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THE ART AMATEUR.
levied on every foreign painting, without regard to its
value. This, as was pointed out in these columns,
would not affect the importation of the best pictures,
but would keep out such rubbish as doubtless consti-
tutes the bulk of the Borniche collection.
Hereafter it is probable that the term " Bor-
niche" will be added to the picture-buyer's vocabulary
to designate a worthless kind of painting, like
" croute," " pastiche " and the rest.
Mr. Walters, of Baltimore, has just bought one
pf Corot's very finest works — " Saint-Sebastien."
The picture is some ten feet high. In the foreground
Saint-Sebastien is reclining on a piece of drapery,
while two women lean over him and care for his
wounds ; the middle distance is occupied by "trees
shooting up like silver birches, arching over to fill up
the top of the canvas and leaving in the middle an
opening through which the torturers of the saint are
seen going away in the distance. In the trees are
two cherubim. The composition of this work is
somewhat like that of Titian's famous " Peter
Martyr" which was burned at Venice some years
ago. Corot may have seen that picture during his
journey to Italy in 1826. Originally, too, Corot's was
rounded at the top like Titian's.
TrtE "Saint-Sebastien" was first exhibited at the
salon of 1853. It was seen again at the Universal
Exhibition of 1867, when the artist had altered the
conformation of the trees on the left and made them
straight as they now are and at the same time enlarg-
ed the background. At the close of the exhibition
the picture was returned to Corot's studio, where it
remained until 1871 when he gave it to a lottery in
aid of the wounded in the Franco-German war, on
which occasion it was once more exhibited at the
Opera, where the lottery was held. The winner offer-
ed the picture to the dealer, Durand-Ruel, who object-
ed that round-topped pictures were difficult to sell,
and suggested that the artist should be asked to
fill in the top corners. Corot, the most obliging
of men, consented, and so the Saint-Sebastien be-
came the tall oblong picture it now is. This altera-
tion having been made, Durand-Ruel gave $1800 for
the picture and sold it for $3000. We next find the
picture in England in the possession of a Mr. Barlow,
from whose hands it passed into the hands of Messrs.
Wallis, who sold the picture to Mr. Walters for
$10,000. If the picture had been sold in Paris it
would, as things go, have certainly^ reached $16,000,
for it is as fine a Corot as one could desire. In none
of his composed landscapes, such as " Homer and the
Shepherds," " Daphnis and Chloe " (1845), " Christ
in the Garden of Olives " (1849), " Dante and Virgil,"
" Macbeth ". (1859), " Dance of Nymphs " (1861) or
" Biblis Changed into a Spring," one of his last
works, has the artist put more grace, exquisite sensi-
bility and poetic emotion than in the splendid silvery
landscape of the " Saint-Sebastien." No price is too
great for such a work.
The enthusiastic American admirers of the late
Manet who have given his two portraits in the
Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition at the Academy of
Design the places of honor will be interested to learn
that an exhibition of some of the most important
works of the Zola of the brush will take place at the
Ecole des Beaux Arts in January and February, to
be followed by the sale of the contents of his studio.
A proof that the agitation against false pictures is
not in vain was furnished by an incident in the sale of
the Becherel collection in Paris, which began on No-
vember 26th. . The catalogue contained notice of three
examples, works of Corot, " A Landscape," " A Study
of a Woman," and a view of the " Moulin de la Ga-
leae at Montmartre" (24x31 centimetres), and two
by Diaz, "A Woman Bathing" and "Hauteurs
d'Apremont," in the forest of Fontainebleau (32 x 44
centimetres) " signe et date 64," said the catalogue.
At the last moment the experts, M.M. Ch. George and
Lasquin were warned that all five were forgeries, and
the pictures were withdrawn before the sale began,
and even before the public view. As Parisian deal-
ers generally ship such doubtful canvases to the
United States, let American buyers bear this descrip-
tion of these in mind. Montezuma.
Hamlet.— Good, my lord, will you see the players well bestowed ?
