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SKETCH OF CHIMNEY-PIECE IN HOUSE OF CORNELIUS VANDERBILT.
jection; as the painter varies the tone of his background, so does the sculptor, by slight undulations which catch the lights and cast pale shadows, vary his: he even uses outline and cuts fine trenches of shadow round the edges of his figures here and there, where greater definition seems desirable. . He can produce the effect of distance by flattening his modeling and so reducing both the light and shadow, and he can mark the importance of any part which is most interesting to him by giving it greater relief. His figures now lose themselves utterly in the background and now emerge into sudden crispness of form as may best suit his purpose. His relief is a picture which he fashions with delicate use of light and dark, thinking always of the effect of the whole, and never of the imitation of any one piece of form.
Low-relief is thus an art nearly allied to painting and which deals with aspects rather than with facts, and its exercise calls for the highest powers of perception and execution which the artist possesses. The lower the relief the greater the more marvelous - the delicacy of modeling required to give the proper relations of light and shadow. It is at the same time, for him who understands it, the most delightful resource against the sculptor's greatest danger, the matter-of-fact. Therefore it has been a favorite art with sculptors, and success in it is one of the best available measures, both of the power and purity of
artistic conception, and of the technical ability, of a given sculptor. St. Gaudens's success in it has been very great. Such reliefs as the portrait of a young lady, here given, or that of the two children, must be seen and studied in the originals to be understood, it being impossible for any illustration to give an adequate idea of the sweet fluency of modeling and of the marvelous economy of means (getting with an infinitesimal projection enough variety of shadow to convey a complete impression of nature) which place them among the most remarkable productions of our times. That they are lovely in themselves, full of sweet, pure feeling, of beautiful composition and subtle grace of line, the engravings may indeed help one to see, but the exquisite fineness, which is power, of the workmanship, the beauty of surface, caressed into delicate form, which in a direct light is invisible, nothing but the reliefs themselves can show one. They are masterpieces of skill and knowledge.
So far we have been considering Mr. St. Gaudens's work in professed portraiture, whether in the round or in relief, and have seen in it the two dominating qualities of the Renaissance,-individuality of conception and delicate suavity of modeling. We have now to consider a more purely ideal class of works, such as the caryatides in the house of Cornelius Vanderbilt and the angels of the Morgan monument (so unfortunately destroyed by fire), and to see how in them the same qualities are combined and carried out together. At first sight the caryatides might seem more Greek than Renaissance in feeling. The costume, the large amplitude of form, the dignity and repose of the figures, are very Greek. But one soon sees that there is something there which is other than Greek. The modern mind has been at work, and in these ideal figures there is a vague air of portraiture. If they are not women who have lived, they are women who might have lived and have loved and, assuredly, have been loved. Serenely beautiful as they are, one does not feel before them, as before the great Greek statues, the awe and admiration of abstract beauty, but rather the kind of tender personal feeling that the Femme Inconnue of the Louvre inspires. They are not goddesses but women, alike yet different, each, one feels, with her own character, her own virtues, and, perhaps, her own faults. Here, then, is the note of the Renaissance, the love of individuality, and its complement in the manner of the execution is equally present. These figures are almost entirely detached, and yet in the paleness of the modeling and in the avoidance of deep hollows and dark shadows,the chisel never quite going into the depths of the form, but leaving, as it were, a diaphanous
CARYATID ("AMOR") OF THE C. VANDERBILT CHIMNEY-PIECE.
veil between it and our eyes and a mystery for the imagination to penetrate, we find even here the principle of low-relief.
We find this principle of low-relief even more readily in the angels of the Morgan tomb, and I think, to go back a little, we can find it even in the Farragut. For, though the ruggedness of the type, the material, and the necessity for distant effect demanded depth of shadow, we find in the very means of getting this shadow the lesson of lowrelief that it is the appearance of nature and not the absolute fact that is of importance. The figure was first modeled nude with great care, but, when Mr. St. Gaudens came to put the costume upon it, he found that in order to get the necessary accent he had often to disregard the actual form underneath and to cut folds of drapery deeper than they could possibly go. In order to get the look of nature he had to disregard the absolute fact.
