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Critical Studies By 






Ullje (gift Df 

Eugene E, Grissom 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 

The Mirror of Art 


Charles Baudelaire 

Translated and Edited 

With Notes and Illustrations 

By Jonathan Mayne 




Charles Baudelaire was bom in Paris in 1821. Upon re- 
ceiving his degree in 1839 from the College Louis-le-Grand 
in Paris, he began his sensational literary career. After a 
life characterized by poverty, excesses, and controversy, he 
died in 1867. 

Baudelaire first attracted public attention with two of 
his earliest writings on ait— The Salon of 1845 and The 
Salon of 1846. He wrote only one book of poetry, the 
famous Fleurs du mal (1857), whose successive revisions 
occupied him throughout his Hfe. He was also the translator 
of such works of Edgar AUan Poe as Histoires extraor- 
dinaires (1857) and Histoires grotesques et serieuses 

Though The Mirror of Art is a title invented by Bau- 
delaire himself, the book, first published in 1955, is com- 
posed of excerpts from two collections of Baudelaire's art 
criticism which were not compiled imtil after his death. 
These are Curiosites esthetiques (1868) and VArt ro- 
mantique (1869). 

F«N£ AI?T8 

Cover design by Leonard Baskin 
Typography by Edward Corey 

Printed in the United States 
All rights reserved 


Editor's Note and Acknowledgements vii 

Editor's Introduction ix 

Bibliographical Note xxiii 

THE SALON OF 1845 1 

A few words of introduction— History-paintings— 
Portraits— Genre-paintings— Landscapes— Drawings, 
Engravings— Sculpture 

# THE SALON OF 1846 38 

f To the bourgeois— What is the good of criticism?— 
t What is Romanticism?— On colour— Eugene Dela- 
j croix— On erotic subjects in art, and on M. Tassaert— 

On some colourists— On the ideal and the model— 
'^ Some draughtsmen— On portraiture— The *chic' and 
> the poncif'— M. Horace Vemet— On eclecticism 
P and doubt— On M. Ary Scheffer and the apes of 
' sentiment— On some doubters— On landscape— Why 

sculpture is tiresome— On schools and journeymen 
S —On the heroism of modem life 





Critical method— Ingres— Eugene Delacroix 

TEDS SALON OF 1859 220 

The modern artist— The modern public and photog- 
raphy—The queen of the faculties— The govern- 
ance of the imagination— Religion, history, fantasy 
—Portraiture-Landscape— Sculpture— Envoi 



Appendix: Translations of verse in the text 339 

Notes on the Illustrations 343 

Index 363 


The present translation has been made from the Conrad 
editions of Curiosites esthetiques (1923) and L'Art romati- 
tique (1925), both edited by the late Jacques Cr^pet 
Reference has also been made to the Pleiade edition of the 
Oeuvres completes (1951), edited by M. Y.-G. le Dantec, 
and to the late Andr6 Ferran's fully-annotated edition of 
the Salon de 1845 (Toulouse 1933). To these editions I 
am indebted for much of the material contained in those 
footnotes which are preceded by a numerical reference. 
All footnotes, or parts of footnotes, included between an 
asterisk and the initials 'C.B/ are Baudelaire's own. To 
some of these I have added a further note after the initials. 
Of the works of art mentioned in the text, I have identi- 
fied as many as I have been able— though by no means as 
many as I should have Hked— either by giving their present 
whereabouts, or by indicating where reproductions of them 
can be seen. In certain cases, where neither reproduction 
nor whereabouts were knov^ni to me, I have referred to 
standard catalogues raisonnes of the works of the artists 
concerned. In the matter of translating, or not translating, 
the titles of pictures, I have found absolute consistency 
impossible to secure. Where pictures, such as Dante et 
Virgile or La Mort de Sardanapale, are well known under 
their English titles, it is the EngHsh form that I have given. 
In the case of titles of obscure or unidentified pictures, of 
which so many are mentioned in the course of Baudelaire's 
Salons, 1 have generally left them in French, except in a 
few instances where the point of a criticism depends upon 
the literal understanding of a title. My guiding motive has 
been the avoidance of possible misidentification. 

My greatest personal debts are owed to Miss Margaret 
Oilman, of Bryn Mawr College, whose Baudelaire the Critic 
has been an invaluable aid and whose kindness a constant 
encouragement; and to Mr Felix Leakey, of Glasgow Uni- 
versity, who has been most patient and helpful with advice. 
Among those others who have assisted me in a variety of 


ways, and whom I should like to take this opportunity of 
thanking once again, are: M. Jean Adhemar, of the Bib- 
liotheque Nationale; Mr John Beckwith, of the Victoria and 
Albert Museum; M. de Broglie, of the Musee Conde, 
Chantilly; Mr Gordon Crocker; Miss Helen Darbishire; 
Miss Bemice Davidson, of the Frick Collection; M. Claude 
Ferment; Mr H. G. Fletcher, of the Cheltenham Art Gal- 
lery; M. Armand Godoy; Mrs Marie-Louise Hemphill; Mr 
Asa Lingard; Mrs Dora Lykiardopulo; Mrs F. J. Mather, 
Jr.; Mr Peter Mayne; Mr O'Hana; M. Claude Pichois; Mr 
Peter Quennell; Mr Graham Reynolds, of the Victoria and 
Albert Museum; M. Philippe Roberts- Jones; Mr Bryan 
Robertson; Mr Denys Sutton; and M. A. Veinstein, of the 
BibHotheque de I'Arsenal, Paris. My thanks are also due 
to the authorities of the following Museums and Galleries 
who have kindly granted permission for works of art in their 
care to be reproduced here: the Victoria and Albert Mu- 
seum, the Tate Gallery and the Wallace Collection, Lon- 
don; the Musee du Louvre, Paris; the MetropoHtan Mu- 
seum, and the Frick Collection, New York; the Fodor 
Museum, Amsterdam; the Musee d'Art Modeme, Brussels; 
the Smithsonian Institution, Washington; the Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston; the Musee Fabre, Montpellier; the 
Musee Ingres, Montauban; the Musee Conde, ChantiUy; 
the Museums at Autun, Bordeaux, Bourg-en-Bresse, Lille, 
Lyon, Metz, Nantes, Nimes, Rouen, Saint-L6, Toulouse 
and Versailles. 

I wish to dedicate this edition to the memory of my 
friend Hallam Fordham. 



It is probably true to say that tbe name Baudelaire has 
more suggestive power for the average EngHsh reader than 
that of any other French poet. Ever since Swinburne 'dis- 
covered' him to us in the 1860s, and the egregious Robert 
Buchanan anathematized him some ten years later as the 
accursed begetter of the 'Fleshly School of Poetry', he has 
had his more or less violent partisans and enemies. But in 
England and America at least it is only during the last 
generation or so that he has achieved his unquestioned 
status as one of the great archetypal figures— if not the great- 
est—in the moral and Kterary history of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. A considerable literature has grown up around him 
in English, ranging from biographical and interpretative 
studies to a whole shelf of translation of his poems and a 
volume or two of extracts from his prose-writings. It is 
therefore only the more remarkable that his works of criti- 
cism—and particularly his art-criticism, which is generally 
held to be his finest achievement in that field— should have 
remained largely unavailable to EngHsh readers. With the 
exception of Miss Margaret Gilmans excellent Baudelaire 
the Critic, no book in English, so far as I know, has been 
exclusively devoted to this subject; and I think that it would 
be fair to add that few professional art-writers, even, have 
given much evidence of having studied and profited by the 
works of one who has been called 'the father of modem 
art-criticism' and *le premier estheticien de son age'. 

The present selection, therefore, should need no apology. 
It includes all three of Baudelaire's Salons, the articles on 
the Exposition Universelle of 1855, the essay on Laughter, 
with its accompanying articles on French and Foreign Cari- 
caturists, and finally the great obituary panegyric on Dela- 
croix. The well-known essay on Constantin Guys— Le 
Peintre de la vie moderne— has been regretfully omitted 
for reasons of space, and on the grounds that it alone of 
Baudelaire's art-critical studies has been translated, not 


once only, but twice during the last twenty-five years. ^ It 
is certainly relevant, and therefore I hope not overpresump- 
tuous, to add that this is the first edition of these writings 
to be published in any language, including French, with 
a substantial appendix of reproductions of paintings and 
prints discussed in the text. These include a number that 
have never before been reproduced, and one at least— 
Haussoullier's Fontaine de jouvence— which has long been 
believed to be lost 

*Glorifier le culte des images {una grande, mon unique, ma 
primitive passion)', wrote Baudelaire in a famous passage 
of his autobiographical commonplace-book, Mon coeur mis 
a nu. And perhaps not the least rewarding approach to his 
art-critcism is to regard it as a kind of lifelong glorification 
of this chosen cult. Early in his Salon of 1846 Baudelaire 
inserted a brief manifesto of what he meant by criticism; 
in this he was quick to reject a cold, mathematical, heartless 
type of criticism, and to require in its place a criticism 
which should be partial, passionate and political'— and, he 
added, 'amusing and poetic'. 'Thus,' he went on to say, 
*the best account of a picture may well be a sonnet or an 
elegy —a type of 'criticism' of which we find several exam- 
ples among the Fleurs du mal. 

But this, of course, is not all. To find the simplest and 
most revealing exposition of Baudelaire's critical attitude, 
it is best to turn to a long article which he wrote some 
fifteen years later in defence of Wagner. 'All great poets 
naturally and fatally become critics', he wrote there. 'I pity 
those poets who are guided by instinct alone: I regard them 
as incomplete. But in the spiritual life of the former [i.e. 
the great poets] a crisis inevitably occurs when they feel 
the need to reason about their art, to discover the obscure 
laws in virtue of which they have created, and to extract 
from this study a set of precepts whose divine aim is infal- 
libility in poetic creation. It would be unthinkable for a 

^By P. G. Konody, in The Painter of Victorian Life (London 
1930), and by Norman Cameron, in My Heart Laid Bare, and 
other essays by Charles Baudelaire (London 1950). 


critic to become a poet; and it is impossible for a poet not 
to contain within him a critic. Therefore the reader will not 
be surprised at my regarding the poet as the best of all 
critics/ The poet— that is, the creative artist, whatever his 
medium— is thus a double man who both feels and analyses 
his feelings; and the movement of his critical thought will 
be powered by the same central force which is also behind 
his creation. For Baudelaire, the distinction between criti- 
cism and creation in this way breaks down; they turn out 
to be merely different aspects of the same process. 

Earlier in the same article he had written, ']e resolus 
de rninformer du paurquoi, et de transformer ma volupte 
en connaissance', and this, as several writers have already 
observed, is at the very core of Baudelaire's critical method. 
The starting-point is nearly always volupte— the shock of 
pleasure experienced in front of a work of art; the poet- 
critic then proceeds to examine and analyse the pourquoi— 
the why and the wherefore— until finally he is able to trans- 
form the initial shock of pleasure into knowledge— the 
volupte into connaissance. Knowledge gained in this way, 
however, is far from being the same thing as the cold, text- 
book knowledge which he had long ago rejected as a criti- 
cal instrument; it is a knowledge charged and quickened 
by the pleasure which has logically preceded it, and, as 
we have seen, it is far more likely to take the form of a 
sonnet than an algebraic equation— a witty and suggestive 
interpretation than a piece of scientific, or pseudo-scientific, 

Baudelaire made his literary d^but with a work of art- 
criticism— the Salon of 1845, with which this volume opens. 
In later years he became dissatisfied with this early and 
admittedly imperfect work, although we have the authority 
of Theodore de Banville that it made a striking effect on 
publication. Nevertheless it would certainly be worth pre- 
serving if only because it provides a kind of preliminary 
sketch— an ebauche, so to speak— for many of the critical 
attitudes that he was later to adopt and develop. Further- 
more it contains his earliest tribute to the genius of Dela- 
croix, whose art and ideas were to inform and interpenetrate 


SO much of what he was to write in the future on the subject 
of art. 

The Salon of 1845 is set out in a conventional way, and 
when it touches on general topics, it does so en passant. 
Pictures are arranged neatly within their genres, and each 
artist is dealt with in his place, with a paragraph or a series 
of paragraphs to himself. The Salon of 1846, however, is 
composed with great originality and brilliance. It begins 
with a series of chapters on fundamental aesthetic ques- 
tions, and by the time that we are presented with the first 
artist (again Delacroix), a whole critical background has 
been adumbrated. It is in this general introduction, and in 
the further 'generaF chapters and observations with which 
this Salon is interspersed, that we find the first of the great 
Baudelairean key-words, themselves defining key-positions 
in his critical strategy. Individualism, Romanticism, naivete, 
the Ideal— all of them are paraded before the reader and 
redefined in a new, exact and highly personal fashion. No- 
where, indeed, could we have a better example of Baude- 
laire's extraordinary gift for taking already-existing concepts 
and reanimating them so that they are still recognizable, 
but, in an essential sense, fresh and surprising. Take Ro- 
manticism, for example. 'Few people today will want to 
give a real and positive meaning to this word', we are told. 
And then, after showing us the various ways in which the 
idea of Romanticism has been misunderstood and per- 
verted, Baudelaire proceeds, in a few short sentences, to 
give his own definition. 'Romanticism is precisely situated 
neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth. . . To say 
the word Romanticism is to say modem art— that is, inti- 
macy, spirituality, colour, aspiration towards the infinite, 
expressed by every means available to the arts'. Or naivete: 
'By the naivete of the genius', he writes, 'you must imder- 
stand a complete knowledge of technique combined with 
the Know thyself! of the Greeks, but with knowledge mod- 
estly surrendering the leading role to temperament.' Even 
the old-fashioned, classic shibboleth of 'the Ideal' is given 
an honoured and important place in this renovated vocabu- 
lary of art. 'I am not claiming that there are as many funda- 
mental ideals as there are individuals, for a mould gives 


several impressions: but in the painter's soul there are just 
as many ideals as individuals, because a portrait is a model 
complicated hy an artist' 

From this necessarily brief r^sum^ of a few of the leading 
ideas to be encountered in the Salon of 1846, it will be 
apparent that Baudelaire was by no means setting out to 
make a sudden and shocking breach with the past. What 
he was doing was to take a series of dead or dying concepts 
and to breathe a new life into them; and if, in the process, 
he foimd it necessary (as he did) to denounce certain 
fashionable heresies by which, in his opinion, the integrity 
of art was endangered, this was not because his views were 
the views of a self-conscious enfant terrible. He was Hving 
at a time when artistic anarchy and its natural counterpart, 
artistic pinitanism, were both rampant; when the *great 
tradition' had got lost, and the new tradition had not yet 
been discovered; when *wit' and 'anecdote' and 'erudition' 
were already beginning to flourish on the soil left vacant 
by *history'— and his deeply serious aim was to attempt to 
call back the visual arts to what he held to be their proper 
functions. Hence his lifelong devotion to Delacroix who, by 
his indomitable adherence to classical values of order and 
artistic purity amid the turbulence of his Romantic imagi- 
nation, was, in Baudelaire's view, the true painter of the 

It has often been observed of Baudelaire's poetry that it 
reveals an extraordinary fusion of a lapidary, Classical 
permanence and an intimate. Romantic contingency— and 
this is only one of the striking parallek between Baudelaire 
and Delacroix as creative and critical artists. Both believed 
that every nation and every age possessed, and must pos- 
sess, its own Beauty. Baudelaire analysed these various and 
varying manifestations of Beauty into two separate ele- 
ments—the eternal, which was common to all, and the 
transitory, which resulted from the changing modes of feel- 
ing characteristic of different ages. In this, it may be 
argued, he showed no great originality; the idea was al- 
ready impHcit in Stendhal, and doubtless in other theorists 
too (for the successful tracing back of individual aspects 
of Baudelaire's thought to former authors has of recent 


years become a minor industry of literary scholarship). But 
in going a step further and asserting that without the co- 
existence of both elements there could be no Beauty at all, 
he was asserting something both new and significant. This 
was but another way of saying that the 'ideal' had now 
become a relative concept. And if we remember that, in a 
mechanically progressive age, Baudelaire had the deepest 
possible contempt for material 'progress', it will only make 
his undertanding of the central aesthetic problem by so 
much the more prophetic of our own. 

It is in the articles on the Exposition Universelle, of some 
nine years later, that we first encounter the concept which 
may be said to epitomize and develop to their logical con- 
clusion all those that we have already considered This is 
the concept of the 'imagination', which makes a brief but 
telling debut in the course of an analysis of the funda- 
mental defects of Ingres. But it is not until the Salon of 
1859 that Baudelaire's idea of the imagination finds its full 
statement. It is to some extent linked to his doctrine of 'cor- 
respondences' (which is also first mentioned by name in the 
Exposition Universelle articles), but it is not necessary to 
accept that esoteric doctrine in all its implications in order 
to appreciate the real value of the idea. As with all of 
Baudelaire's key-words, the word 'imagination' has a very 
special meaning attached to it. It is an all-informing faculty, 
which must be allowed to dominate and to order aU the 
others. Furthermore, it is essentially creative— and here, as 
Miss Gilman has pointed out, Baudelaire comes very close 
to the doctrine of the creative imagination as developed by 
Coleridge in the Biographia Literaria, though it is in a high 
degree doubtful that he was aware of this relationship. (If 
a Hterary parentage for Baudelaire's Imagination is re- 
quired, we need look no further than Poe— although it is 
now fashionable to deplore his influence— and Poe, as is 
readily admitted even by his friends, owed much to the 
ideas of Coleridge. ) 

But Imagination is also the 'most scientific of the facul- 
ties'. By this seemingly paradoxical statement Baudelaire 
meant that the Imagination alone is, by its nature, capable 
of penetrating beneath the surface of appearances and of 


detecting hidden analogies between different material man- 
ifestations, different modes of perception, and different 
levels of existence. The Imagination, in fact, is that capital 
faculty of the creative artist whereby he is enabled to see 
all in one synoptic glance, and thus to order his work in 
such a way that the topical shall co-exist with the eternal, 
the natural with the supernatural and the moral with the 
metaphysical. It is through the Imagination, in short, that 
the universal correspondences are discerned and the 'ideal' 
brought to Hght. Baudelaire is nevertheless careful to insist 
that the Imagination must have at its service a refined 
sensibihty and a practised technical equipment. He is, in- 
deed, scornful of technical ineptitude (though, as in the 
case of Corot, he does not always agree that criticism on 
this score has been correctly appHed); but he is, if any- 
thing, even more contemptuous of a purely manual dex- 
terity, undirected by Imagination or the 'SouF— witness his 
criticism of Troyon, for example. 

There is one idea of fundamental importance, however, 
which we have not yet touched on, although it runs through 
all of Baudelaire's art-criticism, from the very first Salon 
to the essay on Guys of almost twenty years later, and may 
be said to emerge naturally from his doctrine of the Imagi- 
nation and of Beauty. This is the idea of the 'Heroism of 
Modem Life'. Starting with his definition of Romanticism 
as intimacy, spirituality and the rest, and feeHng (as we 
know so well from his poetry that he felt) that modem life 
was presenting a challenge and an obhgation to the creative 
artist which few of his contemporaries seemed willing to 
meet, Baudelaire concluded his Salon of 1845 with an im- 
passioned appeal, which he took up again and developed 
in the following year. This was an appeal for a painter who 
could interpret tiie age to itself, with a complete imagina- 
tive grasp of its occasional and paradoxical acts of a protest- 
ing heroism amid a setting of moral and spiritual desolation. 
Delacroix, for all that he was in other essentials the 'painter 
of the age', had scarcely touched modem fife, and even 
though Baudelaire claimed to find a contemporary, sickly 
type of beauty in his women (somewhat to tiie constema- 
tion of Delacroix himself, it must be admitted), this was 


hardly enough to qualify him as the almost Messianic 
genius whom Baudelaire was crying in the wilderness. 
Coiurbet might perhaps suggest himself to us as a possible 
candidate; but this would be to forget that Baudelaire, 
after a brief flirtation with socialist ideas (and thus with 
the possibility of a popular, realist art), and in spite of a 
personal friendship with Courbet himself which lasted 
longer than is often supposed— Baudelaire, the sworn anti- 
materiahst, had early declared his enmity for the realist 
ideal. ReaHsm (associated by him with Positivism) was 
for Baudelaire a flat negation of the Imagination— it was 
httle less than a blasphemy; hence his somewhat curious 
coupling of the names of Ingres and Courbet, both of whom 
he regarded as having sacrificed the imaginative faculty on 
the altars of other gods— the great tradition' and 'external 
nature', respectively. 

Another possibility might have been Damnier, for whom 
Baudelaire expressed a wholehearted admiration in his 
article on the French caricaturists; or the young Manet, 
whom he admired in private (if with certain reservations), 
but never, in fact, praised publicly, save on one occasion- 
in an article, not included here, in which he joined the 
name of Manet with that of Alphonse Legros (to the 
shocked surprise of posterity). When, however, the time 
came, it was none of these, but the modest, morbidly self- 
conscious Constantin Guys in whom Baudelaire discovered 
his painter of modem Hfe'; it was around this deHghtfully 
gifted but essentially minor artist that he built his fully- 
developed theory of the relationship of art to modern Hfe. 

Whether or not we agree that Baudelaire was justified 
in glorifying Guys to this extent, it is generally conceded 
that the Peintre de la vie modeme is one of his prose mas- 
terpieces. For our present purpose, however, we may per- 
haps confine ourselves to a single one of the ideas of which 
it is composed— a crucial idea, nevertheless, not only in its 
context, but in the whole fabric of Baudelaire's aesthetic 
and metaphysical opinion. To reduce it to its fundamental 
statement, ibis was a passionately-held belief in the Fall 
of Man, and Original Sin. The essay. On the Essence of 
Laughter, had already made it clear that Baudelaire based 


his whole theory of the Comic on this idea; and I think that 
it would be possible to maintain that in the final analysis 
his whole aesthetic was similarly foimded. Good— whether 
in art or morahty— can only be achieved by conscious (and, 
one might add, imaginative) effort; by striving after an 
ideal virtue or beauty, and constantly battling against the 
powerful, but senseless and undirected impulses of Nature. 
Hence the moving aphorisms of personal morality in Mon 
cceur mis a nu; and hence, as extreme statements, the glori- 
fication of the Dandy and the 'eloge du maquillage' in the 
Peintre de la vie moderne. Transferred to the criticism of 
the arts in the mid-nineteenth century, the doctrine has a 
corollary of the greatest importance. For it is precisely this 
contempt (and also perhaps this fear) of Nature that ex- 
plains Baudelaire's impatience with all current naturahstic 
trends— for the landscapes of the Barbizon painters no less 
than the reahsm of Courbet. The idea of copying nature, 
which was at that time more than usually in the air, was 
to Baudelaire an even greater artistic heresy than was the 
idea of adding something extraneous ('style', for example) 
to nature. He remained consistent from first to last in his 
belief that the immanent, individual ideal— whether ex- 
pressed by the detachment of the Dandy, the make-up of 
the courtesan, or the imagination of the poet— was the only 
thing with which man should concern himself. In the 
sphere of art the realization of this ideal would always be 
the result of a collaboration— a sort of fusion, rather— of 
two separate entities. 'What is purt art, according to the 
modern conception?', asks Baudelaire in an unfinished 
article, L'Art philosophique. It is to create a suggestive 
magic containing at one and the same time the object and 
the subject, the external world and the artist himself.' 

In the course of the preceding sketch of Baudelaire's 
general attitude towards the problems of art, several ex- 
amples of his practical sympathies and antipathies have 
already been touched on. As has often been pointed out, 
Delacroix was from first to last his touchstone of greatness— 
the Turner to his Ruskin. It is very nearly true to say that 
Baudelaire's published criticism begins and ends with the 
name of Delacroix; and it is certain that the idea of Dela- 


croix can almost always be felt hovering in the background 
through the intervening pages. Some modem critics have 
indeed come to reproach Baudelaire for this special and 
all-absorbing devotion, on the grounds that it blinded him 
to those progressive trends in contemporary painting which 
were already leading in the direction of Impressionism and 
thus of Modem Art as we now know it. They are shocked 
at his severe criticisms of Ingres and Courbet; they note 
his fundamentally imperfect sympathy for Rousseau, and 
his damaging dislike of MiUet; and finally he is rebuked 
for omitting to 'discover' Manet at a time when he was in 
a position to do so, and instead for lavishing praise on a 
host of minor painters who are now almost entirely forgot- 
ten—and in most cases deservedly so. 

Such is the case against him, as stated by M. Philippe 
Rebeyrol,2 for example. But it is necessary first of all to 
view this kind of criticism in its historical context— to see 
it as a reaction from a modem devotion to Baudelaire no 
less fervent than was his own devotion to Delacroix. It has 
for some time indeed been conventional to hold that Baude- 
laire was the only art-critic of the nineteenth century who 
never made mistakes; and if by the phrase 'never made mis- 
takes' we mean that he exactly anticipated the verdicts of 
posterity in all his judgements, it must at once be owned 
by anyone who has taken the trouble to read what he wrote 
that this conventional behef is not founded strictly on fact. 
Other critics of his time— the serious and business-like 
Thor^, for example, or even a gifted progressive like Champ- 
fleury— may be instanced as more accurate prophets of 
the dawn. Other critical attitudes than his behef in a 
purified and re-stated Romanticism may now seem to have 
been more in the mainstream of the theory of art as it has 
since developed. 

But though such practical criticisms must indeed be ad- 
mitted to have some force, it is legitimate to ask whether 
it is not perhaps a Httle cmde to attempt to place a critic 
such as Baudelaire— or any critic, for that matter, who is 

^ See liis article, 'Baudelaire et Manet' in Les Temps modernes, 
Oct. 1949. 


also a creative artist— in accordance with a simple score- 
card of Tiits' and 'misses', and particularly when those hits 
and misses are themselves not so much verifiable facts as 
elements in a constantly changing complex of opinion. It 
is necessary at once to state that we do not read Baudelaire 
in order to dazzle ourselves with the shafts of his prophetic 
gaze; we may even perhaps allow ourselves to hazard the 
guess that, if he did look forward to a future art, it may 
well have been to that of Gustave Moreau rather than of 
Renoir or Cezanne, to that of Beardsley rather than of 
Toulouse-Lautrec. But against the enormous positive im- 
portance of his work, any such possible shortcomings are 
fundamentally insignificant. When we call Baudelaire the 
'father of modem art-criticism' or the 'first aesthetician of 
his age' we are referring not to his anticipation of any one 
of our particular judgements and fashionable cults; we are 
thinking of his whole approach to the art of art-criticism. 
For Baudelaire was perhaps the first to detect the danger- 
ous fallacy of a 'party-Hne' in art, to perceive the 'admirable, 
eternal and inevitable relationship between form and func- 
tion' and to apprehend the delicate distinction between 
anarchy and autonomy in an artist of genius. Even his 
strictures on artists with whom he was naturally out of 
sympathy are more often than not conceived in such a way 
as to throw hght on virtues no less than on vices; and in 
spite of M. Rebeyrol's carefuUy-arranged texts, he seldom 
failed to discern greatness, or even 'importance', where it 
existed, even though he may then have proceeded to en- 
quire why it was not greater or more important still. 

But it is above all to Baudelaire's passionately-held be- 
lief in the purity of art that we find ourselves returning. 
Just as his Romanticism transcends the historical reality of 
that movement (T. S. EHot once called him a 'counter- 
Romantic'; in this context, perhaps 'post-Romantic' might be 
even more appropriate), so his behef in the purity or in- 
tegrity of art transcends the concept of 'Art for Art's sake'. 
Painting (or poetry, or music) exists in its own right; it 
has nothing to do with politics (or philosophy, or archae- 
ology), even though in certain conditions it may appeal, 
in a greater or a lesser degree, to a spectator who is con- 


cemed with these things. 'Painting is an evocation, a magi- 
cal operation' which makes its effect by means of a fusion 
of colour and line, and which has its own principles of life, 
to be found nowhere else but in the 'soul' of the artist. If 
it were for nothing more than the constant re-affirmation 
of this point of view, Baudelaire's criticism would remain 
a landmark in the development of our understanding of the 
arts. Add to it all those other qualities— the poetic insight, 
the wit, the brilliance of description and the underlying 
humanity— and the result is a critic with whom we may on 
occasions disagree, but one whom we cannot forget once 
we have read him. 

A final note on the title and composition of this book. 

Although Baudelaire had for long intended to assemble 
and re-print his art-critical writings in one or more volumes, 
this aim was not in fact accomplished until after his death 
(in 1867). The following year there appeared, under the 
editorship of Charles Asselineau and Theodore de Banville, 
the volume entitled Curiosites esthetiques, containing all 
three Salons, the articles on the Exposition Universelle, the 
Laughter and Caricature articles, and a shorter piece en- 
titled Le Musee classique du Bazar Bonne-nouvelle (not 
included here) . This was followed in 1869 by L'Art roman^ 
tique (a title, it seems, of the editors' own choosing) which 
contained the articles on Delacroix and Guys, and two other 
shorter art-critical studies; the remainder of the volume was 
devoted to articles of literary and other criticism. The pres- 
ent book is therefore neither one nor the other, being com- 
posed for the greater part of elements from Curiosites 
esthetiques, but with one important extract from VArt 
romantique. The title. The Mirror of Art, has been chosen 
because it was invented (but not used) by Baudelaire him- 
self when he was meditating the publication of the book 
that was finally issued as Curiosites esthetiques. Other titles, 
such as Bric-d-hrac esthetique and Le Cabinet esthetique 
were also discussed, but of the various available possibili- 
ties, Le Miroir de VArt has seemed by far the most appropri- 


ate— not least because it alone can be happily transformed 
into English, yahne les titres mysterieux et les titres 
petards', wrote Baudelaire to his publisher Poulet-Malassis; 
and in default of anything more mysterious or explosive, 
The Mirror of Art, suggesting as it does Baudelaire's con- 
viction that art-criticism should be the reflection of a work 
of art in the mind of a critic, seems to sum up his attitude 
and express his intentions with the maximimi of authen- 

Jonathan Mayne 


Delteil Loys Delteil. Honor e Daumier (in the series 

'Le peintre-graveur illustre'). 10 volumes. 
Paris, 1925-30 

Escholier Raymond Escholier. Delacroix. 3 volmnes. 
Paris, 1926-9 

Gilman Margaret Oilman. Baudelaire the Critic. New 

York, 1943 

lllustr. L'lllustration. Journal universel 

Journal The Journal of Eugdne Delacroix. London, 


Robaut Alfred Robaut. L'Oeuvre complet d'Eugdne 

Delacroix. Paris, 1885 

Wildenstein Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of J.A.D. 
Ingres. London, 1954 


Margaret Gilman's Baudelaire the Critic (New York 1943) 
contains a list of works on Baudelaire's criticism. To this 
may be added Nino Barbantini's important article *Bau- 
delaire Critico d'Arte' in his Scritti d'Arte (Venice 1953). 
Martin TumeU's Baudelaire (London 1953) contains a 
good general bibliography. For a detailed examination 
of the art-criticism of the period 1848-70, see Joseph 
C. Sloane's French Painting between the Past and the 
Present (Princeton 1951). 

The most convenient source of information concern- 
ing the Salon-exhibits of 19th century French artists is 
Bellier de la Chavignerie's Dictionnaire general des artistes 
de I'ecole frangaise (2 vols., Paris 1882-5). 



We can claim with at least as much accuracy as a well- 
known writer claims of his little books, that no newspaper 
would dare print what we have to say. Are we going to be 
very cruel and abusive, then? By no means; on the contrary, 
we are going to be impartial. We have no friends— that is 
a great thing— and no enemies. Ever since the days of M. 
Gustave Planche,^ a rough diamond whose learned and 
commanding eloquence is now silent to the great regret of 
all right-thinking minds, the Hes and the shameless fa- 
vouritisms of newspaper criticism, which is sometimes silly, 
sometimes violent, but never independent, have inspired 
the bourgeois with a disgust for those useful handbooks 
which go by the name of Salon-reviews.* 

And at the very outset, with reference to that impertinent 
designation, 'the bourgeois', we beg to state that we in no 
way share the prejudices of our great confreres in the world 
of art, who for some years now have been striving their 
utmost to cast anathema upon that inoffensive being whom 
nothing would please better than to love good painting, if 
only those gentlemen knew how to make it understandable 

^The exhibition opened on 15th March at the Musee Royal 
(Louvre). Baudelaire's review appeared in the form of a book- 
let. Although it was oflBcially recorded as published on 24th 
May, Baudelaire himself wrote to his mother that it was appear- 
ing on his birthday, 9th April. The present translation of this 
Sdon is somewhat abridged. Omissions are indicated where 
they occur. 

* Gustave Blanche (1808-57), who had written regularly for 
the Revue des Deux-Mondes, had been absent in Italy for the 
last few years. 

*Let us record a fine and honourable exception in M. Dele- 
cluze, whose opinions we do not always share, but who has 
always managed to preserve his integrity, and, without roaring 
or ranting, has often been responsible for bringing new and 
unknown talents to light, (c.b.) 

2, THE SALON OF 1845 

to him and if the artists themselves showed it him more 

That word, which smells of studio-cant from a mile off, 
should be expunged from the dictionary of criticism. 

The iDOurgeois' ceased to exist the moment he himself 
adopted the word as a term of abuse— which only goes to 
prove his sincere desire to become artistic, in relation to the 

In the second place, the bourgeois— since he does, in fact, 
exist— is a very respectable personage; for one must please 
those at whose expense one means to live. 

And finally, the ranks of the artists themselves contain so 
many bourgeois that it is better, on the whole, to suppress 
a word which does not define any particular vice of caste, 
seeing that it is equally applicable to those who ask no 
more than that they should cease to incur it, as to those who 
have never suspected that they deserved it. 

It is vdth the same contempt for all systematic nagging 
and opposition— opposition and nagging which have be- 
come banal and commonplace;* it is with the same orderli- 
ness, the same love of good sense, that we are banishing 
far from this little booklet all discussion both of juries^ in 
general and of the paintings-jury in particular; of the re- 
form of the jury, which we are told has become necessary, 
and of the manner and frequency of exhibitions, etc. . . . 
First of all, a jury is necessary— so much is clear; and as for 
the annual recurrence of the exhibition,^ which we owe to 
the enlightened and Hberally paternal mind of a king to 
whom both public and artists owe also the enjoyment of 
six museums,** a fair-minded man will always see that the 

*The complaints are perhaps justified, but they count as nag- 
ging, because they have become systematic, (c.b.) 
^ i.e. selection-committees, about which there was much current 
dissatisfaction. Under the Empire and the Restoration, the works 
of new exhibitors only were subject to the jury; in 1831 new 
rules were formed according to which aU were so subject. 
* It was not until 1833 that the Salon became an annual event. 
In recent years there had never been less than two years be- 
tween each, and often more (viz. 1817, 1819, 1822, 1824, 1827, 
** The Galerie des Dessim, the extension to the Galerie Fran- 


great artist cannot fail to gain by it, considering his natural 
productiveness, and that the mediocre artist will only find 
his deserved punishment therein. 

We shall speak about everything that attracts the eye of 
the crowd and of the artists; our professional conscience 
obliges us to do so. Everything that pleases has a reason 
for pleasing, and to scorn the throngs of those that have 
gone astray is no way to bring them back to where they 
ought to be. 

Our method of address will consist simply in dividing our 
work into categories— History-paintings and Portraits— 
Genre-paintings and Landscape— Sculpture— Engravings 
and Drawings; and in arranging the artists in accordance 
with the rank and order which the estimation of the public 
has assigned to them. 

8th May 1845 


Delacroix— M. Delacroix is decidedly the most original 
painter of ancient or of modem times. That is how things 
are, and what is the good of protesting? But none of M. 
Delacroix's friends, not even the most enthusiastic of them, 
has dared to state this simply, bluntly and impudently, as 
we do. Thanks to the tardy justice of the years, which 
blunt the edge of spite and shock and ill-will, and slowly 
sweep away each obstacle to the grave, we are no longer 
living at a time when the name of Delacroix was a signal 
for the reactionaries to cross themselves, and a rallying- 
symbol for every kind of opposition, whether intelligent or 
not. Those fair days are past. M. Delacroix will always le- 

gaise, the MusSe Espagnol, the MusSe Standish, the Musie de 
Versailles, and the MttsSe de Marine (c.b.). The first two and 
the last two of these exist today. The Musie Espagnol comprised 
Spanish pictures belonging to the Orleans family. The MusSe 
Standish consisted of worics bequeathed by Lord Standish to 
King Louis-Philippe. 

4 THE SALON OF 1845 

main a somewhat disputed figme— just enough to add a 
little lustre to his glory. And a very good thing tool He has 
a right to eternal youth, for he has not betrayed us, he has 
not lied to us like certain thankless idols whom we have 
borne into our pantheons. M. Delacroix is not yet a member 
of the Academy, but morally he belongs to it.^ A long time 
ago he said everything that was required to make him the 
first among us— that is agreed. Nothing remains for him but 
to advance along the right road— a road that he has always 
trodden. Such is the tremendous feat of strength demanded 
of a genius who is ceaselessly in search of the new. 
This year M. Delacroix has sent four pictures i^ 

1. La Madeleine dans le desert.^ A head of a woman, up- 
turned, in a very narrow frame. High up to the right, a 
little scrap of sky or rock— a touch of blue. The Magdalen's 
eyes are closed, her mouth soft and languid, her hair 
dishevelled. Short of seeing it, no one could imagine the 
amount of intimate, mysterious and romantic poetry that 
the artist has put into this simple head. It is painted almost 
entirely in visible brush-strokes, like many of M. Delacroix's 
pictures. Far from being dazzling or intense, it is very 
gentle and restrained in tone; its general effect is almost 
grey, but of a perfect harmony. This picture demonstrates 
a truth which we have long suspected, and which is made 
clearer still in another work of which we shall shortly speak; 
it is that M. Delacroix is stronger than ever, and on a path 
of progress which ceaselessly renews itself— that is to say 
that he is more than ever of a harmonist. 

2. Dernidres paroles de Marc-Aurele^ Marcus Aurelius 
commits his son to the Stoics. A half-draped figure, on his 
death-bed, he is presenting the young Commodus— a yoimg, 
pink, soft voluptuary, seemingly a little bored— to his aus- 
tere friends grouped around him in attitudes of dejection. 

A splendid, magnificent, sublime and misunderstood pic- 

^ In fact Delacroix had already sought election to the Institut in 

1837, but he was not finally elected until 1857. 

^ A fifth, his Education de la Vierge, was rejected by the jury. 

« Robaut 921. 

* Now in the Lyons Museum; see pi. 68. 


ture. A well-known critic has sung the painter's praises for 
having placed Commodus— that is to say, the future— in the 
light; and the Stoics— that is to say, the past— in the shade. 
What a briUiant thoughtl But in fact, except for two figures 
in the half-shadow, all the characters have their share of 
illumination. This reminds us of the admiration of a re- 
publican man of letters who could seriously congratulate 
the great Rubens for having painted Henri IV with a 
slovently boot and hose, in one of his official pictures in 
the Medicis gallery.^ To him it was a stroke of independent 
satire, a liberal thrust at the royal excesses. Rubens the 
revolutionary! Oh criticism! Oh you critics! . . . 

With this picture we are in mid-Delacroix— that is to say, 
we have before us one of the most perfect specimens of 
what genius can achieve in painting. 

Its colour is incomparably scientific; it does not contain a 
single fault. And yet what is it but a series of triumphs of 
skill— triumphs which are invisible to the inattentive eye, 
for the harmony is muffled and deep? And far from losing 
its cruel originahty in this new and completer science, the 
colour remains sanguinary and terrible. This equihbrium of 
green and red delights our heart. M. Delacroix has even 
introduced into this picture some tones which he had not 
habitually employed before— at least, so it seems to us. 
They set one another off to great advantage. The back- 
ground is as serious as such a subject requires. 

Finally— let us say it, since no one else does— this picture 
is faultless both in draughtsmanship and in modelling. Has 
the public any idea of how difficult it is to model in colour? 
It is a double difficulty. In modelling with a single tone- 
that is with a stump— the difficulty is simple; modelling 
with colour, however, means first discovering a logic of light 
and shade, and then truth and harmony of tone, aU in one 
sudden, spontaneous and complex working. Put in another 
way, if the light is red and the shadow green, it means 
discovering at the first attempt a harmony of red and 
green, one luminous, the other dark, which together pro- 
duce the effect of a monochrome object in relief. 

^ The paintings executed by Rubens for the Palais du Liixem- 
bourg are now in the Louvre. 

6 THE SALON OF 1845 

'This picture is faultless in drawing.' With reference to 
this vast paradox, this impudent piece of blasphemy, must 
I repeat, must I re-explain what M. Gautier gave himself 
the trouble of explaining in one of his articles^ last year, 
on the subject of M. Couture— for when a work is well 
suited to his literary temperament and education, M. 
Gautier expounds well what he feels finely? I mean, that 
there are two kinds of draughtsmanship— the draughtsman- 
ship of the colourists, and that of the draughtsmen. Their 
procedures are contrary; but it is perfectly possible to draw 
with untrammelled colour, just as it is possible for an artist 
to achieve harmonious colour-masses while remaining an 
exclusive draughtsman. 

Therefore when we say that this picture is well drawn, 
we do not wish it to be imderstood that it is drawn like a 
Raphael. We mean that it is drawn in an extempore and 
graphic manner; we mean that this kind of drawing, which 
has something analogous with that of all the great col- 
ourists, Rubens, for example, perfectly renders the move- 
ment, the physiognomy, the hardly perceptible tremblings 
of nature, which Raphael's drawing never captures. We 
only know of two men in Paris who draw as well as M. 
Delacroix— one in an analogous and the other in a contrary 
manner. The first is M. Daumier, the caricaturist; the 
second M. Ingres, the great painter, the artful adorer of 
Raphael. This is certainly something calculated to astound 
both friends and enemies, both partisans and antagonists 
of each one of them; but anyone who examines the matter 
slowly and carefully will see that these three kinds of draw- 
ing have this in common, that they perfectly and completely 
render the aspect of nature that they mean to render, and 
that they say just what they mean to say. Daumier draws 
better, perhaps, than Delacroix, if you would prefer healthy, 
robust qualities to the weird and amazing powers of a 
great genius sick with genius; M. Ingres, who is so much 
in love with detail, draws better, perhaps, than either of 
them, if you prefer laborious niceties to a total harmony, 
and the nature of the fragment to the nature of the com- 
position, but ... let us love them all three. 
•In La Presse, 28th March, 1844. 


3. Une Sibylle qui montre le rameau d'orJ Once more the 
colour is fine and original. The head reminds one a Httle of 
the charming hesitancy of the Hamlet designs. As a piece 
of modelling and texture it is incomparable: the bare 
shoulder is as good as a Correggio. 

4. Le Sultan de Maroc entoure de sa garde et de ses affi- 
ciers.^ This is the picture to which we were referring a 
moment ago when we declared that M. Delacroix had ad- 
vanced in the science of harmony. In fact, has anyone ever 
shown a greater musical seductiveness, at any time? Was 
ever Veronese more enchanting? Were melodies more 
fanciful ever set to sing upon a canvas? or a concord more 
wondrous of new, unknown, deHcate and charming tones? 
We appeal to the honesty of anyone who knows his Louvre 
to mention a picture by a great colourist in which the colour 
is as suggestive as in M. Delacroix's picture. We know that 
we shall only be understood by a small number, but that is 
enough. In spite of the splendour of its hues, this picture 
is so harmonious that it is grey— as grey as nature, as grey 
as the summer atmosphere when the sun spreads over each 
object a sort of twihght film of trembling dust. Therefore 
you do not notice it at first; its neighbours kill it. The com- 
position is excellent; it has an element of the unexpected, 
because it is true and natural . . . 

P.S. It is said that praises can be compromising, and that 
it is better a wise enemy, etc. . . . We, however, do not 
believe that it is possible to compromise genius by explain- 
ing it. 

HoBACE Vernet. This African painting^ is colder than a 
fine winter's day. Everything in it is of a heart-breaking 
whiteness and brightness. Unity, none; rather, a crowd of 
interesting httle anecdotes— a vast tavern mural. These 

' See pi. 69. 

® Now in the Toulouse Museum; see pi. 67. 

® The Prise de la Smalah d'Abd-el-Kader, now in the Versailles 

Museum. The colossal size of this painting ( over sixty feet long ) 

ensured it overwhelming critical and popular attention. The 

military operation which it illustrated took place in 1843; 

see pi. 15. 

8 THE SALON OF 1845 

kinds of decoration are generally divided up as though into 
compartments or acts, by a tree, a great mountain, a cavern, 
etc. M. Horace Vemet has followed the same method— 
that of a serialist— thanks to which the spectator's memory 
duly finds its landmarks; namely a huge camel, some deer, 
a tent, etc. ... It is truly painful to see an intelligent man 
floundering about in such a mess of horror. Good Heavens, 
has M. Horace Vernet never seen the works of Rubens, 
Veronese, Tintoretto, Jouvenet? 

William Haussoullier. M. Haussoullier must not be sur- 
prised, first of all, at the violence of the praises which we 
are about to heap upon his picture, for we have only de- 
cided to do so after having conscientiously and minutely 
analysed it; nor, in the second place, at the brutal and un- 
mannerly reception which a French public is according it 
—at the passing bursts of laughter which it occasions. We 
have seen more than one important newspaper-critic toss- 
ing it his little meed of mockery, over his shoulder. Let the 
artist take no notice. It is a fine thing to have a success like 
St. Symphorian.^^ 

There are two ways of becoming famous— by the accu- 
mulation of annual successes, or by a bolt from the blue. 
The second way is certainly the more original. Let M. 
HaussouUier remember the outcries which greeted Dante 
and Virgil,^^ and then persevere along his own path. A lot 
of miserable catcalls are yet in store for this work, but it v^ 
abide in the memory of anyone with eyes and feelings. May 
its success continue ever widening— for success it ought to 

After M. Delacroix's wonderful pictures, this is truly the 
capital work of the exhibition. Let us rather say, it is, in a 
certain sense at least, the tmique picture of this year's Salon. 
For M. Delacroix has for long been an illustrious genius, a 
granted and accepted glory; and this year he has given us 
four pictures. Whereas M. William HaussouUier was un- 
known yesterday; and he has only sent one. 
" Ingres' Martyre de saint Symphorian, painted for the Cathe- 
dral of Autun and exhibited at the 1834 Salon, was the centre 
of violent controversy. 
^ By Delacroix; exhibited at the 1822 Salon. 


To begin with, we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of 
describing it— such a joyful and delicious task does it seem. 
The subject is the Foimtain of Youth.^^ In the foregroimd 
are three groups. At the left a young, or rather a reju- 
venated couple, gazing into one another's eyes and talking 
close together— they appear to be practising Platonic love. 
In the middle, a half-nude woman, with skin white as 
snow, and brown crimped hair— she too is smiling and 
chatting with her partner; there is a greater air of sensuality 
about her, and she stiU holds a mirror in which she has just 
been looking at herself. Finally, in the right-hand comer, 
a robust and elegant man— a ravishing head, this, with fore- 
head a trifle low and Hps a shade forceful; he smiles as he 
puts down his glass on the turf, while his companion is 
pouring some wondrous elixir into the glass of a long, thin 
yoimg man standing in front of her. 

Behind them, on the second plane, is another group, 
lying at full length on the greensward, in one another's 
arms. In the middle stands a nude woman; she is wringing 
from her hair the last drops of the health-giving and fer- 
tilizing stream. A second woman, also nude, and half re- 
cumbent, seems Hke a chrysalis still clothed in the last 
shift of its metamorphosis. DeHcate of form, these two 
women are vapourously, outrageously white; they are just 
beginning to re-emerge, so to speak, into life. The standing 
figure is in the strong position of dividing the picture 
symmetrically in two. This almost-living statue is admirably 
effective, and, by contrasting with them, stresses the vio- 
lent hues of the foreground, which thereby acquire an 
added vigour. The fountain itself, which wiU doubtless 
strike some critics as a little too 'Seraphin'^^ in style— this 

"This painting, long believed lost, was acquired in London 
shortly before the war by Mr. Graham Reynolds; see pi. 12. A 
preliminary drawing for it was published by J. Cr^pet in the 
Figaro, 15th Nov. 1924. The painting itself had been exhibited 
at the Royal Academy in London a year before being shown 
in Paris. As well as Baudelaire, Theodore de Banville was much 
struck by it and described it in a poem of the same title ( dated 
May 1844), which was later published in Les Stalactites 

"The 'Theatre du sieur Seraphin', a marionette-theatre for 
children, was well known for its sensational production-effects. 


fairy-tale fountain is much to our liking; it divides into 
two sheets of water, and is tapered, or cleft, into wavering 
fringes, thin as air. Along a vmiding pathway, which leads 
the eye right into the background of the picture, come 
happy sixty-year-olds, bent and bearded. The background 
to the right consists of a grove in which a kind of joyful 
ballet is taking place. 

The sentiment of this picture is exquisite; it shows us 
people making love and drinking— a sight that thrills the 
senses— but they are drinking and making love in a deeply 
serious, almost a melancholy manner. Far from the storms 
and ferments of youth, this is a second youth which knows 
the value of life and can enjoy it in tranquillity. 

In our opinion this picture has one very important 
quality, especially in a Museum— it is very showy. There is 
no chance of not seeing it. Its colour is of a terrible, an 
unrelenting rawness, which might even be accounted rash, 
if the artist were a weaker man; but ... it is distinguished 
—a merit so sought after by the gentlemen of the school of 
Ingres. Moreover it contains some happy tonal combina- 
tions; it is possible that the artist will one day become a 
genuine colourist. This painting possesses another pro- 
digious quality, and one which makes men— true men; it 
has faith— faith in its own beauty; this is absolute, self- 
convinced painting, which cries aloud 1 will, I will be 
beautiful, and beautiful according to my own lights; and 
I know that I shall not lack an audience to please 1' 

The drawing, too, suggests great determination and 
finesse; the facial expressions are pretty. All the attitudes 
are feHcitous. Elegance and distinction are the particular 
mark of this picture throughout. 

Will it have a swift success? We cannot tell. It is true that 
every public possesses a conscience and a fund of good 
vidll which urge it towards the true; but a pubHc has to be 
put on a slope and given an impetus, and our pen is even 
more unknown than M. HaussouUier's talent. 

If it were possible to re-exhibit the same work at different 
times, and on different occasions, we could guarantee the 
justice of the pubHc towards this artist. 

Nevertheless his painting is quite bold enough to sup- 


port attack, and it suggests a man who can assume re- 
sponsibility for his works; so he has only to go off and 
paint a new picture. 

Now that we have so openly displayed our sympathies, 
dare we . . . ?— but our wretched duty compels us to think 
of everything!— dare we, I say, admit that after our sweet 
contemplation the names of Giovanni Bellini and of one 
or two other early Venetian painters crossed our mind? Is 
M. HaussouUier perhaps one of those who know too much 
about their art? That is a truly dangerous scourge, and one 
that represses the spontaneity of many an excellent impulse. 
Let him beware of his erudition, let him beware even of his 
taste— but that is a glorious failing— and this picture still 
contains enough originality to promise a happy future. 

Decamps. Let us hurry on quickly— for Decamps kindles 
the curiosity in advance— you can always promise yourself 
a surprise— you count on something new. This year M. 
Decamps has contrived for us a surprise which surpasses 
aU those on which he worked for so long and with so much 
love in the past— I mean the Crochets and the Cimhres.^^ 
This year M. Decamps has given us a bit of Raphael and 
Poussin. Yes, by Heaven, he hasl 

Let us hasten to correct any exaggeration in that sentence 
by saying that never was imitation better concealed, nor 
more skilful; it is perfectly permissible, it is praiseworthy, 
even, to imitate thus. 

But frankly— in spite of all the pleasure it gives us to 
peruse an artist's works for the various transformations of 
his art and the successive preoccupations of his mind- 
frankly, we miss the old Decamps a Httle. 

With the sense of choice which particularly distinguishes 
him, he has hit upon that one among aU biblical subjects 
which best suits with the nature of his talent; it is the 
strange, epic, fantastic, baroque, mythological story of 
Samson, the man of impossible labours, who could overturn 
houses with a push of his shoulder— Samson, that antique 
cousin of Hercules and the Baron von Miinchausen. 

" The Supplice des crochets (Wallace Collection) was exhibited 
in 1839, and the Defaite des Cimbres (Louvre) in 1834. 

12 THE SALON OF 1845 

The first of these designs^^— the sudden appearance of 
the angel in the midst of a wide landscape— makes the 
mistake of recalling things that we know too well; that raw 
sky, those rocky boulders, those horizons of granite have 
for long been famiHar to the whole of the younger school, 
and although it is true to say that it was M. Decamps who 
first taught them, nevertheless it pains us to be reminded 
of M. Guignet when we are in front of a Decamps. 

Several of tiiese drawings have, as we have already said, 
a very Italian cast to them; and this mingUng of the spirit 
of the great masters with that of M. Decamps himself— a 
very Flemish intelligence, in certain respects— has produced 
a most curious result. For example, you will find figures 
comporting themselves happily enough in the grand man- 
ner, side by side with an effect of an open window and the 
sun streaming through it to light up the floor, such as would 
rejoice the heart of the most industrious Fleming. In the 
drawing, however, which represents the overturning of the 
temple— a drawing composed like a great and magnificent 
picture, with gestures and attitudes of historical grandeur— 
you will find the purest essence of this artist's genius in a 
flying silhouette of a figure who is taking several steps in 
his stride and remains eternally suspended in mid-air. How 
many others would have dreamt of this detail? or if they 
had, would not have realized it in a different way? But 
M. Decamps loves to capture nature in the very act, in her 
simultaneous moments of fantasy and reality— in her most 
sudden and most unexpected aspects. 

The finest of all is undeniably the last, in which the 
broad-shouldered and invincible Samson is condemned to 
turn a miU-stone— his head of hair, or rather his mane, is no 

"Decamps* Histoire de Samson in nine drawings was unani- 
mously praised by the critics. The drawings were dispersed at 
the Delessert sale in May 1911, but a set of lithographic repro- 
ductions by Eugene le Roux exists. Decamps liimself made a 
set of reduced replicas, of which one is now in the Lyons 
Museum. Pierre du Colombier {Decamps, 1928) reproduces 
three of tlie set, including that which shows Samson at the 
mill; the same three are reproduced in the Delessert sale cata- 
logue. The statement in Benezit's dictionary that such a set 
is in the Musee des Arts D^coratifs, Paris, is incorrect 


more— his eyes are blinded— the hero is bending to his toil 
like a draft-animal— trickery and treachery have mastered 
that terrible strength which was capable of overturning the 
very laws of nature. Here, then, at last is a true bit of 
Decamps, and of the best vintage; here at last we find that 
sense of irony, of fantasy, I was just about to say that sense 
of the comic, which we missed so much in the earlier 
drawings. Samson is turning the wheel like a draft-horse; 
he walks ponderously, stooping with a rude naivet^the 
naivety of a dispossessed lion, the resigned sadness, the 
almost brute abasement of the king of the forests made to 
drag a cartload of manure or of offal for cats. 

In the shadowed foreground an overseer— a jailor, no 
doubt— is silhouetted against the wall, in an attentive atti- 
tude, and is watching him work. What could be more 
complete than these two figures and the mill-stone? And 
what more interesting? There was no need even to intro- 
duce those inquisitive onlookers behind a grill in the wall 
—the thing was already fine, and fine enough. 

And so we may say that M. Decamps has produced a 
magnificent illustration, a set of heroic vignettes, to the 
strange and poetic story of Samson. And although one 
might perhaps find fault with the over-Hteral treatment of 
a wall here and an object there, or with the meticulous and 
artful mixture of painting and pencil, nevertheless, just be- 
cause of the new aims which it reveals, this series of de- 
signs constitutes one of the finest surprises which this prodi- 
gious artist has yet produced. But no doubt he is already 
getting some new ones ready for us.^^ 

AcHiLLE Deveria. And now for a fair name; now for a true 
and noble artist, to our way of thinking. 

The word has gone round among critics and journalists 
to start intoning a charitable De Profundis over the defunct 
talent of his brother, M. Eugene Dev^ria;!''^ and each time 

" Paragraphs on Robert-Fleury and Granet are omitted here. 
"This probably refers to the article by Gautier in La Presse 
(28th March 1844), in which Eugene Deveria's Naissance de 
Henri TV (1827; now in the Louvre) was praised at the ex- 
pense of his most recent work. 

14 THE SALON OF 1845 

the fancy takes that glorious old veteran of romanticism to 
show his face, they devoutly enshroud him in the Birth of 
Henri IV, and burn a few candles in honour of his ruined 
genius. So far so good; it proves that those gentlemen have 
a conscientious love of beauty, and it does honour to their 
feelings. But how comes it that no one thinks of tossing a 
few sincere blossoms, of plaiting a few loyal tributes to the 
name of M. Achille Deveria? For long years, and all for our 
pleasure, this artist poured forth from the inexhaustible well 
of his invention a stream of ravisliing vignettes, of charm- 
ing little interior-pieces, of graceful scenes of fashionable 
life, such as no Keepsake— in spite of the pretensions of the 
new names— has since published. He was skilled at colouring 
the lithographic stone; all his drawings were distinguished, 
full of feminine charms, and distilled a strangely pleasing 
kind of reverie. All those fascinating and sweetly sensual 
women of his were idealizations of women that one had 
seen and desired in the evening at the cafe-concerts, at the 
Bouffes, at the Opera, or in the great Salons. Those Htho- 
graphs, which the dealers buy for three sous and sell for a 
franc, are the faithful representatives of that elegant, per- 
fumed society of the Restoration, over which there hovers, 
like a guardian angel, the blond, romantic ghost of the 
duchesse de Berry.^^ 

But what ingratitude! People speak of them no longer, 
and today all our routine-minded and anti-poetic asses have 
turned their loving eyes towards the virtuous asininities and 
ineptitudes of M. Jules David,i^ or the pedantic paradoxes 
of M. Vidal.20 

We are not going to say that M. Achille Deveria has 
painted an excellent picture in his Sainte Anne instruisant la 
Vierge, but he has painted a picture whose great value con- 
sists in qualities of elegance and clever composition. It is 
more a patchwork of colour than a painting, it is true, and 

^^The duchesse de Berry (1798-1870), daughter-in-law of 

Charles X, and motlier of the comte de Chambord. 

"In 1837 Jules David had published a set of moralistic litlio- 

graphs entitled Vice et Vertu. He exhibited tliree water-colours 

at the 1845 Salon. 

^ See p. 34. 


in these days of pictorial criticism, of Catholic art and of 
bold handling, a work like this must of necessity seem some- 
what naive and out of its element. But if the works of a 
famous man who was once your joy seem today to be naive 
and out of their element, then at least you might bury him 
to the accompaniment of a chord or two on the orchestra, 
you mob of egotists I 

Boulanger's Sainte famille^^ is detestable. 

His Bergers de VfrgiZe— mediocre. 

His Baigneuses—a. little better than Duval Lecamuses or 
Maurins;22 but his Portrait d'homme is a good piece of 

Here we have the last ruins of the old romanticism— this 
is what it means to come at a time when it is the accepted 
belief that inspiration is enough and takes the place of 
everything else; this is the abyss to which the unbridled 
course of Mazeppa has led.^^ It is M. Victor Hugo that has 
destroyed M. Boulanger— after having destroyed so many 
others; it is the poet that has tumbled the painter into the 
ditch. And yet M. Boulanger can paint decently enough- 
look at his portraits. But where on earth did he win his 
diploma as history-painter and inspired artist? Can it have 
been in the prefaces and odes of his illustrious friend? 

BoisSARD. It is to be regretted that M. Boissard,^* who pos- 
sesses the qualities of a good painter, has not been able 
to show us this year an allegorical picture of his represent- 
ing Music, Painting and Poetry. The jury, who doubtless 
found its irksome task too fatiguing that day, did not deem 
it proper to admit it. M. Boissard has always contrived to 

^ Now in the church of Saint-Medard, Paris. 

^ The Duval Lecamuses ( father and son ) were pupils of David 

and Delaroche respectively; Antoine Maurin was a pupil of 

Ary ScheflFer. 

^Boulanger achieved his first great success in 1827 with Le 

Supplice de Mazeppa (Rouen Museum). 

^Boissard de Boisdenier, painter, musician, writer and dandy, 

was a friend of Baudelaire's in the days of the Club des 


l6 THE SALON OF 1845 

keep his head above the troubled waters of that bad period 
of which M. Boulanger prompted us to speak, and thanks to 
the serious and what one might call the naive quahties of 
his painting, he has preserved himself from danger. His 
Christ en croix is solidly painted and its coloin: is good. 

ScHNETZ. Alasl what is to be done with these vast Itahan 
pictures? We are in 1845— but we are very afraid that 
Schnetz will still be giving us the same kind of thing ten 
years from now. 

Chasseriau. Le Kalife de Constantine suivi de son 
escorte.^^ The immediate attraction of this picture Hes in 
its composition. This procession of horses and noble riders 
has something that suggests the spontaneous boldness of the 
great masters. But to anyone who has carefully followed 
M. Chasseriau's studies, it must be obvious that many a 
revolution is still going on in this youthful mind, and that 
the struggle is not yet over. 

The position which he wants to create for himself be- 
tween Ingres, whose pupil he is, and Delacroix, w^hom he is 
seeking to plunder, has an element of ambiguit)' for every- 
body—and of embarrassment for himself. That M. Chas- 
seriau should find his quarry in DelacroLx is simple enough; 
but that, in spite of all his talent and of all the precocious 
experience that he has acquired, he should make the fact so 
obvious— that is where the evil hes. And so this picture con- 
tains contradictions. Here and there it already achieves 
colour; elsewhere it is still only a patchwork of colouring. 
Nevertheless its general effect is pleasing, and its compo- 
sition, we are glad to repeat, is excellent. 