Polonius. — My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
The compliments of the season — the Merrie
Christmas and Happy New Year — are by no means
merely conventional wishes, so far as the theatrical
managers are concerned. For them this Christmas
time is not at all " merrie," and they sadly need a
happier New Year. The season which opened so
brilliantly and hopefully has been beclouded by pecu-
niary losses and seems likely to culminate in disasters.
That the theatres should be obliged to compete with
two Italian opera houses was hard enough ; but when
the operatic managers began to distribute free tickets
by mail to theatre-goers competition became impossi-
ble. Then the Irving engagement engrossed the pub-
lic attention and a great deal of the public money.
Finally, to make bad worse, the burning of the Wind-
sor theatre aroused that fear of fire which, next to a
heavy snow-storm, is the manager's worst enemy.
Early in December the effects of this combination
of misfortunes were evident. Almost simultaneously,
the" theatres changed their bills, which is always a
sign of weakness during the holidays. Pieces which
had been relied upon to run through the whole sea-
son showed such a falling off that they had to be with-
drawn. The Union Square surprised everybody by
opening with a failure. The new Bijou was not more
fortunate. The San Francisco Minstrels, which had
monopolized that branch of amusements in New York
for years, hung out the white flag and capitulated to
The significance of this surrender of the San Fran-
cisco Minstrels will not be overlooked by professionals.
In popularity, which some people mistake for a test of
merit, the different forms of amusement rank as fol-
lows : (1) the circus ; (2) the variety shows ; (3)
negro minstrels ; (4) the theatres. It follows logically
that if a negro minstrel company cannot prosper, the
theatres must do a very bad business. The only min-
strel troupe in New York has had to take the pro-
prietor of a rival organization into partnership.
You may laugh at this odd theory ; but you will
find it sustained by the facts. No sooner was the
failure of the San Francisco management made public
than the other managers displayed signals of distress.
At Wallack's, "Moths," which should have run
for a year, so admirably was it acted by Miss Rose
Coghlan, Miss Caroline Hill, Miss Evesson and Mr.
Charles Glenny, was taken off and " The Road to
Ruin" substituted. Excellently as Madame Ponisi
and the_,veteran John Gilbert play in this piece, the old
comedies have lost, for the present, their power to
charm modern audiences, and everybody felt that
" The Road to Ruin" was only revived as a stopgap
until " Impulse" could be pfoperly rehearsed. But
" Impulse" is an improbable and disagreeable play,
which has already failed at Boston, and I cannot antic-
ipate any success for it here.
" In the Ranks," at the Standard, which I described
to you as a success of scenery, was as suddenly sent
upon the road to give place to a so-called comic opera,
" Estrella," which failed in London. This was an-
other stopgap, to keep the theatre open until the new
work by Gilbert and Sullivan, based upon Tennyson's
poem, " The Princess," could be produced.
The programme of the unfortunate Fifth Avenue
was repeatedly changed. At first, Manager Stetson
put on " Monte Cristo" to hold the boards until he
could get ready a farcical comedy called " Confusion"
and a burlesque of Mr. Irving and Miss Terj-y in
"The Merchant of Venice." Then he announced
another London comedy, "The Glass of Fashion."
This is a satire upon society papers and their editors,
and has worked up into something like a success in
London, where Edmund Yates, of The World, Henry
Labouchere, of Truth, and Thomas Bowles, of Vanity
Fair, are well-known men about town. But here we
have no society journals to satirize, and an actor might
make up as Thieblin, of The Sun, without a dozen
persons in the audience being aware of whom he in-
tended to caricature.
At Daly's, "Dollars and Sense," in which there
were few dollars and no sense, was withdrawn in
favor of Pinero's comedy, "Girls and Boys." This
was a failure in London, although John L. Toole, a
great London favorite, played the principal part.
