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THE ART AMATEUR. 



69 





Pg UofF |Booh. 



HE ridiculous way in which scene- 
painters habitually outrage the 
laws of possibility was curiously 
exemplified at Wallack's Theatre 
on the first night of the repre- 
sentation of George Fawcett 
Rovve's picturesque play, " Wol- 
fert's Roost." There was a 
front scene — the exterior of a 
house — with a window, made 
lfS$p\ t° open, brilliantly painted to convey the 
cjjo) idea of a blazing fire and flaring lights 

^ within. The windows looked well enough 

*i» until the villain of the piece half opened 

the window, and then the phenomenal 
effect was produced of pitchy darkness behind the 
opened half of the window and a brilliant light on the 
other half. I understand that, with the subsequent 
condensing of the play, the "front scene" has been 
dispensed with altogether ; but not on account of the 
phenomenal window, which it seems no one connected 
with the theatre particularly noticed. 



In a few weeks the art dealers who have been spend- 
ing the summer in Europe will return with many can- 
vases for sale, which will be duly exhibited and sold as 
the works of eminent artists. The wise amateur buyer, 
before parting with his money, will do well to satisfy 
himself that these pictures were painted entirely by the 
artists whose names they bear ; for it has become a 
favorite device with some dealers — and I regret to say 
that they are among those most trusted by buyers — to 
purchase for a trifle signed sketches from painters of re- 
nown and have them filled in by artists in this city, 
some of whom are quite expert in imitating the styles 
of foreign masters. 

I have it on excellent authority that a cabinet picture 
sold not long ago in New York by a dealer as a genuine 
Vibert, was only sketched by that painter. My infor- 
mant assures me that he saw the painting being filled 
in by an artist whose name he has given me. If this 
paragraph should be read by the victinf of the imposi- 
tion, by calling at the office of The Art Amateur, 
he can get all the facts in my possession relating to the 
matter. 



An American present in Paris last year at the sale of 
Lambinet's effects, tells me that a well-known Broad- 
way picture-dealer bought a score or more rough 
sketches by that artist, and some of them have since 
been filled in as complete pictures and offered for sale 
in this dealer's picture gallery. 



By the way, it may interest connoisseurs in this coun- 
try who have paid their hundreds of dollars for inferior 
works by this artist, to know that at the sale I speak of 
the best and largest picture of Lambinet was bought 
for 1950 francs-- say, $400. 



As an example of the enormous profits made by 
American dealers by the sale of European pictures, I 
may mention that while a mere sketch by Billet — a 
canvas about 10 x 14 — brought last season in New York 
$1300, the price obtained for his big picture in the 
salon— the size was about 18 x 24 — was not more than 
$200. 

* * 

Speaking of the practice of American dealers of 
buying unfinished pictures by eminent French artists, 
and having them completed in this country, before put- 
ting them in the market, it may be added that in many 
cases the artists know about the contemplated fraud and 
wink at it. One would suppose that, inasmuch as several 
of the most important French pictures of the century 



have been bought for private galleries in the United 
States, these artists would have some respect for our 
taste in art matters, and some pride in being creditably 
represented by their works brought to this country. 
But it is not so. They express the most contemptuous in- 
difference as to what Americans may say or think about 
them. And when we take into consideration the. mean 
opinion that they are bound to form of our judgment 
by their contact with our representative picture dealers, 
this is not surprising. They frequently see their poor- 
est works most highly commended by our press and 
bringing in the market preposterously high prices. 



The American dealer calls at the studio of Monsieur 
Chose, let us say, and finds him hard at work. " Got 
anything for sale?" he asks. "No. Every thing 
sold." says Monsieur, hardly taking his eyes from his 
easel. "What's this?" asks the dealer, looking at a 
rough, unfinished sketch which had been turned with 
its face to the wall. " Nothing. That's no good." 
" What will you take for it ?" asks the dealer. " What 
do you want to do with it ?" asks the artist. " Want it 
for the New York market. I will give you five hundred 
francs for it, if you will put your name to it." " That's 
a bargain," says Monsieur Chose. He puts his name 
to it and receives his money. The dealer brings the 
canvas to New York, pays some young painter of tal- 
ent, say, a hundred dollars, to finish the picture in imi- 
tation of the artist's style. The picture is duly puffed 
and finally goes into the private gallery of Mr. Shoddy 
as the chef d'eeuvre of that great French artist Mon- 
sieur Chose. 



Sometimes Mr. Shoddy may be so fortunate as to get 
a duplicate of an important picture for twice the price 
paid for the original, which perhaps has been quietly 
bought for some nobleman's private collection, which, it 
is safe to say, Mr. Shoddy will never see. It is a frequent 
practice with French artists of reputation to repeat their 
pictures at the bidding of the dealers. A friend of 
mine who was in Paris last year had been particularly 
attracted at the salon by a painting with the title 
"Alone, at Last" — or something equivalent to those 
words in French — and on going from that place to 
Goupil's gallery, he saw there what seemed to be the 
identical picture. " Why !" he exclaimed, " I just saw 
that picture at the Salon !" "Quite impossible," said 
the gentleman in charge of the gallery, with a sly wink ; 
" don't you see it is here ?" 



