Masterpieces of Mystery (Illustrated)
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It may contain a certain element of the supernatural—be tinged with mysticism—but its motive and the revelation thereof must be frankly materialistic—of the earth, earthy. In this respect it is very closely allied to the detective story. The model riddle story should be utterly mundane in motive—told in direct terms. Here again the genius of that great modern master asserts itself, and in "The Oblong Box" we have an early model of its kind.
The stories of this collection cover a wide range and are the choice of reading in several literatures. Bruno forms, as a whole, the chef-d'oeuvre of this master. Without going into a detailed explanation of these twenty-two pictures, all alike in shape and size, we shall merely direct special attention to the first, the Preaching of Raymond Diocres ; to the third, the Resurrection of the Canon, who half opens the cover of his coflSn, during the service for the dead, to announce to those present that he is lost ; to the four following, representing the Vocation of St.
Bruno, who is calling to his friends to retire from the world, and is directed by a vision of three angels; to the tenth, the Journey to La Chartreuse, where St. Bruno is pointing out the place to be occupied by the Convent in the midst of the wildest desert of the Alps painted perhaps by Patel ; and lastly, the twenty -first, the Death of St.
Bruno, a masterpiece of pathetic expression. When Lesueur was intrusted with a part of the decorations of the mansion of the president Lambert de Thorigny, the Salon des Muses and the Salon de l Amour fell to his share.
He had to pass from the Christian to the mythological poem, from austere asceticism to worldly grace ; and this complete change of mode, as Pousain would have called it, was not too great for his genius. In the six paint- ings representing the History of Love; and in the five pictures in which the nine Muses are grouped, Lesaeor merely gave a difiFerent direction to his mind, to his scientific combinations, passionate expression, and natural grace. He varied his style without ceasing to be himself. But between the two extreme modes required by the subjects of a series of pictures for a Car- thusian convent, and for the sumptuous mansion of a millionaire, Lesueur painted many separate compositions of an intermediate and varied style, although they were all on religious subjects, in which he shows all the fulness and pliancy of his genius.
Of these are — the Descent from the Cross, the 3fass of St. Martin, the brother martyrs St. Oervasitis and St. Protasius refusing to worship false gods. The latter picture, which was painted as a pendent to the works of Philippe de Champagne on the same legend, is as large as the largest works of Lebrun or Jouvenet. To this number also belong two small pictures, Chriat d, la coUmne and Christ hearing the Cross, which seems to us, as in the works of Poussin, preferable in style and perfection to larger works.
The Preaching of St. Paul at Ephesus, painted in , and offered to Notre Dame of Paris by the guild of goldsmiths, may likewise be placed here. It represents the apostle of the Gentiles causing the books of magic, the books of curious arts, to be burnt at his feet.
This has been very rightly placed in the salle des chefs-d'oeuvre, for it is the masterpiece of Lesueur. As he showed a decided talent for drawing, he was placed under Simon Vouet, with whom he remained for some years. He then went to Italy, and under the tuition of Poussin studied the works of the great masters.
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The King also decorated him with the order of St. Lebrun died in Paris in As Velasquez is to be seen in the Museum of Madrid, so Lebrun is to bo found entirely in the Twenty-two pictures represent him there, at the head of which stands the History of Alexander. This famous series, which was ordered by Louis XIV. Bruno among those of Lesueur.
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To make known and to popularize this great poem in five cantos — the Passage of the Granicus, the Rattle of Arbela, the Family of Darius made captive, the Defeat of Porus, and the Triumph of Alexander at Babylon — an evident allegorical flattery of the early triumphs of the great Louis. Lebrun had the good fortune to have it engraved by Edelinck and Audran. The other great paintings of Lebrun, the Day of Pentecost where he has introduced himself in the figure of the disciple standing on the left ; the Christ with Angels, painted to immortalise a dream of the queen mother; and the Repentant Ifagdalcn, which every one calls Mademoiselle de la ValliSre ; show us once more the official painter suiting himself to his master's tastes like a skilful courtier.