As early as the Othello illustrations^^ ever)'one had 
noticed how concerned he was with imitating DelacroLx. 
But given tastes as distinguished and a mind as active as 
those of M. Chasseriau, there is every ground for hoping 
that he will become a painter, and an eminent one.^^ 

^ Now in tlie Versailles Museum; see pi. 17. 

^^ A series of fifteen etchings which appeared in 1844. 

^ A paragraph on Debon is omitted here. 


Victor Robert. Here is a picture which has been very un- 
lucky. We think, however, that it has been quite sufficiently 
roasted by the pundits of the press, and that the time has 
now come to right its wrongs. And yet what a curious idea 
it was to show these gentlemen Europe being enlightened 
by Religion, Philosophy, the Sciences and the Arts,^^ and to 
represent each European people by a figure occupying its 
geographical position in the picture! How could one hope 
to make something bold acceptable to those scribblers, or to 
make them understand that allegory is one of the noblest 
branches of art? 

The colour of this enormous composition is good— in bits, 
at least; it even reveals a search after fresh tones. The atti- 
tudes of some of the beautiful women who symbolize the 
various nations are elegant and original. 

It is unfortunate that the eccentric idea of assigning its 
geographical position to each people should have damaged 
tile ensemble of the composition and the charm of the 
groups, and that the figures should thus have been spilt all 
over the canvas, as in a picture by Claude whose little 
manikins are allowed to tumble about as they Uke. 

Is M. Victor Robert a consummate artist, or a crack- 
brained genius? There are things to be said for either view 
—expert intentions side by side with the blunders of youth. 
But on the whole this is one of the most interesting pictures 
in the Salon, and one of the most worthy of attention.^^ 

Planet is one of those rare pupils of Delacroix who bril- 
liantly reflect certain of their master's quahties.^^ 

There is no joy so sweet, in the miserable business of writ- 
ing a Salon-review, than to come upon a genuinely good 
and original picture whose name has already been made— 
by hoots and catcalls. 

^ The catalogue contained a lengthy explanation of this picture. 
Gautier described it as *cet immense tableau humanitaire et 

^ Paragraphs on Brune, Glaize, LepauUe, Mouchy, Appert and 
Bigand are omitted here. 

^Planet's Souvenirs (published long after his death, in 1929) 
contain much useful information concerning Delacroix's 
methods, as weU as information about the present picture. 

l8 THE SALON OF 1845 

And in fact this picture really has been jeered at. We can 
perfectly well understand the hatred of architects, masons, 
sculptors and modellers towards anything that looks hke 
painting; but how comes it that artists can be blind to such 
things in this picture as its originahty of composition, and 
even its simpHcity of colour? 

We were charmed at the very start by some hint which 
it contains of an almost Spanish voluptuousness. M. Planet 
has done what all first-rate colomists do— that is, he has 
achieved colour with a small quantity of tones— with red, 
white, and brown; and the result is deUcate and caressing to 
the eye. St. Teresa,^^ as the painter has represented her 
here— St. Teresa, sinking, falling, thrilling at the point of 
the dart with which Divine Love is about to pierce her, is 
among the happiest inventions in modern painting. The 
hands are charming. The attitude, for all its naturalness, is 
as poetic as could be. This picture distills an atmosphere of 
extreme sensuous rapture and marks its author as a man 
who is capable of thoroughly understanding a subject— for 
we are told that St. Teresa was 'afire with so great a love of 
God that its violence caused her to cry out aloud . . . And 
her pain was not bodily but spiritual, although her body 
had its share in it, even a large one'.^^ 

Are we going to speak about the mystical httle cupid, 
hanging in mid-air and about to transfix her with his jave- 
lin? No. What is the point? M. Planet is obviously talented 
enough to paint a complete picture another time.^^ 

Gleyre. He it was that captured the heart of the senti- 
mental public with his picture, Le Soir.^'^ And that was all 
very well, so long as it was only a question of painting 
women warbHng romantic ballads in a boat— in the same 
way as a poor opera can triumph over its music with the 

^ La Vision de sainte Therese, now in a private collection, is re- 
produced on pi, 18. 

'^ Quoted, in the catalogue, from St. Teresa's Life ( ch. XXIX, 

'"A paragraph on Dugasseau is omitted here. 
" Now in the Louvre; otherwise known as Les Illusions perdues. 
See pi. 42. 


delightful aid of undraped bosoms— or rather behinds. But 
this year M. Gleyre has taken it into his head to paint 
apostles^^— apostles, M. Gleyrel and alas! he has not proved 
capable of triumphing over his own painting.^^ 

Joseph Fay. M. Joseph Fay has sent only drawings, like 
M. Decamps— which is our reason for including him among 
the history-painters. We are not concerned here with the 
technique, but with the manner in which an artist works. 

M. Joseph Fay^^ has sent six drawings representing the 
life of the ancient Germans— they are the cartoons for a 
frieze executed in fresco in the town hall at Elberfeld in 

And as a matter of fact these things did strike us as more 
than a little Germanic, and while we were scrutinizing them 
with the pleasure that any honest work will always afford, 
we found ourselves thinking of all those modern celebrities 
from the other side of the Rhine, who are published by the 
dealers on the Boulevard des Italiens. 

These drawings, of which some represent the great 
struggle between Arminius and the invading Romans, and 
others the serious and ever-martial games of Peace, bear a 
noble family likeness to the excellent compositions of Peter 
ComeHus. Their draughtsmanship is adroit and skilful, and 
tends towards the neo-Michelangelesque. Every movement 
is happily conceived and denotes a mind which sincerely 
loves form, if it be not actually in love with it. We were 
attracted to these drawings because of their beauty; and it 
is for that that we like them. But on the whole, despite the 
beauty of this array of intellectual power, we still yearn and 
cry aloud for originality: we should like to see this same 
talent arrayed in support of ideas more modern— or rather, 
in support of a new way of seeing and of understanding the 
arts. By this we do not mean to refer to choice of subject— 
for in that respect artists are not always free— but rather to 

^ This painting is now in the church at Montargis; it is repro- 
duced, after an engraving, in Clement, Gleyre, 1878, pi. IV. 
** Paragraphs on Pilliard and Auguste Hesse are omitted here. 
^'A German artist, Joseph Fay was in Paris in 1845-6. He 
studied for a time with Delaroche. 

20 THE SALON OF 1845 

the manner in which subjects are comprehended and de- 

In a word, what is the point of all this erudition when a 
man has talent?^® 

Janmot. We were only able to find a single figure-subject 
by M, Janmot— it is of a woman, seated, with flowers on her 
knee.^^ This simple figure, which is both serious and melan- 
choly, and whose fine draughtsmanship and sHghtly raw 
colour remind one of the old German masters— this graceful 
Dilrer made us excessively curious to find the others; but 
we were not successful. Here, however, we certainly have a 
fine painting; and quite apart from the fact that the model 
is very beautiful, well chosen and well attired, there is in 
the colour itself, and in this slightly distressing combination 
of green, pink and red tones, a certain mystical quality 
which is in keeping with the rest; there is a natural har- 
mony here between colour and drawing. 

To complete the idea that one should form of M. Jan- 
mot's talent, it will be enough to read the subject of another 
of his pictures in the catalogue:— 'T/ie Assumption of the 
Virgin; in the upper part, the Blessed Virgin surrounded by 
angels, of which the two chief ones represent Chastity and 
Harmony; in the lower part. The Rehabilitation of Woman 
—an angel breaking her chains.' 

Etex. Oh sculptor! you who have been known to give us 
good statues— are you unaware, then, that there is a great 
difference between designing upon a canvas and modelling 
with clay, and that colour is a melodious science whose 
secrets are not revealed by merely knowing how to cope 
with marble? It would be possible to understand a musician 
wanting to ape Delacroix— but a sculptor, never! Oh great 
hewer of stone, why do you want to play the fiddle?^^ 

^ Paragraphs on Jollivet, Laviron and Matout are omitted here. 
"^ Janmot's Fleurs des cJiamps is now in the Lyons Museum; see 
pi. 16. Besides his Assumption (mentioned below), he also ex- 
hibited two portraits. 

*" Etex's painting was entitled La Delivrance. On liis sculpture 
see pp. 36-7 below. 




Leon Cogniet has a very fine portrait of a woman, in the 
Salon cane. 

This artist occupies a very high position in the middle 
reaches of taste and invention. If he does not aspire to the 
level of genius, his is one of those talents which defy criti- 
cism by their very completeness within their own modera- 
tion. M. Cogniet is as unacquainted with the reckless flights 
of fantasy as with the rigid systems of the absolutists. To 
fuse, to mix and to combine, while exercising choice, have 
always been his role and his aim; and he has perfectly ful- 
filled them. Everything in this excellent portrait— the flesh- 
tones, the millinery, the background— is handled with an 
equal feHcity. 

DuBUFE. For several years now M. Dubufe has been the 
victim of every art-journalist. If it is a far cry from M. 
Dubufe to Sir Thomas Lawrence, at any rate it is not with- 
out a certain justice that he has inherited some of that 
artist's urbane popularity. In our opinion the bourgeois is 
quite right to idolize the man who provides him with such 
pretty women— and almost always such elegantly attired 

M. Dubufe has a son who has declined to walk in the 
steps of his father, and has blundered into serious painting. 

Mlle. Eugenie Gautier. Fine colour— firm and elegant 
drawing. This woman knows her old masters— there is a 
touch of Van Dyck about her— she paints like a man. Every 
connoisseur of painting will remember the modelling of two 
bare arms in a portrait which she showed at the last Salon. 
Mlle. Eugenie Gautier's painting has nothing to do with 
woman s 'painting, which usually makes us think of the do- 
mestic precepts of the excellent Chrysale.^ 

^The protesting husband, and father, of Moliere's Femmes 

22 THE SALON OF 1845 

Belloc. M. Belloc has sent several portraits. That of 
M. Michelet struck us with the excellence of its colour. 
M. Belloc, who is not well enough known, is among the 
most skilful of present-day artists. He has turned out some 
remarkable pupils— Mile. Eugenie Gautier is one of them, 
we beHeve. Last year at the Bonne-Nouvelle galleries we 
saw a child's head of liis which reminded us of the very 
best of Lawrence.2 

Haffner. Another new name, for us at least. Very badly 
hung in the Httle gallery, he has a strikingly effective por- 
trait of a woman. It is diflBcult to find, which is a real pity. 
This portrait betokens a colourist of the first order. There is 
nothing dazzling, sumptuous or vulgar about its colour; it 
is excessively distinguished and remarkably harmonious. 
The whole thing is carried out within a very grey tonal 
scale. Its effect is very skilfully contrived, so that it is at 
once both soft and striking. The head, which is romantically 
conceived and of a delicate pallor, stands out against a grey 
background, which is paler still at this stage, and which, 
by growing darker towards the edges, gives the impression 
of forming a halo around it. As well as this, M. Haffner has 
painted a landscape which is very daring in colour— it shows 
a waggon with a man and some horses, almost silhouetted 
against the uncertain brilliance of a twihght sky. Another 
conscientious seeker . . . how rare they are I 

Perignon^ has sent nine portraits, of which six are of 
women. M. Perignon's heads are as hard and polished as in- 
animate objects. A real waxwork show. 

Horace Vernet. M. Horace Vemet, the portrait-painter, is 
inferior to M. Horace Vernet, the heroic painter. His colour 
surpasses that of M. Court in rawness. 

Hippolyte Flandrin. Did not M. Flandrin once give us a 
graceful portrait of a woman leaning against the front of 

^ Paragraphs on Tissier, Riesener and Dupont are omitted here. 
' According to the critic of V Illustration, P^rignon was 'le por- 
traitiste a la mode'. 


a theatre-box, with a bxinch of violets at her bosom?* But 
alas! he has come to grief in his portrait of M. Chaix-d'Est- 
Ange.^ This is but the semblance of serious painting; he has 
quite failed to catch the well-known expression of that fine- 
drawn, sardonic and ironical face. It is heavy and dull. 

Nevertheless it has just given us the keenest pleasure to 
find a female portrait by M. Flandrin— a simple head— 
which reminded us once more of his best works. Its general 
effect may be a little too gentle, and perhaps it makes the 
mistake of not rivetting the eye, Kke M. Lehmann's portrait 
of the Princess Belgiojoso.^ Nevertheless, as this picture is 
a small one, M. Flandrin has been able to carry it through 
to perfection. The modelling is beautiful, and the whole 
thing has the merit, which is rare among these gentlemen, 
of seeming to have been done all in one breath and at the 
first attempt.'^ 

Henri Scheffer. To give this artist his proper due, we dare 
not suppose that this portrait of His Majesty was done from 
the fife. There are but few faces in contemporary history 
which are so strongly marked as that of Louis-Philippe. Toil 
and fatigue have printed some goodly wrinkles upon it— but 
of these the artist shows no knowledge. It pains us that 
France should not possess a single portrait of her King. One 
man alone is worthy of that task— it is M. Ingres. 

All of M. Henri Scheffer's portraits are painted with the 
same bHnd and meticulous honesty, the same monotonous 
and patient conscientiousness.* 

* Presumably the portrait of Mme. Oudine, exhibited at the 1840 
Salon; repro. facing p. 166 in Louis Flandrin's Hippolyte 
Flandrin, Sa Vie et son Oeuvre (Paris 1902). 
^ Jurist, statesman and barrister ( 1800-76), the father of Baude- 
laire's counsel in the lawsuit over Les Fleurs du Mai (Aug. 

' Henri Lehmann's portrait of the Princess Belgiojoso was one 
of the great successes of the 1844 Salon. Reproduced in R. Bar- 
biera's La Principessa Belgioioso (edition of 1914), as the prop- 
erty of the Marchese Franco Dal Pozzo. 
' Paragraphs on Richardot and Verdier are omitted here. 
® A paragraph on Leiendecker is omitted here. 

24 THE SALON OF 1845 

Diaz. M. Diaz usually paints little pictures whose magical 
colour surpasses even the fantastic visions of the kaleido- 
scope. This year he has sent some small full-length portraits. 
But it is not only colour, but lines and modelhng, that go to 
make a portrait. No doubt our genre-painter will get his 
own back for this year's aberration. 



Baron has taken his Oies du pdre Thilippe^ from one of 
La Fontaine's tales. 

He has made it an excuse for introducing pretty women, 
shady trees, and variegated colours, for all that. 

Its general efiFect is most engaging, but it must be ac- 
counted the rococo of Romanticism. It contains elements of 
Couture, a Httle of Celestin Nanteuil's technique, and a lot 
of tints borrowed from Roqueplan and Clement Boulanger. 
Stand in front of this picture and reflect how cold an ex- 
cessively expert and brilliantly-coloured painting can still 
remain when it lacks an individual temperament. 

IsABEY. TJn Interieur dalchimiste.^ These scenes always 
contain crocodiles, stufiEed birds, vast morocco-bound tomes, 
fiery braziers, and an old man in a dressing-gown— that is to 
say, a great diversity of tints. This explains the partiahty of 
certain colourists for so commonplace a subject. 

M. Isabey is a true colourist— always brilliant, frequently 
subtle. He has been one of the most justly fortunate of the 
men of the new movement. 

Lecurieux. Salomon de Cans, d Bicetre.^ We are in a 
popular playhouse that has gone in for real literature for a 

^Repro. Moniteur des Arts (I, 96). 
'Repro. lllustr., vol. 5 (1845), p. 57. 

"Repro. Illustr., vol. 5 (1845), p. 41. Salomon de Caus was an 
engineer who in his writings foreshadowed the theory of steam- 
power. The story of his confinement in the as)'lum at Bicetre is 


change. The curtain has just risen, and all the actors are 
facing the public. 

A great lord, with Marion Delorme leaning sinuously 
upon his arm, is turning a deaf ear to the complaints of 
Salomon, who is gesticulating like a maniac in the back- 

The production is well-staged; all the lunatics are charm- 
ing, picturesque, and know their parts perfectly. 

Indeed, we cannot understand Marion Delorme's dismay 
at the sight of such charming lunatics. 

The uniform e£Fect created by this picture is one of cafe 
au lait. It is as russet in colour as a wretched, dust-ridden 

The drawing— that of a vignette, an illustration. What is 
the point of attempting what is called serious painting when 
one is neither a colourist nor a draughtsman?* 

Tassaert. a httle devotional picture, done almost like a 
love-scene. The Virgin is suckling the infant Jesus, beneath 
a coronet of flowers and httle cupids. We had aheady taken 
note of M. Tassaert last year. He combines good, mod- 
erately bright colour with a great deal of taste.^ 

GuiLLEMiN. Though his execution certainly has merit, M. 
Guillemin wastes too much talent supporting a bad cause— 
the cause of wit in painting. By this I mean providing the 
catalogue-printer with captions aimed at the Sunday pubHc. 

MuLLER. Can it be the Saturday public, on the other hand, 
that M. MuUer thinks to please when he chooses his sub- 
jects from Shakespeare and Victor Hugo?^ Enormous 'Em- 
pire' cupids in the guise of sylphs. So it is not enough to 
be a colourist in order to have taste. His Fanny, however, 
is better.*^ 

related in a letter from Marion Delorme, the famous 17th cen- 
tury courtesan, which is quoted in the catalogue. 
*A paragraph on Mme. Celeste Pensotti is omitted here. 
^ Paragraphs on Leleux freres and Lepoitevin are omitted here. 
" MuUer's Sylphe endormi was supported with a quotation from 
Victor Hugo, and his Lutin Puck with one from Shakespeare. 
''Paragraphs on Duval Lecamus (pere) and Duval Lecamus 
(Jules) are omitted here. 

26 THE SALON OF 1845 

GiGOux. M. Gigoux has given us the pleasant task of re- 
reading the account of the death of Manon Lescaut^ in the 
catalogue. But his picture is bad; it has no style, and its 
composition and colour are bad. It lacks all character, it 
lacks all feeling for its subject. Whatever is this Desgrieux? 
I would not recognize him. 

No more can I recognize M. Gigoux himself in this pic- 
ture—the M. Gigoux who several years ago was acclaimed 
by the public as the equal of the most serious innovators 
in art. . . . Can it be that he is embarrassed today by his 
reputation as a painter? 

RuDOLPHE Lehmann.^ His Italian women this year make 
us regret those of last year.^^^ 

Papety showed great promise, they say. On his return from 
Italy (which was heralded by some injudicious applause), 
he exhibited an enormous canvas^^ in which, although the 
recent usages of the Academy of Painting were too clearly 
discernible, he had nevertheless hit upon some felicitous 
poses and several compositional motifs; and in spite of its 
fan-Hke colour, there was every ground for predicting the 
artist a serious future. Since then he has remained in the 
secondary class of the men who paint weU and have port- 
folios fuU of scraps of ideas aU ready to be used. His two 
pictures this year {Memphis and Un Assaut)^^ are com- 
monplace in colour. Nevertheless their general appearance 

® Repro. I' Artiste, 4th series, vol. IV, and Ferran's edition of tlie 

Salon de 1845, facing p. 178. 

^ Rudolphe Lehmann is not to be confused with his brother 

Henri Lehmann, to whose portrait of the Princess Belgiojoso 

there is reference above. Of the former's paintings of Italian 

peasant women, one is reproduced Illustr., vol. 5 ( 1845), p. 137, 

and another Moniteur des Arts (II, p. 41). 

^° Paragraphs on De la Foulhouse, Perese, De Dreux and Mme. 

Calamatta are omitted here. 

" Presumably his RSve de bonheur, exhibited in 1843. 

^Memphis, repro. Illustr., vol. 5 (1845), p. 137. Un Assaut 

(correct title, Guillaume de Clermont ddfendant PtoUmais) is 

in die Versailles Museum. 


diflFers considerably, which leads us to imagine that M. 
Papety has not yet discovered his manner. 

Admen Guignet. There is no doubt that M. Adrien Gui- 
gnet has talent; he knows how to compose and arrange. But 
why, then, this perpetual doubt? One moment it is De- 
camps, and the next, Salvator. This year you would think 
that he had taken some motives from Egyptian sculpture or 
antique mosaics, and then had coloured them, on papyrus 
(Les Pharaons) .^^ And yet if Salvator or Decamps were 
painting Psammenit or Pharaoh, even so they would do them 
in the manner of Salvator or Decamps. Why then does M. 
Guignet . . . ? 

Meissonier. Three pictures: Soldats jouant aux des—Jeune 
homme feuilletant un carton?-^— Deux buveurs jouant aux 

Times change— and with them, manners; fashions change 
—and with them, schools. In spite of ourselves, M. Meis- 
sonier makes us think of M. Martin Drolhng. All reputa- 
tions, even the most deserved ones, contain a mass of Httle 
secrets. Thus, when the celebrated Monsieur X. was asked 
what he had seen at the Salon, he repHed that the only 
thing he had seen was a Meissonier— in order to avoid 
speaking about the equally famous Monsieur Y., who, for 
his part, said exactly the same thing! See what a good 
thing it is to act as a club for two rivals to beat one another 

On the whole M. Meissonier executes his little figures 
admirably. He is a Fleming, minus the fantasy, the charm, 
the colour, the naivete— and the pipe!^^ 

Hornung. 'Le plus tetu des trois nest pas celui quon 

" Joseph expliquant les songes du Pharaon is now in the Rouen 

Museum. See pi. 14. 

"Repro. {Jeune homme regardant des dessins), Illustr., vol. 5 

(1845), p. 184. 

" Paragraphs on Jacquand, Roehn, Remond and Henri Scheffer 

are omitted here. 

" 'The most stubborn of the tliree is not the one you think', was 


Bard. See above. 
Geffroy. See above. 


CoROT. At the head of the modern school of landscape 
stands M. Corot. If M. Theodore Rousseau^ were to ex- 
hibit, his supremacy would be in some doubt, for to a 
naivete, an originaHty which are at least equal, M. Rosseau 
adds a greater charm and a greater sureness of execution. 
It is naivete and originaHty, in fact, which constitute M. 
Corot's worth. Obviously this artist loves Nature sincerely, 
and knows how to look at her with as much knowledge as 
love. The quahties by which he excels are so strong— be- 
cause they are quahties of heart and soul— that M. Corot's 
influence is visible today in almost all the works of the 
young landscape-painters— in those, above all, who already 
had the good -sense to imitate him and to profit by his man- 
ner before he was famous and at a time when his reputa- 
tion still did not extend beyond the world of the studios. 
From the depths of his modesty, M. Corot has acted upon 
a whole host of artists. Some have devoted themselves to 
combing nature for the themes, the views and the colours 
for which he has a fondness— to fostering the same subjects; 
others have even tried to paraphrase his awkwardness. 
Now, on the subject of this pretended awkwardness of M. 
Corot's, it seems to us that there is a sHght misconception 
to clear up. After having conscientiously admired and 
faithfully praised a picture by Corot, our fledghng con- 
noisseurs always end by declaring that it comes to grief in 
its execution; they agree in this, that decidedly M. Corot 

the title of Hornung's painting; it showed a boy and a girl sit- 
ting on a donkey, and served Baudelaire witli a con\'enient 
riddle with which to dismiss his last three genre-painters. See 
La Fontaine, Le Meunier, son fih, et I'dne, 1. 37. 
' See n., p. 117. 


does not know how to paint. Splendid fellows 1 who first of 
all are unaware that a work of genius (or if you prefer, a 
work of the soul), in which every element is well seen, well 
observed, well understood and well imagined, will always 
be very well executed when it is sufficiently so. Next, that 
there is a great di£Eerence between a work that is complete 
and a work that is finished; that in general what is complete 
is not finished, and that a thing that is highly finished need 
not be complete at all; and that the value of a telling, ex- 
pressive and well-placed touch is enormous, etc., etc.,— 
from all of which it follows that M. Corot paints like the 
great masters. We need look no further for an example 
than to his picture of last year,^ which was imbued with 
an even greater tenderness and melancholy than usual. That 
verdant landscape, in which a woman was sitting playing 
the violin— that pool of sunlight in the middle distance, 
which lit up and coloured the grass in a different manner 
from the foreground, was certainly a most successful stroke 
of aesthetic daring. M. Corot is quite as strong this year as 
in the past— but the eye of the pubHc has become so ac- 
customed to neat, gHstening and industriously poHshed 
morsels that the same criticism is always levelled at him. 

Another proof of M. Corot's powers, be it only in the 
sphere of technique, is that he knows how to be a colourist 
within a scarcely varied tonal range— and that he is always 
a harmonist even when he uses fairly raw and vivid tones. 
His composition is always impeccable. Thus in his Homere 
et les bergers^ there is nothing unnecessary, nothing to be 
pruned— not even the two Httle figures walking away in 
conversation down the path. The three Httle shepherds with 
their dog are enchanting, like those excellent Httle scraps 
of bas-reHef which are sometimes to be found on the 
pedestals of antique statues. But is not Homer himseH a 
Httle too much like BeHsarius, perhaps? 

Daphnis et Chloe"^ is another picture full of charms; its 

^ Exhibited in 1844 as Pay sage avec figures, this picture was ex- 
tensively repainted by the artist and exhibited again thirteen 
years later; it is now in the Chantilly Museum {Le Concert). 
^ Now in the Saint-L6 Museum. See pi. 20. 
*Repro. Moniteur des Arts (I, 152). 

30 THE SALON OF 1845 

composition, like all good compositions— as we have often 
observed— has the merit of the unexpected. 

Francais is another landscape-painter of the highest merit 
—a merit somewhat hke that of Corot, and one that we 
should be incHned to characterize as 'love of nature'; but it 
is already less naive, more artful— it smacks much more of 
its painter— and it is also easier to understand. His painting, 
Le Soir,^ is beautiful in colour. 

Paul, Huet. Un vieux chateau sur des rochers. Can it be 
that M. Paul Huet is seeking to modify his manner? 
But it was aheady excellent as it was. 

Haffner. Prodigious originaHty— above all in colour. This 
is the first time that we have seen works by M. HafiFner, 
so we do not know if he is by rights a landscape-painter or 
a portrait-painter— all the more so because he excels in both 

Troyon 'always paints beautiful, luxuriant landscapes, and 
he paints them in the role of colourist and even that of 
observer— hut he always wearies the eye by the unshakeable 
self-confidence of his manner and the restless flicker of his 
brush-strokes. It is not pleasant to see a man so sure of 

CxmzoN has painted a highly original view called Les 
Houblons. It is quite simply a horizon, framed in the leaves 
and branches of the foreground. As well as this, M. Curzon 
has produced a very fine drawing of which we shall shortly 
have occasion to speak. ^ 

Calame and Did ay J For a long time people were under 
the impression that this was one and the same artist, suffer- 
ing from a chronic dualism; but later it was observed that 

^ Repro. Moniteur des Arts (I, 64). 

" Paragraphs on Flers and Wickemberg are omitted here. 
'Calame was tlie pupil of Diday. This year Calame exhibited 
Un Orage and Diday La Suite d'un orage dans les Alpes. 


he had a preference for the name Calame on the days when 
he was painting well.^ 

BoRGET. Eternal views of India and China.^ Doubtless it is 
all very well done, but they are too much Hke travel-essays 
or accounts of manners and customs. There are people, 
however, who sigh for what they have never seen— such as 
the boulevard du Temple, or the galeries de Boisl^^ M. 
Borget's pictures make us sigh for that China where the 
very breeze, according to M. Heine,^^ takes on a comic 
sound as it slips past the Httle hanging bells, and where 
nature and man cannot look at one another without laugh- 

Paul Flandrin. It is understandable that a man should 
damp down the reflected Kghts on a head in order to make 
the modelling more visible— and above all so when his name 
is Ingres. But who on earth was the weird eccentric who 
first took it into his head to mgrize' the country side?^^ 

Brascassat. Without doubt too much fuss is being made 
of M. Brascassat, who, man of sense and talent as he is, 
must really know that the Flemish gallery contains a lot of 
pictures of the same kind as his^^- quite as fully realized, 
more broadly paiated- and of a better colour.— Similarly 
too much fuss is made of 

^Paragraphs on Dauzats, Frere, Chacaton, Loubon, Gamerey 

and Joyant are omitted here. 

® His Pont Chinois was repro. Illustr., vol. 5 ( 1845), p. 136. He 

had been exhibiting Chinese and Indian views since 1836. 

"A favourite rendezvous in the Palais-Royal: it had already 

been demolished when Baudelaire wrote, and the site is now 

occupied by the Galerie d' Orleans. 

" The allusion is to a passage in Heine's Die romantische Schule 

(Bk. Ill, ch. 1, §1). 

^ Paragraphs on Blanchard, Lapierre and Lavieille are omitted 


" Of five landscapes exhibited, one, Vache attaquSe par des 
hups, was repro. Illustr., vol. 5 (1845), p. 39, and another, 
Paysage, repro. Moniteur des Arts (I, 112). 

32 THE SALON OF 1845 

Saint-Jean, who is of the school of Lyons, the penitentiary 
of painting, the comer of the known world in which the 
infinitely minute is wrought the best. We prefer the flowers 
and fruits of Rubens; they seem to us more natural. More- 
over the general effect of M. Saint- Jean's picture^"* is most 
wretched— it is monotonously yellow. On the whole, how- 
ever well executed they may be, M. Saint-Jean's pictures 
are dining-room pictures— not cabinet or gallery-pictures, 
but real dining-room pictures.^^ 

Arondel.^^ a great heap of game of every kind. This ill- 
composed picture— more a hotch-potch than a composition, 
as though it was aiming above all at quantity— has neverthe- 
less what is a very rare quality these days; it is painted \\dth 
a great naivete, without any dogmatism of school or ped- 
antry of studio. And from this it follows that parts of it are 
really well painted. Unhappily some others are of a muddy 
brown colour, which gives the picture a certain effect of 
dinginess— but all the clear or rich tones are thoroughly 
effective. What therefore struck us in this picture was its 
mixture of clumsiness and skill— blunders suggesting a man 
who had not painted for years, and assurance suggesting 
a man who had painted a great deal. 

Chazal has painted the Yucca gloriosa which flowered last 
year in the park at Neuilly. It would be a good thing if all 
those people who cling so desperately to microscopic truth, 
and believe themselves to be painters, could see this httle 
picture; and if the following Httle observations could be 
pumped into their ears through an ear-trumpet:— 'This pic- 
ture is a success not because everything is there and you 
can count each leaf, but because at the same time it cap- 
" Fruits et Fleurs, a copy of which is now in the Dijon Museum. 
^Paragraphs on Kiorboe, Philippe Rousseau and Beranger are 
omitted here. 

" This obscure artist was twice mentioned by Baudelaire in his 
salon-reviews (see p. 119 below). He is generally identified 
with the dealer Arondel who sold Baudelaire false Bassanos and 
in whose debt Baudelaire long remained. His address is given in 
the catalogue as the Hotel Pimodan, quai d'Anjou, where Bau- 
delaire also had lived. 


tures the general character of nature; because it conveys 
well the raw greenness of a park beside the Seine and the 
effect of our cold sun; in short, because it is done with a 
profound naivete, whereas all of you spend far too much 
of your time being . . . artists!' (Sic). 



Brillouin has sent five pencil-drawings which are a little 
like those of M. de Lemud; these, however, have more 
firmness and perhaps more character. Their composition on 
the whole is good. 'Tintoretto giving a drawing-lesson to 
his daughter' is certainly an excellent thing. What chiefly 
distinguishes these drawings is their nobility of structure, 
their seriousness and the characterization of the heads. 

CuRZON. Une serenade dans un bateau is one of the most 
distinguished things in the Salon. The arrangement of all 
those figures is most happy, and the old man lying amid 
his garlands at the end of the boat is a most dehghtful idea. 
There is some affinity between M. Curzon's composition 
and those of M. Brillouin; they have this above all in com- 
mon—they are well drawn, and drawn with a vivid touch. ^ 

Marechal. Without doubt La Grappe^ is a fine pastel, 
and good in colour. But we must criticize all those gentle- 
men of the school of Metz^ for only as a rule achieving a 
conventional seriousness, an imitation of real mastery. We 
would say this without wishing in the very least to detract 
from the honour of their efforts . . .^ 
^ A paragraph on De Rudder is omitted here, 
" Repro. Illustr., vol. 5 ( 1845), p. 185. 

^ The SocietS des Amis des Arts at Metz was founded in 1834, 
and it was from this that the Ecole de Metz sprang. Marechal 
was one of its leaders. See Ferran's edition of the Scdon de 1845 
(pp. 272-3) for further details. See also p. 90 below. 
* Paragraphs on Toumeux, PoUet, Chabal, Alphonse Masson and 
Antonin Moine are omitted here. 

34 THE SALON OF 1845 

ViDAL. It was last year, to the best of our belief, that the 
parrot-cry about Vidal's drawings began to be raised.^ It 
would be a good thing to be finished with it once and for 
aU. Every effort is now being made to present M. Vidal to 
us as a serious draughtsman. His are very -finished drawings 
—but they are incomplete; nevertheless it must be admitted 
that they have more elegance than those of Maurin and 
Jules David. We beg forgiveness for insisting so strongly 
on this point— but we know a critic who took it into his 
head to speak about Watteau in connection with M. Vidal.^ 

Jacque. Here we have a new name which will continue, let 
us hope, to grow greater. M. Jacque's'' etching is very bold 
and he has grasped his subject admirably. There is a 
directness and a freedom about everything that M. Jacque 
does upon his copper which reminds one of the old masters. 
He is known, besides, to have executed some remarkable 
reproductions of Rembrandt's etchings. 



Babtolini.^ We in Paris have a right to be suspicious of 
foreign reputations. Our neighbours have so often beguiled 

^ Baudelaire seems to be confusing two artists of tliis name. Vic- 
tor Vidal, who exhibited five drawings this year (one of tliem, 
V Amour de soi-meme, repro. Illustr., vol. 5 [1845], p. 152), 
had not exhibited since 1841, whereas Vincent Vidal, who 
showed nothing in 1845, had exhibited five pastels in the previ- 
ous year. It seems, therefore, tliat tlie 'prejuge Vidal', to which 
Baudelaire again referred in 1846 (see pp. 91-2 below), origi- 
nated with Vincent, and not Victor, Vidal. 

" Gautier had invoked the name of Watteau ( and of Chardin ) in 
La Presse, 16th April; and Thore added Boucher and Fragonard. 
Paragraphs on Mme. de Mirbel and Henriquel-Dupont are 
omitted here. 

'' This was Jacque's first Salon. 

^Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850) was one of the most admired 
Italian sculptors of his day. His portrait had been painted by 
Ingres in 1806, and again in 1820. 


our credulous admiration with masterpieces which tiiey 
never showed— or which, if at last they consented to reveal 
them, were an object of embarrassment for them, as for us 
—that we always remain on our guard against new traps. 
Thus it was only with an excessive feeling of suspicion that 
we approached the Nymphe au scorpion. But this time we 
have found it quite impossible to withhold our admiration 
from a foreign artist. Certainly our sculptors have more 
skill— an excessive preoccupation with technique engrosses 
them just as it does our painters; but it is precisely because 
of the qualities which our artists have to some extent for- 
gotten—namely taste, nobiHty, grace— that we regard M. 
BartoHni's exhibit as the capital work of the Salon of 
sculpture. We know that more than one of the sculpturizers 
of whom we are about to speak are very well fitted to pick 
out the several faults of execution which this statue con- 
tains—a little too much softness here, a lack of firmness 
there; in short, certain flabby passages, and a touch of 
meagreness about the arms— but not one of them has man- 
aged to hit upon such a pretty motif; not one of them has 
this fine taste, this purity of aim, this chastity of line which 
by no means excludes originahty. The legs are charming, 
the head graceful and coquettish; it is probable that it is 
quite simply a well-chosen model.* The less a workman 
obtrudes himself in his work and the purer and clearer its 
aims, the more charmed we are. 

David. This is far from the case v^dth M. David, for ex- 
ample, whose works always make us think of Ribera. And 
yet our comparison is not entirely just, for Ribera is only 
a man of technique into the bargain, so to speak— in addi- 
tion to that, he is full of fire, originality, rage and irony. 

Certainly it would be diflScult to model or to trace a 
contour better than M. David. His child hanging on to a 
bunch of grapes,^ which was already familiar to us from 

* What makes us only the prouder of our opinion is that we 
know it to be shared by one of the greatest painters of the mod- 
em school. ( C.B. ) 

® L'Enfant d la grappe, now in the Louvre. Sainte-Beuve's poem, 
'Sur ime statue d'enfant, a David, statuaire', is included in his 
Pensees d'Aout. 

36 THE SALON OF 1845 

a few charming lines by Sainte-Beuve, is an intriguing 
thing; admittedly it is real flesh and blood, but it is as sense- 
less as nature— and surely it is an uncontested truth that it 
is no part of the aim of sculpture to go into rivalry with 
plaster-casts. Having made this point, let us stand back 
and admire its beauty of workmanship.^ 

Pradier. You would think that M. Pradier had wanted to 
get away from himself and to mount up, in one leap, 
towards the supernal regions. We do not know how to 
praise his statue;* it is incomparably skilful; it is pretty 
from every angle, though doubtless one could trace some 
of its detail to the Museum of antique sculpture, for it is a 
prodigious mixture of hidden borrowings. Beneath this new 
skin the old Pradier still Hves, to give an exquisite charm to 
this figure. Certainly it is a noble tour de force; but M. 
Bartolini's Nymph, with all its imperfections, seems to us 
to be more original. 

Feuchere. More cleverness— but Good Heavens! shall we 
never get any further? 

This young artist has already had his good years at the 
Salon; his statue is evidently destined for a success. Quite 
apart from the fact that its subject is a happy one (for 
virgin purity can generally count on a public, like every- 
thing that touches the popular affections), this Joan of Arc, 
which we had already seen in plaster,^ gains much by 
being enlarged. The fall of the drapery is good— not at all 
like that of the generality of sculptors; the arms and the 
feet are very finely v^TOught; the head is perhaps a Httle 

Etex. M. Etex has never been able to produce anything 
complete. His conceptions are often happy— he possesses a 
certain pregnancy of thought v^^hich reveals itself quickly 
enough and which we find pleasing; but his work is always 

* A paragraph on Bosio is omitted here. 

* Phryn^, repro. lUustr., vol. 5 ( 1845), p. 173. 
» At the 1835 Salon. 

" A paragraph on Daumas is omitted here. 


spoiled by quite considerable passages. Thus, when seen 
from behind, his group 'Hero and Leander' seems heavy, 
and the lines do not unfold harmoniously. Hero's shoulders 
and back are unworthy of her hips and legs."^ 

Dantan has done several good busts^— noble, and ob- 
viously lifelike— as has 

Clesinger, who has put a great deal of distinction and 
elegance into his portraits of the due de Nemours and 
Mme. Marie de M . . . 

Camagni has done a romantic bust of Cordelia, original 
enough in type to be a portrait . . . 

We do not think that we have been guilty of any serious 
omissions. This Salon, on the whole, is like all previous 
Salons, except for the sudden, unexpected and dazzling 
appearance of M. WilHam HaussouUier, and several very 
fine things, by Delacroix and Decamps. For the rest, let 
us record tliat everyone is painting better and better— 
which seems to us a lamentable thing; but of invention, 
ideas or temperament there is no more than before. No one 
is cocking his ear to to-morrow's wind; and yet the heroism 
of modern life surrounds us and presses upon us. We are 
quite suEBciently choked by our true feelings for us to be 
able to know them. There is no lack of subjects, nor of 
colours, to make epics. The painter, the true painter for 
whom we are looking, will be he who can snatch its epic 
quahty from the life of today and can make us see and 
understand, with brush or vvdth pencil, how great and 
poetic we are in our cravats and our patent-leather boots. 
Next year let us hope that the true seekers may grant us 
the extraordinary delight of celebrating the advent of the 

^Paragraphs on Garraud, Debay, Cumberworth, Simart, Force- 
ville-Duvette and Millet are omitted here. 
® One of them, of Soufflot, is at Versailles. The reference is to 
Dantan the younger; Dantan aine did not exhibit this year. 
® This conclusion is taken up and developed in the closing sec- 
tion of the Salon of 1846. 



You ARE the majority— in number and intelligence; there- 
fore you are the force— which is justice. 

Some are scholars, others are owners; a glorious day will 
come when the scholars shall be owners and the owners 
scholars. Then your power will be complete, and no man 
will protest against it. 

Until that supreme harmony is achieved, it is just that 
those who are but owners should aspire to become scholars; 
for knowledge is no less of an enjoyment than ownership. 

The government of the city is in your hands, and that is 
just, for you are the force. But you must also be capable 
of feeling beauty; for as not one of you today can do with- 
out power, so not one of you has the right to do without 

You can live three days without bread— without poetry, 
never! and those of you who say the contrary are mistaken; 
they are out of their minds. 

The aristocrats of thought, the distributors of praise and 
blame, the monopolists of the things of the mind, have 
told you that you have no right to feel and to enjoy— they 
are Pharisees. 

For you have in your hands the government of a city 
whose pubHc is the public of the universe, and it is neces- 
sary that you should be worthy of that task. 

Enjoyment is a science, and the exercise of the five senses 
calls for a particular initiation which only comes about 
through good will and need. 

Very well, you need art. 

Art is an infinitely precious good, a draught both refresh- 
ing and cheering which restores the stomach and the mind 
to the natural equihbrium of the ideal. 

You understand its function, you gentlemen of the bour- 

*The exhibition opened on 16th March at the Mus^e Royal. 
Baudelaire's review appeared as a booklet on 13th May. See 
pi. 2. 


geoisie— whether lawgivers or business-men— when the 
seventh or the eighth hour strikes and you bend your tired 
head towards the embers of your hearth or the cushions 
of your arm-chair. 

That is the time when a keener desire and a more active 
reverie would refresh you after your daily labours. 

But the monopolists have decided to keep the forbidden 
fruit of knowledge from you, because knowledge is their 
counter and their shop, and they are infinitely jealous of it 
If they had merely denied you the power to create works 
of art or to understand the processes by which they are 
created, they would have asserted a truth at which you 
could not take offence, because public business and trade 
take up three quarters of your day. And as for your leisure 
hours, they should be used for enjoyment and pleasure. 

But the monopolists have forbidden you even to enjoy, 
because you do not understand the technique of the arts, 
as you do those of the law and of business. 

And yet it is just that if two thirds of your time are 
devoted to knowledge, then the remaining third should be 
occupied by feeling— and it is by feeHng alone that art is to 
be understood; and it is in this way that the equilibrium 
of your soul's forces will be estabhshed. 

Truth, for all its multiplicity, is not two-faced; and just 
as in your politics you have increased both rights and 
benefits, so in the arts you have set up a greater and more 
abundant communion. 

You, the bourgeois— be you king, lawgiver or business- 
man—have founded collections, musemns and galleries. 
Some of those which sixteen years ago were only open to 
the monopolists have thrown wide their doors to the multi- 

You have combined together, you have formed com- 
panies and raised loans in order to realize the idea of the 
future in all its varied forms— pohtical, industrial and 
artistic. In no noble enterprise have you ever left the 
initiative to the protesting and suffering minority ,2 which 
anyway is the natural enemy of art. 

For to allow oneself to be outstripped in art and in 
' i.e. the Republicans. 

40 THE SALON OF 1846 

politics is to commit suicide; and for a majority to commit 
suicide is impossible. 

And what you have done for France, you have done for 
other countries too. The Spanish Museum^ is there to in- 
crease the volume of general ideas that you ought to 
possess about art; for you know perfectly well that just as 
a national museum is a kind of communion by whose gentle 
influence men's hearts are softened and their wills unbent, 
so a foreign museum is an international communion where 
two peoples, observing and studying one another more at 
their ease, can penetrate one another's mind and fraternize 
without discussion. 

You are the natural friends of the arts, because you are 
some of you rich men and the others scholars. 

When you have given to society your knowledge, your 
industry, your labour and your money, you claim back 
your payment in enjoyments of the body, the reason and the 
imagination. If you recover the amount of enjoyments 
which is needed to establish the equiHbrium of all parts of 
your being, then you are happy, satisfied and well-disposed, 
as society will be satisfied, happy and well-disposed when 
it has found its own general and absolute equilibrium. 

And so it is to you, the bourgeois, that this book is 
naturally dedicated; for any book which is not addressed to 
the majority— in number and intelligence— is a stupid book. 

1st May 1846 


What is the good?— A vast and terrible question-mark 
which seizes the critic by the throat from his very first step 
in the first chapter that he sits down to uTite. 

At once the artist reproaches the critic with being unable 
to teach anything to the bourgeois, who wants neither to 
paint nor to write verses— nor even to art itself, since it is 
from the womb of art that criticism was born. 
" See pp. 2-3. 


And yet how many artists today owe to the critics alone 
their sad Kttle fame! It is there perhaps that the real re- 
proach lies. 

You will have seen a Gavarni which shows a painter 
bending over his canvas; behind him stands a grave, lean, 
stiflF gentleman, in a white cravat, holding his latest article 
in his hand. If art is noble, criticism is holy. —'Who says 
that?'— 'The critics '.'^ If the artist plays the leading role so 
easily, it is doubtless because his critic is of a type which 
we know so well. 

Regarding technical means and processes taken from 
the works themselves,* the pubHc and the artist will find 
nothing to learn here. Things like that are learnt in the 
studio, and the pubhc is only concerned about the result. 

I sincerely believe that the best criticism is that which 
is both amusing and poetic: not a cold, mathematical 
criticism which, on the pretext of explaining everything, has 
neither love nor hate, and voluntarily strips itself of every 
shred of temperament. But, seeing that a fine picture is 
nature reflected by an artist, the criticism which I approve 
will be that picture reflected by an intelligent and sensitive 
mind. Thus the best account of a picture may weU be a 
sonnet or an elegy. 

But this kind of criticism is destined for anthologies and 
readers of poetry. As for criticism properly so-called, I hope 
that the philosophers will understand what I am going to 
say. To be just, that is to say, to justify its existence, criti- 
cism should be partial, passionate and pohtical, that is to 
say, written from an exclusive point of view, but a point 
of view that opens up the widest horizons. 

To extol line to the detriment of colour, or colour at the 
expense of line, is doubtless a point of view, but it is 
neither very broad nor very just, and it indicts its holder 
of a great ignorance of individual destinies. 

* No. 4 of Gavami's series of lithographs entitled Legons et 
Conseils, published in Le Charivari, 27 Nov. 1839. See pi. 3. 
*I know quite weU that criticism today has other pretensions; 
that is why it will always recommend drawing to colourists, and 
colour to draughtsmen. Its taste is in the highest degree rational 
and sublime! ( c.b. ) 

42 THE SALON OF 1846 

You cannot know in what measure Nature has mingled 
the taste for hne and the taste for colour in each mind, nor 
by what mysterious processes she manipulates that fusion 
whose result is a picture. 

Thus a broader point of view will be an orderly in- 
dividualism—that is, to require of the artist the quaHty of 
naivete and the sincere expression of his temperament, 
aided by every means which his technique provides.* An 
artist without temperament is not worthy of painting pic- 
tures, and— as we are wearied of imitators and, above all, 
of eclectics— he would do better to enter the service of a 
painter of temperament, as a humble workman. I shall 
demonstrate this in one of my later chapters.^ 

The critic should arm himself from the start with a sure 
criterion, a criterion drawn from nature, and should then 
carry out his duty with passion; for a critic does not cease 
to be a man, and passion draws similar temperaments to- 
gether and exalts the reason to fresh heights. 

Stendhal has said somewhere 'Painting is nothing but a 
construction in ethics 1'^ If you will understand the word 
'ethics' in a more or less hberal sense, you can say as much 
of all the arts. And as the essence of the arts is always the 
expression of the beautiful through the feeUng, the pas- 
sion and the dreams of each man— that is to say a variety 
within a unity, or the various aspects of the absolute— so 
there is never a moment when criticism is not in contact 
with metaphysics. 

As every age and every people has enjoyed the expres- 
sion of its own beauty and ethos— and if, by romanticism^ 
you are prepared to understand the most recent, the most 
modem expression of beauty— then, for the reasonable and 

* With reference to the proper ordering of individualism, see 
the article on William HaussoulHer, in the Salon of 1845 (pp. 8— 
11 ). In spite of all the rebukes that I have suffered on this sub- 
ject, I persist in my opinion; but it is necessary to understand 
the article, (c.b.) 
» See p. 123. 

' Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, ch. 156 (edition of 1859, 
p. 338, n. 2). Stendhal's phrase is 'de la morale construite', and 
he explains that he is using tlie past participle in the geometric 


passionate critic, the great artist will be he who will 
combine with the condition required above— that is, the 
quality of naivete— the greatest possible amount of ro- 


Few people today will want to give a real and positive 
meaning to this word; and yet will they dare assert that a 
whole generation would agree to join a battle lasting several 
years for the sake of a flag which was not also a symbol? 

If you think back to the disturbances of those recent 
times, you will see that if few romantics have survived, it 
is because few of them discovered romanticism, though all 
of them sought it sincerely and honestly. 

Some applied themselves only to the choice of subjects; 
but they had not the temperament for their subjects. Others, 
still believing in a Catholic society, sought to reflect 
Catholicism in their works. But to call oneself a romantic 
and to look systematically at the past is to contradict one- 
self. Some blasphemed the Greeks and the Romans in the 
name of romanticism: but you can only make Romans and 
Greeks into romantics if you are one yourself. Many others 
have been misled by the idea of truth in art, and local 
colour. Realism had already existed for a long time when 
that great battle took place, and besides, to compose a 
tragedy or a picture to the requirements of M. Raoul 
Rochette is to expose yourself to a flat contradiction from 
the first comer if he is more learned than M. Raoul 

Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of 
subjects nor in exact truth, but in a mode of feeling. 

They looked for it outside themselves, but it was only to 
be found within. 

^A well-known archaeologist (1789-1854), who held several 
important positions, and published many books on his subject 

44 THE SALON OF 1846 

For me, Romanticism is tlie most recent, the latest ex- 
pression of the beautiful. 

There are as many kinds of beauty as there are habitual 
ways of seeking happiness.* 

This is clearly explained by the philosophy of progress; 
thus, as there have been as many ideals as there have been 
ways in which the peoples of the earth have understood 
ethics, love, religion, etc., so romanticism will not consist 
in a perfect execution, but in a conception analogous to the 
ethical disposition of the age. 

It is because some have located it in a perfection of 
technique that we have had the rococo of romanticism, 
without question the most intolerable of all forms. 

Thus it is necessary, first and foremost, to get to know 
those aspects of nature and those human situations which 
the artists of the past have disdained or have not known. 

To say the word Romanticism is to say modem art— that 
is, intimacy, spirituaHty, colour, aspiration towards the 
infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts. 

Thence it follows that there is an obvious contradiction 
between romanticism and the works of its principal ad- 

Does it surprise you that colour should play such a very 
important part in modern art? Romanticism is a child of 
the North, and the North is all for colour; dreams and fairy- 
tales are bom of the mist. England— that home of fanatical 
colourists, Flanders and half of France are all plunged in 
fog; Venice herself lies steeped in her lagoons. As for the 
painters of Spain, they are painters of contrast rather than 

The South, in return, is all for nature; for there nature 
is so beautiful and bright that nothing is left for man to 
desire, and he can find nothing more beautiful to invent 
than what he sees. There art belongs to the open air; but 
several hundred leagues to the north you will find the deep 

* Stendhal. ( c.b. ) Baudelaire seems to have in mind a footnote 
in ch. 110 of the Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, where Sten- 
dhal wrote 'La beaute est Texpression d'line certaine maniere 
habituelle de chercher le bonheur . . .' 


dreams of the studio and the gaze of the fancy lost in hori- 
zons of grey. 

The South is as brutal and positive as a sculptor even in 
his most delicate compositions; the North, suffering and 
restless, seeks comfort with the imagination, and if it turns 
to sculpture, it will more often be picturesque than classical. 

Raphael, for all his purity, is but an earthly spirit cease- 
lessly investigating the solid; but that scoundrel Rembrandt 
is a sturdy idealist who makes us dream and guess at what 
lies beyond. The first composes creatures in a pristine and 
virginal state— Adam and Eve; but the second shakes his 
rags before our eyes and tells us of human sufferings. 

And yet Rembrandt is not a pure colourist, but a har- 
monizer. How novel then would be the effect, and how 
matchless his romanticism, if a powerful colourist could 
realize our dearest dreams and feelings for us in a colour 
appropriate to their subjects! 

But before passing on to an examination of the man who 
up to the present is the most worthy representative of ro- 
manticism, I should Hke to give you a series of reflections 
on colour, which will not be without use for the complete 
understanding of this little book. 



Let us suppose a beautiful expanse of nature, where there 
is full Hcence for everything to be as green, red, dusty or 
iridescent as it wishes; where all things, variously coloured 
in accordance with their molecular structure, suffer con- 
tinual alteration through the transposition of shadow and 
light; where the workings of latent heat allow no rest, but 
everything is in a state of perpetual vibration which causes 
lines to tremble and fulfils the law of eternal and universal 
movement. An immensity which is sometimes blue, and 
often green, extends to the confines of the sky; it is the 
sea. The trees are green, the grass and the moss are green; 
the tree-trunks are snaked with green, and the unripe stalks 

46 THE SALON OF 1846 

are green; green is nature's ground-bass, because green 
marries easily with all the other colours.* What strikes me 
first of all is that everywhere— whether it be poppies in the 
grass, pimpernels, parrots, etc.— red sings the glory of green; 
black (where it exists— a soHtary and insignificant cipher) 
intercedes on behalf of blue or red. The blue— that is, the 
sky— is cut across with airy flecks of white or with grey 
masses, which pleasantly temper its bleak crudeness; and 
as the vaporous atmosphere of the season— winter or sum- 
mer—bathes, softens or enguHs the contours, nature seems 
like a spinning-top which revolves so rapidly that it appears 
grey, although it embraces within itself the whole gamut 
of colours. 

The sap rises, and as the principles mix, there is a flower- 
ing of mixed tones; trees, rocks and granite boulders gaze 
at themselves in the water and cast their reflections upon 
them; each transparent object picks up light and colour as 
it passes from nearby or afar. According as the daystar alters 
its position, tones change their values, but, always respect- 
ing their natural sympathies and antipathies, they continue 
to Hve in harmony by making reciprocal concessions. 
Shadows slowly shift, and colours are put to flight before 
them, or extinguished altogether, according as the Hght, 
itself shifting, may wish to bring fresh ones to life. Some 
colours cast back their reflections upon one another, and 
by modifying their own qualities with a glaze of trans- 
parent, borrowed qualities, they combine and recombine 
in an infinite series of melodious marriages which are thus 
made more easy for them. When the great brazier of the 
sun dips beneath the waters, fanfares of red surge forth 
on all sides; a harmony of blood flares up at the horizon, 
and green turns richly crimson. Soon vast blue shadows 
are rhythmically sweeping before them the host of orange 
and rose-pink tones which are like a faint and distant echo 
of the light. This great symphony of today, which is an 

* Except for yellow and blue, its progenitors: but I am only 
speaking here of pure colours. For this rule cannot be applied 
to transcendent colourists who are tlioroughly acquainted with 
the science of coimterpoint. (c.b.) 


eternal variation of the symphony of yesterday, this suc- 
cession of melodies whose variety ever issues from the 
infinite, this complex hymn is called colour. 

In coloiu: are to be found harmony, melody and counter- 

If you will examine the detail within the detail in an 
object of medium dimensions— for example, a woman's hand, 
rosy, slender, with skin of the finest— you will see that there 
is perfect harmony between the green of the strong veins 
with which it is ridged and the ruby tints which mark the 
knuckles; pink nails stand out against the topmost- joints, 
which are characterized by several grey and brown tones. 
As for the palm of the hand, the life-lines, which are pinker 
and more wine-coloured, are separated one from another 
by the system of green or blue veins which run across them. 
A study of the same object, carried out with a lens, will 
afford, within however small an area, a perfect harmony 
of grey, blue, brown, green, orange and white tones, 
warmed by a touch of yellow— a harmony which, when 
combined with shadows, produces the coloiuist's type of 
modelling, which is essentially different from that of the 
draughtsman, whose difficulties more or less boil down to 
the copying of a plaster-cast. 

Colour is thus the accord of two tones. Warmth and 
coldness of tone, in whose opposition all theory resides, can- 
not be defined in an absolute manner; they only exist in a 
relative sense. 

The lens is the colourist's eye. 

I do not wish to conclude from all this that a coloinist 
should proceed by a minute study of the tones commingled 
in a very limited space. For if you admit that every mole- 
cule is endowed with its ov\ai particular tone, it would 
follow that matter should be infinitely divisible; and be- 
sides, as art is nothing but an abstraction and a sacrifice of 
detail to the whole, it is important to concern oneself above 
all with masses. I merely wished to prove that ff the case 
were possible, any number of tones, so long as they were 
logically juxtaposed, would fuse naturally in accordance 
with the law which governs them. 

48 THE SALON OF 1846 

Chemical affinities are the grounds whereby Nature can- 
not make mistakes in the arrangement of her tones; for with 
Nature, form and colour are one. 

No more can the true colourist make mistakes; everything 
is allowed him, because from birth he knows the whole scale 
of tones, the force of tone, the results of mixtures and the 
whole science of counterpoint, and thus he can produce a 
harmony of twenty different reds. 

This is so true that if an anti-colourist landowner took it 
into his head to repaint his property in some ridiculous 
maimer and in a system of cacophonous colours, the thick 
and transparent varnish of the atmosphere and the learned 
eye of Veronese between them would put the whole thing 
right and would produce a satisfying ensemble on canvas- 
conventional, no doubt, but logical. 

This explains how a colourist can be paradoxical in his 
way of expressing colour, and how the study of nature 
often leads to a result quite different from nature. 

The air plays such an important part in the theory of 
colour that if a landscape-painter were to paint the leaves 
of a tree just as he sees them, he would secure a false tone, 
considering that there is a much smaller expanse of air be- 
tween the spectator and the picture than between the 
spectator and nature. 

Falsifications are continually necessary, even in order to 
achieve a trompe-Voeil. 

Harmony is the basis of the theory of colour. 

Melody is unity within colour, or over-all colour. 

Melody calls for a cadence; it is a whole, in which every 
effect contributes to a general effect. 

Thus melody leaves a deep and lasting impression in the 

Most of our young colourists lack melody. 

The right way to know if a picture is melodious is to look 
at it from far enough away to make it impossible to under- 
stand its subject or to distinguish its lines. If it is melodious, 
it already has a meaning and has already taken its place in 
your store of memories. 

Style and feeling in colour come from choice, and choice 
comes from temperament. 


Colours can be gay and playful, playful and sad, rich 
and gay, rich and sad, commonplace and original. 

Thus Veronese's colour is tranquil and gay. Delacroix's 
colour is often plaintive, and that of M. Catlin^ is often 

For a long time I lived opposite a drinking-shop which 
was crudely striped in red and green; it afiforded my eyes a 
delicious pain. 

I do not know if any analogist has ever estabhshed a 
complete scale of colours and feeHngs, but I remember a 
passage in Hoffmann which expresses my idea perfectly and 
which will appeal to all those who sincerely love nature: It 
is not only in dreams, or in that mild delirium which pre- 
cedes sleep, but it is even awakened when I hear music— 
that perception of an analogy and an intimate connexion 
between colours, sounds and perfumes. It seems to me that 
all these things were created by one and the same ray of 
light, and that their combination must result in a wonderful 
concert of harmony. The smell of red and brown marigolds 
above all produces a magical effect on my being. It makes 
me fall into a deep reverie, in which I seem to hear the 
solemn, deep tones of the oboe in the distance.'* 

It is often asked if the same man can be at once a great 
colourist and a great draughtsman. 

Yes and no; for there are different kinds of drawing. 

The quaHty of pure draughtsmanship consists above all 
in precision, and this precision excludes touch; but there 
are such things as happy touches, and the colourist who 
undertakes to express nature through colour would often 
lose more by suppressing his happy touches than by study- 
ing a greater austerity of drawing. 

Certainly colour does not exclude great draughtsmanship 
—that of Veronese, for example, which proceeds above all 
by ensemble and by mass; but it does exclude the meticu- 
lous drawing of detail, the contour of the tiny fragment, 
where touch will always eat away hne. 

* On Catlin, see pp. 72-3. 

* Kreisleriana. (c.b.) It is the third of the detached observa- 
tions entitled Hochst zerstreute Gedanken. 

50 THE SALON OF 1846 

The love of air and the choice of subjects in movement 
call for the employment of flowing and fused lines. 

Exclusive draughtsmen act in accordance with an inverse 
procedure which is yet analogous. With their eyes fixed 
upon tracking and surprising their line in its most secret 
convolutions, they have no time to see air and Hght— that 
is to say, the effects of these things— and they even compel 
themselves not to see them, in order to avoid offending the 
dogma of their school. 

It is thus possible to be at once a colourist and a draughts- 
man, but only in a certain sense. Just as a draughtsman can 
be a colourist in his broad masses, so a coloiirist can be a 
draughtsman by means of a total logic in his linear en- 
semble; but one of these quahties always engulfs the detail 
of the other. 

The draughtsmanship of colourists is like that of nature; 
their figures are naturally bounded by a harmonious colli- 
sion of coloured masses. 

Pure draughtsmen are philosophers and dialecticians. 

Colourists are epic poets. 



Romanticism and colour lead me straight to Eugene Dela- 
croix. I do not know ff he is proud of his title of 'romantic', 
but his place is here, because a long time ago— from his 
very first work, in fact— the majority of the public placed 
him at the head of the modern school. 

