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The Individual Rooms.
To a large number of American artists of the first rank, whose work belongs to modernity, the honor of separate galleries was given. The list is as follows:
James McNeill Whistler, Room 28, paintings; Room 29, etchings.
James McNeill Whistler.
Two separate rooms are devoted to Whistler's works; one, No. 28, to his paintings, and the other, No. 29, immediately adjoining, to his etchings and lithographs.
His is the greatest name contributed by the United States to the art of the world, and his influence has been of the most profound and positive kind. The pictures shown in this room cover practically his whole career, from an example of his earlier period when he was strongly influenced by the realism of Gustave Courbet, on through the exquisite nocturnes, and the marvelous portraits, to the almost transcendental loveliness of the series of color studies which belong to the Whistler who, passing from perfection achieved, experimented in regions where pictorial art seems to enter upon a mystical marriage with the secrets of music.
There are several very famous pictures here. One of them is incidentally notorious as the picture which Ruskia said was the result of Whistler throwing a paint pot in the face of the public-for saying which the irate critic was sued by his even more irate subject, who won the verdict, and a penny for damages. This is the nocturne. "The Falling Rocket."
In the adjoining room the etchings and lithographs open other vistas into the magical region where quintessential good taste and a psychic perceptiveness to the finer forces of beauty, are mingled in the alembic of Whistler's art. Far indeed did he travel from the preoccupation with material reality which was the formula of Courbet. He found himself more and more intent upon suggesting the essential inner spirit which vivifies all outward manifestation. Almost as clairvoyantly as in the ease of the pictures do the etchings relate the story of this magician of line and color, whose work is the greatest evocation of spiritual beauty which modern painting has known.
Whistler was born at Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834. His father was an eminent engineer at one time in the service of Emperor Nicholas of Russia, and as a child the artist lived much abroad. He was educated in the United States and as a young man was entered at West Point as a cadet. His stay was short and his next move was to Paris where he became the pupil of Gleyre, in whose studio he associated with the painters Fantin-Latour and Degas, and the etchers Bracquemond and Legros. But academical training did not last long. Whistler was an original genius and roamed the world absorbing the influences that were congenial and rejecting all else. Around his work there raged the bitter controversies that always accompany the disturbing passage of a creator of new values through the art of his day; but even before his death, which occurred in 1903, he had won the only victory that he cared much about, namely, the admiration of those capable of understanding his aristocratic and distinguished work.
John H. Twachtman.
Room No. 93 is devoted to the works of this great artist. It may yet he recognized that in Twachtman modern, native American art has reached the highest point it has yet developed.
Whistler and Sargent are cosmopolites. Twachtman lived year in and year out upon a farm in the hills of Connecticut, and with a soul in vibrant accord with the spirit of nature as it manifests itself amid New England field and woods and hills, he created masterpieces of artistic beauty which stem from American soil.
It was not the facts, nor even the glorified garments, of nature which attracted this artist. He sought to interpret the finer forces of nature, the subtle soul of it, that inner life which the painters of olden times, the days of faith, felt as sacramental and which most modern artists either ignore or fail to realize. It was particularly the austere yet splendid and crystalline synthesis of winter which Twachtman reacted to.
It is not the cold, the duskiness, the dread, the torpor of the brumal season which his pictures render; nor the brilliant sparkle and crisp, metallic surfaces which more materialistic painters delight to show us. The light which bathes with such tender, veiled radiance these winter harmonies (which some American Debussy should set to music) seems to emanate from within. Technically, Twachtman was a modern of the moderns, and he was a leader in that development of painting which seeks its motive in the abstract.
John H. Twachtman was born in Cincinnati in 1853. He began his art studies in the School of Design in that city, where for two years he studied under Frank Duveneck. Then followed some years of study in Munich. Returning to America, he lived a retired life devoted to an art which necessarily could never be widely popular. He died in 1902.
Edmund C. Tarbell.
Room No. 89 contains the pictures of this popular and celebrated Boston artist, who is one of the jury at this Exposition.
In the paintings for which Tarbell is most admired modern genre is exhibited on its highest artistic level. As Charles H. Caffin admirably characterized Tarbell's work, "It is the character of the scene as a whole that he represents, the sum total of the impression recorded by the eye. Further, the parts are seen in their variety of relations to one another and the ensemble, everything also in its proper 'milieu' of lighted atmospheres and with reference to the latter's diverse effects on form, color, and texture."
Born in Massachusetts in 1862, Tarbell received his early training at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and later in Paris under Boulanger and Lefebvre. The list of his awards and honors is a very long one, and a number of the permanent collections of the country contain examples of his work. One of the pictures in this room, the "Girl Crocheting," has been declared by some critics to be one of the best painted canvases in American art, and destined to become famous as the culminating point of its particular school of realism, which stems from Jan Vermeer and the "Little Dutchmen"; but with the lesson of modern light added to the message of the bygone masters of Holland.
