and heroic statues, as in the 
fountains and decorative subjects, he was more 
or less constrained to a point of view. But in 



i 4 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

his nudes, and particularly in this one, the product 
of his maturity, he could work in the full liberty 
of his imagination. And the latter is found to 
be the ideal expression of those qualities of 
character which I have already attributed to 
him: intellectual stability, moral balance and 
spiritual serenity. 

The singularly choice discretion which governed 
Warner's appreciation of form is shown equally 
in his Portland fountain: a circular bowl with 
broad, flat brim, supported upon a rectangular 
pedestal and balanced by two caryatides. The 
design is almost severely simple, yet tempered 
with a grace of fitness in every detail, so chaste 
and noble as to produce an impression of perfect 
repose. It has, indeed, just that suggestion of 
being firmly rooted, of strong growth upward 
and of natural spread at the top, which 
exactly befits its architectural character, while 
in the contour and details it is as delicate as 
a lily. 

We have traced this feeling for the monumental 
side of sculpture in Warner's reliefs, where it is 
revealed in the thoroughly plastic treatment of 
form, so that it quivers on the edge between 
immobility and life; in his fountain, that 
presents a conspicuous immobility quickened with 
animation, and in his busts, wherein the form 




DIANA 
By Olin Levi Warner 



OLIN LEVI WARNER 145 

is made the foundation of lifelike character. 
It remains to note how this last combination is 
carried to its highest conclusions in his heroic 
statues. 

A standing figure could scarcely be planted 
on its feet or mount with more inevitableness of 
free, strong growth than the statue of General 
Devens, while in the carriage of the whole body, 
more especially in that of the alert, intellectual 
head, the type of the citizen-officer is convincingly 
expressed. But a sitting figure offers a more 
complicated problem, owing to the number and 
variety of planes which it presents and to the 
necessity of harmonising these contrasted items 
into a completely balanced ensemble. Warner, 
in the statue of Garrison, has united such a variety 
of lineal directions and opposing planes into a 
stately, stable mass ; has mingled with the dignity 
of repose an energy of character and gesture all 
the more impressive that it is kept in control, and 
has made every detail of movement respond to 
the suppressed fire of character in the head. 
The latter is modelled with a touch as tenderly 
appreciative as will be found in any of his busts 
or reliefs, so that this statue of the great aboli- 
tionist, perhaps the most important work of his 
career, sums up the diverse characteristics of 
his art. 



146 AMERICAN MASTERS 

How noble that was in sentiment and 
expression, how thoughtfully taken up and with 
what a loving gravity pursued, even the least of 
his works declare. 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 

TT was five years ago that Solon H. Borglum 
was first represented at the Salon; he also 
received a silver medal at the Universal Exposition 
of 1900 and another at the Pan-American 
Exhibition in Buffalo; quite recently a fuller 
display of his work has been seen at the Keppel 
Gallery in New York. Yet, although he is 
probably the most original sculptor that this 
country has produced, he is still but little known 
to the American public. 

It may seem strange that a people with such 
eagerness for novelty should in some cases be so 
slow to appreciate originality. But there is no 
necessary connection between the two; indeed, 
the pleasure in novelty may easily pass into a 
craving for it, as enfeebling to the mind as the 
habitual use of drug or dram; whereas the 
recognition of originality demands some inde- 
pendence and original effort on the part of our- 
selves. Again, originality does not act by blind 
jumps in midair, as in that species of dream 
149 



150 AMERICAN MASTERS 

with which some of us may be familiar, wherein 
we find ourselves midway in a leap, and then, 
by successive contractions of the muscles, seem 
to continue our leaps in the air until we fancy 
that we are flying. The leap of originality must 
always commence from some mental terra firrna — 
conscious or unconscious experience ; and, accord- 
ing as there is in ourselves some degree of 
corresponding experience, shall we appreciate or 
at least be impressed by the originality of the 
inventor and the artist ; of the creator, in a word, 
whether he deals in facts or in ideas. For this 
reason the creator of facts meets with readier 
recognition than the creator of ideas. Marconi, 
for example, though he deals with matters far 
beyond the understanding of most people, never- 
theless appeals to their imagination through 
their habitual, though it may be unscientific, 
acquaintance with the previous methods of 
telegraphic communication. So, in the case of 
every creator in the domain of practical experi- 
ment; either he meets a realised need or quickly 
suggests a need through the analogy of our 
e very-day experience. 

On the other hand, the creator of ideas must 
be satisfied with a smaller following, at least at 
first, and at any rate with slower appreciation. 
Yet here, too, there are degrees of slowness, 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 151 

according to the medium of expression which he 
employs. Of all such artists, he who works 
in words will reach the people most quickly, 
since this is an age of words, especially of the 
written word. 

The public eye is habituated to the printed 
page; though, truly, not so much in search of 
ideas or for suggestive stimulus to thought, but 
rather to the loss of independent thinking and 
to the smothering of the imagination in a banal 
prodigality of detailed statements. In the palmy 
days of painting and sculpture it was to them 
that the eye was habituated, and the impressions 
thus received were informed with the experience 
and the imagination of each observer. We, 
however, in the superiority of our modern 
education, run our eye over a painting or piece 
of sculpture to discover what there is in either 
that is convertible into words, and overlook 
the qualities which affect the senses abstractly, 
which are indeed the bones and marrow and 
very physiognomy of the work of art, its dis- 
tinguishing characteristics and capacity to move 
us. And this powerlessness to enter into a work 
of art from the artist's point of view deprives 
us of all independence and initiative of appre- 
ciation. When a gap has been made by some 
bell-wether in the hedge of stubborn intolerance 



1 52 AMERICAN MASTERS 

which public opinion had set round the art of a 
Rodin, we take our turn in the long row of sheep 
that follow each other's tails through the gap 
and fancy that we are discoverers and appre- 
ciators of genius. Small wonder, then, if one of 
our own prophets, merely a young sculptor of 
America, should still be waiting for honour in 
his own country. 

Yet it is here, if anywhere, that Borglum's 
work should be appreciated, since it is American 
to the core, dealing with the incidents of cowboy 
life on the western prairies. Others have essayed 
the same subject, but rather from an outside 
standpoint with technical equipment derived 
from, or at least inspired by, the teaching of the 
Parisian schools. Borglum, on the other hand, 
knew from childhood the inside of the life, was 
himself a cowboy, and for a long time with no 
thought of anything but the joy and interest of 
the life itself. Least of all had he any notions 
about art. The free, open-air existence amid 
spaciousness of earth and sky; the recurring 
seasons, each with its separate routine of necessary 
work, demanding the exercise of vigour, resource- 
fulness and courage; intimacy with man and 
animal life, and sympathy begotten of mutual 
hardships and frequent dangers — these things 
possessed him, and in the vast silence of nature 




COWBOY MOUNTING 
By Solon Hannibal Borglum 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 153 

penetrated silently the fibers of his being. He 
grew and grew unconsciously; his manhood 
matured before the artist in him awoke ; his mind 
stored with experiences before the need came 
upon him of expression. 

The dormant artistic instinct was an inheritance 
from his father, a Danish wood-carver, who had 
migrated to this country early in the sixties. 
He settled in Ogden, Utah, where Solon was born 
in 1868; but he found no encouragement for his 
craft and, resolving to become a doctor, turned 
back to St. Louis, took a degree in medicine, 
and then established himself in Fremont, 
Nebraska, where his practice soon extended far 
into the prairies. He kept many horses, and 
the son grew up among them, with little inclination 
for school studies and a keen desire for the open- 
air life. At first he worked as a cowboy on a 
ranch of his father's; later assumed control of 
a larger one, where for a number of years he 
lived in that close companionship with men and 
animals which breeds sympathy as well as 
knowledge. 

One of his elder brothers, Gutzon, had already 
become an artist, and it was a visit that he paid 
to the ranch in 1890 which first aroused in Solon's 
mind a thought of trying to draw. He began 
to experiment with the pencil, and gradually the 



i 5 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

fascination of representing form grew upon him, 
so that sketching occupied all his leisure time 
with continually increasing grip upon his desire, 
until by 1893 he made up his mind to sell out his 
share in the ranch and go forth and study art. 

First he sought his brother in the Sierra Madre 
Mountains of California and studied painting 
with him for a few months; then drifted to Los 
Angeles, and thence to Santa Anna. In the 
latter town he rented his first studio at two dollars 
a month; but it was not long before he found 
his clothes were getting shabby, and, moreover, 
the confinement of the four walls was irksome. 
So he put a sign upon his door, " In Studio 
Saturdays Only"; and under cover of the dusk 
started for the wild country of the Saddleback 
Mountains. All through the week he lived 
among the old Spanish Indians and Greasers — - 
lawless people who have been left stranded in 
the march of civilisation — eating with them, 
sleeping beside them in the thicket, sketching 
everything he saw. On Friday he started back 
for the town, and, sleeping on the outskirts, 
was early astir in the morning and passed 
unobserved to his little room before the towns- 
people were awake. 

That first Saturday he was uninterrupted in 
his work, and at nightfall again set out for the 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 155 

mountains. But the following week, to his 
surprise, a visitor called, a school-teacher from 
the East, and the result of the visit was first a 
commission to paint the stranger's portrait for 
five dollars, and secondly, the beginning of a 
valued friendship. Next Saturday the teacher 
called again, accompanied by two ladies, who 
wished to learn to paint. The lessons were 
continued weekly at a dollar a visit, and thus for 
nearly a year he subsisted, one day of each seven 
in his studio and during the others among the 
mountains; until, encouraged by his friend, he 
made a sale of his drawings, netted sixty dollars, 
and therewith packed up his blanket and oil-stove 
and set his face toward Cincinnati. 

Here he entered the day and evening classes in 
drawing and rented a little room. Before long, 
however, he was heartsick for the old, free life. 
It was beyond his reach; yet, as he went to and 
from his work, he passed the United States mail 
stables, and the sight of the horses stirred the 
old feeling of comradeship. The lights were 
kept burning at night in the stables, so morning 
after morning before daybreak he lived among 
them, drawing and studying. By degrees he 
turned to modelling and executed the figure of a 
horse pawing a dead one. It was shown to Mr. 
Rebisso, the head of the school of modelling, 



i S 6 AMERICAN MASTERS 

who, discovering the young man's ability, gave 
him encouragement and advice, permitting him 
to work in his own studio and finally making it 
possible for him to visit Paris. 

Until Borglum's fingers had found their way 
to clay he had been groping in the half-light of 
unrealised purpose. Now, however, he discovered 
at one stride the kind of subject nearest to his 
heart and the method of expression best fitted 
to his experience and temperament. 

For, look you, his experience had been of facts ; 
facts, it is true, from which in the aftermath of 
memory his temperament was to extract their 
romance and sentiment; but, in the first place, 
facts of the most direct and vigorous form. 
The subtleties, to which painting better lends 
itself, were outside the habit of his mind ; whereas 
the tangible shape and more simple obviousness 
of sculpture exactly fitted his need. He had 
reached it through the same natural, unpre- 
meditated growth that had characterised all his 
development. Such kind of growth is, perhaps, 
only possible to one whose boyhood and early 
manhood have been spent in the large vacancy 
of nature and the natural life. To those who 
are bred within the crowded and conscious 
civilisation of cities the desire of being an artist 
will probably come earlier; it will anticipate the 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 157 

experiences of life ; from the first will shape itself 
more definitely and in its course conform to 
existing opportunities of instruction. While still 
immature in character and manhood the student 
will be run through the mould of a matured 
system which will turn him out at best an 
inexperienced expert. 

