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Full text of "Meissonier"

SEPTEMBER, 1904 

_ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

N D 



MEISSONIER 



PRi 



MEISSONIER 




MASTERS IN ART 





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MASTERS IN ART 
II 



FRENCH SCHOOL 





MASTRKS I3f AKT PLATE I 

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRAUN, CLlMINT A CIE 



335735 



[ 33U ] 



MEISSOJVIEK 

THK SKKOKAXT'S POHTHA1T 
SCHHOEDEK'S COLLECTIOX, LOAJJOX 




MASTEHS IN AHT PLATF, III 
[343]'" 



MEISSOJVIER 

THE OKIIKHT^Y 

VAXDEHBII/T COLLECTIOK, XKW YOHK 




MASTEHS IN ART PLATE IV 

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRAUN, CLEMENT A CIE 
[ 34o ] 



MEISSONIEH 

THE VEDETTE 

CONDE MUSEUM, CHANTIiLLV 




is! 

* ; 
If 

- - - 
a * a 

Sis 






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i 

Q x 2 
Nag 




MASTERS IN ART PLATE VIII 



MKISSONIER 

THE PRINT COLLECTOR 

WALLACE COLLECTION, LONDON 




MASTEKS IN AKT PLATE IX 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SRAUN, CLEMENT 4 CIE 



ME1SSONIKR 

THE HEADER IN WHITE 

CHAUCHABD COLLECTION, PAHIS 




MASTEHS Ilf AHT PLATE X 



MEISSOXIEH 

THE BHOTHKRS VAN DE VELDE 
METKOPOLITAX MCSECM, XEVT TOHK 




PORTRAIT OF MEISSONIEH BY HIMSELF LOUVRE, PAHIS 

Meissonier has left us several portraits of himself, of which this is one of the latest. 
It was painted in 1889, two years before his death, when he was seventy-four years 
old, and shows him in a fur-lined red robe, seated in a throne-like chair. The pic- 
ture measures about a foot and a half high by nearly two feet wide. It has lately 
been transferred from the Luxembourg Gallery to the Louvre, Paris. A description 
of Meissonier's personal appearance is given in the biographical sketch which follows. 



M ASTERS IN ART 



BORN 1815: DIED 1891 
FRENCH SCHOOL 



JEAN-LOUIS-ERNEST MEISSONIER (pronounced May-so-nyeh) 
was born at Lyons, France, on February 21, 1815; but when he was still 
very young his parents removed to Paris, and it was there that he was 
brought up. Of his childhood and early youth, cheerless and full of hardships, 
Meissonier was always reluctant to speak. This may account for the slight 
knowledge that we have of these years and the somewhat contradictory state- 
ments of his biographers. His mother, to whom he was tenderly attached, and 
from whom he inherited his artistic gift, died when he was ten years old, 
and between the boy and his father there was but little understanding and 
sympathy. Strongly opposing his son's wish to become a painter, the elder 
Meissonier, a manufacturing chemist in prosperous circumstances, having 
given his son a fair though somewhat desultory school education, secured a 
position for him in the chemical department of the Maison Meunier. Here 
Meissonier, at that time about seventeen years old, swept the shop, learned 
to tie up neat packages for customers, and became, against his will, an ex- 
cellent clerk. He never faltered, however, in his determination to devote 
himself ultimately to art. He secretly took to drawing in the evenings, and 
at length besought his father to give him three hundred francs (sixty dollars) 
that he might take up painting as a profession, promising that nothing more 
should be heard from him until he had made a name for himself. "Very 
well," said his father, who had at first turned a deaf ear to his entreaties, 
"try your hand at painting, since nothing else will satisfy you. But let us 
understand each other. I give you a week to find a master, and a year to 
show that you really have talent. At the end of that time, if you have not 
succeeded, I withdraw my consent, and back you go to the shop." To these 
terms Meissonier gladly agreed, but the week was almost gone before he had 
been able to comply with the first condition. After an unsuccessful applica- 
tion to Paul Delaroche, then at the height of his fame, he went, upon the 
advice of a friend, to Jules Potier, a mediocre artist, who at first did his best 

[359] 



24 MASTERS IN ART 

to discourage him from embarking on a profession which he himself had 
found far from lucrative, but who finally, after he had examined a sketch 
which Meissonier produced from the lining of his hat, and which he had 
lacked the courage to show to Delaroche, consented to receive him as a pupil. 

All winter Meissonier went each morning to Potier's dreary studio, buy- 
ing on the way, when his funds admitted, a pennyworth of chestnuts to stay 
his hunger. His father gave him an allowance of fifty centimes (ten cents) 
a day for his meals, and invited him to the family dinner every Wednesday. 
On these occasions, Meissonier, too proud to accept his parent's invitation, 
would come in to dessert after his cheerless dinner of a roll. "Have you 
dined?" his father would ask. "Oh yes," would be the reply; "I have only 
dropped in to have coffee with you." 

After several months, Meissonier, helped thereto by Potier, who paid his 
fees in advance, entered the studio of Leon Cogniet, a painter of no small 
repute, where he remained for a short time. Cogniet he saw but rarely, and 
it is probable that his progress was largely due to the advice and encourage- 
ment of his fellow-pupils, Daubigny, Daumier, Steinheil,Trimolet, and others. 
At Trimolet's suggestion he was led to study the works of the Dutch and 
Flemish painters in the Louvre. Meanwhile, in order to eke out his slender 
means, he undertook, in conjunction with this friend, the painting of fans and 
cards and the making of cheap book illustrations. It has also been said that 
he and Daubigny supplied some of the Parisian dealers with pictures for ex- 
portation at the rate of a franc, or twenty cents, a yard. 

Meissonier never complained of these early years of struggle, and although 
he was sometimes known to wish that the days could be given back to him 
which he had lost in providing for the morrow, he would add: "But as to 
unhappiness, is it possible to be unhappy when one is twenty, when life is 
all before one, when one has a passion for art, a free pass for the Louvre, 
and sunshine gratis?" 

Meissonier's name first appeared in the catalogue of the Salon of 1834 
when his picture 'Dutch Burghers,' now in the Wallace Collection, London, 
was exhibited, and was bought by the "Societe des Amis des Arts" for one 
hundred francs (twenty dollars). 

His father now admitted that Ernest possessed a certain aptitude for art; 
and when shortly after this he painted a portrait by which his father was 
greatly struck, the now proud parent announced his intention of sending his 
son to Rome with an allowance of one hundred francs a month. For Rome 
Meissonier accordingly started, but the cholera broke out in Italy and he 
was compelled to return to Paris. 

There he found a small studio, a gift from his father, awaiting him. His 
allowance, however, had been cut down from twelve hundred to seven hun- 
dred francs a year; and in order to make both ends meet he applied to the 
publisher, Curmer, for work at illustrating; and so satisfactorily did he fulfil 
the tasks allotted him that his reputation became in time established as one 
of the foremost illustrators of the day. 

[360] 



MEISSONIER 25 

This employment was, moreover, so lucrative that he could now count 
upon a daily profit of nearly two dollars, a sum on which he could have lived 
in comfort had he had only himself to support; but in 1838, when twenty-three 
years old, he had fallen in love with and married the sister of his artist friend 
Steinheil, thereby eliciting from his father, who presented him on the occa- 
sion with six silver spoons, as many forks, a year's rent, and a year's allow- 
ance, the remark that it was evident that Ernest wanted nothing further from 
him, for when a man set up housekeeping it was a proof that he considered 
himself capable of providing for an establishment. 