Room No. 90 is devoted to the landscapes of William Keith, by far the most important painter of the Pacific Coast.
Born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1839, Keith came to New York in 1850. As a youth he learned the art of wood engraving - as did so many other early American artists - and practiced it until 1859 in the service of Harper Brothers. In that year he came to California. For some years be continued to work at his trade. But the gradual introduction of process work narrowed his field, and in his more abundant leisure he began to sketch from nature. Artists were few in California in those days, and when a rail road looked about for an artist to paint some of the characteristic scenery along its lines, Keith secured the work although he had never before painted any pictures in oils, in which medium the work was to be done. However, Keith confidently set to work; he satisfied his employers and was enabled to open a studio in San Francisco. Those were boom days in the Golden State; hundreds of prosperous home-makers required pictures and were not critical as to their artistic merits. For a year or more Keith turned out many paintings, crude work, indeed, compared with his later manner, but it sufficed.
The proceeds of the auction sale he held at the end of the year in San Francisco - in which city art has depended in large measure on the auctioneer - enabled him to go to Munich. He spent two years abroad with great benefit to his technical equipment. At a later period he made another visit to Europe, especially studying the works of Velasquez and Hals. But it is probable that critical judgment will give to the Barbizon School and especially to George Inness, its American disciple, the greatest share in the formation of William Keith's best-known and highest style. Inness visited Keith in 1890 and spent several months working with him in studio and field. There are striking similarities, not only in their pictures, but in other respects, between these two artists.
Both were Scotchmen, both were wood engravers before becoming painters, and both tried to express the living spirit of nature as felt by their temperaments, which were alike in many ways, especially in the strain of Swedenborgian mysticism which influenced them.
In the long and fertile period of his best manner, Keith roamed north and south along the Pacific Coast, painting his impressions of its wonderful beauty. In the great fire of 1906 a very large number of canvases in his studio were burned. With splendid courage, despite his advanced years, and much helped by his daughter, he at once set to work again and painted many pictures before his death in 1911. Of late years his fame has rapidly increased.
Edward W. Redfield.
The Redfield pictures hang in Room 88.
Edward W. Redfield is a member of the jury, and the honor of an individual room has come as the culminating point of a highly successful career that is now in its prime. Redfield has lived for many years, since his return from Paris, near the Delaware River' in Pennsylvania, and most of his work deals with varied aspects of this country in summer and in winter, though of late he has turned to New York City scenes, especially nocturnes.
Essentially an Impressionist whose works, while always conveying a strong, sometimes insistent note of reality, are nevertheless personal interpretations rather than pictorial reporting, Redfield is a proof also of how well American painting has mastered the lessons taught by France.
Born in 1868 in Delaware, Redfield's early training was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then under Bouguerean and Fleury in Paris. It would take a page or two of this guide to catalogue all the honors he has won and the permanent collections where his pictures hang.
Room No. 87. Here are assembled the pictures of a man in honor of whose work and great influence as a teacher a special Commerative Medal will be cast by the Exposition. No one man, perhaps, has exerted a more profound and salutary effect upon the development of modern American painting. The present exhibition crowns a long and honorable career with a touch of glory.
In a previous chapter, the one dealing with Room 64, we have related briefly that episode in the story of American painting which treats of the decadence of the Dusseldorf school and the rise and ascendancy, for a time, of the Munich school. It was Duveneck and Chase who brought the fertile Munich ideas to America. Duveneck taught for ten years at Munich itself, and for many years has continued his instructions at Cincinnati.
Although Munich did not reveal to the modern world its most vital idea, that of the treatment of light, which ideas we owe to France, it exerted a great technical influence and brought modern painters into contact with the spirit of great masters of the past, such as Velasquez and Hals. Duveneck was the first of American instructors, writes Caffin, to make brush work instead of crayon-drawing the foundation of the picture, and to impart a painter's rather than a draughtsman's point of view. He taught his students to work directly with the brush, boldly blocking in large masses of his subject, and broke them of the old habit of painting over elaborate drawings, a method which crippled creative impulse.
Duveneck was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1848. The portrait of him which hangs on Wall D was painted by Joseph DeCamp, one of his pupils and himself a distinguished artist.
