**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

by [?]

In the early seventies a group of students-dissatisfied with the cut-and-dried instruction of the Paris art school and attracted by certain qualities of color and technique in the work of a young Frenchman from the city of Lille, who was just beginning to attract the attention of connoisseurs-went in a body to his studio with the request that he would oversee their work and direct their studies. The artist thus chosen was Carolus-Duran. Oddly enough, a majority of the youths who sought him out and made him their master were Americans.

The first modest workroom on the Boulevard Montparnasse was soon too small to hold the pupils who crowded under this newly raised banner, and a move was made to more commodious quarters near the master’s private studio. Sargent, Dannat, Harrison, Beckwith, Hinckley, and many others whom it is needless to mention here, will-if these lines come under their notice-doubtless recall with a thrill of pleasure the roomy one-storied structure in the rue Notre-Dame des Champs where we established our atelier d’élèves, a self-supporting cooperative concern, each student contributing ten francs a month toward rent, fire, and models, “Carolus”-the name by which this master is universally known abroad-not only refusing all compensation, according to the immutable custom of French painters of distinction, but, as we discovered later, contributing too often from his own pocket to help out the massier at the end of a difficult season, or smooth the path of some improvident pupil.

Those were cloudless, enchanted days we passed in the tumbled down old atelier: an ardent springtime of life when the future beckons gayly and no doubts of success obscure the horizon. Our young master’s enthusiasm fired his circle of pupils, who, as each succeeding year brought him increasing fame, revelled in a reflected glory with the generous admiration of youth, in which there is neither calculation nor shadow of envy.

A portrait of Madame de Portalais, exhibited about this time, drew all art-loving Paris around the new celebrity’s canvas. Shortly after, the government purchased a painting (of our master’s beautiful wife), now known as La Femme au Gant, for the Luxembourg Gallery.

It is difficult to overestimate the impetus that a master’s successes impart to the progress of his pupils. My first studious year in Paris had been passed in the shadow of an elderly painter, who was comfortably dozing on the laurels of thirty years before. The change from that sleepy environment to the vivid enthusiasm and dash of Carolus-Duran’s studio was like stepping out of a musty cloister into the warmth and movement of a market-place.

Here, be it said in passing, lies perhaps the secret of the dry rot that too often settles on our American art schools. We, for some unknown reason, do not take the work of native painters seriously, nor encourage them in proportion to their merit. In consequence they retain but a feeble hold upon their pupils.

Carolus, handsome, young, successful, courted, was an ideal leader for a band of ambitious, high-strung youths, repaying their devotion with an untiring interest and lifting clever and dull alike on the strong wings of his genius. His visits to the studio, on which his friend Henner often accompanied him, were frequent and prolonged; certain Tuesdays being especially appreciated by us, as they were set apart for his criticism of original compositions.

When our sketches (the subject for which had been given out in advance) were arranged, and we had seated ourselves in a big half-circle on the floor, Carolus would install himself on a tall stool, the one seat the studio boasted, and chat à propos of the works before him on composition, on classic art, on the theories of color and clair-obscur. Brilliant talks, inlaid with much wit and incisive criticism, the memory of which must linger in the minds of all who were fortunate enough to hear them. Nor was it to the studio alone that our master’s interest followed us. He would drop in at the Louvre, when we were copying there, and after some pleasant words of advice and encouragement, lead us off for a stroll through the galleries, interrupted by stations before his favorite masterpieces.