As I enter upon this part of my work, my heart is full of 
a serene joy, and I am purposely selecting my newest pens, 
so great is my desire to be clear and limpid, so happy do I 
feel to be addressing my dearest and most sympathetic 
subject. But in order to make the conclusions of this chapter 
properly intelligible, I must first go back some Httle distance 
in the history of this period, and place before the eyes of 
the public certain documents of the case which have aheady 
been cited by earHer critics and historians, but which are 


necessary to complete my demonstration. Nevertheless, I do 
not think that true admirers of Eugene Delacroix will feel 
anything but a keen pleasure in re-reading an extract from 
the Constitutionnel of 1822, taken from the Salon of M. 
Thiers,! joumaMst. 

*In my opinion no picture is a clearer revelation of future 
greatness than M. Delacroix's Dante et Virgile aux 
Enfers.^ Here above all you can recognize that spurt of 
talent, that burst of dawning mastery which revives our 
hopes, already a trifle dashed by the too moderate worth 
of all the rest. 

'Dante and Virgil are being ferried across the infernal 
stream by Charon; they cleave their way with difficulty 
through the mob which swarms round the barque in 
order to clamber aboard. Dante, pictured alive, bears the 
dreadful taint of the place : Virgil, crowned with gloomy 
laurel, wears the colours of death. The hapless throng, 
doomed eternally to crave the opposite bank, are cling- 
ing to the boat: one is clutching at it in vain, and, thrown 
backwards by his precipitate effort, plunges once more 
into the waters; another has hold, and is kicking back 
those who, hke himself, are struggling to get on board; 
two others are gripping at the elusive timber with their 
teeth. There you have all the egoism of misery, the 
despair of Hell. In a subject which borders so closely on 
exaggeration, you will yet find a severity of taste, a 
propriety of setting, so to say, which enhances the de- 
sign, though stern judges— in this case, ill-advised— might 
perhaps criticize it for a lack of nobiHty. It is painted 
with a broad, firm brush, and its colour is simple and 
vigorous, if a trifle raw. 

'Apart from that poetic imagination which is common 
both to painter and writer, the author of this picture has 
another, artistic imagination, which one might almost 
call 'the graphic imagination',^ and which is quite dif- 

^Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), later famous as statesman and 
historian, was at that time at the very outset of his career. 

* In the Louvre; see pi. 63. 

* Vimagination du dessin. 

52 THE SALON OF 1846 

ferent from the first. He throws his figures on to the can- 
vas, he groups and bends them at will, with the boldness 
of Michelangelo and the abundance of Rubens. Some 
strange recollection of the great masters seized hold of 
me at the sight of this picture; once more I found that 
power— wild, ardent, but natural— which yields without 
effort to its own impulse . . . 

1 do not believe that I am mistaken when I say that 
M. Delacroix has been given genius. Let him for^vard 
this assurance, let him devote himself to immense tasks, 
an indispensable condition of talent; and let him take 
still further confidence when I say that the opinion 
which I am expressing here is shared by one of the great 
masters of the school.'^ 

A. T . . . rs 

These enthusiastic paragraphs are truly staggering, as much 
for their precocity as for their boldness. If, as is to be pre- 
sumed, the editor of the joiunal had pretensions himself 
as a connoisseiUL of painting, the young Thiers must have 
struck him as a trifle mad. 

To obtain a proper idea of the profound confusion into 
which the picture of Dante and Virgil must have thrown 
contemporary minds— of the amazement, the dimibf ounded- 
ness, the rage, the shouts of praise and of abuse, the 
enthusiasm and the peals of offensive laughter which beset 
this fine picture (a true signal of revolution)— you must 
remember that in the studio of M. Gu6rin (a man of great 
worth, but a despot and absolutist, like his master David) 
there was only a small group of pariahs who devoted them- 
selves in secret to the old masters and who dared shyly to 
conspire beneath the wing of Raphael and Michelangelo. 
There was as yet no question of Rubens. 

M. Guerin, who was harsh and severe towards his young 
pupil, only looked at the picture because of the clamour 
that raged around it. 

G^ricault, who was back from Italy (where he was said 
to have renounced several of his almost original quahties 
before the great frescoes of Rome and Florence) com- 
* According to Silvestre (Histoire des artistes vivants, 1856, 
p. 62), this was Gerard. 


plimented the new and still bashful painter so warmly that 
he was almost overcome.^ 

It was in front of this painting, or, some time afterwards, 
in front of the Pestiferes de Scio* that Gerard himself, who, 
as it seems, was more a wit than a painter, cried 'A painter 
has just been revealed to us, but he is a man who runs along 
the roof-tops!'— To run along the roof-tops you need a firm 
step and an eye illumined by an interior light. 

Let glory and justice be accorded to MM. Thiers and 

It is doubtless a lengthy interval that separates the Dante 
and Virgil from the paintings in the Palais Bourbon;^ but 
the biography of Eugene Delacroix is poor in incident. For 
a man Hke this, endowed with such courage and such pas- 
sion, the most interesting struggles are those which he has 
to maintain against himself; horizons need not be vast for 
battles to be important, and the most curious events and 
revolutions take place beneath the firmament of the skull, 
in the close and mysterious laboratory of the brain. 

Now that the man had been duly revealed and was con- 
tinuing to reveal himself more and more (in the allegorical 
picture La Grece,'^ Sardanapalus,^ La Liberie,^ etc.), and 
now that the contagion of the new gospel was spreading 
from day to day, even academic disdain found itself forced 
to take this new genius into account. One fine day M. 
Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld, then Directeur des Beaux- 
Arts, sent for Eugene Delacroix, and, after lavishing com- 
pliments upon him, told him that it was vexing that a man 
of so rich an imagination and so fine a talent, a man, more- 

^ Gericault is elsewhere recorded as saying that it was a picture 
that he would have been glad to have signed himself. 

* I write pestiferes instead of massacre in order to explain to the 
critics those flesh-tones to which they have so often and so 
stupidly objected, (c.b.) The picture is now in the Louvre. It 
was painted in 1824. 

" On which Delacroix was still engaged in 1846. 

"^ Painted in 1827: first exhibited the following year, and now in 

the Bordeaux Museum, 

* Painted in 1827, and now in the Louvre; repro. Journal, pi. 8. 

® Painted in 1830, and now in the Louvre; repro. Journal, pi. 13. 

54 THE SALON OF 1846 

over, to whom the government was favourably disposed, 
should not be prepared to add a little water to his wine; 
he asked him once and for all if it would not be possible 
for him to modify his manner. Eugene Delacroix, vastly 
surprised at this quaint condition and these ministerial 
counsels, repHed with almost a parody of rage that evi- 
dently if he painted thus, it was because he had to and 
because he could not paint otherwise. He fell into complete 
disgrace and was cut off from any kind of official work for 
seven years. He had to wait for 1830. Meanwhile M. Thiers 
had written a new and very lofty article in Le Glohe?-^ 

A journey to Morocco^^ seems to have left a deep impres- 
sion on his mind; there he could study at leisure both man 
and woman in their independence and native originaHty of 
movement, and could comprehend antique beauty in the 
sight of a race pure of all base-breeding and adorned with 
health and the free development of its muscles. The com- 
position of The Women of Mgiers^^ and a mass of sketches 
probably date from this period. 

Up to the present, Eugene Delacroix has met wdth in- 
justice. Criticism, for him, has been bitter and ignorant; 
with one or two noble exceptions, even the praises of his 
admirers must often have seemed offensive to him. Gen- 
erally speaking, and for most people, to mention Eugene 
Delacroix is to throw into their minds goodness knows what 
vague ideas of ill-directed fire, of turbulence, of hazardous 
inspiration, of confusion, even; and for those gentlemen 
who form the majority of the public, pure chance, that 
loyal and obliging servant of genius, plays an important 
part in his happiest compositions. In that unhappy period 
of revolution of which I was speaking a moment ago and 
whose numerous errors I have recorded, people used often 
to compare Eugene Delacroix to Victor Hugo. They had 
their romantic poet; they needed their painter. This neces- 
sity of going to any length to find counterparts and ana- 
logues in the different arts often results in strange blunders; 
and this one proves once again how Httle people knew what 
^° On the Salon of 1824. 
"In 1832. 
" Painted in 1834, and now in the Louvre; see pi. 64. 


they were about. Without any doubt the comparison must 
have seemed a painful one to Eugene Delacroix, if not to 
both of them; for if my definition of romanticism (intimacy, 
spirituality and the rest) places Delacroix at its head, it 
naturally excludes M. Victor Hugo. The parallel has en- 
dured in the banal realm of accepted ideas, and these two 
preconceptions still encumber many feeble brains. Let us 
be done with these rhetorical ineptitudes once and for all. 
I beg all those who have felt the need to create some kind 
of aesthetic for their own use and to deduce causes from 
their results, to make a careful comparison between the 
productions of these two artists. 

M. Victor Hugo, whose nobility and majesty I certainly 
have no wish to belittle, is a workman far more adroit than 
inventive, a labourer much more correct than creative. 
Delacroix is sometimes clumsy, but he is essentially creative. 
In all his pictures, both lyric and dramatic, M. Victor Hugo 
lets one see a system of uniform alignment and contrasts. 
With him even eccentricity takes symmetrical forms. He 
is in complete possession of, and coldly employs, all the 
modulations of rhyme, all the resources of antithesis and 
all the tricks of apposition. He is a composer of the de- 
cadence or transition, who handles his tools with a truly 
admirable and curious dexterity. M. Hugo was by nature 
an academician even before he was bom, and if we were 
still Hving in the time of fabulous marvels, I would be pre- 
pared to beheve that often, as he passed before their wrath- 
ful sanctuary, the green lions of the Institut would murmur 
to him in prophetic tones, 'Thou shalt enter these portals'. 

For Delacroix justice is more sluggish. His works, on the 
contrary, are poems— and great poems, naively* conceived 
and executed with the usual insolence of genius. In the 
works of the former there is nothing left to guess at, for he 
takes so much pleasure in exhibiting his skiU that he omits 
not one blade of grass nor even the reflection of a street- 
lamp. The latter in his works throws open immense vistas 

* By the naivete of the genius you must understand a complete 
knowledge of technique combined with the yvudi ceavrov of the 
Greeks, but with knowledge modestly surrendering the leading 
role to temperament, (c.b. ) The word naivete, used in this 
special sense, is one of the keywords of this Salon. 

56 THE SALON OF 1846 

to the most adventurous imaginations. The first enjoys a 
certain cahnness, let us rather say a certain detached 
egoism, which causes an unusual coldness and moderation 
to hover above his poetry— qualities which the dogged and 
melancholy passion of the second, at grips with the ob- 
stinacies of his craft, does not always permit him to retain. 
One starts with detail, the other with an intimate under- 
standing of his subject; from which it follows that one 
only captures the skin, while the other tears out the en- 
trails. Too earth-bound, too attentive to the superficies of 
nature, M. Victor Hugo has become a painter in poetry; 
Delacroix, always respectful of his ideal, is often, without 
knowing it, a poet in painting. 

As for the second preconception, the preconception of 
pure chance, it has no more substance than the first. 
Nothing is sillier or more impertinent than to talk to a great 
artist, and one as learned and as thoughtful as Delacroix, 
about the obligations which he may owe to the god of 
chance. It quite simply makes one shrug one's shoulders 
in pity. There is no pure chance in art, any more than in 
mechanics. A happy invention is the simple consequence 
of a sound train of reasoning whose intermediate deductions 
one may perhaps have skipped, just as a fault is the con- 
sequence of a faulty principle. A picture is a machine, all 
of whose systems of construction are intelligible to the 
practised eye; in which everything justifies its existence, 
if the picture is a good one; where one tone is always 
plaimed to make the most of another; and where an occa- 
sional fault in dravdng is sometimes necessary, so as to 
avoid sacrificing something more important. 

This intervention of chance in the business of Delacroix's 
painting is all the more improbable since he is one of those 
rare beings who remain original after ha\dng drunk deep 
, of all the true wells, and whose indomitable individuality 
,t has borne and shaken off the yokes of all the great masters 
in turn. Not a few of you would be quite astonished to see 
one of his studies after Raphael— patient and laborious 
masterpieces of imitation; and few people today remem- 
ber his Hthographs after medals and engraved gems.^^ 
"Delacroix made six such Hthographs in 1825. 


Here are a few lines from Heinrich Heine which explain 
Delacroix's method rather well— a method which, Hke that 
of all robustly-framed beings, is the result of his tempera- 

'In artistic matters, I am a supematuralist. I believe that 
the artist cannot find all his forms in nature, but that the 
most remarkable are revealed to him in his soul, like the 
innate symbology of innate ideas, and at the same instant. 
A modem professor of aesthetics, the author of Recherches 
sur I'ltalie,^^ has tried to restore to honour the old prin- 
ciple of the imitation of nature, and to maintain that the 
plastic artist should find all his forms in nature. The pro- 
fessor, in thus setting forth his ultimate principle of the 
plastic arts, had only forgotten one of those arts, but one 
of the most fundamental— I mean architecture. A belated 
attempt has now been made to trace back the forms of 
architecture to the leafy branches of the forest and the 
rocks of the grotto; and yet these forms were nowhere to be 
found in external nature, but rather in the soul of man.'^^ 

Now this is the principle from which Delacroix sets out— 
that a picture should first and foremost reproduce the in- 
timate thought of the artist, who dominates the model as 
the creator dominates his creation; and from this principle 
there emerges a second which seems at first sight to con- 
tradict it— namely that the artist must be meticulously care- 
ful concerning his material means of execution. He professes 
a fanatical regard for the cleanliness of his tools and the 
preparation of the elements of his work. In fact, since 
painting is an art of deep ratiocination, and one that de- 
mands an immediate contention between a host of different 
quahties, it is important that the hand should encounter 
the least possible number of obstacles when it gets down 
to business, and that it should accompHsh the divine orders 
of the brain with a slavish alacrity; otherwise the ideal will 

"The reference is to Carl Friedrich von Rumohr (1785-1843); 
his book, Italienische Forschungen, was published in three vol- 
umes between 1827 and 1831. 

^ From Heine's Salon of 1831, which was published in a French 
translation in his De la France, 1833. 

58 THE SALON OF 1846 

The process of conception of this great artist is no less 
slow, serious and conscientious than his execution is nimble. 
This moreover is a quaUty which he shares with the painter 
whom public opinion has set at the opposite pole from 
him— I mean M. Ingres. But travail is by no means the 
same thing as childbirth, and these great princes of paint- 
ing, though endowed with a seeming indolence, exhibit a 
marvellous agility in covering a canvas. St. Symphoriari^^ 
was entirely re-painted several times, and at the outset it 
contained far fewer figures. 

Nature, for Eugene Delacroix, is a vast dictionary whose 
leaves he turns and consults with a sure and searching eye; 
and his painting which issues above all from the memory, 
speaks above all to the memory. The effect produced upon 
the spectator's soul is analogous to the artist's means. A 
picture by Delacroix— Dante and Virgil, for example— always 
leaves a deep impression whose intensity increases v^dth 
distance. Ceaselessly sacrificing detail to whole, and hesitat- 
ing to impair the vitality of his thought by the drudgery of 
a neater and more calligraphic execution, he rejoices in the 
full use of an inalienable originaHty, which is his searching 
intimacy with the subject. 

The employment of a dominant note can only rightfully 
take place at the expense of the rest. An excessive taste 
makes sacrifices necessary, and masterpieces are never any- 
thing but varied extracts from nature. That is the reason 
why it is necessary to submit to the consequences of a 
grand passion (whatever it may be), to accept the destiny 
of a talent, and not to try and bargain with genius. This 
is a thing never dreamt of by those people who have jeered 
so much at Delacroix's draughtsmanship— particularly the 
sculptors, men more partial and purblind than they have 
a right to be, whose judgement is worth no more than half 
that of an architect, at the most. Sculpture, to which colour 
is impossible and movement difiBcult, has nothing to discuss 
with an artist whose chief preoccupations are movement, 
colour and atmosphere. These three elements necessarily 
demand a somewhat undecided contour, light and floating 

" Ingres' St. Symphorian was commissioned for Autun cathedral 
in 1824: it was not completed until ten years later. 


ines, and boldness of touch. Delacroix is the only artist 
oday whose originality has not been invaded by the tyran- 
lical system of straight lines; his figures are always restless 
nd his draperies fluttering. From Delacroix's point of view 
he line does not exist; for, however tenuous it may be, a 
easing geometrician may always suppose it thick enough 
contain a thousand others; and for colourists, who seek 
imitate the eternal throbbings of nature, lines are never 
nything else but the intimate fusion of two colours, as in 
he rainbow. 

Moreover there are several kinds of drawing, as there are 
f colour:— the exact or silly, the physiognomic and the 

The first is negative, incorrect by sheer force of reality, 
atural but absurd; the second is a naturalistic, but ideal- 
zed draughtsmanship— the draughtsmanship of a genius 
/ho knows how to choose, arrange, correct, rebuke, and 
tiess at nature; lastly the third, which is the noblest and 
trangest, and can afford to neglect nature— it realizes 
nother nature, analogous to the mind and the tempera- 
lent of the artist. 

Physiognomic drawing is generally the domain of the 
matical, like M. Ingres; creative drawing is the privilege 
f genius.* 

The great quaHty of the drawing of supreme artists is 
:uth of movement; and Delacroix never violates this 
atural law. 

But let us pass on to an examination of still more general 
uaHties. Now one of the principal characteristics of the 
reat painter is his universaHty. Take an epic poet, Homer 
r Dante, for example: he can write an idyll, a narrative, 

speech, a description, an ode, etc., all equally well. 

In the same way, if Rubens paints fruit, he will paint 
ner fruit than any speciaHst that you care to name. 

Eugene Delacroix is universal. He has painted genre- 
ictures full of intimacy, and historical pictures full of 
randeur. He alone, perhaps, in our unbelieving age has 
onceived religious paintings which were neither empty 

This is what M. Thiers called Timagination du dessin'. ( c.b. ) 
ee p. 51. 

60 THE SALON OF 1846 

and cold, like competition works, nor pedantic, mystical 
or neo-Christian, like the works of all those philosophers 
of art who make religion into an archaistic science, and 
who beheve that not until they have made themselves 
masters of the traditions and symbology of the early church, 
can they strike and sound the chords of reHgion. 

This is easy to understand if you are prepared to consider 
that DelacroLX, like all the great masters, is an admirable 
mixture of science— that is to say, he is a complete painter; 
and of nawete— that is to say, a complete man. Go to St. 
Louis au Marais^"^ and look at his Pietd, in which the ma- 
jestic Queen of Sorrows is holding the body of her dead 
Son on her knees, with her two arms extended horizontally 
in an access of despair, a mother's paroxysm of grief. One 
of the two figures, who is supporting and soothing her 
anguish, is sobbing like the most pitiful characters in his 
Hamlet— a work with which, moreover, this painting has no 
Httle aflfinity. Of the two holy women, the first, still decked 
with jewels and tokens of luxury, is crouching convulsively 
on the ground; the other, fair and golden-haired, sinks more 
feebly beneath the enormous weight of her despair. 

The group is spread out and disposed entirely against a 
background of a dark, uniform green which suggests a 
tempest-ridden sea no less than massed boulders. This back- 
ground is fantastic in its simphcity, for, like Michelangelo, 
Eugene Delacroix seems to have suppressed the accessories 
in order not to damage the clarity of his idea. This master- 
piece leaves a deep furrow of melancholy upon the mind. 
But this was not the first time that he had tackled rehgious 
subjects. His Agony in the Garden^^ and his St. Sebastian^^ 
had already testified to the seriousness and deep sincerity 
with which he can stamp them. 

But to explain what I declared a moment ago— that only 
Delacroix knows how to paint religious subjects— I would 

"Baudelaire is mistaken here. Delacroix's Pietd was painted (in 
1844) for the church of Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrement, Paris, 
where it is now to be seen. 

^® Exhibited in 1827, and now in the church of Saint-Paul-Saint- 
"Painted in 1836 and bought for the church of Nantua. 


have the spectator note that if his most interesting pictures 
are nearly always those whose subjects he chooses himself 
—namely, subjects of fantasy— nevertheless the grave sad- 
ness of his talent is perfectly suited to our religion which 
is itself profoundly sad— a religion of universal anguish, 
and one which, because of its very cathoHcity, grants full 
liberty to the individual and asks no better than to be 
celebrated in each man's own language— so long as he 
knows anguish and is a painter. 

I remember a friend of mine— a lad of some merit, too, 
and an aheady fashionable colourist; one of those pre- 
cocious young men who give promise aU their Hves, and 
who is far more academic than he himself believes— I re- 
member him calling this 'cannibal's painting'. 

It is perfectly true that our yoimg friend will look in 
vain among the niceties of a loaded palette or in the dic- 
tionary of rules for a blood-soaked and savage desolation 
such as this, which is only just offset by the sombre green 
of hope. 

This terrible hymn to anguish affected his classical 
imagination in just the same way as the formidable wines of 
Anjou, Auvergne or the Rhine affect a stomach which is 
used to the pale violets of Medoc. 

So much for universaHty of feeling— and now for uni- 
versaHty of knowledgel 

It is a long time since our painters unlearnt, so to speak, 
the genre called 'decoration'. The Hemicycle^^ at the 
Beaux- Arts is a puerile, clumsy work whose intentions con- 
tradict one another; it is hardly more than a collection of 
historical portraits. The Plafond d'Homdre^^ is a fine pic- 
ture which makes a bad ceiling. Most of the chapels exe- 
cuted in recent times and distributed among the pupils of 
Ingres were done according to the methods of the Italian 

^ Painted by Paul Delaroche, 1838-41. It represents the most 
celebrated artists of all nations, up to the end of the 17th cen- 

^Painted by Ingres in 1827 for the ceiling in one of the gal- 
leries of the Louvre. It was removed in 1855 in order to be 
shown at the Exposition Universelle, and some years later was 
replaced by a copy. The original now hangs as a picture in the 
Louvre. See pi. 61. 

6a THE SALON OF 1846 

primitives— that is, they aim at achieving unity by the sup- 
pression of effects of Hght and by a vast system of softened 
colourings. This method, which is doubtless more reason- 
able, nevertheless evades the diflBculties. Under Louis XIV, 
XV and XVI, painters produced decorations of dazzling 
brilliance, but they lacked unity in colour and composition. 

Eugene Delacroix had decorations to paint, and he solved 
the great problem. He discovered pictorial unity without 
doing hurt to his trade as a colourist. 

We have the Palais Bourbon^^ to bear witness to this 
extraordinaiy tour de force. There the Hght is dispensed 
economically, and it spreads evenly across all the figures, 
without tyrannically catching the eye. 

The circular ceiling in the Hbrary of the Luxembourg^^ 
is a still more astonishing work, in which the painter has 
arrived not only at an even blander and more unified effect, 
while suppressing nothing of the quahties of colour and 
Hght which are the characteristic feature of all his pictures 
—but he has gone further and revealed himself in an alto- 
gether new guise: Delacroix the landscape-painter! 

Instead of painting Apollo and the Muses, the invariable 
decoration for a Hbrary, Eugene Delacroix has yielded to his 
irresistible taste for Dante, whom Shakespeare alone, per- 
haps, can challenge in his mind, and he has chosen the 
passage where Dante and Virgil meet with the principal 
poets of antiquity in a mysterious place: 

We ceased not to go, though he was speaking; but passed 
the wood meanwhile, the wood, I say, of crowded spirits. 
Our way was not yet far since my slumber, when I saw 
a fire which conquered a hemisphere of the darkness. 
We were still a Httle distant from it; yet not so distant 
that I did not in part discern what honourable people 
occupied that place. 

'O thou that honourest every science and art; who are 
these, who have such honour that it separates them from 
the manner of the rest?' 

'"^ Delacroix made twenty allegorical paintings for the library of 
the Chambre des Ddputes between 1838 and 1847. 
"* Delacroix was nearing tlie end of his work at die Luxembourg 
at the time tliat this was written. 


And he to me: 'The honoured name, which glorifies 
them in that life of thine, gains favour in Heaven which 
thus advances them*. 

Meanwhile a voice was heard by me: 'Honoxn: the 
great Poet! His shade returns that was departed/ 

After the voice had paused and was silent, I saw four 
great shadows come to us; they had an aspect neither sad 
nor joyful. 

The good Master began to speak: 'Mark him with that 
sword in hand, who comes before the three as their lord: 
that is Homer, the sovereign poet; the next who comes is 
Horace the satirist; Ovid is the third, and the last is 
Lucan. Because each agrees with me in the name which 
the one voice sounded, they do me honour; and therein 
they do well.' 

Thus I saw assembled the goodly school of that lord 
of highest song, who like an eagle soars above the rest. 
After they had talked a space together, they turned to 
me with a sign of salutation; and my Master smiled 
thereat. And greatly more besides they honoured me; for 
they made me of their number, so that I was a sixth 
amid such intelligences.^* 

I shall not pay Eugene Delacroix the insult of an exag- 
gerated panegyric for having so successfully mastered the 
concavity of his canvas, or for having placed his figures 
upright upon it. His talent is above these things. I am con- 
centrating above all upon the spirit of this painting. It is 
impossible to express in prose all the blessed cahn which it 
breathes, and the deep harmony which imbues its atmos- 
phere. It makes you think of the most luxuriant pages of 
Telemaque, and brings to life aU the memories which the 
mind has ever gathered from tales of Elysium. From the 
point of view at which I took up my position a short while 
ago, the landscape, which is nevertheless no more than an 
accessory— such is the universality of the great masters I— is 
a thing of the greatest importance. This circular landscape, 
which embraces an enormous area, is painted with the as- 
surance of a history-painter, and the delicacy and love of 

^ Dante, Inferno, canto iv. 11. 64 sqq. 

64 THE SALON OF 1846 

a painter of landscape. Clumps of laurel and considerable 
patches of shade dissect it harmoniously; pools of gentle, 
uniform sunlight slumber on the greensward; mountains, 
blue or forest-girt, form a perfect horizon for the eyes* 
pleasure?^ The sky is blue and white— an amazing thing 
with Delacroix; the clouds, which are spun and drawn out 
in different directions, like a piece of gauze being rent, are 
of a wonderful airiness; and the deep and luminous vault 
of the sky recedes to a prodigious height. Even Bonington's 
water-colours are less transparent. 

This masterpiece, which, in my opinion, is superior to the 
finest of Veronese, needs a great tranquiUity of mind and a 
very gentle Hght to be properly comprehended. Unfor- 
tunately the brilliant daylight which will burst through the 
great window of the fagade, as soon as it is cleared of its 
tarpaulins and scaffolding, will make this task more difficult. 

Delacroix's pictures this year are The Abduction of Re- 
becca, taken from Ivanhoe, the Farewell of Romeo and 
Juliet, Marguerite in Church, and A Lion, in water-colour. 

The admirable thing about The Abduction of Rebecca^^ 
is the perfect ordering of its colours, which are intense, 
close-packed, serried and logical; the result of this is a 
thrilling effect. With almost all painters who are not colour- 
ists, you will always be noticing vacuums, that is to say 
great holes produced by tones which are below the level 
of the rest, so to speak. Delacroix's painting is like nature; 
it has a horror of a vacuum. 

Romeo and Juliet^" are shown on the balcony, in the 
morning's cold radiance, holding one another devoutly 
clasped by the waist. In the violence of this farewell em- 
brace, JuHet, with her hands laid on the shoulders of her 
lover, is throwing back her head as though to draw breath, 
or in a movement of pride and joyful passion. This un- 
wonted attitude— for almost all painters glue their lovers' 

^ The phrase italicized (by Baudelaire) is an exact verbal echo 

from Fenelon's description of Cal)'pso's island ( Teleinaque, 

Bk. 1). 

"In the Metropolitan Museum, New York; repro. Journal, pi. 


*^ See pi. 66, 


lips together— is nevertheless perfectly natural; this vigorous 
movement of the neck is typical of dogs and cats in the 
thrill of a caress. This scene, with the romantic landscape 
which completes it, is enveloped in the purpHsh mists of 
the dawn. 

The general success which this picture has achieved, and 
the interest which it inspires, only go to show what I have 
already said elsewhere— that Delacroix is popular, whatever 
the painters may say; and that it will be enough not to 
keep the public away from his works for him to be as much 
so as inferior painters are. 

Marguerite in Church^^ belongs to that already numerous 
class of charming genre-pictures, by which Delacroix seems 
to be wanting to explain his Hthographs,^^ which have been 
so bitterly criticized. 

The water-colour Livn has a special merit for me, quite 
apart from its beauty of drawing and attitude; this is be- 
cause it is painted with a great simpHcity. Water-colour is 
restricted here to its own modest role; it has no desire to 
rival oil-paint in stature. 

To complete this analysis, it only remains for me to note 
one last quaHty in Delacroix— but the most remarkable 
quahty of all, and that which makes him the true painter 
of the nineteenth century; it is the unique and persistent 
melancholy with which all his works are imbued, and which 
is revealed in his choice of subject, in the expression of his 
faces, in gesture and in style of colour. Delacroix has a 
fondness for Dante and Shakespeare, two other great 
painters of human anguish: he knows them through and 
through, and is able to translate them freely. As you look 
through the succession of his pictures, you might think 
that you were assisting at the celebration of some dolorous 
mystery; Dante and Virgil, The Massacre of Scio, Sar- 

^ Repro. Escholier, vol. II, facing p. 308. 

^Delacroix's Faust lithographs were first published in book 
form in 1828. Goethe had seen some of them two years before, 
and spoke of them with great admiration to Eckermann (see 
Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann, Everyman ed., pp. 
135-6). Between 1834 and 1843 Delacroix made sixteen litho- 
graphs of scenes from Hamlet. 

66 THE SALON OF 1846 

danapalus, Christ in the Garden of Olives, St. Sebastian, 
Medea,^^ The Shipwreck of Von }uan,^^ and the Hamlet,^^ 
which was so much mocked at and so misunderstood. In 
several of them, by some strange and recurring accident, 
you will find one figure which is more stricken, more 
crushed than the others; a figure in which all the surround- 
ing anguish is epitomized— for example, the kneeling 
woman, with her hair cast down, in the foreground of the 
Crusaders at Constantinople,^^ or the old woman, so 
wrinkled and forlorn, in The Massacre of Scio. This aura 
of melancholy surrounds even The Women of Algiers,^^ 
that most engaging and showy of his pictures. That little 
poem of an interior, all silence and repose, and crammed 
with rich stuffs and knick-knacks of the toilet, seems some- 
how to exhale the heady scent of a house of ill-fame, which 
quickly enough guides our thoughts towards the fathomless 
limbo of sadness. Generally speaking he does not paint 
pretty women— not at any rate from the point of view of the 
fashionable world. Almost all of them are sick, and gleam- 
ing with a sort of interior beauty. He expresses physical 
force not by bulk of muscle, but by nervous tension. He is 
unrivalled at expressing not merely su£Fering, but above 
all moral suffering— and here lies the prodigious mystery of 
his painting I This lofty and serious melancholy of his shines 
with a gloomy brilliance, even in his colour, which is broad, 
simple and abundant in harmonious masses, like that of all 
the great colourists; and yet it is as plaintive and deep- 
toned as a melody by Weber.^^ 

Each one of the old masters has his kingdom, his pre- 
rogative, which he is often constrained to share with illus- 
trious rivals. Thus Raphael has form, Rubens and Veronese 

^ Painted in 1838, and now in the Lille Museum. 
^ Painted in 1840, and now in the Louvre; repro. Journal, pi. 30. 
^ Delacroix painted several versions of Hamlet and the Grave- 
digger: that of 1839 is in the Louvre; see pi. 65. 
^ Painted in 1841, and now in the Louvre; repro. Journal, pi. 25. 
^ Painted in 1834, and now in the Louvre; see pi. 64. 
^ The simile recurs in the stanza devoted to Delacroix in Baude- 
laire's poem Les Phares. See p. 217, where Baudelaire analyses 
this stanza. 


colour, Rubens and Michelangelo the 'graphic imagination'. 
There remained one province of the empire in which 
Rembrandt alone had carried out a few raids; I mean 
drama, natural and living drama, the drama of terror and 
melancholy, expressed often through colour, but always 
through gesture. 

In the matter of sublime gestures, Delacroix's only rivals 
are outside his art. I know of scarcely any others but 
Frederick Lemaitre^^ and Macready.^''' 

It is because of this entirely modem and novel quality 
that Delacroix is the latest expression of progress in art. 
Heir to the great tradition— that is, to breadth, nobiHty 
and magnificence in composition— and a worthy successor 
of the old masters, he has even surpassed them in his 
command of anguish, passion and gesturel It is reaUy this 
fact that establishes the importance of his greatness. Sup- 
pose, indeed, that the baggage of one of the illustrious 
departed were to go astray; he will almost always have his 
counterpart, who vidll be able to explain him and disclose 
his secret to the historian's scrutiny. But take away Dela- 
croix, and the great chain of history is broken and slips 
to the ground. 

In an article which must seem more like a prophecy 
than a critique, what is the object of isolating faults of de- 
tail and microscopic blemishes? The whole is so fine that 
I have not the heart. Besides it is such an easy thing to do, 
and so many others have done it! Is it not a pleasant 
change to view people from their good side? M. Delacroix's 
defects are at times so obvious that they strike the least 
trained eye. You have only to open at random the first 
paper that comes your way, and you wiU find that they 
have long followed the opposite method from mine, in 
persistently not seeing the glorious qualities which con- 

** Frederick Lemaitre ( 1800-1876 ) was one of the great French 
actors of the Romantic generation. He made his first great suc- 
cess as Robert Macaire in VAuherge des Adrets (1823), and 
later created the title-role in Victor Hugo's Buy Bias. 
^William Charles Macready (1793-1873), the notable English 
tragedian of the same generation as Edmund Kean. His grand, 
impassioned style greatly impressed the French when he acted 
in Paris in 1828 (twice) and again in 1844. 

68 THE SALON OF 1846 

stitute his originality. Need I remind you that great geniuses 
never make mistakes by halves, and that they have the 
privilege of enormity in every direction? 

Among Delacroix's pupils there are some who have happily 
appropriated whatever elements of his talent could be cap- 
tured—that is, certain parts of his method— and who have 
already earned themselves something of a reputation. 
Nevertheless their colour has, generally speaking, this flaw 
—that it scarcely aims above picturesqueness and 'effect'; 
the ideal is in no sense their domain, although they readily 
dispense with nature, without having earned the right to 
do so by dint of their master's intrepid studies. 

This year we must regret the absence of M. Planet, 
whose Sainte Therdse^^ attracted the eyes of the con- 
noisseurs at the last Salon— and of M. Riesener, who has 
often given us broadly-coloured pictures, and by whom 
you can see some good ceilings at the Chambre des Pairs— 
and see them with pleasure, too, in spite of the terrible 
proximity of Delacroix. 

M. Leger-Cherelle has sent Le Martyr e de Sainte Irdne.^^ 
The composition consists of a single figure and a pike, 
which makes a somewhat unpleasant effect. Nevertheless 
the colom and the modelling of the torso are generally 
good. But I rather think that M. Leger-Cherelle had aheady 
shown the public this picture before, with some minor 

A somewhat surprising feature of La Mort de Cleopdtre,^^ 
by M. Lassale-Bordes, is that the artist does not seem to 
be uniquely preoccupied v^dth colour; and this is perhaps 
a merit. Its tints are, so to speak, equivocal, and this sour- 
ness of taste is not without its charms. 

Cleopatra is dying, on her throne, while Octavius's envoy 
stoops forward to gaze at her. One of her handmaidens has 

^ See pp. 18-19. 

^ The note in the Salon catalogue runs as follows: 'Cette vierge, 

ayant cache les livres saints, contre les ordres de I'empereur 

Diocletien, fut mise en prison et percee d'une fleche' (Vies des 

Saints ) . 

*" Now in the Autun Museum; see pi. 19. 


just expired at her feet. The composition does not lack 
majesty, and the painting has been executed with quite 
a daring simplicity; Cleopatra's head is beautiful, and the 
negress's green and pink attire contrasts happily with the 
colour of her skin. This huge picture has been successfully 
carried through with no regard for imitation, and it cer- 
tainly contains something to please and attract the un- 
attached flaneur. 


Has it ever been your experience, as it has mine, that after 
spending long hours turning over a collection of bawdy 
prints, you fall into a great spell of melancholy? And have 
you ever asked yourself the reason for the charm sometimes 
to be found in rummaging among these annals of lewdness, 
which are buried in libraries or lost in dealers' portfoKos— 
and sometimes also for the ill-humour which they cause 
you? It is a mixture of pleasure and pain, a vinegar for 
which the Hps are always athirstl The pleasure lies in your 
seeing represented in all its forms that most important of 
natural feelings— and the anger in often finding it so badly 
copied or so stupidly slandered. Whether it has been by 
the fireside during the endless winter evenings, or in a 
corner of a glazier's shop, in the dog-days when the hours 
hang heavy, the sight of such drawings has often put my 
mind into enormous drifts of reverie, in much the same way 
as an obscene book sweeps us towards the mystical oceans 
of the deep. Many times, when faced with these countless 
samples of the universal feeling, I have found myself wish- 
ing that the poet, the connoisseur and the philosopher could 
grant themselves the enjoyment of a Museum of Love, 
where there would be a place for everything, from St. 
Teresa's undirected aflFections down to the serious debauch- 
eries of the ages of ennui. No doubt an immense distance 
separates Le Depart pour Tile de CytMre^ from the miser- 
^ By Watteau. 

70 THE SALON OF 1846 

able daubs which hang above a cracked pot and a rickety 
side-table in a harlot's room; but with a subject of such 
importance, nothing should be neglected. Besides, all 
things are sanctified by genius, and if these subjects were 
treated with the necessary care and reflection, they would 
in no wise be soiled by that revolting obscenity, which is 
bravado rather than truth. 

Let not the moralist be too alarmedl I shall know how 
to keep the proper bounds, and besides, my dream is 
Hmited to a wish for this immense poem of love as sketched 
by only the purest hands— by Ingres, Watteau, Rubens, 
Delacroix! The playful and elegant princesses of Watteau 
beside the grave and composed Venuses of M. Ingres, the 
resplendent pearls of Rubens and Jordaens and the sad 
beauties of Delacroix, just as one can imagine them— 
great pale women, drowned in satin!* 

And so, to give complete reassurance to the reader's 
startled virtue, let me say that I should class among erotic 
subjects not only all pictures which are specially concerned 
with love, but also any picture which suggests love, be it 
only a portrait.** 

In this immense museum I envisage the beauty and the 
love of all climes, expressed by the leading artists— from 
the mad, scatter-brained merveilleuses which Watteau fils^ 
has bequeathed us in his fashion engravings, down to 
Rembrandt's Venuses who are having their nails done and 
their hair combed with great boxwood combs, just like 
simple mortals. 

Subjects of this nature are so important a thing that there 
is no artist, small or great, who has not devoted himself to 

* I have been told that many years ago Delacroix made a whole 
mass of marvellous studies of women in the most voluptuous 
attitudes, for his Sardanapalus. (c.b.) 

** M. Ingres' Grande and Petite Odalisque are two pictures of 
our times which are essentially concerned with love, and are ad- 
mirable, moreover, (c.b.) The Grande Odalisque is in the 
Louvre (see pi. 62): the Petite Odalisque is presumably the 
Odalisque with Slave, in tlie Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 

' Frangois Watteau (de Lille) (1758-1823), son of Louis Wat- 
teau and nephew of Antoine Watteau. 


them, secretly or in public, from Giulio Romano to Deveria 
and Gavami. 

In general their great defect is a lack of sincerity and 
naivete. I remember, however, a lithograph^ which ex- 
presses one of the great truths of wanton love— though im- 
happily without too much refinement. A young man, dis- 
guised as a woman, and his mistress, dressed as a man, are 
seated side by side on a sofa— the sofa which you know so 
well, the sofa of the furnished lodgings and the private 
apartment. The young woman is trying to lift her lover's 
skirt.* In the ideal museum of which I was speaking, this 
lewd sheet would be counterbalanced by many others in 
which love would only appear in its most refined form. 

These reflections have occurred to me in connection with 
two pictures by M. Tassaert— Engon^ and Le Marchand 

M. Tassaert, of whom I made the grave mistake of not 
saying enough last year, is a painter of the greatest merit, 
and one whose talent would be most happily applied to 
erotic subjects. 

Erigone is half recumbent upon a mound overshadowed 
with vines— in a provocative pose, with one leg almost bent 
back, the other stretched out, and the body thrust forward; 
the drawing is fine, and the lines sinuous and expertly 
organized. Nevertheless I would criticize M. Tassaert, who 
is a colourist, for having painted this torso in too uniform 
a tone. 

The other picture represents a market of women awaiting 
buyers. These are true women, civilized women, whose feet 
have felt the rubbing of shoes; they are a little common, a 
little too pink perhaps, but a silly, sensual Turk is going to 

^ One of the series *Les Amants et les Epoux' by Tassaert. The 
lady's words are 'Ne fais done pas la cruellel' See pi. 4. 
* 'Sedebant in fomicibus pueri puellaeve sub titulis et lychnis, 
illi faeminio compti mundo sub stola, hae parum comptae sub 
puerorum veste, ore ad puerilem formam composite. Alter 
veniebat sexus sub altero sexu. Corruperat omnis caro viam 
suam.' Meursius. (c.b.) This passage is quoted from Nicolas 
Chorier's Aloysiae Sygeae satira sotadica de arcanis Amoris et 
Veneris (1658), wtdch purported to be a Latin version (by 
Meursius) of a Spanish original. 

72 THE SALON OF 1846 

buy them as superfine beauties. The one who is seen from 
behind, and whose buttocks are enveloped in a transparent 
gauze, still wears upon her head a milliner's hat, a hat 
bought in the Rue Vivienne or at the Temple. The poor 
girl has doubtless been carried off by pirates! 

The colour of this picture is remarkable in the extreme 
for its delicacy and transparency of tone. One would 
imagine that M. Tassaert has been studying Delacroix's 
manner; nevertheless he has managed to retain an original 

He is an outstanding artist, whom only the fldneurs ap- 
preciate and whom the public does not know well enough; 
his talent has never ceased growing, and when you think 
of whence he started, and where he has arrived, there is 
reason to look forward to ravishing things from him in the 



There ake two curiosities of a certain importance at the 
Salon. These are the portraits of Petit Loup and of Graisse 
du dos de buffle, by M. Cathn, the impresario of the red- 
skins.^ When M. Catlin came to Paris, with his Museum 
and his loways, the word went round that he was a good 

^George Catlin (1796-1872), the American artist, spent eight 
years with Indian tribes residing in United States, British and 
Mexican territories, between 1829 and 1837. During this period 
he painted some five hundred portraits and other pictures of 
Red Indians. During 1838 and 1839 he toured his collection in 
the United States, and then brought it to London, where he 
established himself at 6, Waterloo Place. In 1845 he visited 
Paris, bringing with him not only his paintings but several live 
Indians as well. One of these was Shon-ta-yi-ga, or Little Wolf, 
whose portrait Baudelaire mentions here. See Alfred Delvau's 
Lions du Jour (1867), and also Catlin's own Descriptive Cata- 
logue, published by himself in London in 1848; it contains ap- 
preciations from the American, English and French press. 

CatKn's collection is now in tlie care of the Smitlisonian In- 
stitution, Washington; a small selection was brought to Europe 
and exhibited in 1954. See pis. 52-3. 


fellow who could neither paint nor draw, and that if he 
had produced some tolerable studies, it was thanks only 
to his courage and his patience. Was this an innocent trick 
of M. Catlin's, or a blunder on the part of the journalists? 
For today it is established that M. Catlin can paint and 
draw very well indeed. These two portraits would be 
enough to prove it to me, if I could not call to mind many 
other specimens equally fine. I had been particularly struck 
by the transparency and Hghtness of his skies. 

M. Catlin has captured the proud, free character and 
the noble expression of these splendid fellows in a masterly 
way; the structure of their heads is wonderfully well 
understood. With their fine attitudes and their ease of 
movement, these savages make antique sculpture compre- 
hensible. Turning to his colour, I find in it an element of 
mystery which delights me more than I can say. Red, the 
colour of blood, the colour of life, flowed so abundantly 
in his gloomy Museum that it was like an intoxication; and 
the landscapes— wooded mountains, vast savannahs, de- 
serted rivers— were monotonously, eternally green. Once 
again I find Red (so inscrutable and dense a colour, and 
harder to penetrate than a serpent's eye)— and Green (the 
colour of Nature, calm, gay and smiling)— singing their 
melodic antiphon in the very faces of these two heroes.— 
There is no doubt that all their tattooings and pigmenta- 
tions had been done in accordance with the harmonious 
modes of nature. 

I beheve that what has led the public and the journalists 
into error with regard to M. Catlin is the fact that his 
painting has nothing to do with that brash style, to which 
all our young men have so accustomed us that it has become 
the classic style of our time. 

Last year I already entered my protest against the unani- 
mous De profundis— against the conspiracy of ingratitude- 
concerning the brothers Deveria. This year has proved me 
right. Many a precocious name which has been substituted 
for theirs is not yet worth as much. M. Achille Deveria has 
attracted special attention at this year s Salon by a picture, 
Le Repos de la Sainte Famille,^ which not only retains all 
^ Repro. Illustr., vol. 7 ( 1846), p. 56. 

74 THE SALON OF 1846 

of that grace peculiar to these charming brother-geniuses, 
but which also recalls the soHd qualities of the older schools 
of painting— minor schools, perhaps, which do not precisely 
sweep the board either by their drawing or their colour, 
but which, nevertheless, by their sense of order and of 
sound tradition are placed well above the extravagances 
proper to transitional ages. In the great battle of Ro- 
manticism, the Deveria brothers were members of the 
sacred band of the colourists; and thus their place was 
marked out here. The composition of M. Achille Deveria's 
picture is excellent, and, over and above this, the eye is 
struck by its soft and harmonious appearance. 

M. Boissard, whose beginnings were also brilliant and 
full of promise, is one of those excellent artists who have 
taken their nourishment from the old masters; his Made- 
leine au desert is good and sound in colour— except for the 
flesh-tones which are a trifle dingy. The pose is a happy one. 

In this interminable Salon, where differences have been 
more than ever wiped out, and where everyone can draw 
and paint a Httle, but not enough to deserve even to be 
classed, it is a great joy to meet a frank and true painter 
Hke M. Debon. Perhaps his Concert dans V atelier^ is a Httle 
too artistic a picture— Valentin, Jordaens and several others 
have their part in it; but at least it is fine, healthy painting, 
which marks its author as a man who is perfectly sure of 

M. Duveau has sent Le Lendemain d'une tempete. 1 do 
not know if he has it in him to become a frank colourist, 
but some parts of his picture give hopes of it. At first sight 
you search your memory for some historical scene which 
it can represent; for in fact the Enghsh are almost alone 
in daring to paint genre-pictures of such vast proportions. 
Nevertheless it is well organized and in general seems well 
designed. The tonahty, which is a Httle too uniform and 
offends the eye at first, is doubtless based on an effect of 
nature, aU of whose features appear singularly crude in 
colour after being washed by the rains. 

M. Laemlein's Char it e"^ is a charming woman with a 
« Repro. Illustr., vol. 7 ( 1846), p. 121. 
* Laemlein made a lithograph also of this subject. 


whole bunch of little brats of all countries— white, yellow, 
black, and so on— held by the hand or carried at the breast. 
Certainly M. Laemlein has a feeling for good colour. If his 
picture contains one great fault, it is that the little China- 
man is so pretty, and his garment so deHghtful to the eye, 
that he practically monopolizes the spectator's attention. 
This Httle mandarin never stops trotting through the mem- 
ory, and he will cause many people to forget all the rest. 

M. Decamps is one of those who, for many years now, 
have tyrannically possessed the public's interest; and 
nothing could be more legitimate. 

This artist, who is gifted with a marvellous capacity for 
analysis, used often to achieve powerfully effective results 
by means of a happy conflict of little tricks. If he shirked 
linear detail too much, often contenting himself with move- 
ment and general contour, and if his drawing used occa- 
sionally to verge upon the chic, nevertheless his meticulous 
taste for Nature, studied above aU in her effects of Hght, 
always kept him safe and sustained him on a superior plane. 

If M. Decamps was not precisely a draughtsman in the 
generally accepted sense of the word, nevertheless, in his 
own way and in a particular fashion, he was one. No one 
has seen large figures from his pencil; but certainly the 
drawing— that is to say, the build— oi his Httle manikins was 
brought out and realized with remarkable boldness and 
feHcity. Their bodily nature and habits were always clearly 
revealed; for M. Decamps can make a figure intelligible in 
a few lines. His sketches were diverting and profoundly 
comical. It was the draughtsmanship of a wit, almost of a 
caricaturist; for he possessed an extraordinary geniality, 
or mocking fancy, which was a perfect match for the 
ironies of nature; and so his figures were always posed, 
draped or dressed in accordance with the truth and with 
the eternal proprieties and habits of their persons. If there 
was a certain immobiHty in his drawing, this was by no 
means unpleasing, and actually put tie seal upon his 
orientaHsm. Normally he took his models in repose; and 
when they were shown running, they often reminded you 
of frozen shadows or of silhouettes suddenly halted in their 
course; they ran as though they were part of a bas-relief. 

76 THE SALON OF 1846 

But it was colour that was his strong suit, his great and 
unique afifair. Now M. Delacroix is without doubt a great 
colourist; but he is not a fanatical one. He has many other 
concerns, and the scale of his canvases demands it. But for 
M. Decamps colour was the great thing; it was, so to speak, 
his favourite mode of thought. His splendid and radiant 
colour had, what is more, a style very much of its own. It 
was, to use words borrowed from the moral order, both 
sanguinary and mordant. The most appetizing dishes, the 
most thoughtfully prepared kickshaws, the most piquantly 
seasoned products of the kitchen, had less relish and tang, 
and exhaled less fierce ecstasy upon the nose and the palate 
of the epicure than M. Decamps' pictures possessed for the 
lover of painting. Their strangeness of aspect halted you, 
held you captive and inspired you with an irresistible 
curiosit)^ Perhaps this had something to do with the unusual 
and meticulous methods which the artist often employs— 
for he lucubrates his painting, they say, with the tireless 
will of an alchemist. So sudden and so novel was the im- 
pression that it produced upon the mind of the spectator 
at that time, that it was difficult to conceive its ancestry, 
or to decide who had fathered this singular artist, and 
from what studio this solitary and original talent had 
emerged. Certainly a hundred years from now historians 
will have trouble in identifying M. Decamps' master. Some- 
times he seemed to stem from the boldest colourists of the 
old Flemish school, but he had more style than they, and 
he grouped his figures more harmoniously; sometimes the 
splendour and the triviality of Rembrandt were his keen 
preoccupation; at other times his skies would suggest a 
loving memory of the skies of Claude. For M. Decamps was 
a landscape-painter too, and, what is more, a landscape- 
painter of the greatest merit. But his landscapes and his 
figures formed a single whole and helped one another 
mutually; one had no more importance than the other, for 
with him nothing was an accessor)'— so curiously \\TOught 
was every part of his canvas, and to such an extent was 
each detail planned to contribute to the total effectl Nothing 
was unnecessary— not even the rat swimming across a tank 
in one or other of his Turkish pictures— a picture all 


lethargy and fatalism; nor even the birds of prey which 
hover in the background of that masterpiece entitled Le 
Supplice des Crochets. 

At that time the sun and light played a great part in M. 
Decamps' painting. No one studied atmospheric effects v^th 
so much care. The weirdest and most improbable tricks of 
shadow and light pleased him more than anything. In a 
picture by M. Decamps the sun seemed really to scorch the 
white walls and the chalky sands; every coloured object 
had a keen and lively transparency. The waters were of 
untold depth; the great shadows which used to cut across 
the flanks of his houses or to sleep stretched out upon 
the ground or the water had the languor and sweet drowsi- 
ness of shadows beyond description. And in the midst of 
this fascinating decor, you would find little figures bestir- 
ring themselves or dreaming— a complete little world in all 
its native and comic truth. 

Yes, M. Decamps' pictures were full of poetry, and often 
of reverie; but what others, like Delacroix, would achieve 
by great draughtsmanship, by an original choice of model 
or by broad and flowing colour, M. Decamps achieved by 
intimacy of detail. The only criticism, in fact, which you 
could make, was that he was too concerned with the 
material execution of objects; his houses were made of true 
plaster and true wood, his walls were made of true lime- 
mortar; and in front of these masterpieces, the heart was 
often saddened by a painful idea of the time and the 
trouble which had been devoted to their making. How 
much finer they would have been if executed less artfully! 

Last year, when M. Decamps took up a pencil and 
thought fit to challenge Raphael and Poussin, the en- 
thusiastic flaneurs of both parties— men whose hearts em- 
brace the whole world, but who are quite content wi\h 
things as the Almighty has designed them, and who all of 
them adored M. Decamps as one of the rarest products of 
creation— these men said amongst themselves: If Raphael 
prevents Decamps from sleeping, then it's no more De- 
campses for us! who vdll do them now—? Alas! it wHl be 
MM. Guignet^ and Chacaton/ 
^ See pp. 27-8. 

78 THE SALON OF 1846 

All the same, M. Decamps has reappeared this year with 
some Turkish things, some landscapes, some genre-pictures, 
and an Effet de Pluie.^ But you have to look for them; they 
no longer strike the eye at once. 

M. Decamps, who is so good at doing the sun, has failed, 
however, wdth the rain; besides, he has given his ducks a 
slab of stone to svmn on, etc., etc. His Ecole turque, never- 
theless, is more like his best pictures; there they all are, 
those lovely children whom we know so well, and that 
luminous, dust-charged atmosphere of a room which the 
sun is trying to enter bodily. 

It seems to me so easy to console ourselves with the 
magnificent Decampses which already adorn our galleries, 
that I do not want to analyse the faults of these. It would 
be a puerile task, and besides everyone wiYi do it very well 
for himself wdthout any help from me. 

Amongst the paintings by M. Penguilly-rHaridon,"^ which 
are all good pieces of workmanship— httle pictures, broadly 
yet finely painted— there is one that especially stands out 
and attracts the eye; Pierrot present e a TassembUe ses 
compagnons Arlequin et Polichinelle.^ 

Pierrot, with one eye open and the other closed, and that 
crafty air which is traditional, is presenting Harlequin to 
the public; Harlequin advances with sweeping and ob- 
sequious gestures, and vdth one leg gallantly pointed in 
front of him. Punchinello follows him, wdth swimming 
head, fatuous glance, and his poor Httle legs in great big 
sabots. A ridiculous face, with a huge nose, huge spectacles 
and a huge curled moustache, appears between two cur- 
tains. The colour of the whole thing is pleasing— both simple 
and fine— and the three characters stand out perfectly 

'Of Decamps' four exhibits this year, one, the Souvenir de la 
Turquie d'Asie (catalogued as Enfants turcs auprds d'une 
jontaine, and incorrectly assigned to 1839) is in the Musee 
Conde, ChantiUy; the remaining three are in the Fodor Museum, 
Amsterdam. See pis. 24-5. 

'At one time Baudelaire considered liim as a possible illus- 
trator for the Fleurs du Mai. 

® This painting was Lot 59 at the Moreau-Nelaton sale, Paris, 11 
May 1900; its present whereabouts is unknown. 


against a grey background. But the thrilling effect of this 
picture is less the result of its general appearance than of 
its composition, which is excessively simple. The figure of 
Punchinello, which is essentially comic, reminds us of the 
EngHsh Punch, who is usually shown touching the end of 
his nose with his index finger, to express his pride in it, 
or his vexation. I would, however, criticize M. Penguilly 
for not having taken his type from Deburau,^ who is the 
true Pierrot of today— the Pierrot of modem history— and 
should therefore have his place in any painted harlequinade. 

Now here is another fantasy, which is very much less 
adroit and less learned, and whose beauty is all the greater 
in that it is perhaps involuntary; I refer to M. Manzoni's 
La Rixe des mendiants. I have never seen anything so 
poetically brutal, even in the most Flemish of orgies. Here, 
under six heads, are the different reactions of the visitor 
who passes in front of this picture— 1. Lively curiosity. 2. 
*How shockingl' 3. It's badly painted, but the composition 
is unusual and does not lack charm.* 4. It's not so badly 
painted as we thought at first.* 5. 'Let's have another look 
at this picture.' And 6. A lasting memory. 

It has a ferocity and a brutality of manner which suit the 
subject rather weU and put us in mind of Goya's violent 
sketches. These, in fact, are the most ruffianly countenances 
that you could wish to see: it is a weird conglomeration of 
battered hats, wooden legs, broken glasses, befuddled 
topers; lust, ferocity and drunkenness are shaking their rags. 

The ruddy beauty who is kindling the desires of these 
gentlemen is a fine stroke of the brush, and well formed to 
please the connoisseurs. I have rarely seen anything so 
comic as that poor wretch up against a waU, whom his 
neighbour has victoriously nailed with a pitch-fork. 

The second picture, VAssassinat nocturne, has a less 
strange look. Its colour is dim and commonplace, and the 
fantastic ingredient is confined to the manner in which the 
scene is represented. A beggar is brandishing a knife in the 
face of a miserable fellow whose pockets are being ran- 
sacked and who is half dead from fear. Those white domi- 

° Jean Gaspard Deburau, the famous French pantomimist, died 
this year. See pp. 147-8. 

80 THE SALON OF 1846 

noes, in the form of gigantic noses, are very droll and give 
the most singular stamp to this scene of terror. 

M. Villa-Amil has painted the throne-room in Madrid. At 
first sight, you might say that it was very simply executed; 
but if you look at it with more care, you will recognize a lot 
of cleverness in the organization and in the general colour- 
ing of this decorative picture. It is less fine in tone, perhaps, 
but it is firmer in colour than the pictures of the same type 
for which M. Roberts^^ has a liking. If it has a fault, it is 
that the ceiHng looks less like a ceiling than a veritable sky. 

MM. Wattier and Perese generally treat almost similar 
subjects— fair ladies wearing old-fashioned costumes, in 
parks, beneath ancient shades. What distinguishes M. 
Perese is that he paints with much more simplicity, and 
his name does not compel him to ape Watteau. But in spite 
of the studied delicacy of M. Wattier's figures, M. Perese 
is his superior in invention. You might say that there is the 
same difference between their works as between the minc- 
ing gallantry of the time of Louis XV and the honest gal- 
lantry of the age of Louis XIII. 

The school of Couture— since we must call it by its name 
—has given us much too much this year. 

M. Diaz de la Peiia,^^ who is, in Httle, the extreme repre- 
sentative of this little school, sets out from the principle 
that a palette is a picture. As for over-all harmony, M. Diaz 
thinks that you will invariably find it. Of draughtsmanship 
—the draughtsmanship of movement, the draughtsmanship 
of the colourists— there is no question; the hmbs of all his 
little figures behave for all the world Hke bundles of rags, 
or like arms and legs scattered in a railway accident. I 
would far rather have a kaleidoscope; at least it does not 
presume to give us Les Delaissees or he Jardin des amours 
—it provides designs for shawls and carpets, and its role is 
a modest one. It is true that M. Diaz is a colourist; but 
enlarge his frame by a foot, and his strength will fail him, 

"Presumably David Roberts, R.A., who is cliiefly remembered 
for his Spanish scenes. 

^ Diaz had eight paintings at the Salon this year, of which Bau- 
delaire mentions the names of two. Another, entitled Orientale, 
is reproduced Illustr., vol. 7 (1846), p. 136. 


because he does not recognize the necessity for general 
colour. That is why his pictures leave no memory behind 

But each man has his allotted part, you say. Great paint- 
ing is not made for everyone, by any means. A fine dinner 
contains both hors-d'oeuvres and main courses. Would you 
dare to sneer at the Aries sausages, the pimentoes, the 
anchovies, the aioli, and the rest?— Appetizing hors- 
d'oeuvres?, I reply. Not a bit of it. These things are bon- 
bons and nauseating sweetmeats. Who would want to feed 
on dessert? You hardly do more than just touch it when you 
are pleased with your dinner. 

M. Celestin Nanteuil knows how to place a brush-stroke, 
but he does not know how to fix the proportions and the 
harmony of a picture. 

M. Verdier paints well enough, but fundamentally I be- 
lieve him to be an enemy of thought. 

M. Muller, the man of the Sylphes, the great connoisseur 
of poetic subjects— of subjects streaming with poetry— has 
painted a picture which he calls Primavera. People who do 
not know Italian will think that this word means De- 

M. Faustin Besson's colour loses much by being no 
longer dappled and befogged by the windows of Deforge's 

M. Fontaine is obviously a serious-minded man; he has 
given us M. de Beranger surrounded by youngsters of both 
sexes, whom he is initiating into the mysteries of Couture's 

And what great mysteries they are! A pink or peach- 
coloured light, and a green shadow— that's all there is to iti 
The terrible thing about this painting is that it forces itself 
upon the eye; you notice it from a great distance. 

Without a doubt the most unfortunate of all these gentle- 
men is M. Couture himself, who throughout plays the in- 
teresting role of victim. An imitator is a babbler who gives 
away surprises. 

In the various speciahties of Bas-Breton, Catalan, Swiss, 
Norman subjects and the rest, MM. Armand and Adolphe 
^ In the Boulevard Montmarte. 

8a THE SALON OF 1846 

Leleux are outstripped by M. Guillemin, who is inferior to 
M. Hedouin, who himself yields the palm to M. HafiFner. 

Several times I have heard this peculiar criticism directed 
at the MM. Leleux— that whether they were supposed to be 
Swiss, Spanish or Breton, all their characters seemed to 
come from Brittany. 

M. Hedouin is certainly a commendable painter, who 
possesses a firm touch and understands colour; no doubt he 
will succeed in establishing his own particular originality. 