But with Borglum it was otherwise. The 
experience here preceded the expertness, and the 
latter is not such as the schools can teach or 
possibly should try to teach. His groups have 
little of the ordered arrangement of traditional 
composition, nor does the modelling show facile 
skill or elegant refinement. His work, indeed, 
is much more an expression of nature than of art, 
the frank, untrammelled expression of a natural 
artist giving utterance to the fulness of his 
thoughts. He acknowledges with gratitude the 
great assistance that he received from Mr. Rebisso, 
and when he went to Paris he enjoyed the critical 
encouragement of Fremiet and Saint-Gaudens ; 
but for the rest he is self-taught. His visit to 
Paris lengthened into a sojourn of four years, 
during which he took a short course in the study 
of the figure at Julien's Academy and frequented 
the Louvre and Luxembourg; otherwise keeping 
very much to his studio, drawing inspiration from 
the memory of his own experiences, and dis- 



158 AMERICAN MASTERS 

covering for himself a technique that should give 
substance to his ideas. 

So Borglum's work does not readily line up 
with that of other modern sculptors. In its 
disregard of symmetrical composition, in the 
frequent appearance of passages left suggestively 
in the rough and in the vivid naturalness that 
characterises it we may for a moment fancy that 
we detect the influence of Rodin. Yet it shows 
none of the latter' s feeling for subtlety of modelling, 
and by comparison is crude; moreover, the point 
of view of each is widely different. Rodin's is 
profoundly analytical and introspective at the 
same time; Borglum's more spontaneous and 
instinctive, aiming to interpret in a vigorous 
ensemble the vivid impression of an objective 
fact. Again, in breadth of handling and in 
knowledge of animal structure and movement, 
we might compare him with Barye ; only to find, 
however, that the latter far excels him in nobility 
of line and mass and falls as far behind him in 
the expression of sentiment. 

For Borglum's work reveals in a remarkable 
degree the sentiment which comes of intimate, 
habitual companionship. He does not, on the 
one hand, invest his animals with any quasi- 
human sentimentality, or, on the other, look at 
them from the outside standpoint of the hunter 



SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 159 

or otherwise observant student. He has entered 
into the actual sentient part which they play in 
the life they share with man. Hence the senti- 
ment that his work reveals is most poignantly 
affecting. I doubt, indeed, if any sculptor of 
animals has ever represented with such fidelity 
and convincingness their intelligence and emo- 
tions. Note, for example, some of the phases of 
character-building in which he represents the 
bronco. Here it is full-grown, though still 
untamed, but quiet as a lamb, resting its muzzle 
on its dam's back. It has not yet come in 
contact with the disciplining force of man. Now 
it is confronted with a saddle that lies upon the 
ground and recoils with a mixture of trembling 
and curiosity. There it has been rounded up 
and thrown, at first struggling with impotent 
fury, then stretched in utter exhaustion. Later 
the saddle is on its back, and it is pitting its 
strength and cunning against the knowledge and 
endurance of man; then finally tamed, and co- 
operating with man in the taming of other 
horses, or sharing the night watch, or meeting 
with him the mortal peril of the blizzard. 

But Borglum's power of stimulating our 
imagination includes in some cases even a sug- 
gestion of the environment of the figures, as, for 
instance, in the marble group of a mare and foal 



160 AMERICAN MASTERS 

caught in a snowstorm. The little one is uncon- 
scious of danger, content as it noses close up to 
the mother's side for shelter; but the gesture of 
the latter is full of solicitude and anxiety. In 
the swish of her tail and the droop and stiffening 
of the hind quarters, we are made to realise the 
force of the blizzard ; while, is it the little mass of 
piled-up snow, or the whiteness of the marble, 
or the intensity of the sculptor's imagination, 
that conveys to our own a sense of white, snowy 
desolation all around the two poor creatures? 
It is seldom in modern sculpture that one will 
find an expression of sentiment so unaffected 
and affecting. 

And the other notable element in his work is 
its rendering of movement. It matters not what 
kind of movement — impetuous dash, sudden 
arrest of action, alert repose, the vicious fling 
of body and heels as the beast prepares to turn 
a somersault, the jjmp of pain, the submission of 
exhaustion, the supple step to music in the circus, 
the pause of doubt, the spasm of baffled rage — 
each and all and others are represented with an 
intimacy of knowledge and an instinctive cer- 
tainty of method. He knows his subject so well 
and realises in his mind so vividly the impression 
which he seeks to interpret, that all pettiness of 
observation is swallowed up in a large compre- 




Q a 
W .-2 

h K 



L~ - 






SOLON HANNIBAL BORGLUM 161 

hension which disregards details, except in so far 
as they are essential to the action or the sentiment. 
And how characteristic are the details which he 
does introduce ! Here, for example, is the figure 
of a horse, "tamed." A saddle lies upon the 
ground. It is the object which excites, first the 
terror, then the anger of the untamed horse. 
But this one is conquered and hangs his head 
submissively over the instrument and badge of 
his defeat. He stands with front feet planted 
forward, the legs trembling, the hind ones limp 
and sluggish; the line of the ribs exposed as the 
flank heaves ; the nostrils distended with the gasps 
of breath; the eye listless, the ear fallen. But, 
keenest touch of all, note how the saddle-cloth 
and girths have left a hot, glossy impress upon 
the body, the hair around their edges being clotted 
with sweat. It is detail such as this, full of 
character, that one finds in all these pieces of 
sculpture; and, for the rest, the modelling is 
broadly suggestive, yet always distinctly charac- 
teristic ; not only rendering structure and action, 
but offering varieties of flesh texture, according 
to the condition and character of the horse 
represented. 

Borglum, in a word, is an impressionistic 
sculptor, untrammelled by formula or tradition, 
seeking nature direct, with an eye habituated to 



i6 2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

essentials and with a degree of sympathetic 
comprehension that corresponds with the range 
and reality of his life's experiences. His work 
is, thus, truly original; a product of his own 
manhood, fashioned to artistic fitness. 



VICTOR DAVID BRENNER 



XI 

VICTOR DAVID BRENNER 

TN this country, as elsewhere, prior to the 
establishment of the French Societe des 
Amis de la Medaille, medal-making had sunk 
to a department of trade ; or, if something artistic 
were attempted, there was a divorce between the 
designing and engraving. A sculptor or painter, 
with no practical knowledge of the possibilities 
and limitations of the cutting process, would be 
commissioned to produce the design, while its 
execution in the die was turned over to a more 
or less skilled operative. The barrenness of the 
result may be seen in the majority of medals 
produced during many years. 

Recognising that the work of the medallist 
had been and should be a special department of 
art, with very individual qualities of exquisite 
expression, the National Academy two years ago 
established a class in Coin and Medal Designing 
and put it in charge of Victor D. Brenner. 

Ten years previously the latter had arrived 
in New York, an expert die-sinker and engraver; 
165 



166 AMERICAN MASTERS 

now he had just returned from studying under 
Roty in Paris. The story of his progress from 
artisan to artist is not without a touch of romance. 

To the student of personal accomplishment 
there is always a particular satisfaction in the 
contrast between hard and strait beginnings and 
the ultimate success. He forgets, as the artist 
himself perhaps does when the sweets of victory 
are on his tongue, the long weariness of the 
previous struggle, and is philosophically per- 
suaded that the pain of parturition must neces- 
sarily precede the birth of art as of life. However 
that may be, Brenner has had his share of 
privations ; and it is well for him that he encoun- 
tered them early and surmounted them before 
the enthusiasm of youth dwindled. 

He was born in 187 1 at Shavly, in the north- 
west of Russia, and from his sixth to his thirteenth 
year attended the Hebrew school. After three 
years of apprenticeship to his father, who was a 
general mechanic and seal-cutter, with consider- 
able talent in carving, the youth, now sixteen years 
old, travelled through the neighbouring towns, 
making seals. Then he worked for a jewelry 
engraver in Riga, and subsequently migrated to 
Mittau, where he found employment in a rubber 
stamp and type foundry, cutting dies and illus- 
trations for advertisements. In 1889 he estab- 



VICTOR DAVID BRENNER 167 

lished himself in Kowno as a jewelry engraver 
and seal-cutter. By this time he had saved nearly 
enough to pay his passage to New York, and the 
following year he reached our shores. He was then 
scarcely nineteen, without friends, knowledge of 
the language or ready funds. For a while he 
sold matches on Fulton Street, and then graduated 
to the superior opportunities of a sweat-shop in 
Brooklyn. He was rescued from this by an 
advertisement through which he found employ- 
ment with a jewelry firm. Meanwhile his 
acquaintance with the language and with the 
local conditions was improving, and it was not 
long before he obtained a position as seal-cutter. 
Then followed an engagement with Mr. H. Popper 
as die-cutter and jewelry engraver, during which 
he came to the notice of Professor S. H. Oetinger, 
the numismatist, whose collection of medals seems 
to have awakened in the young man a longing to 
be himself an artist. In 1891 he first learned to 
handle clay at the Cooper Union night class, but 
attended only for a month, and it was not 
until 1896 that he studied drawing under Ward 
in the night class of the Academy of Design. 

Meanwhile, in 1893, he had started for himself 
in business, working for jewelry and silversmith 
firms; steadily improving his financial conditions, 
but becoming more and more impatient under 



168 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the restraints which the exigencies of trade placed 
upon his desire to be an artist. I should judge 
that these years of material comfortableness may 
have been really more trying to him than the 
previous lean years. Then, work and food and 
lodging seemed the only desirable things ; now he 
was in labour with a desire that exceeded all 
others. He had tasted of the sweets of beauty 
and become conscious of having something 
beautiful within himself, might he but learn how 
to express it; and all the while the Gallios of 
trade "cared for none of those things." 

This period of probation at length came to an 
end in 1898, by which time he had saved sufficient 
money for study in Paris. A little time before, 
in connection with a medal for the Convention 
of Charities and Corrections, he had made the 
acquaintance of Mr. Samuel P. Avery. But the 
latter had for some time been acquainted with 
him, keeping watch over his progress and secretly 
helping him to commissions. Of the value and 
encouragement of Mr. Avery's friendship Brenner 
speaks with warm gratitude. Through him he 
obtained an introduction to Mr. George A. Lucas, 
who befriended him in Paris and introduced him 
to Roty, furnishing him with commissions while 
he was still studying in the latter's atelier. This 
he entered after preliminary studentship in the 




PORTRAIT OF C. P. HUNTINGTON 
By Victor David Brenner 



VICTOR DAVID BRENNER 169 

Julien school, and became the assistant as well 
as pupil of the master. His progress was rapid, 
and examples of his work are already to, be found 
in the Paris Mint, Munich Glyptothek, Vienna 
Numismatic Society, the Metropolitan Museum 
and the Numismatic Society, New York. 

Up to the present time Brenner's best work 
has been portrait-plaques and the heads upon the 
obverse of medals. In designs which involve a 
decorative treatment he has been less happy. 
As might be expected of one whose period of 
study has been so short, he is weak in composition 
and freehand drawing, nor does he display much 
inventiveness of fancy. On the other hand, he has 
an extraordinarily direct vision, quickened by 
experience in so exacting an occupation as die- 
cutting, and, moreover, a very mobile sympathy. 
The latter helps him to be interested at once in 
his subject, and with so much affection and 
reverence for the personality that his portrayal 
exhibits a very unusual degree of intimacy. 