It is said that Meissonier's decision to devote his attention to genre-painting 
that is, to the representation of some phase of every-day life for which 
he had early shown a natural bent, was taken in accordance with the advice 
of Chenavard, a painter from Lyons, a severe critic, and Meissonier's senior 
by several years. "In 1838or 1839," Meissonier has himself related, "Chen- 
avard came one day to take his accustomed seat at my table. Before dinner 
I showed him the picture I was working on. It was 'Jesus with His Apos- 
tles,' a canvas of which I no longer know the whereabouts. Chenavard 
looked at it for some time in silence. I went on expounding my idea to him; 
still he said nothing. At last he walked around the studio, examining each 
canvas attentively, but still silently. Before the 'Violoncello-player' he made 
a long pause. When he had finished his review, he came back to the 'Apos- 
tles' and began to demolish them. 'I suppose you hardly imagine that you will 
ever do these things better than Raphael?' said he. 'Of course not.' 'Well, 
then, what 's the use of saying over again a thing that some one else has already 
said far better?' Then, taking me over to my 'Violoncello-player,' he added: 
*Here you have something really personal and most excellent.'" From 
that moment Meissonier's course was taken: he adopted genre-painting as 
his specialty. The result was the series of masterpieces on a small scale 
which have made his name famous the world over. 

His artistic career may be said to have now fairly begun, and from 1839, 
or 1840, his reputation steadily increased. Exhibiting regularly in the Salons, 
his works were enthusiastically received. Indeed, whenever they were shown 
in the annual exhibitions such crowds would form around his tiny panels 
that a special constable had to be stationed near them for their protection. 

In 1840, six years after the exhibition of his first picture, Meissonier won 
a medal of the third class. This was soon followed by others of higher order, 
culminating in 1855 in the grand medal of honor at the Universal Exposi- 
tion held in Paris in that year. From that date his progress was little short 
of triumphal. England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Russia 
united with his native country in honoring him, and orders, decorations, and 
medals were showered upon him. Created a Knight of the Legion of Honor 
in 1846, he was made an Officer of that Order nine years later, then a Com- 
mander, and finally Grand Officer, and in 1889 the Grand Cross of the 
Legion of Honor was conferred upon him the first artist to receive this 
decoration since its foundation bv Napoleon I. Of the Institute he became a 

[361] 



26 MASTERS IN ART 

member in 1861, was twice thereafter elected its president, and was chosen an 
honorary member of the Royal Academy of London, the Munich Academy, 
and numerous other foreign societies. 

Dealers and connoisseurs vied in purchasing his works, for which fabulous 
sums were paid. His little cavaliers, soldiers, readers, smokers, and card- 
players attained such a wide reputation that he was kept busy in painting 
variations of subjects which had captivated the public by their exquisite fin- 
ish and diminutive dimensions. The "King of Lilliput" he was called by 
one enthusiastic critic; and it was said of him that "he could paint a battle 
scene on a louis d'or." 

Upon the outbreak of war between Austria and Italy in 1859, Meis- 
sonier obtained permission of the emperor, Napoleon in., to accompany the 
French army to the seat of war, and was present at the battle of Solferino,. 
shortly afterwards painting his famous canvas of that name, which is now in 
the Louvre. Still more famous are the pictures in which he represented Na- 
poleon I. under varying circumstances of triumph and of disappointment. 

With the exception of some journeys to Switzerland, Italy, and the Riv- 
iera, and a trip to Holland, Meissonier's life was spent in France; partly in 
Paris, where he built a magnificent house on the Boulevard Malesherbes, but 
mostly at Poissy in the environs of the city, where his country house, resem- 
bling a little castle, had been constructed wholly from his own designs. In both 
houses the studios, filled with valuable works of art, costumes, draperies, reg- 
imental uniforms, arms and accoutrements of every period of French history, 
formed important features. Meissonier was a born collector, and his passion 
grew as his resources increased. He used to visit the old-clothes markets of 
Paris early in the morning, when the goods were unpacked and before other 
customers had arrived, and would buy everything that he could find in the 
way of old eighteenth-century costumes, faded tapestries, and relics of by- 
gone days. When unable to procure the exact object which he might need 
as a model for any painting on hand he either had it made, regardless of ex- 
pense, or would himself turn tailor, saddler, joiner, or cabinet-maker, as occa- 
sion demanded. 

The stables were almost as important as the studios in both Meissonier's. 
establishments. His interest in horses was keen, and he never tired of 
studying their anatomy and movements. M. Charles Yriarte tells how he 
had a road made in his grounds at Poissy with a little tramway running par- 
allel to it, on which, seated in a small car, he would be propelled along the 
rails, while a horse would be put through its paces on the road beside him, 
and, pencil in hand, he would jot down every detail of the animal's action. 

Meissonier's patience in perfecting each detail of his pictures was inex- 
haustible. Indefatigable and unsparing of himself, no difficulty daunted him. 
Nor did success and wealth cause any difference in his habits of conscientious- 
industry. An early riser, he would often work in his studio or out-of-doors, 
regardless of heat or of cold, for ten or twelve hours a day, scarcely pausing for 
meals. So high was his standard that he continually changed and corrected 
his designs, frequently painting out a whole composition in order to begin 

[362] 



MEISSONIER 27 

over again if by so doing he thought he could improve upon his original 
work. Some of his canvases he used to call his "Penelope's webs." 

The Russian artist Vassili Verestchagm has told how Meissonier, in ac- 
cordance with a frequent practice, made a beautifully finished little wax 
model of a horse and rider for his picture of a horseman passing along a de- 
serted road in a strong wind. Every detail was carefully reproduced from the 
real materials the rider's cloak, hat, and spurred boots were miniature mas- 
terpieces and in order to get the exact folds of the cloak it was dipped into 
thin glue and then placed in the wind so that it stiffened as it blew. 

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, Meissonier was among 
the first to offer his services to his country. During the siege of Paris he 
occupied a high position on the staff of the National Guard, and took an 
active part in organizing a corps of artists distinguished for their bravery. 
Never could he forgive Germany for her victory, carrying his resentment so 
far as to be unwilling thereafter to receive any painters from beyond the 
Rhine, and even refusing to accept the Prussian Order of Merit offered to 
him in after years. 

Meissonier was twice married, and his domestic life was singularly happy. 
He was never so content as in his own beautiful home at Poissy ; and when he 
was elected mayor of the district it was said that he was never happier nor 
prouder than when wearing his sash of office and engaged in performing the 
duties pertaining to his position. 

"Meissonier's mode of life was simple," writes his friend M. Yriarte; "he 
loved open air; he loved his home; and clung to his own habits, leading an 
unconventional life and following his own whims, which often estranged him 
from the worldly throng. He was fond of athletic sports, especially of riding. 
He indulged in original costumes, and insisted on freedom of action. Rich 
by the products of his brush, he was the first artist who in his own lifetime 
knew what are called 'big prices.' Yet though his signature was worth that 
of the Bank of France, and his credit was unlimited, he was always in need 
of money, and if he paid the interest on his debts with a drawing or a sketch 
it was assuredly the lender who then became the debtor. This was the case 
with Alexandre Dumas the younger, who was often his banker and yet who 
never would accept money in repayment of his loans." 