William M. Chase
The works of this American master are gathered in Room No. 79. Associated with Duveneck as one of the great influences of modern American art, Chase is even better known as a painter than as a teacher, although his activity in the latter field has been great and far-reaching. He, like Duveneck, studied at Munich in the great days of Piloty, Wagner and Diez, but Chase appears to have been less rigidly formed by the Munich manner than Duveneck, and learned much from such French sources as Carolus-Duran. He has taken a leading part in most of the artistic movements of the last thirty years, with a verve and a continual response to all new aspirations which have kept him a vital force. Portraits, landscapes, genre subjects and still life have occupied his versatile powers. Primarily a painter, in the sense that technical proficiency is his dominant characteristic, Chase can paint a dish of fish with as much distinction as Huysmans, that master of prose style, could write of them. Some of his portraits are notable achievements of insight and feeling, especially the well-known "Lady with the White Shawl."
William M. Chase was born in Franklin, Indiana, in 1849, and his early studies were conducted under J. O. Eaton in New York. All the great permanent collections in this country contain examples of his work.
Room No. 78 is given over to the work of this foremost of American Impressionists.
One of the first of the painters of this country to fall under the influence of the revolutionary methods of Claude Monet, Hassam is also one of the very few who maintained not only the spirit but the letter, the technical methods, of the pathbreaking Frenchman. Charles H. Caffin, in speaking of Hassam's method of painting in separate points or dabs of color which simulate the vibrancy of sunlight, says that "his earlier efforts are marked by the crudity that is inseparable from experimentation; but of late years he has mastered the difficulties of the process, and his pictures now present a unity of effect, a vibrancy of color and a delicate 'esprit' both of style and of feeling that render them almost unique in American art."
Born in Boston in 1819, Childe Hassam was a pupil of Boulanger and Lefebvre in Paris, where after absorbing what academicism had to give him he affiliated himself with the newer movements. His career has been brilliantly successful, marked with many official rewards, and most of the important permanent galleries of this country contain examples of his work. His work as a moral painter may be studied in the specimen which decorates one of the arches in the Court of Palms.
It has been related of Gari Melchers that when he built the studio among the dunes of north Holland, where so much of his work has been done, he wrote over the doorway the motto "Wahr und Klar," or "Clearness and Truth." This motto has been termed by Christian Brinton "The battle-cry of the most vigorous and salutary manifestation in the history of nineteenth century art," a manifestation in which this American - born painter of German descent, with Dutch and French affiliations, has taken a distinguished part. "The sane, straightforward naturalism of Melchers' manner brightened as it is by the aurate brilliancy of the latter day palette," has thoroughly justified the motto which he placed over his door long ago, and is splendidly illustrated by the representative collection of his works brought together here, in Room 77. To quote again from Brinton's illuminating study of this artist, "Melchers is not a subjective or an imaginative artist, he belongs to the sturdy, positive race of observers. The spirit of his art, as well as its expression, is frankly objective. He continues that tradition which is represented with such impregnable strength and security by some of the foremost painters the world has ever known - by Hals in Holland and Holbein in Germany. * * * Now that he has returned (to the land of his birth) it is doubly apparent that Gari Melchers' sojourn abroad has splendidly served its purpose. * * He has come back a mature artist bringing to a new country the lessons taught so well in the old. It was not otherwise that the great pioneers of the past were wont to do when Durer wandered homeward from Italy or Van Dyke crossed the channel to England.'
Gari Melchers was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1860. His pictures are in most of the great collections at home and abroad and his career has been a uniform series of honors and successes.
John S. Sargent.
The work of a man beyond all question the most celebrated and conspicuous portrait painter of today, but whose art extends far beyond the domains of its most popular phase, is shown in Room No. 75.
Of American parentage and lineage, John S. Sargent is, however, in most respects a typical cosmopolitan. No artist has been more discussed or more widely known, and apart from strictly artistic considerations and despite his own natural reticence and seclusiveness, his work has a habit of being much in the limelight. In this room, for instance, among the small yet very representative group of paintings, are two which have special notes of public interest. One is the famous Madam Gautreau and the other is the portrait of Henry James. The first canvas proved a veritable storm center when produced not long after Sargent left the studio of Carolus-Duran in Paris, where he served his apprenticeship. Violently denounced and quite as enthusiastically praised, but refused by the Salon, this picture might be termed the turning point of Sargent's career.
He never parted with the picture and it comes, together with most of the others in this room, from his own studio. The Henry James portrait is the one which the militant suffragists slashed in London a year or so ago.
Preeminently a painter, superbly proficient, in the rendering of what his impersonal and detached and very keen observation selects, Sargent rarely seems to reveal a spiritual insight. What Huysmans said of his writing might apply to Sargent in painting: "I record what I see, what I feel, what I have experienced, writing it as well as I can, et voila tout!" Except that Sargent leaves out what he feels. Of late he has refused to continue portraiture and has turned to landscape painting and to executing groups in the open air which, while they are of actual persons, are not primarily portraits.