Among the best of his portraits are those of 
William Maxwell Evarts, J. Sanford Saltus and 
George Aloysius Lucas, whom I place in one group ; 
and those of M. Vade\ Edward D. Fulde and 
M. Lacour in another. The reasonableness of 
the separation is to be found in the difference of 
motive, respectively, illustrated in the modelling; 



i 7 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

the more distinctively sculptural as compared 
with the painter-like method. 

For in all low-relief work one will find the artist 
to be showing a preference either for form and 
the structural character of the subject, or for its 
colour qualities, represented by delicate variations 
in the planes, which produce a corresponding 
warmth of delicate light and shade ; in a word, he 
feels his subject either in the round or in the flat. 
Which you yourself will prefer is a question of 
your point of view. Among brother artists who 
are painters there will probably be a verdict in 
favour of the second group, since it represents 
more closely what they themselves strive for, 
and are therefore partial to. And its pictorial 
quality may equally recommend it also to general 
approbation. For, indeed, such a portrait as that 
of M. Vad6 is unquestionably fascinating. There 
is in it scarce any resort to lines, the modelling 
being effected almost entirely by planes, at once 
broad and subtle, full of a sense of colour and 
giving an expression of dreaminess to the face. 
Yet, if one compares this portrait with either of 
the three included in the former group, it is to 
find in the latter a compensating virility of expres- 
sion, a greater dignity of structure and of character. 

It is not usual to find these two very opposite 
motives of technique united in one artist. But 



VICTOR DAVID BRENNER 171 

in Brenner's case it seems to result from an 
absence of all artistic parti pris, and from the 
freshness of interest with which he attacks each 
subject, so that the latter itself reveals to him 
the more appropriate manner of presenting it. 
In the portrait shown in the accompanying 
illustration the two motives seem to be combined. 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 



XII 

THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 

TN all ages sculpture has been intimately allied 
with architecture, somewhat as the blossom 
with the tree, reaching often its noblest expression 
as an efflorescence of decoration upon the surface 
of a building or as separate forms within it; 
springing up in statue, tomb or pulpit like bursts 
of flowery growth in the forest. Nature in a 
marvellous way adapts the colour and forms of 
the blossoms to the character and structure of 
the tree and shapes of the woodland flowers; 
for example, the foxglove spiring up amid the 
tree trunks to the character of its environment. 
In the spirit of this example the sculptor fashions 
his designs in conformity with that of the archi- 
tecture, whether it be for decoration of the 
building's surface or for a separate contributing 
feature. 

Such cooperation with the architect demands at 
once fertility of imagination and considerable self- 
restraint ; an appreciation of the larger qualities 
of design as displayed in the architecture, mingled 
175 



176 AMERICAN MASTERS 

with a natural feeling for the charm of minute and 
exquisite workmanship; a personal feeling, sub- 
ordinated to the main design, yet in this subordina- 
tion finding an increase of force. For the modelled 
ornament is itself enriched by its enrichment of 
the wall-surface; and the statue which has fine 
architecture for its setting receives therefrom 
additional dignity, provided always that the 
sculptor has adapted the lines of his figure to those 
of the architecture. If he miss the spirit of the 
latter and design his subject independently his 
statue loses the benefit of the alliance and its 
importance is overpowered by the necessary pre- 
dominance of the architectural effect. Nor is the 
failure to secure harmonious relation between the 
sculpture and the architecture always to be laid 
to the sculptor. The architect's design may be 
lacking in taste and dignity; or, if good in itself, 
yet without adequate or any provision for sculp- 
tural embellishment; the latter being resorted to 
as an afterthought. Examples of this kind are 
not infrequent. 

The best opportunity that we have in this 
country of studying sculpture in its relation to 
architecture is in the Library of Congress, for 
here the design was deliberately planned to 
include sculpture and painted decoration, and on 
a scale of unusual magnitude. Some critics are 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 177 

disposed to complain of an overelaboration in 
the decorative scheme, but at least every item of 
the sculpture was organic and structural in 
intention. We may differ, that is to say, as to the 
propriety of introducing so much embellishment, 
but the latter everywhere grows naturally out of 
its position and has its closely planned function in 
the general design. 

The sculptural decoration of the staircase hall 
was entrusted to Philip Martiny, except the 
figures in the spandrils over the main arch which 
fronts you as you enter. These were executed by 
Olin L. Warner — whose work has been reviewed 
in another chapter — and in their Greek-like 
monumental simplicity and repose, their freedom 
from all accessory aids to decoration and their 
avowal of the decorative value of pure form they 
are in marked contrast to the French spirit of 
Martiny's work. For the latter, a naturalised 
Frenchman, represents the French training, com- 
paratively unaffected by the American environ- 
ment. As a boy he was employed with his father 
in modelling and carving ornamental designs ; thus 
gaining a familiarity with ornament before he 
proceeded to study it systematically as a designer, 
from which stage he passed on to the further 
studies of a sculptor of the figure. The feeling for 
decoration is with him an instinct, cultivated in 



178 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the best of all schools, that of practical experience ; 
his knowledge of historic forms a habit of memory, 
and his versatility in adapting, skill in device 
and manipulative facility, the product of habitual 
practice. 

For the newel posts of the staircase he executed 
the female figures holding a torch aloft ; but these 
reveal mainly the results of good teaching. They 
are not a personal expression of himself. In a 
seated figure, however, designed as a Soldiers' 
and Sailors' Memorial for Jersey City, he reached 
a very considerable degree of monumental dignity ; 
yet it still appears to be true that his real bent is 
toward decoration. In this he displays creative 
fancy and a most charming faculty in the use of 
form. Witness this marble balustrade, divided 
into compartments by a series of plain posts, 
between which are suspended festoons of fruit 
and flowers, with baby forms astride them. Each 
in a vein of playful fancy personifies some occupa- 
tion, art or science, and the emblems typifying 
them are introduced as accents of surprise in the 
composition. The whole is alive with graceful 
animation and yet preserves a rhythmical dignity, 
a variety in uniformity, like the play of notes in 
succeeding bars of music. 

Its freedom of fancy and rich effect recall the 
qualities shown in Lorado Taft's decoration of the 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 179 

Horticultural Building at the World's Fair; a 
decoration of rare distinction. Indeed the prime 
feature of this artist's work at its best is the decora- 
tive character of the composition ; as in " The Soli- 
tude of the Soul," which involves an ideal motive, 
but is perhaps happiest in the grouping of the 
nude figures around the mass of unhewn rock. 

The relief ornament in the ceiling of the dome 
and in the frieze of the entablature was 
modelled by Albert Weinert. He was limited by 
the architect to the well-known Roman forms 
revived by the sculptors and painters of the 
Italian Renaissance, but has treated them with so 
much individual feeling that one may regret he 
was denied the opportunity of creating the designs. 
For one cause of the dearth of decorative sculptors 
in America may very reasonably be attributed to 
the hesitation of architects to permit the use of 
any forms except such as they can find authority 
for in historic ornament. Martiny, we have seen, 
was allowed to invent the design for the staircase ; 
a quite unusual privilege, which has resulted in a 
memorable work of art, almost unique in the 
country. Usually the architect from books and 
photographs indicates what forms shall be adopted, 
and these are reproduced by the draftsmen in 
working drawings, which are handed over to a 
contractor to be executed by journeymen modellers 



180 AMERICAN MASTERS 

Their business is to copy the drawing exactly. If 
they have any individuality of feeling it is sup- 
pressed; the divorce between design and crafts- 
manship is perpetuated, and dry conventionalism 
results. In the degradation of design which 
ensues from this slavish adherence to historic 
precedents, producing, be it noted, not a revival 
of the precedent but, for the most part, a dead, 
inert copy, a thing not to be taken seriously as 
decoration, the sculptor is discouraged from 
associating himself with design. He may have 
the gift of decoration, but it lies uncultivated, 
since he will not work except with reasonable 
liberty. And he is right, for the only decoration 
that is of any vital worth is such as grows under 
the hand of a man whose brain has conceived it 
and is controlling continually its growth. He 
may be influenced by historic precedent or be 
working in the freedom of his fancy ; in either case, 
his work has personal, vital significance. Signifi- 
cantly bad it may be, and this I suspect is the 
architect's apprehension; yet, provided it have 
significance, there is some prospect of improve- 
ment : just as we reach what measure of virtue we 
have through our faults. For of all men the most 
exasperating is he who, without character enough 
for fault or virtue, methodically maintains a level 
of innocuous mediocrity. Equally exasperating 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 181 

is decoration of this kind, and it is a kind that is 
prevalent everywhere. 

The dome of the Library is supported on eight 
piers, each formed of a cluster of columns, one of 
which projects more prominently than the rest 
and is surmounted by a figure personifying some 
department of civilised life or thought. Its func- 
tion seems to be to prolong the upright line of 
the pier to the bottom of the triangular penden- 
tive which connects the spread of the arches; at 
any rate, those figures which most simply suggest 
the vertical direction, with as little play of contour 
lines as possible, appear most conformable to their 
position. The one that most thoroughly fulfils 
this condition is the figure of "Philosophy," by 
Bela L. Pratt. One arm hangs down, the other 
is drawn up at the elbow supporting a book; the 
line of the drapery on one side comes squarely 
down to the feet and on the other is slightly varied 
by the drawing back of the leg from the knee. The 
figure is of ample proportion, with a sweet gravity 
of mien ; the head, being slightly bowed, which, 
as it is viewed from below, brings the face agree- 
ably within the line of vision ; a point that has been 
overlooked in some of the other statues. Without 
having any particular force, the figure nevertheless 
impresses by the sobriety of its lines and mass 
and by its reserve of feeling. The value of these 



i8 2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

qualities can best be appreciated when one is 
actually standing in the dome and able to compare 
the figure with the other corresponding ones, all of 
which by reason of more varied contours seem 
inferior to it in decorative appropriateness. 

This same sculptor was entrusted with the 
designs of the six spandrils over the entrance 
doors. The forms are graceful and repeat with 
pleasant variation the curve of the arch, but 
they do not adequately fill the space, and are 
wanting in architectonic character. Just what 
I mean can better be understood by comparing 
them with Warner's spandrils, mentioned above. 
Then one can scarcely fail to notice how much 
more structural in feeling are the latter, organic- 
ally related to the arches and to the space, truly 
architectural in their character. Pratt's strong- 
est point seems to be expression of sentiment, 
exemplified in his busts of Colonel Henry Lee 
and of Phillips Brooks; in some low-relief por- 
traits of children and in the heroic figure of a 
soldier for St. Paul's School, Concord, New 
Hampshire. In all of these it is not so much 
the characteristics preeminently sculptural that 
we are conscious of, as the quality of the senti- 
ment; and this same quality, portrayed with 
graceful inventiveness, represents the measure 
of his architectural decoration. It is, therefore, 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 183 

in such examples as the medallions in the pavilions 
of the Library, personifying the four seasons, 
that he appears at his best; for in these the 
sentiment is expressed not only by suavity of 
line, but by a sensitive treatment of the various 
planes. Like his low-relief portraits they have 
very strongly the pictorial quality. That he 
has, however, a feeling as well for the sculptural 
quality of form is evident from two nude female 
figures which he has executed in marble, "Study 
of a Young Girl" and "Study for a Fountain," 
in which the charm of sentiment and form are 
very happily united. 