In person Meissonier was short. His head was large, his shoulders broad, 
his legs slender and slightly bowed. His carriage was erect and his bearing 
military. His eyes were soft but eager. He was exceedingly short-sighted. 
His hair was thick and straight, and his beard, bushy and brown in middle 
life, was in later years white, long, and flowing. Vain and fond of display 
and of creating an impression, he was yet of a retiring disposition and very 
diffident with strangers. He had a quick, peremptory way of speaking, and 
his manner was abrupt, at times almost rude. But although he made some 
enemies he had many warm friends, one of whom, M. Jules Claretie, has 
given us the following appreciation of his character: 

"That which is most pleasing in Meissonier," he writes, "is the frank 
cordiality with which he explains his plans, and looks you in the face the 

[363] 



28 MASTERS IN ART 

while with his deep, clear eyes. This man who lives in a palace is as mod- 
erate as a soldier on the march. This artist whose canvases are valued by 
the half-million is as generous as a nabob, and will give a picture worth the 
price of a house to a charity sale." 

In 1884, on the occasion of what was called his "golden wedding with 
art" fifty years after the appearance of his first picture a loan exhibition 
of Meissonier's works was held in Paris which became nothing short of an ova- 
tion for the artist, who had then reached his seventieth year. To the end he 
worked with unflagging industry and enthusiasm. It was but a twelvemonth 
before his death that, upon the schism in the old Salon, he was made president 
of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, known as the New Salon, which 
thenceforth held its yearly exhibitions in the Champ-de-Mars. His last ef- 
fort was a sketch for a monumental decoration destined for the interior of 
the Pantheon, Paris a work very different in its large proportions from his 
customary miniature-like panels. Nothing daunted, however, he set about 
the task. The subject selected was 'The Apotheosis of France.' His pu- 
pils, notable among whom were his son Charles Meissonier and Edouard 
Detaille, stood ready to assist him in his undertaking; but it was not to be 
accomplished. His health, hitherto so robust, gave way, and his death oc- 
curred, after a suffering illness, on January 31, 1891. 

His funeral services were held in the Church of the Madeleine, Paris, and 
as the possessor of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor a full military 
funeral was accorded him. Trains of artillery followed his coffin, and salutes 
were fired as for a conqueror. 



C|)e art of Jttetesomer 

KENYON COX <THE NATION' 1896 

MEISSONIER'S style was formed in all its essentials singularly early. 
From the very first the great little pictures seem as masterly as any- 
thing their author afterwards produced. His life was long and filled with 
untiring study and industry, yet he never did things better than he did at 
first; he only did other things as well. How this quite prodigious mastery 
was attained so early is a mystery. It would seem as if this artist had never 
had to learn, had had no period of uncertainty and struggle had almost been 
born a master. The subjects change, but not the manner. From the begin- 
ning of his career to the end the conception of art is identical, the methods 
are the same, the achievement is almost uniform. 

It may even be doubted if some of Meissonier's earlier work is not the 
best that he has left, merely because the subjects and the scale of that work 
are admirably fitted for the display of his qualities and the minimizing of his 
limitations. It is the admirable series of 'Smokers' and 'Readers,' 'Painters' 
and 'Connoisseurs,' which give the fullest measure to his powers and the 

[364] 



M EISSONIER 29 

least hint of his shortcomings, which made his reputation, and perhaps are 
likeliest to maintain it. These pictures are in the purest vein of genre- 
painting, and immediately suggest comparison with the wonderful little mas- 
ters of Holland. At first Meissonier was considered as a reviver of Dutch 
art and that he was a great admirer of that art there can be no doubt. Up- 
on examination, however, it soon becomes visible that the differences between 
him and his models are as great as the resemblances. First of these differ- 
ences is a fundamental one of point of view. The Dutch masters were pure 
painters, and their subjects were strictly contemporary. They contented 
themselves with looking about them and painting what interested them in 
what they saw. Meissonier treated contemporary subjects only two or three 
times, and then only when something intensely dramatic or historically im- 
portant attracted him. You would look in vain in his work for any such rec- 
ord of the ordinary life of the nineteenth century as the Dutchmen have given 
us of that of the seventeenth. Meissonier was such a master of the antiqua- 
rianism he practised he managed to enter so thoroughly within the skin of 
his two or three favorite epochs that he almost deceives us at times; but 
he was nevertheless essentially an antiquarian, and, therefore, his work never 
has the spontaneity of the old work. 

Another difference is in the quality of drawing. Meissonier was a won- 
derfully accurate draftsman. His drawing is composed of equal parts of as- 
tonishingly clear and accurate vision and of deep scientific acquirement. It 
is not the drawing of the great stylists, the masters of beautiful and signifi- 
cant line, but it is marvelously forceful and just. The drawing of Ter Borch 
is equally accurate, but seems to have no formula, no method, no ascertain- 
able knowledge behind it. It seems unconscious and naive in a way which 
that of Meissonier never approaches. Finally, in color and in the manage- 
ment of light, Meissonier cannot be compared to any one of half-a-dozen 
Dutch painters. His tone is almost always a little foxy, his handling a little 
dry. Sometimes in interiors with only one or two figures his realistic force 
of imitation of that which was before him almost carried him to a fine ren- 
dering even of light and color. He had built his picture before he painted 
it, and had only to copy what was directly under his eye, and he did this so 
well as almost to become a colorist and a luminist. It is only when he tries 
to paint open-air subjects and larger compositions that his defects become 
very apparent. 

His merits are all to be included in the two great ones of thoroughness 
and accuracy. He never shirked any difficulty or avoided any study, was 
never sloppy or formless or vague. His knowledge of costume and furniture 
was only less wonderful than his grasp of character and his perfect render- 
ing of form. He was a thorough realist, with little imagination and less sense 
of beauty, but with an insatiable appetite for and a marvelous digestion of 
concrete fact. His work is amazing in its industry, but his industry never 
becomes mere routine. His detail is never mere finikin particularity of touch, 
but is patient investigation of truth. At his best he is hardly sufficiently to 
be admired; but he awakens only admiration, never emotion. His drawing 

[365] 



30 MASTERS IN ART 

is absolute, his relief startling, he gives almost the illusion of nature; but he 
never evokes a vision of beauty or charms one into a dream. 

Meissonier's qualities are fully sufficient to account for the admiration of 
the public and the universal respect of his brother artists; and as long as he 
was content to be a genre-painter they were sufficient to make him easily the 
first genre-painter of his time, if not quite (as an artist has recently called 
him) the "greatest genre-painter of any age." In his later work they are less 
sufficient. He became ambitious; he wanted to be a great historical painter, 
to paint a "Napoleonic Cycle," to decorate the walls of the Pantheon. He 
transferred his personages to the open air, he enlarged his canvases and mul- 
tiplied his figures, he attempted violent movement. His methods, which had 
been admirably suited to the production of almost perfect little pictures of 
tranquil indoor life, were not so adequate to the rendering of his new themes. 
His prodigious industry, his exhaustive accuracy, his vigor, and his conscien- 
tiousness were as great as ever, but the most exact study of nature in detail 
would not give the effect of open air, the most rigorous scientific analysis of 
the movements of the horse would not make him move, the accumulation 
of small figures would not look like an army. It was in vain that he built a 
railway to follow the action of a galloping horse, or bought a grain-field that 
he might see just what it would be like when a squadron had charged through 
it. What he produced may be demonstrably true, but does not look true. 