I am moved to suggest to those persons who insist 
upon calling this publication The Art Ama-ttjre, 
that there is a decided difference between a mature 
•artist and an amateur artist. 

* ' * 
Those who may imagine that the ways of an oper- 
atic manager or conductor are ways of pleasantness, or 
his paths those of peace, are invited to read the follow- 
ing, clipped from a London paper. It is one of hun- 
dreds of examples that might be collected on this sub- 
ject : " The tenor Masini (lately with Mapleson) seems 
to be a modest and unassuming creature. A corre- 
spondent writes that after his arrival he took offense be- 
cause the director would not promise him the monop- 
oly of the various parts in his repertory. But the last 
straw was when Sir Michael Costa, after waiting for 
him for rehearsal half an hour, received a message 
by the call-boy that Signor Masini, as the friend of 
Verdi, was not accustomed to go to the theatre to re- 
hearse, but expected the conductor to come to his 
hotel. After a characteristic reply from Sir Michael 
Costa, Signor Masini arrived at the conclusion that oil 
and water would not mix, and I believe he has now 
left the country. He is certainly no very great loss, but 
the anecdote will show what a desirable sort of person 
for a small tea-party is an Italian operatic tenor." 
* 

A painting just completed by Mr. Edward Moran 
and sent to the St. Louis Exhibition to be held late in 
September, is likely to attract a great deal of attention. 
It is Notre Dame by moonlight, on a fete night, as seen 
from the Seine. The view was taken from the quay, 
last summer during the Fete aux Etrangers, when the 
city was very brilliantly illuminated. The lofty towers 
of Notre Dame stand out in gloomy grandeur against the 
heavens, obscuring the moon, whose reflection, however, 
affords sufficient light, and, falling in silvery ripples on 



the water ' in the foreground, discovers on the quay a 
throng of spectators looking at the illuminations in the 
distance. The garish colored fires on the bridge in the 
background offer a contrast to the soft light from the 
open doors of the cathedral ; and all combined en- 
hance the calm grandeur of the all-pervading moon- 
light. The picture, with its well-defined lights and 
shadows, I think, would engrave well. Apart from 
the artistic merits of the work, it is interesting as the 
first representation of Notre Dame from the Seine ; 
this point of view only having been made possible of 
late through the removal of the shanties and rookeries 
which for ages have obstructed it. 



A painting by Swain Gifford, I hear, is to be the 
subject of an important etching in the forthcoming 
Boston art journal. 

The vandalism of the Commune in Paris left no more 
enduring mark than the destruction of the sculptural 
decorations of the Hotel de Ville. I visited Paris soon 
afterward, and remember how, driving past the build- 
ing with an English lady who had many times before 
stopped to admire its beauties, she held her parasol 
before her face and told the " cocher" to drive quickly, 
as she could not bear to look upon the ruins. Many 
tourists must have had a similar feeling. But from all 
accounts, the new sculptural decorations, which are 
being carried forward on a most magnificent scale, will 
fully equal in excellence those they replace. The city 
of Paris has just voted 420,600 francs for the year 1879, 
for the supply of 106 of the statues that are to adorn 
the principal facade. The total number of these works, 
including bas-reliefs and figures in the round, amounts 
to 365 subjects, and it is reckoned that they will cost 
not less than 1,191,500 francs. 



If I remember aright, the Vandals who were instru- 
mental in destroying the Colonne Vendome were made 
to pay for its restoration. It is to oe hoped that it may 
be feasible to exact a simliar penalty from those who 
caused the ruin of the Hotel de Ville. 



Sometimes there is something in a name. That of 
Scribner, the publisher, for example, is probably a cor- 
ruption of Scrivener, or bookseller. A quaint portrait 
of " Ye Scribner," from a mediaeval cut, is given in the 
article " Signs and Symbols" in the current number of 
Scribner's magazine. 

* * 

A curious lawsuit will soon come into the New York 
courts, growing out of one of the many frauds at pic- 
ture auction sales, which have of late made the business 
notorious. Last spring, the owner of an alleged Salva- 
tor Rosa, sent two agents to the auction room where it, 
was advertised to be sold, to bid against each other. 
They ran it up to $1800, at which price it was knocked 
down to one of them., Mr. Matthews, the auctioneer, 
knew nothing of the fraud until he asked for a deposit 
and was told that there had been no sale. He then 
claimed his commission on the |i8oo, which, being re- 
fused, he refused to part with the picture. It is to 
recover the latler that the owner brings his suit. 

In the same way, a trifling sketch by Corot, done in 
his early youth, and not worth $5, was run up to $500, 
There was no sale, and perhaps next season we shall 
have the attempted fraud repeated. 

It is a pity that one cannot punish the coarse-grained 
clown who is ever ready to sacrifice decency for the 
sake of advertising his wares. A pork-packer has re- 
cently published as his trade mark the cherubs of 
Raffaelle with heads of sucking pigs in the place of 
those of the lovely children we all know so well. The 
comedians Robson and Crane, it may be remembered, 
set the example by inserting their own portraits in the 
spaces now occupied by their swinish successors. 

There is an art school near Union Square where the 
curious practice prevails of having evening classes in 
painting. I wonder how the pupils manage when they 
try to continue by daylight the work they have begun 
by gaslight. Better wait until Edison has perfected 
his electric light. 

Montezuma.