John Singer Sargent was born in Florence, Italy, in 1856. His parents were Bostonians. As a young man he studied under Carolus-Duran and later traveled in Spain and Holland, where he particularly studied painters like Velasquez and Hals. After many years in Paris he moved to London, where he has since resided, frequently visiting the United States, painting and exhibiting. The Boston Library contains remarkable murals by him. The list of his honors and awards and of the collections where he is represented is far too long to be given here.
The work of Arthur Mathews, the leading artist and most potent influence of contemporary western art, occupies Room 76, in which are also shown paintings by Francis McComas.
Although he was born in Wisconsin, in 1860. Arthur Mathews came early in life to San Francisco, was educated in its schools and, save for the period of study in the Julian Academy under Boulanger in Paris, from 1884 to 1889, his artistic career has been centered in this city. He was an architect before he turned to painting, a circumstance of immense value to him in his mural decoration, in which he has accomplished some of the most distinguished work of today in the United States. While studying under Boulanger he was a fellow pupil of many of the Americans who are now leading figures in our art, and he had the rare success of standing number one in drawing, composition and painting, and of winning a medal granted by the Studio only once in ten years. He was for many years director of the California School of Design and developed some of the most promising younger artists in the West.
There is in his work the force of an imagination which is at once symbolistic, romantic, and intellectual - a creative energy controlled and directed by firm thought and clothed in rich and well-ordered beauty of color. The present exhibition has proven how high a place Arthur Mathews occupies in American art, a place among the very foremost.
One of his mural paintings, is in the Court of Palms. As a member of the jury his work was placed hors concours.
This artist's work shares Room No. 76 with that of Arthur Mathews. He, too, is a member of the jury, and hors concours.
Born in Australia, Francis McComas has settled in California, and next to Mathews, he is the most original, powerful, and promising of Western artists.
A certain sense of quality - that subtle, inner attribute which is so hard to isolate and precisely define, but which is invariably present in all authentic art, no matter what its kind may be, distinguishes this painter's very remarkable work. Christian Brinton termed him "the Whistler of the West," and the impression of giving only the quintessence of his subject which McComas' pictures produce is, indeed, akin to the selective genius of the great master, although the spiritual atmosphere which is the lovely envelope of Whistler's work is not present in that of McComas, which, on the contrary, is definite and firm, at times even to hardness.
The paintings in this room are the result of a recent journey into the desert country of Arizona and of work done at Monterey, where McComas has his studio. Although in large measure selftaught, McComas studied for some years with Arthur Mathews. He has given exhibitions in London and New York and has painted and studied in many lands.
His place among the most original younger men in America is unquestioned. Few painters in oil can use their pigments with more strength than McComas exerts in his water-color medium.
John McClure Hamilton.
Room 39 is devoted to the pastel drawings of John McClure Hamilton, a number of his oil paintings being placed in Room 49.
A member of the International Jury of Awards, and, therefore, hors concurs, John McClure Hamilton is one of the most distinguished of' contemporary American artists, born in Philadelphia in 1853, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Antwerp, and Paris. A recipient of many honors, and represented at all the great exhibitions of Europe and the United States, since 1878 he has lived in London. He has painted the portraits of many eminent people, among them being Gladstone. The pastels in Room 39 have been a special attraction of the exhibition, their verve and charm and swift, truthful drawing being most remarkable.
Room No. 31 is given over to the work of one of the very foremost of living artists in black and white - Joseph Pennell. The wide range of his subject matter is indicated by the titles of the various groups into which his lithographs and etchings are divided, namely, the Panama series, the New York series. Pittsburg and Chicago series, San Francisco, Washington, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, Belgium, English, German, Greek, Italian London in War Time, and others. He is a member of the jury, and hors concours.
Born in Philadelphia, in 1860, and a pupil of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennell has for many years held a place among the most distinguished draughtsmen and etchers of the day. Most of the principal galleries of Europe, the Luxembourg, Paris; the Uffizi, Florence, and others, have examples of his work. As president of the Senefelder Club, London, and as all enthusiastic practitioner, Pennell has of late been spreading the gospel of lithography. A world-wanderer in search of beauty. he has found it of late in the varied aspects of modern industry, phases of life too often neglected by artists insensitive to the appeal of their own environment. Skyscrapers and huge derricks and cranes assume under Pennell's manipulation a romantic though truthful vestment of artistic charm. The Panama series in this room is a powerful illustration of his method and his success.
Howard Pyle has been termed "the Father of Modern American Illustration," and his work has been given the honor of separate display in Rooms Nos. 41 and 42, black and white designs in the first and his color work in the second. Both rooms are high in popular favor. The spirit of a rich romance breathes from these pictures. As a teacher Pyle has been probably the most formative influence in America, in his particular field. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1853, and received his artistic training at the Art Students League, New York. The present exhibition of his work was loaned by the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, He died in Florence, Italy, in 1911.