It is not within the scope of this essay, which 
is considering the principles of architectural 
sculpture, to note each of the remaining seven 
statues in detail, especially since most of them 
are by sculptors whose work has been reviewed 
elsewhere. And the same applies to the sixteen 
bronze statues that stand below upon the marble 
balustrade of the gallery. These represent real 
or imaginary portraits of men illustrious in the 
departments of civilised life and thought, personi- 
fied above, and their function is to relieve by a 
series of spiring forms the level lines of the balus- 
trade. And here again, if I am not mistaken, 
those which with least disturbance of contour 
conform to the character of a simple shaft are 



i8 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

the most effective. Thus we may be disposed 
to feel that, viewed in relation to its position 
and function, the "Solon" by F. Wellington 
Ruckstuhl protests too much its own individuality, 
and that the greater reserve of C. E. Dallin's 
"Newton," of John J. Boyle's "Bacon" and 
"Plato," of Paul W. Bartlett's "Michelangelo," 
of Edward C. Potter's "Fulton," of Charles H. 
Niehaus's " Gibbon," of George E. Bissell's " Kent" 
and the "Henry" by Herbert Adams, makes 
them more valuable as sculptural adornments 
to the architecture. And, after all, this qualifi- 
cation is the most important one in the interest 
both of the architecture and of the statue itself. 
If it were possible to study the statues inde- 
pendently of their surroundings we might find 
that some I have mentioned are intrinsically 
inferior to some of those omitted; and I well 
remember that some which now fill their present 
position with quiet effectiveness seemed less 
interesting before they were put in place. For 
the ultimate test of the statue, as a part of the 
architectural scheme, depends less upon its 
intrinsic than its extrinsic value; not so much 
upon what it is as upon how it cooperates with the 
architecture, lending it some accent of piquancy 
or elaboration and drawing from it dignity and 
enforcement. Nor is the truth of this weakened 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 185 

by the fact that you visit many a church in Italy 
solely to study some piece of sculpture without 
one thought of the architecture, unless it be a 
regret that the shrine is not worthy of its treasure. 
In such a case the intention of the sculpture was 
not architectonic; whereas in the Library of 
Congress, as in all other buildings in which the 
cooperation of the sculptor has been deliberately 
included, the ideal is to make the two arts mutu- 
ally reenforcing. The architecture being neces- 
sarily predominant, the sculpture which does 
not conform to the limitations imposed upon it 
will suffer by comparison, while, on the other 
hand, through conformity it will secure additional 
measure of impressiveness. 

Of the elaborate decoration of the rotunda 
clock by John Flanagan I cannot speak from 
knowledge; and, without having seen it in place, 
it is unfair to judge of the effect of the mingling 
of precise elegance in the lower part with the 
florid arrangement above of Father Time and 
two female figures. But before leaving the 
Library we may find in the corridors of the 
entrance hall four relief-panels, by R. Hinton 
Perry, personifying Greek, Roman, Persian and 
Scandinavian "Inspiration." They seem to me 
to represent this sculptor at his best, displaying 
a gift of imagination and very charming treat- 



1 86 AMERICAN MASTERS 

ment of form, regulated by reserve and taste; 
for these last qualities are not so conspicuous in 
some of his work. The fountain group, for 
example, which embellishes the terrace in front 
of the Library, is a clever exhibition of technical 
skill in the representation of form and movement, 
but pretentious. Its lack of cohesion as a group 
may have been less the affair of the sculptor than 
of the architect, since the latter had provided for 
the figures three equal-sized niches; but on the 
other hand the sculptor seems to have regarded 
them as features to be ignored. His central 
figure of Neptune is entirely outside the arch, 
while the sea-nymphs on their restive steeds 
seem to be trying to get clear of the architectural 
restraint. Restiveness, indeed, is the chief sug- 
gestion of the whole; an uneasy collocation of 
aggressive forms, out of keeping with the some- 
what severe character of the Library facades. 

Yet one should not overlook the indubitable 
power and vigour of these figures, especially of 
the Neptune; only regretting that imagination 
has entered so little into its composition. In 
this respect the " Primitive Man and Serpent," 
a later statue, is much more acceptable. It also 
has power, the more effective that its energy has 
been controlled, and the sculptor, in thinking out 
this conflict between creatures of such different 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 187 

forms, has produced a composition which is full 
of imagination and very statuesque. Again 
he exhibits his mastery of form in a statue of 
"Circe"; a finely poised, supple figure, with a 
superb action of voluptuous invitation. More- 
over, the conception is satisfactorily idealised, a 
quality which does not always characterise his 
treatment of the female form. The one, for 
instance, in the group of "The Lion in Love " is a 
very ordinary reproduction of the model; nor 
can I find in his Langdon doors for the Buffalo 
Historical Society's Building, the same imagina- 
tive control of form as in the Library reliefs. 
Perry, in fact, seems to be an impetuous, forceful 
person, drawing largely upon his temperament 
and with the unevenness of result very usual in 
such cases. Yet he has a mastery of technique 
so much above the average that, when he regu- 
lates it with reserve and kindles it from his 
imagination, he produces work which is full of 
interest. 

In this brief survey of the decorative sculpture 
of the Library of Congress it has been possible 
to touch only upon some of the most conspicuous 
features, but much else that is worthy of study 
upon the spot will be found scattered over the 
big building, especially in the private reading- 
rooms of the Senate and of the House of Repre- 



188 AMERICAN MASTERS 

sentatives. The scheming and supervision of 
this vast amount of beautiful detail was the work 
of Edward Pearce Casey, an architect with 
considerable knowledge of decoration and feeling 
for it. In some cases he was cooperating with 
sculptors who had had no previous experience 
in decorative work, and he was himself 
without practical experience, having but re- 
cently returned from his studies at the Ecole 
des Beaux Arts, and the bias of his taste, 
if I mistake not, was toward the exuberance 
and profuseness of Roman ornament. When, 
therefore, we take into consideration the vast- 
ness and varied features of the undertaking, 
we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that it has 
been upon the whole very well carried out; 
probably quite as well as was possible under the 
conditions of having to complete so huge a work 
by a given date. For one of the difficulties with 
which our artists, architects, sculptors and 
painters alike have to contend is the inexorable 
public demand that the building with all its 
embellishments shall be "turned over " on con- 
tract time. Very few men are sufficiently sure 
of their position, and likewise possessed of suffi- 
cient conscience in the matter, to insist upon 
adequate time for the development of their 
decorative scheme. 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 189 

This insistence upon securing as far as possible 
an ultimate perfection of detail, guided by a 
judgment and taste of unusual refinement, is a 
notable characteristic of the architect, Charles 
F. McKim, as it is also of the sculptor, Augustus 
Saint-Gaudens. Hence to this day the pedestals 
in front of the Boston Public Library are without 
the groups of statuary that the latter is to exe- 
cute. Again, as an example of choiceness and 
reserve in the sculptural decoration of a building, 
one may cite McKim's treatment of the facades 
of the University Club, New York. Indeed, 
they are quite too choice and reserved to satisfy 
the popular taste, and it is the latter which 
unfortunately regulates in the majority of 
instances the character of our public buildings, 
with an inevitable tendency toward pretentious- 
ness of mass and floridness of detail. On the 
other hand, from the point of view of the sculptor, 
McKim's influence has been too personal, too 
exclusively along the line of reproducing the 
style and feeling of antique art, to have been of 
much direct benefit to the development of deco- 
rative sculpture in this country. He is, perhaps, 
too intolerant of failure to venture upon 
experiments. 

For certainly the development has been at- 
tended with some results to which it is impos- 



i 9 o AMERICAN MASTERS 

sible to point with appreciation. Do we find an 
example of this in the Appellate Court in New 
York? Its exterior is profusely covered with 
sculpture ; but can one truly feel that it is decora- 
tive ? On the contrary, it may occur to some 
that the building would have had more dignity 
unadorned; that it is overloaded; its quiet lines 
disturbed by the flutter of forms against the sky ; 
that the figures themselves lack the decorative 
quality, dryly formal in some instances and in 
others without sufficient reserve of line and mass ; 
overpowering, in fact, the structure, while indi- 
vidually, at the distance from which they are seen, 
of not much moment. 

Civic pride, doubtless not uninfluenced by the 
discovery that there is a commercial value in 
esthetics, has led to the embellishing of office 
buildings and hotels with sculpture. With the 
former continually increasing their vertical direc- 
tion, it has been no easy matter to devise for them 
a suitable kind of plastic decoration. Perhaps 
the most appropriate has been the flat orna- 
mentation, occasionally burgeoning into rounded 
forms, which Louis H. Sullivan, a Chicago archi- 
tect, has used. He has the advantage of being his 
own designer for decoration as well as for struc- 
ture; and having a very logical mind he designs 
both with a strict regard for organic propriety, 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 191 

while his fecund imagination enables him to 
create freely forms of inexhaustible variety and 
full of the charm of vital freshness. 

In the case of many office buildings, especially 
those erected some years ago, the sculpture has 
the appearance of being added as an afterthought, 
so inadequate is the provision made for it. There 
is a conspicuous instance of this on lower Broad- 
way, New York, four colossal figures in bronze 
by J. Massey Rhind being placed upon a pro- 
jecting cornice some twenty feet above the level 
of the street. They have no structural relation 
to the building and thereby lose much of their 
effectiveness. 

This sculptor, a native of Edinburgh, where 
his family, as architects and otherwise, have long 
been identified with the civic improvements that 
have gradually made the modern city so con- 
spicuously handsome, is one of the most skilful of 
our architectural sculptors. He has not the play 
of fancy nor the graceful facility in decorative 
forms displayed by Martiny; but, instead, a 
strong instinct for big simplicity of design, and 
for the constructional value of the figure as an 
adjunct to the architecture. When, as in the 
spandrils for the Smith Memorial Arch at Phila- 
delphia, he is elaborating a part of the struc- 
ture, he works with as much of the feeling of an 



i 9 2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

architect as of a sculptor, showing an unmis- 
takable appreciation of the material. In the case 
of these spandrils it is granite, and the treatment 
of the drapery and wings has been admirably 
adapted to the quality and character of the 
material and to the exigencies of cutting. A 
similar recognition of the claims of the material 
is displayed in some granite lions, designed for 
the Ehret mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, 
and again in the caryatides, executed in pink 
Tennessee marble for the Macy Building in 
New York. The latter, moreover, are particu- 
larly successful in suggesting their architectural 
function of carrying a superincumbent weight, 
rigidity of form and grace of line being fortunately 
mingled. Among the varied subjects which have 
occupied this sculptor is an elaborate fountain 
for " Georgian Court " at Lake wood, New Jersey. 
The design comprises a male figure, almost nude, 
standing in a chariot formed of a huge shell, 
these parts being in bronze, while the sea-horses 
that he drives and the attendant Nereids are of 
marble. The composition, enclosed within a 
circular basin and rising pyramidally toward 
the centre, is full of spirit, with especial 
force and freedom of movement in the marble 
portions. Yet it is probably true that J. Massey 
Rhind discovers his best qualities as a sculptor 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 193 

in less exuberant designs. Indeed, his most 
impressive work, within my knowledge, I should 
take to be the recumbent portrait-statue of Father 
Brown in the Church of Saint Mary-the-Virgin in 
New York. It is very truly monumental, with 
an exquisite placidity and tender gravity of 
feeling ; the lines of the figure severely simple, the 
vestments, notwithstanding some elaboration of 
delicate detail, subordinated so completely to the 
form, and the latter in its supple fixity express- 
ive of the eternal calm of the head. It is a 
figure from which emanates a very unusual 
atmosphere of spirituality. 