The best of these more ambitious works is perhaps the '1814'; the worst 
is the '1807,' which has found a home in the Metropolitan Museum, New 
York; yet it possesses, in as high a degree as any earlier work, every one 
of the qualities which made Meissonier's greatness. The industry, the 
strenuous exactness, the thoroughness, the impeccable draftsmanship, the 
sharpness of relief, are all here at their greatest. The amount of labor that 
the picture represents is simply appalling, and it is almost all wasted because 
it is not the kind of labor that was wanted. On all these figures not a gaiter- 
button is wanting, and the total result of all this addition of detail is simple 
chaos. The idea of the composition is fine, but the effect is missed. Looked 
at close at hand, each head, each hand, each strap and buckle, is masterly, 
but at a distance sufficiently great to permit the whole canvas to be taken 
in at one glance nothing is seen but a meaningless glitter. It is not only 
true that a life-sized figure treated like one of Meissonier's small ones "would 
be unendurable," but it is equally true that a great number of such small fig- 
ures will not make a large picture. The sharp and hard detail which was in 
place in his early canvases is fatal to the unity and breadth necessary to a 
large composition. It is equally fatal to the sense of movement. The 'Smok- 
ers' and 'Readers' were doing as little as possible, and one felt that one had 
plenty of time to notice their coat buttons and the smallest details of their 
costume; the cuirassiers of '1807' are dashing by at a furious gallop, and 
the eye resents the realization of detail that it could not possibly perceive. 
Even if the action of the horses in the picture were correct (and, for once, 
it is not), nothing could make them move when the eye is thus arrested by 
infinitesimal minutiae. 

[366] 



MEISSONIER 31 

Such was Meissonier: within his limits an almost perfect painter, and, 
even when he overstepped them, one whose terrible conscientiousness in the 
exercise of amazing ability will always merit deep respect. He thoroughly 
earned the honors he received, the fortune he acquired and squandered, and 
the immortality of which he is reasonably certain. 

THEOPHILE GAUTIER 'GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS' 1862 

MEISSONIER is one of the most remarkable painters of the nineteenth 
century. Such was his originality that without any preliminary gro- 
ping he at once struck the path which with a sure step he followed to the end. 
In those first studies in which, as a rule, an artist tentatively seeks to find 
himself by emulating and imitating others, Meissonier asserted himself at 
once not, of course, with the same accentuation, the same power of relief 
or of characterization which signalize his mature works, but nevertheless 
in such a way that he appeared to be quite distinct from all other painters, 
emphatically a master in his own domain, and easily to be recognized by 
the least observant. . . . The portraits of Ter Borch, Netscher, Metsu, 
Brauwer, and of Van Mieris might well hang on the walls of Meissonier's 
studio as the presentments of his progenitors, but a legitimate and authentic 
affiliation in no way prevents the individuality of the descendant, who may 
remain true to his origin and at the same time retain his own characteristics, 
his own special traits; and Meissonier's works, worthy of being placed in 
any gallery among the richest jewels of Dutch art, are yet distinctly his own. 
For if he resembles the "little masters" of Holland in their truthfulness, and 
in the exquisitely delicate perfection of their workmanship, in their precision 
of painting, and in their careful and exact delineation of detail, he differs from 
them in that he possesses qualities which are wholly French qualities which 
have scarcely been sufficiently appreciated. 

There is, for instance, a science in his composition unknown to the Dutch 
painters with whom he is frequently compared. This word "composition" 
may seem a singular one to use in speaking of paintings which often contain 
only one figure, but it is none the less correct. It is a mark of great art to 
inspire interest in a single figure, and Meissonier was master of that art in 
the highest degree. . . . 

It should be noted with what close observation, with what keen historic 
perception, Meissonier penetrated into the spirit of the eighteenth century; 
he strikes the key-note even more truly than do the painters or writers of the 
period itself, not one of whom has portrayed or described it so vividly. And 
he by no means confines himself to the eighteenth century; he sometimes 
takes retrospective excursions into previous periods. He sends his compli- 
ments to Ter Borch, for example, by an elegant cavalier with a short cloak, 
a collar of Venetian point, and lace ruffles in his huge top-boots. His am- 
ateurs of painting do not always wear French coats and three-cornered hats, 
but sometimes, arrayed like the gentlemen of Netscher or of Palamedes, 
they visit the studio of some Dutch master, where they critically examine a 
picture finished in minute detail, while its painter, perfectly satisfied with his 

[367] 



32 MASTERS IN ART 

work, affects an obsequious modesty. Meissonier is skilled in the portrayal 
of all such characters, accurately depicting their mien, bearing, and costume, 
and rendering with a life-like imitation of nature these little scenes composed 
of two or three personages. . . . 

One point in particular which should be observed in his work is that his 
exquisite finish comes from the firm and clear rendering of objects reduced 
to small dimensions, and not because his manner of painting is in any way 
finical or labored. On the contrary, his style is broad, his paint is laid on in 
planes, with all the accent, touch, and even with a handling of the colors, as 
if his figures were the size of life, only these qualities are all reduced to a 
proportionate scale, and when thus concentrated become clearer and more 
apparent. The hands of some of his figures are astonishing in the minute 
delicacy of all the details; in the delineation of each muscle, each vein, 
and in the care with which every finger-nail is painted; yet seen through a 
powerful magnifying-glass they would look like hands painted by Philippe 
de Champagne or by Van Dyck. It is not, then, by spending a month in 
putting the finishing touches to the handle of a broom as is related of 
Gerard Dou that Meissonier attains his marvelous results. His little pic- 
tures are always solidly constructed, admirably put together, and drawn with 
a degree of knowledge which genre-painters often lack. His local colors are 
frank, they are warm and strong without any false brilliancy or premature 
patina, and they are on a masterly scale. His talent, delicate as it is, is at the 
same time virile and robust. Possibly he does not sacrifice enough for the 
sake of the beautiful. For instance, he almost completely excludes woman 
from his work. No fair-haired maid-servant pours out the beer for those 
topers seated at the table, nor bears on a tray frail Bohemian glasses in which 
the yellow wine sparkles like a topaz; never do these haughty cavaliers ad- 
dress a declaration of love to a charming lady in petticoat of white satin; 
never does a fair model pose in those studios, so rich in objects of art; nor 
do we ever see near one of those windows with folding shutters, through 
which the light falls softly, a young girl busied with her spinning-wheel or 
plying her needle. This singular lack on the part of Meissonier cannot well 
be explained. Did he fear lest he should not^render woman's delicate beauty 
so skilfully as he portrayed the more rugged attributes of man ? We cannot 
say. We can only note the existence of this peculiarity, which is rare in 
the history of art. . . . 

Meissonier has, indeed, introduced into the painting of genre all the seri- 
ous qualities of great art. He is one of the masters of our own day to whose 
works a place will always be assured among those of the most celebrated 
painters, one who can count most surely upon immortality. FROM THE 

FRENCH 

WALTER ARMSTRONG 'MAGAZINE OF ART' 1891 

IF I were told to describe in words what it is that makes a great painter, 
I should find it difficult to include any tangible gift that Meissonier was 
without. He was a superb draftsman; he was a master of composition, so 

[368] 



MEISSONIER 33 

far as that quality will submit to mastery; he understood and could realize 
expression, and his dramatic power was great; his color was not disagreeable 
in his better moments, and his execution has never been excelled in preci- 
sion, intelligence, and general sufficiency. And yet, with all these virtues he 
failed to touch the deeper nature with all these powers he failed to satisfy 
the more refined perceptions. The fact is he lacked temperament. He could 
rise to the notion of a Bonaparte; he could paint him at a heroic moment, 
and could, by a consummate stage management, bring out his heroism; but 
he could not clothe him in that subtle envelop of art which has given a per- 
ennial charm to the doings of many a Dutch burgher. It is by the intensity 
of his own interest and by the patient skill with which he contrives to give 
it voice that he fascinates his public. . . . 