As for M. Haffner, I owe him a grudge for once having 
painted a portrait in a superably romantic style, and for not 
having painted any more like it.^^ I beHeved that he was 
a great artist, rich in poetry and, above all, in invention, a 
portraitist of the front rank, who came out vdth an occa- 
sional daub in his spare time; but it seems that he is no 
more than just a painter. 



Since colour is the most natural and the most visible thing, 
the party of the colourists is the most numerous and the 
most important. But analysis, which facilitates the artist's 
means of execution, has divided nature into colour and line; 
and before I proceed to an examination of the men who 
form the second party, I think that it would be well if I 
explained some of the principles by which they are guided 
—sometimes even wdthout their knowing it. 

The title of this chapter is a contradiction, or rather an 
agreement of contraries; for the drawing of a great 
draughtsman ought to epitomize both things— the ideal and 
the model. 

Colour is composed of coloured masses which are made 
up of an infinite number of tones, which, through harmony, 
become a unity; in the same way, Line, which also has its 

" The portrait was at the Salon of the previous year: see p. 22. 
This year HaJEner exhibited three landscapes only, of which one 
is reproduced Illustr., vol. 7 (1846), p. 185. 


masses and its generalizations, can be subdivided into a 
profusion of particular lines, of which each one is a feature 
of the model. 

The circumference of a circle— the ideal of the curved 
line— may be compared with an analogous figure, composed 
of an infinite nxmaber of straight lines which have to fuse 
with it, the inside angles becoming more and more obtuse. 

But since there is no such thing as a perfect circum- 
ference, the absolute ideal is a piece of nonsense. By his 
exclusive taste for simplicity, the feeble-minded artist is led 
to a perpetual imitation of the same type. But poets, artists, 
and the whole hinnan race would be miserable indeed if 
the ideal— that absurdity, that impossibility— were ever dis- 
covered. If that happened, what would everyone do with 
his poor ego— with his crooked line? 

I have already observed that memory is the great cri- 
terion of art; art is a kind of mnemotechny of the beautiful. 
Now exact imitation spoils a memory. There are some 
wretched painters for whom the least wart is a stroke of 
luck; not only is there no fear of their forgetting it, but they 
find it necessary to paint it four times as large as Hfe. And 
thus they are the despair of lovers— and when a people 
commissions a portrait of its king, it is nothing less than 
a lover. 

A memory is equally thwarted by too much particulariza- 
tion as by too much generalization. I prefer the Antinous 
to the Apollo Belvedere or to the Gladiator, because the 
Antinous is the ideal of the charming Antinous himself. 

Although the universal principle is one. Nature presents 
us with nothing absolute, nothing even complete;* I see 
only individuals. Every animal of a similar species differs in 
some respect from its neighbour, and among the thousands 
of fruits that the same tree can produce, it is impossible to 
find two that are identical, for if so, they would be one 
and the same; and duality, which is the contradiction of 
unity, is also its consequence.** But it is in the human race 

* Nothing absolute— thus the geometric ideal is the worst of 
idiocies. Nothing complete— thus everything has to be com- 
pleted, and every ideal recaptured, (c.b.) 
** I say contradiction, and not contrary; for contradiction is an 
invention of man s. ( c.b. ) 

84 THE SALON OF 1846 

above all that we see tlie most appalling capacity for 
variety. Without counting the major types which nature 
has distributed over the globe, every day I see passing 
beneath my window a certain number of Kalmouks, Osages, 
Indians, Chinamen and Ancient Greeks, all more or less 
Parisianized. Each individual is a unique harmony; for you 
must often have had the surprising experience of turning 
back at the sound of a known voice and finding yourself 
face to face with an unknown stranger— the Hving reminder 
of someone else endowed with a similar voice and similar 
gestures. This is so true that Lavater has established a 
nomenclature of noses and mouths which agree together, 
and he has pointed out several errors of this kind in the 
old masters, who have been known to clothe religious or 
historical characters in forms which are contrary to their 
proper natures. It is possible that Lavater was mistaken in 
detail; but he had the basic idea. Such and such a hand 
demands such and such a foot; each epidermis produces 
its own hair. Thus each individual has his ideal. 

I am not claiming that there are as many fundamental 
ideals as there are individuals, for a mould gives several 
impressions; but in the painter's soul there are just as many 
ideals as individuals, because a portrait is a model com- 
plicated by an artist. 

Thus the ideal is not that vague thing— that boring and 
impalpable dream— which we see floating on the ceilings of 
academies; an ideal is an individual put right by an in- 
dividual, reconstructed and restored by brush or chisel to 
the dazzling truth of its native harmony. 

The first quaHty of a draughtsman is therefore a slow 
and sincere study of his model. Not only must the artist 
have a profound intuition of the character of his model; 
but further, he must generahze a Httle, he must deUberately 
exaggerate some of the details, in order to intensify a 
physiognomy and make its expression more clear. 

It is curious to note that, when guided by this principle 
—namely, that the sublime ought to avoid details— art finds 
the way of self-perfection leading back towards its child- 
hood. For the first artists also used not to express details. 
The great difference, however, is that, in doing the arms 


and the legs of their figures like drain-pipes, it was not 
they who were avoiding the details, but the details which 
were avoiding them; for in order to choose, you have first 
to possess. 

Drawing is a struggle between nature and the artist, in 
which the artist will triumph the more easily as he has a 
better understanding of the intentions of nature. For him 
it is not a matter of copying, but of interpreting in a simpler 
and more luminous language. 

The introduction of the portrait— that is to say, of the 
idealized model— into historical, reHgious or imaginative 
subjects necessitates at the outset an exquisite choice of 
model, and is certainly capable of rejuvenating and re- 
vitalizing modern painting, which, Hke all our arts, is too 
inchned to be satisfied with the imitation of the old masters. 

Everything else that I might say on the subject of ideals 
seems to me to be contained in a chapter of Stendhal, whose 
title is as clear as it is insolent:— 

'How are we to go one better than RaphaelF 
In the affecting scenes brought about by the passions, 
the great painter of modem times— if ever he appears— 
will give to each one of his characters an ideal beauty, 
derived from a temperament which is constituted to feel 
the effect of that passion with the utmost vividness. 

Werther will not be indifferently sanguine or melan- 
cholic, nor Lovelace phlegmatic or bilious. Neither good 
Doctor Primrose nor gentle Cassio will have a bilious 
temperament; this is reserved for Shylock the Jew, for 
dark lago, for Lady Macbeth, for Richard IIL The pure 
and lovely Imogen will be a trifle phlegmatic. 

The artist's first observations led him to fashion the 
Apollo Belvedere. But will he restrict himself to coldly 
producing copies of the ApoUo every time that he wishes 
to represent a young and handsome god? No, he will set 
a link between the action and the type of beauty. Apollo 
delivering the Earth from the serpent Python will be 
more robust; Apollo paying court to Daphne will be 
more delicate of feature.* 

* Stendhal, Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, oh. 101. This was 
printed in 1817. (c.b.) 

86 THE SALON OF 1846 



In tede PRECEDING CHAPTER I Said nothing at all about 
imaginative or creative draughtsmanship, because in gen- 
eral this is the prerogative of the colourists. Michelangelo, 
who, from a certain point of view, is the inventor of the 
ideal among the modems, is the only man to have possessed 
the 'graphic' imagination in its supreme degree without 
being a colourist. Pinre draughtsmen are naturalists en- 
dowed with excellent perception; but they draw by the 
light of reason, whereas colourists— that is, great colourists— 
draw by the light of temperament, almost without knowing 
it. Their method is analogous to nature; they draw because 
they colour, whereas piure draughtsmen, if they wanted to 
be logical and true to their profession of faith, would con- 
tent themselves with a black pencil. Nevertheless they 
devote themselves to colour with an imimaginable en- 
thusiasm, taking no notice at all of the contradictions in- 
volved. They start by delimiting their forms in a cruel and 
absolute manner, and then they proceed to fill up the 
spaces. This double method ceaselessly thwarts their efforts, 
and gives to all their productions a strange element of 
bitterness, toil and contention. Their works are an eternal 
piece of Htigation, an exhausting dualism. A draughtsman 
is a would-be colourist. 

This is so true that M. Ingres, the most illustrious repre- 
sentative of the naturalistic school of draughtsmanship, is 
forever in pursuit of colour. What admirable and unfor- 
tunate obstinacyl It is the eternal story of people wanting 
to trade a reputation which they have earned for one which 
they cannot win. M. Ingres adores colour, like a fashionable 
milliner. It is at once a pain and a pleasure to observe the 
efforts which he makes in choosing and coupling his tones. 
The result— which is not always discordant, but is never- 
theless bitter and violent— is often pleasing to corrupt poets; 
but even so, when they have allowed their tired minds a 


long spell of amusement in the midst of these dangerous 
struggles, they feel an absolute need to come to rest upon 
a Velasquez or a Lawrence. 

If M. Ingres occupies the most important place after 
Eugene Delacroix, it is because of that entirely personal 
draughtsmanship whose mysteries I was analysing a mo- 
ment ago, and with which he has achieved the best epitome 
to date of the ideal and the model. M. Ingres draws ad- 
mirably well, and he draws rapidly. In his sketches he 
attains the ideal quite naturally. His drawing is often only 
lightly charged and does not contain many strokes; but each 
one realizes an important contour. But now take a look at 
the drawings of all those artisans of painting— many of them 
his pupils; they start by rendering the minute details, and 
it is for this reason that they enchant the vulgar, which 
will only open its eye for what is little, in whatever genre. 

In a certain sense M. Ingres draws better than Raphael, 
the popular king of draughtsmen. Raphael decorated im- 
mense walls; but he would not have done the portrait of 
your mother, your friend or your mistress so well as Ingres. 
The daring of this man is all his own, and it is combined 
with cunning in such a way that he shirks no sort of ugli- 
ness or oddity. Did he stop at M. Mole's frock-coat^ or 
Chenibini's carrick? And did he not put a bHnd man, a 
one-eyed and a one-armed man, and a hunchback into the 
Plafond d'Homdre^—a. work which, more than any other, 
aspires towards the ideal? Nature repays him handsomely 
for this pagan adoration. He could make a sublime thing 
even of Mayeux.^ 

The beautiful Muse de Cherubini'^ is still a portrait. If M. 
Ingres, who lacks the 'graphic' imagination, does not know 
how to make pictures— at least, on a large scale— it is never- 
theless just to say that his portraits are almost pictures— 
that is, intimate poems. 

His is a grudging, cruel, refractory and suffering talent— 

* Now in a private collection ( Wildenstein 225). 
^ See p. 61. 

°A grotesque hunchback invented by the caricaturist Travies 
and much used by him and others in the 1830s. See pp. 176-7. 

* In the Louvre ( Wildenstein 236 ) ; see pi. 59. 

88 THE SALON OF 1846 

a singular mixture of contrary qualities, all placed to the 
credit of Nature, and one whose strangeness is not among 
its least charms. He is Flemish in his execution, an in- 
dividualist and a naturaUst in his drawing, antique by his 
sympathies and an idealist by reason. 

To reconcile so many contraries is no meagre task; and 
so it is not without reason that, in order to display the 
sacred mysteries of his draughtsmanship, he has adopted an 
artificial system of lighting which serves to render his 
thought more clear— something similar to the sort of twi- 
light in which a still sleepy Nature has a wan and raw 
appearance and in which the countryside reveals itself in a 
fantastic and striking guise. 

A rather distinctive fact about M. Ingres' talent, and one 
which I believe has been overlooked, is that he is happier 
in dealing with female subjects. He depicts them as he sees 
them, for it would appear that he loves them too much to 
wish to change them; he fastens upon their slightest 
beauties with the keenness of a surgeon, he follows the 
gentlest sinuosities of their Hne with the humble devotion 
of a lover. His Angelique,^ his two Odalisques and his por- 
trait of Mme. d'Haussonville^ are works of a deeply sensu- 
ous rapture. But we are never allowed to see any of these 
things except in a Hght which is almost frightening— it is 
neither the golden atmosphere in which the fields of the 
ideal lie bathed, nor yet the tranquil and measured light 
of the sublunar regions. 

The works of M. Ingres are the result of an excessive 
attentiveness, and they demand an equal attentiveness in 
order to be understood. Born of suffering, they beget 
suffering. As I explained above, this is due to the fact that 
his method is not one and simple, but rather consists in the 
use of a succession of methods. 

Around M. Ingres, whose teaching has a strange austerity 
which inspires fanaticism, there is a small group of artists, 

^i.e. Roger et Angelique (1819), in the Louvre (Wildenstein 


"In the Flick Collection, New York (Wildenstein 248); see pi. 



of whom the best-known are MM. Flandrin, Lehmann and 

But what an immense distance separates the master from 
his pupils! M. Ingres remains alone in his school. His 
method is the result of his nature, and however weird 
and uncompromising it may be, it is frank and, so to speak, 
involuntary. Passionately in love with the antique and with 
his model, and a respectful servant of nature, he paints 
portraits which can rival the best sculptures of the Romans. 
These gentlemen, however, have coldly, dehberately and 
pedantically chosen the unpleasing and unpopular part of 
his genius to translate into a system; it is their pedantry 
that pre-eminently distinguishes them. Curiosity and erudi- 
tion are what they have seen and studied in their master. 
Hence their pursuit of leanness and pallor, and all the rest 
of those ridiculous conventions which they have adopted 
without examination or good faith. They have plunged 
deep, very deep, into the past, just in order to copy its 
deplorable mistakes with a puerile serviHty; they have de- 
liberately discarded all the means of successful execution 
which the experience of the ages had made available to 
them. People still remember La Fille de Jephte pleurant sa 
virginite;'^ but those excessive elongations of hands and 
feet, those exaggerated ovals of heads, all those ridiculous 
afiFectations— conventions and habits of the brush which 
have a tolerable resemblance to the chic— are singular faults 
in an ardent worshipper of form. Since his portrait of the 
Princess Belgiojoso, M. Lehmann has never ceased painting 
abnormally big eyes, in which the pupil swims like an 
oyster in a soup-tureen. This year he has sent some por- 
traits and some other pictures. The pictures are Les 
Oceanides, Hamlet and Ophelia. Les Oceanides is a sort 
of Flaxman, and its general aspect is so ugly that it 
kills any desire to examine the design. In the portraits 
of Hamlet and Ophelia^ there are visible pretensions 
to colour— \he great hobby-horse of this school! But this 
unfortunate imitation of colour is as saddening and dis- 

' Exhibited by Henri Lehmann at the Salon of 1836. 

'Both repro. Illustr., vol. 7 (1846), p. 184, and the Illustrated 

London News, 23 May 1846. 

go THE SALON OF 1846 

tressing to me as a copy of a Veronese or a Rubens made by 
an inhabitant of the moon. As for their physical and spirit- 
ual deportment, these t^vo figures reminded me of the 
bombast of the actors at the old Bobino, when they used 
to play melodramas there. Without a doubt Hamlet's hand 
is fine; but a weU-executed hand does not make a draughts- 
man—that would really be asking too much of detail, even 
for an Ingristl 

I think that Mme. Calamatta also belongs to the party of 
the enemies of the sun; but sometimes her pictures are 
quite happily composed, and they have a little of that air 
of authority which women— even the most Hterary of them, 
and the real artists— Rnd it less easy to borrow from men 
than their absurdities. 

M. Janmot has done a Station— Le Christ portant sa Croix 
—whose composition has some character and gravity, but 
whose colour, being no longer mysterious, or rather mys- 
tical, as in his last works, is unhappily reminiscent of the 
colour of all possible Stations. As you look at this crude 
and glossy picture, it is only too easy to guess that M. Jan- 
mot comes from Lyons. In fact this is just the kind of paint- 
ing which suits that city of cash-tills— that city of bigotry 
and punctiHo, where everything, down to religion, has to 
have the calligraphic neatness of an account-book.^ 

The names of M. Curzon and M. Brillouin have already 
often been finked in the pubfic mind, although at the start 
they gave promise of more originafity. This year M. Bril- 
louin— A quoi revent les jeunes filles^^—hsis stepped out of 
himself, and M. Curzon has been content to do Brillouins. 
Their tendency reminds one of the school of Metz^^— a 
Hterary, mystical and Germanic school. M. Curzon, who 
often paints fine, generously-coloured landscapes, could 
interpret Hoffmann in a less erudite, a less conventional 
way. But although he is obviously a man of wit— his choice 

® The Lyons school of painting was particularly deplored by 

Baudelaire. See p. 32 above. 

^^ Under this main title, Brillouin exhibited four drawings, with 

individual titles such as 'Les presents de I'etranger' and Xe 

retour du bien-aime.' 

" See p. 33 above. 


of subjects is enough to prove it— you feel that the Hoff- 
mannesque afflatus has passed nowhere near him .12 fhe 
old-fashioned style of the German artists bears no resem- 
blance to the style of this great poet, whose compositions 
have a very much more modem and more romantic char- 
acter. The artist has vainly tried to obviate this capital 
defect by choosing the least fantastic of all the stories, 
Master Martin and his Apprentices, of which HoflFmann 
himself said: It is the most mediocre of my works; there 
is not a shred of the terrible or the grotesque in it, and 
these are the two most important arrows in my quiverl' 
But in spite of that, even in Master Martin Hoffmann's lines 
are more floating and his atmosphere more charged with 
wit than M. Curzon has made them. 

Properly speaking M. Vidal's place is not here at all, for 
he is not a true draughtsman. Nevertheless the moment is 
not too badly chosen, for he has several of the ridiculous 
fads of the Ingrists— that is to say, a fanatical regard for the 
little and the pretty, and an enthusiasm for beautiful paper 
and fine canvases. All this has nothing to do with the sense 
of order with which a strong and vigorous mind is ruled 
and girt, nor yet with the adequate neatness of a man of 
good sense; it is neatness run mad. 

The preconception about VidaP^ began, I think, three or 
four years ago. Even so, at that time his drawings were less 
pedantic and less mannered than they are today. 

This morning I was reading an article by M. Th6ophile 
Gautier,^* in which he sang the praises of M. Vidal for 
being able to interpret modem beauty. I do not know why 
M. Gautier has donned the uniform of the 'good-natured 
man' this year; for he has praised everyone, and there is no 
wretched dauber whose pictures he has not catalogued. 
Can it be perchance that the hour of the Academy— that 
solemn and soporific hour— has struck for him, if he is 

^ Curzon exhibited five drawings illustrating Hoffmann's Meister 
Martin; five such drawings are now in the Poitiers Museum. 
" See p. 34. 

" In La Presse, 7th April 1846. Gautier's praise of Ary Scheffer 
in this article must have especially disgusted Baudelaire: see 

92 THE SALON OF 1846 

already so well-mannered? and has literary prosperity such 
disastrous results that the public is forced to call us to 
order by rubbing our noses in our original certificates of 
romanticism? Nature has endowed M. Gautier with an 
excellent, broad and poetic mind. Everyone knows what 
fierce admiration he has always evinced for sincere and 
generous works. What potion can the painters have poured 
into his wine this year? or what rose-tinted spectacles has 
he selected with which to go to work? 

So M. Vidal understands modern beauty, does he? Come 
now! Thanks to nature, our women have not so much wit 
or sophistication; but they are infinitely more romantic. 
Look at nature, sir. A man does not arm himself v^dth wit 
and with meticulously sharpened pencils in order to paint! 
for some critics rank you— I really do not know why— among 
the noble family of the painters. It is no use your calhng 
your women Fatinitza,^^ Stella, Vanessa, Saison des Roses^^ 
—a bunch of names for cosmetics; you will not produce 
poetic women that way. You once set yourself the task of 
expressing the idea of Self-love^'^—a. great and fine idea, a 
supremely feminine idea— but you quite failed to interpret 
the sharp element of greed and the magnificent egoism 
of the subject. You never rose above puerile obscurity. 

Nevertheless all these affectations will pass away like 
rancid unguents. A ray of sxuishine is enough to bring out 
all their stench. I would rather leave Time to do its work 
than waste my own in expounding all the poverties of this 
sorry genre. 



There are two ways of understanding portraiture— either 
as history or as fiction. 

The first is to set forth the contours and the modelling 
" Salon of 1845. 
" Salon of 1846. 
" Salon of 1845: repro. Illustr., vol. 5 ( 1845), p. 152. 


of the model faithfully, severely and minutely; this does not 
however exclude idealization, which, for enlightened natu- 
ralists, will consist in choosing the sitter's most characteristic 
attitude— the attitude which best expresses his habits of 
mind. Further, one must know how to give a reasonable 
exaggeration to each important detail— to lay stress on 
everything which is naturally saHent, marked and essential, 
and to disregard (or to merge with the whole) everything 
which is insignificant or which is the eflFect of some acci- 
dental blemish. 

The masters of the liistoricar school are David and 
Ingres, and its best manifestations are the portraits by 
David which were to be seen at the Bonne Nouvelle ex- 
hibition,! and those of M. Ingres, such as M. Bertin and 

The second method, which is the special province of the 
colourists, is to transform the portrait into a picture— a poem 
with all its accessories, a poem full of space and reverie. 
This is a more difficult art, because it is a more ambitious 
one. The artist has to be able to immerse a head in the soft 
haze of a warm atmosphere, or to make it emerge from 
depths of gloom. Here the imagination has a greater part 
to play, and yet, just as it often happens that fiction is truer 
than history, so it can happen that a model is more clearly 
realized by the abundant and flowing brush of a colourist 
than by the draughtsman's pencil. 

The masters of the 'fictional', or 'romantic' school are 
Rembrandt, Reynolds and Lawrence. Well-known examples 
are La Dame au chapeau de paille^ and Master Lambton^ 

A characteristic excellence of MM. Flandrin, Amaury- 
Duval and Lehmann is the truth and subtlety of their 

^ This exhibition took place in January 1846. Baudelaire wrote 

an article about it at the time. 

'Ingres' portraits of M. Bertin (1832) and of Cherubini (1841) 

are in the Louvre (Wildenstein 208 and 236). 

^It is not quite clear to which straw-hatted lady Baudelaire 

refers: Crepet suggests a portrait of the Countess Spencer by 

Reynolds, but several others of Reynolds' portraits (e.g. Nelly 

O'Brien, in the Wallace Collection) fit the description. 

* Lawrence's Master Lambton was shown in Paris in 1827. 

94 THE SALON OF 1846 

modelling. The detail is well grasped and executed easily 
and all in one breath, so to speak; nevertheless their por- 
traits are often vitiated by a pretentious and clumsy affecta- 
tion. Their immoderate taste for distinction never ceases to 
trip them up. We know with what an admirable simplicity 
of mind they seek after distinguished tones— that is to say, 
tones which, if intensified, would scream at one another 
like the devil and holy water, or Hke marble and vinegar; 
but since these are excessively etiolated and given in 
homoeopathic doses, their effect is one of surprise rather 
than of pain; and that is their great triumphi 

The distinction in their draughtsmanship consists in their 
sharing the prejudices of certain modish ladies, who have 
a smattering of debased literature and a horror of httle eyes, 
large feet, large hands, little brows and cheeks glowing 
with joy and health— all of which can be extremely beauti- 

This pedantry in colour and draughtsmanship does con- 
stant injury to the works of these gentlemen, however 
estimable they may be in other respects. Thus, while I was 
contemplating M. Amaury-Duval's blue portrait (and the 
same applies to many other portraits of Ingresque, or 
Ingrized, women), some strange association of ideas 
brought to mind the following wise words of the dog 
Berganza,^ who used to run away from blue-stockings as 
ardently as these gentlemen seek them out: 

*Have you never found Corinne^ quite impossible? . . . 
At the idea of seeing her come near me, in flesh and blood, 
I used to feel an almost physical oppression, and found 
myseff quite incapable of preserving my serenity and free- 
dom of mind in her presence . . . Whatever the beauty 
of her arms or her hand, I could never have endured her 
caresses without feeling slightly sick— without a kind of 
internal shudder which tends to take away my appetite . . . 
Of course I am only speaking here in my canine capacityl' 

^ The reference is to HoflFmann's Nachricht von den neuesten 
Schicksalen des Hundes Berganza. Hoffmann had taken over the 
character of tlie speaking dog Berganza from a story by Cer- 
" The heroine of Mme. de Stael's novel of tliat name. 


I have had the same sensation as the witty Berganza in 
front of nearly all the portraits of women— whether old or 
new ones— by MM. Flandrin, Lehmann and Amaury-Duval; 
and this in spite of the beautiful hands (really well-painted, 
too) which they know how to give them, and in spite of the 
flattering elegance of certain details. If Dulcinea del Toboso 
herself were to pass through the studio of these gentlemen, 
she would emerge as pellucid and prim as an elegy, after 
a slimming diet of aesthetic tea and aesthetic butter. 

M. Ingres, however— and this must be repeated over and 
over again— M. Ingres, the great master, understands things 
in quite another way. 

In the sphere of portraiture understood according to the 
second method, MM. Dubufe the elder, Winterhalter, 
L^pauUe and Mme. Frederique O'Connell, given a sincerer 
taste for nature and a soHder colour, might have won a 
justifiable reputation. 

M. Dubufe is destined to retain the privilege of elegance 
in portraiture for a long time yet; his natural and almost 
poetic taste successfully conceals his innumerable faults. 

It is worth observing that the people who hurl the word 
*boxn:geois' so frequently at M. Dubufe are the very ones 
who have allowed themselves to be enchanted by M. 
Perignon's wooden heads.''^ How much one would have 
forgiven M. Delaroche if it had been possible to foresee the 
Perignon factory I 

M. Winterhalter is really on the decHne. M. Lepaulle is 
still the same, now and again an excellent painter, but 
always devoid of taste and good sense. Charming eyes and 
mouths, well-executed arms— and toilettes calculated to send 
decent people running 1 

Mme. O'Connell knows how to paint with freedom and 
rapidity; but her colour lacks firmness. That is the unhappy 
fault of English painting, which is transparent to excess and 
is always characterized by too great a fluidity.* 

An excellent example of the kind of portrait whose es- 
sence I was attempting to define a moment ago is that por- 
' See p. 22. 

* In spite of her name, Mme. O'Connell seems to have been of 
German extraction. 

96 THE SALON OF 1846 

trait of a woman by M. Haffner— drenched in grey and 
radiating mystery— which led the connoisseurs at the last 
Salon to entertain such high hopes; but M. Haffner had not 
yet become a gem-e-painter, seeking to fuse and to reconcile 
Diaz, Decamps and Troyon. 

You would suppose that Mile. E. Gautier was seeking to 
modify her manner a little. She is wrong to do so. 

MM. Tissier and J. Guignet have preserved their touch 
and their colour, which are both firm and solid. Generally 
speaking there is this excellent quality about their portraits, 
that they are above all pleasant to look at— that is the first 
impression, and the most important. 

M. Victor Robert, the creator of a vast allegory of 
Europe,^ is certainly a good painter, gifted with a firm hand. 
But an artist who undertakes the portrait of a famous man 
ought not to be content to achieve a merely felicitous paint- 
surface; for he is also painting the portrait of a mind. M. 
Granier de Cassagnac^^ is much uglier, or, if you prefer it, 
much more handsome. To start with he has a broader nose, 
and his mouth, which is mobile and sensitive, has a slyness 
and a delicacy which the painter has forgotten. M. Granier 
de Cassagnac seems somehow smaller and more athletic- 
down to his very brow. The present pose is theatrical 
rather than expressive of the genuine force which char- 
acterizes the man. It gives no hint of that challenging 
and martial bearing with which he attacks life and all its 
problems. It is enough to have seen him suddenly thunder 
forth his passions, with leaps and starts of pen and chair- 
it is enough simply to have read them in the paper— to 
realize that the whole man is not here. The copy of he 
Globe, which recedes into the shadow, is a complete 
absurdity— surely it ought to have been in full view, if it had 
to be there at alll 

I have always had the notion that M. Boulanger would 
have made an excellent engraver; he is a simple workman, 
quite devoid of invention, who gains much by working on 
someone else's model. His romantic pictures are bad, but 
his portraits are good— clear, solid, easily and simply 
* Exhibited at the Salon of 1845. See p. 17. 
" Editor of Le Globe. 

THE 'chic' and the *P0NCIF* 9/ 

painted. And the curious thing is that they often have the 
look of those excellent engravings after the portraits of 
Van Dyck. They have the dense shadows and the bright 
highlights of vigorous etchings. Each time that M. L. 
Boulanger has tried to rise higher, he has fallen into bathos. 
I believe him to be a man of honest, calm and sound in- 
teUigence, whom only the exaggerated praises of the poets 
could have led astray. 

What am I to say of M. L. Cogniet, that amiable eclectic, 
that painter of such sincerity and of so restless an intelli- 
gence that, in order to paint M. Granet's^^ portrait properly, 
he has had the idea of using the colour proper to M. 
Granet's own pictures— which is generally black, as we have 
all known for a long time? 

Mme. de Mirbel is the only artist who knows how to 
thread her way through the difficult problem of taste and 
truth. It is because of this special sincerity, and also be- 
cause of their enchanting appearance, that her miniatures 
have all the importance of serious painting. 


The word *chic'— a dreadful, outlandish word of modern 
invention, which I do not even know how to spell correctly,* 
but which I am obhged to use, because it has been sanc- 
tioned by artists in order to describe a modem monstrosity 
—the word 'chic' means a total neglect of the model and 
of nature. The 'chic' is an abuse of the memory; moreover 
it is a manual, rather than an intellectual, memory that it 
abuses— for there are artists who are gifted with a profound 
memory for characters and forms— Delacroix or Daumier, 
for example— and who have nothing to do with it. 

The *chic' may be compared with the work of those 
writing-masters who, with an elegant hand and a pen 
shaped for italic or running script, can shut their eyes and 
^ Now in the Musee Granet, Aix-en-Provence. 
* Somewhere or other Balzac spells it 'chique'. (c.b.) 

g8 THE SALON OF 1846 

boldly trace a head of Christ or Napoleon's hat, in the form 
of a flourish. 

The meaning of the word poncif has much in common 
with that of the word 'chic'. Nevertheless it applies more 
particularly to attitudes and to expressions of the head. 

Rage can be poncif, and so can astonishment— for ex- 
ample, the kind of astonishment expressed by a horizontal 
arm with the thumb splayed out. 

There are certain beings and things, in life and in nature, 
which are poncif'— that is to say, which are an epitome of 
the vulgar and banal ideas which are commonly held above 
those beings and those things; great artists, therefore, have 
a horror of them. 

Everything that is conventional and traditional owes 
something to the 'chic' and the 'poncif. 

When a singer places his hand upon his heart, this com- 
monly means 1 shall love her always!' If he clenches his fists 
and scowls at the boards or at the prompter, it means 'Death 
to him, the traitor!' That is the 'poncif for you. 



Such are the stem principles which guide this eminently 
national artist in his quest for beauty— this artist whose 
compositions decorate the poor peasanf s cottage no less 
than the carefree student's garret, the salon of the meanest 
bordello as often as the palaces of our kings. I am quite 
aware that this man is a Frenchman, and that a Frenchman 
in France is a holy and sacred thing— even abroad I am told 
that this is so; but it is for that very reason that I hate him. 
In its most widely accepted sense, the word 'Frenchman' 
means vaudevilliste,^ and the word 'vaudeviUiste' means a 
man whose head swims at the thought of Michelangelo, 
and whom Delacroix strikes into a brutish stupor, just as 

^The literal, unsarcastic meaning of the word is a writer of 
vaudevilles, i.e. light theatrical entertainments interspersed with 
catchy, popular songs. 


certain animals are struck by thunder. Everything that 
towers or plunges, above or below him, causes him pru- 
dently to take to his heels. The sublime always aflFects him 
like a riot, and he only opens his Moliere in fear and 
trembling— because someone has persuaded him that Mo- 
liere is an amusing author. 

Therefore all respectable folk in France (excepting M. 
Horace Vemet) hate the Frenchman. It is not ideas that this 
restless people wants, but facts, historical reports, topical 
rhymes, and Le Moniteur.^ That is aU: abstractions, neverl 
The Frenchman has done great things, but almost by mis- 
take. He has been caused to do them. 

M. Horace Vemet^ is a soldier who practises painting. 
Now I hate an art which is improvised to the roll of the 
drum, I hate canvases splashed over at the gallop, I hate 
painting manufactured to the sound of pistol-shots, since 
I hate the army, the poHce-force— everything, in fact, that 
trails its noisy arms in a peaceful place. This immense 
popularity— which, however, will endure no longer than 
war itself, and will dechne in proportion as the peoples of 
the world contrive other joys for themselves— this popu- 
larity, do I call it?— this vox populi, vox Dei is for me like 
a physical oppression. 

I hate this man because his pictures have nothing what- 
ever to do with painting (I would prefer to call them a 
kind of brisk and frequent masturbation in paint, a kind 
of itching on the French skin), just as I hate another such 
great man,^ whose solemn hypocrisy has given him dreams 
of the consulate, and who has repaid the people's love with 
nothing more substantial than bad verses— verses which 
have nothing to do with poetry, but are ruptured and ill- 
composed, full of barbarities and solecisms, but also of civic 
virtue and patriotism. 

^ Le Moniteur universel, founded 1789, and until 1869 the official 
govemment organ. 

'This year Horace Vemet exhibited a characteristically enor- 
mous picture (roughly 15 X 30 feet) of the Battle of Isly. It is 
now in the Versailles Museum. 
* The reference is to Beranger. See note on p. 156. 


I hate him because he was born under a lucky star,* and 
because for him art is a simple and easy matter. Neverthe- 
less he is the chronicler of your National glory, and that is 
the great thing. But what, I ask you, can diat matter to the 
enthusiastic traveller, to the cosmopolitan spirit who prefers 
beauty to glory? 

To define M. Horace Vemet as clearly as possible, he is 
the absolute anthithesis of the artist: he substitutes chic for 
drawing, cacophony for colour and episodes for unity; he 
paints Meissoniers as big as houses. 

Furthermore, in order to fulfil his oflBcial mission, M. 
Horace Vemet is gifted with two outstanding qualities— the 
one of deficiency, the other of excess; for he lacks all pas- 
sion, and has a memory like an almanachl** Who knows 
better than he the correct number of buttons on each uni- 
form, or the anatomy of a gaiter or a boot which is the worse 
for innumerable days' marching, or the exact spot on a 
soldier's gear where the copper of his small-arms deposits 
its verdigris? Therefore what a vast public he has, and 
what bhss he a£Fords them! He has, in fact, as many dif- 
ferent publics as it takes trades to manufacture uniforms, 
shakos, swords, muskets and cannons 1 Imagine all those 
honourable guilds mustered in front of a Horace Vemet 
by their common love of glory I What a sightl 

One day I remember twitting some Germans with their 

* (Literally 'with a caul on his head', Fr. coif 6). An expression 
of M. Marc Foumier's, which is applicable to almost all our 
fashionable novelists and historians, who are hardly more than 
literary journalists, like M. Horace Vemet. (c.b.) Marc Four- 
nier (b. 1818) was a popular playwright. 

***True memory, considered from a philosophical point of 
view, consists, I think, in nothing else but a very lively and 
easily-roused imagination, which is consequently given to rein- 
forcing each of its sensations by evoking scenes from the past, 
and endowing them, as if by magic, with the life and character 
which are proper to each of them— at least I have heard this 
theory upheld by one of my past teachers who had a prodigious 
memory, although he could not carry a single date or proper 
name in his head. My teacher was right, and in this matter there 
is, no doubt, a difference between sayings or utterances which 
have embedded themselves deep in the soul and whose intimate 
and mysterious meaning has been grasped, and words which 
have merely been learnt by heart'. Hoffmann (c.b.) 


taste for Scribe^ and Horace Vemet. They answered, ^We 
have a deep admiration for Horace Vemet as being the 
most complete representative of his age/ Well saidl 

The tale is told that one day M. Horace Vemet went to 
see Peter Cornelius.^ He overwhelmed him with compli- 
ments, but had to wait a long time to be repaid; for Peter 
Cornelius congratulated him only once during the whole 
interview— and that was on the quantity of champagne that 
he was able to consume without suffering ill effects I True 
or false, the story has all the ring of poetic tmth. 

And now tell me again that the Germans are a simple- 
minded peoplel 

Many people who believe in the oblique approach when 
it comes to a critical drubbing, and who have no more love 
than I have for M. Horace Vernet, will blame me for 
being clumsy in my attack. But there can be no imprudence 
in being brutal and going straight to the point when in 
every sentence the T stands for a Ve— a vast, but silent 
and invisible 'we', a whole new generation which hates war 
and national follies; we', a generation full of health be- 
cause it is young, a generation which is already elbowing 
its way to the front and working up into a good position- 
serious, derisive and menacingl* 

MM. Granet and Alfred Dedreux are two more vignette- 
makers and great adorers of the 'chic'. But they apply their 
capacities of improvisation to very different genres— M. 
Granef to the sphere of religion, and M. Dedreux^ to that 

^ Eugene Scribe ( 1791-1861 ), the popular dramatist of the mid- 
nineteenth century. 

'Peter Cornelius (1783-1867), chiefly noted for his revival of 
fresco. From 1824 he was director of the Munich Academy. 
* Thus there is not one of M. Horace Vemet's canvasses before 
which it would not be appropriate to sing: 

Vous n'avez qu'un temps d vivre. 

Amis, passez-le gaiement. 
The gaiety is essentially French. ( c.b. ) 

These lines are by the 18tli-century French general, the Comte 
de Bonneval. 

'All of Granet's eight pictures at this Salon had religious sub- 

^ One of Dedreux's pictures, entitled Chasse au faucon, repro. 
Illustr., vol 7 (1846), p. 57. 

102 THE SALON OF 1846 

of smart life. The first does monks, and the second horses; 
the first is dark in colour, the second bright and dazzHng. 
M. Alfred Dedreux has two excellent quahties; he knows 
how to paint, and his works have the fresh and vivid ap- 
pearance of theatrical decors. One would suppose that he 
is more concerned with nature in those subjects which form 
his speciality; for his studies of running hounds are more 
convincing and more solid than the rest. There is a touch 
of the comic, however, in his hunting-scenes; each one of 
those all-important hounds could gobble up four horses. 
They remind one of those famous sheep in Jouvenet's 
Vendeurs du Temple,^ which quite swamp the figure of 



As YOU SEE, we are now in the hospital of painting. We are 
probing its sores and its sicknesses; and this is by no means 
among the least strange or contagious of them. 

In the present age, just as in ages past, today no less 
than yesterday, the strong and vigorous divide between 
them the various territories of art, each according to his 
taste and his temperament, and there they labour in full 
freedom, following the fatal law of propensities. Some 
gather an easy and abundant harvest in the golden, au- 
tumnal vineyards of colour; others toil patiently and labori- 
ously to drive the deep furrow of dravdng. Each of these 
men knows quite well that his monarchy involves a sacrifice, 
and that it is on this condition alone that he can reign 
securely up to his limiting frontiers. Each of them has a 
banner to his crov^m, and the words inscribed upon that 
banner are clear for all the world to read. Not one of their 
number has doubts of his monarchy, and it is in this un- 
shakable conviction that their serene glory resides. 

" One of the four pictures which Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet ( 1644- 
1717) painted for tlie church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs; it is 
now in tlie Lyons Museum, and a replica is in tlie Louvre. 


M. Horace Vemet himself, that odious representative of 
the *chic , has at least the merit of not being a doubter. He 
is a man of a happy and playful disposition, who inhabits 
an artificial county where the actors and the scenery are all 
made of the same pasteboard; yet he reigns as master in his 
kingdom of pantomime and parade. 

Doubt, which today is the principal cause of all morbid 
affections in the moral world, and whose ravages are now 
greater than ever before, is itself dependent upon higher 
causes which I shall analyse in my penultimate chapter, 
entitled On Schools and Journeymen. And Doubt begat 
Eclecticism; for the doubters had a genuine will for salva- 

Eclecticism has at aU periods and places held itself 
superior to past doctrines, because, coming last on to the 
scene, it finds the remotest horizons akeady open to it; but 
this impartiality only goes to prove the impotence of the 
eclectics. People who are so lavish with their time for re- 
flection are not complete men: they lack the element of 

It has never occimred to the eclectics that man s atten- 
tion is the more intense as it is restricted and limits its own 
field of observation. It is a question of grasp aU, lose aU. 

It is in the arts, above aU, that eclecticism has had the 
most manifest and palpable consequences, because if art 
is to be profound, it must aim at constant idealization, 
which is not to be achieved except in virtue of sacrifice— an 
involuntary sacrifice. 

No matter how clever he may be, an eclectic is but a 
feeble man; for he is a man without love. Therefore he has 
no ideal, no parti pris; neither star nor compass. 

He mixes four different systems, which only results in 
an effect of darkness— a negation. 

An eclectic is a ship which tries to sail before all four 
winds at once. 

However great its defects, a work conceived from an 
exclusive point of view will always have a great attraction 
for temperaments analogous to that of the artist. 

An eclectic's work leaves no memory behind it. 

The eclectic does not know that the first business of an 

104 "^^^ SALON OF 1846 

artist is to protest against Nature by putting Man in her 
place. This protest is not made coldly and calculatedly, Hke 
a decree or a rhetorical exercise; it is spontaneous and 
urgent, Hke vice, passion or appetite. Thus an eclectic is 
no man. 

Doubt has led certain artists to beg the aid of all the 
other arts. Experiment with contradictory means, the en- 
croachment of one art upon another, the importation of 
poetry, wit and sentiment into painting— all these modern 
miseries are vices pecuHar to the eclectics. 



M. Ary Scheffer is a disastrous example of this method— 
if an absence of method can be so called. 

After imitating Delacroix, after aping the colourists and 
draughtsmen of the French school, and the neo-Christian 
school of Overbeck,^ it dawned upon M. Ary Scheffer— a 
httle late, no doubt— that he was not a painter born. From 
that moment he was obHged to turn to other shifts; and he 
decided to ask help and protection from poetry. 

It was a ridiculous blunder, for two reasons. First of all, 
poetry is not the painter's immediate aim: when poetiy 
happens to be mixed mth painting, the resulting work 
cannot but be more valuable; but poetry is unable to dis- 
guise the shortcomings of a work. To make a dehberate 
point of looking for poetry during the conception of a 
picture is the surest means of not finding it. It must come 
without the artist's knowledge. It is the result of the art of 
painting itself; for it hes in the spectator's soul, and it is 
the mark of genius to awaken it there. Painting is only 
interesting in virtue of colour and form; it is no more like 
poetry than poetry is Hke painting— than the extent, I mean, 
to which poetry is able to awaken ideas of painting in the 

^Friedrich Overbeck (1789-1869), leader of the 'Nazarenes'. 
From 1810 he worked in Rome. 


In the second place— and this is a consequence of these 
last observations— it should be noted that great artists, 
whose instinct always guides them aright, have only taken 
the most highly coloured and clearly visual subjects from 
the poets. Thus they prefer Shakespeare to Ariosto. 

And now, to choose a sfaiking example of M. Ary Schef- 
fer's ineptitude, let us examine the subject of his painting 
entitled St. Augustine and St. Monica.^ An honest painter 
of the Spanish School, with his double piety— artistic and 
rehgious- would simply and sincerely have done his best 
to paint the general idea which he had formed of the two 
saints. But put all that out of your mind; here the vital 
thing is to express the following passage— with brushes and 
colour:— 'We did betwixt ourselves seek at that Present 
Truth (which Thou art) in what manner the eternal life 
of the saints was to be, which eye hath not seen, nor ear 
heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man'.^ It is the 
very height of absurdity. It is like watching a dancer exe- 
cute a mathematical figure! 

Formerly M. Ary Scheffer enjoyed the pubhc's favour; 
in his poetical pictures, people rediscovered their dearest 
memories of the great poets— and that was enough for them. 
The transient vogue for M. Aiy Scheffer was in fact a 
homage to the memory of Goethe.* But our artists— even 
those of them who are only gifted with a moderate origi- 
nality—have for a long time been showing the pubHc 
samples of real painting, executed with a sure hand and 
according to the simplest rules of art. And so, little by httle 
the public has grown sick of invisible painting, and today, 
where M. Ary Scheffer is concerned, its favour has turned 
to harshness and ingratitude. How like all pubHcs! But 
upon my word, they are quite right! 

^The Salon of 1846 was the last at which Ary Scheffer ex- 
hibited. The painting of St. Augustine and his mother proved, 
however, to be one of his most popular works, and he painted 
at least four replicas; one is in the Tate Gallery, one in the 
Louvre and one in the Dordrecht Museum. See pi. 23. 

* St. Augustine's Confessions, Bk. IX, ch. 10, Loeb transL 

* A reference to Gautier's Salon in La Presse, in which he wrote 
that Marguerite belonged to Scheffer almost as much as to 
Goethe himseff. 

106 THE SALON OF 1846 

Moreover this kind of painting is so wretched, so dismal, 
so blurred and so muddy that many people have taken 
M. Ary Scheffer's pictures for those of M. Henri Scheffer,^ 
another artistic Girondist. In my opinion, they are more 
like pictures by M. Delaroche which have been left out in 
a heavy rainstorm. 

A simple method of learning an artist's range is to ex- 
amine his public. Eugene Delacroix has the painters and 
the poets on his side; M. Decamps has the painters; M. 
Horace Vemet has the garrisons, and M. Ary Scheffer those 
aesthetic ladies who revenge themselves on the curse of 
their sex by indulging in religious music* 

The apes of sentiment are, generally speaking, bad 
artists. If it were otherwise, they would do something other 
than sentimentalize. The best of them are those whose 
understanding does not go beyond the pretty. 

As feeling or sentiment, like fashion, is an infinitely 
variable and multiple thing, there are apes of sentiment of 
different orders. 

The ape of sentiment relies above all on the catalogue. 
It should be noted, however, that the picture's title never 
tells its subject— and this is particularly true with those 
artists who, by an engaging fusion of horrors, mix senti- 
ment with wit. In this way, by extending the method, it 
wiU be possible to achieve the sentimental rebus.^ 

For example, you find in tlie catalogue something called 
Pauvre Fileusel'^ WeU, it is quite possible that the picture 
may represent a female silkworm, or a caterpillar, squashed 
by a child. It is an age without pityl 

° Ary Scheffer's younger brother. 

* To those who must sometimes have been shocked by my pious 

wrath, I would recommend the reading of Diderot's Salons. 

Among other examples of properly bestowed charity, they will 

find that that great philosopher, when speaking of a painter who 

had been recommended to him because he had many mouths 

to feed, observed that either pictures or family would have to 

be abolished, (c.b.) 

' Baudelaire returns to tlie subject of titles in tlie Scdon of 1859: 

see pp. 253 ff. 

' By Mme. Celeste Pensotti. 


Aujourdhui and Demain.^ What can that be? Perhaps a 
white flag— and a tricolour? or perhaps a deputy in his 
moment of triumph— and the same deputy after being sent 
packing? But no; it is a young maiden, promoted to the 
status of streetwalker, playing with roses and jewels; and 
then the same girl, crippled and emaciated, suffering the 
consequences of her indiscretions in the gutter. 

L'lndiscret.^ I beg you to look for this one. It represents 
a gentleman surprising a couple of blushing damsels with 
a naughty picture-book. 

This picture comes into the Louis XV class of sentimental 
genre, which began, I beheve, to slip into the Salon in the 
wake of La Permission de dix heures.^^ Quite a different 
order of sentiments is involved, as you can see; these are 
less mystical. 

In general, sentimental genre-pictures are taken from 
the latest poems of some blue-stocking or other— that is 
the melancholy and misty kind; or else they are a pictorial 
translation of the outcries of the poor against the rich— the 
protesting kind; or else they are borrowed from the wisdom 
of the nations— the witty land; and sometimes from the 
works of M. Bouillyii or of Bernardin de Saint-Pierrei2_ 
the moralizing kind. 

Here are a few more examples of the same genre; 
V Amour a la cflmpagne— happiness, calm and repose: and 
V Amour d la ville^^— shouts, disorder, upturned chairs and 
books. It is a metaphysic within the reach of the simple. 

La Vie d'une jeune fille en quatre compartimentsM A 
warning to those who have a bent for motherhoodl 

®By Charles Landelle. 

* By H.-G. Schlesinger. 

^" By Eugene Giraud, exh. at the Salon of 1839. 

"Jean-Nicolas Bouilly (1763-1842), playwright. 

" The author of Paul et Virginie. 

" Compte Calix exhibited V Amour au cMteau and V Amour d. 

la chaumiere (both repro. Illustr. [1846], p. 89): Pierre Cottin 

exhibited LAmour d, la ville, an engraving after Guillemin. 

^* Charles Richard's picture was in fact in -jive divisions:— *le 

rendezvous: le bal: le luxe: la misere: Saint-Lazare'. 

108 THE SALON OF 1846 

UAumSne (Tune vierge folle.^^ The crazed old creature 
is giving a copper, earned by the sweat of her brow, to the 
beggar who mounts eternal guard at the door of F61ix, the 
pastry-cook. 1^ Inside, the rich of the day are gorging them- 
selves on sweetmeats. This one evidently derives from 
Hterature of the Marion Delorme^'^ persuasion, which con- 
sists of preaching the virtues of whores and assassins. 

How witty the French are, and what pains they take in 
order to delude themselves I Books, pictures, drawing-room 
ballads, nothing is without its use, no means is neglected 
by this charming people when it is a question of throwing 
dust in their own eyes. 



Doubt assumes a whole host of forms; it is a Proteus which 
often does not recognize its own face. And so there is 
infinite variety among doubters, and I am obHged now 
to bundle together several individuals who have nothing 
in common beyond the absence of any substantial in- 

Some of them are serious-minded and full of great good- 
wiil. These deserve our pity. 

There is M. Papety, for instance, who at the time of his 
return from Rome was regarded as a colourist by some 
people (chiefly his friends). This year he has sent a pic- 
ture entitled Solon dictant ses lois,^ which is shockingly 
unpleasant to look at.— Perhaps it is because it hangs too 
high for its details to be properly visible, that it reminds 
one of the ridiculous tail-end of the Imperial School. 

"This was perhaps A. Beranger's La ClmritS. 
" No. 42, rue Vivienne. 

"Victor Hugo's play about the famous courtesan of tlie 17th 
century was produced in 1831. 

^According to the Salon catalogue, tliis painting was commis- 
sioned by the Ministry of the Interior. Dominique Papety was 
for a while one of Chenavard*s assistants. 


For two years running now M. Papety has sent entirely 
different-looking pictures to the same Salon. 

M. Glaize is compromising his early successes by giving 
us works both vulgar in style and muddled in composition. 
Every time that he has to do anything else but a study of 
a woman, he gets lost. M. Glaize beHeves that you become 
a colourist by the exclusive choice of certain hues. Window- 
dressers' assistants and theatrical costumiers, too, have a 
taste for rich hues; but that does not make a taste for 

In Le Sang de YenusJ^ the Venus is a pretty and delicate 
figure, with a good suggestion of movement; but the nymph 
who crouches in front of her is an appalling example of the 

M. Matout is liable to the same criticism on the score of 
colour. Furthermore, an artist who formerly took his bow 
as a draughtsman, and who used to devote his mind above 
all to the compound harmony of Hues, should avoid giving 
a figure improbable movements of the neck and arm. Even 
if nature demands it, the artist who is an ideahst, and who 
wishes to be true to his principles, should not comply. 

M. Chenavard is an eminently learned and hardworking 
artist, whose Le Martyre de St. Polycarpe, painted in col- 
laboration with M. Comairas, attracted attention several 
years ago. This picture bespoke a real grasp of the science 
of composition and a thorough connoisseurship of all the 
Italian masters. This year M. Chenavard has given further 
proof of taste in his choice of subject, and of cleverness in 
his design. 3 But when you are contending v^dth Michel- 
* In the Montpellier Museum. 

° This painting, entitled L'Enfer de Dante, is now in the Mont- 
pelHer Museum. Chenavard was a high-minded and socially- 
conscious painter— Silvestre called him *un orateur en peinture' 
—whose subdued colour often approached grisaille. His Martyr- 
dom of St. Poly carp, mentioned here, was exhibited at the 1841 
Salon, and then placed in the church of Argenton-sur-Creuze 
(Indre). Comairas was also one of his assistants in a later 
project, entitled Palingenesie Universelle, for a series of grisailles 
to decorate the interior of the Pantheon: after three years the 
work had to be abandoned when the Pantheon was returned 
to the Church, in 1851. For a painter who came from Lyons, 
Baudelaire treats Chenavard with surprising respect. He was a 
close friend of Delacroix's. See pi. 22. 

110 THE SALON OF 1846 

angelo, would it not be fitting to outdo him in colour, at 

M. Guignet always carries two men about in his head— 
Salvator Rosa and M. Decamps. M. Salvator Guignet paints 
in sepia; M. Guignet Decamps is an entity weakened by 
duality. Les Condottieres aprds un pillage^ is painted in the 
first manner; Xerxes verges upon the second. Nevertheless 
this picture is well enough composed, were it not for a 
taste for erudition and connoisseurship, which amuses and 
fascinates the spectator, and turns his attention from the 
principal idea; the same thing was v/rong with his 

MM. Brune and Gigoux are already established names. 
But even at his best period, M. Gigoux hardly produced 
anything more than vast vignettes. After numerous set- 
backs, he has at last shown us a picture which, if not very 
original, is at least quite well built. Le Mariage de la 
Sainte Vierge looks like a work by one of those countless 
masters of the Florentine decadence, supposing him to have 
become suddenly preoccupied with colour. 

M. Brune puts one in mind of the Carracci and the 
eclectic painters of the second epoch; a solid manner, but 
little or no soul— no great faults, but no great quaHty. 

If there are some doubters who excite interest, there are 
also some grotesque ones, whom the public meets again 
each year with that wicked deHght characteristic of bored 
flaneurs for whom excessive ugliness always secures a few 
moments' distraction. 

The coldly frivolous M. Biard seems to be really and 
truly succumbing beneath the burden which he has im- 
posed upon himself. He returns from time to time, however, 
to his natural manner— which is the same as everybody 
else's. I have been told that the author of La Barque de 
Caron was a pupil of M. Horace Vernet. 

M. Biard^ is a universal man. This would seem to in- 
dicate that he has not the least doubt in the world, and that 

*Repro. Illustr., vol. 7 (1846), p. 221. 

^ At the 1845 Salon: see p. 27. 

" Of Biard's exhibits, three are reproduced Illustr., vol. 7 

(1846), pp. 152-3. 


no one on earth is surer of his ground. Nevertheless I ask 
you to observe that amidst all this appalling lumber— 
history-pictures, travel-pictures, sentimental pictures, epi- 
grammatic pictures— one genre is neglected. M. Biard has 
flinched before the religious picture. He is not yet suffi- 
ciently convinced of his merit. 


In landscape, as in portraiture and history-painting, it is 
possible to estabhsh classifications based on the different 
methods used; thus there are landscape-colourists, land- 
scape-draughtsmen, and imaginative landscapists; there are 
naturaHsts who ideahze without knowing it, and partisans 
of the 'poncif', who devote themselves to a weird and pe- 
culiar genre called historical landscape. 

At the time of the romantic revolution, the landscape- 
painters, following the example of the most celebrated 
Flemish masters, devoted themselves exclusively to the 
study of natiure; it was this that was their salvation and 
gave a particular lustre to the modem school of landscape. 
The essence of their talent lay in an eternal adoration of 
visible creation, under all its aspects and in all its details. 

Others, more philosophic and more dialectical, concen- 
trated chiefly on style— that is to say, on the harmony of the 
principal lines, and on the architecture of nature. 

As for the landscape of fantasy, which is the expression of 
man's dreaming, or the egoism of man substituted for na- 
ture, it was httle cultivated. This curious genre, of which 
the best examples are offered by Rembrandt, Rubens, Wat- 
teau and a handful of English illustrated annuals, and 
which is itself a small-scale counterpart of the magnificent 
stage decors at the Opera, represents om: natural need for 
the marvellous. It is the 'graphic imagination' imported 
into landscape. Fabulous gardens, limitless horizons, 
streams more hmpid than in nature, and flowing in defiance 
of the laws of topography, gigantic boulders constructed 

112 THE SALON OF 1846 

according to ideal proportions, mists floating like a dream— 
the landscape of fantasy, in short, has had but few en- 
thusiastic followers among us, either because it was a some- 
what un-French fruit, or because our school of landscape 
needed before aU else to reinvigorate itself at pmrely natural 

As for historical landscape, over which I want to say a 
few words in the manner of a requiem-mass, it is neither 
free fantasy, nor has it any connection with the admirable 
slavishness of the naturahsts; it is ethics applied to nature. 

What a contradiction, and what a monstrosity 1 Nature 
has no other ethics but the brute facts, because Nature is 
her own ethics; nevertheless we are asked to believe that 
she must be reconstructed and set in order according to 
sounder and purer rules— rules which are not to be found 
in simple enthusiasm for the ideal, but in esoteric codes 
which the adepts reveal to no one. 

Thus, Tragedy— that genre forgotten of men, of which it 
is only at the Comedie Frangaise (the most deserted theatre 
in the universe) that one can find a few samples^- the art 
of Tragedy, I say, consists in cutting out certain eternal 
patterns (for example, patterns of love, hate, filial piety, 
ambition, etc.), and after suspending them on wires, in 
making them walk, bow, sit down and speak, according to 
a sacred and mysterious ceremonial. Never, even by dint of 
using a mallet and a wedge, will you cause an idea of the 
infinite degrees of variety to penetrate the skull of a tragic 
poet, and even if you beat or kill him, you will not per- 
suade him that there must be different sorts of morality 
too. Have you ever seen tragic persons eat or drink? It is 
obvious that these people have invented their own moral 
system to fit their natural needs, and that they have 
created their own temperament, whereas the majority of 
mankind have to submit to theirs. I once heard a poet-in- 

^ Baudelaire's remark is somewhat reminiscent of what Heine 
had to say some ten years before, in his Letters on the French 
Stage. Heine wrote *I frequented the Th^atre-Frangais very lit- 
tle. That house has for me something of the moumfulness of the 
desert. There tlie spectres of the old tragedies reappear, with 
dagger and poisoned cup in their wan hands . . / 


ordinary to the Comedie Frangaise say that Balzac's novels 
wrung his heart with pain and disgust; that, as far as he 
was concerned, he could not conceive of lovers existing on 
anything else but the scent of flowers and the tear-drops 
of the dawn. It seems to me that it is time the government 
took a hand; for if men of letters, who each have their 
own labours and their own dreams, and for whom there 
is no such thing as Sunday— if men of letters can escape the 
risk of tragedy quite naturally, there are nevertheless a 
certain number of people who have been persuaded that 
the Comedie Frangaise is the sanctuary of art, and whose 
admirable goodwill is cheated one day in every seven. Is 
it reasonable to allow some of our citizens to besot them- 
selves and to contract false ideas? But it seems that tragedy 
and historical landscape are stronger than the gods them- 

So now you understand what is meant by a good tragic 
landscape. It is an arrangement of master-patterns of trees, 
fountains, tombs and funerary urns. The dogs are cut out 
on some sort of historical dog-pattern; a historical shepherd 
could never allow himself any others, on pain of disgrace. 
Every immoral tree that has allowed itself to grow up on its 
own, and in its own way, is, of necessity, cut do\^ai: every 
toad- or tadpole-pond is pitilessly buried beneath the earth. 
And if ever a historical landscape-painter feels remorse for 
some natural peccadillo or other, he imagines his Hell in 
the guise of a real landscape, a pure sky, a free and rich 
vegetation; a savannah, for example, or a virgin forest. 

MM. Paul Flandrin, Desgoffe, Chevandier and Teytaud 
are the men who have undertaken the glorious task of 
struggling against the taste of a nation. 

I do not know what is the origin of historical landscape. 
It certainly cannot have sprung from Poussin, for in com- 
parison with these gentlemen, he is a depraved and per- 
verted spirit. 

MM. AHgny, Corot and Cabat are much concerned with 
style. But what, with M. AHgny, is a violent and philo- 
sophic dogma, is an instinctive habit and a natural turn of 
mind with M. Corot. Unfortunately he has only sent one 
landscape this year; it represents cows coming to drink at 

114 THE SALON OF 1846 

a pool in the forest of Fontainebleau.^ M. Corot is a har- 
monist rather than a colourist; and it is their very simpHcity 
of colour, combined with their complete lack of pedantry, 
that gives such enchantment to his compositions. Almost 
all his works have the particular gift of unity, which is one 
of the requirements of the memory. 

M. Aligny has etched some very beautiful views of 
Corinth and Athens, which perfectly express the precon- 
ceived idea of these places. M. AHgny's serious and idealis- 
tic talent has found a most suitable subject in these har- 
monious poems of stone, and his method of translating 
them on to copper suits him no less well.^ 

M. Cabat has completely deserted the path on which he 
had won himself such a great reputation. Without ever 
being a party to the bravura peculiar to certain naturalistic 
landscape-painters, he was formerly very much more bril- 
liant and very much more rmif. He is truly mistaken in no 
longer putting his trust in nature, as he used to do. He 
is a man whose talent is too great for any of his composi- 
tions to lack a special distinction; but this latter-day Jan- 
senism, this retrenchment of means, this dehberate self- 
privation cannot add to his glory .^ 

In general the influence of Ingrism cannot possibly pro- 
duce satisfactory results in landscape. Line and style are 
no substitutes for light, shadow, reflections and the colour- 
ing atmosphere— all of which play too great a part in the 
poetry of Nature to allow her to submit to this method. 

The members of the opposite party, the naturalists and 
the colourists, are much more popular and have made 
much more of a splash. Their main quahties are a rich and 
abundant colour, transparent and luminous skies, and a 
special kind of sincerity which makes them accept every- 

^ Entitled Vue prise dans la foret de Fontainehleau: now in the 
Boston Museum; see pi. 21. 