He is more natural and true in the Stoning of St. Stephen, as well as in the small pictures on profane history, Cato and Muiitis Scoevola, works of his youth, which were attributed to the great Poussin. At last when, delivered from the master's eye, he descended from royal pomp and reduced his subjects to small figures, Lebrun seems to ascend in art in proportion as he becomes humble and modest. If any one look at three small pictures representing the Entrance of Jesus into JeruMJUm; Jesus on his way to Calvary; and a Crucifixion, especially the second, which reminds us in its subject of the Spasiino, he will find finer and more varied painting, a simpler though not less noble style, and a deeper and more touching expression.
He was much patronized by Louis XIV. He painted many of the decorations of Versailles. He died at Paris in His younger brother, Louis BouIIougne, the younger, was also a good painter. He died in At seventeen years of age he went to Paris, where he quickly rose to fame. He was a pupil and assistant of Lebrun, and followed his style. In old age he lost the use of his right hand by palsy, and, to the astonishment of his brother artists, painted with his left hand the Magnificat, now in Notre Dame.
Nearly all his pictures were of sacred subjects. He died at Paris, in Jouvenet's art is theatrical, carried almost to the style of scene-painting.
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By what other name could we call the enormous sheets of canvas on which the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, the Christ driving the Money-Changers out of the Temple, and even the famous Raising of Liazarm, are described? The dramatic arrangement, the exaggerated expres- sion, the angular drawing, the pale and almost monochromatic colouring, all make his works resemble the decorations of a theatre, only intended to be looked at from a distance and to be taken in at a glance, but which will not sustain a closer examination. It is only fair to add, however, that Jouvenet's less ambitious compositions, such as the Descent from the Cross, which he painted for the Convent of the Capucines, and an Ascension for the Church of St.
Paul, are simpler and calmer in their style, besides being better in every other respect. He went early in life to Paris, where he studied under BouUongne. His pictures are carefully composed and harmoniously coloured. He died in Paris in At the same time that, in order to flatter the pompous taste of Louis XIV.
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This was Jean Baptiste Santerre. Like Lesueur before him, and Prud'hon after him, he escaped from academic tyranny, as well as from the slavery of the court. He sought for real greatness more than for fame or fortune, and found it, far from theatrical effect, in delicacy and grace. Always set aside, almost unknown, and doing scarcely anything but studies, which he destroyed before his death, Santerre, in a tolerably long life, completed but few works, and the Louvre has only succeeded in obtaining one, the modest Susannah at the Bath, which seems to make the link in the chain uniting Correggio to Prud'hon.
Theresa by him is in the chapel at Versailles. His Christian name is, by some, said to be Peter, and by others, Paul. Neither the date of his birth nor that of his death is undisputed. He is supposed to have visited Rome, because he painted scenes near that city. Patel's Landscapes are executed in a good imitation of Claude Lorraine, and make one wish that one knew more of the author.
Patel had a son, who was also a painter. To bring into one gronp the best portrait-painters of the age to which Louis XIV. Pierre Mignard was not merely a portrait-painter ; he also painted historical pictures and even in the dome of Val-de- OrAce painted frescoes larger in size if not really greater, than that of Correggio in the duomo of Parma. He succeeded the disgraced Lebrun in the oflBce of king's painter ; he was ennobled, made a Chevalier de Saint-Michael, a professor, rector, director, and chancellor of the Academy.
He even entered into direct rivalry with Lebrun in a Family of Daritis at the feet of Alexander, now in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg ; and in the Louvre we may see the charming Vierge it la Grappe, brought from Italy, in which he imitated the style of Annibale Carracci, whilst exaggerating the studied grace of Albani. But the compositions of Mignard, with the exception of this Madonna with the Grapes, have not retained their passing celebrity ; he is now only remembered by his portraits, to be found in the galleries of many noble fiamilies.
He was a pupil of Lesueur and Lebrun, and painted portraits which remind ua of Philippe of Champagne. He visited England in the reign of Charles II.