Meissonier's gifts were almost entirely objective. They were those of an 
observer, a manipulator, a scientist. It was characteristic of him that in his 
latter years he was fascinated by the doings of instantaneous photography. 
He was interested rather in the fact itself than in its esthetic capacities. He 
was abundantly endowed with the French gifts of patience, of delight in tech- 
nique, and of thoroughness in all that has to do with manipulation and form. 
As a workman Sir John Millais once said of him, "He was more complete 
than any Dutchman," and yet for the artist his best things will never have 
the charm that clings about a Metsu or a Vermeer of Delft. 

MARIUS CHAUMELIN 'PORTRAITS D'ARTISTES' 

MEISSONIER deserves praise for having resisted from the outset the 
influence of the two groups of painters who were at his advent divid- 
ing the favor of the Erench public; for having held equally aloof from the 
dry and colorless academic drawings of the classic and from the impassioned 
studies of the romantic school; for having, in his desire to paint small genre- 
pictures, turned to the true source of familiar every-day art in a word, to 
the creators, the originators, of genre-painting. The pity of it was that in 
taking the Dutch for his models he should have imitated them in the letter 
rather than in the spirit. He emulated their delicacy of touch, the lightness 
and exquisite harmony of their color, but he was never inspired by their way 
of seeing and interpreting nature, nor by their deep feeling for the actual life 
about them, which is one of the chief charms of their works. Instead of look- 
ing about him and noting the types and manners of his contemporaries 
the characteristics, passions, virtues and vices, beauties and absurdities, of the 
living men of his day Meissonier set to work to paint a society that was 
dead and gone, a society of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and un- 
fortunately he was led into devoting, in this retrospective work, far more 
thought to the portrayal of accessories than to the interpretation of ideas to 
the faithful rendering of costume than to the truth of characterization. 

In depicting detail, be it of the human face or of a landscape, Meissonier 
excels; but the general character of the one escapes him, as does the har- 
mony of the other. Herein he is materially distinguished from such a painter 
as Millet, for instance, who grasped and portrayed in a truly grand way the 

[369] 



34 MASTERSINART 

essential features and significant attitudes of his peasant models. Meissonier, 
however, analyzes, examines, dissects; he seizes with unheard-of dexterity 
even the very slightest inflection of the muscles, and reproduces with mar- 
velous surety of touch each tiny line or wrinkle of the face. But if his aim 
be to astonish us he certainly makes no attempt to move us. No painter, 
indeed, cares so little as he for the "ultra-pictorial" methods which charm 
and captivate the public. It never occurs to him to cater to the evil passions 
nor to encourage the good. He avoids with equal care moral and vulgar sub- 
jects, scenes that are comic and those that are touching, characters of ancient 
history and the actual men and women of to-day. He knows neither laugh- 
ter nor tears. He carries his indifference to grace and beauty to the point 
of almost banishing from his compositions both women and children. He 
makes no direct appeal to either the mind or the heart, but seeks, above all 
else, to charm our eyes by the feats of his brush, counting only upon his 
skill to give pleasure. His art, in short, is not made for man, but for the 
pure love of art itself. 

The simplest themes sufficed for him a soldier testing a sword, a sen- 
tinel leaning on his halberd, an arquebusier, a standard-bearer, a captain of 
foot-soldiers in full dress, a painter at his easel, an engraver bending over 
his copperplate, a bookworm reveling in his folios, a musician plaving on 
his violin, another upon his flute, a cavalier awaiting an audience. Such are 
the subjects which Meissonier chose to paint, and the small panels which 
he has devoted to these single figures are among the most highly prized 
of his works. Their principal interest lies in the fidelity with which the ex- 
pressions of the faces are rendered, in the truthfulness of the gestures, in the 
life-like attitudes, and in the marvelous painting of the accessories. In his 
scenes in which several personages are introduced he does not always suc- 
ceed in uniting the figures or in bringing them into relation with the back- 
grounds. The details are invariably faultless; it is the effect of the whole 
which is sometimes unsatisfactorv. . . . 

Such is the unity of Meissonier's achievement, from the productions of his 
early years to his last works, that to be familiar with only a few examples 
suffices for a fair idea of his manner of painting and of his trend of thought. 
In execution he is always found to be a conscientious, patient, wonderfully 
skilful draftsman, combining with unfailing sureness of brush-work a fond- 
ness for the most minute lines and the most delicate embellishments. Al- 
though there is more dryness in his first productions, more life and spirit in 
those painted when he was at the height of his career, more breadth and per- 
haps more modeling in those of his later years, they are all alike in that they 
keep to the same pictorial ideal precision. Everything in them is subordi- 
nated to this ideal. As to his artistic conception, it is invariably the detail, 
the accessory, which is emphasized and which occupies the chief place in 
his work. . . . 

If we except two or three pictures, which have in them all the most de- 
lightful qualities, Meissonier's painting, so clear, so precise, so knowing, 
learned, and deliberate, will be found lacking in several great qualities there 

[370] 



MEISSONIER 35 

is nothing of the unexpected in it to take us by storm, nothing impulsive or 
impetuous to stir our emotions, no warmth of feeling to move, nor passion 
to transport us. It is perfection; but perfection so limited, so monotonous, 
that were the truth to be told, it ends by wearying even those who have been 
most impressed by his marvelous skill. FROM THE FRENCH 

LIONEL ROBINSON M E I S SON I E R ' 

WE do not claim for Meissonier grandeur of style nor sublimity of gen- 
ius. The outward embodiment of the thought, rather than the thought 
itself, is too predominant at all times in his work. His creative power seems 
limited to a degree rarely found among painters of his technical power. He 
has little sentiment and no tenderness. On the other hand, he is absolutely 
free from sentimentalism or tawdriness. "To see on a large scale, to exe- 
cute in miniature" seems to have been the aim of his art, and it would be 
difficult to find among the ranks of ancient or modern painters the name of 
one who, by careful and laborious work, more completely achieved his ob- 
ject, or to whom may be more truly applied the motto: Maxims mirandus 
in minimis. 



^orfes of ^letssonter 

DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PLATES 
'THE SERGEANT'S PORTRAIT' PLATE I 

"T?OR technical skill and subdued humor," writes Mr. Lionel Robinson, 
JL "this picture is reckoned among Meissonier's greatest successes." The 
scene is laid in a barrack yard in bright sunlight. A sergeant^ magnificent 
in his white and blue eighteenth-century uniform, and fully conscious of his 
fine appearance, is posing before a humble member of the artistic profession, 
surrounded by a group of soldiers who watch with critical interest the prog- 
ress of their sergeant's portrait. The red brick wall of the building which 
forms the background enhances the effect of this brilliantly lighted scene, 
which Meissonier is said to have painted in order to prove to his critics that 
they were wrong in asserting that he could paint only interior scenes or those 
in which the light was subdued. 

The picture, dated 1 87 4, measures nearly two feet and a half high by about 
two feet wide. It is in Baron Schroeder's collection, London. 

<THE BRAWL* PLATE II 

' / ~|~ V HE BRAWL' ('La Rixe') is one of Meissonier's most celebrated 

A. works. Painted in 1855 and exhibited in the Universal Exposition 

held in Paris in that year, it was purchased by Napoleon in. for twenty 

thousand francs ($4,000) and presented by him to Prince Albert during the 

[371] 



36 MASTERS IN ART 

visit of Queen Victoria and her consort to Paris. It is now in the possession 
of the King of England. 