" The previous year Aligny had published a set of ten Vues des 
sites les plus cSldbres de la Grdce Antique, dessinies sur nature 
et gravSes par ThSodore Aligny. To judge by a remark in There's 
Salon de 1846 (ed. of 1868, p. 371), it was eight of these etch- 
ings that Aligny exhibited this year. See pi. 51. 
* Of Cabat's two exhibits, that entitled Le Repos is in the Lou- 
vain Museum. 


thing that nature gives. It is a pity that some of them, Hke 
M. Troyon,^ take too much deHght in the tight-rope tricks 
of their brush; these devices, known in advance, acquired 
with much trouble, and monotonously triumphant, some- 
times intrigue the spectator more than the landscape itself. 
In these circumstances it may even happen that a surprise 
pupil, like M. Charles Le Roux,^ will push still further the 
limits of boldness and security; for there is only one inimi- 
table thing, and that is natural simpHcity. 

M. Coignard has sent a large and fairly well-constructed 
landscape which has much attracted the pubHc eye; it has 
a number of cows in the foreground, and in the back- 
ground the skirts of a forest. The cows are beautiful and 
weU painted, and the picture looks well as a whole; but 
I do not think that the trees are vigorous enough to sup- 
port such a sky. This suggests that if you took away the 
cows, the landscape would become very unsightly. 

M. Frangais is one of our most distinguished landscape- 
painters. He knows how to study nature, and how to blend 
with it a romantic perfume of the pinrest essence. His Etude 
de Saint-Cloud is a charming thing and full of taste, except 
for M. Meissonier's -fleas which are a fault of taste.'^ They 
attract the attention too much, and they amuse the block- 
heads. Nevertheless they are done with that particular sort 
of perfection which this artist puts into all his little things.* 

^ Of Troyon's four exhibits, that entitled Vallee de Chevreuse is 
reproduced Illustr., vol. 7 ( 1846), p. 187. 
" Le Roux was a pupil of Corot's. 

'Frangais's Etude de Saint-Cloud, with figures by Meissonier, 
was in the Pourtales collection. His E§et de soleil couchant, 
also exhibited, is in the Musee Fabre, Montpellier. 
* At last I have found a man who has contrived to express his 
admiration for this artist's works in the most judicious fashion 
and with an enthusiasm just like my own. It is M. Hippolyte 
Babou. I think, as he does, that they should all be hung along 
the flies of the Gymnase. 'Genevieve or La Jalousie paternelle 
is a ravishing little Meissonier which M. Scribe has hung up on 
the flies of tiie Gymnase' Courrier jrangais, in the feuilleton of 
the 6th April. This strikes me as so sublime that I take it that 
MM. Scribe, Meissonier and Babou cannot but gain all three 
by my quoting it here, (c.b.) It was Hippolyte Babou (1824- 
78) who later suggested the title Xes Fleurs du Mai' to Baude- 
laire. On Scribe, see note on p. 101. 

Il6 THE SALON OF 1846 

Unfortunately M. Flers has only sent pastels. His own 
loss is equal to that of the public. 

M. Heroult is one of those who are particularly obsessed 
with light and atmosphere. He is very good at rendering 
clear, smiling skies, and floating mists shot through with a 
ray of sunlight. He is no stranger to the special poetry of 
the northern countries. But his colour, which is a httle too 
soft and fluid, smacks of the methods of water-colour; and 
if he has been able to avoid the heroics of the other land- 
scape-painters, he does not always possess a sufiBcient firm- 
ness of touch. 

As a rule MM. Joyant, Chacaton, Lottier and Borget go 
to distant lands in search of their subjects, and their pic- 
tures have the charm of an evening with a travel-book. 

I have nothing against specialization; but I would not 
have anyone abuse it to the extent of M. Joyant, who has 
never set foot outside the Piazza San Marco and has never 
crossed the Lido.^ If M. Joy ant's specialty attracts the eye 
more than the next man's, it is doubtless because of the 
monotonous perfection which he brings to it and which 
results always from the same tricks. It seems to me that M. 
Joyant has never been able to move onw^ards. 

M. Borget, however, has crossed the frontiers of China, 
and has brought us landscapes from Mexico, Peru and 
India. Without being a painter of the first rank, he has a 
brilliant and easy colour, and his tones are fresh and pure. 
With a litde less art, and if he could concern himself less 
with other landscape-painters and could paint more as a 
simple traveller, M. Borget would perhaps obtain more 
interesting results. 

M. Chacaton, who has devoted himself exclusively to the 
Orient, has for a long time been one of our cleverest paint- 
ers. His pictures are bright and smiling. Unfortunately they 
almost always suggest paintings by Decamps or Marilhat, 
bleached and reduced in size. 

M. Lottier, instead of looking for the grey and misty 

® Nevertlieless tlie painting by Joyant reproduced in Tllhistra- 
tion this year (vol. 7, p. 89) represented Le Font Sainf- 
BSnezet, Avignon. His otlier two pictures were of Venetian sub- 


effects of the warm climates, loves to bring out their harsh- 
ness and their fiery dazzle. The truth of these sun-swamped 
panoramas is marvellously brutal. You would think that 
they had been done with a colour-daguerreotype. 

There is one man who, more than all of these, and more 
even than the most celebrated absentees, seems to me to 
fulfil the conditions of beauty in landscape: he is a man but 
little known to the multitude, for past setbacks and under- 
hand plotting have combined together to keep him away 
from the Salon. You will already have guessed that I am 
referring to M. Rousseau^— and it seems to me to be high 
time that he took his bow once again before a public which, 
thanks to the efforts of other painters, has gradually be- 
come familiar with new aspects of landscape. 

It is as difficult to interpret M. Rousseau's talent in words 
as it is to interpret that of Delacroix, with whom he has 
other aflBnities also. M. Rousseau is a northern landscape- 
painter. His painting breathes a great sigh of melancholy. 
He loves nature in her bluish moments— twilight effects- 
strange and moisture-laden sunsets— massive, breeze- 
haunted shades— great plays of light and shadow. His 
colour is magnificent, but not dazzling. The fleecy softness 
of his skies is incomparable. Think of certain landscapes by 
Rubens and Rembrandt; add a few memories of English 
painting, and assume a deep and serious love of nature 
dominating and ordering it all— and then perhaps you wiU 
be able to form some idea of the magic of his pictures. Like 
Delacroix, he adds much of his soul to the mixture; he is a 
naturalist ceaselessly swept toward the ideal. 

M. Gudin^^ is increasingly compromising his reputation. 
The more the public sees good painting, the more it parts 
company from even the most popular artists if they cannot 
offer it the same amount of pleasure. For me, M. Gudin 

"Although he had had a moderate success at the Salon in the 

early 1830s Theodore Rousseau's landscapes were consistently 

rejected from 1838 until 1849. He was nick-named *Le Grand 


^° Gudin's thirteen exhibits this year ranged from landscape to 


Il8 THE SALON OF 1846 

comes into the class of people who stop their wounds with 
artificial flesh; of bad singers of whom it is said that they 
are great actors; and of poetic painters. 

M. Jules Noel has produced a really beautiful marine- 
painting, of a fine, clear colour, bright and luminous. ^^ A 
huge felucca, with its strange shapes and colours, is lying 
at anchor in some great harbour, bathed in all the shifting 
light of the Orient. A little too much colouring, perhaps, 
and not enough unity? But M. Jules Noel certainly has too 
much talent not to have still more, and he is doubtless one 
of those who impose a daily amount of progress upon 
themselves.— Furthermore the success achieved by this 
canvas proves that the pubHc of today is ready to extend a 
warm welcome to all newcomers, in all the genres. 

M. Kiorboe is one of those sumptuous painters of old who 
knew so well how to decorate their noble dining-rooms, 
which one imagines full of heroic and ravenous huntsmen. 
M. Kiorboe's painting has joyfulness and power, and his 
colour is fluent and hai-monious. The drama of his Wolf 
Trap,^^ however, is not quite easy enough to follow, per- 
haps because the trap itself is partly in tlie shadow. The 
hindquarters of the dog which is falHng back with a yelp 
are not vigorously enough painted. 

M. Saint-Jean,i3 who, I am told, is the delight and the 
glory of the city of Lyons, will never achieve more than a 
moderate success in a country of painters. That excessive 
minuteness of his is intolerably pedantic. Whenever anyone 
talks to you of the naivete of a painter from Lyons, do not 
believe a word of it. For a long time now the over-all 
colour of M. Saint- Jean's pictures has been the yellow of 
urine. You might imagine that he had never seen real fruit, 
and that he does not care a scrap, because he can do them 
very nicely by mechanical means. Not only do natural 

" Repro. Illustr., vol. 7 ( 1846), p. 120. 

"The correct title of Kioboe's painting was Un renard au 

piege, trouvS par des chiens de bergers. 

" Saint- Jean specialized as a flower-and-fmit painter. 


fruits look quite different, but they are less finished and 
less highly wrought than these. 

It is quite a different matter with M. Arondel,i* whose 
chief merit is a real artlessness. Therefore his painting con- 
tains several obvious blemishes; but the felicitous passages 
are entirely successful. Some other parts are too dark, and 
you might suppose that, while painting, this artist fails to 
take into account all the necessary accidents of the Salon 
—the adjacent paintings, the distance from the spectator, 
and the modification which distance causes in the mutual 
effect of tones. Besides, it is not enough to paint well. The 
famous Flemish painters all knew how to dispose their dead 
game and how to go on worrying at it for ages, just as one 
worries at a model; the point was to discover felicitous 
lines, and rich and clear tonal harmonies. 

M. P. Rousseau, whose dazzling and colourful pictures 
have received such widespread notice, is making serious 
progress. He was already an excellent painter, it is true; 
but now he is looking at nature more attentively and he is 
striving to bring out her particularity of feature. ^^ The 
other day at Durand-Ruel's^^ I saw some ducks by M. 
Rousseau; they were wonderfully beautiful, and really be- 
haved and acted like ducks. 


THE ORIGIN of sculpture is lost in the mists of time; thus 
it is a Carib art. 

We find, in fact, that all races bring real skill to the carv- 
ing of fetishes long before they embark upon the art of 
painting, which is an art involving profound thought and 
one whose very enjoyment demands a particular initiation. 

Sculpture comes much closer to nature, and that is why 

" See p. 82. 

^ P. Rousseau's Le chat et le vieux rat was reproduced lllustr., 

vol 7 (1846), p. 88. 

" The well-known dealer. 

120 THE SALON OF 1846 

even today our peasants, who are enchanted by the sight 
of an ingeniously-turned fragment of wood or stone, will 
nevertheless remain unmoved in front of the most beautiful 
painting. Here we have a singular mystery which is quite 
beyond human solving. 

Sculpture has several disadvantages which are a neces- 
sary consequence of its means and materials. Though as 
brutal and positive as nature herself, it has at the same 
time a certain vagueness and ambiguity, because it ex- 
hibits too many surfaces at once. It is in vain that the 
sculptor forces himself to take up a unique point of view, 
for the spectator who moves around the figure can choose 
a hundred different points of view, except for the right 
one, and it often happens that a chance trick of the Hght, an 
effect of the lamp, may discover a beauty which is not at 
all the one the artist had in mind— and this is a humiliating 
thing for him. A picture, however, is only what it wants to 
be; there is no other way of looking at it than on its o\\ti 
terms. Painting has but one point of view; it is exclusive 
and absolute, and therefore the painter's expression is much 
more forceful. 

That is why it is as difiBcult to be a connoisseur of sculp- 
ture as it is to be a bad sculptor. I have heard the sculptor 
Preault^ say, 1 am a connoisseur of Michelangelo, of Jean 
Goujon, of Germain Pilon; but of sculpture I am a complete 
ignoramus'. It is obvious that he meant the sculpture of the 
sculpturizers— in other words, of the Caribs. 

Once out of the primitive era, sculpture, in its most mag- 
nificent development, is nothing else but a complementary 
art. It is no longer a question of skilfully carving portable 
figures, but of becoming a humble associate of painting 
and architecture, and of serving their intentions. Cathedrals 
soar up into the sky and load their thousand echoing chasms 
with sculptures, which form but one flesh and body with 
the edifice itself: please note that I am speaking of painted 
sculptures, whose pure and simple colours, arranged in ac- 

*Like Theodore Rousseau, Augusta Pr^ault was systematically 
refused by the Salon juries from tlie early 1830s until 1848. He 
was the Romantic sculptor par excellence, and was as well 
known for his wit as for liis statuary. 


cordance with a special scale, harmonize with the rest and 
complete the poetic effect of the whole. Versailles shelters 
her race of statues beneath leafy shades which serve them 
as background, or under arbours of Hving waters which 
shower upon them the thousand diamonds of the light. At 
all great periods, sculpture is a complement; at the begin- 
ning and at the end, it is an isolated art. 

As soon as sculpture consents to be seen close at hand, 
there are no childish trivialities which the sculptor will not 
dare, and which triumphantly outrun the fetish and the 
calumet. When it has become a drawing-room or a bed- 
room art, it is the cue for the Caribs of lace (like M. 
Gayrard), or the Caribs of the wrinkle, the hair and the 
wart (like M. David^) to put in an appearance. 

Next we have the Caribs of the andiron, the clock and 
the writing-desk, etc., like M. Cumberworth, whose Marie 
is a maid-of-aU-work, employed at the Louvre and at 
Susse's, as a statue or a candelabra ;3 or like M. Feuchere, 
who possesses the gift of a universaHty which takes one's 
breath away; colossal figures, match-boxes, goldsmiths' 
motifs, busts and bas-reliefs— he is capable of anything. The 
bust which he has done this year of a very well-known 
actor^ is no better a likeness than last year's; they are never 
more than rough approximations. Last year's bust re- 
sembled Jesus Christ, and this year's, which is dry and 
mean-looking, in no way conveys the original, angular, 
sardonic and shifting physiognomy of the model. Never- 
theless you should not suppose that these people lack 
knowledge. They are as learned as academicians— or as 
vaudeviUistes; they make free with all periods and all 
genres; they have plumbed the depths of all the schools. 
They would be happy to convert even the tombs of St. 
Denis into cigar- or shawl-boxes, and all Florentine bronzes 
into threepenny bits. If you want the fullest information 

^i.e. David d' Angers. 

"The catalogue makes it clear that Cmnberworth's Marie was 
the negress slave in Bemardin de Saint-Pierre's Paul et Virginie. 
Cumberworth was regularly employed by Susse freres, the deal- 
ers in decorative sculpture who are still in business. 
* J.-F.-S. Provost; the bust is now at the Comedie Frangaise. 

122 THE SALON OF 1846 

concerning the principles of this frivolous and trifling 
school, you should apply to M. Klagmann,^ who is, I think, 
the master of the whole vast workshop. 

An excellent proof of the pitiable state of sculpture to- 
day is the fact that M. Pradier^ is its king. Admittedly this 
artist knows how to do flesh, and he has his particular re- 
finements of the chisel; but he has neither the imagination 
necessary for great compositions, nor the 'graphic imagina- 
tion'. His talent is cold and academic. He has spent his Me 
fattening up a small stock of antique torsos and equipping 
them with the coijBFures of kept women. His Poesie Legere^ 
seems all the colder as it is the more mannered; its execu- 
tion is not as opulent as in the sculptor's former works, and, 
seen from behind, it looks hideous. Besides this, he has 
done two bronzes— Armcreon and La Sagesse— which are 
impudent imitations of the antique, and show clearly that 
without this noble crutch M. Pradier would stumble at 
every step. 

The bust is a genre which demands less imagination and 
capacities less lofty— though no less delicate— than sculp- 
ture on the grand scale. It is a more intimate and more 
restricted art, whose successes are less public. As in the 
portrait done according to the manner of the naturahsts, 
it is necessary to have a perfect grasp of the model's essen- 
tial nature, and to express its poetic quahty; for there are 
few models who completely lack poetry. Almost all of 
M. Dantan's busts^ are done according to the best doctrines. 
They all have a particular distinction, and their detail does 
not exclude breadth and ease of execution. 

M. Lenglet's chief fault, ^ on the contrary, is a certain 
timidity, a childishness, an excess of sincerity in his execu- 

^Klagmann's plaster statue was entitled Une petite jille 

effeuillant une rose. 

"Pradier has been described as the Romantic sculptor of the 


'' In the Nimes Museum. 

® This is presumably Antoine-Laurent Dantan (1798-1878), 

though his younger brotlier Jean-Pierre Dantan (1800-69) also 

exhibited at this Salon. 

" This was Lenglet's first Salon. 


tion, which gives an appearance of dryness to his work; but, 
on the other hand, no one could give a truer and more 
authentic character to a human face. This little bust— stocky, 
grave and frowning— has the magnificent character of the 
best work of the Romans— an idealization discovered in 
nature herself. Another distinguishing quality of antique 
portraiture which I noticed in M. Lenglet's bust is a pro- 
found concentration of attention. 



If EVER Youn idler's curiosity has landed you in a street 
brawl, perhaps you will have felt the same deHght as I 
have often felt to see a protector of the public slumbers— a 
policeman or a municipal guard (the real army)— thump- 
ing a republican. And if so, like me, you will have said in 
your heart; 'Thump on, thimap a little harder, thump 
again, beloved constable I for at this supreme thumping, 
I adore thee and judge thee the equal of Jupiter, the great 
dealer of justice 1 The man whom thou thumpest is an 
enemy of roses and of perfumes, and a maniac for utensils. 
He is the enemy of Watteau, the enemy of Raphael, the 
bitter enemy of luxury, of the fine arts and of literature, a 
sworn iconoclast and butcher of Venus and Apollo I He is 
no longer willing to help with the public roses and per- 
fumes, as a humble and anonymous journeyman. He wants 
to be free, poor fool; but he is incapable of founding a 
factory for new flowers and new scents. Thump him re- 
ligiously across the shoulder-blades, the anarchistl'* 

In the same way philosophers and critics should pitilessly 
thump artistic apes— emancipated journeymen who hate the 
force and the sovereignty of genius. 

*I often hear people complaining about the theatre of today; 
it lacks originality, they say, because there are no longer any 
types. But the republican? what about him? Is he not an essen- 
tial for any comedy that aims at being gay? and in him have 
we not a successor to the role of Marquis? ( c.b. ) 

124 "^^^ SALON OF 1846 

Compare the present age with past ages. On leaving the 
Salon or some newly-decorated chmch, go and rest your 
eyes in a museum of old masters. And then analyse the dif- 

In the one, all is turbulence, a hurly-burly of styles and 
colours, a cacophony of tones, enormous trivialities, plati- 
tudes of gesture and pose, nobihty ^by numbers', cliches of 
all kinds— and all this clearly manifested not only by dif- 
ferent pictures in juxtaposition, but even within one and 
the same picture. In short, there is a complete absence of 
unity, whose only result is a terrible weariness for the mind 
and the eyes. 

In the other place you are immediately struck by that 
feeling of reverence which causes children to doff their hats 
and which catches at your soul in the way that the dust of 
vaults and tombs catches your throat. But this is by no 
means the mere effect of yellow varnish or the grime of 
ages: it is the effect of unity, of profound unity. For a great 
Venetian painting clashes less with a Giulio Romano beside 
it than a group of our pictures— and I do not mean the 
worst of them— clash amongst themselves. 

A magnificence of costume, a nobihty of movement— a 
nobility often mannered, yet grand and stately— and an 
absence of httle tricks and contradictory tactics— these are 
qualities which are all imphed in the phrase 'the great tra- 

Then you had schools of painting; now you have eman- 
cipated journeymen. 

There were still schools under Louis XV; there was one 
under the Empire— a school— that is, a faith— that is, the 
impossibihty of doubt. There you found pupils united by 
common principles, obedient to the rule of a powerful 
leader, and helping him in all his undertakings. 

Doubt, or the absence of faith and of naivete, is a vice 
peculiar to this age, for today no one is obedient, and 
naivete, which means the dominion of temperament within 
manner, is a divine privilege which almost all are without. 

Few men have a right to rule, for few men have an over- 
ruhng passion. 


And as everyone today wants to rule, no one knows how 
to govern himself. 

Now that everyone is abandoned to his own devices, a 
master has many unknown pupils for whom he is not re- 
sponsible, and his blind and involuntary dominion extends 
well beyond his studio, as far as regions where his thought 
cannot be understood. 

Those who are nearer to the word and the idiom of the 
master preserve the purity of his doctrine, and by obedience 
and tradition they do what the master does by the fatahty 
of his nature. 

But outside of this family-circle there is a vast population 
of mediocrities— apes of different and mixed breeds, a float- 
ing race of half-castes who each day move from one countiy 
to another, taking away from each the customs which suit 
them, and seeking to make a personaUty for themselves by 
a system of contradictory borrowings. 

There are people who will steal a fragment from a pic- 
ture by Rembrandt, and without modifying it, without 
digesting it, wdthout even finding the glue to stick it on 
with, will incorporate it into a work composed from an en- 
tirely different point of view. 

There are some who change from white to black in a 
day: yesterday, colourists in the 'chic' manner, colourists 
with neither love nor originahty— to-morrow, sacrilegious 
imitators of M. Ingres, but without discovering any more 
taste or faith. 

The sort of man who today comes into the class of the 
apes— even the cleverest apes— is not, and never vdll be, 
anything but a mediocre painter. There was a time when 
he would have made an excellent journeyman: but now he 
is lost, for himself and for all mankind. 

That is why it would have been more in the interest of 
their own salvation, and even of their happiness, if the luke- 
warm had been subjected to the lash of a vigorous faith. 
For strong men are rare, and today you have to be a Dela- 
croix or an Ingres if you are to come to the surface and be 
seen amid the chaos of an exhausting and sterile freedom. 

The apes are tibe republicans of art, and the present state 
of painting is the result of an anarchic freedom which glori- 

126 THE SALON OF 1846 

fies the individual, however feeble he may be, to the detri- 
ment of commmiities— that is to say, of schools. 

In schools, which are nothing else but organizations of 
inventive force, those individuals who are truly worthy of 
the name absorb the weak. And that is justice, for an 
abundant production is only a mind equipped with the 
power of a thousand arms. 

This glorification of the individual has necessitated the 
infinite division of the territory of art. The absolute and 
divergent liberty of each man, the division of effort and the 
disjunction of the human will have led to this weakness, 
this doubt and this poverty of invention. A few sublime 
and long-suffering eccentrics are a poor compensation for 
this swarming chaos of mediocrity. IndividuaHty— that little 
place of one's oumr-has devoured collective originahty. 
And just as a well-known chapter of a romantic novel^ has 
shown that the printed book has killed the monument of 
stone, so it is fair to say that, for the time being, it is the 
painter that has killed the art of painting. 



Many people will attribute the present decadence in paint- 
ing to the decadence in behaviour.* This dogma of the 
studios, which has gained currency among the public, is a 
poor excuse of the artists. For they had a vested interest in 
ceaselessly depicting the past; it is an easier task, and one 
that could be turned to good account by the lazy. 

It is true that the great tradition has got lost, and that the 
new one is not yet established. 

But what was this great tradition, if not a habitual, every- 
day idealization of ancient life— a robust and martial form 

^ Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, Bk. V, ch. ii, *Ceci tuera 


* These two types of decadence must not be confused; one has 

regard to the public and its feelings, the other concerns the 

studios alone, (c.b.) 


of life, a state of readiness on the part of each individual, 
which gave him a habit of gravity in his movements, and 
of majesty, or violence, in his attitudes? To this should be 
added a public splendour vv^hich found its reflection in pri- 
vate life. Ancient life was a great parade. It ministered 
above all to the pleasure of the eye, and this day-to-day 
paganism has marvellously served the arts. 

Before trying to distinguish the epic side of modem hfe, 
and before bringing examples to prove that our age is no 
less fertile in sublime themes than past ages, we may assert 
that since all centuries and all peoples have had their own 
form of beauty, so inevitably we have ours. That is in the 
order of things. 

All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, contain 
an element of the eternal and an element of the transitory 
—of the absolute and of the particular. Absolute and eternal 
beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction 
creamed from the general surface of difiFerent beauties. The 
particular element in each manifestation comes from the 
emotions : and just as we have our own particular emotions, 
so we have our own beauty. 

Except for Hercules on Mount Oeta, Cato of Utica and 
Cleopatra (whose suicides are not modern suicides*), 
what suicides do you find represented in the old masters? 
You will search in vain among pagan existences— existences 
dedicated to appetite— for the suicide of Jean-Jacques,^ or 
even the weird and marvellous suicide of Rafael de Valen- 

As for the garb, the outer husk, of the modern hero, al- 
though the time is past when every Httle artist dressed up 
as a grand panjandrum and smoked pipes as long as duck- 

* The first killed himself because he could no longer endure his 
burning shirt; the second, because there was nothing more that 
he could do for the cause of liberty; and the voluptuous queen, 
because she had lost both her throne and her lover. But none 
of them destroyed himself in order to change skins through 
metempsychosis, (c.b. ) 

* Rousseau. The belief that he committed suicide is now con- 
sidered to be without foundation. 

^ The hero of Balzac's La Peau de Chagrin. 

128 THE SALON OF 1846 

rifles, nevertheless the studios and the world at large are 
still full of people who would hke to poeticize Antony with 
a Greek cloak and a parti-coloured vesture.^ 

But all the same, has not this much-abused garb its own 
beauty and its native charm? Is it not the necessary garb 
of our suffering age, which wears the symbol of a perpetual 
mourning even upon its thin black shoulders? Note, too, 
that the dress-coat and the frock-coat not only possess their 
poHtical beauty, which is an expression of universal 
equality, but also their poetic beauty, which is an expression 
of the public soul— an immense cortege of undertaker's 
mutes (mutes in love, political mutes, bourgeois mutes 
. . .). We are each of us celebrating some funeral. 

A uniform Hvery of affiction bears witness to equality; 
and as for the eccentrics, whose violent and contrasting 
colours used easily to betray them to the eye, today they 
are satisfied with slight nuances in design in cut, much 
more than in colour. Look at those grinning creases which 
play like serpents around mortified flesh— have they not 
their own mysterious grace? 

Although M. Eugene Lami* and M. Gavami^ are not 
geniuses of the highest order, they have understood all this 
very well— the former, the poet of oflScial dandyism, the 
latter the poet of a raflSsh and reach-me-down dandyisml 
The reader who turns again to M. Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly's 
book on Dandyism^ will see clearly that it is a modern 
thing, resulting from causes entirely new. 

Let not the tribe of the colourists be too indignant. For 
if it is more difficult, their task is thereby only the more 
glorious. Great colourists know how to create colour with 
a black coat, a white cravat and a grey background. 

^ Dumas tlie elder's prose-drama Antony was produced in 1831. 
The central character became a powerful hero-figure of the 
times, and young men who cast themselves for this role in real 
life were popularly known as 'Antonys'. 

* Lami exhibited an oil-painting. La reine Victoria duns le Salon 
de famille au chateau d'Eu, le 3 Septembre 1843, and a water- 
colour, Le grand bal masquS de I'Opera. 
^ On Gavami, see pp. 172-4. 

'Barbey d'Aurevilly's Du Dandy sme et de Georges Brummell 
had been published the previous year. 


But to retmn to our principal and essential problem, 
which is to discover whether we possess a specific beauty, 
intrinsic to our new emotions, I observe that the majority of 
artists who have attacked modem life have contented them- 
selves with public and official subjects— with our victories 
and our political heroism. Even so, they do it with an ill 
grace, and only because they are commissioned by the gov- 
ernment which pays them. However there are private sub- 
jects which are very much more heroic than these. 

The pageant of fashionable life and the thousands of 
floating existences— criminals and kept women— which drift 
about in the underworld of a great city; the Gazette des 
Tribunaux and the Moniteur all prove to us that we have 
only to open our eyes to recognize our heroism. 

Suppose that a minister, baited by the opposition's im- 
pudent questioning, has given expression once and for all 
—with that proud and sovereign eloquence which is proper 
to him— to his scorn and disgust for all ignorant and mis- 
chief-maldng oppositions. The same evening you will hear 
the following words buzzing round you on the Boulevard 
des Italiens— ^Were you in the Chamber today? and did 
you see the minister? Good Heavens, how handsome he 
was! I have never seen such scorn 1' 

So there are such things as modern beauty and modem 
heroism 1 

And a little later— *I hear that K.— or F.— has been com- 
missioned to do a medal on the subject; but he won't know 
how to do it— he has no understanding for these things.' 

So artists can be more, or less, fitted to understand mod- 
ern beauty I 

Or again— The sublime rascal! Even Byron's pirates are 
less lofty and disdainful. Would you believe it— he jostled 
the Abbe Montes aside, and literally fell upon the guillo- 
tine, shouting: "Leave me my courage intact!" ' 

This last sentence alludes to the grave-side braggadocio 
of a criminal— a great protestant, robust of body and mind, 
whose fierce courage was unabashed in the face of the very 
engine of deathl^ 

'The reference is to Lacenaire (1800-36), deserter, murderer 
and rebel, whose career became a Romantic symbol for the re- 

130 THE SALON OF 1846 

All these words that fall from your lips bear witness to 
youi beHef in a new and special beauty, which is neither 
that of Achilles nor yet of Agamemnon. 

The life of our city is rich in poetic and marvellous sub- 
jects. We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmos- 
phere of the marvellous; but we do not notice it. 

The nude— that darHng of the artists, that necessary ele- 
ment of success— is just as frequent and necessary today as 
it was in the life of the ancients; in bed, for example, or in 
the bath, or in the anatomy theatre. The themes and re- 
sources of painting are equally abundant and varied; but 
there is a new element— modern beauty. 

For the heroes of the Iliad are but pigmies compared to 
you, Vautrin, Rastignac and Birotteaul^— and you, Fon- 
tanares,^ who dared not pubHcly declaim your sorrows in 
the funereal and tortured frock-coat which we all wear to- 
day!— and you, Honore de Balzac, you the most heroic, the 
most extraordinary, the most romantic and the most poetic 
of all the characters that you have produced from your 

volt against society. The Abbe Montes was senior chaplain at 

the prison of La Grande Roquette. 

® Well-known characters from Balzac's novels. 

^ The hero of Balzac's play Les ressources de Quinola (1842) 

which was set in the 16th century— the period of doublet and 


^"A few months before, Baudelaire had published a satirical 

article at Balzac's expense, entitled Comment on paie des dettes 

quand on a du gdnie. There occurred here a passage strikingly 

similar in form, but with a marked difference of epithet: lui 

[Balzac] le personnage le plus cocasse, le plus interessant, et le 

plus vaniteux des personnages de la ComSdie humaine, lui, cet 

original aussi insupportable dans la vie que delicieux dans ses 

ecrits, ce gros enfant bouffe de genie et de vanite . . / 



I HAVE no intention of writing a treatise on caricature: I 
simply want to acquaint the reader with certain reflections 
which have often occurred to me on the subject of this 
singular genre. These reflections had become a kind of ob- 
session for me, and I wanted to get them off my chest. 
Nevertheless I have made every effort to impose some 
order, and thus to make their digestion more easy. This, 
then, is purely an artist's and a philosopher's article. No 
doubt a general history of caricature in its references to all 
the facts by which humanity has been stirred— facts politi- 
cal and religious, weighty or frivolous; facts relative to 
the disposition of the nation or to fashion— would be a 
glorious and important work. The task still remains to be 
done, for the essays which have been published up to the 
present are hardly more than raw materials. But I thought 
that this task should be divided. It is clear that a work on 
caricature, understood in this way, would be a history of 
facts, an immense gallery of anecdote. In caricature, far 
more than in the other branches of art, there are two sorts 
of works which are to be prized and commended for dif- 
ferent and almost contrary reasons. One kind have value 
only by reason of the fact which they represent. No doubt 
they have a right to the attention of the historian, the 
archaeologist, and even the philosopher; they deserve to 
take their place in the national archives, in the biographical 

^Earliest traced publication in Le Vortefeuille, 8th July 1855; 
reprinted, with minor variations, in Le PrSsent, 1st Sept. 1857, 
with the addition of the succeeding articles on French (1st 
Oct. ) and Foreign ( 15th Oct. ) Caricaturists. There is evidence, 
however, that all three articles were part of a larger whole, 
conceived and perhaps written some years before publication. 
A work to be entitled 'De la Caricature' was announced pour 
paraitre prochainement' as early as 1845, and there are several 
references in Baudelaire's correspondence of 1851-2 to a work 
on caricature being finished, or nearly finished. 


registers of human thought. Like the flysheets of journalism, 
they are swept out of sight by the same tireless breeze 
which supplies us with fresh ones. But the others— and it is 
with these that I want to concern myself especially— contain 
a mysterious, lasting, eternal element, which recommends 
them to the attention of artists. What a curious thing, and 
one truly worthy of attention, is the introduction of this 
indefinable element of beauty, even in works which are 
intended to represent his proper ugliness— both moral and 
physical— to man! And what is no less mysterious is that this 
lamentable spectacle excites in him an undying and in- 
corrigible mirth. Here, then, is the true subject of my 

A doubt assails me. Should I reply with a formal demon- 
stration to the kind of preliminary question which no doubt 
will be raised by certain spiteful pundits of solemnity- 
charlatans of gravity, pedantic corpses which have emerged 
from the icy vaults of the Institut and have come again to 
the land of the living, like a band of miserly ghosts, to 
snatch a few coppers from the obliging administration? 
First of all, they would ask, is Caricature a genre? No, 
their cronies would reply. Caricature is not a genre. I have 
heard similar heresies ringing in my ears at academicians' 
dinners. It was these fine fellows who let the comedy of 
Robert Macaire^ slip past them without noticing any of its 
great moral and literary symptoms. If they had been con- 
temporaries of Rabelais, they would have treated him as a 
base and uncouth buffoon. In truth, then, have we got to 
show that nothing at all that issues from man is frivolous in 
the eyes of a philosopher? Surely, at the very least, there 
will be that obscure and mysterious element which no 
philosophy has so far analysed to its depths? 

We are going to concern ourselves, then, with the essence 
of laughter and with the component elements of caricature. 
Later, perhaps, we shall examine some of the most re- 
markable works produced in this genre. 

^ The character of Robert Macaire ( in the play VAuherge des 
Adrets) had been created by the actor Frederick Lemaitre, in 
the 1820s. Later (see p. 168 below) Daumier developed the 
character in a famous series of caricatures. 



The Sage laughs not save in fear and trembling. From what 
authority-laden lips, from what completely orthodox pen, 
did this strange and striking maxim fall?^ Does it come 
to us from the Philosopher-King of Judea? Or should we 
attribute it to Joseph de Maistre,^ that soldier quickened 

^Lavater's remark 'Le Sage sourit souvent et lit rarement' 

{Souvenirs pour des voyageurs cheris) has been suggested by 

G. T. Clapton; see Gibnan p. 237, n. 32. 

^ On Baudelaire's debt to Joseph de Maistre, see Gikaan pp. 



with the Holy Spirit? I have a vague memory of having 
read it in one of his books, but given as a quotation, no 
doubt. Such severity of thought and style suits well with 
the majestic saintHness of Bossuet; but the elliptical turn 
of the thought and its quintessential refinement would 
lead me rather to attribute the honour to Bourdaloue, the 
relentless Christian psychologist. This singular maxim has 
kept recurring to my mind ever since I first conceived the 
idea of my article, and I wanted to get rid of it at the very 

But come, let us analyse this curious proposition— 
The Sage, that is to say he who is quickened with the 
spirit of Our Lord, he who has the divine formulary at his 
finger tips, does not abandon himself to laughter save in 
fear and trembling. The Sage trembles at the thought of 
having laughed; the Sage fears laughter, just as he fears 
the lustful shows of this world. He stops short on the brink 
of laughter, as on the brink of temptation. There is, then, 
according to the Sage, a certain secret contradiction be- 
tween his special nature as Sage and the primordial nature 
of laughter. In fact, to do no more than touch in passing 
upon memories which are more than solemn, I would point 
out— and this perfectly corroborates the officially Christian 
character of the maxim— that the Sage par excellence, the 
Word Incarnate, never laughed.^ In the eyes of One who 
has all knowledge and all power, the comic does not exist. 
And yet the Word Incarnate knew anger; He even knew 

Let us make a note of this, then. In the first place, here 
is an author— a Christian, without doubt— who considers it 
as a certain fact that the Sage takes a very good look before 
allowing himself to laugh, as though some residue of un- 
easiness and anxiety must stiU be left him. And secondly, 
the comic vanishes altogether from the point of view of 
absolute knowledge and power. Now, if we inverted the 
two propositions, it would result that laughter is generally 
the apanage of madmen, and that it always implies more 

" This suggests a line in a poem by Baudelaire's friend Gustave 
le Vavasseur, published in 1843. Dieux joyeux, je vous hais. 
Jesus na jamais ri. See also Gibnan p. 237, n. 32. 


or less of ignorance and weakness. I have no wish, how- 
ever, to embark recklessly upon a theological ocean, for 
which I should without doubt be insufficiently equipped 
with compass or sails; I am content just to indicate these 
singular horizons to the reader— to point them out to him 
with my finger. 

If you are prepared, then, to take the point of view of 
the orthodox mind, it is certain that human laughter is in- 
timately Hnked with the accident of an ancient Fall, of a 
debasement both physical and moral. Laughter and grief 
are expressed by the organs in which the command and the 
knowledge of good and evil reside— I mean the eyes and 
the mouth. In the earthly paradise— whether one supposes 
it as past or to come, a memory or a prophecy, in the sense 
of the theologians or of the socialists— in the earthly para- 
dise, that is to say in the surroundings in which it seemed 
to man that all created things were good, joy did not find 
its dwelling in laughter. As no trouble afflicted him, man's 
countenance was simple and smooth, and the laughter 
which now shakes the nations never distorted the features 
of his face. Laughter and tears cannot make their appear- 
ance in the paradise of delights. They are both equally the 
children of woe, and they came because the body of en- 
feebled man lacked the strength to restrain them.* From 
the point of view of my Christian philosopher, the laugh on 
his hps is a sign of just as great a misery as the tears in his 
eyes. The Being who sought to multiply his own image has 
in no wise put the teeth of the lion into the mouth of man- 
yet man rends with his laughter; nor all the seductive cun- 
ning of the serpent into his eyes— yet he beguiles with his 
tears. Observe also that it is with his tears that man washes 
the afflictions of man, and that it is with his laughter that 
sometimes he soothes and charms his heart; for the phe- 
nomena engendered by the Fall will become the means of 

May I be permitted a poetic hypothesis in order to help 

'^ Philippe de Chennevieres (c.b.), an early friend of Baude- 
laire's. He wrote a number of books, and had a distinguished 
career in the official world of art. The exact source of this idea 
has not been traced among his works. 


me prove the accuracy of these assertions, which otherwise 
many people may find tainted with the a priori of mysti- 
cism? Since the comic is a damnable element, and one 
of diabolic origin, let us try to imagine before us a soul 
absolutely pristine and fresh, so to speak, from the hands of 
Nature. For our example let us take the great and typical 
figure of Virginie,^ who perfectly symbolizes absolute purity 
and naivete. Virginie arrives in Paris still bathed in sea- 
mists and gilded by the tropic sun, her eyes full of great 
primitive images of waves, mountains and forests. Here 
she falls into the midst of a turbulent, overflowing and 
mephitic civilization, all imbued as she is with the pure and 
rich scents of the East. She is finked to humanity both by 
her birth and her love, by her mother and her lover, her 
Paul, who is as angefic as she and whose sex knows no dis- 
tinction from hers, so to speak, in the unquenched ardours 
of a love which is unaware of itself. God she has known 
in the church of Les Pamplemotisses—a. modest and mean 
Httle church, and in the vastness of the indescribable tropic 
sky and the immortal music of the forests and the torrents. 
Certainly Virginie is a noble inteUigence; but a few images 
and a few memories suffice her, just as a few books suffice 
the Sage. Now one day by chance, in all innocence, at the 
Palais-Royal, at a glazier's window, on a table, in a pubHc 
place, Virginie's eye falls upon— a caricaturel a caricature 
all very tempting for us, full-blown with gall and spite, just 
such as a shrewd and bored civilization knows how to make 
them. Let us suppose some broad buffoonery of the prize- 
ring, some British enormity, full of clotted blood and spiced 
with a monstrous 'Goddam!' or two: or, if this is more to 
the taste of your curious imagination, let us suppose before 
the eye of our virginal Virginie some charming and enticing 
morsel of lubricity, a Gavarni of her times, and one of the 
best— some insulting satire against the follies of the court, 
some plastic diatribe against the Parc-aux-Cerfs,^ the vile 
activities of a great favourite, or the nocturnal escapades of 
the proverbial Autrichienne.^ Caricature is a double thing; 
* From Bemardin de Saint-Pierre's Faul et Virginie. 
^ Louis XV's private brothel at VersaiUes. 
"Marie Antoinette. 


it is both drawing and idea— the drawing violent, the idea 
caustic and veiled. And a network of such elements gives 
trouble to a simple mind which is accustomed to understand 
by intuition things as simple as itself. Virginie has glimpsed; 
now she gazes. Why? She is gazing at the unknown. Never- 
theless she hardly understands either what it means or 
what it is for. And yet, do you observe that sudden folding 
of the wings, that shudder of a soul that veils herself and 
wants to draw back? The angel has sensed that there is 
oflFence in it. And in truth, I teU you, whether she has 
understood it or not, she will be left with some strange 
element of uneasiness— something which resembles fear. No 
doubt, if Virginie remains in Paris and knowledge comes 
to her, laughter will come too: we shall see why. But for the 
moment, in our capacity as analysts and critics who would 
certainly not dare to assert that our inteUigence is superior 
to that of Virginie, let us simply record the fear and the 
suffering of the immaculate angel brought face to face with 


If you wished to demonstrate that the comic is one of the 
clearest tokens of the Satanic in man, one of the numerous 
pips contained in the symbolic apple, it would be enough 
to draw attention to the unanimous agreement of physiolo- 
gists of laughter on the primary ground of this monstrous 
phenomenon. Nevertheless their discovery is not very pro- 
found and hardly goes very far. Laughter, they say, comes 
from superiority. I should not be surprised if, on making this 
discovery, the physiologist had burst out laughing himself 
at the thought of his own superiority. Therefore he should 
have said: Laughter comes from the idea of one's own 
superiority. A Satanic idea, if there ever was one! And what 
pride and delusion! For it is a notorious fact that all the 
madmen in the asylums have an excessively overdeveloped 
idea of their own superiority: I hardly know of any who 
suffer from the madness of humility. Note, too, that laughter 
is one of the most frequent and numerous expressions of 


madness. And now, see how everything falls into place. 
When Virginie, once fallen, has declined by one degree in 
purity, the idea of her own superiority will begin to dawn 
upon her; she will be more learned from the point of view 
of the world; and she will laugh. 

I said that laughter contained a symptom of failing; and, 
in fact, what more striking token of debihty could you 
demand than a nervous convulsion, an involuntary spasm 
comparable to a sneeze and prompted by the sight of some- 
one else's misfortune? This misfortune is almost always a 
mental failing. And can you imagine a phenomenon more 
deplorable than one failing taking delight in another? But 
there is worse to follow. The misfortune is sometimes of a 
very much lower kind— a failure in the physical order. To 
take one of the most commonplace examples in life, what 
is there so delightful in the sight of a man falling on the 
ice or in the street, or stumbhng at the end of a pavement, 
that the countenance of his brother in Christ should con- 
tract in such an intemperate manner, and the muscles of his 
face should suddenly leap into life like a timepiece at mid- 
day or a clockwork toy? The poor devil has disfigmred 
himself, at the very least; he may even have broken an 
essential member. Nevertheless the laugh has gone forth, 
sudden and irrepressible. It is certain that if you care to 
explore this situation, you will find a certain unconscious 
pride at the core of the laughter's thought. That is the 
point of departure. 'Look at me! I am not falling,' he seems 
to say. 'Look at me! I am walking upright. I would never 
be so silly as to fail to see a gap in die pavement or a 
cobblestone blocking the way.' 

The Romantic school, or, to put it better, the Satanic 
school, which is one of its subdivisions, had a proper under- 
standing of this primordial law of laughter; or at least, if 
they did not all understand it, all, even in their grossest 
extravagances and exaggerations, sensed it and appHed 
it exactly. All the miscreants of melodrama, accursed, 
damned and fatally marked with a grin which nans from ear 
to ear, are in the pure orthodoxy of laughter. Furthermore 
they are almost all the grand-children, legitimate or illegiti- 


mate, of the renowned wanderer Melmoth,^ that great 
Satanic creation of the Reverend Maturin. What could be 
greater, what more mighty, relative to poor hmnanity, than 
the pale, bored figure of Melmoth? And yet he has a weak 
and contemptible side to him, which faces against God and 
against the light. See, therefore, how he laughs; see how 
he laughs, as he ceaselessly compares himself to the cater- 
pillars of humanity, he so strong, he so intelligent, he for 
whom a part of the conditional laws of mankind, both 
physical and intellectual, no longer exist! And this laughter 
is the perpetual explosion of his rage and his suffering. It is 
—you must understand— the necessary resultant of his con- 
tradictory double nature, which is infinitely great in rela- 
tion to man, and infinitely vile and base in relation to 
absolute Truth and Justice. Melmoth is a living contradic- 
tion. He has parted company with the fundamental con- 
ditions of life; his bodily organs can no longer sustain his 
thought. And that is why his laughter freezes and wrings 
his entrails. It is a laugh which never sleeps, like a malady 
which continues on its way and completes a destined 
course. And thus the laughter of Melmoth, which is the 
highest expression of pride, is for ever performing its func- 
tion as it lacerates and scorches the hps of the laugher 
for whose sins there can be no remission.^ 

^Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) was tlie masterpiece of its 
author, the Rev. C. R. Maturin (1782-1824). It was one of the 
most influential of all the novels of horror, and Baudelaire's 
great admiration for it was revealed in his desire to make a 
new French translation, on the grounds that the existing transla- 
tion was inadequate. See G. T. Capton, 'Balzac, Baudelaire 
and Maturin,' French Quarterly, June and Sept. 1930; see also 
Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (O.U.P., 2nd ed., 1951) pp. 

^ *A mirth which is not riot gaiety is often the mask which hides 
the convulsed and distorted features of agony— and laughter, 
which never yet was the expression of rapture, has often been 
the only intelligible language of madness and misery. Ecstasy 
only smiles— despair laughs . . .' Melmoth (2nd ed., 1824), vol. 
Ill, p. 302. 



And now let us recapitulate a little and establish more 
clearly our principal propositions, which amount to a sort 
of theory of laughter. Laughter is satanic: it is thus pro- 
foundly human. It is the consequence in man of the idea 
of his own superiority. And since laughter is essentially 
human, it is, in fact, essentially contradictory; that is to 
say that it is at once a token of an infinite grandeur and an 
infinite misery— the latter in relation to the absolute Being 
of whom man has an inkHng, the former in relation to the 
beasts. It is from the perpetual coUision of these two in- 
finites that laughter is struck. The comic and the capacity 
for laughter are situated in the laugher and by no means 
in the object of his laughter. The man who trips would be 
the last to laugh at his own faU, unless he happened to be 
a philosopher, one who had acquired by habit a power of 
rapid self-division and thus of assisting as a disinterested 
spectator at the phenomena of his own ego. But such cases 
are rare. The most comic animals are the most serious- 
monkeys, for example, and parrots. For that matter, if man 
were to be banished from creation, there would be no such 
thing as the comic, for the animals do not hold themselves 
superior to the vegetables, nor the vegetables to the 
minerals. While it is a sign of superiority in relation to brute 
creation (and under this heading I include the numerous 
pariahs of the mind), laughter is a sign of inferiority in 
relation to the wise, who, through the contemplative iimo- 
cence of their minds, approach a childlike state. Comparing 
mankind with man, as we have a right to do, we see that 
primitive nations, in the same way as Virginie, have no 
conception of caricature and have no comedy (Holy Books 
never laugh, to whatever nations they may belong), but 
that as they advance little by Httle in the direction of the 
cloudy peaks of the intellect, or as they pore over the 
gloomy braziers of metaphysics, the nations of the world 
begin to laugh diaboHcally with the laughter of Melmoth; 
and finally we see that if, in these selfsame ultra-civilized 


nations, some mind is driven by superior ambition to pass 
beyond the limits of worldly pride and to make a bold leap 
towards pure poetry, then the resulting poetry, as limpid 
and profound as Nature herself, will be as void of laughter 
as is the soul of the Sage. 

As the comic is a sign of superiority, or of a belief in 
one's own superiority, it is natural to hold that, before they 
can achieve the absolute purification promised by certain 
mystical prophets, the nations of the world will see a mul- 
tiphcation of comic themes in proportion as their superiority 
increases. But the comic changes its nature, too. In this 
way the angelic and the diaboHc elements function in 
parallel. As humanity uplifts itself, it wins for evil, and for the 
understanding of evil, a power proportionate to that which 
it has won for good. And this is why I find nothing sur- 
prising in the fact that we, who are the children of a better 
law than the reHgious laws of antiquity— we, the favoured 
disciples of Jesus— should possess a greater number of comic 
elements than pagan antiquity. For this very thing is a 
condition of our general intellectual power. I am quite 
prepared for sworn dissenters to cite the classic tale of the 
philosopher who died of laughing when he saw a donkey 
eating figs, or even the comedies of Aristophanes and those 
of Plautus. I would reply that, quite apart from the fact 
that these periods were essentially civilized, and there had 
already been a considerable shrinkage of belief, their type 
of the comic is still not quite the same as ours. It even has 
a touch of barbarity about it, and we can really only adopt 
it by a backward effort of mind, the result of which is 
called pastiche. As for the grotesque figures which an- 
tiquity has bequeathed us— the masks, the bronze figurines, 
the Hercules (aU muscles), the little Priapi, with tongue 
curled in air and pointed ears (aU cranium and phallus); 
and as for those prodigious phalluses on which the white 
daughters of Romulus innocently ride astride, those mon- 
strous engines of generation, equipped with wings and 
bells— I believe that these things are all fuU of deep serious- 
ness.^ Venus, Pan and Hercules were in no sense figures 

* Curious readers will find examples reproduced in Fuchs, 
Geschichte der erotischen Kunst, 1908, vol. I, book 2, 'Das 


of fun. It was not until after the coming of Christ, and with 
the aid of Plato and Seneca, that men began to laugh at 
them. I beHeve that the ancients were full of respect for 
drum-majors and for doers of mighty deeds of all kinds, 
and that none of those extravagant fetishes which I in- 
stanced a moment ago were anything other than tokens 
of adoration, or, at all events, symbols of power; in no 
sense were they intentionally comic emanations of the 
fancy. Indian and Chinese idols are unaware that they are 
ridiculous; it is in us. Christians, that their comicaHty re- 

It would be a mistake to suppose that we have got rid of 
every diflBculty. The mind that is least accustomed to these 
aesthetic subtleties would very quickly be able to counter 
me with the insidious objection that there are diferent 
varieties of laughter. It is not always a disaster, a faiHng 
or an inferiority in which we take our delight. Many sights 
which provoke our laughter are perfectly innocent; not 
only the amusements of childhood, but even many of the 
things that tickle the palate of artists, have nothing to do 
with the spirit of Satan. 

There is certainly some semblance of truth in that. But 
first of all we ought to make a proper distinction between 
laughter and joy. Joy exists in itself, but it has various 
manifestations. Sometimes it is almost invisible; at others, 
it expresses itself in tears. Laughter is only an expression, 
a symptom, a diagnostic. Symptom of what? That is the 
question. Joy is a unity. Laughter is the expression of a 
double, or contradictory, feehng; and that is the reason 
why a convulsion occurs. And so, the laughter of children, 
which I hold for a vain objection, is altogether difiEerent, 
even as a physical expression, even as a form, from the 
laughter of a man who attends a play, or who looks at a 
caricature, or from the terrible laughter of Meknoth— of 
Melmoth, the outcast of society, wandering somewhere 
between the last boundaries of the territory of mankind and 


the frontiers of the higher life; of Meknoth, who ahvays 
believes himself to be on the point of freedom from his 
infernal pact, and longs without ceasing to barter that 
superhuman power, which is his disaster, for the pure con- 
science of a simpleton, which is his envy. For the laughter 
of children is Hke the blossoming of a flower. It is the joy 
of receiving, the joy of breathing, the joy of contemplating, 
of living, of growing. It is a vegetable joy. And so, in gen- 
eral, it is more like a smile— something analogous to the 
wagging of a dog's tail, or the purring of a cat. And if there 
still remains some distinction between the laughter of 
children and such expressions of animal contentment, I 
think that we should hold that this is because their laughter 
is not entirely exempt from ambition, as is only proper to 
little scraps of men— that is, to budding Satans. 

But there is one case where the question is more com- 
plicated. It is the laughter of man— but a true and violent 
laughter— at the sight of an object which is neither a sign 
of weakness nor of disaster among his fellows. It is easy 
to guess that I am referring to the laughter caused by the 
grotesque. Fabulous creations, beings whose authorit)' and 
raison d'itre cannot be drawn from the code of common 
sense, often provoke in us an insane and excessive mirth, 
which expresses itself in interminable paroxysms and 
swoons. It is clear that a distinction must be made, and 
that here we have a higher degree of the phenomenon. 
From the artistic point of view, the comic is an imitation: 
the grotesque a creation. The comic is an imitation mixed 
with a certain creative faculty, that is to say with an artistic 
ideality. Now human pride, which always takes the upper 
hand and is the natural cause of laughter in the case of the 
comic, turns out to be the natural cause of laughter in the 
case of the grotesque too, for this is a creation mixed with 
a certain imitative faculty— imitative, that is, of elements 
pre-existing in nature. I mean that in this case laughter is 
stiU the expression of an idea of superiority— no longer 
now of man over man, but of man over natinre. Do not re- 
tort that this idea is too subtle; that would be no sufficient 
reason for rejecting it. The difficulty is to find another 
plausible explanation. If this one seems far-fetched and 


just a little hard to accept, that is because the laughter 
caused by the grotesque has about it something profound, 
primitive and axiomatic, which is much closer to the inno- 
cent life and to absolute joy than is the laughter caused by 
the comic in man's behaviour. Setting aside the question of 
utiHty, there is the same difference between these two 
sorts of laughter as there is between the implicated school 
of v^riting and the school of art for art's sake. Thus the 
grotesque dominates the comic from a proportionate height. 

From now onwards I shall call the grotesque 'the 
absolute comic', in antithesis to the ordinary comic, which 
I shall call 'the significative comic'. The latter is a clearer 
language, and one easier for the man in the street to under- 
stand, and above all easier to analyse, its element being 
visibly double— art and the moral idea. But the absolute 
comic, which comes much closer to nature, emerges as a 
unity which calls for the intuition to grasp it. There is but 
one criterion of the grotesque, and that is laughter— im- 
mediate laughter. Whereas with the significative comic it 
is quite permissible to laugh a moment late— that is no 
argument against its validity; it all depends upon one's 
quickness of analysis. 

I have called it 'the absolute comic'. Nevertheless we 
should be on our guard. From the point of view of the 
definitive absolute, all that remains is joy. The comic can 
only be absolute in relation to fallen humanity, and it is in 
this way that I am understanding it. 


In its triple-distilled essence the absolute comic turns out 
to be the prerogative of those superior artists whose minds 
are sujfficiently open to receive any absolute ideas at all. 
Thus, the man who until now has been the most sensitive 
to these ideas, and who set a good part of them in action 
in his purely aesthetic, as well as his creative work, is 
TTieodore Hoffmann.^ He always made a proper distinction 

^ On Hojffmann, and on the particular stories which Baudelaire 
cites in this section, see H. W. Hewett-Thayer's Hoffmann, 
Author of the Tales (Princeton and O.U.P., 1948). 


between the ordinary comic and the type which he called 
'the innocent comic'. The learned theories which he had 
put forth didactically, or thrown out in the form of in- 
spired conversations or critical dialogues, he often sought 
to boil down into creative works; and it is from these very 
works that I shall shortly draw my most striking examples 
when I come to give a series of applications of the above- 
stated principles, and to pin a sample under each categori- 
cal heading. 

Furthermore, within the absolute and significative types 
of the comic we find species, sub-species and families. The 
division can take place on different grounds. First of all it 
can be estabUshed according to a pure philosophic law, as 
I was making a start to do: and then according to the law 
of artistic creation. The first is brought about by the 
primary separation of the absolute from the significative 
comic; the second is based upon the kind of special capa- 
cities possessed by each artist. And finally it is also possible 
to establish a classification of varieties of the comic with 
regard to cHmates and various national aptitudes. It should 
be observed that each term of each classification can be 
completed and given a nuance by the adjunction of a term 
from one of the others, just as the law of grammar teaches 
us to modify a noun by an adjective. Thus, any German or 
English artist is more or less naturally equipped for the 
absolute comic, and at the same time he is more or less 
of an ideaHzer. I wish now to try and give selected ex- 
amples of the absolute and significative comic, and briefly 
to characterize the comic spirit proper to one or two 
eminently artistic nations, before coming on to the section 
in which I want to discuss and analyse at greater length 
the talent of those men who have made it their study and 
their whole existence. 

If you exaggerate and push the consequences of the 
significative comic to their furthest hmits, you reach the 
savage variety, just as the synonymous expression of the 
innocent variety, pushed one degree further, is the ab- 
solute comic. 

In France, the land of lucid thought and demonstration, 
where the natural and direct aim of art is utility, we gen- 


erally find the significative type. In this genre Moliere is 
our best expression. But since at the root of our character 
there is an aversion for all extremes, and since one of the 
symptoms of every emotion, every science and every art 
in France is an avoidance of the excessive, the absolute 
and the profound, there is consequently but little of the 
savage variety to be found in this country; in the same 
way our grotesque seldom rises to the absolute. 

Rabelais, who is the great French master of the gro- 
tesque, preserves an element of utility and reason in the 
very midst of his most prodigious fantasies. He is directly 
symbolic. His comedy nearly always possesses the trans- 
parence of an allegory. In French caricature, in the plastic 
expression of the comic, we shall find this dominant spirit. 
It must be admitted that the enormous poetic good humour 
which is required for the true grotesque is found but rarely 
among us in level and continuous doses. At long intervals 
we see the vein reappear; but it is not an essentially national 
one. In this context I should mention certain interludes of 
Moliere, which are unfortunately too little read or acted— 
those of the Malade Imaginaire and the Bourgeois Gentil- 
homme, for example; and the camivalesque figures of 
Callot. As for the essentially French comedy in the Contes 
of Voltaire, its raison d'etre is always based upon the idea 
of superiority; it is entirely significative. 

Germany, sunk in her dreams, v^ll afiFord us excellent 
specimens of the absolute comic. There all is weighty, pro- 
found and excessive. To find true comic savagery, however, 
you have to cross the Channel and visit the foggy realms 
of spleen. Happy, noisy, carefree Italy abounds in the 
innocent variety. It was at the very heart of Italy, at the 
hub of the southern carnival, in the midst of the turbulent 
Corso, that Theodore HoflFmann discerningly placed his 
eccentric drama. The Princess Brambilla. The Spaniards 
are very well endowed in this matter. They are quick to 
arrive at the cruel stage, and their most grotesque fantasies 
often contain a dark element. 

It v/ill be a long time before I forget the first English 
pantomime that I saw played. It was some years ago, at 


the Theatre des Yarietes? Doubtless only a few people 
will remember it, for very few seem to have taken to this 
kind of theatrical diversion, and those poor Enghsh mimes 
had a sad reception from us. The French pubhc does not 
much like to be taken out of its element. Its taste is not 
very cosmopoHtan, and changes of horizon upset its vision. 
Speaking for myself, however, I was excessively struck by 
their way of understanding the comic. It was said— chiefly 
by the indulgent, in order to explain their lack of success 
—that these were vulgar, mediocre artists— understudies. 
But that was not the point. They were EngHsh; that was the 
important thing. 

It seemed to me that the distinctive mark of this type of 
the comic was violence. I propose to prove it with a few 
samples from my memories. 

First of all, Pierrot was not the figure to which the late- 
lamented Deburau had accustomed us— that figure pale as 
the moon, mysterious as silence, supple and mute as the 
serpent, long and straight as a gibbet— that artificial man 
activated by eccentric springs. The EngHsh Pierrot swept 
upon us hke a hurricane, fell down hke a sack of coals, and 

^ It has not proved possible to identify this pantomime beyond 
doubt, but, according to infonnation kindly supplied by the 
Bibliotheque de I'Arsenal, it seems more than likely that it was 
a production entitled 'Arlequin, pantomime anglaise en 3 actes 
et 11 tableaux,' performed at the Theatre des Varietes from the 
4th until tlie 13th August, 1842. The newspaper Le Corsair (4th 
August) gives the following cast:— Arlequin: Howell.— Clown: 
Matthews (presumably the well-known clown, Tom Matthews). 
— Pantalon: Carders.— Colombine: Miss Maria Frood.- Una fee: 
Anne Plowman— Reine des fees: Emilie Fitzj (?). A review of 
this pantomime by Gautier, in La Presse, 14th Aug. 1842, has 
several points of agreement with Baudelaire's description. First, 
Gautier describes the apathy of the audience; secondly, he gives 
special praise to the clown's costume; finally, he refers to the 
incident of the clown's stealing his own head and stuffing it 
into his pocket (though the guillotine is not mentioned). 
Champfleury quotes the whole passage in his Souvenirs des 
Funambules, 1859, pp. 256-7, and provides evidence for dat- 
ing the pantomime to the early 1840s when he ironically assigns 
the fragment to an article by Baudelaire 'sous presse depuis 
quinze ans seulement'. 


when he laughed his laughter made the auditorium quake; 
his laugh was like a joyful clap of thunder. He was a short, 
fat man, and to increase his imposingness he wore a be- 
ribboned costume which encompassed his jubilant person 
as birds are encompassed with their down and feathers, 
or angoras with their fur. Upon his floured face he had 
stuck, crudely and without transition or gradation, two 
enormous patches of pure red. A feigned prolongation of 
the lips, by means of two bands of carmine, brought it 
about that when he laughed his mouth seemed to run 
from ear to ear. 