" The Stranglers of Paris," at the Park, which had
been boldly advertised as " a melodramatic master-
work," although every scene showed the 'prentice
hand, expired as quickly as if it had been strangled,
and a travelling company, with a drama called " The
Princess Chuck," were chucked in — if you will ex-
cuse the pun — to fill up a week or two until the trans-
fer of the house to Manager Stevens, of the burned
Windsor, could be arranged.
"Excelsior," at Niblo's Garden, a ballet equally
full of beauty and brains, which had been expected to
draw crowded houses until next May, was supplanted
by another French melodrama, adapted from one of
Gaboriau's novels, called " The Pavements of Paris."
Most ominous of all, that little miracle theatre, the
Madison Square, found it necessary to shelve " The
Rajah," before the two hundredth performance, and
produce Mr. De Mille's comedy, " Duty, or Delmer's
Daughters," the very sensational plot of which is the
struggle of a husband to induce his wife to leave the
house of his mother-in-law and go to a home of her
The force of argument can no further go. When,
in the middle of a season, and close upon the holi-
days, the Madison Square is obliged to change its bill,
you may be sure that there is something rotten in the
theatrical Denmark. '
The new Bijou, opposite Wallack's, was opened,
like Wallack's, without waiting to complete the front
of the building. It is entirely new, and the first im-
pression which the interior makes upon you is that it
is pretty ; the second impression is that it is cheap.
The prettiness is not only in the form but in the colors
of the proscenium decorations ; the cheapness is sug-
gested by the conventionally frescoed walls.
The front of the theatre is of cream-colored bricks,
relieved by ornaments of brown stone and bands of
blue. It is divided into two high Moorish arches.
The proscenium opening is also a Moorish arch, and
the private boxes are shaped like small Moorish tem-
Gay colors are used freely, but tastefully, in the
decorations ; but the act-drop, which represents part
of a Grecian villa by the sea, is much too severe in
form for so light and bright a theatre. This contrast
was heightened, on the opening night, by the style of
the entertainment. Imagine that classical curtain
falling between the acts of a burlesque upon Offen-
bach's " Orphee aux Enfers," with its can-can scenes
and costumes !
" Orpheus and Eurydice," the new version of
" Orphee," was not intended to be a burlesque ; the
management supposed that they had revived Offen-
bach's opera. But the libretto settled the distinction
at once. It was by Max Freeman, formerly a stock
member of the Thalia theatre ; and the results of
engaging a German actor to translate a French opera
into English for an American company can more
readily be imagined than described.
The troupe engaged for the burlesque were as poly-
glot as the libretto. There were Marie Vanoni as
Eurydice j Digby JJell as Jupiter ; Laura Joyce as
Diana ; Max Freeman as Pluto j Ida Muelle as
Cupid j Augusta Roche as Public Opinion, and so
on — English, French, Germans and Americans mixed
up among the gods and goddesses. The vocal hit of
the evening was a French song by Madame Vanoni.
The artistic hit was the Cupid of Miss Muelle.
"Storm-Beaten," dramatized by Robert Buchan-
an from his own novel, "God and the Man," was
brought out at the Union Square, before a professional
audience, on the evening of Evacuation Day. The
audience suffered from the storm outside and from
the play and Steele Mackaye's patent safety automatic
chairs inside. In a word, they were doubly storm-
Mr. Mackaye is so universal a genius, and has been
so unfortunate, that I should be glad to say a good
word for his latest invention, the automatic patent
safety chairs. But, unfortunately, the chairs were /
intended for a flat floor and he put them upon the very
slanting floor of the Union Square. The consequerce
was that they tilted forward, and the difficulty was,
not to get out of the theatre, butto keep your seat,
THE ART AMATEUR.
When properly placed and in working order, Mr.
Mackaye intends his chairs to be comfortable ; to
afford a rest for the feet, a hook for the hat and a rack
tor the cane or umbrella, and to fold up and swing
round, so as to form an aisle between every two rows
of seats. At the Union Square, on the contrary, they
were exquisitely uncomfortable ; they broke down,
and they obstructed the passage of the audience.