I wonder if there is not more incentive to revere 
the memory of a man in a memorial like this, 
representing him folded in the sleep of death, 
than in one which figures him as he lived ! Yet 
the latter is the more usual method in this coun- 
try, possibly because of the lack of space in city 
churches. Saint-Gaudens has done some mem- 
orable work in this direction, notably in the 
portrait-panels of James McCosh at Princeton, 
and of Doctor Bellows in the Church of All Souls, 
New York; so too have French and Herbert 
Adams. Again in mural tablets, bearing instead 
of a portrait some ideal figure, work of technical 
merit and of very beautiful spirit has been done 
by Clement J. Barnhorn of Cincinnati. Especially 



i 9 4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

would I mention an angel design of his for the 
Poland Memorial and a " Madonna of the Lilies." 
In both these low reliefs he displays a quite 
exquisite appreciation of the beauty of sim- 
plicity of design, of the expression of tender 
differences of plane, and of the mingling of firm 
and vanishing lines. Nor in the refinement of 
treatment is the structural character of the 
figure and drapery lost. 

DOMESTIC DESIGN 

Among the various decorative designs by 
Barnhorn is one for a cottage piano, carved in 
wood. Conventionalised tree-forms compose the 
legs, extend a bough from each side along the lower 
part of the keyboard and then mount up the sides 
and spread their foliage in a canopy along the top, 
a draped figure occupying the centre of the front. 
The design has one good feature, that it growl 
out of and expresses the character of the material. 
Yet it deviates from what experience suggests to 
be worth regarding as an axiom: that in such 
objects as are actually a part of the structure of a 
room, for instance a mantelpiece, or in those 
which by their size and importance emphasise 
their structural character, the contours should 
conform to the straight and curved lines, which 
experience has found necessary in architecture. 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 195 

In a word, that the structure of the object should 
be first attained and the decoration then sub- 
ordinated to it, instead of the latter being allowed 
to encroach upon the structural lines. An ivy- 
mantled tower takes its place suitably in an open- 
air setting ; and, on the other hand, a small object 
indoors, such as a clock on a shelf, may assume 
any variety of outline ; but with the larger, formal 
ones, whether built into, or detached within, the 
room, you cannot indulge in irregular contours 
without making them amorphous, more or less 
clumsy or else trivial. And this piano seems 
open to the charge of cumbersomeness, which 
again offends the instinct of the musician, who 
would feel in the instrument a suggestion of 
yielding to the vibrations of the music — a feeling 
so prominent in the delicate simplicity of the 
violin and to be desired in the form of all instru- 
ments. Yet one welcomes in this piano the 
inventiveness of fancy displayed, and the skill 
and individuality of the craftsmanship, delighted 
to find an American sculptor applying his art to 
the intimacies of domestic design. 

Among the few sculptors who have used the 
figure decoratively in the arts of minor design 
none has displayed a livelier imagination or a 
more charming facility than Henry Linder. His 
little conceptions for candlesticks, inkwells, 



196 AMERICAN MASTERS 

electric-light stands and other objects of domestic 
use are full of grace and spirit. Another decora- 
tive sculptor of rare feeling and unusual technical 
resources is M. M. Schwarzott. I remember well 
a panel of his representing fishes sporting in the 
waves, which, as Mr. Hartmann fitly observes, it 
worthy of a Japanese coppersmith. 

That very few sculptors have devoted them- 
selves to domestic design is due as well to the 
dearth of really decorative genius among them 
as to the claims of other commissions upon the 
time of those few who possess it. Partly, 
perhaps, to a prevalence of "high-art" notions, 
which regard a statue as, of itself, more worthy 
than a decorated object, irrespective of the skill 
and craftsmanship or the beauty of the design 
involved. Yet, I doubt if a prejudice of this 
sort would deter a man really possessed of the 
decorative instinct. It is the lack of this and of 
appreciation on the part of the public for personal 
work which forms a bar to our advancement in 
the arts of design ; this and the preference of the 
architects for reproducing commercially the time- 
honoured forms. Encouraged by them our rich 
people prefer a room in which every detail is 
dryly imitated from a dead period to one animated 
by the art and spirit of to-day. So they take 
their morning coffee a la Louis Quinze; their 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 197 

luncheon in a Dutch kitchen; drop into an 
affectation of Japan for a cup of afternoon tea; 
dine in the splendour of the Grand Monarque; 
sip their liqueurs in Pompeii, and rest at length 
from this jumble of inert impressions in a chamber 
a VEmpire. Small wonder if their appreciation 
of art should be a pose and their actual encourage- 
ment of it nearly null ! 

OPEN-AIR DECORATION 

The first great opportunity in this country for 
sculptors to prove their capacity in the larger 
field of outdoor decoration was presented by the 
World's Fair at Chicago, and it brought into 
prominence three animal sculptors, E. C. Potter, 
Edward Kemeys and A. Phimister Proctor. 
The first named collaborated with French in the 
quadriga above the water-gate and in the groups 
of the "Bull" and "Farm Horse" in front of the 
Agricultural Building, displaying in the one case 
a fine command of spirited movement and in 
the other a feeling for large simplicity. These 
qualities he combined most effectively in the 
equestrian statue of Washington for the Place 
de Jena in Paris, in which again his collaborator 
was French. The "Wild Cats" by Kemeys, 
which stood upon the ends of two of the bridges, 
were quite extraordinary examples of animal 



1 98 AMERICAN MASTERS 

sculpture. Their stealthy, supple movement, as, 
bellies low to the ground, they advanced with 
that slow, clinging step which precedes the spring, 
represented the closest study of the naturalist, 
while the treatment of the lines and masses was 
altogether a sculptor's, monumental in a high 
degree. 

Proctor also is a naturalist and ardent sports- 
man, camping alone for weeks together in the 
forests and studying the big game at close quar- 
ters. Perhaps his instinct is naturalistic rather 
than sculptural. At any rate, the strongest fea- 
ture of his work is its realism ; yet his " Pumas, " at 
one entrance of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, shows 
a fair measure of monumental feeling. The 
quadriga which he modelled for the United States 
pavilion at the Paris Exposition was dwarfed 
by the structure, but when reproduced for the 
Ethnological building at the Pan-American 
Exposition proved extremely effective. On this 
occasion, however, it was only a part of the 
structure's embellishment and not a single 
emphatic note, for which purpose it was too 
slight in composition, unduly stringy and deficient 
in cohesion. Proctor himself had felt it to be 
so, and the lesson was not lost upon him, for in 
his next opportunity of essaying an important 
composition he produced something of much 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 199 

more sculptural import. This was a group 
executed for the Pan-American Exposition, which 
embodied the idea of "Agriculture," representing 
a man at the plow-tail, while a boy urged on 
the team, a horse and an ox. It was a very- 
remarkable example of the force of realism, when 
governed by the sculptural intention. The mass 
was most imposing and full of variety of move- 
ment, through the contrast afforded by the figures : 
the horse vigorously straining at the traces, 
the ox exerting his slow, lumbering weight ; the 
boy in free action, while the man's was con- 
centrated and checked. Moreover, it told its 
story so simply and directly, with such complete 
recognition of the essential points. As a piece 
of artistic realism, it was alive with the spirit of 
Millet — altogether a most memorable work. 

At this exposition was also seen a quadriga 
by Frederick G. R. Roth. His previous work 
had consisted of statuettes executed in bronze, 
revealing a close study of unusual kinds of action, 
such as that of an elephant balancing himself 
upon a tub. He modelled a pair of these in 
which the mass is poised, respectively, upon the 
forelegs and the hind ones. Although they are 
very small in size they are large in feeling, with 
breadth of modelling and enforcement of the 
suggestion of bulk and weightiness. The 



aoo AMERICAN MASTERS 

expression of movement is admirable: felt con- 
tinuously throughout the mass and varying to 
characteristically, according as each part con- 
tributes to the action. Nor does he neglect to 
secure the surface-charm of colour and texture 
in his bronzes ; and these little objects of art make 
very choice appeal to sight and touch. This 
charm of surface is accompanied by a more 
vigorous display of movement in a group, which 
represents "The Combat" between an elephant 
and a rhinoceros. The latter, with hind legs 
planted as firmly as trees, is ramming his horn 
into the belly of the other beast, who has rolled 
over on his side and is lifting head and trunk in 
a spasm of pain. Again our interest is divided 
between the extraordinary realism of the repre- 
sentation and the beauty of the surfaces, shown 
especially in the slabs and corrugations of the 
rhinoceros. The stress of movement is carried 
still further in the quadriga. It is an incident 
of a " Chariot Race " ; the vehicle has been whirled 
on to one wheel, and the driver is throwing his 
weight upon the opposite side to restore the 
balance, at the same time holding back with all 
his force against the strength of the four galloping 
horses. This group, of full size, executed in 
plaster, cannot fail to impress one both by its 
daring and by the knowledge and power displayed. 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 201 

Whether it completely convinces one's imagination 
is less certain. The figure of the man does, so 
also that of the horse which is plunging in mid- 
air; but the hind legs of the others and the chariot 
wheel seem rooted to the ground, thereby clogging 
the impetus of movement. The group, in fact, 
raises an interesting point as to the limitation 
of the sculptor. A painter could give the wheel 
an appearance of revolving, could raise a cloud 
of dust around the heels of the horses and by 
the introduction of atmosphere resolve the 
rigidity of lines. Correspondingly, if this group 
were raised to an elevation so that the juncture 
of the wheels and legs with the ground were not 
observable, and the whole by distance were 
enveloped in atmosphere, the effect upon the 
imagination would be vastly increased, probably 
complete. But when it was seen at Buffalo, 
on a low pedestal close to the eye, the deficiencies 
of illusion were as apparent as they are in the 
accompanying illustration. However, granted 
that the illusion would be complete, we may 
question the propriety of expressing in """-Jpture 
such violent movement of progression. If 
stationary, an equal vehemence might still be 
monumental; but can one imagine any structure 
upon which, without detriment to its stability 
and impressiveness, this restless mass, hurling 



202 AMERICAN MASTERS 

itself forward from its position, could be placed? 
Therefore, the sculptor seems to have landed 
himself in the predicament of needing something 
which he has made it impossible for himself to 
procure; due, if I mistake not, to his having 
forced the medium beyond its characteristic 
limits. 

Eli Harvey's observation of wild animals in 
confinement has resulted in some excellent statues 
of lions, jaguars and leopards, all of which would 
be eminently suitable for the embellishment of 
public parks. In two cases he has used lions 
as the motive for decorating pediments intended 
for the lion house of the New York Zoological 
Society. His work is at once very true to life 
and thoroughly sculpturesque. 

In all probability, however, the finest animal 
group which has yet been produced in this country 
is the "Buffaloes" by H. K. Bush-Brown. It 
has been reproduced as a statuette in bronze, 
and in this form is a powerful and impressive 
work, but to appreciate to the full its con- 
spicuouslv monumental character, the dignity 
of its bulk and of its massed and rooted energy, 
one must have seen it in the original colossal 
size. Well placed in the natural surroundings of 
a park, it would present a spectacle of re- 
markable grandeur. This sculptor, like his uncle, 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 203 

Henry Kirke Brown, the sculptor of the 
equestrian statues of Washington and General 
Scott, is a horseman, and his own equestrian 
statues display a thorough knowledge, but scarcely 
that imposing dignity of mass, which the 
build of the buffalo made possible for this 
group. 