As for his moral nature, it was basically the same as that 
of the Pierrot whom we all know— heedlessness and in- 
difference, and consequently the gratification of every kind 
of greedy and rapacious whim, now at the expense of 
Harlequin, now of Cassandre or Leandre. The only dif- 
ference was that where Deburau would just have moistened 
the tip of his finger with his tongue, he stuck both fists 
and both feet into his mouth. 

And everything else in this singular piece was expressed 
in the same way, with passionate gusto; it was the dizzy 
height of hyperbole. 

Pierrot walks past a woman who is scrubbing her door- 
step; after rifling her pockets, he makes to stuff into his 
own her sponge, her mop, her bucket, water and all! As for 
the way in which he endeavoured to express his love to her, 
anyone who remembers observing the phanerogamous 
habits of the monkeys in their famous cage at the Jardin 
des Plantes can imagine it for himself. Perhaps I ought to 
add that the woman's role was taken by a very long, very 
thin man, whose outraged modesty emitted shrill screams. 
It was truly an intoxication of laughter— something both 
terrible and irresistible. 

For some misdeed or other, Pierrot had in the end to be 
guillotined. Why tlie guillotine rather than the gallows, in 
the land of Albion? ... I do not know; presumably to lead 
up to what we were to see next. Anyway, there it was, the 
engine of death, there, set up on the French boards which 
were markedly surprised at this romantic novelty. After 
struggling and bellowing like an ox that scents the 


slaughter-house, at last Pierrot bowed to his fate. His head 
was severed from his neck— a great red and white head, 
which rolled noisily to rest in front of the prompter's box, 
showing the bleeding disk of the neck, the split vertebrae 
and all the details of a piece of butcher's meat just dressed 
for the counter. And then, all of a sudden, the decapitated 
trunk, moved by its irresistible obsession with theft, jumped 
to its feet, triumphantly 'lifted' its own head as though it 
was a ham or a bottle of wine, and, with far more cir- 
cimaspection than the great St. Denis, proceeded to stuff it 
into its pocket 1 

Set down in pen and ink, all this is pale and chilly. But 
how could the pen rival the pantomime? The pantomime is 
the refinement, the quintessence of comedy; it is the pure 
comic element, purged and concentrated. Therefore, with 
the English actors' special talent for hyperbole, all these 
monstrous buffooneries took on a strangely thrilling reality. 

Certainly one of the most remarkable things, in the 
sense of absolute comedy— or if I may call it so, the meta- 
physics of absolute comedy— was the beginning of this 
beautiful piece, a prologue filled with a high aesthetic. The 
principal characters, Pierrot, Cassandre, Harlequin, Colom- 
bine and Leandre are facing the public, gentle and good 
as gold. They are all but rational beings and do not differ 
much from the fine fellows in the audience. The miraculous 
breath which is about to inspire them to such extraordinary 
antics has not yet touched their brains. A few quips from 
Pierrot can give no more than a pale idea of what he v^ll 
be doing shordy. The rivalry between Harlequin and 
Leandre has just declared itself. A fairy takes Harlequin's 
side; she is the eternal protectress of mortals who are poor 
and in love. She promises him her protection, and, to give 
him immediate proof of it, she waves her wand in the air 
with a mysterious and authoritative gesture. 

At once a dizzy intoxication is abroad; intoxication swims 
in the air; we breathe intoxication; it is intoxication that fills 
the lungs and renews the blood in the arteries. 

What is this intoxication? It is the absolute comic, and 
it has taken charge of each one of them. The extraordinary 
gestures executed by Leandre, Pierrot and Cassandre make 


it quite clear that they feel themselves forcibly projected 
into a new existence. They do not seem at all put out. They 
set about preparing for the great disasters and the tumul- 
tuous destiny which awaits them, Hke a man who spits on 
his hands and rubs them together before doing some heroic 
deed. They flourish their arms, hke \\dndmills lashed by the 
tempest. It must be to loosen their joints— and they will 
certainly need it. All this is carried out to great gusts of 
laughter, full of a huge contentment. Then they turn to 
a game of leap-frog, and once their aptitude and their 
agihty have been duly registered, there follows a dazzhng 
volley of kicks, punches and slaps which blaze and crash 
hke a battery of artillery. But all of this is done in the best of 
spirits. Every gesture, every cry, every look seems to be 
saying: 'The fairy has willed it, and our fate hurls us on— it 
doesn't worry me! Come, let's get startedl Let's get down 
to business!' And then they do get down to business, 
through the whole fantastic work, which, properly speak- 
ing, only starts at this point— that is to say, on the frontier 
of the marvellous. 

Under cover of this hysteria, Harlequin and Colombine 
have danced away in flight, and with an airy foot they 
proceed to run the gauntlet of theii* adventures. 

And now another example. This one is taken from a 
singular author— a man of ranging mind, whatever may be 
said, who unites to the significative mockery of France the 
mad, sparkling, lighthearted gaiety of the lands of the 
sun as well as the profound comic spirit of Germany. I am 
returning once again to Hoffmann. 

In the story entitled Daucus Carota, the King of the 
Carrots, or by some translators The King's Betrothed, no 
sight could be more beautiful than the arrival of the great 
company of the Carrots in the farm-yard of the betrothed 
maiden's home. Look at aU those Httle scarlet figures, hke 
a regiment of Enghsh soldiers, with enormous green plumes 
on their heads, hke carriage-footmen, going through a series 
of marvellous tricks and capers on their httle horses! The 
whole thing is carried out witli astonishing agihty. The 
adroitness and ease with which they fall on their heads is 
assisted by their heads being bigger and heavier than the 


rest of their bodies, like those toy soldiers made of elder- 
pith, which have lead weights in their caps. 

The unfortunate young girl, obsessed with dreams of 
grandeur, is fascinated by this display of military might. 
But an army on parade is one thing; how different an army 
in barracks, furbishing its arms, polishing its equipment, 
or, worse still, ignobly snoring on its dirty, stinking camp- 
beds 1 That is the reverse of the medal; the rest was but a 
magic trick, an apparatus of seduction. But her father, who 
is a wise man and well versed in sorcery, wants to show her 
the other side of all this magnificence. Thus, at an hour 
when the vegetables are sleeping their brutish sleep, never 
suspecting that any spy could catch them unawares, he 
lifts the flap of one of the tents of this splendid army. Then 
it is that the poor dreaming girl sees all this mass of red 
and green soldiery in its appalling undress, waUov^ng and 
snoring in the filthy midden from which it first emerged. 
In its night-cap aU that mihtary magnificence is notliing 
more than a putrid swamp. 

There are many other examples of the absolute comic 
that I might take from the admirable Hoffmann. Anyone 
who really wants to understand what I have in mind should 
read with care Daucus Carota, Peregrinus Tyss, The Golden 
Pot, and over and above all. The Princess Brambilla, which 
is like a catechism of high aesthetics. What pre-eminently 
distinguishes Hoffmann is his unintentional— and sometimes 
very intentional— blending of a certain measure of the 
significative comic with the most absolute variety. His 
most supernatural and fugitive comic conceptions, which 
are often like the visions of a drunken man, have a very 
conspicuous moral meaning; you might imagine that you 
had to do with the profoundest type of physiologist or 
alienist who was amusing himself by clothing his deep wis- 
dom in poetic forms, hke a learned man who might speak 
in parables and allegories. 

Take for example, if you will, the character of Gigho 
Fava, the actor who suffered from a chronic duahsm, in 
The Princess Brambilla. This single character changes per- 
sonality from time to time. Under the name of GigHo Fava 
he swears enmity for the Assyrian prince, Comelio Chiap- 


peri; but when he is himself the Assyrian prince, he pours 
forth his deepest and the most regal scorn upon his rival 
for the hand of the Princess— upon a wretched mummer 
whose name, they say, is Giglio Fava. 

I should perhaps add that one of the most distinctive 
marks of the absolute comic is that it remains unaware of 
itself. This is evident not only in certain animals, like 
monkeys, in whose comicality gravity plays an essential 
part, nor only in certain antique sculptural caricatures of 
which I have already spoken, but even in those Chinese 
monstrosities which deHght us so much and whose inten- 
tions are far less comic than people generally think. A 
Chinese idol, although it be an object of veneration, looks 
very little different from a tumble-toy or a pot-beUied 

And so, to be finished with all these subtleties and all 
these definitions, let me point out, once more and for the 
last time, that the dominant idea of superiority is found 
in the absolute, no less than in the significative comic, as 
I have already explained (at too great a length, perhaps) : 
further, that in order to enable a comic emanation, explo- 
sion, or, as it were, a chemical separation of the comic to 
come about, there must be two beings face to face with 
one another: again, that the special abode of the comic 
is in the laugher, the spectator: and finally, that an excep- 
tion must nevertheless be made in connection with tlie 'law 
of ignorance' for those men who have made a business of 
developing in themselves their feeling for the comic, and 
of dispensing it for the amusement of their fellows. This 
last phenomenon comes into the class of all artistic phe- 
nomena which indicate the existence of a permanent 
dualism in the human being— that is, the power of being 
oneself and someone else at one and the same time. 

And so, to return to my primary definitions and to express 
myself more clearly, I would say that when Hoffmann gives 
birth to the absolute comic it is perfectly true that he knows 
what he is doing; but he also knows that the essence of this 
type of the comic is that it should appear to be unaware of 
itself and that it should produce in the spectator, or rather 
the reader, a joy in his owoi superiority and in the su- 



periority of man over nature. Artists create the comic; after 
collecting and studying its elements, they know that such- 
and-such a being is comic, and that it is so only on condi- 
tion of its being unaware of its nature, in the same way 
that, following an inverse law, an artist is only an artist on 
condition that he is a double man and that there is not one 
single phenomenon of his double nature of which he is 





He was an astonishing man, was Carle Vemet.^ His col- 
lected works are a world, a Little Comedie humaine of their 
own; for trivial prints, sketches of the crowd and the street, 
and caricatures, often constitute the most faithful mirror 
of life. Often, too, caricatures, Hke fashion-plates, become 
more caricatural the more old-fashioned they become. Thus 
the stiff and ungainly bearing of the figures of those times 
seems to us oddly unexpected and jarring; and yet the 
whole of that world is much less intentionally odd than 
people generally suppose. Such was the fashion, such were 
its human beings; its men were Hke its paintings; the world 
had moulded itself on art. Everyone was stiff and upright; 
and with his skimpy frock-coat, his riding-boots, and his 
hair dripping over his brow, each citizen gave the impres- 
sion of an academic nude which had called in at the 
old-clothes- shop. But it is not only because they have 
thoroughly preserved the sculptural imprint and the stylistic 
pretensions of their period— it is not only from the historical 
point of view, I mean— that Carle Vemet's caricatures have 
a great value for us; they also have a positive artistic worth. 
Each pose and gesture has the accent of truth; each head 
and physiognomy is endowed with an authentic style for 
which many of us can vouch when we think of the guests 
who used to enjoy our father's hospitality in the days of 
our childhood. His fashion-caricatures are superb. I need 
hardly remind you of that large plate of a gaming-house.^ 

^ Son of Joseph, and father of Horace Vemet. 
^ It is not however recorded in any of the standard catalogues 
of Carle Vemet's work, and there is no copy of it at the Biblio- 
theque Nationale. Crepet suggests that Baudelaire may have 
had in mind an engraving by Darcis, after Guerain, entitled 
Les Trente-un, ou la Maison de pret sur nantissement, which 
is stylistically similar to the work of Carle Vemet, and whose 
subject-matter agrees with Baudelaire's description. 


Around a vast oval table are gathered players of different 
types and ages. There is no lack of those indispensable 
young women whose eyes are greedily fixed upon the odds 
—those ladies in perpetual waiting on the gambler whose 
luck is in. It is a scene of violent joys and despairs; of fiery 
young gamblers, burning up their luck; of cold, serious 
and tenacious gamblers; of old men whose scanty hair be- 
tokens the gales of long-departed equinoxes. Admittedly 
this composition, like everything else from the hand of 
Carle Vernet and his school, lacks freedom; but in return 
it has a deep seriousness, a pleasing asperity and a dryness 
of manner which suits the subject rather well, since gam- 
bhng is a passion at once violent and restrained. 

Pigal was among those who attracted most notice later 
on. The earhest works of Pigal go back quite a distance, 
and Carle Vernet lived a very long time. But it is often 
possible to say that two contemporaries represent two dis- 
tinct epochs, even if they are quite close together in age. 
And does not this gentle and amusing caricaturist stiU 
grace our annual exhibitions with Httle pictures whose in- 
nocent comicaHty must seem very feeble to M. Biard? It is 
character and not age which is the decisive factor. And 
so Pigal is quite another thing from Carle Vernet. His 
manner serves as transitional between caricature as con- 
ceived by that artist and the more modem caricature of 
Charlet, for example, of whom I shall have something to 
say in a moment. Charlet, who belongs to the same genera- 
tion as Pigal, may be the subject of a similar observation; 
for the word modern refers to manner and not to date. 
PigaFs popular scenes are good. I do not mean that their 
originahty is very Hvely, nor even their drawing very comic, 
for Pigal is a sober comedian; but the sentiment of his 
compositions is both just and good. His are commonplace 
truths, but they are truths for aU that. The majority of his 
pictures are taken direct from nature. The procedure he 
follows is a simple and a modest one— he observes, he 
listens, and then he tells what he has seen and heard. In 
general there is a great simpHcity and a certain iimocence 
about aU his compositions: they almost always have to do 
with men of the people, popular sayings, drunkards, family 


scenes, and in particular they show a spontaneous predilec- 
tion for elderly types. There is another thing about Pigal, 
which he shares with many other caricaturists— he is not 
very good at expressing the quahty of youth; it often 
happens that his young people have a made-up' look. His 
drawing, which generally flows easily, is richer and less 
contrived than Carle Vernet's. Almost the whole of Pigal's 
merit can thus be summed up under three headings— a habit 
of sound observation, a good memory, and an adequate 
sureness of execution: Httle or no imagination, but a 
measure of good sense. The carnival gusto and gaiety of 
the Italians is as foreign to him as the maniac violence of 
the English. Pigal is an essentially reasonable caricaturist. 
I am rather at a loss to express my opinion on Charlet 
in a seemly way. He is a great name, an essentially French 
name— one of the glories of France. He has dehghted, en- 
tertained, he is said even to have moved, a whole genera- 
tion of men still living. I have known people who were 
honestly indignant at not seeing Charlet at the Institut. 
For them it was as great a scandal as the exclusion of 
Mohere from the Academic. Now I know that to come 
forward and tell people that they are wrong to have been 
amused or moved in a certain fashion is rather a shabby 
part to play: it is truly painful to find oneself at cross 
purposes with the universal vote. Nevertheless it is neces- 
sary to have the courage to say that Charlet has no place 
among the eternal spirits— among the cosmopohtan geniuses. 
This caricaturist is no citizen of the universe; and if you 
object that a caricaturist can never be quite that, I shall 
reply that to a certain extent he can be. Charlet is a topical 
artist and an exclusive patriot— two impediments in the way 
of genius. He has something in common with another 
famous man whom I do not wish to mention by name, for 
the time is not yet ripe;* like him he reaped his glory 

* This fragment is taken from a book which I began some years 
ago, but left unfinished. M. de Beranger was still alive, (c.b.) 
Like Flaubert, Baudelaire focused much of his anti-bourgeois 
feefing upon the popular poet Beranger. For an opposite, and 
almost contemporary, English point of view, see Walter Bage- 
hot's essay on Beranger (1857) in his Literary Studies (Every- 
man ed., vol. II, pp. 233 ff.). Beranger died in 1857. 


exclusively from France, and above all from the aristocracy 
of the sword. I submit that this is bad, and denotes a small 
mind. Again, like that other great man he insulted the 
clerical party a great deal; tliis too, I say, is a very bad 
symptom— these people are uninteUigible on the other side 
of the Channel, on the other side of the Rhine or the 
Pyrenees. In a minute or two we shall be speaking of the 
artist proper— that is, of his talent, his execution, his 
draughtsmanship, his style; we shall settle the matter once 
and for all. At present it is only his wit that I am discussing. 

Charlet always paid court to the people. He was a slave, 
not a free man; do not expect to find a disinterested artist 
in him. A drawing by Charlet is seldom a truth; it is nearly 
always a piece of cajolery addressed to the preferred caste. 
There is no beauty, goodness, nobihty, kindness or wit but 
in the soldier. The miUion miUion animalculae that graze 
upon this planet were created by God and endowed with 
organs and senses solely to enable them to contemplate the 
soldier, and the drawings of Charlet, in aU their glory. 
Charlet asserts that the red-coat and the grenadier are the 
final cause of creation. These things have nothing whatever 
to do with caricature, I assure you; they are more like 
panegyrics, or dithyrambs, so strangely perverse is their 
author's approach to his profession. Admittedly the uncouth 
blunders which Charlet puts into the mouth of his recruits 
are turned with a certain charm which does them honour 
and makes them interesting. This smacks of the vaudeville, 
in which peasants are made to commit the most touching 
and witty malapropisms. They have hearts as pure as 
angels', with the wit of an academician (except for the 
social, or phonetic, liaisons). To show the peasant in his 
true self is an idle fancy of Balzac's: to depict the abomina- 
tions of man's heart so relentlessly is all very well for a testy 
and hypochondriac spirit like Hogarth; but to exhibit to 
the life the vices of the soldier— there's real cruelty for youl 
it might discourage him! That is the way in which the 
famous Charlet understood caricature. 

It is the same sentiment that guides our biased artist with 
respect to the clerics. He is not concerned with painting 
or delineating the moral deformities of the sacristy in an 


original manner. No, his sole need is to please the soldier- 
bumpkin; and the soldier-bumpkin used to live on a diet 
of Jesuits. In the arts, the only thing that matters is to 
please, as the bourgeois say. 

Goya, too, attacked the monastic tribe. I imagine that 
he had no love for monks, for he made them very ugly. 
But hov^^ beautiful they are in all their ugliness I how^ 
triumphant in their monkish squalor and crapulencel Here 
art dominates— art v^^hich purifies like fire: there it is 
servility, w^hich corrupts art. Now compare the artist vdth 
the courtier: one gives us superb drav^ngs; the other, a 
Voltairean sermon. 

There has been much talk about Charlet's street-arabs— 
those angelic little darlings w^ho will one day make such 
pretty soldiers, who are so fond of retired veterans and 
who play at war with wooden swords. They are always 
plump and fresh as rosy apples, all innocence and frank- 
ness, with eyes bright and smiling on the world. But what 
of the 'enfant terrible', what of the great poet's 'pale 
urchin, with his hoarse voice and his skin the colour of an 
old sou?^ I am afraid that Charlet has too pure a heart to 
see such things. 

It must be owned, however, that occasionally he betrayed 
a good intention.— The scene is a forest. Some bandits and 
their women are sitting eating beside an oak-tree on which 
a hanged man, already elongated and thin, is loftily taking 
the air and sniffing the dew, wdth his nose bent towards 
the ground and his toes correctly aligned like a dancer's. 
One of the ruffians points to him with his finger and says, 
'Maybe that's how we shall be next Sundayl''^ 

But alas, he has given us few sketches of this kind. And 
yet, even if the idea is a good one, the drawing is inade- 
quate; there is no well-marked character about the heads. 
It could be far finer, and is certainly not to be compared 

* Le race de Paris, c'est le pale voyou, 

Au corps chetif, au teint jaune comme un vieux sou. 

Auguste Barbier, lambes, X. 

* Charlet, Album lithographique (1832), No. 4 (La Combe 


with Villon's lines as he supped with his comrades beneath 
the gallows on the gloomy plain. 

Charlet's draughtsmanship hardly ever rises above the 
*chic'— it is all loops and ovals. His sentiments he picked up 
ready-made at the vaudeville. He was a thoroughly artificial 
man who applied himself to imitating the current ideas of 
his time. He made a tracing, so to speak, of pubHc opinion: 
he tailored his inteUigence to fit the fashion. The pubHc 
was truly his pattern no less than his patron. 

Once however he produced something quite good. This 
was a series of costumes of the old and new guard,^ which 
is not to be confused with a somewhat similar work pub- 
lished not so long ago— the latter may even be a posthumous 
work.^ The figures have the stamp of reality; they must be 
very lifelike. Their gait, their gestures, the attitudes of their 
heads are all excellent. Charlet was young then; he did not 
think of himself as a great man, and his popularity had not 
yet absolved him from drawing his figures correctly and 
making them stand firm on their feet. But he always had 
a tendency towards self -neglect, and he ended by repeating 
over and over again the same vulgar scribble which the 
youngest of art-students would be unwilling to acknowl- 
edge if he had a scrap of self-respect. It is proper to point 
out that the work of which I am speaking is of a simple and 
serious kind, and that it demands none of the quahties 
which later on were gratuitously accorded to an artist whose 
sense of the comic was so deficient. But it is caricaturists 
with whom I am concerned here, and if I had followed 
my design straight through, I should not have introduced 
Charlet, any more than Pinelli, into my catalogue; but then 
I should have been accused of grave omissions. 

In a word, what was this man but a manufacturer of 
nationahst nursery-rhymes, a Hcensed purveyor of political 
catchwords, an idol, in short, whose life is no more proof 
against mortality than that of any other idol? It wiU not be 
long before he knows the full force of oblivion and joins 
the great painter and the great poet^— his first cousins in 
' La Combe 157-86 and 187-201 ( 1819-21 ). 
« La Combe 209-64 ( 1845). 
'' Presumably Horace Vemet and Beranger respectively. 


ignorance and ineptitude— to slumber in the waste-paper 
basket of indifference, like this sheet of paper which I have 
needlessly soiled and which is now only fit for pulping.® 

But now I want to speak about one of the most important 
men, I will not say only in caricature, but in the whole of 
modem art. I want to speak about a man who each morning 
keeps the population of our city amused, a man who sup- 
plies the daily needs of public gaiety and provides its sus- 
tenance. The bourgeois, the business-man, the urchin and 
the housewife all laugh and pass on their way, as often as 
not— what base ingratitude 1— without even glancing at his 
name. Until now his fellow-artists have been alone in under- 
standing all the serious quaHties in his work, and in recog- 
nizing that it is really the proper subject for a study. You 
will have guessed that I am referring to Daumier. 

There was nothing very spectacular about Honore 
Daumier's beginnings. He drew because he had to— it 
was his ineluctable vocation. First of all he placed a few 
sketches with a little paper edited by WilHam Duckett;^ 
then Achille Ricourt, who was.a print-dealer at that time, 
bought some more from him.^^ The revolution of 1830, like 
all revolutions, occasioned a positive fever of caricature. 
For caricaturists, those were truly halcyon days. In that 
ruthless war against the government, and particularly 
against the king, men were all passion, all fire. It is a real 
curiosity today to look through that vast gallery of historical 
clowning which went by the name of La Caricatured^— ihat 
great series of comic archives to which every artist of any 
consequence brought his quota. It is a hurly-burly, a far- 

* Baudelaire's rough handling of Charlet earned him an indig- 
nant letter from Colonel de la Combe, whose book on the artist 
had been published in 1856. Delacroix also was displeased; see 
p. 332 below. 

* Presumably La Silhouette (1829-31), tlie first journal of its 
kind to be published in Paris. In spite of liis name, William 
Duckett was a Frenchman. 

"Ricourt's shop was near the Louvre, in the rue du Coq. In 
1832 he founded U Artiste, to which Baudelaire contributed. 
"Founded by Charles Philipon (1800-62) in 1830, it lasted 
until 1835. Daumier contributed to it a great deal, sometimes 
under tlie pseudonym Rogelin. 


rago, a prodigious satanic comedy, now farcical, now gory, 
through whose pages aU the poHtical elite march past, 
rigged out in motley and grotesque costumes. Among all 
those great men of the dawning monarchy, how many are 
there not whose names are already forgotten! But it is the 
olympian and pyramidal Fear, of Htigious memory, that 
dominates and crowns the whole fantastic epic. You will 
remember the time when Philipon (who was perpetually 
at cross purposes with His Majesty's justice) wanted to 
prove to the tribunal that nothing was more innocent than 
that prickly and provoking pear, and how, in the very 
presence of the court, he drew a series of sketches of which 
the first exactly reproduced the royal physiognomy, and 
each successive one, drawing further and further away from 
the primary image, approached ever closer to the fatal goal 
—the pearl 'There now,' he said. 'What connection can you 
see between this last sketch and the first?' Similar experi- 
ments were made with the head of Christ and that of 
Apollo, and I believe that it was even possible to refer back 
one of them to the hkeness of a toad. But all this proved 
absolutely nothing. An obhging analogy had discovered 
the symbol: from that time onwards the symbol was 
enough. With this kind of plastic slang, it was possible to 
say, and to make the people understand, anything one 
wanted. And so that tyraimical and accursed pear became 
the focus for the whole pack of patriotic blood-hounds. 
There is no doubt about it that they went to work with a 
marvellous ferocity and espirit de corps, and however ob- 
stinately Justice retorted, it is a matter of enormous sur- 
prise to us today, when we turn the pages of these comic 
archives, that so furious a war should have been able to 
be kept up for years on end. 

A moment ago, I think, I used the words 'a gory farce'; 
and indeed these drawings are often full of blood and 
passion. Massacres, imprisonments, arrests, trials, searches 
and beatings-up by the police— all those episodes of the first 
years of the government of 1830 keep on recurring. Just 
judge for yourselves— 

Liberty, a young and beautiful girl, with her Phrygian 
cap upon her head, is sunk in a perilous sleep. She has 


hardly a thought for the danger which is threatening her. 
A Man is stealthily advancing upon her, with an evil pur- 
pose in his heart. He has the burly shoulders of a market- 
porter or a bloated landlord. His pear-shaped head is sur- 
mounted by a prominent tuft of hair and flanked with 
extensive side- whiskers. The monster is seen from behind, 
and the fun of guessing his name must have added no Httle 
value to the print. He advances upon the young person, 
making ready to outrage her. 

'Have you prayd to-night. Madam?'— It is Othello- 
PhiHppe about to stifle innocent Liberty, for all her cries 
and resistance! 

Or again, along the pavement outside a more than sus- 
picious house quite a young girl is passing; she is wearing 
her little Phrygian cap with all the innocent coquetry of a 
grisette, a girl of the people. Monsieur X and Monsieur Y 
(well-known faces— the most honourable of ministers, for 
a certainty) are plying a singular trade this time. They are 
closing in on the poor child, whispering blandishments or 
indecencies in her ear, and gently pushing her towards a 
narrow passageway. Behind a door the Man can just be 
made out. His face is almost turned away, but it is he all 
right! Just look at that tuft of hair and those side-whiskers. 
He is impatient, he is waiting. 

Or here is Liberty arraigned before the Provost's Court 
or some other Gothic tribunal: this one is a great gallery of 
contemporary portraits in mediaeval dress. 

And here is Liberty dragged into the torture-chamber. 
Her delicate ankles are about to be crushed, her stomach 
to be distended with torrents of water, and every other 
abomination to be perfonned upon her. These bare-armed, 
brawny, torture-hungry athletes are easily recognizable. 
They are Monsieur X, Monsieur Y, and Monsieur Z— the 
bStes noires of opinion.* 

* I no longer have the documents in front of me, and it is pos- 
sible that one of these last was by Travies. ( c.b. ) None of these 
caricatures has been exactly identified. Champflemy (who 
quotes the passage in his Histoire de la caricature moderne, 
1865, pp. 227-8) seems to imply that they were by Grandville 


In every one of these drawings (of which the majority 
are executed with remarkable conscientiousness and seri- 
ousness of purpose) the king plays the part of an ogre, 
an assassin, an insatiate Gargantua,^^ ^nd sometimes even 
worse. But since the February Revolutions^ I have only 
seen a single caricature whose savagery reminded me of 
the days of those high poHtical passions; for none of the 
poHtical appeals displayed in the shop-windows at the time 
of the great presidential elections oflfered anything but pale 
reflections in comparison with the products of the time of 
which I have just been speaking. The exception occurred 
shortly after the unfortunate massacre at Rouen.^* In the 
foreground, on a stretcher, there lies a corpse, riddled with 
bullets: behind it are assembled all the city bigwigs in uni- 
form, well crimped, well buckled, well turned out, their 
moustaches en croc, and bursting with arrogance; there 
must surely also be a few bourgeois dandies who are off 
to mount guard or to take a hand in quelling the riot, with 
a bimch of violets in the buttonhole of their tunics— in 
short, the very ideal of the garde bourgeoise, as the most 
celebrated of our demagogues termed it.^^ On his knees 
before the stretcher, wrapped in his judge's robe, with his 
mouth open to show his double row of saw-edged teeth like 
a shark, F.C.^^ is slowly passing his claws over the corpse's 
flesh and blissfuUy scratching it.— 'Ah! that Norman!,' he 
says. 'He's only shamming dead so as to avoid answering 
to justice!' 

It was with just such a fury that La Caricature waged 
war on the govenmient. And Daumier played an important 

and Travies, but La Caricature of 27th June 1831 contained 

a print of Liberte about to receive the sentence of the Cour 

Prevotale, by Decamps. 

^Damnier's Gargantua (La Caricature, Dec. 1831) cost him 

six months in prison. 

" The 1848 revolution. 

"This took place at the time of the departmental elections, 

April 1848; a rising was brutally repressed by General Ordener. 

" Probably Lafayette. 

"Frank-Carre, a detested local politician. 


role in that chronic skirmish. A means had been invented 
to provide money for the fines which overwhehned the 
Charivari; this was to pubhsh supplementary drawings, the 
money from whose sale was appropriated to that purpose.!^ 
Over the deplorable massacres in the rue Transnonain, 
Daumier showed his true greatness; his print has become 
rather rare, for it was confiscated and destroyed.^^ It is not 
precisely caricature— it is history, reality, both trivial and 
terrible. In a poor, mean room, the traditional room of the 
proletarian, with shoddy, essential furniture, lies the corpse 
of a workman, stripped but for his cotton shirt and cap: 
he lies on his back, at full length, his legs and arms out- 
spread. There has obviously been a great struggle and 
tumult in the room, for the chairs are overturned, as are 
the night-table and the chamber-pot. Beneath the weight 
of his corpse— between his back and the bare boards— the 
father is crushing the corpse of his Httle child. In this cold 
attic all is silence and death. 

It was about the same time that Daumier undertook a 
satirical portrait gallery of political notabilities. There were 
two series— one of full-length, the other of bust-portraits: 
the latter series came later, I think, and only contained 
members of tlie upper house.^^ In these works the artist 
displayed a wonderful understanding of portraiture; whilst 
exaggerating and burlesquing the original features, he re- 
mained so soundly rooted in nature that these specimens 
might serve as models for all portraitists. Every Httle mean- 
ness of spirit, every absurdity, every quirk of intellect, every 
vice of the heart can be clearly seen and read in these 
animaHzed faces; and at the same time everything is 

^^This was the Association Mensuelle Lithographique, which 
was started in August 1832. On the whole subject, see Freedom 
of the Press and 'L' Association Mensuelle': Philipon versus 
Louis-Philippe, by E. de T. Bechtel (New York, Grolier Club, 

^® Published in July 1834 by the Association Mensuelle (Del- 
teil 135), it is now one of Daumier's best-known lithographs. 
"In fact the two series were approximately contemporai}'' with 
one another; the full-length portraits were published in La Cari- 
cature in 1833-4, and the majority of the bust-portraits in Le 
Charivari in 1833. 


broadly and emphatically drawn. Daumier combined tbe 
freedom of an artist with the accuracy of a Lavater. And 
yet such of his works as date back to that period are very 
different from what he is doing today. They lack the facility 
of improvisation, the looseness and Hghtness of pencil 
which he acquired later. Sometimes— though rarely— he was 
a little heavy, but always very finished, conscientious, and 

I remember one other very fine drawing which belongs 
to the same class— ILa Liherte de la presse?^ Surrounded 
by his instruments of liberation— his printing-plant— and 
with his ritual paper-cap pulled down to his ears and his 
shirt-sleeves rolled up, a typographer's workman is standing 
four-square and solid on his sturdy legs; he is clenching 
both his fists and scowling. The man's whole frame is as 
rough-hewn and muscular as the figures of the great mas- 
ters. In the background is the inevitable Philippe with his 
pohcemen. But they dare not come and interfere. 

However, our great artist has done a wide diversity of 
things. What I propose to do is to describe some of his 
most striking plates, chosen from different genres. Then I 
shall analyse the philosophic and artistic importance of this 
extraordinary man, and finally, before taking leave of him, 
I shall give a list of the different series and categories of 
his work, or at least I shall do the best I can, for at the 
present moment his oeuvre is a labyrinth, a forest of track- 
less abundance. 

Le Dernier Bain^^ is a serious and pathetic caricature. 
Standing on the parapet of a quay and already leaning for- 
ward, so that his body forms an acute angle with the base 
from which it is parting company— like a statue losing its 
balance— a man is letting himself topple into the river. He 
must have really made up his mind, for his arms are calmly 
folded, and a huge paving-stone is attached to his neck 
with a rope. He has taken his oath not to escape. This is 
no suicide of a poet who means to be fished out and to get 

^Published March 1834 by the Association Mensuelle (Delteil 


^ No. 2 of 'Sentiments et Passions', published in Le Charivari, 

May 1840 (Delteil 800). 


himself talked about. Just look at that shabby, creased 
frock-coat, with all the bones jutting throughl And that 
seedy cravat, twisted hke a snake, and that bony and 
pointed Adam's apple I Surely nobody would have the heart 
to grudge this man his underwater escape from the passing 
show of civilization. In the background, on the other side 
of the river, a well-fed, contemplative member of the bour- 
geoisie is devoting himself to the innocent joys of rod and 

Imagine, now, a very remote comer of some obscure and 
little-frequented suburb, oppressed beneath a leaden sun. 
A man of somewhat funereal figure— an undertaker's mute, 
perhaps, or a doctor— is hobnobbing and drinking a glass, 
in a leafless arbour, beneath a trellis of dusty laths, with a 
hideous skeleton. The hour-glass and the scythe are lying 
on one side. I forget the title of this plate: but these two 
self-important creatures are evidently laying some murder- 
ous bet, or conducting a learned discussion on mortahty.22 

Daumier has scattered his talent in a thousand different 
fields. For example, he even produced some wonderful 
drawings when commissioned to illustrate a baddish medico- 
poetical pubHcation called Im Nemesis medicale.^^ One of 
them, which deals with cholera, represents a public square 
flooded, overwhelmed with light and heat. True to its ironi- 
cal custom in times of great calamity and political upheaval, 
the sky of Paris is superb; it is quite white and incandescent 
with heat. The shadows are black and clear-cut. A corpse 
is lying across a doorway. A woman is hurrying in, stopping 
up her nose and her mouth as she runs. The square is 
deserted and Hke an oven— more desolate, even, than a 
populous square after a riot. In the background can be seen 
the silhouettes of two or three little hearses drawn by gro- 
tesque old hacks, and in the midst of this forum of desola- 

"^ Published 26th May 1840 in Le CharivaH, with the title 'As- 
sociation en commandite pour rexploitation de riiumanite — 
'Limited Company for the Exploitation of Humanity' (Delteil 

'^Published 1840. These wood-engravings are Nos. 111-139 in 
Arthur Riimann's HonorS Daumier, sein Holzschnittwerk (Mu- 
nich, 1914). The example described by Baudelaire is repro- 
duced above, on p. 133. 


don a wretched, bewildered dog, starved to the bone, with 
neither thought nor aim, is sniffing the dusty paving-stones, 
its tail stuffed between its legs. 

The scene now shifts to a prison-yard. A very learned 
gentleman, with black coat and white cravat— a philanthro- 
pist, a redresser of wrongs— is ecstatically seated between 
:wo convicts of terrifying aspect— both as stupid as cretins, 
IS ferocious as bull-dogs and as down-at-heel as old boots. 
Dne of them is saying that he has murdered his father, 
'avished his sister, or done some other heroic deed. *Ah! 
ny friend, what a splendid body of a man you must have 
^een!' cries the savant, in raptures. ^^ 

These specimens are enough to show how serious Dau- 
nier's thought often is, and how spiritedly he attacks his 
;ubjects. Look through his works, and you will see parading 
before your eyes all that a great city contains of living 
nonstrosities, in all their fantastic and thrilling reahty. 
rhere can be no item of the fearful, the grotesque, the 
linister or the farcical in its treasury, but Daumier knows it. 
rhe Hve and starving corpse, the plump and well-filled 
jorpse, the ridiculous troubles of the home, every little 
itupidity, every Httle pride, every enthusiasm, every despair 
)f the bourgeois— it is all there. By no one as by Daumier 
las the bourgeois been known and loved (after the fashion 
)f artists)— the bourgeois, that last vestige of the middle 
iges, that Gothic ruin that dies so hard, that type at once 
10 commonplace and so eccentric. Daumier has Hved in 
ntimacy with him, he has spied on him day and night, he 
las penetrated the mysteries of his bedroom, he has con- 
;orted with his wife and his children, he comprehends the 
orm of his nose and the construction of his head, he knows 
he spirit that animates his house from top to bottom. 

To make a complete analysis of Daumier's ceuvre would 
)e an impossibility; instead I am going to give the titles 
)f his principal series of prints, without too much in the 
vay of appreciation and commentary. Every one of them 
jontains marvellous fragments. 

Robert Macaire, Mceurs conjugales. Types parisiens, Pro- 

* No. 12 of the series 'Les Philanthropes du jour', published in 
:e Charivari, 19th Oct. 1844 (Delteil 1304). 


fib et silhouettes, les Baigneurs, les Baigneuses, les Cano- 
tiers parisiens, les Bas-hleus, Pastorales, Histoire ancienne, 
les Boris Bourgeois, les Gens de Justice, la Journee de M. 
Coquelet, les Philanthropes du jour, Actualites, Tout ce 
quon voudra, les Representants representes. Add the two 
sets of portraits of which I have akeady spoken.'*' 

I have two important observations to make about two of 
these series— Kofoerf Macaire and the Histoire ancienne. 
Robert Macaire^^ was the decisive starting-point of the cari- 
cature of manners. The great political war had died down 
a little. The stubborn aggressiveness of the law, the atti- 
tude of the government which had established its power, 
and a certain weariness natural to the human spirit had 
damped its fires a great deal. Something new had to be 
found. The pamphlet gave way to the comedy. The Satire 
Menippee^^ surrendered the field to Moliere, and the greal 
epic-cycle of Robert Macaire, told in Daumier's dazzling 
version, succeeded to the rages of revolution and the draw- 
ings of allusion. Thencefortii caricature changed its step; 
it was no longer especially political. It had become the gen- 
eral satire of the people. It entered the realm of the novel, 

The Histoire ancienne^'^ seems to me to be important be- 
cause it is, so to say, the best paraphrase of the famous line 
'Qui nous dellvrera des Grecs et des RomainsF^^ Daumiei 

* A ceaseless and regular production has rendered this list more 
than incomplete. Once, with Daumier himself, I tried to make 
a complete catalogue of his works, but even together we could 
not manage to do it. ( c.b. ) The catalogue by Delteil, to wliicl] 
reference has been made in notes above, contains almost 400C 
lithographic items. 

^ A hundred plates of this series appeared in Le Charivari be- 
tween Aug. 1836 and Nov. 1838; and a further twenty betweer 
Oct. 1840 and Sept. 1842. Daumier developed Robert Macaire 
into a classic symbol of the rascally impostor; see Champfleur) 
(op. cit.) pp. 119 ff. 

^ A political pamphlet written in the form of a dramatic farce 
in one act, with prologue and epilogue. It was directed againsi 
the Ligue, and published in 1594. 

" A series of 50 plates which appeared in Le Clmrivari betweer 
Dec. 1841 and Jan. 1843 (Delteil 925-74); see pi. 76. 
^ The first line of a satire by Joseph Berchoux; Crepet, how- 
ever, in his edition of the Curiosites esthStiques, attributes it tc 
M.-B. Clement. 


came down brutally on antiquity— on false antiquity, that 
is, for no one has a better feeling than he for the grandeurs 
of antiquity. He snapped his fingers at it. The hot-headed 
Achilles, the cunning Ulysses, the wise Penelope, Telem- 
achus, that great booby, and the fair Helen, who ruined 
Troy— they all of them, in fact, appear before our eyes in a 
Farcical ughness which is reminiscent of those decrepit old 
tragic actors whom one sometimes sees taking a pinch of 
3nu£f in the wings. It was a very amusing bit of blasphemy, 
md one which had its usefulness. I remember a lyric poet 
3f my acquaintance^^— one of the 'pagan school'— being 
deeply indignant at it. He called it sacrilege, and spoke 
oi the fair Helen as others speak of the Blessed Virgin. 
But those who have no great respect for Olympus, or for 
iagedy, were naturally beside themselves with dehght. 

To conclude, Daumier has pushed his art very far; he 
bias made a serious art of it; he is a great caricaturist. To 
ippraise him worthily, it is necessary to analyse him both 
from the artistic and from the moral point of view. As an 
irtist, what distinguishes Daumier is his sureness of touch. 
He draws as the great masters draw. His drawing is abun- 
dant and easy— it is a sustained improvisation; and yet it 
lever descends to the 'chic'. He has a wonderful, an almost 
divine memory, which for him takes the place of the model, 
ill his figures stand firm on their feet, and their movement 
s always true. His gift for observation is so sure that you 
;vill not find a single one of his heads which jars with its 
jupporting body. The right nose, the right brow, the right 
jye, the right foot, the right hand. Here we have the logic 
)f the savant transported into a Hght and fugitive art, 
vhich is pitted against the very mobility of life. 

As a morahst, Daimiier has several affinities with Mo- 
iere. Like him, he goes straight to the point. The central 
dea immediately leaps out at you. You have only to look 
have understood. The legends which are written at the 
oot of his drawings have no great value, and could gen- 
jrally be dispensed with.^^ His humour is, so to speak, in- 
voluntary. This artist does not search for an idea; it would 
' Probably Theodore de Banville. 
° They were mostly invented by Philipon. 


be truer to say that he just lets it slip out. His caricature 
has a formidable breadth, but it is quite without bile or 
rancour. In all his work there is a foundation of decency 
and simplicity. Often he has gone so far as to refuse to 
handle certain very fine and violent satirical themes, be- 
cause, he said, they passed the Hmits of the comic, and 
could wound the inner feelings of his fellow-men. And so, 
whenever he is harrowing or terrible, it is almost without 
having wished to be so. He has just depicted what he has 
seen, and this is the result. As he has a very passionate and 
a very natural love for nature, he would find difficulty in 
rising to the absolute comic. He even goes out of his way 
to avoid anything which a French pubHc might not find 
an object of clear and immediate perception. 

A word more. What completes Daumier's remarkable 
quality and renders him an exceptional artist who belongs 
to the illustrious family of the masters, is that his drawing 
is naturally coloured. His lithographs and his wood-engrav- 
ings awake ideas of colour. His pencil contains more than 
just a black trace suitable for delineating contours. He 
evokes colour, as he does thought— and that is the sign of 
a higher art— a sign which all inteUigent artists have clearly 
discerned in his works. 

Henri Monnier made much of a stir a few years ago; he 
had a great success in the bourgeois world and in the world 
of the studios— which are both sorts of villages. And there 
are two reasons for this. The first is, like Julius Caesar, he 
fulfilled three functions at once— those of actor, writer and 
caricaturist. The second is that his talent is essentially a 
bourgeois one. As an actor he was cold and precise: as a 
writer, captious: and as an artist, he had discovered a 
method of doing his 'chic' from nature. 

He is the exact counterpart of the man of whom we have 
just been speaking. Instead of instantly seizing upon the 
whole ensemble of a figure or a subject, Henri Monnier 
went to work by means of a slow and progressive exami- 
nation of its details. He has never known great art. Take, 
for example. Monsieur Prudhomme,^i th^t monstrously 

^ Monnier's best-known creation, a pompous and sententious 


authentic type. Now Monsieur Prudhomme was never con- 
ceived on a large scale. Monnier studied him, the real, liv- 
ing Prudhomme; he studied him from day to day, over a 
very long period of time. I cannot tell how many cups of 
coffee Henri Monnier must have swallowed, or how many 
games of dominoes he must have played, before he arrived 
at that prodigious result. After studying him, he trans- 
lated—no, he traced him on to his paper. At first sight the 
finished product strikes one as something extraordinary; 
but when aU of Monsieur Prudhomme had been said, Hemi 
Monnier had nothing left to say. Several of his Scdnes 
populaires^^ are pleasant indeed— otherwise one would have 
to deny the cruel and amazing fascination of the daguerreo- 
type; but Monnier is quite unable to create, to idealize, to 
arrange anything. To return to his drawings, which are the 
main object of our attention, they are generally cold and 
hard, and what is so odd is that, in spite of the sharpened 
precision of his pencil, there remains an element of vague- 
ness in his thought. Monnier has a strange gift, but he has 
no more than one. It is the coldness, the limpidity of a 
mirror— of a mirror that cannot think, and contents itself 
with reflecting what passes in front of it.^^ 

As for Grandville, he is quite another story. Grandville 
is a morbidly literary artist, always on the look-out for 
bastard means of projecting his thought into the domain 
of the plastic art; and so we have often seen him employing 
that old-fashioned device of the 'speaking balloon', attached 
to the mouths of his characters. A philosopher or a doctor 
would find material for a very pretty psychological or physi- 
ological study in Grandville. He spent his life seeking ideas, 
and sometimes he found them. But as he was an artist by 
profession and a man of letters by natural inclination, he 
never succeeded in expressing them properly. Naturally he 
touched upon several important questions, but he ended 

^ Published in 1830. 

^ Champfleury ( op. cit. p. 243 ) relates how he was once in the 
company of a 'somewhat testy poet' (no doubt, Baudelaire), 
when the latter addressed a singular compliment to Monnier. 
'Monsieur,' he said, 1 have for long wanted to congratulate you 
on your excellent dictionaries.' 


by falling between two stools, being neither quite philoso- 
pher nor artist. During a large part of his life Grandville 
was much preoccupied with the general idea of Analogy. 
He even began that way— with the Metamorphoses du 
jaur.^^ But he was never able to draw correct inferences 
from it; he tossed about hither and thither like a derailed 
locomotive. With superhuman courage this man devoted 
his life to refashioning creation. He took it in his hands, 
wrung it, rearranged it, explained it and annotated it; and 
Natiure was transformed into a phantasmagoria. He turned 
the world upside down. Did he not, in fact, compose a 
picture-book called Le Monde a Tenvers?^^ There are some 
superficial spirits who are amused by Grandville; for my 
part, I find him terrifying. For unfortunately it is the artist 
in whom I am interested, and not his drawings. When I 
open the door of Grandville's works I feel a certain un- 
easiness, as though I were entering an apartment where 
disorder was systematically organized— where preposterous 
cornices were propped up against the floor, where the pic- 
tures showed their faces through an optician's distorting- 
glass, where all the objects elbowed each other about 
obliquely, the furniture stood with its feet in the air, and 
the drawers sHd inwards instead of out. 

Doubtless Grandville produced some good and beauti- 
ful things, much assisted by his obstinate and meticulous 
habits; but he entirely lacked flexibility, and what is more, 
he was never able to draw a woman. But it is the lunatic 
side of his talent that makes Grandville important. Before 
his death he applied his always stubborn will to the noting 
of his successive dreams and nightmares in a plastic form,^^ 
with all the precision of a stenographer writing down an 
orator's speech. Grandville, the artist, wanted— he really 
wanted— his pencil to explain the law of the Association 
of Ideas! Grandville is indeed very comic; but he is often 
so without knowing it. 

And now we come to an artist with an odd kind of charm, 

" Published in 1829. 

^Baudelaire is probably referring to Grandville's Un autre 

monde (1844). 

""Also probably Un autre monde. 


but who is very much more important. And yet he— Gavami 
—started by making engineering drawings; ihen he went on 
to fashion-drawings; and he seems to me to have borne for 
a long time the trace of these things. Nevertheless it is fair 
to say that Gavami has always shown progress. He is not 
entirely a caricaturist, nor even uniquely a \asual artist; he 
is also a man of letters. He touches upon, he evokes. The 
particular characteristic of his comic gift is a great nicety 
of observation which sometimes goes as far as tenuity. Like 
Marivaux, he knows the full force of understatement, which 
is at once a lure and a flattery for the pubHc inteUigence. 
He writes the legends to his own drawings, and they are 
sometimes very intricate. Many people prefer Gavami to 
Daumier, and there is nothing surprising in that. Gavarni 
is less of an artist, and therefore he is easier for them to 
understand. Daumier is a frank and open genius. Take 
away the text from one of his drawings, and it still remains 
a thing of beauty and clarity. It is not the same way with 
Gavami; he is a double man— with him the legend is super- 
added to the drawing. In the second place, Gavami is not 
essentially a satirist. Often he flatters instead of biting; he 
encourages, he does not blame. Like aU men of letters- 
being a man of letters himself— he is very shghtly tainted 
with corruption. Thanks to the agreeable hypocrisy of his 
thought and to the powerful tactics of innuendo, there is 
nothing he does not dare. At other times, when his bawdry 
openly declares itself, it dons a graceful garb, it caresses 
the dogmas of fashion and takes the world into its confi- 
dence. How could he fail to be popular? Here is one sample 
among a thousand. Do you remember that fine, handsome 
young woman who is giving a disdainful pout as she looks 
at a yoxmg man clasping his hands to her in the attitude 
of a suppliant? 'One little kiss, I beseech you, my good 
kind lady, for the love of God!'— Look in again this eve- 
ning; your father has already had one this morning.' You 
would really think that the lady must be a portrait. But 
those rascals of Gavami's are so engaging that young people 
will inevitably want to imitate them. Note, besides, that the 
best part is in the legend, the drawing itself being incapable 
of saying so many things. 


Gavarni created the Lorette. She existed, indeed, a little 
before his time, but he completed her. I even beheve it 
was he who invented the word.^'^ The Lorette, as has al- 
ready been observed, is not the same thing as the 'kept 
woman', that feature of the Empire, condemned to Hve in 
funereal intimacy with the clinking corpse— a general or a 
banker— on which she depended. The Lorette is a free 
agent. She comes and she goes. She keeps open house. She 
is no one's mistress; she consorts with the artists and the 
journaHsts. She does what she can to be witty. I said that 
Gavarni had completed her; and in fact he is so swept along 
by his Hterary imagination that he invents at least as much 
as he sees, and for that reason he has had a considerable 
effect upon manners. Paul de Kock^* created the Grisette, 
and Gavarni the Lorette; and not a few of those girls have 
perfected themselves by using her as a mirror, just as the 
youth of the Latin Quarter succumbed to the influence of 
his Students, and as many people force themselves into the 
hkeness of fashion-plates. 

Such as he is, Gavarni is a more than interesting artist, of 
whom much will endure. It will be absolutely necessary to 
peruse his works in order to understand the history of the 
last years of the Monarchy. The Repubhc put him a Httle 
in the shade, according to a cruel but natural law. He 
emerged with the dawning of peace, and now he vanishes 
with the storm. The veritable glory and the true mission 
of Gavarni and Daumier were to complete Balzac, who, 
moreover, was well aware of this, and reckoned them his 
auxiliaries and commentators. 

Gavami's chief works are the following sets: La Boife 
aux lettres, les Etudiants, les Lorettes, les Actrices, les 
Caulisses, les Enfants terribles, Hommes et Femmes de 
plume, and a vast series of detached prints. 

It remains for me to speak of Trimolet, Travies and 
Jacque.— Trimolet's was a melancholy destiny. To see the 
graceful and childHke drollery which wafts through his 
compositions, you would hardly suspect that his poor life 

^The word was in fact 'invented' by Nestor Roqueplan, the 
journalist and impresario. 
^ The popular novelist. 

1. BAUDELAIRE: SELF-PORTRAIT, C. 1860. Drawing. 

M. Armand Godoy, Lausanne 


SALOK DE 1846 



4- tassaert: don't play the heartless one!' Lithograph. 
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris 


2. Baudelaire's 'salon de 1846': Title-page. 
British Museum, London 

3. GAVARNi: the ARTIST AND HIS CRITIC. Lithograph. 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

5- CAR J at: photograph of BAUDELAIRE, C. 1863 



Private Collection, London 

7. LAMi: PORTRAIT OF DELACROIX. Water-colour, after a pastel 
by Eugene Giraud. Private Collection, France 


M. Armand Godoy, Lausanne 






'^ CO 





i6. janmot: flowers of the field. Salon of 1845. 
Miisee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon 


BODYGUARD. Salon of 1845. Miisee, Versailles 

i8. planet: the vision of st teresa. Salon of 1845. 
Private Collection, France 


Musee Municipal, Autun 

;M1M } 

22. chenavard: dante's inferno. Salon of 1846. 
Musee Fabre, Montpellier 



(version). Tate Gallery, London 


Musee Conde, Chantilly 


1 ^^ 


1 - 

1 p-?K%f^^K 


[. F ■ ■*■ 

:, . [ teff-^ 

■■ ■ ^Ws ■ 

r-r ' "'^"■'^ 

31. PAUL flandrin: landscape. Salon of 1859. 
Miisee Ingres, Montauban 

32. hebert: peasant women of cervaro. Salon of 1859. 
Musee du Louvre, Paris 

37- millet: the cowgirl. Salon of 1859. 
Musee de I'Ain, Bourg-en-Bresse 


38. millet: the angelus. Painted 1858-9. 
Musee du Louvre, Paris 


portrait of 
mme vinet. 
Dated 1840. 
Musee du Louvre, 

46. ricard: 
portrait of a girl. 
Musee des Beaux-Arts, 


\ ^' *-i>^. v» 



47. meissonier: the barricade. Salon of 1850-1. 
Musee du Louvre, Paris 


48. meissonier: a painter shows his drawings. 
Salon of 1850-1. Wallace Collection, London 





49. DIAZ: love's offspring. Dated 1847. ^^^^ Gallery, London 

50. DIAZ: STUDY OF TREES. Metropolitan Museum 
of Art, New York 



52. catlin: buffalo-hunt under the wolf-skin mask. 
Smithsonian Institution, Washington 

53. catlin: 


Smithsonian Institution, 

54- meryon: the clock tower, paris. Etching, 1852. 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 



Salon of 1845. Marble. Musee du Louvre, Paris 


Salon of 1846. Marble. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nimes 

57- clesinger: bust of 
madame sabatier. 
Marble, 1847. 
Musee dti Louvre, Paris 

58. christophe: 
'danse macabre'. 
Terracotta (?), 1859. 
Formerly in the collection 
of Comte Robert 
de Montesquiou 

59- INGRES: 

Dated 1842. 

Musee du Louvre, Paris 

60. INGRES: 

the comtesse 
Dated 1845. 
Frick Collection 
New York 

-r:^ t"i'# 

^'^'""M,>.n'M/t^<c» MJ''M,vtTj«v vigil"' jCtiht.^ Wi>W« ""••'" 


Musee du Louvre, Paris 


Musee du Louvre, Paris 

63. DELACROIX: DANTE AND VIRGIL. Salon of l822. 

Miisee du Louvre, Paris 


Musee du Louvre, Paris 


Salon of 1845. Musee des Augustins, Toulouse 



Musee du Louvre, Paris 

66. DELACROIX: ROMEO AND JULIET. Salon of 1846. 

Formerly with Messrs Bernheim-Jeiine, Paris 


Salon of 1845. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon 


Salon of 1845. 
Formerly in 
the collection of 
M. Bessonneau 


Miisee Central Metz 



Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

73. GAVARNi: AFTER THE BALL. Lithograph. 

BibUotheque Nationale, Paris 



«-* — <.<^ 

%j\' m 

76. daumier: dido and aeneas (fflSTOiRE ancienne'), 
Lithograph. Private Collection 


74. pigal: 'the other foot, sir, please!' Lithograph. 

Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

75. daumier: ROBERT MACAIRE— BARRISTER. Lithograph. 

Private Collection 

Til] liJAWJll) <»!• <'iu'i:LTy 


Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

78. GOYA: 'who would HAVE BELIEVED IT?' Aquatint. 
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

" HI 










* <<« 




, ,H|te^ 


';:^ '^'. 






i-J o 


had been assailed by so many grievous afflictions and gnaw- 
ing sorrows. He himself etched— for the collection of 
Chansons populaires de la France^^ and for Aubert's Comic 
Almanacks^^—a. number of very beautiful designs, or rather 
sketches, in which the maddest and most innocent gaiety 
reigns. Trimolet drew very complicated compositions freely 
on the plate, without preliminary work— a procedure which 
results, it must be admitted, in something of a muddle. 
Obviously this artist had been very much struck by the 
works of Cruikshank; but for all that, he kept his originaHty. 
He is a humorist who deserves a place apart; he has a 
flavour all his own, a subtle taste which fine palates must 
find distinct from all others. 

One day Trimolet painted a picture.^^ It was well con- 
ceived, and the idea was a fine one; on a dark and soaking 
night one of those old men who look hke perambulating 
ruins, or living bundles of rags, is lying stretched out at the 
foot of a crumbling wall. He raises his eyes in gratitude 
towards the starless sky, and cries out, 1 bless Thee, my 
God, who hast given me this wall for my shelter and this 
mat for my covering!' Like all the disinherited of the earth, 
who feel the lash of affliction, this excellent fellow is not 
hard to please, and for what remains he gladly puts his faith 
in the AU-Powerful. Whatever may be said by the tribe of 
the optimists, who, according to Desaugiers,^^ have been 
known to tumble down after drinking ( at the risk of crush- 
ing to pieces some 'poor man who has had no dinner'), 
there are geniuses who have passed nights hke that! Trimo- 
let is dead; he died at the moment when the dawn was 
already brightening his horizon and a kindher fortune 
seemed to want to smile upon him. His talent was growing; 
his intellectual machinery was good and actively function- 
ing; but his physical machinery had been gravely impaired 
and undermined by the storms of the past. 

Travies, too, has had an ill-starred lot. In my opinion, he 

^ Published in three volumes in 1843. Other illustrators col- 
laborated on this work. 
*° 1842 and 1843. 

*^ Presumably La Pnere (Salon 1841). 
^A prolific writer of vaudevilles. 


is an outstanding artist, and one who was not nicely ap- 
preciated in his o^^al time. He has produced much, but he 
lacks sureness. He wants to be amusing, and you can be 
certain that he will fail. Or else he will make a beautiful 
discovery— and fail to recognize it. He amends and corrects 
himself without ceasing; he turns and returns, forever pur- 
suing an intangible ideal. He is the prince of bad luck.^^ 
His muse is a nymph, but a nymph of the suburbs— a httle 
wan and melancholy. But through all his tergiversations 
you can always follow a subterranean vein of quite note- 
worthy character and colour. Travies has a deep feeling 
for the joys and griefs of the people; he knows the rabble 
through and through, and may be said to have loved it 
with a tender sympathy. That is the reason why his Scenes 
hachiques^'^ will remain a remarkable work; besides, those 
tramps of his are generally very lifelike, and all their rags 
and tatters have that almost undefinable fulness and nobility 
of a style ready-made, such as nature often provides in her 
odd moments. We must not forget that Travies is the 
creator of Mayeux,'^^ that true, eccentric character who 
amused Paris so much. Mayeux is his, just as Robert 
Macaire is Daumier's and M. Prudhomme belongs to Mon- 
nier. At that already distant time there was in Paris a sort 
of physio gnomanic clown called Leclaire, who did the run 
of the outlying taverns, the drinking clubs and the Httle 
theatres. He was a puller of expressive faces, and, sitting 
between two candles, he used to illumine his features with 
all the passions in turn. It was the volume of the Caractdres 
des passions de M. Lebrun, peintre du roi,^^ all over again. 
This man was a very melancholy soul— a ridiculous accident 
more common than one supposes among the eccentric 

*^ Le prince du guignon. 
** Published 1839. 

** The subject of some 160 lithographs published in La Carica- 
ture and elsewhere. One writer describes him as 'ce fantoche 
priapique'. Other artists, such as Grandville, also used the char- 

*** Charles Lebrun's MSthode pour apprendre d, dessiner les Pas- 
sions was extremely influential throughout the late 17th and the 
entire 18th centiuy, and was much translated. 


classes— and he was possessed by a mania for friendship. 
Apart from his studies and his grotesque performances, he 
spent his time searching for a friend, and when he had had 
a drink, his eyes would overflow with the tears of soHtude. 
This poor fellow possessed such objective power and so 
great an aptitude for make-up that he could imitate to the 
very Hfe the hump and wrinkled brow of a hunch-back, 
no less than his great simian paws and noisy, slobbering 
utterance. Travies saw him— it was in the midst of the great 
patriotic fervours of July— and a radiant idea exploded in 
his brain. Mayeux was created; and for a long time the 
turbulent Mayeux spoke, shouted, perorated and gesticu- 
lated in the memory of the Parisian people.*^ Since that 
time it has been recognized that Mayeux really existed, and 
it has been thought that Travies knew and copied him. The 
same thing has occurred with several other popular crea- 

Some time ago Travies disappeared from the scene— I do 
not quite know why, for there is today, as always, a healthy 
growth of comic albums and journals. It is a real misfor- 
tune, for he is an acute observer, and in spite of his hesita- 
tions and faihngs, there is a seriousness and a sensitivity 
about his talent that make it singularly engaging. 

