Art at the Exposition


26 June 1898: 13

On the south wall of the water color room hangs a picture by one of the best of the modern French water colorists—Madelaine Lemaire. It is a picture, light, graceful and pleasing, representing a group of men and women dancing the minuet in a French salon. They are dressed in the attractive costumes of silk, satin and velvet of the eighteenth century, and the textures are remarkably well preserved. The composition is very good, the figures in the fore-ground are carefully worked up; those in the back are merely suggested, allowing the eye to be impressed by the crowd of people as a whole. Each figure is carefully drawn and painted in a very delicate, high key. The values have been sacrificed for purity of color; the faces have been painted in the painstaking Italian method of stipling, in-stead of by broad washes. The handling of the costumes and floor has been much broader, although nothing has been left to accident. It is brilliantly transparent throughout, as the artist has used no opaque color, and if it lacks a certain strength, it is exceedingly refined.

Nothing could more clearly show the difference between the French and Dutch schools of painting than a comparison in the water color room of this picture of Madelaine Lemaire's with Nos. 386 and 3S7 of Neuhaus. In the first place the disparity in the subjects is striking. One is sparkling, gay—society; the other is lowly, simple—homely. The Minuet is polished and painstaking; the "Dressing the Baby"—No. 386, and the "Evening Meal," 387—is broad and bold. In the former the painter has caught all of the sentiment of the group. A peasant mother dressing her baby, who, as he is stretched on his mother's knee, reaches out a chubby arm to play with the cat, while another solid, sturdy little figure stands in front. The whole is very low in tone, almost merging into the browns—yet still full of color. The light coming in from the left side lights up the humble interior, where each detail—the table on which is a green bowl, the cat, the line of the wall back of the mother's head—aids the composition.   Psyche—or whoever she may be—with a dis- located shoulder and a maimed hand—sitting on a bench in a garden of flowers inanely looking at a little statue of Cupid—or who-ever it may be—No. 155.

F. Hopkinson Smith, the artist, architect, author, has five or six sketches of the Nashville exposition—which, as they are loaned by one of the magazines, I infer were originally made as illustrations. They are extremely simple and effective, and painted in the same manner in which he has of late painted his Venetian sketches. He uses gray paper—which, of course, gives a tone to the whole sketch--uses opaque white for all the notes in his sketch, higher in value than the gray, and transparent washes, when he can. This makes the greens look rather dark in value, but it gives a certain effect with very little work, although many decry the method as being unorthodox.

Miss Hawley, a teacher of water colors at, Colorossi's, in Paris, sometimes gets charming effects in water colors. In the picture she has here of a mother giving her child a bath it is the purple which intrudes upon one. Then, too, a white cap, when seen against a window, is no longer white, but is many shades darker than the light. Ii the light is strong, it appears almost black against it. By painting the bonnet and the face of the woman so light in value, she has destroyed the strength of the source of light. The composition is very graceful and pleasing—the window seat and accessories artistically suggested, but the color seem too much the color of bon-bons to be seductive.

The head of an old man reading, by Miss Engley, caused quite a discussion, the other day, between two visitors, who seemed to be inclined to appreciate what they saw.

"That is too much for me," one said. "I can stand blue hills, but no one can tell me there was ever such a thing as a blue beard." That sounds like a very logical criticism, but there is a difference between local and apparent color. It is the artist's duty not to match the local color of whiskers, or whatever is to be painted, which any house painter can do equally well, but to paint it as seen through atmosphere, changed as it is by light, by reflected light, by light and shade, by contrast, and various other causes, which may affect it.

So the high light on a gray beard, seen through a certain atmosphere, with certain reflected lights, may look blue, even if the possessor of the gray beard does not see it thus reflected in a mirror.