These were obviously the faults of the theatre, not of
the chairs ; but, as the theatre cannot be taken away,
and the chairs may be removed, I venture to predict
that Mr. Mackaye will again be the victim of circum-
As to the play, it begins with three preliminary
acts,- and then wanders into the Polar regions and a
foolish imitation of ".The Frozen Deep," by Wilkie
Collins. The intention is to show how a man's pur-
poses of vengeance may be frustrated by Providence.
The hero starts out to kill the villain, and, being left
alone on an island of snow, longs for the society of the
bad man, whom he has pushed overboard. This is
intended to be very pathetic ; but, in the play, it
becomes very amusing, not to say ridiculous.
I will try to boil the piece down into a paragraph.
Act I : the Orchardsons and Christiansons have a
family feud ; but Dick Orchardson comes a-courting
Kate Christiansen and Kate's brother, Christian,
falls in love with Priscilla, whom Dick is destined to
marry. Act II : Christian discovers that Dick has
seduced Kate and gone on a voyage with Priscilla ;
so he swears to follow and kill Dick. Act III : the
parties meet on shipboard ; Christian is locked up for
threatening to murder Dick, who then sets Jire to the
ship, and an iceberg crushes all concerned. Act IV :
Christian and Dick have a fight on the ice ; Dick is
pushed overboard and both float away. Act V :
Christian is on a desolate island ; Dick appears and
begs for fire and food ;^the ice breaks and both float
away again. Act VI : Dick returns home and mar-
ries Kate, and Christian turns up in time to wed
Priscilla. Upon my word, this is the whole six-act
story, which differs in denouement from the novel.
Before these lines are printed, Edwin Booth will be
drawing all New York to the Star Theatre around
the corner, and the Union Square will be glad to
change its bill in the hope of catching some of Booth's
overflow. Stephen Fiske.
. TW.O PICTURE EXHIBITIONS.
The artists who masquerade in the yearly exhibi-
tions of the jovial fellowship which calls itself the
Salmagundi Club, are at no little disadvantage in this
livery of black-and-white which they have decreed to
wear, for if it does not actually confound their identity
it seriously disguises it. Had all the men who have
contributed to this exhibition worked upon these same
themes in color, instead of in black-and-white, the dif-
ference between their methods as artists would have
been easily perceived ; but as it is, the most striking
feature of- the exhibition, so far, at least, as the land-
scapes are concerned, is the family likeness that seems
to run through them — a likeness that it must be con-
fessed does riot wholly disappearon a closer examina-
tion. Ever since Mr J. F. Murphy shunted off from
the track which Corot had laid down through the wood
of Arcady, he has led in his train a number of younger
spirits who, had they been artists of as much force as
he, would have themselves been leaders in the same
or in some other direction. Probably it would have
been in the same direction, for of all the landscape
painters of our time Corot is the one who has had
the strongest fascination for the rising generation.
But, however this may be, it is plain enough that
..Mr. Murphy is Corot's son by adoption, and that
- Messrs. C. H. Eaton, Melville Dewey, A. V. Dodshun,
W. Lathrop, with two or three others, less important,
are Corot's grandchildren, with Mr. Murphy for
father. In other words, none of these men has an
individual method, or gives any sign of having looked
at nature through his own eyes, and it is easy to
believe that such work as they show us might all of it
have been done in the studio without any direct refer-
ence to nature beyond a few hasty memoranda of
leading lines. This is not to deny the cleverness of
these men. Some may think it proves them to be very
clever indeed. All we say for our part, is, that to
our mind such work is of almost no interest.
And there is' another serious criticism to be made.