Whereas at the Chicago Exposition the gaiety 
of the sculptural embellishment, with the 
exception of the Macmonnies's fountain, was 
concentrated on the buildings, and the arrange- 
ment of statues and groups about the grounds 
had been regulated with reserve, one motive of 
the Pan-American was to demonstrate con- 
spicuously how sculpture could be used in the 
decoration of open spaces. There must have 
been many who felt that this feature was over- 
done ; that the dignity of the vistas was disturbed 
by the multiplicity and variety of forms, and 
that what had set out to be gay finished by being 
fidgety. The more so that there was little relief of 
greenery, the whole scheme being too exclusively 
architectural without the assuaging influence 
of landscape gardening. If in lieu of so much 
sculpture trees had been imported into the scene, 
it* beauty would have been increased, and the 
discomfort of the visitor, unsheltered from the 
sun, correspondingly diminished. The value of 



204 AMERICAN MASTERS 

greenery in displays of this sort is at once an 
esthetic and a practical consideration. 

The sculpture at this exposition was under 
the supervision of Karl Bitter, and his equestrian 
"Standard Bearers," surmounting the pylons of 
the Triumphal Bridge, were the most arresting 
features of the scheme. Ten years earlier he 
had modelled the colossal groups that stood at 
the base of the dome on the four corners of the 
Administration Building. They presented a fan- 
fare of form against the sky; and these rearing 
horses at Buffalo, with their riders holding aloft 
a draped flag, had the same fling of action, only 
more controlled by experience. Instead of an 
explosion of limbs and movement, there was a 
sustained and concentrated energy, infinitely 
more impressive. It is in decorative subjects of 
this sort, which permit a certain heroic exaggera- 
tion, that Bitter seems at his best. An Austrian 
by birth and training, he has the Teutonic 
exuberance, touched with the gaiety of the French 
influence, and it is when the occasion warrants 
the exercise of both qualities that he finds his 
best chance. When he is deprived of an excuse 
for festivity he is liable to abandon himself to 
an excess of force, as in the "Atlantes" of the 
St. Paul Building in New York, which are uniting 
their titanic strength with contortion of limbs 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 205 

and muscles to support — one little balcony ! Or if, 
as in a memorial to the dead, he is constrained to 
moderation and set toward the expression of 
sentiment, his work is apt to be characterised 
by sentimentality and ineffectualness. Yet, in 
the sitting statue of Doctor Pepper, he has made 
a sincere attempt to render in straightforward 
fashion the personality of the subject. The 
figure is realistically treated, even to the adoption 
of an awkward pose, which, however, fairly cor- 
responds with the meditative suggestion, while 
the expression of the head unquestionably enlists 
our interest. Nevertheless, it is in such a group 
as Bitter furnished for the Naval Arch at the 
Dewey celebration, full of stirring action and 
heroic suggestion, that he is to be seen most 
characteristically. 

Isidore Konti's groups at the Buffalo Exposi- 
tion proved him to be a decorative artist of 
unusual versatility. He does not show the same 
varied familiarity with ornamental forms as 
Martiny, but his technique is scarcely less facile 
and sure than the Parisian's, while touched with 
much of the Italian naivete. Gay or serious, 
according to the subject, his inventiveness of 
fancy inclines toward that slightly idealised 
realism which characterises the work of many 
sculptors of the modern Neapolitan school; a 



206 AMERICAN MASTERS 

realism that is less the product of any theory 
of art, than of the natural adaptability to 
impressions — a quick perception coloured by 
temperament. Thus Konti seems to me at his 
best when his fancy moves most simply. A first 
impression of his group, " The Age of Despotism, " 
was very satisfactory. Bold and simple in design, 
it represented a man seated in a chariot, erect and 
cold, with eyes fixed sternly ahead, and at his 
side a woman (a courtesan, I took her to be) 
lashing on the team of human cattle, while women 
were dragged in chains behind. Amid so much 
trite symbolism here seemed to be a touch of very 
naive and forcible realism. But closer inspection 
discovered that the realism was impaired by 
artifice and artfulness ; the woman in the chariot 
had wings, and one of the captives carried a pair of 
scales, a lapse into abstractions that for myself, 
at any rate, lessened the value of the group. On 
the other hand, in the group upon the Temple 
of Music, while abstractions were introduced, 
they had no other meaning than a decorative 
one. The youth with a lyre might represent 
Apollo, but there was no need to recognise the 
fact; he was simply one of a joyous band of 
figures, animated with the grace of gaiety, of 
music and the dance. These groups were as 
refined in composition as they were exuberant, 



THE DECORATIVE MOTIVE 207 

exhibiting the genuine creativeness of an artist 
who has an instinct for decoration and a lively 
delight in the pure expression of line and form, 
regulated by an instinct also of artistic propriety. 
It is eminently a Latin trait, in which the American 
is as deficient as the Anglo-Saxon or Teuton. 

Our tendency is to desire a motive in decoration 
beyond the decorative one. So we make our 
statuary expressive of patriotism or what not. 
Well and good ; but we do so without that instinct 
of propriety which should be as careful of the 
setting of the statue as of the statue itself. Thus 
in city squares and public parks we multiply our 
memorials without adding, as effectively as might 
be, to the beauty of their environment. It was 
this fact which, by a display of the opposite, the 
Buffalo Exposition was designed to enforce. In 
another chapter I have alluded to our preference 
for portrait-statues with their prosaic accom- 
paniment of tailor-made trimmings to statues 
which, while commemorating the individual, 
would be more essentially decorative. But it is 
equally to be desired that better use should be 
made of such statues as we decide to encourage; 
for a statue set down promiscuously in a public 
square or thoroughfare, facing in no particular 
direction, forming the termination of no vista of 
sight, supported and isolated by no architectonic 



2o8 AMERICAN MASTERS 

arrangement, loses the greater part of its impress- 
iveness. Indeed it is very generally forgotten 
that there is an element of formality in a statue, 
which necessitates some formality in its placing, 
and that the accompaniment of wriggling paths 
and of the haphazard sprinkling of trees, such as 
we find in our New York smaller parks, is directly 
opposed to the spirit of the statue. It is equally 
a violation of propriety and a waste of good 
material to set a fine statue on the line of a 
thoroughfare, where it is seldom seen from 
the front, but continually passed by unnoticed. 
Yet these and similar incongruities are only 
too frequent. 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 



XIII 

THE IDEAL MOTIVE 

npHE value of the imaginative quality in a 
work of sculpture must depend chiefly 
upon the degree to which it is governed and 
prompted by, impregnated with, the sculptural 
feeling. This is, of course, true of any other work 
of art : that it should be the offspring of a wedding 
of the thought with the medium ; a union in which 
the medium is not compelled into alliance with 
the thought, or dallied with in a more or less 
honourable concubinage, but fitly mated in the 
liberty of mutual dependence. Yet it is so 
habitual with us to clothe our thoughts in words, 
actually to think in words, that the artist finds 
it difficult to shake himself free of the verbal 
subjection and to think in the language of his 
particular medium. Some evade the difficulty by 
not burdening themselves with thought; others 
succumb to it and force their medium and 
technique to a literal rendering of their ideas, 
whether shallow ones or deeper; while a few 
succeed in deriving motive from the medium, or 

211 



2i2 AMERICAN MASTERS 

in so moulding their thought to it, that both 
become indissolubly blended and mutually 
enforcing. 

Thus in those signal examples of Michelangelo 
upon the Medici tombs, we may call them " Night " 
and "Day," "Dawn" and "Twilight," for con- 
venience of reference, but it is because the concep- 
tions embodied in them cannot be captured into 
the precision of words that they have so profound 
a significance. Consciousness grows upon us first 
of huge, bony structures and elastic muscles; of 
torso and limbs contorted; more developed than 
the normal; in attitudes impossible to it, or well 
nigh so. We derive from this consciousness an 
impression of struggle; but no emblem or visible 
cause for it is introduced ; only it is borne in upon 
us by the forms themselves. With this clue to 
understanding we note the more than human 
strength, the superb sensuousness, the eternal 
fixity of these supple figures and, again, their dis- 
tortion, and the struggle which they body forth is 
realised as one of spirit, a conflict of soul. But to 
have discovered this is not to have captured the 
conception. It still eludes all exact compre- 
hension; vague, limitless, the lapping up upon our 
shore of sense of an ocean that stretches to 
immensity. 

This is to cite the example of a genius, beside 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 213 

whom the wits of most other men seem petty ; yet 
surely it contains the principle upon which all 
truly imaginative work must be based. It is thus 
that Rodin bases his ; bodying forth in structure, 
modelling and expression of movement his imagin- 
ings, just so far as they are to be made palpable to 
sight, but with a residuum always of what the 
mind alone can conceive or approximate to. 

In every work of art there should be present 
the imagination of the artist, arousing our own 
imagination, directing it and then leaving it to 
its own unhampered speculation. This quality is 
not to be confined to the so-called "ideal " subject, 
it must appear in every bust or statue to make it 
vital. For while it is given to but few men to 
have creative imagination, we have a right to 
expect in the artist that degree of imagination 
which can penetrate beyond the outer integument 
of his subject, and find inside the tailor-made or 
millinery outworks the man or woman, the revela- 
tion in the flesh, however infinitesimally fractional, 
whether divine or devilish, of infinity. 

How many American sculptors have infused 
their work in portraiture with this vital quality 
has been reviewed elsewhere. But the number 
is not complete without mention, at least, of 
W. R. O' Donovan, Samuel Murray, Charles 
Calverly, Henry H. Kitson and his wife, Alice 



2i4 AMERICAN MASTERS 

Ruggles Kitson, R. E. Brooks, A. A. Weinman 
and Birtley Canfield. The last named's treatment 
of the child in portraiture is full of tender 
imagination. 

And elsewhere I have treated of some of our 
sculptors whose decorative works have exhibited 
imagination; the sweet and gaysome kind of it 
that plays like sunlight upon water ; or, if occasion 
demands it, the kind of deeper, serious import. 
But there is a kind of decorative sculpture for 
which we can have little patience: the nude or 
draped inanities that spread themselves over 
space, exploitations of brainless facility; or, again, 
the figure which would be meaningless except for 
the added symbols, and which we only recognise 
as a model, posturing with something borrowed or 
stolen from the Old World property-room. 

Yet one of the shibboleths glibly passed around 
the studio is "ideal sculpture," and it is largely 
applied to just such sculpture as this; to works 
which are barren of ideas, or in which the subject 
of the statue is declared only through some time- 
worn symbol. Not that the introduction of a 
symbol is of itself objectionable, though it is a 
fact that the works of finest imagination, as 
Saint-Gaudens's "Grief," to quote a modern 
example, are free of such aids to suggestion. 
But I am thinking of that vast majority of statues 




BUST OF A CHILD 
By Birtle/ Caniield 




THE STONE AGE 
By John J. Boyle 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 215 

in which the figure would convey no hint to our 
imagination if it were not for the symbol 
introduced. And how far, I wonder, does the 
symbol succeed in leading us? We are apt to 
find it either trite or, as in the case of some 
of the mystically symbolic work of modern 
times, abstruse. With religious symbolism it 
is different. In old days, at least, the artist 
and the public had a common starting-ground 
of knowledge, and the symbol awoke a clear 
impression, invested by religious habit with a 
weighty import. 