I feel that I should warn collectors of the Mayeux cari- 
catures that the women who, as is well known, played so 
great a part in the epic history of this gaUant and patriotic 
Ragotin,^^ are not by Travies; they are by PhiHpon, who 
had this exceptionally comic idea, as well as a fascinating 
way of drawing women. And so it came about that he re- 
served to himself the pleasant task of doing the women in 
the Mayeux caricatures of Travies, and that in this way 
each drawing came to have a lining in a di£Ferent style— 
which, however, can hardly be said to underline their comic 

" The whole of the above passage dealing with Leclaire is 
quoted by Champfleury (op. cit., pp. 198-9). Beyond admitting 
the plausibility of the explanation, as far as it goes, Champ- 
fleury does not offer any confirmation. 
*®A grotesque character in Scarron's Roman comique. 
*® M. Claude Ferment, who has recently been studying Travies, 


Jacque, that excellent artist with his multiple intelligence, 
has also on occasions shown himself an admirable cari- 
caturist. Apart from his paintings and his etchings, in which 
he has always revealed a solemn poetry, he has also been 
responsible for some very good grotesque drawings in 
which the central idea usually tells at first sight. See, for 
example, his Militairiana^^ and his Malades et Medecins.^'^ 
He draws richly and with wit, and his caricature, like 
everything else of his, has the pungency and the imme- 
diacy of the poet-observer. 

informs me tliat he has been able to detect the possible hand of 
PhiHpon in only a relatively small number of tlie Mayeux cari- 

^ Published in the Musee Philipon. 
^ Published in Le Charivari, 1843. 



An altogether popular name, not only with artists but also 
in the polite world: an artist among the most eminent in the 
sphere of the comic, who fills the memory Hke a proverb— 
that is Hogarth. I have often heard it said of Hogarth that 
he is the death and burial of the comic muse. Well, I have 
no objection to that. The remark can of course be taken 
as a witticism, but I am anxious for it to be understood 
as a tribute; for my part, I find in this ill-intentioned axiom 
the symptom and the diagnosis of a quite especial merit. 
Be assured, however, that Hogarth's talent does indeed 
include in its composition a cold, astringent and funereal 
ingredient. It wounds and harrows. Brutal and violent, yet 
always absorbed with the moral meaning of his composi- 
tions—a moraHst, in fact, before all else— Hogarth, like our 
Grandville, loads them with allegorical and allusive details 
whose function, according to him, is to complete and 
elucidate his thought. For the spectator, however— I was 
just about to say, for the reader— the reverse sometimes hap- 
pens, so that they may end by retarding and confusing the 

However, like all very adventurous artists, Hogarth has 
quite a variety of styles and samples to offer. He does not 
always adopt so harsh, so Hterary and so fidgety a manner. 
Compare, for example, the plates of Marriage d-la-mode 
with The Rake's Progress, Gin Lane, The Enrag'd Musician 
and the Distress'd Poet, and in these latter you will recog- 
nize a far greater freedom and spontaneity. Undoubtedly 
one of the most curious of all is the plate which shows us 
a corpse stretched out stiff and flat on the dissection-table.^ 
On a pulley, or some other piece of tackle attached to the 
ceihng, the intestines of the dead debauchee are being un- 
wound. How horrible is this most corpse-like of corpses! 
^ The Reward of Cruelty. See pi. 77. 


and what could provide a more singular contrast to it than 
the surrounding figures of all those British doctors— tall, 
long, skinny or stout, grotesquely solemn and topped with 
monstrous periwigs? In one corner there is a dog glutton- 
ously foraging in a bucket and filching some human remains 
from it. Hogarth, the death and burial of the comic musel 
I would sooner call him the comic muse of death and 
burial. Hogarth's man-eating dog has always put me in 
mind of that historical pig which outraged all decency by 
getting drunk on the blood of the hapless Fualdes, while 
a barrel-organ provided the dying man with a funeral 
service, so to speak.^ 

I declared a moment ago that our studio witticism ought 
to be taken in the sense of a tribute. And indeed with 
Hogarth I do find myself renewing acquaintance with that 
indefinable breath of the sinister, the violent and the ruth- 
less which characterizes almost every product of the land 
of spleen. Gin Lane, for example, quite apart from the 
innumerable mishaps and the grotesque disasters with 
which the path of a drunkard's Hfe is strewn, includes 
some terrible incidents too, which scarce seem comic from 
our French point of view; these are almost always cases of 
violent death. But this is not the place to make a detailed 
analysis of Hogarth's works; numerous appreciations of 
this unique and punctilious morahst have already been 
written, and I want to limit myself to establishing the 
general character which informs the works of each im- 
portant artist. 

While we are on the subject of England it would be un- 
just not to mention Seymour, whose admirable squibs on 
shooting and fishing— that two-fold epic of fanaticism— are 
famihar to all. He was tlie original inventor of the marvel- 
lous allegory of the spider weaving her web between the 
arm and the line of a fisherman who sits so still that no 
impatience could ever disturb his composure.^ 

As with the rest of the EngHsh, we find in Seymoin: a 

" Fualdes was assassinated at Rodez in 1817. The barrel-organ 
was part of the plot, being played in order to drown his cries. 
The matter became a cause celebre. 
^ The idea was afterwards borrowed by Monnier. 


violence, a love of the excessive, and a simple, ultra-brutal 
and direct manner of stating his subject; when it comes 
to caricature, the EngHsh are extremists. 'Oh! the deep, 
deep seal' cries a stout Londoner in bhssful contemplation, 
serenely seated in a rowing boat, a quarter of a league 
from harboLir.* I fancy that you can still even make out 
a few rooftops in the distance. This imbecile is in such an 
extreme of ecstasy that he does not notice the two stout 
legs of his dear wife, projecting above the level of the 
water and standing straight up, toes in air. It seems that 
this massive party has allowed herself to tumble head first 
into that very Hquid element whose sight so stirs the thick 
brain of her spouse. Her legs are all that we can see of the 
unhappy creature. Soon enough that stalwart nature-lover 
will be looking round phlegmatically for his wife— and he 
will not find her. 

The special merit of George Cruikshank— setting aside 
all his other merits, his subtlety of expression, his under- 
standing of the fantastic, etc.— is his inexhaustible abun- 
dance in the grotesque. A verve such as his is unimaginable, 
nor indeed would it be credited if the proofs were not 
before our very eyes in the form of an immense ceuvre, a 
numberless collection of vignettes, a long series of comic 
albums— in short, of such a quantity of grotesque characters, 
situations, scenes and physiognomies that the observer's 
memory quite loses its bearings. The grotesque flows in- 
evitably and incessantly from Cruikshank's etching-needle, 
like pluperfect rhymes from the pen of a natural poet. The 
grotesque is his natural habit. 

If it was possible to make an unerring analysis of a 
thing so fugitive and impalpable as feeling in art— that in- 
definable something which always distinguishes one artist 
from another, however close their kinship may be in ap- 
pearance—I should say that the essence of Cruikshank's 

*No. 153 in Sketches by Seymour (1867), a collection of Sey- 
mour's Humorous Sketches which had been published sepa- 
rately, at 3d each, between 1834 and 1836. The caption contin- 
ues: 'Mr. Dobbs singing "Hearts as warm as those above lie 
under the waters cold." ' Seymour was the illustrator of the first 
two parts of The Pickwick Papers, and thus the creator of the 
original image of Mr. Pickwick. See p. 180. 


grotesque is an extravagant violence of gesture and move- 
ment, and a kind of explosion, so to speak, within the 
expression. Each one of his little creatures mimes his part 
in a frenzy and ferment, like a pantomime-actor. The only 
fault that one might criticize is that he is often more of a 
wit, more of a cartoonist, than an artist; in short, that he is 
not always an entirely conscientious draughtsman. You 
might suppose that in the pleasure that he feels in giving 
way to his prodigious verve, the artist forgets to endow his 
characters with a sufficient vitality. He draws a little too 
much Hke those men of letters who amuse themselves 
scribbling sketches. His fascinating Httle creatures are not 
always bom to Hve and breathe. The whole of this diminu- 
tive company rushes pell-meU through its thousand capers 
with indescribable high spirits, but without worrying too 
much if all their limbs are in their proper places. Only too 
often they are no more than human hypotheses, which 
wriggle about as best they can. In a word, such as he is, 
Cruikshank is an artist endowed with rich comic gifts, and 
one who Vidll retain his place in every collection. But what 
is one to say of those modern French plagiarists whose im- 
pertinence goes to the length of appropriating not only his 
subjects and ideas, but even his manner and style? But 
happily naivete is not a thing to be stolen. Their assumed 
childishness has not raised their temperature by one degree, 
and the quality of their draughtsmanship leaves even more 
to be desired than that of their victim. 


New horizons in the comic have been opened up in Spain 
by a most extraordinary man. 

On the subject of Goya, I must start by referring my 
readers to Th6ophile Gautier's excellent article in the 
Cabinet de T Amateur,^ which has since been reprinted in 
a miscellaneous volume. Th^ophile Gautier is perfectly 
equipped to understand a nature such as Goya's. Moreover, 
with reference to his technical methods— aquatint and etch- 
^ Vol. I, 1842, pp. 337 S.; reprinted in the Voyage en Espagne. 


ing mixed, with heightenings of drypoint— the article in 
question contains all that is required. All I want to do is to 
add a few words upon that very precious element which 
Goya introduced into the comic— I want to speak about the 
fantastic. Goya does not fit exactly into any of the special 
or particular categories; his is neither the absolute nor the 
purely significative comic, in the French manner. Often 
of course he plunges down to the savage level, or soars up 
to the heights of the absolute, but the general aspect under 
which he sees things is above all fantastic; or rather, the 
eye which he casts upon things translates them naturally 
into the language of fantasy. The Caprichos are a marvel- 
lous work, not only on account of the originality of their 
conceptions, but also on account of their execution. I like 
to imagine a man suddenly faced with them— an enthusiast, 
an amateur, who has no notion of the historical facts al- 
luded to in several of these prints, a simple artistic soul 
who does not know the first thing about Godoy, or King 
Charles, or the Queen; but for all that he will experience 
a sharp shock at the core of his brain, as a result of the 
artist's original maimer, the fulness and sureness of his 
means, and also of that atmosphere of fantasy in which all 
his subjects are steeped. I would go further and say that in 
works which spring from profoundly individual minds there 
is something analogous to those periodical or chronic 
dreams with which our sleep is regularly besieged. That is 
the mark of the true artist, who always remains firm and 
indomitable even in those fugitive works— works which are, 
so to speak, hung upon events— which are called caricatures. 
That, I declare, is the quality which distinguishes historical 
from artistic caricaturists— the fugitive from the eternal 

Goya is always a great and often a terrifying artist. To 
the gaiety, the joviahty, the typically Spanish satire of the 
good old days of Cervantes he unites a spirit far more 
modem, or at least one that has been far more sought after 
in modem times— I mean a love of the ungraspable, a feel- 
ing for violent contrasts, for the blank horrors of nature 
and for human countenances weirdly animahzed by cir- 
cumstances. It is curious to note that this man, who fol- 


lowed after the great destructive and satirical movement of 
the 18th century and to whom Voltaire would have 
acknowledged his debt for all those monastic caricatures of 
his— for all those monks yawning or stuffing their stomachs, 
those bullet-headed cut-throats preparing for matins, tliose 
brows as crafty, hypocritical, sharp and evil as profiles of 
birds of prey (or rather for the idea only of these things, 
for the great man is to be pitied for not being much of a 
connoisseur in other artistic matters); it is curious, I say, 
that this monk-hater should have dwelt so much on mtches, 
sabbaths, scenes of devilry, children roasting on the spit, 
and Heaven knows what else— on every debauchery of 
dream, every hyperbole of hallucination, and not least, 
on all those sHm, blond Spanish girls of his, with ancient 
hags in attendance to wash and make them ready for the 
Sabbath, perhaps, or it may be for the evening rite of pros- 
titution, which is civilization's own Sabbath! Light and 
darkness play across all these grotesque horrors; and what 
a singular kind of playfulness! Two extraordinary plates 
above all come to mind. The first^ represents a fantastic 
landscape, a conglomeration of clouds and boulders. Is it 
a corner of some unknown and unfrequented Sierra? or a 
sample of primeval chaos? There, at the heart of that 
abominable theatre, a hfe-and-death struggle is taking place 
between two witches, hanging in mid-air. One is astride the 
other, belabouring and mastering her. Locked together, 
these two monsters are spinning through the gloomy void. 
Every kind of hideousness, every vice and moral filthiness 
that the human mind can conceive, is v^rritten upon these 
two faces which, according to a frequent custom and an 
inscrutable procedure of the artist's, stand half-way be- 
tween man and beast. 

The second plate^ shows us a wretched being, a des- 

^ Caprichos, No. 62, 'Quien lo creyeral' See pi. 78. 
® Klingender ( Goya in the Democratic Tradition, London 1948, 
p. 221) suggests that Baudelaire is here confusing his recollec- 
tion of Capricho No. 59 ('Y aun no se van!') with Gautier's 
description of the Nada print in tlie Desastres de la guerra. 
Certainly Baudelaire's description is inaccurate if he has Ca- 
pricho No. 59 in mind. 


perate and solitary monad whose one desire is to get out 
of its tomb. A crowd of mischievous demons, a myriad 
lilliputian gnomes are bearing down with all their united 
e£Forts upon the cover of the half-gaping sepulchre. These 
watchful guardians of death have banded together against 
a rebelhous soul which is wearing itself out in its impos- 
sible struggle. This throbbing nightmare is set amidst all 
the horror of the vague and the indefinite. 

At the end of his career Goya's eyesight weakened to the 
point at which it is said that his pencils had to be sharpened 
for him. Yet even at this stage he was able to produce some 
large and very important Hthographs, amongst them a set 
of bullfighting scenes,^ full of rout and rabble, wonderful 
plates, vast pictures in miniature— new proofs in support 
of that curious law which presides over the destinies of 
great artists, and which wills it that, as life and understand- 
ing follow opposing principles of development, so they 
should win on the swings what they lose on the round- 
abouts, and thus should ti-ead a path of progressive youth 
and go on renewing and reinvigorating themselves, growing 
in boldness to the very brink of the grave. 

In the foreground of one-^ of these prints, in which a 
wonderful tumult and hurly-burly prevails, is an enraged 
buU— one of the spiteful kind that savage the dead. It has 
just unbreeched the hinder parts of one of the combatants. 
No more than wounded, the poor wretch is heayily drag- 
ging himself along on his knees. The formidable beast has 
lifted his torn shirt with its horns, thus exposing his but- 
tocks to view; and now, once again, down comes that 
threatening muzzle— but the audience is scarcely moved by 
this unseemly episode amid the carnage. 

Goya's great merit consists in his having created a 
credible form of the monstrous. His monsters are born 
viable, harmonious. No one has ventured further than he 
in the direction of the possible absurd. All those distortions, 
those bestial faces, those diabolic grimaces of his are im- 
pregnated with humanity. Even from the special view- 
point of natural history it would be hard to condemn them, 
* The four litliographs known as the 'Toros de Burdeos'. 
° Dibersion de Espana. 


SO great is the analogy and harmony between all the parts 
of their being. In a word, the line of suture, the point of 
junction between the real and the fantastic is impossible 
to grasp; it is a vague frontier which not even the subtlest 
analyst could trace, such is the extent to which the tran- 
scendent and the natural concur in his art.* 


However southern it may be, the climate of Italy is not 
that of Spain, and the fermentation of the comic in that 
country does not produce the same results. The pedantry 
of the Italians— I use that word for want of a better— has 
found its expression in the caricatures of Leonardo da Vinci 
and in PineUi's scenes of contemporary manners. Every 
artist knows Leonardo's caricatures— they are veritable por- 
traits. Cold and hideous, those caricatures are not lacking 
in cruelty— it is the comic that they lack; there is no ex- 
pansiveness, no abandon about them, for the great artist 
was not amusing himself when he drew them; he made 
them, rather, in his capacity as savant, geometrician, pro- 
fessor of natural history. He was careful not to omit the 
least wart, the smallest hair. Perhaps, on the whole, he laid 
no claim to be doing caricatures. He looked round him for 
eccentric types of ugliness, and copied them. 

Nevertheless the Italian character is not Hke this as a 
rule. Its humour is low, but it is open and frank. We can 
get a just idea of it from Bassano's pictures representing 
the Venetian carnival. ^ Here we find a gaiety which is 
bubbling over with sausages, hams and macaroni. Once a 
year the Italian comic spirit makes its explosion in the 
Corso, and then it reaches the bounds of frenzy. Everyone 

* Some years ago we possessed several precious paintings by 
Goya, though they were unhappily relegated to obscure corners 
of the gallery; they disappeared, however, along with the 
Musie Espagnol. ( c.b. ) See n. on p. 3. 

* One such painting, by Leandro Bassano, is in the Kunsthis- 
torisches Museum, Vienna, and it is possible that Baudelaire 
may have seen a print of it. Even so, the name of Bassano seems 
an odd one in the present context. 


is witty, everyone becomes a comic artist; Marseilles or 
Bordeaux could perhaps provide us with samples of similar 
temperaments. Just see how well HoflFmann understood the 
Italian character in his Princess Bramhilla, and how sen- 
sitively it is discussed by the German artists who drink 
at the Cafe Greco I^ But the Italian artists are clowns rather 
than comics. They lack depth, but they all submit to the 
sheer intoxication of their national gaiety. Materiahstic, as 
the South generally is, their humour always smacks of the 
kitchen and the bordello. But all things considered, it is 
Callot, a French artist, who, by the concentration of wit 
and the firmness of will proper to our country, has given 
its finest expression to this species of the comic. It is a 
Frenchman who has remained the best Italian clown. 

A short while ago I spoke of PineUi, the classic Pinelli, 
whose glory is now a very diminished one. We would not 
call him a caricaturist, exactly— he is rather a snapper-up 
of picturesque scenes. I only mention him at all because 
the days of my youth were burdened by hearing him 
praised as the type of the noble caricaturist. In point of 
fact, the comic does not enter into his composition at all, 
save in infinitesimal doses. What we find in all the artist's 
studies is a constant preoccupation with line and with 
antique compositions, a systematic aspiration towards style. 

But Pinelli— and this has doubtiess contributed not a 
little to his reputation— Pinelli had an existence which was 
much more romantic than his talent. His originality dis- 
played itself far more in his character than in his works. 
For he was one of the most perfect types of the artist, as 
the good bourgeois imagines him to be— that is, of classic 
disorder, of inspiration expressing itself in imseemly and 
violent behaviour. Pinelli possessed all the charlatanism of 
certain artists: his two enormous dogs which followed him 
everywhere, like comrades or confidants, his great gnarled 
stick, his locks in double pigtails framing his cheeks, the 
tavern, the low company, the deliberate practice of osten- 
tatiously destroying works for which he was not offered a 

^The Cafe Greco, in the Via Condotti, Rome, had been a fa- 
vourite resort of artists and writers since the latter part of the 
18th century. 


satisfactory price— all these things formed part of his reputa- 
tion. And Pinelli's household was hardly better ordered 
than the conduct of its master. Sometimes he returned 
home to find that his wife and daughter had come to blows, 
their eyes flashing fire in all the fury and excitability of their 
race. To Pinelli this was superb: 'Stop!' he shouted to them. 
*Don't move! Stay still!' And the drama was transformed 
into a drawing. It is clear that Pinelli was one of those 
artists who wander through objective nature in the hope 
that she will come to the aid of their mental laziness, and 
who are always ready to snatch up their brushes. And thus, 
in one respect, he may be Hkened to the unfortunate Leo- 
pold Robert, who also claimed to find in, and only in, nature 
those ready-made subjects which, for more imaginative 
artists, are only good for notes. And yet Pinelli, no less than 
Leopold Robert, always put these subjects— and even the 
most nationally comic and picturesque of them— through 
the sieve, through the merciless filter of taste. 

Has Pinelli been slandered? I do not know; but such is 
his legend. Now all this seems to me to be a sign of weak- 
ness. I wish that someone would invent a neologism, I wish 
that someone would manufacture a word destined to blast 
once and for all this species of the poncif — the 'poncif' in 
conduct and behaviour, which creeps into the life of artists 
as into their works. And besides I cannot help noticing that 
history frequently presents us with the contrary, and that 
those artists who are the most inventive, the most astonish- 
ing and the most eccentric in their conceptions are often 
men whose life is calm and minutely ordered. Several of 
them have had the most highly-developed domestic virtues. 
Have you not often noticed that there is nothing more like 
the perfect bourgeois than the artist of concentrated genius? 


From the beginning the Flemish and the Dutch have done 
very fine things, of a really special and indigenous char- 
acter. Everyone is familiar with the extraordinary, early 


productions of Brueghel 'the Droll',i who is not to be con- 
fused with 'Hell' Brueghel,^ as several writers have done. 
That he betrays a certain systematization, a certain con- 
vention of eccentricity, a method in the bizarre, is in no 
doubt. But it is also quite certain that this weird talent of 
his has a loftier origin than in a species of artistic wager. 
In the fantastic pictures of Brueghel the Droll the full 
power of hallucination is revealed to us. But what artist 
could produce such monstrously paradoxical works if he 
had not been driven from the outset by some unknown 
force? In art— and this is a thing which is not suflficiently 
observed— in art, the portion that is left to the human will 
is much less great than is generally believed. The baroque 
ideal which Brueghel seems to have pursued shows many 
aflHnfties with that of Grandville, particularly if you will 
examine carefuUy the tendencies which the French artist 
displayed during the last years of his Hfe: visions of a sick 
brain, hallucinations of fever, dream's-eye transformations, 
bizarre associations of ideas, fortuitous and anomalous 
combinations of forms. 

The works of Brueghel the Droll can be divided into two 
classes. The first contains political , allegories which are 
almost undecipherable today; it is in this series that you 
find houses with eyes instead of windows, windmills with 
himian arms for wings, and a thousand other terrifying 
compositions in which nature is ceaselessly transformed 
into a kind of anagram. And yet it is quite often impossible 
to decide whether this kind of composition belongs to the 
class of political and allegorical designs, or to the second 
class, which is patently the more curious. The works in this 
second class seem to me to contain a special kind of 
mystery, although the present age, which, thanks to its 
double character of increduHty and ignorance, finds nothing 
difficult to explain, would doubtless quaHfy them simply 
as fantasies and capriccios. The recent researches of a few 
doctors^ who have at last gHmpsed the need to explain a 

^ Peter Brueghel, the Elder. 

^ Peter Brueghel, the Younger. 

^ Baudelaire may be thinking of such doctors as Brierre de 

Boismont and J. J. Moreau (de Tours), whose Des Hallucina- 


mass of historical and miraculous facts otherwise than by 
the means of the Voltairean school (which could nowhere 
see further than cleverness in charlatanry)— even these re- 
searches are very far from disentangling all the secret 
mysteries of the soul. Now I challenge anyone to explain 
the diabolic and diverting farrago of Brueghel the Droll 
otherwise than by a kind of special, Satanic grace. For the 
words 'special grace' substitute, if you wish, the words 
madness' or ^hallucination'; but the mystery will remain 
almost as dark. Brueghel's collected works^ seem to spread 
a contagion; his absurd capers make one's head swim. How 
could a human intelligence contain so many marvels and 
devilries? how could it beget and describe so many terrify- 
ing extravagances? I cannot understand it, nor can I pos- 
itively determine the reason. But often in history, and even 
in more than one chapter of modem history, do we find 
proof of the immense power of contagions, of poisoning 
taking place through the moral atmosphere; and I cannot 
restrain myself from observing (but without pretension, 
v^thout pedantry, without positive aim, as of seeking to 
prove that Brueghel was permitted to see the devil himself 
in person) that this prodigious efflorescence of monstrosities 
coincided in the most surprising manner with the notorious 
and historical epidemic of witchcraft. 

tions and Du Hachisch et de T alienation mentale (respectively) 

had been published in 1845. 

* Baudelaire must have known Brueghel almost entirely through 









There can be few occupations so interesting, so attractive, 
so full of surprises and revelations for a critic, a dreamer 
whose mind is given to generalization as well as to the 
study of details— or, to put it even better, to the idea of a 
universal order and hierarchy— as a comparison of the 
nations and their respective products. When I say liier- 
archy', I have no wish to assert the supremacy of any one 
nation over another. Although Nature contains certain 
plants which are more or less holy, certain forms more or 
less spiritual, certain animals more or less sacred; and 
although, following the promptings of the immense uni- 
versal analogy, it is legitimate for us to conclude that cer- 
tain nations (vast animals, whose organisms are adequate 
to their surroundings) have been prepared and educated 
by Providence for a determined goal— a goal more or less 
lofty, more or less near to Heaven— nevertheless all I wish 
to do here is to assert their equal utility in the eyes of Him 
who is indefinable, and the miraculous way in which they 
come to one another's aid in the harmony of the universe. 
Any reader who has been at all accustomed by solitude 
(far better than by books) to these vast contemplations will 
already have guessed the point that I am wanting to make; 
and, to cut across the periphrastics and hesitations of Style 

*The Exposition Universelle opened at the Palais des Beaux- 
Arts (the new Palais de V Industrie) , Avenue Montaigne, on 
15th May 1855. Baudelaire had been commissioned to write a 
series of articles on the subject for Le Pays, but only the first 
and third of the following articles were published in that paper 
(26th May and 3rd June); the second article was published 
later in Le Portefeuitle (12th August). It seems that Baude- 
laire's approach to his task was not acceptable to his employers, 
and from the 6th July a journalist called Louis Enault took over 
the succession. 


with a question which is ahnost equivalent to a formula, 
I will put it thus to any honest man, always provided that 
he has thought and travelled a httle. Let him imagine a 
modern Winckelmann (we are full of them; the nation 
overflows with them; they are the idols of the lazy). What 
would he say, if faced with a product of China— something 
weird, strange, distorted in form, intense in colour, and 
sometimes delicate to the point of evanescence? And yet 
such a thing is a specimen of universal beauty; but in order 
for it to be understood, it is necessary for the critic, for the 
spectator, to work a transformation in himself which par- 
takes of the nature of a mystery— it is necessary for him, 
by means of a phenomenon of the will acting upon the 
imagination, to learn of himself to participate in the sur- 
roundings which have given birth to this singular flowering. 
Few men have the divine grace of cosmopohtanism in its 
entirety; but all can acquire it in different degrees. The 
best endowed in this respect are those solitary wanderers 
who have lived for years in the heart of forests, in the 
midst of illimitable prairies, with no other companion but 
their gun— contemplating, dissecting, writing. No scholastic 
veil, no university paradox, no academic utopia has in- 
tervened between them and the complex truth. They know 
the admirable, eternal and inevitable relationship between 
form and function. Such people do not criticize; they con- 
template, they study. 

If, instead of a pedagogue, I were to take a man of the 
world, an intelligent being, and transport him to a faraway 
country, I feel sure that, while the shocks and surprises of 
disembarkation might be great, and the business of habitua- 
tion more or less long and laborious, nevertheless sooner 
or later his sympathy would be so keen, so penetrating, that 
it would create in him a whole new world of ideas, which 
would form an integral part of himself and would accom- 
pany him, in the form of memories, to the day of his death.^ 

* Baudelaire was doubtless thinking of his own experience, and 
of that of Delacroix and Decamps (both of whom had made 
early journeys, to Morocco and Turkey respectively, and had 
been indelibly affected by them). The 'journey to the Orient' 
was a classic Romantic experience. 


Those curiously-shaped buildings, which at first provoke his 
academic eye (all people are academic when they judge 
others, and barbaric when they are themselves judged); 
those plants and trees which are disquieting for a mind 
filled with memories of its native land; those men and 
women whose muscles do not pulse to the classic rhythms 
of his country, whose gait is not measured according to the 
accustomed beat, and whose gaze is not directed with the 
same magnetic power; those perfumes, which are no longer 
the perfumes of his mother's boudoir; those mysterious 
flowers, whose deep colour forces an entrance into his eye, 
while his glance is teased by their shape; those fruits whose 
taste deludes and deranges the senses, and reveals to the 
palate ideas which belong to the sense of smell; all that 
world of new harmonies will enter slowly into him, will 
patiently penetrate him, like the vapours of a perfumed 
Turkish bath; all that undreamt-of vitality will be added 
to his own vitality; several thousands of ideas and sensa- 
tions will enrich his earthly dictionary, and it is even 
possible that, going a step too far and transforming justice 
into revolt, he will do Hke the converted Sicambrian^ and 
burn what he had formerly adored— and adore what he had 
formerly burnt. 

Or take one of those modern 'aesthetic pundits', as Hein- 
rich Heine* calls them— Heine, that deHghtful creature, 
who would be a genius if he turned more often towards 
the divine. What would he say? what, I repeat, would he 
write if faced wiXh such unfamiliar phenomena? The crazy 
doctrinaire of Beauty would rave, no doubt; locked up 
within the blinding fortress of his system, he would blas- 
pheme both life and nature; and under the influence of 
his fanaticism, be it Greek, Italian or Parisian, he would 
prohibit that insolent race from enjoying, from dreaming 
or from thinking in any other ways but his very own. Oh 
ink-smudged science, bastard taste, more barbarous than 
the barbarians themselves! you that have forgotten the 
colour of the sky, the movement and the smell of animalityl 
you whose wizened fingers, paralysed by the pen, can no 
^i.e. Clovis. 
*In his Salon of 1831. 



longer run with agility up and down the immense keyboard 
of the universal correspondences!^ 

Like all my friends I have tried more than once to lock 
myself up within a system in order to preach there at my 
ease. But a system is a kind of damnation which forces one 
to a perpetual recantation; it is always necessary to be 
inventing a new one, and the drudgery involved is a cruel 
punishment. Now my system was always beautiful, spa- 
cious, vast, convenient, neat, and above all, water-tight; at 
least so it seemed to me. But always some spontaneous, 
unexpected product of universal vitaHty would come to 
give the He to my childish and superannuated wisdom— that 
lamentable child of Utopia! It was no good shifting or 
stretching my criterion— it always lagged behind universal 

^ Miss Gilman (p. 113) points out that this is the first time that 
Baudelaire uses this important word in its full sense. 


man, and never stopped chasing after multiform and multi- 
coloured Beauty as it moved in the infinite spirals of life. 
Condemned unremittingly to the humiliation of a new 
conversion, I took a great decision. To escape from the 
horror of these philosophical apostasies, I haughtily re- 
signed myself to modesty; I became content to feel; I re- 
turned to seek refuge in impeccable naivete. I humbly beg 
pardon of the academics of all kinds who occupy the 
various workrooms of our artistic factory. But it is there 
that my philosophic conscience has found its rest; and at 
least I can declare— in so far as any man can answer for 
his virtues— that my mind now rejoices in a more abundant 

Anyone can easily understand that if those whose busi- 
ness it is to express beauty were to conform to the rules 
of the pundits, beauty itself would disappear from the 
earth, since all types, all ideas and all sensations would be 
fused into a vast, impersonal and monotonous unity, as 
immense as boredom or total negation. Variety, the sine 
qua non of life, would be effaced from life. So true is it 
that in the multiple productions of art there is an element 
of the ever-new which will eternally elude the rules and 
analyses of the schooll That shock of surprise, which is one 
of the great joys produced by art and Hterature, is due to 
this very variety of types and sensations. The aesthetic 
pundit— a. kind of mandarin-tyrant— always puts me in mind 
of a godless man who substitutes himself for God. 

With all due respect to the over-proud sophists who have 
taken their wisdom from books, I shall go even further, and 
however delicate and diflBcult of expression my idea may 
be, I do not despair of succeeding. The Beautiful is always 
strange.^ I do not mean that it is coldly, deliberately strange, 
for in that case it would be a monstrosity that had jumped 
the rails of Hfe. I mean that it always contains a touch of 
strangeness, of simple, unpremeditated and unconscious 
strangeness, and that it is this touch of strangeness that 

•Cf. Poe, who quotes Bacon: "'There is no exquisite beauty,' 
says Bacon, Lord Venilam, speaking truly of all the forms and 
genera of beauty, Vithout some strangeness in the proportion.' " 
{Ligeia, and elsewhere.) 


gives it its particular quality as Beauty. It is its endorse- 
ment, so to speak— its mathematical characteristic. Reverse 
the proposition, and try to imagine a commonplace Beauty! 
Now how could this necessary, irreducible and infinitely 
varied strangeness, depending upon the environment, the 
climate, the manners, the race, the rehgion and the tempera- 
ment of the artist— how could it ever be controlled, amended 
and corrected by Utopian rules conceived in some little 
scientific temple or other on this planet, without mortal 
danger to art itself? This dash of strangeness, which consti- 
tutes and defines individuahty (without which there can 
be no Beauty), plays in art the role of taste and seasoning 
in cooking (may the exactness of this comparison excuse its 
triviahty!), since, setting aside their utiHty or the quantity 
of nutritive substance which they contain, the only way in 
which dishes differ from one another is in the idea which 
they reveal to the palate. 

Therefore, in the glorious task of analysing this fine exhi- 
bition, so varied in its elements, so disturbing in its variety, 
and so baffling for the pedagogues, I shall endeavour to 
steer clear of all kind of pedantry. Others enough will speak 
the jargon of the studio and will exhibit themselves to the 
detriment of the pictures. In many cases erudition seems 
to me to be a childish thing and but little reveahng of its 
true nature. I would find it only too easy to discourse subtly 
upon symmetrical or balanced composition, upon tonal 
equipoise, upon warmth and coldness of tone, etc. Oh 
Vanity! I choose instead to speak in the name of feeling, 
of morality and of pleasure. And I hope that a few people 
who are learned without pedantry will find my ignorance 
to their liking. 

The story is told of Balzac (and who would not listen 
with respect to any anecdote, no matter how trivial, con- 
cerning that great genius?) that one day he found himself 
in front of a beautiful picture— a melancholy winter-scene, 
heavy with hoar-frost and thinly sprinkled with cottages 
and mean-looking peasants; and that after gazing at a Httle 
house from which a thin wisp of smoke was rising, 'How 
beautiful it is!' he cried. 'But what are they doing in that 
cottage? What are their thoughts? what are their sorrows? 


has it been a good harvest? No doubt they l%ave hills to 

Laugh if you will at M. de Balzac. I do not know the 
name of the painter whose honour it was to set the great 
novelist's soul a-quiver with anxiety and conjecture; but I 
think that in this way, with his delectable naivete, he has 
given us an excellent lesson in criticism. You will often find 
me appraising a picture exclusively for the sum of ideas 
or of dreams that it suggests to my mind. 

Painting is an evocation, a magical operation (if only we 
could consult the hearts of children on the subject!), and 
when the evoked character, when the reanimated idea has 
stood forth and looked us in the face, we have no right— 
at least it would be the acme of imbecility!— to discuss the 
magician's formulae of evocation, I know of no problem 
more mortifying for pedants and philosophizers than to 
attempt to discover in virtue of what law it is that artists 
who are the most opposed in their method can evoke the 
same ideas and stir up analogous feelings within us. 

There is yet another, and very fashionable, error which 
I am anxious to avoid like the very devil. I refer to the idea 
of 'progress'. This gloomy beacon,''' invention of present-day 
philosophizing, Hcensed without guarantee of Nature or of 
God— this modem lantern thi-ows a stream of darkness upon 
all the objects of knowledge; liberty melts away, discipline 
vanishes. Anyone who wants to see his way clear through 
history must first and foremost extinguish this treacherous 
beacon. This grotesque idea, which has flowered upon the 
rotten soil of modem fatuity, has discharged each man from 
his duty, has dehvered each soul from its responsibifity and 
has released the will from all the bonds imposed upon it by 
the love of the Beautiful. And if this disastrous folly lasts 
for long, the dwindling races of the earth Mnll fall into the 
drivelling slumber of decrepitude upon the pillow of their 
destiny. Such an infatuation is the symptom of an already 
too obvious decadence. 

Take any good Frenchman who reads his newspaper 

■^ The whole passage from the words 'Tliis gloomy beacon' ( Ce 
fanal obscur . . . ) down to 'its own eternal despair' ( son Ster- 
nel desespoir) was absent from the text as printed in Le Pays. 


each day in his taproom, and ask him what he understands 
by progress'. He will answer that it is steam, electricity 
and gas— miracles unknown to the Romans— whose discov- 
ery bears full witness to our superiority over the ancients. 
Such is the darkness that has gathered in that unhappy 
brain, and so weird is the confusion of the material and the 
spiritual orders that prevails therein! The poor man has 
become so Americanized by zoocratic and industrial phi- 
losophers that he has lost all notion of the differences which 
characterize the phenomena of the physical and the moral 
world— of the natural and the supernatural.^ 

If a nation understands the issues of morahty with a 
greater refinement than diey were understood in the previ- 
ous century, then you have progress; that is clear enough. 
If this year an artist produces a work which gives evidence 
of greater knowledge or imaginative force than he showed 
last year, it is certain that he has made progress. If provi- 
sions are cheaper and of better quality today than they 
were yesterday, that is an indisputable example of progress 
in the material order. But where, I ask you, is the guaran- 
tee that this progress will continue overnight? For that is 
how the disciples of the philosophers of steam and sulphur- 
matches understand it; progress only appears to them in the 
form of an unending series. But where is that guarantee? 
It does not exist, I tell you, except in your credulity and 
your fatuity. 

I leave on one side the question of deciding whether, by 
continually refining humanity in proportion to the new en- 
joyments which it offers, indefinite progress would not be 
its most cruel and ingenious torture; whether, proceeding 

® See Fusees XXII: *La mecanique nous aura teUement ameri- 
canises, le progres aura si bien atrophic en nous toute la partie 
spirituelle, que rien parmi les reveries sanguinaires sacrileges 
ou antinaturelles des utopistes ne pourra etre compare a ses re- 
sultats positifs . . .' See also Andrew Lang's Letters to Dead 
Authors (1886), p. 148: '. . . By this time, of course, you 
[Poe] have made tlie acquaintance of your translator, M. 
Charles Baudelaire, who so strenuously shared your views about 
Mr. Emerson and the Transcendentahsts, and who so energeti- 
cally resisted all those ideas of "progress" which "came from 
Hell or Boston"/ 


as it does by a stubborn negation of itself, it would not turn 
out to be a perpetually renewed form of suicide, and 
whether, shut up in the fiery circle of divine logic, it would 
not be like the scorpion which stings itself with its own 
terrible tail— progress, that eternal desideratum which is its 
own eternal despair! 

Transported into the sphere of the imagination— and 
there have been hotheads, fanatics of logic who have at- 
tempted to do so— the idea of progress takes the stage with 
a gigantic absurdity, a grotesqueness which reaches night- 
mare heights. The theory can no longer be upheld. The 
facts are too palpable, too well known. They mock at 
sophistry and confront it without flinching. In the poetic 
and artistic order, the true prophets are seldom preceded 
by forerunners. Every efilorescence is spontaneous, indi- 
vidual. Was Signorelli really the begetter of Michelangelo? 
Did Perugino contain Raphael? The artist stems only from 
himself. His own works are the only promises that he makes 
to the coming centuries. He stands security only for him- 
self. He dies childless. He has been his own king, his own 
priest, his own God. It is in prodigies like this that the 
famous and violent formula of Pierre Leroux finds its tiTie 

It is just the same with the nations that joyfully and 
successfully cultivate the arts of the imagination. Present 
prosperity is no more than a temporary and alasl a very 
short-termed guarantee. There was a time when the dawn 
broke in the east; then the fight moved towards the south, 
and now it streams forth from the west. It is true that 
France, by reason of her central position in the civiKzed 
world, seems to be summoned to gather to herself all the 
ideas, all the poetic products of her neighbours and to 
retxun them to other peoples, marvellously worked upon 
and embroidered. But it must never be forgotten that 
nations, those vast coUective beings, are subject to the same 
laws as individuals. They have their childhood, in which 

^ This sentence did not occur in the text as printed in Le Pays. 
Crepet relates it to a passage in Pierre Leroux's La Greve de 
Samarez, which was not published until 1863. 


they utter their first stammering cries and gradually grow 
in strength and size. They have their youth and maturity, 
the period of sound and courageous works. Finally they 
have their old age, when they faU asleep upon their piled- 
up riches. It often happens that it is the root principle itself 
that has constituted their strength, and the process of devel- 
opment that has brought with it tlieir decadence— above all 
when that root principle, which was formerly quickened 
by an all-conquering enthusiasm, has become for the major- 
ity a kind of routine. Then, as I half suggested a moment 
ago, the vital spirit shifts and goes to visit other races and 
other lands. But it must not be thought that the newcomers 
inherit lock, stock and barrel from their predecessors, or 
that they receive from them a ready-made body of doctrine. 
It often happens (as happened in the middle ages) that all 
being lost, all has to be re-fashioned. 

Anyone who visited the Expodtion Universelle with the 
preconceived idea of finding the children of Leonardo, 
Raphael and Michelangelo among the ItaHans, the spirit 
of Diirer among the Germans, or the soul of Zurbaran and 
Velasquez among the Spaniards, would be preparing him- 
self for a needless shock. I have neither the time, nor 
perhaps suflBcient knowledge, to investigate what are the 
laws which shift artistic vitaHty, or to discover why it is 
that God dispossesses the nations sometimes for a while 
only, and sometimes for ever; I content myself with noting 
a very frequent occurrence in history. We are living in an 
age in which it is necessary to go on repeating certain plati- 
tudes—in an arrogant age which beheves itself to be above 
the misadventures of Greece and Rome. 

The English section of the exhibition is very fine, most 
uncommonly fine, and worthy of a long and patient study. 
I had wanted to begin with a glorification of our neigh- 
bours, of that nation so admirably rich in poets and novel- 
ists, of the nation of Shakespeare, Crabbe, Byron, Maturin 
and Godwin; of the feUow-citizens of Reynolds, Hogarth 
and Gainsborough. But I want to study them further. I 
have an excellent excuse. It is only out of extreme poHteness 


that I am putting off such a pleasurable task. I am biding 
my time in order to do better.^^ 

I begin therefore with an easier undertaking. I propose 
to make a rapid study of the principal masters of the 
French School, and to analyse the elements of progress or 
the seeds of dissolution that it contains within it. 


The French section of this exhibition is at once so vast 
and is in general made up of such familiar items— quite 
enough of whose bloom has aheady been rubbed off by the 
artistic curiosity of the metropolis— that the duty of criti- 
cism should be to seek to penetrate deep into the tempera- 
ment and activating motives of each artist, rather than to 
attempt to analyze and describe each work minutely. 

When David, that icy star, rose above the horizon of art, 
with Gu6rin and Girodet (his historical satellites, who 
might be called the dialecticians of the party), a great 
revolution took place. Without analysing here the goal 
which they pursued; without endorsing its legitimacy or 
considering whether they did not overshoot it, let us state 
quite simply that they had a goal, a great goal which con- 
sisted in reaction against an excess of gay and charming 
frivolities, and which I want neither to appraise nor to 
define; further, that they fixed this goal steadfastly before 
their eyes, and that they marched by the hght of their 
artificial sun with a frankness, a resolution and an esprit 
de corps worthy of true party-men. When the harsh idea 
softened and became tender beneath the brush of Gros, the 
cause was already lost. 

I remember most distinctly the prodigious reverence 
which in the days of our childhood surrounded all those 

" There is no evidence that Baudelaire's article on the English 
painters was ever written. But the passage devoted to English 
painters in the Salon de 1859 (see pp. 221-2 below) was clearly 
based on notes and studies made at this time. 


unintentionally fantastic figures, all those academic spectres 
—those elongated human freaks, those grave and lanky 
Adonises, those prudishly chaste and classically voluptuous 
women (the former shielding their modesty beneath an- 
tique swords, the latter behind pedantically transparent 
draperies)— believe me, I could not look at them without 
a kind of religious awe. And the whole of that truly extra- 
natural world was forever moving about, or rather posing, 
beneath a greenish light, a fantastic parody of the real sim. 
But these masters, who were once over-praised and today 
are over-scorned, had the great merit— if you wiH not con- 
cern yourself too much with their eccentric methods and 
systems— of bringing back the taste for heroism into the 
French character. That endless contemplation of Greek and 
Roman history could not, after all, but have a salutary 
Stoic influence; but they were not always quite so Greek 
and Roman as they wished to appear. David, it is true, 
never ceased to be heroic— David the inflexible, the despotic 
evangehst. But as for Guerin and Girodet, it would not be 
hard to find in them a few shght specks of corruption, one 
or two amusing and sinister symptoms of future Romanti- 
cism—so dedicated were they, like their prophet, to the 
spirit of melodrama. Does it not seem to you that Gu^rin's 
Dido^— so affectedly and theatrically adorned, so languor- 
ously stretched out in the setting sun, hke an indolent 
Creole woman— reveals more kinship v^dth the first visions 
of Chateaubriand than with the conceptions of Virgil, and 
that her moist eye, bathed in the misty vapours of a Keep- 
sake, almost looks forward to certain of Balzac's Parisian 
heroines? As for Girodet's AtalaJ^ whatever certain ageing 
wags may think of it, as drama it is far superior to a whole 
crowd of unmentionable modem insipidities. 

But today we are faced wdth a man of an immense and 
incontestable renown, whose work is very much more diffi- 
cult to understand and to explain. A moment ago, in 
connection with those illustrious unfortunates, I was ir- 
reverently bold enough to utter the word 'freakish'. No 
one, then, could object if, in order to explain the sensations 
^ Exhibited at the 1817 Salon; now in the Louvre. 
^ Exhibited at the 1808 Salon: now in the Louvre. 


of certain sorts of artistic temperament when placed in con- 
tact with the works of M. Ingres, I say that they feel 
themselves face to face with a freakishness far more com- 
plex and mysterious than that of the masters of the Repub- 
lican and Imperial school— whence, nevertheless, it took its 
point of departure. 

Before broaching the subject more seriously, I am anxious 
to record a first impression which has been felt by many 
people and which they will inevitably remember the mo- 
ment that they enter the sanctuary consecrated to the 
works of M. Ingres. This impression, which is hard to 
define— and which partakes, in unknown quantities, of 
uneasiness, boredom and fear— reminds one vaguely and 
involuntarily of the feelings of faintness induced by the 
rarefied air, the physical atmosphere of a chemistry labora- 
tory, or by the awareness that one is in the presence of 
an unearthly order of being; let me say, rather, of an order 
of being which imitates the unearthly— of an automatic 
population whose too palpable and visible extraneity would 
make our senses swim. It is no longer that childlike rev- 
erence of which I spoke a moment ago— that reverence 
which possessed us in front of the Sabines,^ and of The 
Death of Marat"^— in front of the Deluge^ or the melodra- 
matic Brutus.^ It is a powerful sensation, it is true— why 
deny M. Ingres's power?— but of an inferior, an almost 
morbid variety. We might almost call it a negative sensa- 
tion, if the phrase were admissible. In fact, as must be 
owned right away, this famous, and in his own way revo- 
lutionary, painter has merits— charms, even— which are so 
indisputable (and whose origin I shall shortly analyse) that 
it would be absurd not to record at this point a gap, a 
deficiency, a shrinkage in his stock of spiritual faculties. 
The Imagination, which sustained his great predecessors, 
lost though they were amid their academic gymnastics— the 
Imagination, that Queen of the Faculties, has vanished. 

No more imagination; therefore no more movement. I 
do not propose to push irreverence and ill-will to the lengtlis 
' By David; now in tlie Louvre. 
* By David; now in the Brussels Museum. 
^ By Girodet; now in the Louvre. 


of saying that this is an act of resignation on the part of 
M. Ingres; I have sufficient insight into his character to 
hold that with him it is an heroic immolation, a sacrifice 
upon the altar of those faculties which he sincerely consid- 
ers as nobler and more important. 

However enormous a paradox it may seem, it is in this 
particular that he comes near to a young painter whose 
remarkable debut^ took place recently with all the violence 
of an armed revolt. I refer of course to M. Courbet, who 
also is a mighty workman, a man of fierce and indomitable 
will; and the results that he has achieved— results that for 
certain minds have already more charm than those of the 
great master of the Raphaelesque tradition, owing doubt- 
less to their positive soHdity and their unabashed indeli- 
cacy'''— have just the same pecuHarity, in that they also 
reveal a dissenting spirit, a massacrer of faculties. PoHtics 
and Hterature, no less, produce robust temperaments like 
these— protestants, anti-supernaturaHsts, whose sole justifi- 
cation is a spirit of reaction which is sometimes salutary. 
The providence which presides over the affairs of painting 
gives them as confederates all those whom the ideas of the 
prevailing opposition have worn down or oppressed. But 
the difference is that the heroic sacrifice offered by M. 
Ingres in honour of the idea and the tradition of Raphael- 
esque Beauty is performed by M. Courbet on behalf of ex- 
ternal, positive and immediate Nature. In their war against 
the imagination they are obedient to different motives; but 
their two opposing varieties of fanaticism lead them to the 
same immolation. 

And now, to resume the regular course of our analysis, 
let us ask what is M. Ingres's goal. It is certainly not the 
translation of sentiments, emotions, or variations of those 
emotions and sentiments; no more is it the representation 
of great historical scenes (in spite of its Italianate, its over- 
Italianate, beauties, his picture of St. Symphorian,^ which 

® Courbet held an exhibition of his own simultaneously with the 

Exposition Universelle. 

''Such paintings as the Baigneuses (1853) had already caused 

some scandal, 

^In Autun Cathedral (Wildenstein 212). 


is Italianized down to the very congestion of its figures, 
does nothing to reveal the sublime glory of a Christian 
victim, nor the bestiality, at once savage and indifferent, 
of the orthodox heathen) . What then is M. Ingres seeking? 
What are his dreams? What has he come into this world 
to say? What new appendix is he bringing to the gospel 
of Painting? 

I would be inclined to believe that his ideal is a sort of 
ideal composed half of good health and half of a calm 
which amounts almost to indifference— something analogous 
to the antique ideal, to which he has added the frills and 
furbelows of modern art. It is just this coupling which often 
gives his works their singular charm. Thus smitten with an 
ideal which is an enticingly adulterous union between 
Raphael's calm solidity and the gewgaws of a petite- 
maitresse, M. Ingres might be expected to succeed above 
all in portraiture; and in fact it is precisely ia this genre 
that he has achieved his greatest and his most legitimate 
successes. But he is far from being one of those painters- 
by-the-hour, one of those routine portrait-factories to which 
a common lout can go, purse in hand, to demand the re- 
production of his unseemly person. M. Ingres chooses his 
models, and it must be admitted that he brings a wonderful 
discernment to his choice of those that are best suited to 
exploit his especial kind of talent. Beautiful women, rich 
and generous natures, embodiments of calm and flourishing 
health— here lie his triumph and his joy! 

But at this point a question arises which has been a thou- 
sand times debated, and which is still worth returning to. 
What is the quality of M. Ingres's drawing? Is it of a 
superior order? is it absolutely intelligent? Anyone who has 
made a comparison of the graphic styles of the leading 
masters will understand me when I say that M. Ingres's 
drawing is the drawing of a man with a system. He holds 
that nature ought to be corrected, improved; he believes 
that a happily-contrived and agreeable artifice, which min- 
isters to the eye's pleasure, is not only a right but a duty. 
Formerly it was said that nature must be interpreted and 
translated as a whole and in her total logic; but in the 
works of the present master, sleight-of-hand, trickery and 


violence are common occurrences, and sometimes down- 
right deception and sharp-practice. Here we find an army 
of too-uniformly tapered fingers whose narrow extremities 
cramp the nails, such as a Lavater, on inspection of that 
ample bosom, that muscular forearm, that somewhat virile 
frame, would have expected to be square-tipped— indica- 
tive of a mind given to mascuHne pursuits, to the symmetry 
and disciplines of art. Here again we find a sensitive face 
and shoulders of a simple elegance associated with arms 
too robust, too full of a Raphaelesque opulence. But 
Raphael loved stout arms, and the first thing required was 
to obey and to please the master. Elsewhere we shall find 
a navel which has strayed in the direction of the ribs, or 
a breast which points too much towards the armpit; and 
in one place— a thing less pardonable, for generally these 
various conjuring-tricks have a more or less plausible ex- 
cuse, and one that can always be easily traced to his im- 
moderate appetite for style— in one place, I say, we are 
utterly baflied by an egregious leg, thin as a lath, with 
neither muscles nor contours, and without even a fold at 
the knee-joint (Jupiter and Antiope^). 

Let us note further that, carried away as he is by this 
almost morbid preoccupation with style, our painter often 
does away with his modelling, or reduces it to the point of 
invisibility, hoping thus to give more importance to the 
contour, so that his figures look Hke the most correct of 
paper-patterns, inflated in a soft, lifeless manner, and one 
quite ahen to the human organism. Sometimes it happens 
that the eye falls upon charming details, irreproachably 
ahve; but at once the wicked notion flashes across the mind, 
that it is not M. Ingres who has been seeking nature, but 
Nature that has ravished M. Ingres— that that high and 
mighty dame has overpowered him by her irresistible 

From all that goes before, the reader will easily under- 
stand that M. Ingres may be considered as a man endowed 
with lofty qualities, an eloquent amateur of beauty, but 
quite devoid of that energy of temperament which consti- 
tutes the fatality of genius. His dominant preoccupations 
* Now in the Louvre ( Wildenstein 265). 


are his taste for the antique and his respect for the School. 
His admiration, on the whole, is fairly easily bestowed, 
and his character is somewhat eclectic, like all men who are 
lacking in fatahty. And so we see him wandering from 
archaism to archaism; Titian {The Sistine ChapeP-^), the 
Renaissance enamellers (Venus Anadyomene^^) , Poussin 
and the Carracci {Venus and Antiope), Raphael {St. Sym- 
phorian), the German primitives (all those Httle things in 
an anecdotal, picture-book style), antique bric-a-brac and 
the chequered colouring of Persian and Chinese art (the 
small Odalisque^^ ) , are forever disputing for his preference. 
The love and influence of antiquity make themselves felt 
throughout his work; but it often seems to me that M. 
Ingres is to antiquity what the transitory caprices of good 
taste are to the natural good manners which spring from 
the dignity and charity of the individual. 

It is above all in the Apotheosis of the Emperor Napo- 
leon^^—the picture that has been lent from the Hotel de 
Ville— that M. Ingres has let his taste for the Etruscans be 
revealed. And yet, great simphfiers as they were, even the 
Etruscans never pushed simplification to the lengths of not 
harnessing their horses to their chariots! But these super- 
natural horses of M. Ingres (what, by the way, are they 
made of, these horses that seem to be of some poHshed, 
solid substance, like the wooden horse that captured the 
city of Troy?)— can it be that they are endowed with some 
magnetic force, that they are able to drag the car behind 
them with neither traces nor harness? As for the figure of 
the emperor himself, I feel bound to say that it gave me 
no hint of that epic and fatal beauty with which his con- 
temporaries and historians generally endow him; and 

"Now in the Louvre (Wildenstein 131). 

"Now in the Musee Conde, Chantilly (Wildenstein 257). 

^ Presumably the Odalisque with Slave, which was exhibited at 

the Exposition Universelle, and is now in the Fogg Art Museum, 

Cambridge, Mass. (Wildenstein 228). 

" Painted for the ceiling of the Salon de I'Empereur in the Hotel 

de Ville. It was completed at the end of 1853, and destroyed 

by fire in 1871 (Wildenstein 270). There is a sketch for it at the 

Musee Carnavalet, Paris ( Wildenstein 271 ) . See pi. 8. 


further, that it distresses me not to see the outward and 
legendary characteristics of great men preserved, and that 
the populace, agreeing with me in this, can hardly imagine 
its favourite hero except in his official, ceremonial robes, 
or in that historic iron-grey cloak, which, with all due 
deference to the fanatical amateurs of Style, would do 
nothing to mar a modern apotheosis. 

But there is a more serious criticism to be made of this 
work. The cardinal feature of an apotheosis ought to be its 
supernatural feeling, a power of ascent towards loftier 
regions, an impulse, an irresistible surge towards Heaven, 
the goal of every human aspiration and classic abode of all 
great men. Well, this apotheosis, or rather this equipage, 
is faUing— falling with a speed proportionate to its weight. 
The horses are dragging the chariot earthwards. The whole 
thing, Hke a fully-ballasted balloon without gas, is inevi- 
tably going to smash itself to bits on the surface of the 

As for his Joan of Arc,^^ a picture whose most obvious 
distinction is an inordinate technical pedantry— I do not 
trust myself to speak of it. However lacking in sympathy 
towards M. Ingres I may have appeared in the eyes of his 
fanatical admirers, I prefer to beHeve that the loftiest talent 
always reserves certain rights to make mistakes. Here, as in 
the Apotheosis, there is a total absence of sentiment and 
supernaturahsm. We look in vain for that noble virgin who, 
according to the promises of the good M. Delecluze, was 
to avenge herself, and us, upon tiie scurrilous attacks of 
Voltaire. To sum up, and setting aside his erudition and 
his intolerant and almost wanton taste for beauty, I beHeve 
that the faculty which has made M. Ingres what he is— the 
mighty, the indisputable, the absolute despot— is the power 
of his will, or rather an immense abuse of that power. On 
the whole, what he is now he has been from the very start. 
And thanks to that vital energy which he possesses, he will 
remain the same to the end. As he has not progressed, he 
will not grow old. His over-passionate admirers will always 
be what they were— in love to the point of blindness; and 
nothing wiU change in France— not even the eccentric habit 
"Now in tlie Louvre ( Wildenstein 273). 


of taking over from a great artist those odd qualities which 
can only belong to him; and of imitating the inimitable. 

A thousand lucky circumstances have combined in the 
establishment of this formidable renown. He has com- 
manded the respect of poHte society by his ostentatious 
love of antiquity and the great tradition. The eccentric, the 
bhse and the thousand fastidious spirits who are always 
looking for something new, even if it has a bitter taste— all 
these he has pleased by his oddness. But his good, or at all 
events his engaging qualities have produced a lamentable 
effect in the crowd of his imitators; and this is a fact that 
I shall have more than one opportunity of demonstrating. 



MM. Eugene Delacroix and Ingres share between them 
the support and the antipathy of the pubHc. It is a long 
time since popular opinion first drew a cordon round them, 
Hke a pair of wrestlers. But without giving our acceptance 
to this childish and vulgar love of antithesis, we must 
nevertheless begin by an examination of these two French 
masters, since around and below them are grouped and 
ranged almost all the individuals who go to make up our 
artistic company. 

Faced with thirty-five pictures by M. Delacroix, the first 
idea to take possession of the spectator is the idea of a well- 
filled fife, of a stubborn and unremitting love of art. Which 
of these pictures is the finest?— it is impossible to say. Which 
the most interesting?— one hesitates. Here and there one 
seems to detect instances of progress; but if some of the 
more recent pictures show that certain important quahties 

^As has been pointed out in a footnote on p. 192, this article 
appeared in Le Pays a week after the introductory article. To 
judge by the opening paragraph, it seems clearly to have been 
intended as the second, and not the third, article of the series. 
We are however retaining the order in which the three articles 
were first printed together in Curiosites esthetiques. 


have been pushed to their extreme limits, it is humbling 
for the impartial critic to have to recognize that from his 
earhest productions, from his very youth (Dante and Virgil 
dates from 1822) M. Delacroix has possessed greatness. At 
times perhaps he has been more subtle, at times more 
curious, at times more painterly— but he has never ceased 
to be great. 

In^ the presence of a destiny so nobly and so happily 
fulfilled, a destiny blessed by nature and consummated by 
the most admirable power of will, I am conscious of some 
lines by one of our great poets, ceaselessly echoing in my 

II nait sous le soleil de nobles creatures 

Unissant ici-bas tout ce qu'on pent rever; 

Corps de fer, ccEurs de flamme, admirables natures, 

Dieu semble les produire afin de se prouver; 
II prend, pour les petrir, une argile plus douce, 
Et souvent passe un siecle a les parachever. 

II met, comme un sculpteur, I'empriente de son pouce 
Sur leurs fronts rayonnant de la gloire des cieux, 
Et Tardente aureole en gerbes d'or y pousse. 

Ces hommes-la s'en vont, cahnes et radieux, 
Sans quitter un instant leur pose solennelle, 
Avec Toeil immobile et le maintien des dieux. 

Ne leur donnez qu'un jour ou donnez-leur cent ans, 
L'orage ou le repos, la palette ou le glaive: 
II meneront a bout leurs destins eclatants. 

Leur existence etrange est le reel du reve; 

lis executeront votre plan ideal, 

Comme un maitre savant le croquis d'un eleve. 

^ The following paragraph, with Gautier's poem and the sen- 
tence wliich rounds it off, were not in the text as printed in 


Vos desirs inconnus, sous I'arceau triomphal, 
Dont votre esprit en songe arrondissait la voute, 
Passent assis en croupe au dos de leur cheval. 

De ceux-la chaque peuple en compte cinq ou six. 
Cinq ou six, tout au plus, dans les siecles prosperes, 
Types tou jours vivants dont on fait des recits. 

Theophile Gautier calls this a 'Compensation.^ And could 
not M. Delacroix fill up the vacant spaces of a whole cen- 
tuiy entirely on his own? 

Never was an artist more attacked, more held up to 
ridicule, or more thwarted. But what care we for the hesi- 
tations of governments (I speak of some years ago), the 
scoldings of a few bourgeois salons, the spiteful tracts of a 
smoking-room academy or two, or the pedantry of domino- 
players? Probatum est, the matter has been settled once 
and for all, the result is before our eyes in its manifest, 
immense and blazing ti-uth. 