The scene represents a quarrel in a tavern between bravos. The period is 
the early part of the seventeenth century. Tables and chairs have been over- 
turned, and cards, the probable cause of the trouble, lie scattered on the floor. 
The assailant has drawn his dagger and struggles to free himself from two com- 
panions, as they with difficulty prevent his rushing upon his adversary, who, 
restrained by a third peacemaker, attempts to draw his sword. The violent 
movement, the fierce struggle of the angry men, the intense expression, not 
only of the faces but of each limb and muscle, are powerfully rendered by 
the artist, who, it is said, painted this stirring scene to silence the critics who 
had declared him unable to depict action. 

The picture, larger than Meissonier's usual tiny panels, measures nearly 
eighteen inches high by twenty-two inches wide. 

<THE ORDERLY' PLATE III 

NOWHERE has Meissonier's skill in the exact rendering of detail, and 
at the same time his power of characterization, been better exemplified 
than in this celebrated picture of 'The Orderly' ('L'Ordonnance'). An or- 
derly of the period of the First Republic, in high boots and with his musket 
slung across his shoulders, has delivered a despatch to an officer, who, standing 
with legs apart and back turned to the fireplace, pompous in the conscious- 
ness of superior rank, has taken his pipe from his mouth, and deliberately 
peruses the letter. A hussar seated at a table nearby, pipe in hand, watches 
the face of his chief. 

The accessories of the scene, furniture, ornaments, and above all the cos- 
tumes, are painted with such care that each bit of carving, each strap and 
buckle of the soldiers' uniforms, is clearly and accurately portrayed. 

The picture, dated 1866, is now i" the Vanderbilt Collection, New York. 
It measures eighteen inches high by fifteen inches wide. 

<THE VEDETTE* PLATE IV 



</ T -N HE VEDETTE,' or mounted sentinel, was a subject often painted by 
A Meissonier, and one that gave scope to his fondness for portraying 
military life and picturesque costume. Above all it offered opportunity for 
his study of the horse, in the masterful delineation of which he was unsur- 
passed. 

M. Gruyer thus describes the famous version of 'The Vedette' here re- 
produced (the full French title of which is 'La Vedette des Dragons sous 
Louis xv.'), the original of which is in the Conde Museum, Chantilly: 

"Seated motionless upon his horse in the blazing sunlight, his gun at his 
side, the vedette scans the horizon. His good horse, with ears erect and 
nostrils distended as if scenting danger from afar, stands like a statue, his 
shadow outlined upon the sun-baked earth beside him. In every respect this 
horse is a model of correct and accurate drawing. As to the vedette himself, 

[372] 



MEISSONIER 37 

he is characterized by that frank simplicity, that combination of elegance 
and straightforward realism, which are, as it were, the artist's signature. 
The little masterpiece vividly brings to mind those picturesque red dragoons, 
who, with their big boots and black three-cornered hats enlivened by knots 
of blue ribbon, formed part of the army of France in the time of Louis xv." 
The picture was painted in 1863. It is on wood, and measures ten inches 
high by eight inches wide. 

<FRIEDLAND, 1807' PLATE V 

THIS famous picture is one of the uncompleted series of the "Napoleonic 
Cycle" (see description of the following plate). It has been spoken of 
by some critics as a "superb example of Meissonier's art," as his "finest 
achievement," and by others as "one of the worst pictures he ever painted," 
a "failure in composition," cold in its elaboration of detail, monotonous in 
the figures, which it is said were all painted from one and the same model; 
inferior, indeed, in every respect, save in the draftsmanship and marvelous 
technique, in praise of which no dissenting voice is raised. Whatever the 
view held of this picture, however, 'Friedland, 1807'' is Meissonier's most 
celebrated work, and it is well known that the artist regarded it as his master- 
piece. He expended fourteen years of labor upon it, studies innumerable 
were made for it (each figure, it is said, was the subject of a separate sketch), 
and changes and corrections were again and again introduced which resulted 
in an almost entire repainting of the scene. To portray accurately the ap- 
pearance of grain trampled by hoofs of cavalry horses as shown in the fore- 
ground of the picture, Meissonier is said to have bought a wheat-field and 
hired a troop of cuirassiers to charge through it, he himself riding beside and 
carefully noting the attitudes of men and horses. Such was the thorough- 
ness, the painstaking care, and the untiring patience that went towards the 
making of this famous work. 

The subject represents the triumphant defiling of the cavalry of the Im- 
perial Guard before Napoleon I., who, seated motionless upon his white horse, 
occupies the central point of interest, the spot upon which all eyes are fixed. 
Grouped about him are his generals Bessieres, Duroc, and Berthier; just 
behind him General Nansouty with his division awaits the order to defile; 
farther back is the "Old Guard," with their bearskin caps and white breeches; 
and behind them again, squadron after squadron of troops, with an infinite 
perspective dotted with men as far as the eye can see. 

"I did not intend to paint a battle," said Meissonier; "I wanted to paint 
Napoleon at the zenith of his glory; I wanted to paint the love, the adora- 
tion of the soldiers for the great captain in whom they had faith and for 
whom they were ready to die. For the picture '1814,' the heartrending end of 
the imperial dream, my palette did not have colors sad enough; but in 'Fried- 
land, 1807,' wishing everything to appear brilliant at this triumphant mo- 
ment, it seemed to me that I could not find colors sufficiently dazzling. No 
shade should be upon the emperor's face to take from him the epic character 
I wished to give him. The battle of Friedland, already commenced, was nec- 

[373] 



38 MASTERS IN ART 

essary to add to the enthusiasm of the soldiers and make the subject stand 
forth, but not to lessen its effect by saddening details. All such shadows I 
avoided a dismounted cannon and some growing wheat which would never 
ripen, this was enough. The men and the emperor are in the presence of 
each other. The soldiers cry out to him that they are his, and the great chief, 
whose imperial will directs the masses that move around him, salutes his de- 
voted army." 

'Friedland, 1807' was purchased from the artist by the late Mr. A. T. 
Stewart of New York, for $60,000. At the sale of the Stewart Collection 
in 1887 it was bought by Judge Henry Hilton for an even larger sum, and 
presented by him to the Metropolitan Museum, New York, where it now 
hangs. It is painted on canvas, and measures nearly four feet and a half high 
by about eight feet wide. 

'THE CAMPAIGN OF FRANCE, 1814' PLATE VI 

ONE of the two finished works belonging to an uncompleted series which 
it was Meissonier's intention to paint illustrating the chief events of 
the military career of Napoleon I. is this picture, 'The Campaign of F ranee,' 
or '1814,' as it is perhaps more often called. It is by many regarded as his 
masterpiece. 

"When I made the sketch for '1814,'" he said, "I was thinking of Na- 
poleon returning from Soissons with his staff after the battle of Laon. It 
is the campaign of France, not the return from Russia, as has been some- 
times suggested. For this theme I could scarcely find colors sad and subdued 
enough. The sky is dreary, the landscape devastated. The dejected, exas- 
perated faces express discouragement, despair, possibly even treachery." 