But what of the frequent statues, representing 
"Law," "Truth," "Justice" and the like by a 
draped model, alternately holding a tablet, 
serpent, mirror, scale and swords, or what not; 
or that countless family of undraped statues, 
clever studies merely of anatomy and academic 
composition ? Their only suggestion to the culti- 
vated imagination is one of weariness, yet they 
pass in the studios for "ideal." Let us clear our 
minds of cant and see these things for what they 
really are — more or less skilful imitations of the 
model, but of creative imagination, of the faculty 
to give expression to an idea, possessing nothing. 

On the other hand, some sculptors, in their 
avoidance of the trite, run to the opposite extreme 
of the abstruse — to that occult and mystic symbol- 



2 i6 AMERICAN MASTERS 

ism, which has been sporadic for half a century in 
Europe and has found at least two exponents in 
this country. 

Here again, if the artist makes the figure the 
main source of expression, establishing a chord 
of communication between his own imagination 
and ours, and uses the symbolic object solely as 
an accessory, the latter may possibly help our 
act of appreciation, or, at least, will not hinder it. 
But, when it usurps the chief function in the 
composition and we find in the figure no clue to 
any line of imagination, having to turn to the 
symbol for assistance, it is then that our distress 
begins. We may or may not recognise the object, 
and, if we do, may be baffled in our attempt to 
discover its allusion in the present case ; haunted 
meanwhile by a disagreeable doubt as to whether 
it was really intended to be allusive or only 
introduced for decorative effect. It is not by 
such little stepping-stones to understanding, 
slippery and insecure, that the truly creative 
imagination proceeds. It takes its leap into the 
air, clear of obstructions, relying upon its own 
power of flight. For, even if we comprehend the 
meaning of the symbol and its allusion, how far, I 
wonder, does it carry us? When from the 
mysteries of Egypt, for example, the modern 
artist borrows a symbol to garnish his modern 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 217 

thought, I wonder if we are much impressed ? He 
uses, we will say, the device of the winged globe. 
We know that it once stood to people as a sign of 
immortality ; we recognise that much, but does it 
touch our feeling — will it increase our belief in 
immortality or promise anything to our yearning 
after it? The statue itself must do that, and if 
it does, the symbol is likely to be felt intrusive. 

I do not forget that Sargent in his Boston 
decoration has made noble use of symbolism. 
Yet I feel strongly that the earlier part of the 
work which involved Egyptian, Assyrian and 
Judaic symbolism is inferior to the subsequent 
work, which is impregnated with the Byzantine. 
For in the latter the artist has identified himself 
so completely with the medieval mind, that he is 
thinking in it, while working in the modern 
technique; consequently his work is veritably a 
reincarnation of the old thought. Compared with 
this his earlier use of symbolism appears only 
scholarly and ingenious. So, one may infer, it is 
not the use of symbolism that is alien to the 
modern mind, but that use of it which borrows 
from the past and does not reproduce the ancient 
spirit or incorporate the old with modern thought. 

In his " Fountain of Man" at the Pan-American 
Exposition, Charles Grafly combined a cryptic 
motive with what was otherwise simply and 



ai8 AMERICAN MASTERS 

intelligibly sculpturesque. The crowning and 
most prominent feature of the composition, to 
which the remainder served as an elaborate base, 
was a draped mass, which on nearer view proved 
to be two figures back to back, their heads 
covered with perforated casques, joined together 
over the top by what had the appearance of a 
handle. The faces were visible, but from the rim 
of the casques descended curtains of drapery, 
enshrouding the figures, but leaving exposed the 
hands, which grasped short cylinders. There 
can be no doubt of the general suggestion of the 
symbolism, the twofold nature of man, the 
mystery of it; but I must confess that I am 
baffled by the headgear and the cylinders. Yet 
the mass was impressive as a finial to the fountain, 
having something of the character of a low 
obelisk. Indeed, for decorative purposes it might 
almost as well have been a shaft, the special 
aptitude of the human form for the expression of 
ornamental design having been obliterated by the 
drapery. Not so, however, in the lower part of 
the composition. The pedestal on which the 
figure rested was surrounded by nude forms of 
youths and maidens intended to represent the 
seasons, while the platform on which they rested 
was supported by crouching male and female 
forms, personifying, I believe, the virtues and 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE aig 

vices. Yet with all Grafly's inclination toward 
symbolism, there is very little expressional sug- 
gestion in his treatment of the nude. He becomes 
preoccupied with the model and his imagination 
seems to leave him. However, in one statue at 
least, "The Vulture of War," he has shown what 
he can accomplish, when he permits his imagination 
to control. Here the nude is made a vehicle of 
emotional force: a male figure stooping forward, 
as if he were on some lofty crag and about to 
hurl himself to earth; his face treacherous and 
cruel ; the limbs constricted like a beast of prey's. 
There is a largeness of design in this figure as well 
as expression ; something infinitely finer than mere 
close studies of anatomy, accompanied with 
accessories of abstruse suggestion ; a real incentive 
to one's imagination which is lacking, if I mistake 
not, in such compositions as "Symbol of Life," 
"In Much Wisdom" and "From Generation to 
Generation." On the other hand, in his busts 
Grafly exhibits a directness of insight into 
character and a vigorous, very personal technique 
that make them most distinguished. 

Nor does the symbolism of F. E. Elwell, as 
shown for example, in his " Goddess of Fire," stir 
more in me than an interested curiosity. Why 
should he have drawn the type of his figure and 
its accessories from the art of ancient Egypt? 



2 2o AMERICAN MASTERS 

Had he the intention of fashioning something 
beautiful, or that should pique the appetite for 
surprise? Was his motive to allure or tantalise 
our imagination? For my own part, I admit 
the fascination of this spritish figure, so queerly 
bedizened, but am not conscious of any appeal to 
the imagination. On the other hand, when his 
work is not abstruse it is apt to be too obvious. 
The "Orchid Dancer" is clearly posing for effect, 
looking for applause, and, I should judge from the 
expression of her face, quite unable to under- 
stand why any one could withhold it. However, 
while the movement of the figure lacks expression, 
there is a very pleasing fancifulness in the treat- 
ment of the drapery, curling across the body 
and upward from the feet in petal-like volutes. 
I think I do not fail to appreciate the sentiment 
which inspired this statue, and, if I speak of it as 
being too obvious, it is because it seems to me 
that the sentiment stands out clear of the sculp- 
tural feeling. Thought and technique are not 
wedded in such manner, that you not only 
cannot feel them separately, but would find it 
impossible to distinguish how much had been 
inspired by the one, how much by the other. 

Elwell's work suggests a man of poetic and 
intellectual capacity who has resorted to sculpture 
to express his ideas, and this is a different thing 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 221 

from the sculptural instinct, influenced by intellect 
and poetry. Accompanying this lack of a pre- 
dominant feeling for form is a lack of mastery 
of it, which becomes apparent when he confronts 
his model. The latter does not act as stimulus 
to sculptural motive, but becomes something 
to be reproduced, and his invention is absorbed in 
the details which shall convey a suggestion of the 
intellectual and poetic motive. One may even 
feel that this intellectual or poetic motive becomes 
an obsession, which interferes with his receiving 
sculptural stimulus from the model. For among 
his later works are two in which evidently the 
same model has been used; but in one case he 
has been filled with an idea, and the use he has 
made of the model is tame, whereas in the other 
case it would appear to have been the model 
herself which engaged his imagination. He has 
made a close study of her head and bust, pro- 
ducing something in which the nobility of form 
and flesh are very apparent, which, in fact, has 
very strongly the sculpturesque feeling. He 
calls the finished work "Mary Magdalen," but 
this, one feels sure, was a convenient afterthought, 
and that the original intention, as I have said, 
was simply a study of form and flesh; and his 
temporary escape from the prepossession of an 
idea has given free course to the sculptural pur- 



aaa AMERICAN MASTERS 

pose. Two earlier works, regarded as being his 
most important productions, were the Dickens 
Memorial and a statue of General Hancock 
at Gettysburg. 

These two, Grafly and Elwell, are the only 
American sculptors within my knowledge who 
have been drawn toward symbolic mysticism; 
for the mysticism that appears in Barnard's 
work, and must have been present in the colossal 
"Spirit" by John Donoghue, a work known to 
me only by report, is of a grander, deeper charac- 
ter, growing out of and penetrating the form 
itself. This statue of Donoghue's, a seated, 
winged figure thirty feet high, represented the 
Spirit, the "Thou" of Milton's apostrophe, who 

"from the first 
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, 
Dove-like, satst brooding on the vast abyss, 
And madst it pregnant. " 

Described as a work of great impressiveness, with 
suggestion of sublimity, benignity and mysterious 
power, it was executed in the artist's studio on 
the Roman Campagna and sent to this country 
for exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair. 
But for some reason it never reached its desti- 
nation, and was allowed to crumble away in the 
warehouse of a Brooklyn wharf. Other works 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 233 

of his also— "Sophocles," " Diana, " "Venus"— 
for lack of appreciation lie in storage. 

Working fitfully and with painful hindrances 
from insufficient facility in the handling of his 
medium, Theodore Bauer has produced some 
works full of imagination. Nature gave him the 
gifts of music and of dreaming; and, nursing these, 
he slipped on into middle life, without ceasing to 
be a child. The grit of manhood, the practicality 
of the world and the need of responding to it in 
kind, are outside his comprehension. He lives 
within himself in a world of his own: a world of 
rosy lights and purple shadows; soft, ^Eolian 
breezes, whose wailing arouses a rapture of mild 
despair; distant mountains, whose inaccessible 
snows prompt sweet imaginings of purity and 
high endeavour, while he meditates in his valley 
of unlaborious delight and delicious, pleasurable 
pain. A world of reverie, darkened, however, 
at times by storm-clouds and disturbed by the 
deep moan of thunder along the distant heights. 

For in Bauer's work delicate fancy alternates 
with sadness, as one may see in his two statues 
in the Library of Congress. "Religion" is 
represented as a young girl peering into the far 
beyond with wistful, visionary gaze and holding 
before her a poppy flower with leaves and seed- 
pod. In her grasp is the pride of life and the 



224 AMERICAN MASTERS 

narcotic with which the world lulls its pain; but 
she looks beyond them to the ideal and to the 
balm of spiritual ecstasy. In the "Beethoven," 
however, is expressed the world-wearied yearning 
of the artistic soul. The well-known face, rugged 
and graven with the lines of time and suffering, 
is slightly bowed, and the right hand is held to the 
ear as it listens intently for the far-off strain of 
inspiration, while the other hand is poised as if 
above a keyboard, the fingers searching to express 
the music in his brain. A heavy cloak with high- 
standing collar gives breadth and picturesqueness 
to the figure. It is, indeed, too picturesque, one 
may feel — with too expanded a composition and 
too much play of movement, to satisfy its 
architectonic function of relieving by a vertical 
line the horizontal of the balustrade. But, how- 
ever that may be, as the portrait of a great 
musician and an idealisation of his art, it is a 
statue full of suggestion — a work of imagination, 
elevated, tender, deep and true. 

Bauer had long pondered a series of four groups, 
representing "The Tragedy of the Sphinx"; 
her awakening to love, her passion, disillusion 
and death; and in one of the buildings of the 
Chicago World's Fair, amid the chaos of 
the construction period and in a winter of unusual 
severity, a winter of veritable discontent to him, 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 225 

he worked upon the first of these, "The Sphinx 
and the Cupid." During the exposition months 
it stood in a retreat of foliage near the Art Palace 
unnoticed. Yet, even unfinished as it was, it 
exerted an extraordinary fascination. The little 
Love God was whispering in the creature's ear, 
and as the honey of his words sweetly melted 
her slow imagination, a smile of aroused appetite 
began to play upon her lips, hunger shone in her 
eye; a passion hot and cold, eager with desire, 
callous to everything but its own satisfaction; 
a cruelty that would not be appeased until it 
had consumed itself. 