If the visitor will look at the two frames of sketches by
G. H. Smillie, he may sneer, with the younger fellows,
at the old-fashioned, cut-and-dried drawing-school
methods of the artist bringing back to old stagers
the Huberts, Calames, and Hardings who made the
' ' flats' ' from which they used to study. But, although
Mr. Smillie, clever and dexterous as he is in the use
of his short-hand, wearies us with a conventionality
which is wholly out of fashion, it may be wise for the
band of beardless scoffers to meditate on the prophecy
that in a few short years, if they keep on working
after the recipes now in fashion, they will become as
antiquated as Mr. Smillie himself, and perhaps will
be looked upon by the critics of the new generation
as not half so clever. It is plain, too, that the increas-
ing demand, by our publishers, lor " illustrations" for
their books and magazines, a field to which so many
of our younger artists are turning as a source of in-
come, is affecting their practice as makers of pictures.
The greater part of the landscapes in this collection
look as if they had been made to be engraved on
wood. Many of them are treated as if they were to
be served up as vignettes, and while we are bound to
remember that they present themselves as the work
of a sketch- club, yet just what we complain of is that
the sketches themselves, from which pictures are pre-
sumably to be made, are the result of processes which
't is not unjust to call processes of manufacture.
No one, however, will deny that here are the evi-
dences of much technical cleverness : the only thing
to be regretted is that so few of these clever men
should have been able to strike out a path for him-
self. Who can deny that, had Mr. Murphy gone
out into the field and woods, here at home, and trans-
lated what he saw into his own words, we should have
had to chronicle a distinct gain to our landscape art ?
As it is the title of Mr. Murphy's book must be,
" Nature : a Series of Essays Translated from the
French of Corot." But, of course, Mr. Murphy is
not the only one of whom this may be said. 'Since
Whistler took his cue from Fortuny, we have a whole
tribe of Americans singing a refrain to Mr. Whistler's
song, and it is now difficult to distinguish between
Mr. Blum, Mr. Pennell, Mr. Duveneck, and Mr.
Packer, though it must be said that Mr. Duveneck's
etchings in this exhibition mark the low-water mark
in the line of " Sketches of Venice," and show this
artist, from whom so much was once expected, in a
most disappointing light ; his brilliant sun we hope;
however, is only under a cloud. Mr. Pennell's
sketches are very coarse and unimaginative, and make
us regret the absence of Mr. Blum's drawings, which
have so abounded in late exhibitions, and which, if they
were imitations, were imitations done with a delicate
and sympathetic hand. Mr. C. Graham's " New York
City" tries to make a sky-line for our bedevilled city
. that shall show better than the one she has, but with
all praise to the artist's good intention he cannot be
said to have succeeded in making an omelette
without eggs. The sTcy-line is ugly beyond re-
demption. To help it out Mr. Graham has given
Trinity Church spire a prominence it has long lost.
Mr. Edwards, Mr. Gregory, and Mr. Burleigh all
show clever work, albeit somewhat more of originality
could be wished. The best figure-piece in the exhi-
bition is Mr. Percy Moratl's " Sisters." This is an
honest 'little drawing, which does the artist equal
,_ credit as a study from life and as a proof of skill.
Although the present Brooklyn Art Association Ex-
hibition makes no pretensions to be representative of
American art. yet it is, for all that, fairly representa-
tive of the tendencies of art in this country. Lack of
poetic feeling, lack of sentiment, lack of technical skill
these are deficiencies that force themselves upon us
as we study any collection of pictures distinctively
American. Another lack as serious, though, in
truth, it belongs to the same category, is the want of
taste in many of our American pictures. Take, for
instance, W. M. Brown's " Peaches and Vase," in
the Brooklyn Exhibition. Here the peaches are painted
with the utmost care and skill : as mere imitation of
texture they could not be better, but what a com-
position is this, what a discord of color, what ugly
forms, what a stiff arrangement ! In the background,
against a hard " leather" wall-paper are ranged a cup
and saucer, a vase, and a glass decanter ; in front of
these incongruous objects on a fruit-napkin of the
crudest green, are set a half dozen peaches, and we
are asked to accept this as a " picture," because of the
skill with which the peaches are painted, forgetting
that a " picture" must be a whole, and that even a
slight subject like this must be as carefully thought
out as a little poem, to deserve acceptance. The
artist is so evidently a painstaking and conscientious
workman, that we venture to ask him whether he has
ever seen a picture of still-life by Vollon or by Philippe
Rousseau. Why cannot he learn, like them, to put
his apples of gold in pictures of silver? But Mr.