In the center of the picture, seated on his white horse and wearing his 
famous gray coat, rides Napoleon. Close behind follow his marshals Ney, 
his overcoat buttoned around his shoulders; beside him Berthier, and then 
Flahaut.. Farther back are Drouet and Gourgaud, and beside them an officer 
who from sheer fatigue has fallen asleep on his horse. Behind, as far as the 
eye can see, follow in military file the guides, lancers, and cuirassiers. "The 
abrupt diminution of the line of men in my '1814,'" said Meissonier, "is an 
intentional effect. Some painters would, perhaps, have put in as many fig- 
ures as possible, but it was my idea to suggest a line stretching away into 
the distance out of sight. This gives greater majesty to the emperor with 
his marshals behind him each so individual, so personal in costume and 
attitude, like Ney, for instance, who never put his arms through the sleeves 
of his overcoat. A little way off comes the infantry, marching in line, the 
drums in front." 

To paint this figure of the emperor Meissonier made many studies. 
Having borrowed the identical gray riding-coat of the first Napoleon, the 
famous redingote grist, from the National Museum, where it was preserved, 
he had an exact copy made for his model to wear. M. Charles Meissonier, 
his son, has told how his father waited long for the appropriate weather in 
which to paint the scene from nature. "At last the snow fell, and when it 

[374] 



MEISSONIER 39 

had covered the ground my father set to work. He had the earth trampled 
down by his servants and broken up by the passing to and fro of heavy carts. 
When the track had become sufficiently muddy, he began work, and, not- 
withstanding the bitter cold, placed his models on horseback; then, with 
prodigious activity, he hurried on the study of details in order to get them 
finished before a thaw set in. Fortunately the weather continued cold, and 
the same sad gray sky shrouded with opaque clouds remained the sky 
necessary for the desired effect. After the escort of generals Napoleon's 
picture was the next work. All the different parts of his costume were ready 
and had been executed under Prince Napoleon's supervision and rigorously 
copied from the authentic relics. When the time came to dress the model 
it was found that he could not put on the clothes. He was a stout young 
man and the riding-coat was too small for him, while the hat fell over his 
eyes. My father then tried on the costume; the coat fitted him like a glove, 
the hat seemed made for him. He did not hesitate for a moment, but at once 
took the model's place on the white horse that had been sent from the im- 
perial stables, had a mirror set up before him, and began to copy his own 
image. The cold was intense; my father's feet froze to the iron stirrups, 
and we were obliged to place foot-warmers under them and to put a chafing- 
dish near him, over which he occasionally held his hands." 

The picture was painted in 1864. It measures about twenty inches high 
by thirty inches wide, and is in the Chauchard Collection, Paris. 

'THE STIRRUP-CUP* PLATE vn 

MEISSONIER repeated this subject several times, always with vari- 
ations. In this version, owned by the late Mr. Frederick L. Ames, 
Boston, the scene is laid before an inn. Hat in hand, a cavalier of the time 
of Louis xni. takes his parting glass, the "stirrup-cup," from the landlord's 
wife. This is one of the rare instances of the introduction of a woman in 
a picture by Meissonier. 

The attitudes are lifelike, the expressions of the different figures natural, 
and in the effect of strong, vibrant sunshine which permeates the scene 
Meissonier has given an admirable example of his skill in the portrayal of 
light and atmosphere out-of-doors. 

The trees at the left of the picture are vivid spring green, relieved against 
a bit of blue sky; the wall of the inn is of cream-colored stone; the horse is 
white; the cavalier is clad in pale gray-green stuff; the woman's bodice is 
fawn-colored and her skirt bright cherry red. The picture measures about 
seven inches high by nine inches wide. 

'THE PRINT COLLECTOR' PLATE VIII 

IN a room filled with a variety of objects, pictures framed and unframed 
upon the walls, bottles, jars, books and ornaments upon the tables, en- 
gravings in portfolios or lying carelessly upon a chair a room which is said 
to be a representation of one of Meissonier's own studios, and which is at- 

[375J 



40 MASTERSINART 

tractive in its very untidiness a print collector, wearing a long dark coat, 
gray stockings, and low shoes, is engaged in showing one of his treasures to 
a visitor, who, clad in a light brown coat, and with his hair dressed and 
powdered for the day, critically regards it with the eye of a connoisseur. 

"There seems no sense of ordered arrangement anywhere," writes Mr. 
A. G. Temple, "yet every inch of this panel shows the same transcendent 
skill, from the leg of the chair to the sensitive value given to the stone jar 
against which the green table-cloth falls. Nowhere is there opacity, but a 
beautiful transparency alike in lights and shadows." 

The picture measures about fourteen inches high by eleven inches wide. 
It is now in the Wallace Collection, London. 

<THE READER IN WHITE' PLATE IX 

THIS little picture, known as 'The Reader in White' (<Le Liseur Blanc'), 
painted on a panel eight inches high by six inches wide, is one of the 
incomparable series of single figures which went far towards establishing 
Meissonier's reputation, and attained such world-wide popularity that the 
artist could have made his fame and fortune by the mere multiplication of 
these tiny masterpieces. 

"It is in his single figures his monologues," writes M. Andre Michel, 
"that Meissonier attains perfection. If one would experience unalloyed pleas- 
ure let him look at the charming series of 'Readers,' standing or seated in 
their rooms, where all the accessories are so characteristic of their lives and 
tastes. In every one of these little pictures the light comes from the side, 
through a window sometimes open, sometimes partly closed by inside shut- 
ters. A green or a red cloth covers the table, on which are piled books bound 
in parchment or calfskin, and pamphlets with worn and ragged edges. The 
Reader himself, dressed sometimes in black, sometimes in white, and again 
in cherry color, is standing, or leaning against the window, or seated before 
his table, absorbed in his book, while on his face there is always a subtly por- 
trayed expression of inward content." 

The 'Reader' here reproduced is dressed in a costume of white woolen 
material, his hair is powdered, and the table against which he leans is covered 
with a green velvet cloth. Painted with the exquisite finish of a Dutch "little 
master," this picture is yet characterized by a spirit, an indescribable some- 
thing, distinctly French. It was painted in 1857, and is in the Chauchard 
Collection, Paris. 

THE BROTHERS VAN DE VELDE' PLATE X 

MEISSONIER has here represented the two Dutch painters Adrien and 
Willem van de Velde, who flourished in the seventeenth century. 
Adrien, the elder, was noted for his landscapes with figures and cattle, and 
Willem for his marine views. The scene is the studio of the younger brother. 
Adrien van de Velde, wearing a gray doublet, breeches of the same color, 
and a long red mantle, is seated before his brother's easel, attentively exam- 

[376] 



MEISSONIER 

ining a painting, while Willem, palette and brush in hand, awaits his elder 
brother's criticism. He wears a pearl-gray coat with slashed sleeves. 

The carved oak sideboard covered with various objects, the mandolin on 
its top, the unframed canvas resting against the wall beside it, the open port- 
folio of sketches on the floor, the chair in the foreground, as well as every 
detail of feature and costume, are painted with all the care and technical 
skill of which Meissonier was a past master. 

The picture, dated 1856, measures ten inches high by eight inches wide. 
It is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. 



A LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL PAINTINGS BY MEISSONIER 
IN PUBLIC COLLECTIONS 

THE following list includes only the more important pictures in collections which are 
accessible to the public, for the majority of Meissonier 1 s works (nearly five hundred 
in all, and of which about seventy-five are in the United States) are in private possession, 
and therefore not only difficult to trace, but constantly changing hands. For a fuller list the 
reader is referred to Greard's 'Meissonier' (London and New York, 1897). 