I have said that Bauer is painfully hindered 
by a lack of facility in the handling of his medium ; 
but I doubt if it is from lack of skill in technique, 
as is sometimes said. He is, in fact, a very rapid 
and sure worker up to a certain point, that of 
bodying forth his conception in its broad, general 
aspect ; and the subsequent embarrassment is due 
to the subtlety of the expression for which he is 
striving ; a kind of subtlety, often alien, I expect, 
to the expressional capacity of his medium. For 
Bauer has long wished that fate had made him 
a painter instead of a sculptor, and there is no 
doubt that the quality of his imagination is more 
suited to the medium of colour. 

In contrast with the mysticism and subtlety 



226 AMERICAN MASTERS 

of imagination, more or less displayed in the 
work we have been considering, is that form of 
imagination which turns to earth and to the facts 
of things for its inspiration. How it has operated 
in the work of some of our sculptors has been 
noticed elsewhere, as well as the fact that the 
Indian subject has made frequent appeal to their 
imagination. A further example of the latter is 
"The Medicine Man," by C. E. Dallin, which was 
a prominent feature on the grounds of the Paris 
Exposition. Mounted on a stringy pony, the 
man himself lean and gaunt, the group counted 
very little as a mass, yet compelled attention by 
the keenness of the characterisation. Amid the 
extreme modernness of the scene and its variety 
of impressions, the impassiveness of this figure, 
survival of an age so remote, was strangely 
moving; a proud, stern figure, conscious of its 
dignity, in pitiful, solemn protest against the 
inexorable march of destiny; the last echo of an 
unrecorded epic. No sculptor has succeeded 
better in combining with complete naturalism 
the poetry of the Indian subject. Gutzon 
Borglum in his statuettes has represented with 
realism and vigour its actualities, and H. A. 
Mac Neil has reached inward into the thought 
of the Indian; but Dallin has given us the 
realism, spirit and some suggestion of the Indian 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 227 

environment, such as Brush did in his early 
paintings. 

In Philadelphia, however, is an Indian group 
representing "The Stone Age," which involves 
some further suggestion. A woman stands grasp- 
ing a hatchet and clutching her infant to her 
breast, as she looks into the distance with wary, 
resolute courage, while a little child crouches up 
to her on one side, and on the other a bear's cub 
lies dead. It is by John J. Boyle, one of his few 
ideal subjects, a work of powerful imagination. 
This sculptor has essayed decorative subjects, 
but with less success. His control of composition 
does not seem to extend beyond the treatment 
of a single figure or of a group in which one is 
predominant ; and his strong point is the expres- 
sion of character or sentiment. Thus his seated 
statue of Benjamin Franklin is one of the most 
interesting examples of portrait-sculpture in the 
country. It possesses a considerable share of 
monumental dignity and a very remarkable 
intimacy of feeling. The pose is informal, the 
expression of the head and body quite natural, 
yet the conception has no trace of obviousness, 
much less of commonplace. It is invested with 
just sufficient idealisation to preserve the impres- 
sion of a statue; that it is not the counterfeit 
presentiment of a man, but a memorial of his 



228 AMERICAN MASTERS 

qualities and what they imply to his admirers. 
And the qualities are expressed with admirable 
decision; the intellectual dignity of the head 
well sustained by the erect torso and the broad, 
firm carriage of the arms; the easy negligence of 
the costume according so well with the benevo- 
lence and genial humanity of the face. Indeed, 
in this portrait-statue Boyle reveals a penetrating 
and sympathetic insight and a choice of treatment 
that are the products of an active imagination; 
and when in a subject like the "Stone Age" his 
imagination can work as it lists, it reaches to that 
point where the particular becomes merged in 
the universal suggestion. 

For in this group we pass from interest in the 
episode to a realisation of the rude grandeur of 
the primitive nature, the physical grandeur of un- 
trammelled development and the natural instinct 
of the mother animal. I recall another group of 
his: a modern peasant woman with her baby 
folded in sleep upon her broad bosom and another 
child nestlmg at her feet. Here, too, the mother 
is vigorous and ample, but rounded and softened 
by more genial environment. Yet in the generous- 
ness of her form as in the strenuousness of the 
other's, we feel the same suggestion of the earth- 
mother, the mother in closest affinity with nature. 
Only, as nature progresses from rigour to amenity, 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 



229 



the primal instinct of preservation of her young 
has passed into the all-pervading tenderness of 
maternal solicitude. It is, in fact, the typical 
conception of motherhood, as compared with the 
merely individual representation that appears in 
each of these groups. 

The conception, moreover, is coloured with 
modern thought, not a spiritualised abstraction, 
like Raphael's, but enriched with the passion and 
fecundity of earth. Raphael may have sought 
his models among the girl-mothers of Trastevere 
or the Campagna ; but his idea of motherhood he 
brought down from the region of artistic and 
intellectual speculation. On the other hand, the 
tendency of the modern artist is to set back his 
model in her actual environment and to discover 
her affinity thereto. Or, if his model be nature, 
he no longer attempts to spiritualise it by arrange- 
ment of lines and forms that accord with his 
abstract theories of beauty, or by investing it 
with atmosphere and sunlight, drawn from his 
own imagination. Nor is he satisfied with the 
objective nature-study of the Dutchmen of the 
sixteenth century; but, observing nature no less 
closely than they, he peers further into it in the 
search for a soul and heart within her that shall 
correspond to the heart and soul within himself. 

The main current of the poetic imagination in 



2 so AMERICAN MASTERS 

modern art is to find the soul in the fact and it is 
a phase of the general tendency of modern 
thought. Our gaze is earthward; to the beauty, 
poetry and desirable goodness that are in nature 
and the natural life, and to the spiritual suggestion 
in the actual. 

There are minor currents, too, little streams of 
rebellion that flow contrary to the general 
direction. The superesthetic and the super- 
intellectual, equally are protests against the trend 
toward naturalism. The one responds to what 
there is in us of world- weariness, of a jaded 
epicureanism that needs the subtlest stimulants 
to its imagination ; the other would emphasise the 
quality by which, it assumes, we are differentiated 
from, and superior to, the natural world. Disre- 
garding the Universal Intellect which regulates 
the law of natural growth and of natural habits, 
it would force the little unit of intellect into 
premature development, into lifelong estrange- 
ment from the wholesomeness of nature. For facts 
it would substitute names; words, words and 
continually words, until they take the place of 
knowledge, of ideas and of all religious, moral 
and esthetic consciousness. 

In American art there is scarcely any trace of 
the superesthetic; but more than a little of the 
superintellectual, a phase and product of our 



THE IDEAL MOTIVE 231 

infatuation for words, which binds the imagina- 
tion with wrappings of borrowed thought and 
checks the free flight of original ideas. For the 
end of art is not to teach, but to make us feel ; to 
refine and elevate the operation of the senses, 
helping us through visible, tangible and audible 
beauty to catch at something of the mysterious 
infinitude of beauty. Even as man's intellect 
reaches ever wider and further until knowledge is 
merged in speculation; so by the promptings of 
the senses we reach from appreciation of material 
things to that detachment of feeling which exists 
in the ideal. 



INDEX 



Adams, Herbert, 99-115, 184, 
193 

Ball, Thomas, vi, 56 
Barnard, George Grey, 21-36 
Barnhorn, Clement J., 193, et 

seq. 
Bartholomew Albert, 6, 7 
Bartlett, Paul W., 89-95, l8 4 
Barye, Antoine Louis, 158 
Bauer, Theodore, 223, et seq. 
Bissell, George E., 184 
Bitter, Karl, 204, 205 
Borglum, Gutzon, 153, 154, 

226 
Borglum, Solon Hannibal, 

149-162 
Boston Public Library, 81, 83 
Boyle, John J., 184, 227, et 

seq. 
Brenner, Victor David, 165- 

171 
Brooks, Richard E., 214 
Brown, Henry Kirke, vi, 43, 

203 
Bush-Brown, H. K., 202, 203 

Calverly, Charles, 213 
Canfield, Birtley, 214 
Canova, v, 56 

Carpeaux, Jean Baptiste, 134 
Casey, Edward Pearce, 188 
Cavelier, Jules Pierre, 28 
Centennial Exhibition, v, viii, 

136 
Chicago World's Fair, 61, 65, 

75, 84, 197, 203, 222, 224 
Coloring Sculpture, 102, et seq. 
Crawford, Thomas, vi 



Dallin, Cyrus E., 184, 226 
Donoghue, John, 222 
Dubois, Paul, 6, 7, 15 

Elwell, F. Edwin, 219, et 
seq. 

Falguiere, Jean Alexandre 

Joseph, 75, 100, 134 
Flanagan, John, 185 
Fr6miet, Emmanuel, 90, 157 
French, Daniel Chester, 55-70, 

193 

Grafly, Charles, 217, et seq., 

222 
Greenough, Horatio, 4 

Harvey, Eli, 202 

Jouffroy, Francois, 134 

Kemeys, Edward, 197 
Kitson, Alice Ruggles, 213 
Kitson, Henry H., 213 
Konti, Isidore, 205, et seq. 

Library of Congress, 74, 83, 
90, 113, 128, 142, 176, et 
seq., 223 

Linder, Henry, 195 

Macmonnies, Frederick, 73- 

85 
MacNeil, H. A., 226 
Martiny, Philip, 177, et seq., 

179, 191, 205 
McKim, Charles F., 65, 66, 189 
Merci6, Marius Jean Antonin, 

100, 134 



233 



234 



INDEX 



Metropolitan Museum of Fine 
Arts, New York, 81, 89, 169 

Michelangelo, 21, 26, 27, 102, 
212 

Murray, Samuel, 213 

National Sculpture Soci- 
ety, 40 

Niehaus, Charles Henry, 119- 
128, 184 

O'Donovan, W. R., 213 

Pan-American Exposition, 

149, 203, 207, 217 
Paris Exposition of 1900, 6, 

77. J 49 
Perry, R. Hinton, 185, et seq. 
Potter, Edward C, 66, 184, 

197 
Powers, Hiram, vi 
Pratt, Bela L., 181, et seq. 
Proctor, A. Phimister, 197, 

198, 199 



Rebisso, Louis T., 155, 157 
Rhind, J. Massey, 191, et seq. 
Rinehart, William Henry, vi 
Rodin, Auguste, 8, 35, 102, 

139, 158, 213 
Roth, Frederick G. R., 199, et 

seq. 
Roty, Louis Oscar, 168 
Ruckstuhl, F. Wellington, 184 
Rude, Francois, 134 

Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 3, 
17, 21, 49, 74, 75, 157, 193, 
214 

Schwarzott, M. M., 196 

Sullivan, Louis H., 190 

Taft, Lorado, 178 

Ward, John Quincy Adams, 

39-52, 167 
Warner, Olin Levi, 109, 131- 

146 
Weinert, Albert, 179 
Weinman, Adorph A., 214 




The Country Life Press 
Garden City, N. Y. 



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No. /;■ ■• Sect. Ou Shelf. 
CONTENTS 



Lincoln National Life Foundation 
Collateral Lincoln Library 



JOHN HOWELL 



IMPORTER , 
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