Brown is not alone in his want of taste ; C. P. Ream
in his " Cup of Raspberries" and J. Decker in his
"Fruit," show as little power as he to hitch their
wagon to Beauty's star. Mr. Ream's white china
cup would spoil any picture. Mr. Decker's, " Fruit"
is merely so many square feet of pear tree seen
through an upright frame.
The portraits in the exhibition are few and indiffer-
ent; Oliver J. Lay takes too much the same view oi
human beings that Mr. Ream does of raspberries —
that they are all outside. And this outside he paints
with great pains, and now and then surprises us with
a suspicion that at some time or other his subject may
have been alive ; that if you pricked it, it would
bleed, and that if you tickled it, it might laugh. On
this occasion he has not been so fortunate. Benoni
Irwin shines in the comparison, and Mr. Irwin is not
used to shining. Yet his picture of a lady knitting has
some look of life in it and some naturalness of pose.
The figure subjects of the exhibition are the weakest.
Mr. Loop in hfs " Awakening," shows plainly enough
that neither the true classic art nor the art of the
Renaissance has taken any real hold of his mind. As '
for Mr. Schuchard we sincerely wish that he would take
seriously to study in some place where he would be
safe from the dangers of silly admiration. He has a
vein of sentiment in him, almost a trickling spring of
poetry, but what to do with it he is sadly at a loss, and
he seems too indolent to study to give his vague ideas
a substantial form, C. Y. Turner, having had a suc-
cess of a season with a sad-eyed widow and her little
girl on a churchyard stile in the gloaming, is bent on
melancholy as a good paying investment, and sets one
sad maiden at picking up driftwood and another at
looking out at window into the gathering twilight,
but both of them with the air of models obeying
orders, and quite ready, if some one were to pull jovi-
ality in the picture market, to dance or sing with the
merriest: The unreality of Mr. Turner's, art is shown
by his large picture called " The Armor," in which a
New York model stripped to the waist and seated
amid the incongruous " properties" of' a New York
studio, is doing' duty over again for the hundredth
time as Fortuny's Arab, but with not a spark of For-
tuny's authentic fire.
Landscape is the only field in which American
artists have shown the ability to mark. out an inde-
pendent path. And the Brooklyn exhibition is mani-
festly inadequate as a representative of American
effort in this direction, although artists like Mr. Hub-
bard and Mr. Bristol send pictures as good as they
are in the habit of painting. But though there are
names of merit in the catalogue — Bolmer and Parton,
Crane and Dewey, Harry Chase and Quartley, and' a
score of others — from few of them do we get what
might have been hoped for. The burden of the ex-
hibition falls upon shoulders not generally called upon
to bear such a responsibility, and Carleton Wiggins
and G. H. McCord carry off unaccustomed laurels.
Mr. Wiggins's " Landscape with Sheep" is one of the
best he has painted, and Mr. McCord's " In Morris
.County, New Jersey/' would attract the eye anywhere.
Kenyon Cox's " Summer Evening" is well enough for
a few inches below the top lines of the canvas, but the
rest, a barren waste. It is a pity if F. S. Kirkpatrick
is encouraged by his friends to believe that such a
meaningless performance as "In the Museum," is
a work of art in any sense. It is an audacious trav-
esty on the laborious if not very profound pictures of
Alma Tadema, mingled with nightmare reminiscences
of Turner. So clever a painter as Mr. De Haas ought
to have made a more interesting picture out of the
pretty " Harbor of Marblehead," and Mr. Ouartley
does himself no justice in either of his contributions.
It is unfortunate that more artists did not see it to be
their interest to send the best they could do in further-
ance, not only of the cause of art among our people,
but to uphold a committee determined, against no
little opposition, to admit American pictures only.