ENGLAND. LONDON, WALLACE COLLECTION: A Musketeer; Halting at an Innj 
Napoleon i. and his Staff; A Cavalier; St. John in Patmos; The Print Collector 
(Plate vin); The Decameron; The Bravos; The Roadside Inn; Portrait of Colonel Felix 
Massue; Soldiers Gambling; A Cavalier; A Musketeer; Polichinelle; Dutch Burghers; 
The Guardroom FRANCE. CHANTILLY, CONDE MUSEUM: The Vedette (Plate 
iv); The Cuirassiers of 1805; The Amateurs of Paintings (water-color) LYONS MU- 
SEUM: Portrait of Meissonier; Portrait of General Championnet; Portrait of Paul 
Chenavard PARIS, LOUVRE: Napoleon in. at Solferino; Napoleon in. and his Staff; 
Expectation; Young Woman Singing; Landscape; Washerwomen at Antibes; Studies of 
Cuirassiers and Horses (three panels); Portrait of Alexandre Dumas the Younger; Por- 
trait of Madame Gerriot; Three Views of Venice; The Madonna del Bacio; Ruins of the 
Tuileries; The Siege of Paris; Samson; J. J. Rousseau and Madame de Warens; On the 
Staircase; Studies of two Cuirassiers; Antibes; The Travelers; Cuirassier; Portrait of 
Meissonier when Young; Portrait of Meissonier (Page 22); The Reader; The Three 
Smokers; The Flute-player; Military Orders; The Poet VALENCIENNES MUSEUM: Por- 
trait of Meissonier (water-color) GERMANY. MUNICH, NEW PINAKOTHEK: The 
Bravos HAMBURG, KUNSTHALLE: A Cavalier HOLLAND. AMSTERDAM, FODOR 
MUSEUM : Dying Man and Monk UNITED STATES. BALTIMORE, WALTERS GAL- 
LERY: The Jovial Trooper; The End of a Game of Cards; Courtyard of the Artist's Stu- 
dio; '1814' (single figure of Napoleon); Two Portraits of Meissonier BOSTON, MU- 
SEUM OF FINE ARTS: A Horseman (sketch); A General (sketch) CHICAGO, ART IN- 
STITUTE: The Vedette NEW YORK, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM: Friedland, 1807 (Plate v); 
The Sign-painter (water-color); The Brothers Van de Velde (Plate x); General and Ad- 
jutant; Man Reading; A Cavalier PHILADELPHIA, ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS: Cavalier 
Waiting an Audience. 

[377] 



' . 
42 MASTERSINART 



A LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL BOOKS AND MAGAZINE ARTICLES 
DEALING WITH MEISSONIER 

TV /TEISSONIER, ses souvenirs, ses entretiens,' by V. C. O. Greard (Paris, 1897), 
1VJ. although far from satisfactory or comprehensive, is the most important study of 
Meissonier that has yet appeared. An English translation by Lady Mary Loyd and Flor- 
ence Simmonds was published in London and New York in 1897. 

AJOUT, E. Nos artistes au Salon de Paris. Paris, 1858 ABOUT, E. Salon de 1864. 
Paris, 1864 ALEXANDRE, A. Histoire de la peinture militaire en France. Paris 
[1889] BEAULIEU, C. D. Peintres celebres du xix e siecle. Paris [1894] BELL, N. 
Representative Painters of the xixth Century. London, 1889 BIGOT, C. Peintres 
francais contemporains. Paris, 1888 BLANC, C. Les artistes de mon temps. Paris, 
1876 BURTY, P. Meissonier (in F. G. Dumas' Illustrated Biographies of Modern 
Artists. Trans, by Clara Bell). Paris, 1882 BURTY, P. Croquis d'apres nature. 
Paris, 1892 Catalogue d'une exposition des ceuvres de Meissonier, 1893. Paris, 
jg^ Catalogue des tableaux composant 1' atelier Meissonier. Paris [1893] CHAU- 
MELIN, M. Portraits d' artistes. Paris, 1887 CHESNEAU, E. La Peinture fra^aise au 
xix e siecle. Paris, 1862 CLARETIE, J. Portraits contemporains. Paris, 1885 
COOK, C. Art and Artists of our Time. New York [1888] FORMENTIN, C. Meis- 
sonier. Paris, 1901 Funerailles de M. Meissonier. Paris [i89i]^GREARD, V. C. O. 
Meissonier, his Life and his Art. Trans, by Lady Mary Loyd and Florence Simmonds. 
New York, 1897 GRUYER, F. A. La Peinture au Chateau de Chantilly. Paris, 1898 

LA FORGE, A. D. La Peinture contemporaine en France. Paris, 1856 LARROUMET,G. 
Meissonier. Paris [1893] MAUCLAIR, C. Great French Painters. Trans, by P. G. 
Konody. New York [1893] MEYNELL, A. Meissonier (in Meynell's Modern Artists). 
London, 1883 MOLLETT, J.W. Meissonier. London, 1882 MUTHER, R. History 
of Modern Painting. New York, 1896 PILLET, C. Exposition Meissonier, 1884. Paris 
[1884] ROBINSON, L. Meissonier. London [1887] STRANAHAN, C. H. A History 
of French Painting. New York, 1888 TEMPLE, A. G. The Wallace Collection. Lon- 
don, 1902 WATROUS, H. W. Meissonier (in Van Dyke's Modern French Masters). 
New York, 1896 WOLFF, A., AND OTHERS. Notes upon certain Masters of the xixth 
Century. 1886. 

MAGAZINE ARTICLES 

ACADEMY, 1891: Meissonier AMERICAN ARCHITECT, 1879: A Day with Meis- 
\. sonier. 1893: S. Beale; Meissonier in London L'ART, 1876: W. Ballu; '1807' 

ATHENJEUM, 1884: J. Claretie; Notes from Paris. 1891: Meissonier. 1898: Review 
of Greard' s Meissonier CONTEMPORARY REVIEW, 1 899 : V. Verestchagin; Reminiscences 
of Meissonier COSMOPOLITAN, 1891: G. E. Montgomery; The Master of Genre 
GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS, 1862: T. Gautier; Meissonier. 1862: P. Burty; Les Eaux- 
fortes et les bois de Meissonier. 1866: P. Burty; L'CEuvre de Meissonier. 1884: 
A. Michel; Exposition des ceuvres de Meissonier. 1891: L. Gonse; Meissonier. 1891: 
E. Bonnaffe; Documents inedits sur Meissonier. 1893: L. de Fourcaud; Exposition des 
oeuvres de Meissonier. 1893: H. Beraldi; Exposition des ceuvres de Meissonier LIPPIN- 
COTT'S MAGAZINE, 1874: L. H. Hooper; A Visit to the Studio of Meissonier MAC- 
MILLAN'S MAGAZINE, 1884: Meissonier MAGAZINE OF ART, 1881: A. Meynell; Our 
Living Artists. 1885: 'Meissonier Pinxit.' 1891: W. Armstrong; Meissonier. 1893: 
C. Phillips; The Meissonier Exhibition NATION, 1896: K. Cox; The Paintings of 
Meissonier NINETEENTH CENTURY, 1898: C. Yriarte; Meissonier, Personal Recollec- 
tions and Anecdotes PORTFOLIO, 1893: P. G. Hamerton; Meissonier SATURDAY 
REVIEW, 1891: Meissonier. 1897: Review of Greard' s Meissonier WESTERMANN'S 
ILLUSTRIERTE DEUTSCHE MONATSHEFTE, 1885: H. Heinecke; Meissonier ZEITSCHRIFT 
FUR BILDENDE KUNST, 1 866: O. Mundler; Meissonier. 

[378] 



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