I have dwelt at considerable length on the likeness of St. Gaudens's work to that of an epoch which he has deeply studied and deeply loves, because it seemed to me that in that way only I could show its great technical merit; but it by no means follows that his work is not original. On the contrary, he could not show the spirit of the Renaissance if he were not strongly individual. As I have said, the essence of the Renaissance spirit is individuality, and in nothing is St. Gaudens more like the great artists of the fifteenth century than in that he is eminently original and that the personal note is strongly felt in all his work. His figures are such as no other man than himself could have made them; his types of beauty are those that appeal most to his own nature and his own peculiar temperament. This temperament one cannot quite analyze, but one can readily. discover one or two elements that enter largely into it. Two of these are virility and purity. The manly directness and straightforward simplicity of such works as the Farragut and the Chapin are among their most readily visible characteristics, and the caryatides or the angels of the Morgan monument are as pure as
they are lovely. In the sweet-flowing grace of movement, in the refined beauty of face and form of these angels, all intent upon their celestial harpings, sensuousness never touches the limits of sensuality. They are as pure as a madonna of Fra Angelico's.
The time has not yet come to define the exact place of Augustus St. Gaudens on the roll of the sculptors of our second Renaissance. I have tried to give some notion of his qualities; of his limitations we cannot yet judge. No sculptor can be assigned his definite rank until he has shown what he can do with the
nude, and Mr. St. Gaudens has as yet produced no nude figure except the inevitable Indian which is the "youthful sin" of every American sculptor. He is still a young man with a long life of work before him, and he has by no means said his last word. What we may know now is, that he is an artist of intelligence, learning, and imagination, with a great and distinguished talent, who has done much and from whom we may hope for more.*
* When the above article was written Mr. St. Gau
dens's Lincoln had not been modeled.-EDITOR.
sought out and followed out their own desires; the champion of his country before the world and the father individually of every fellow-countryman who appealed to him; a wonderful orator and a wonderful master of prose expression and of the poetry which may be woven into it; a humorist and yet a philosopher saddened by the ever-present pathos and tragedy of life. His mind seemed a very synonym for practical good sense; yet it was the mind of a poet, a prophet too, and beneath it lay the heart of a child and the tender instincts of a woman. How, we had often asked ourselves, can any artist ever show us such a character? And how can we permit him to dismember it and accept a single part as Lincoln ? Yet Mr. St. Gaudens has not dismembered it, and has expressed it for us no less adequately than broadly.
SAINT GAUDENS'S LINCOLN. HE Lincoln monument for Chicago is the most important commemorative work that Mr. St. Gaudens has yet produced and may well remain the most important of his life. There could be no nobler task for an American sculptor than the task of representing the greatest of all Americans; and it so chances that the external as well as the intellectual problems it involved were of peculiar interest and difficulty. To an artist brought up in the belief that only through the representation of purely beautiful forms can a work of sculpture be beautiful as such, Lincoln would, of course, have offered an unsympathetic theme; both in physical structure and in attire he might have seemed almost the embodiment of the sculpturally impossible. But to an artist trained like Mr. St. Gaudens in the gospel of individuality, full of that modern spirit which prizes" character" in a model for portraiture above even beauty itself, no face could have been more inspiring than Lincoln's, while even the difficulties presented by his form and costume could not seem insuperable.
The intellectual problem on the other handthe primary task of conceiving the soul and potency of the man is so clear and full a way as to make adequate expression possible—had to deal with elements in which force and beauty were equally commingled. A more distinct personality than Lincoln's could not be imagined, nor one in which moral purity and power should be more commensurate with intellectual strength. Here it was the complex richness of his opportunity which made the sculptor's task as difficult as nobie. We may truly say that Lincoln was not one great man but many. He was a thinker whose profound imaginings dealt with the deepest, subtilest public problems and a practical man of affairs who controlled a myriad daily details of immediate definite bearing; a leader who guided his people through a terrible crisis, yet an executive who carefully
The first question to be decided must have been: Shall the impression to be given base itself primarily upon the man of action or upon the man of affairs? Shall the statue be standing or seated? In the solution of this question we find the most striking originality of the work. The impression given bases itself in equal measure upon the man of action and the man of affairs. Lincoln is standing, but stands in front of a chair from which he has just risen. He is before the people to counsel and direct them, but has just turned from that other phase of his activity in which he was their executive and their protector. Two ideas are thus expressed in the composition, but they are not separately, independently expressed to the detriment of unity. The artist has blended them to the eye as our own thought blends them when we speak of Lincoln. The pose reveals the man of action, but represents a man ready for action, not really engaged in it; and the chair-clearly typical of the Chair of State-reveals his title to act no less than his methods of self-preparation.
We see, therefore, that completeness of expression has been arrived at through a symbolic, idealistic conception. No given moment