M. Delacroix has practised every genre; his imagination 
and his learning have ranged over every inch of the terri- 
tory of painting. He has painted charming httle pictures, 
filled with depth and intimate feehng— and v^th what a 
loving sensitivity has he painted them! He has glorified 
the walls of our palaces: he has filled our museums with 
enormous compositions. 

This year he has most rightfully availed himself of the 
opportunity of showing a fairly considerable portion of his 
life's work, and thus of making us reconsider, so to speak, 
the documents of the case. The collection has been most 
discerningly assembled, so as to provide us with a set of 
varied and decisive samples of his mind and his talent. 

We start with Dante and Virgil,'^ that young man's pic- 
ture which was a revolution in itself, and in which one 
figure (the upturned male torso) was for long falsely 
attributed to Gericault. Among the big pictures, we may 
perhaps be allowed to hesitate between the Justice of 
^ From La ComSdie de la Mort ( 1838). See Appendix. 
* Now in the Louvre. 


Trajan^ and the Taking of Constantinople by the Cru- 
saders.'^ The former is such a marvellously luminous pic- 
ture, so airy, so full of tumult and splendour! How 
handsome the Emperor I how turbulent the crowd as it 
twists round the columns or moves along with the pro- 
cessionl how dramatic the weeping widowl This is the 
picture that was immortalized some years ago by the 
egregious M. Karr^ and his little jokes about pink horses— 
as if some horses were not slightly pink, and as if in any 
case a painter had not a perfect right to do them that way 
if he wishedl 

But quite apart from its subject-matter, what makes the 
second picture so deeply moving is its tempestuous and 
gloomy harmony. What a sky, and what a seal All is 
tumult and tranquillity, as in the aftermath of a great event. 
The city, ranged behind the Crusaders who have just 
passed through it, stretches back into the distance with a 
miraculous truth. And everywhere the fluttering and wav- 
ing of flags, unfurling and snapping their bright folds in 
the transparent atmosphere 1 Everywhere the restless, stir- 
ring crowd, the tumult of arms, the ceremonial splendour 
of the clothes, and a rhetorical truth of gesture amid the 
great occasions of life! These two pictures are of an essen- 
tially Shakespearean beauty. For after Shakespeare, no one 
has excelled like Delacroix in fusing a mysterious unity of 
drama and reverie. 

The public will renew acquaintance with all those pic- 
tures of stormy memory which were in themselves revolts, 
struggles and triumphs: the Doge Marino Faliero'^ (Salon 
of 1827; it is curious to note that Justinian draping his 
laws^ and the Christ in the Garden of Olives^ are of the 
same year) ; the Bishop of Liege, ^^ that admirable transla- 

^ Now in tlie Rouen Museum; repro. Journal, pi. 27. 
'Alphonse Kan (1808-90), novelist, journalist and occasional 

' Now in the Wallace Collection; repro. Journal, pi. 7. 
' Burnt in 1871. 

® Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis. 

^°With the Marlborough Gallery, London; sketch repro. Jour- 
nal, pi. 12. 


tion of Walter Scott, all crowd, bustle and light; the Mas- 
sacre at Chios ;^'^ the Prisoner of Chillon;'^'^ the Tasso in 
Prison;^^ the Jewish Wedding;^^ the Convulsionaries of 
Tangier,^^ etc., etc. But how is one to define that charming 
class of picture, such as the Hamlet in the graveyard 
scene,^^ and the Farewell of Romeo and Juliet,^'^ which are 
so deeply moving and attractive that once it has bathed 
in their httle worlds of melancholy, the eye can no longer 
escape them, and the mind is for ever in their thrall? 

Et le tableau quitte nous tourmente et nous suit.^^ 

But this is not the Hamlet which Rouviere^^ showed us re- 
cently, and with such brilliant success— the sour, unhappy, 
violent Hamlet, driving his restlessness to the pitch of 
frenzy. There you have the romantic strangeness of the 
great tragedian; but Delacroix, more faithful perhaps to his 
text, has sho\vn us a deHcate and palHd Hamlet, a Hamlet 
with white, feminine hands, a refined, soft and somewhat 
irresolute nature, and an almost colourless eye. 

Here too is the famous upturned head of the Magdalen, ^'^ 
with her strange, mysterious smile, and so supernaturally 
beautiful that you cannot tell whether she has been trans- 
figured by death or beautified by the spasms of divine love. 

On the subject of the Romeo and Juliet I have an obser- 
vation to make which I beheve to be of no Httle importance. 
I have heard so much fun made of the ugliness of Dela- 
croix's women— though without being able to understand 

" Now in the Louvre. 
^ Private collection, England. 

" Now in the St. Paul Museum, Minnesota, U.S.A. 
" See pi. 67. 

^^ From the Terza Rima in Gautier's Comedie de la mort. See 

^"The actor Philibert Rouviere had played the part of Hamlet 
at the Theatre Historique, December 1847, in Dumas and 
Meurice's \'ersion of the play. Baudelaire published an enthusi- 
astic article on Rouviere in 1855 (reprinted in L'Art Roman- 
tique). Manet's L'Acteur Tragique represents Rouviere as Ham- 
" 1845 Salon: see p. 4 above. 


that kind of fun— that I welcome the opportunity of pro- 
testing against this misguided notion, which was shared, I 
understand, by M. Victor Hugo. You will remember how, 
in the high summer of Romanticism, he deplored the fact 
that the man who enjoyed a parallel glory to his own in 
the eyes of the public should commit such monstrous errors 
in respect of beauty. He went so far as to liken Delacroix's 
women to frogs. But M. Victor Hugo is a great sculptural 
poet whose eye is closed to spirituality. 

I am sorry that the Sardanapalus^^ has not reappeared 
this year, for there you would have seen some very beauti- 
ful women, bright and shining and pink— to the best of my 
recollection. And Sardanapalus himself was as beautiful as 
a woman. Generally speaking, Delacroix's women may be 
divided into two classes. Those of the first class, who pre- 
sent no difficulties to the understanding and are often 
mythological, are of necessity beautiful (for example the 
recumbent nymph, seen from behind, in the ceiling of the 
Galerie d'Apollon^^). They are rich, robust, opulent, abun- 
dant women, and are endowed with a wonderful trans- 
parency of flesh and superb heads of hair. 

But the others, who are sometimes historical women 
(like the Cleopatra^^ looking at the asp), but are more 
often women of fancy, of genre— Marguerites, Ophelias, 
even Blessed Virgins or Magdalens— these I would be in- 
cHned to caU Vomen in intimacy'. Their eyes seem heavy 
with some painful secret which cannot be buried in the 
grave of secrecy. Their pallor is like a revelation of their 
internal struggles. Whether they owe their distinction to 
the fascination of crime or to the odour of sanctity, and 
whether their gestures are languid or violent, these women, 
sick at heart or in mind, have in their eyes the leaden hues 
of fever, or the strange, abnormal sparkle of their malady— 
and in their glance the intensity of a supernatural vision. 

But always, and in spite of everything, these are dis- 
tinguished, essentially distinguished women; and if I am to 
put the whole thing in a nutshell, I would say that M. Dela- 
^ Now in the Louvre; repro. Journal, pi. 8. 
" In the Louvre; sketch repro. Journal, pi. 33. 
^ In a private collection, Switzerland. 


croix seems to me to be of all artists the best equipped to 
express modem woman, and, above all, modern woman in 
her heroic manifestation, in the divine or the infernal in- 
terpretation of the word. These women even have the 
physical beauty of today, that air of reverie (for all the 
fulness of their breasts), v^th their slightly narrow ribs, 
their broad hips and their charming limbs. 

Some of these paintings are new and unknown to the 
public; such are the Two Foscari,^^ the Arab Family,^- the 
Lion Hunt^^ and a Head of an Old Woman^'^ (a portrait 
by M. Delacroix is a rarity). These different paintings serve 
to demonstrate the prodigious sureness which the master 
has achieved. The Lion Hunt is a veritable explosion of 
colour (the word is intended in its good sense) . Never can 
colours more beautiful or more intense have penetrated to 
the soul through the channel of the eyes! 

The minute and careful examination of these pictures can 
only reinforce certain irrefutable truths suggested by a first 
rapid and generalized glance. First of all it is to be noted— 
and this is very important— that even at a distance too great 
for the spectator to be able to analyse or even to compre- 
hend its subject-matter, a picture by Delacroix will already 
have produced a rich, joyful or melancholy impression upon 
the soul. It almost seems as though this kind of painting, 
like a magician or a hypnotist, can project its thought at 
a distance. This curious phenomenon results from the 
colourist's special power, from the perfect concord of his 
tones and from the harmony, which is pre-established in the 
painter's brain, between colour and subject-matter. If the 
reader will pardon me a stratagem of language in order to 
express an idea of some subtlety, it seems to me that M. 
Delacroix's colour thinks for itself, independently of the 
objects which it clothes. Further, these wonderful chords of 
colour often give one ideas of melody and harmony, and 
the impression that one takes away from his pictures is 

^ Now at the Musee Cond6, Chantilly. 

^ In a private collection, Paris. 

^ Now in the Bordeaux Museum; repro. Journal, pi. 55. 

** In a private collection, France. 


often, as it were, a musical one. A^^ poet has attempted 
to express these subtle sensations in some lines whose 
sincerity must excuse their singularity: 

Delacroix, lac de sang, hante des mauvais anges, 
Ombrage par un bois de sapins toujours vert, 
Ou, sous un ciel chagrin, des fanfares ^tranges 
Passent comme un soupir etouffe de Weber.^^ 

Lac de sang [lake of blood]— the colour red; hante des 
mauvais anges [haunted by bad angels]— supematuralism; 
un hois toujours vert [an ever-green wood]— the colour 
green, the complementary of red; un ciel chagrin [a sullen 
sky]— the turbulent, stormy backgrounds of his pictures; 
les fanfares et Weber [fanfares, and Weber]- ideas of ro- 
mantic music awakened by the harmonies of his colour. 

Of Delacroix's drawing, which has been so absurdly and 
so banally criticized, what am I to say, except that it is 
one of those elementary truths which are completely mis- 
understood? What am I to say, except that a good drawing 
is not a hard, cruel, despotic and rigid line, imprisoning a 
form Hke a strait-jacket? that drawing should be like nature, 
alive and in motion? that simplification in drawing is a 
monstrosity, Hke tragedy in the world of the theatre, and 
that nature presents us with an infinite series of curved, 
receding and crooked Hues, following an impeccable law 
of generation, in which paralleHsm is always vague and 
sinuous, and concavities and convexities correspond with 
and pursue one another? and, last of all, that M. Delacroix 
admirably satisfies all these conditions, and that even 
though his drawing may admit of occasional weaknesses or 
excesses, it has at least the enormous merit of being a con- 
stant and effective protest against the barbarous invasion 
of the straight fine- that tragic, systematic line whose 
present ravages in painting and in sculpture are already 

Another very great and far-reaching quality of M. Dela- 

^ The passage from this sentence down to the end of the para- 
graph was not in the text as printed in 1855. 
^From Les Phares (Les Fleurs du Mai, VI), which was not 
published until 1857. 


croix's talent, and one which makes him the painter beloved 
of the poets, is that he is essentially literary. Not only has 
his art ranged— and successfully ranged— over the field of 
the great literatures of the world; not only has it translated, 
and been the companion of, Ariosto, Byron, Dante, Scott 
and Shakespeare, but it has the power of revealing ideas 
of a loftier, a subtler and a deeper order than the art of the 
majority of modem painters. And rest assured that it is 
never by means of a mere feint, by a trifle or a trick of the 
brush that M. Delacroix achieves this prodigious result; 
rather is it by means of the total effect, the profound and 
perfect harmony between his colour, his subject and his 
drawing, and the dramatic gesticulation of his figures. 

Edgar Poe has it somewhere^^ that the effect of opium 
upon the senses is to invest the whole of nature with a 
supernatural intensity of interest, which gives to every ob- 
ject a deeper, a more wilful, a more despotic meaning. 
Without having recourse to opium, who has not known those 
miraculous moments— veritable feast-days of the brain- 
when the senses are keener and sensations more ringing, 
when the firmament of a more transparent blue plunges 
headlong into an abyss more infinite, when sounds chime 
like music, when colours speak, and scents tell of whole 
worlds of ideas? Very well then, M. Delacroix's painting 
seems to me to translate those fine days of the soul. It is 
invested with intensity, and splendour is its special privi- 
lege. Like nature apprehended through extra-sensitive 
nerves, it reveals what Hes beyond nature. 

How will M. Delacroix stand with Posterity? what will 
that redresser of wrongs have to say of him? He has now 
reached a point in his career at which it is already easy to 
give the answer without finding too many to contradict one. 
Like us, Posterity will say that he was a imique meeting- 
place of the most astonishing faculties; that like Rembrandt 
he had a sense of intimacy and a profoundly magical 
quality, like Rubens and Lebrun a feeling for decoration 
and combination, like Veronese an enchanted sense of 
colour, etc.; but that he also had a quality all his own, a 
quality indefinable but itself defining the melancholy and 
^ In A Tale of the Ragged Mountains. 


the passion of his age— something quite new, which has 
made him a imique artist, without ancestry, without prece- 
dent, and probably without a successor— a link so precious 
that it could in no wise be replaced; and that by destroying 
it— if such a thing were possible— a whole world of ideas 
and sensations would be destroyed, and too great a gap 
would be blasted in the chain of history. 




My dear M— , when you did me the honour of asking for 
an analysis of the Salon, you said, 'Be brief; do not write 
a catalogue, but a general impression, something like the 
account of a rapid philosophical walk through the galleries/ 
Very well, you shall have your wish; not because your 
programme accords (as it does) with my own conception 
of that tiresome kind of article called a 'Salon'; nor because 
your method is easier than the other— it is not, for brevity 
always demands more eflFort than diffuseness; but simply 
because, above all in the present instance, there is no other 
possible way. Certainly I should have been more seriously 
embarrassed if I had found myself lost in a forest of 
originahty, if the modern French temperament, suddenly 
modified, purified, and rejuvenated, had put forth flowers 
so vigorous and of a scent so varied as to command irre- 
pressible wonder, to provoke floods of praise— a garrulous 
admiration— or to necessitate a whole series of new cate- 
gories in the language of criticism. But there is nothing of 
all that, fortunately (for me). No explosions; not a single 
unknown genius. The thoughts suggested by the sight of 
this Salon are of so simple, so traditional, so classic an order, 
that a few pages will doubtless be suflBcient to develop 
them. Do not be surprised, then, if banality in the painter 

^Published in four instalments, between 10th June and 20th 
July 1859. The name of the editor of the Remie Frangaise was 
Jean Morel. The Salon opened on 15th April at the Palais des 
Champs-Elysees. In a letter to Nadar of 14th May, Baudelaire 
claimed tliat he was writing this Salon without having seen it; a 
few days later he admitted (also to Nadar) that he had been 


should have given rise to the commonplace in your writer. 
Besides, you will be no whit the loser; for is there anything 
(I am delighted to record that you share my opinion in 
this)— is there anything in the world more charming, more 
fruitful, of a nature more positively exciting, than the com- 

Before I begin, allow me to express a regret, which I 
believe will be but seldom expressed. We had been told 
that we should have some guests to receive— guests, how- 
ever, who are not exactly unknown to us, for the exhibition 
in the Avenue Montaigne^ has already introduced to the 
Parisian public several of those charming artists of whom 
it had been for too long ignorant. I was thus looking for- 
ward with the greatest pleasure to re-estabHshing my 
acquaintance with Leslie,^ that rich, naif and noble hu- 
mourist, one of the most emphatic expressions of the British 
mind; with the two Hunts,* the one a stubborn naturalist, 
and the other the passionate and self-willed creator of Pre- 
Raphaelitism; with the bold compositions of Machse,^ no 
less impetuous than sure of himself; with Millais,^ that poet 
of meticulous detail; with J. Chalon,'^ that mixture of Claude 
and Watteau, chronicler of charming fetes champitres in 
great Italian parks; with Grant, that natural heir of Reyn- 
olds; with Hook,^ who knows how to flood his Venetian 

^The Exposition Universelle of 1855. At the end of his first 
article on that exhibition, Baudelaire had announced his inten- 
tion of writing an article on the contemporary English school 
(see pp. 201-2). 

'Leslie's pictures at the Exposition Universelle had included 
Uncle Toby and the Widow W adman ( now in the Victoria and 
Albert Museum) and Sancho Panza and the Duchess (National 
Gallery). The word Tiumourist' is Baudelaire's own. 
*W. H. Hunt had 11 water-colours, and Holman Hunt had 
The Light of the World, Strayed Sheep (Tate Gallery), and 
Claudio and Isabella. 

^ Maclise's two exhibits were Merry Christmas in the Barons 
Hall, and Ordeal by Touch. 

' Millais had The Order of Release, The Return of the Dove to 
the Ark, and Ophelia. 

'J. J. Chalon had A Summers Day: Morning, Afternoon and 
® J. C. Hook had one Venetian painting. 

222 THE SALON OF 1859 

dreams with a magic light; with that strange Paton,® who 
brings back Fuseli to mind and embroiders his graceful 
pantheistic chaos with the patience of another age; with 
Cattermole, the history-painter in water-colour, and \vith 
that other astonishing artist whose name escapes me, a 
visionary architect, who builds on paper cities whose 
bridges have elephants for supports, allowing gigantic three- 
masters in full sail to pass between their countless, colossal 
limbs.^^ A special place had even been set aside for these 
devotees of the imagination and of exotic colour, for these 
favourites of the fantastic muse; but alas, for reasons which 
I do not know and whose explanation cannot, I think, find 
a place in your journal, my hopes were disappointed. And 
so farewell, you tragic passions— gesticulations a la Kean 
or Macready; you charming, intimate gHmpses of the home; 
you splendours of the Orient, reflected in the poetic mirror 
of the English mind; you Scottish verdures, magical visions 
of freshness, receding depths in water-colours as vast as 
stage-decorations, although so small— we shall not gaze 
upon you, this time at least. Were you so badly received 
then the first time, you eager representatives of the imagi- 
nation and of the most precious powers of the soul? and 
do you consider us unworthy of understanding you? 

And so, my dear M— , we shaU content ourselves with 
France, of necessity. And believe me, it would give me 
immense pleasure to adopt a lyrical tone in speaking of the 
artists of my own country; but unhappily, however Httle 
practised a critic's mind may be, patriotism does not play 
an absolutely tyrannical role therein, and we have some 
humiliating admissions to make. The first time that I set 
foot in the Salon, I met on the staircase one of the most 
subtle and best-regarded of our critics, and to my first 

" Noel Paton had Oberon and Titania ( National Gallery of 

^° In Baudelaire's article on Gautier, where the greater part of 
this paragraph also occurs, the names of Cockerell or Kendall 
are suggested here. From Adolphe Lance's Compte-rendu of 
the architectural exhibits at the exhibition (pp. 56 ff.), it is 
quite clear that H. E. Kendall, jun. is the Visionary architect' 
in question. See F. W. Leakey's 'Baudelaire et Kendall', shortly 
to be published in tiie Revue de litterature comparee. 


question— to the natural question that I put to him— he 
replied, Tlat, mediocre; I have seldom seen so dismal a 
Salon/ He was both right and wrong. An exhibition which 
contains nmnerous works by Delacroix, Penguilly, Fromen- 
tin, cannot be dismal; but from the point of view of a 
general inspection, I saw that he was in the right. It cannot 
be doubted that at all times mediocrity has dominated; 
but that it should be more than ever on the throne, that 
its encumbrance should have turned into an absolute tri- 
umph—it is this fact that is as true as it is distressing. After 
having passed my eyes for some time over so many suc- 
cessfully-completed platitudes, so much carefully-laboured 
drivel, so much cleverly-constructed stupidity and falseness, 
I was led by the natural course of my reflections to consider 
the artist in times past and to place him face to face with 
the artist of the present: and then, at the end of these dis- 
couraging reflections, that terrible and eternal question- 
mark inevitably reared its head, as it always does. It would 
seem that httleness, puerility, incuriosity and the leaden 
calm of fatuity have taken the place of ardour, nobility and 
turbulent ambition, no less in the fine arts than in litera- 
ture; and that for the moment nothing gives us reason to 
hope for any spiritual flowering as abundant as that of the 
Restoration. (And beheve me, I am not alone in being 
oppressed by these bitter reflections; I wiU prove it to you 
in good time. ) I therefore asked myself the following ques- 
tions: What was he, then— the artist of former times (Le- 
brun or David, for example)? Lebrun was all erudition, 
imagination, knowledge of the past, and love of grandeur; 
and David, that colossus slandered by pigmies— did not he 
also embody love of the past and love of grandeur com- 
bined with erudition? But what of the artist today— that 
ancient brother to the poet? To answer that question prop- 
erly, my dear M— , one must not shrink from being too 
stem. A scandalous favoritism sometimes demands an 
equivalent response. Despite his lack of merit, the artist 
is today, and has been for many years, nothing but a 
spoiled child. How many honours, how much money has 
been showered upon men without soul and without edu- 
cation! I am certainly far from advocating the introduction 

224 THE SALON OF 1859 

into an art of means which are alien to it; and yet to quote 
an example, I cannot prevent myself from feeling sympa- 
thetic towards an artist such as Chenavard, who is always 
agreeable in the way that books are agreeable, and grace- 
ful even when he is dull and pompous. What do I care that 
he is the butt of every dauber's jokes? At least with him I 
am sure that I can have a conversation about Virgil or 
about Plato. Preault has a charming talent, an instinctive 
taste which hurls him upon the beautiful like a hunting 
animal upon its natural prey. Daumier is gifted with a radi- 
ant good sense which colours all his conversation. Ricard, 
in spite of the dazzle and elusiveness of his talk, never fails 
to let one see that he knows, and has compared a great 
deal. It is unnecessaiy, I think, to speak of the conversation 
of Eugene Delacroix, which is an admirable mixture of 
philosophical solidity, of witty lightness and of blazing 
enthusiasm. But apart from these, I cannot think of any 
other artist who is worthy to converse with a philosopher 
or a poet. Apart from them, you will hardly find anything 
but spoiled children. I beg and implore you to tell me in 
what salon, in what tavern, in what social or intimate 
gathering you have heard a single witty remark uttered 
by a spoiled child— a. profound, brilliant, or acute remark, 
to make one ponder or dream— in short, a suggestive re- 
mark? If such a remark has been throv^n out, it may not 
indeed have been by a politician or a philosopher, but by 
someone of an outlandish profession, Hke a hunter, a sailor 
or a taxidermist; but by an artist, a spoiled child, never. 

The spoiled child has inherited privileges, once legiti- 
mate, from his predecessors. The endiusiasm which greeted 
David, Guerin, Girodet, Gros, Delacroix and Bonington, 
stiU sheds its charitable Hght upon his sorry person; and 
while good poets and vigorous historians make their Hving 
with extreme difficulty, the besotted business-man pays 
magnificently for the indecent little fooleries of the spoiled 
child. Please do not misunderstand me; if this goodwill 
were bestowed upon men of merit, I should not complain. 
When a singer or a dancer has reached the summit of her 
art, I am not one of those who envy her the fortune which 


she has gained by the labours and the risks of every day. 
I should be afraid of falHng into the vice of the late 
Girardin,!! of sophistical memory, who one day rebuked 
Theophile Gautier for rating his imagination at a much 
higher value than the services of a sous-prefet. It was, if 
you remember, on one of those ill-omened days when the 
terrified public heard him speaking Latin: pecudesque 
locutae! No, I am not as unjust as all that; but it is a good 
thing to raise the voice and to cry shame on contemporary 
folly when, at the same time that a ravishing picture by 
Delacroix had difficulty in finding a buyer at 1000 francs, 
the practically-invisible figures of Meissonier fetched ten 
or twenty times as much. But those happy times have 
passed; we have fallen even lower, and M. Meissonier, who, 
in spite of all his merits, had the misfortune of introducing 
and popularizing the taste for Uttleness, is a veritable giant 
compared with today's toy-makers. 

Discredit of the imagination, disdain of the great, love- 
no, this is too fine a word— exclusive practice, rather, of 
technique— such, I beheve, are the principal reasons for 
the artist's degradation. The more imagination one has, 
the better will be the technique needed to accompany it 
in its adventures and to overcome the difficulties which it 
avidly courts. And the better one's technique, the less 
should one make a virtue of it and display it, so that the 
imagination may be allowed to bum with its full briUiance. 
This is the counsel of wisdom; and wisdom says also: He 
who possesses no more than the technical skill is but a 
beast, and the imagination which attempts to do without 
it is insane. But for all their simpHcity, these things are 
both above and below the modern artist. A concierge's 
daughter says to herself: 1 shall go to the Conservatoire, 
I shall make my debut at the Comedie Frangaise, I shall 
declaim the verses of Corneille until I am classed above 
those who have been declaiming them for years.' And she 
does as she has said. She is very classically monotonous, 
and very classically boring and ignorant; but she has suc- 

^The journalist and politician Girardin was a particular hSte 
noire of Baudelaire's. 

226 THE SALON OF 1859 

ceeded in what was very easy, that is to say, in winning 
by her patience the privileges of a societaire. And the 
spoiled child, the modern painter, says to himself: 'What 
is imagination? A danger and a toil. What is reading and 
contemplation of the past? Waste of time. I shall be classi- 
cal, not Hke Bertin^^ (for the classical changes its place and 
its name), but like . . . Troy on, for example.' And he 
does as he has said. He paints on and on; he stops up his 
soul and continues to paint, until at last he becomes like 
the artist of the moment and by his stupidity and his skill 
he earns the acclaim and the money of the public. The 
imitator of the imitator finds his own imitators, and in this 
way each pursues his dream of greatness, better and better 
stopping up his soul and above all reading nothing, not 
even The Perfect Cook, which at any rate would have been 
able to open up for him a career of greater glory, if less 
profit. When he is thoroughly master of the art of sauces, 
of patinas, of glazes, of scumbles, of gravies, of stews (I 
speak of painting), the spoiled child strikes proud attitudes 
and repeats with more conviction than ever that nothing 
else is necessary. 

There was once a German peasant who went to a painter 
and said to him: 'Sir, I want you to paint my portrait. You 
will show me sitting at the front door of my farm-house, 
in the great arm-chair which I inherited from my father. 
Beside me you wdll paint my wife with her distaff, and 
behind us my daughters passing to and fro, preparing the 
family supper. By the avenue to the left come those of my 
sons who are returning from the fields after having herded 
the cattle to their byres; others, with my grandsons, are 
bringing back waggons laden with hay. While I am watch- 
ing this scene, I beg you not to forget the puffs of smoke 
from my pipe, which are shot through by the rays of the 
setting sun. I should like the spectator to hear the sound 
of the Angelus which is ringing from the nearby church- 
tower. That is where we were all married, both the fathers 
and the sons. It is important that you should paint the air 
of satisfaction which I enjoy at this moment of the day, 

"Victor Bertin, a pupil of P.-H. Valenciennes, the neo-classic 


when at one and the same time I contemplate my family 
and my riches increased by the labours of a day!'^^ 

Three cheers for that peasant 1 Without for a moment sus- 
pecting it, he imderstood painting. Love of his profession 
had heightened his imagination. But which of our fashion- 
able painters would be worthy of executing this portrait? 
Which of them can claim that his imagination has reached 
such a level? 



My dear M— , if I had time to divert you, it would be the 
easiest thing in the world, merely by flicking through the 
catalogue and making an extract of all the ridiculous titles 
and preposterous subjects which are intended to attract our 
eyes. There's the famous Gallic wit for youl To seek to 
astonish by means which are alien to the art in question is 
the great standby of men who are not natural painters. 
Sometimes even— but always in France— this vice infects 
men who are not altogether devoid of talent and who de- 
base it in this way with an adulterous mixture. I could 
parade before your eyes the comic title (in the manner 
of the vaudevillistes) , the sentimental title (which lacks 
only an exclamation-mark), the punning title, the pro- 
found and philosophical title, the false or trick title, of the 
type of 'Brutus, Idche Cesar!' 'O faithless generation!', said 
Our Lord. 'How long shall I be with you? how long shall 
I suffer you?* This generation, in fact, both artists and 
public, has so little faith in painting that it spends its time 
in seeking to disguise it, to wrap it up in sugar pills like an 
unpleasant medicine; and what sugar. Great Heavens! I 
will instance two titles of pictures, which however I have 
not seen. The first is Amour et Gibelotte!^ Doesn't that 

" The above paragraph seems to be an imitation and develop- 
ment of a passage in Diderot's Essai sur la peinture; the passage 
is quoted in Crepet's edition of Curiosites esthetiques (p. 489). 
^ By Ernest Seigneurgens. 

228 THE SALON OF 1859 

immediately whet the appetite of your curiosity? 'Love and 
Rabbit-stew!' Let me try and make an intimate combination 
of these two ideas, the idea of love and the idea of a rabbit 
skinned and made into a a stew. I can hardly suppose that 
the painter's imagination can have gone so far as to fit a 
quiver, a pair of wings and an eye-bandage upon the corpse 
of a domestic animal; the allegory would be really too 
obscure. I imagine rather that the title has been invented 
upon the recipe of Misanthropie et Repentir? The true title 
would thus be Lovers Eating a Rabbit-Stew. Now you will 
ask, are they young or old, a labourer and a working-girl, 
or perhaps a retired veteran and a waif in some dusty 
bower? I really ought to have seen the picture I— Next we 
have Monarchique, catholique et soldat!^ Here is one in 
the noble, the crusader style, like Itineraire de Paris d 
Jerusalem (forgive me, Chateaubriand 1 but the most noble 
peal of bells can become means of caricature, and the 
political utterances of the leader of an empire can be turned 
into a dauber's squibs). This picture can only represent one 
character doing three things at once— fighting in battle, 
making his communion and assisting at the petit lever of 
Louis XIV. Or could it be a warrior tattooed with fleurs 
de lys and devotional images? But what is the good of 
perplexing ourselves further? Let us simply say that this is 
a false and sterile method of striking wonder. What is even 
more deplorable is that the picture may perhaps be a good 
one, however odd this may seem. And the same with Amour 
et Gibelotte. Did I not catch sight of an excellent little 
group of sculpture whose number I had unfortunately not 
noted, and when I wanted to know the subject I re-read 
the catalogue four times— but to no availl At last you kindly 
informed me that it was called Toujours et Jamais."^ I felt 
truly sorry to see a man of real talent uselessly cultivating 
the art of the rebus. 

I beg your forgiveness for having amused myself a little 

^ The French translation of Kotzebue's play Menschenhass und 
Reue (1789), in which a wife's infidelity occasions a husband's 
misanthropy, which leads to repentance and a happy ending. 
^By Joseph Gouezou. 
* By Emile Hebert. See pp. 299-300 below. 


while in the maimer of the lighter journals. But however 
frivolous the matter may seem to you, if you look carefully 
you will find that it contains a deplorable symptom. To 
sum up in a style of paradox, I will ask you and those of 
my friends who are more learned than I in the history of 
art, if the taste for the asinine and the taste for the witty 
(which is really the same thing) have always existed; if 
Appartement a Louer^ and other far-fetched conceptions 
have appeared in all ages, in order to provoke the same 
popular enthusiasm; if the Venice of Veronese and Bassano 
was aflElicted by these pictorial anagrams, and if the eyes 
of GiuHo Romano, of Michelangelo, and of Bandinelli were 
alarmed by similar monstrosities; I ask, in a word, if M. 
Biard is eternal and omnipresent, like God. I do not beHeve 
so; I regard these horrors as a special grace bestowed upon 
the French nation. It is true that her artists infect her with 
the taste for them; that, once infected, she demands to 
have her needs satisfied is no less true; for if the artist 
makes the public stupid, the public pays him back in kind. 
They are two correlative terms which act upon one another 
with an equal power. And so let us marvel at the momen- 
tum with which we plunge into the track of progress (by 
progress I mean the progressive domination of matter), and 
at the miraculous everyday diffusion of the common nm of 
skill— of something which can be acquired by patience 

For us the natural painter, like the natural poet, is almost 
a monster. The exclusive taste for the True (so noble a 
thing when it is limited to its proper applications) oppresses 
and stifles the taste for the Beautiful. Where one should 
see nothing but Beauty (I mean in a beautiful painting, 
and you can easily guess what is in my mind), oiu: public 
looks only for Truth. The people are not artists, not natu- 
rally artists; philosophers perhaps, moralists, engineers, con- 
noisseurs of instructive anecdotes, whatever you like, but 
never spontaneously artists. They feel, or rather they judge, 
in stages, analytically. Other more fortunate peoples feel 
immediately, all at once, synthetically. 

I was speaking just now of artists who seek to astonish 
^ By F.-A. Biard; one of the great successes of the 1844 Salon. 

230 THE SALON OF 1859 

the public. The desire to astonish and to be astonished is 
very proper. It is a happiness to wonder'; but also 'it is 
a happiness to dream'.^ The whole question, then, if you 
insist that I confer upon you the title of artist or of con- 
noisseur of the fine arts, is to know by what processes you 
wish to create or to feel wonder. Because the Beautiful is 
always wonderful, it would be absurd to suppose that what 
is wonderful is always beautiful. Now our public, which is 
singularly incapable of feeling the happiness of dreaming 
or of marvelling (a sign of its meanness of soul), wishes to 
be made to wonder by means which are alien to art, and 
its obedient artists bow to its taste; they try to strike, to 
surprise, to stupefy it by means of unworthy tricks, because 
they know that it is incapable of ecstasy in front of the 
natural devices of true art. 

During this lamentable period, a new industry arose 
which contributed not a little to confirm stupidity in its 
faith and to ruin whatever might remain of the divine in 
the French mind. The idolatrous mob demanded an ideal 
worthy of itself and appropriate to its nature— that is per- 
fectly understood. In matters of painting and sculpture, the 
present-day Credo of the sophisticated, above all in France 
(and I do not think that anyone at all would dare to state 
the contrary), is this: 1 believe in Nature, and I beheve 
only in Nature (there are good reasons for that). I believe 
that Art is, and cannot be other than, the exact reproduc- 
tion of Nature (a timid and dissident sect would wish to 
exclude the more repellent objects of nature, such as skele- 
tons or chamber-pots). Thus an industry that could give 
us a result identical to Nature would be the absolute of art.' 
A revengeful God has given ear to the prayers of this mul- 
titude. Daguerre was his Messiah. And now the faithful 
says to himself: 'Since photography gives us every guaran- 
tee of exactitude that we could desire (they really believe 
that, the mad foolsl), then photography and Art are the 
same thing.' From that moment our squalid society rushed. 
Narcissus to a man, to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap 
of metal. A madness, an extraordinary fanaticism took pos- 
session of all these new sun-worsliippers. Strange abomina- 
' Quoted from Poe, Morella. 


tions took form. By bringing together a group of male and 
female clowns, got up like butchers and laundry-maids in 
a carnival, and by begging these heroes to be so kind as to 
hold their chance grimaces for the time necessary for the 
performance, the operator flattered himself that he was 
reproducing tragic or elegant scenes from ancient history. 
Some democratic writer ought to have seen here a cheap 
method of disseminating a loathing for history and for 
painting among the people, thus committing a double sacri- 
lege and insulting at one and the same time the divine art 
of painting and the noble art of the actor. A Httle later a 
thousand hungry eyes were bending over the peep-holes 
of the stereoscope, as though they were the attic-windows 
of the infinite. The love of pornography, which is no less 
deep-rooted in the natural heart of man than the love of 
himself, was not to let sHp so fine an opportunity of self- 
satisfaction. And do not imagine that it was only children 
on their way back from school who took pleasure in these 
follies; the world was infatuated with them. I was once 
present when some friends were discreetly concealing some 
such pictures from a beautiful woman, a woman of high 
society, not of mine— they were taking upon themselves 
some feeHng of delicacy in her presence; but 'No', she 
repHed. 'Give them to me! Nodiing is too strong for me.' 
I swear that I heard that; but who will believe me? 'You 
can see that they are great ladies,' said Alexandre Dumas. 
'There are some still greater 1,' said Cazotte.'' 

As the photographic industry was the refuge of every 
would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy 
to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not 
only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but had also 
the air of a vengeance. I do not believe, or at least I do not 
wish to beheve, in the absolute success of such a brutish 
conspiracy, in which, as in all others, one finds both fools 
and knaves; but I am convinced that the ill-applied devel- 

■^ The first remark is taken from Dumas' play La Tour de Nesle 
(Act I, sc. 9); the second from Gerard de Nerval's preface to 
Gazette's Le Viable amoureux. The somewhat complicated 
point of the joke is explained by Grepet in his note on this 
passage {CuriositSs, ed. Grepet, p. 490). 

23^ THE SALON OF 1859 

opments of photography, Hke all other purely material 
developments of progress, have contributed much to the 
impoverishment of the French artistic genius, which is 
already so scarce. In vain may our modem Fatuity roar, 
belch forth all the rumbling wind of its rotund stomach, 
spew out all the undigested sophisms with which recent 
philosophy has stu£Fed it from top to bottom; it is nonethe- 
less obvious that this industry, by invading the territories 
of art, has become art's most mortal enemy, and that the 
confusion of their several functions prevents any of them 
from being properly fulfilled. Poetry and progress are like 
two ambitious men who hate one another with an instinc- 
tive hatred, and when they meet upon the same road, one 
of them has to give place. If photography is allowed to 
supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have 
supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupid- 
ity of the multitude which is its natural ally. It is time, then, 
for it to return to its true duty, which is to be the servant 
of the sciences and arts— but the very humble servant, like 
printing or shorthand, which has neither created nor sup- 
plemented hterature. Let it hasten to enrich the tourist's 
album and restore to his eye the precision which his mem- 
ory may lack; let it adorn the naturalist's library, and 
enlarge microscopic animals; let it even provide informa- 
tion to corroborate the astronomer's hypotheses; in short, let 
it be the secretary and clerk of whoever needs an absolute 
factual exactitude in his profession— up to that point noth- 
ing could be better. Let it rescue from oblivion those tum- 
bling ruins, those books, prints and manuscripts which time 
is devouring, precious things whose form is dissolving and 
which demand a place in the archives of our memory— it 
win be thanked and applauded. But if it be allowed to 
encroach upon the domain of the impalpable and the 
imaginary, upon anything whose value depends solely upon 
the addition of something of a man's soul, then it v^ll be 
so much the worse for us I 

I know very well that some people v^dll retort, 'The 
disease which you have just been diagnosing is a disease 
of imbeciles. What man worthy of the name of artist, and 
what true connoisseur, has ever confused art with industry?' 


I know it; and yet I will ask them in my turn if they believe 
in the contagion of good and evil, in the action of the mass 
on individuals, and in the involuntary, forced obedience of 
the individual to the mass. It is an incontestable, an irresist- 
ible law that the artist should act upon the pubHc, and that 
the public should react upon the artist; and besides, those 
terrible witnesses, the facts, are easy to study; the disaster 
is verifiable. Each day art further diminishes its self-respect 
by bowing down before external reahty; each day the 
painter becomes more and more given to painting not 
what he dreams but what he sees. Nevertheless it is a 
happiness to dream, and it used to be a glory to express 
what one dreamt. But I ask youl does the painter still know 
this happiness? 

Could you find an honest observer to declare that the 
invasion of photography and the great industrial madness 
of our times have no part at all in this deplorable result? 
Are we to suppose that a people whose eyes are growing 
used to considering the results of a material science as 
though they were the products of the beautiful, will not 
in the course of time have singularly diminished its facul- 
ties of judging and of feeling what are among the most 
ethereal and immaterial aspects of creation? 



In recent years we have heard it said in a thousand dif- 
ferent ways, 'Copy nature; only copy nature. There is no 
greater deHght, no finer triumph tiban an excellent copy 
of nature.' And this doctrine (the enemy of art) was alleged 
to apply not only to painting but to all the arts, even to the 
novel and to poetry. To these doctrinaires, who were so 
completely satisfied by Nature, a man of imagination would 
certainly have had the right to reply: 1 consider it useless 
and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that 
exists satisfies me. Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters 
of my fancy to what is positively trivial.' And yet it would 

234 THE SALON OF 1859 

have been more philosophical to ask the doctrinaires in 
question first of all whether they were quite certain of the 
existence of external nature, or (if this question might seem 
too well calculated to pander to their sarcasm) whether 
they were quite certain of knowing all nature, that is, all 
that is contained in nature. A *yes' would have been the 
most boastful and extravagant of answers. So far as I have 
been able to understand its singular and humiliating inco- 
herences, the doctrine meant— at least I do it the honour 
of believing that it meant: The artist, the true artist, the 
true poet, should only paint in accordance with what he 
sees and with what he feels. He must be really faithful to 
his own nature. He must avoid Hke the plague borrowing 
the eyes and the feelings of another man, however great 
that man may be; for then his productions would be lies 
in relation to himself, and not realities. But if these pedants 
of whom I am speaking (for there is a pedantry even among 
the mean-spirited) and who have representatives every- 
where (for their theory flatters impotence no less than 
laziness)— if these pedants, I say, did not wish the matter 
to be understood in this way, let us simply believe that 
they meant to say, ^We have no imagination, and we de- 
cree that no one else is to have any.' 

How mysterious is Imagination, that Queen of the Facul- 
ties! It touches all the others; it rouses them and sends 
them into combat. At times it resembles them to the point 
of confusion, and yet it is always itself, and those men 
who are not quickened thereby are easily recognizable by 
some strange curse which withers their productions Hke 
the fig-tree in the Gospel. 

It is both analysis and synthesis; and yet men who are 
clever at analysis and sufficiently quick at summing up, 
can be devoid of imagination. It is that, and it is not en- 
tirely that. It is sensitivity, and yet there are people who 
are very sensitive, too sensitive perhaps, who have none 
of it. It is Imagination that first taught man the moral 
meaning of colour, of contour, of sound and of scent. In 
the beginning of the world it created analogy and meta- 
phor. It decomposes all creation, and with the raw ma- 
terials accumulated and disposed in accordance with rules 


whose origins one cannot find save in the furthest depths 
of the soul, it creates a new world, it produces the sensa- 
tion of newness. As it has created the world (so much can 
be said, I think, even in a religious sense), it is proper that 
it should govern it. What would be said of a warrior with- 
out imagination? that he might make an excellent soldier, 
but that if he is put in command of an army, he will make 
no conquests. The case could be compared to that of a poet 
or a novehst who took away the command of his faculties 
from the imagination to give it, for example, to his knowl- 
edge of language or to his observation of facts. What 
would be said of a diplomat without imagination? that he 
may have an excellent knowledge of the history of treaties 
and alliances in the past, but that he will never guess the 
treaties and alliances held in store by the future. Of a 
scholar without imagination? that he has learnt everything 
that, having been taught, could be learnt, but that he will 
never discover any laws that have not yet been guessed at. 
Imagination is the queen of truth, and the possible is one 
of the provinces of truth. It has a positive relationship with 
the infinite. 

Without imagination, all the faculties, however sound 
or sharpened they may be, are as though they did not exist, 
whereas a weakness in some of the secondary faculties, so 
long as they are excited by a vigorous imagination, is a 
secondary misfortune. None of them can do without it, but 
the lack of some of them can be made up by it. Often when 
our other faculties only find what they are seeking after 
successive trials of several different methods which are ill- 
adapted to the nature of things, imagination steps in, and 
proudly and simply guesses the answer. Finally, it plays 
a powerful role even in ethical matters; for— allow me to 
go so far and to ask. What is virtue without imagination? 
You might as well speak of virtue without pity, virtue with- 
out Heaven— it is a hard, cruel, sterilizing thing, which in 
some countries has become bigotry and in others protes- 

In spite of aU the magnificent privileges that I attribute 
to the imagination, I will not pay your readers the insult 
of explaining to them that the more it is helped in its work. 

236 THE SALON OF 1859 

the more powerful it is, and that there is nothing more 
formidable in our battles with the ideal than a fine imagi- 
nation disposing of an immense armoury of observed fact. 
Nevertheless, to return to what I was saying a moment ago 
concerning the prerogative of making up deficiencies, which 
the imagination owes to its divine origin, I should like to 
quote you an example, a tiny example, which I hope you 
will not scorn. Do you think that the author of Antony, 
of Count Hermann, and of Monte Cristo, is a scholar? I 
imagine not. Do you suppose that he has steeped himself 
in the practice of the arts and has made a patient study of 
them? Of course not. I should even imagine that to do so 
would be antipathetic to his nature. Very well then, he is 
an example to prove that the imagination, although unas- 
sisted by practice or by acquaintance with technical terms, 
is nevertheless incapable of producing heretical nonsense 
in a matter which is, for the most important part, within 
its province. Not long ago I was in a train and I was pon- 
dering over the article which I am now writing: I was 
considering above all that singular reversal of values which 
has permitted (in a century, I grant you, in which, for 
man's chastening, everything has been permitted him) a 
disdain of the most honourable and the most useful of the 
moral faculties. And then I saw lying on a nearby cushion 
a forgotten copy of the Independance Beige. Alexandre 
Dumas had taken over this year's account of the works in 
the Salon.^ This circumstance aroused my curiosity. You 
can guess my delight when I discovered my reflections 
amply verified by an example thrown in my way by 
chance. What a fine subject for surprise!, you will say- 
that this man, who seems to represent universal vitahty, 
should pronounce a magnificent eulogy on a period when 
life overflowed; that the creator of the romantic drama 
should raise his voice, which I assure you did not lack 
grandeur, and should sing the praises of that happy time 
when at the side of the new school of Hterature there flour- 
ished a new school of painting— Delacroix, the Deveria 
brothers, Boulanger, Poterlet, Bonington, etc.— that is ex- 

^ Dumas' articles on this Salon were collected and published as 
L'art et les artistes contemporains au Salon de 1859. 


acdy what you would expect! Laudator temporis actil But 
that he should pay a witty tribute to Delacroix, that he 
should succinctly explain the nature of his opponents' mad- 
ness, and that he should go even further and point out the 
sins of the best of the most recently celebrated painters; 
that he, Alexandre Dumas, so reckless and fluent a writer, 
should demonstrate so well, for example, that Troyon has 
no genius, and should even analyse what he lacks in order 
to simulate genius— tell me, my friend, do you find that so 
simple? All this, of course, was written in that loose dra- 
matic style which he has gradually adopted in talking to 
his innumerable audience; and yet, what grace, what 
swiftness in the expression of truth! You will aheady have 
finished my argument for me: If Alexandre Dumas, who 
is no scholar, had not been lucky enough to possess a rich 
imagination, he would only have spoken nonsense; as it is, 
he has spoken sound sense, and he has spoken it well, be- 
cause imagination, one must conclude, thanks to its supple- 
menting nature, embraces also the critical spirit. 

There remains yet one device for my adversary; it is to 
declare that Alexandre Dumas is not the author of his 
Salon. But this insult is such an old one, and this device 
so stale, that it should be thrown to the old-clothes-fanciers, 
to journalistic hacks and penny-a-liners. If they have not 
already picked it up, they will do so. 

We shall shortly be embarking upon a more intimate 
examination of the functions of this cardinal faculty (does 
not its richness put you in mind of ecclesiastical crimson?). 
I shall simply tell you what I learnt from the lips of a 
master;^ and just as at that time I used to verify his simple 
precepts by reference to every picture that came under my 
eyes— with all the delight of a man who is educating him- 
self—so we, in our turn, shall be able to apply them in 
succession, like touch-stones, to several of our painters. 

*i.e. Delacroix. 

238 THE SALON OF 1859 



Yesterday evening I sent you the last pages of my letter, 
in which I wrote, not without a certain diffidence, 'Since 
Imagination created the world, it is Imagination that gov- 
erns it.' Afterwards, as I was turning the pages of The 
Night Side of Nature,^ I came across this passage, which 
I quote simply because it is a paraphrase and justification 
of the line which was worrying me; *By imagination, I do 
not simply mean to convey the common notion impHed by 
that much abused word, which is only fancy, but the con- 
structive imagination, which is a much higher function, 
and which, in as much as man is made in the Hkeness of 
God, bears a distant relation to that subHme power by 
which the Creator projects, creates, and upholds his uni-' 
verse.' I feel no shame— on tlie contrary, I am very happy— 
to have coincided with the excellent Mrs. Crowe on this 
point; I have always admired and envied her capacity for 
belief, which is as fully developed as is that of doubt in 

I said that a long time ago I had heard a man who was 
a true scholar and deeply learned in his art, expressing tlie 
most spacious and yet the simplest of ideas on this subject. 
When I met him for the first time, I possessed no other 
experience but that which results from a consuming love, 
nor any other power of reasoning but instinct. It is true 
that this love and this instinct were passably lively; for 
even in my extreme youth my eyes had never been able 
to drink their fill of painted or sculpted images, and I think 
that worlds could have come to an end, impavidum ferient, 
before I had become an iconoclast. Obviously he wished 
to show the greatest indulgence and kindness to me; for 
we talked from the very beginning of commonplaces— tha.t 
is to say, of the vastest and most profound questions. About 

^On Mrs. Crowe's The Night Side of Nature (London 1848) 
see Gilman, pp. 128 ff. and notes. 


nature, for example: 'Nature is but a dictionary/ he kept 
on repeating. Properly to understand the extent of mean- 
ing implied in this sentence, you should consider the nu- 
merous ordinary usages of a dictionary. In it you look for 
the meaning of words, their genealogy and their etymology 
—in brief, you extract from it all the elements that compose 
a sentence or a narrative: but no one has ever thought of 
his dictionary as a composition, in the poetic sense of the 
word. Painters who are obedient to the imagination seek 
in their dictionary for the elements which suit with their 
conception; in adjusting those elements, however, with 
more or less of art, they confer upon them a totally new 
physiognomy. But those who have no imagination just copy 
the dictionary. The result is a great vice, the vice of banal- 
ity, to which those painters are particularly prone whose 
specialty brings them closer to external nature— landscape- 
painters, for example, who generally consider it a triumph 
if they contrive not to show their personalities. By dint of 
contemplating, they forget to feel and to think. 

For this great painter, however, no element of art, of 
which one man takes this and another that as the most 
important, was— I should rather say, is— anything but the 
humblest servant of a unique and superior faculty. 

If a very neat execution is called for, that is so that the 
language of the dream may be translated as neatly as pos- 
sible; if it should be very rapid, that is lest anything may 
be lost of the extraordinary vividness which accompanied 
its conception; if the artist's attention should even be di- 
rected to something so humble as the material cleanliness 
of his tools, that is easily intelligible, seeing that every 
precaution must be taken to make his execution both deft 
and unerring. 

With such a method, which is essentially logical, all the 
figures, their relative disposition, the landscape or interior 
which provides them with horizon or background, their 
garments— everything, in fact, must serve to illuminate the 
idea which gave them birth, must carry its original warmth, 
its livery, so to speak. Just as a dream inhabits its own 
proper atmosphere, so a conception which has become a 
composition needs to move with a coloured setting which 

240 THE SALON OF 1859 

is pecuKar to itself. Obviously a particular tone is allotted 
to whichever part of a picture is to become the key and 
to govern the others. Everyone knows that yellow, orange 
and red inspire and express the ideas of joy, richness, glory 
and love: but there are thousands of diflFerent yellow or 
red atmospheres, and all the other colours will be aflFected 
logically and to a proportionate degree by the atmosphere 
which dominates. In certain of its aspects the art of the 
colourist has an evident affinity with mathematics and 
music. And yet its most delicate operations are performed 
by means of a sentiment or perception to which long prac- 
tice has given an unqualifiable sureness. We can see that 
this great law of over-all harmony condemns many instances 
of dazzling or raw colour, even in the work of the most 
illustrious painters. There are paintings by Rubens which 
not only make one think of a coloured firework, but of 
several fireworks set off on the same platform. It is obvious 
that the larger a picture, the broader must be its touch; 
but it is better that individual touches should not be 
materially fused, for they will fuse naturally at a distance 
determined by the law of sympathy which has brought 
them together. Colour will thus achieve a greater energy 
and freshness. 

A good picture, which is a faithful equivalent of the 
dream which has begotten it, should be brought into being 
like a world. Just as the creation, as we see it, is the result 
of several creations in which the preceding ones are always 
completed by the following, so a harmoniously-conducted 
picture consists of a series of pictures superimposed on one 
another, each new layer conferring greater reality upon the 
dream, and raising it by one degree towards perfection. On 
the other hand I remember having seen in the studios of 
Paul Delaroche and Horace Vemet huge pictures, not 
sketched but actually begun— that is to say, with certain 
passages completely finished, while others were only indi- 
cated with a black or a white outline. You might compare 
this kind of work to a piece of purely manual labour— so 
much space to be covered in a given time— or to a long 
road divided into a great number of stages. As soon as each 
stage is reached, it is finished with, and when the whole 


road has been run, the artist is delivered of his picture. 

It is clear that all these rules are more or less modifiable, 
in accordance with the varying temperaments of artists. 
Nevertheless I am convinced that what I have just de- 
scribed is the surest method for men of a rich imagination. 
Consequently, if an artist's divergences from the method in 
question are too great, there is evidence that an abnormal 
and undue importance is being set upon some secondary 
element of art. 

I have no fear that anyone may consider it absurd to 
suppose a single education to be applicable to a crowd of 
different individuals. For it is obvious that systems of 
rhetoric or prosody are no arbitrarily invented tyrannies, 
but rather they are collections of rules demanded by the 
very constitution of the spiritual being. And systems of 
prosody and rhetoric have never yet prevented originality 
from clearly emerging. The contrary— namely that they 
have assisted the birth of originality— would be infinitely 
more true. 

To be brief, I must pass over a whole crowd of corollaries 
resulting from my principal formula, in which is contained, 
so to speak, the entire formulary of the true aesthetic, and 
which may be expressed thus: The whole visible universe 
is but a storehouse of images and signs to which the 
imagination will give a relative place and value; it is a 
sort of pasture which the imagination must digest and 
transform. All the faculties of the human soul must be 
subordinated to the imagination, which puts them in requi- 
sition all at once. Just as a good knowledge of the dictionary 
does not necessarily imply a knowledge of the art of com- 
position, and just as the art of composition does not itself 
imply a universal imagination, in the same way a good 
painter need not be a great painter. But a great painter is 
perforce a good painter, because a universal imagination 
embraces the understanding of all means of expression and 
the desire to acquire them. 

As a result of the ideas which I have just been making as 
clear as I have been able (but there are still so many things 
that I should have mentioned, particularly concerning the 
concordant aspects of all the arts, and their similarities in 

24^ THE SALON OF 1859 

method), it is clear that the vast family of artists— that is 
to say, of men who have devoted themselves to artistic 
expression— can be divided into two quite distinct camps. 
There are those who call themselves 'realists'— a word with 
a double meaning, whose sense has not been properly 
defined, and so in order the better to characterize their 
error, I propose to call them 'positivists*; and they say, 'I 
want to represent things as they are, or rather as they would 
be, supposing that I did not exist/ In other words, the 
universe without man. The others however— the 'imagina- 
tives — say, T want to illuminate things with my mind, and 
to project their reflection upon other minds/ Although these 
two absolutely contrary methods could magnify or diminish 
any subject, from a religious scene to the most modest 
landscape, nevertheless the man of imagination has gen- 
erally tended to express himself in religious painting and 
in fantasy, while landscape and the type of painting called 
'genre' would appear to offer enormous opportunities to 
those whose minds are lazy and excitable only with diffi- 

But besides the imaginatives and the self-styled realists, 
there is a third class of painters who are timid and servile, 
and who place all their pride at the disposal of a code of 
false dignity. While one group believes that it is copying 
nature, and another is seeking to paint its own soul, these 
men conform to a purely conventional set of rules— rules 
entirely arbitrary, not derived from the human soul, but 
simply imposed by the routine of a celebrated studio. In this 
very numerous but very boring class we include the false 
amateurs of the antique, the false amatein-s of style— in 
short, all those men who by their impotence have elevated 
the 'poncif' to the honours of the grand style. 


At every fresh exhibition, the critics observe that religious 
painting is more and more deficient. I do not know if they 


are correct so far as numbers are concerned; but certainly 
they make no mistake as to quality. Religious writers, like 
socialist writers, naturally tend to make beauty dependent 
upon belief, and more than one religious writer has at- 
tributed to a simple lack of faith this difficulty in giving 
expression to the things of faith. This error could be 
philosophically demonstrated if the facts did not show us 
sufficient proof to the contrary, and if the history of paint- 
ing did not ofiFer us the example of impious and atheistical 
artists producing excellent religious works. Let us simply 
say then that since religion is the highest fiction of the 
human mind (I am purposely speaking as an atheistic pro- 
fessor of the fine arts would speak, and nothing of what I 
say should be inferred as arguing against my own faith) 
it wiU require the most vigorous imagination and the most 
concentrated efforts from those who devote themselves to 
the expression of its acts and its sentiments. In the same 
way the character of Polyeuctes demands from the poet 
and the actor a spiritual ascent and an enthusiasm far more 
lively than those demanded by some vulgar character in 
love with a vulgar earthly creature, or even than a purely 
political hero. The only concession that one can reasonably 
make to those who hold to the theory of faith as the 
unique source of religious inspiration, is that at the moment 
of executing his work, the poet, the actor and the artist must 
believe in the reality of what he is representing, fired as he 
is by necessity. Thus it is that art is the only spiritual sphere 
in which man can say, 1 shall beHeve if I wish, and if I do 
not wdsh, I shall not beHeve.' The cruel and humiliating 
maxim, Spiritus fiM ubi milt, loses its credit in matters of art. 
I do not know if MM. Legros and Amand Gautier have 
faith as the Church understands it, but certainly, in com- 
posing each of them an excellent devotional work, they 
have had sufficient faith for the object in view. They have 
proved that even in the 19th century an artist can produce 
a good religious picture, provided that his imagination is 
fit to rise so far. Although the more important paintings of 
Eugene Delacroix are calling us and demanding our atten- 
tion, I have nevertheless thought it right, my dear M— , 
to start off with two names but little, if at all, knovni. To 

2,44 THE SALON OF 1859 

the natural scent of the forgotten or unfamiliar flower is 
added the paradoxical scent of its own obscurity, and its 
positive value is enhanced for us by the joy of having dis- 
covered it. Perhaps I am waong to be totally ignorant of 
M. Legros, but I will admit that I had never before seen 
a work signed with his name. The first time that I noticed 
his picture, I was with our common friend Monsieur C— , 
whose attention I drew to this humble and penetrating 
work. He could not deny its singular merits; but his eyes, 
being in love with elegant and worldly beauties, Hke those 
of a good connoisseur, were a Httle disconcerted by its 
rustic aspect— by this little community clothed in corduroy, 
cotton and home-spun, which the evening Angelus^ as- 
sembles within the nave of the church of one of our great 
cities— these simple people with their sabots and their um- 
brellas, all bowed with work, wrinkled with age and their 
skin parched by the flame of sorrow. He was evidently 
subject to that national mood, that fear above all of being 
made a dupe, which was most cruelly mocked by the 
French writer who was himself most singularly obsessed 
by it.2 Nevertheless the mind of the true critic, like that 
of the true poet, should be open to every beauty; it is as 
easy for him to take delight in the dazzling grandeur of 
Caesar in triumph as in the grandeur of a poor suburbanite 
on his knees in the presence of his God. See how the artist 
has realized and recaptured for us all those feelings of re- 
freshment which dwell beneath the roof of the Catholic 
church— the humiHty which rejoices in itself, the confidence 
of the poor in the justice of God, and the hope of succour, 
even if it does not mean the forgetting of present misfor- 
tunes! That the vulgar trappings of his subject do no 
injury to its moral grandeur, but that, on the contrary, this 
triviahty is hke a seasoning for its charity and tenderness, 
only goes to prove that M. Legros is a man of vigorous 
mind. By a mysterious association of ideas which subtle 
wits will understand, the grotesquely attired child who is 

^ Now in the collection of Mr. Asa Lingard. See pi. 16. 
^Probably Stendlial (see p. 323 below), though Crepet, in his 
note on this passage, suggests the possibility that Merlmee may 
be intended. 


awkwardly twisting his cap in the temple of God made 
me think of Sterne's donkey and the macaroons. The don- 
key's comic appearance while eating a cake does nothing 
to diminish the feeling of compassion that we feel when 
we see the miserable slave of the farm receiving a few 
dainties at the hand of a philosopher. In the same way 
this poor man's child is all embarrassment, and trembles 
as he tastes the celestial sweets. I forgot to mention that 
the execution of this pious work is of a remarkable solidity; 
the somewhat dull colour and the minuteness of the details 
are in harmony with the eternally precious character of 
devotion. Monsieur C— pointed out to me that the back- 
ground does not recede sufficiently^ and that the figures 
seem to be stuck somewhat flatly on to the decoration which 
surrounds them. But I own that this fault, by recalling the 
burning naivete of the primitives, was for me but an added 
charm. In a work less intimate and less penetrating, it would 
not have been acceptable. 

M. Amand Gautier is the author of a work which had 
already struck the eye of the critics several years ago— a 
remarkable work, which was rejected, I believe, by the 
jury, but which can be studied today in the window of 
one of the principal picture-dealers of the city. It repre- 
sents the courtyard of an asylum for female lunatics— a 
subject which he treated not according to the philosophic, 
Germanic method (that of Kaulbach for example, which 
makes one think of the categories of Aristotle), but with 
the dramatic feeling of the French, combined with a faith- 
ful and intelligent amount of observation. The painter's 
friends claim that everything in the work— heads, gestures 
and physiognomies— was minutely exact, and copied from 
nature. I do not agree, first because I detected symptoms 
to the contrary in the organization of the picture, and then 
because what is positively and universally exact is never 

* According to Pennell, Life of Whistler, 1908, vol. I, p. 77, 
Seymour Haden, the original owner of the picture, also noticed 
a fault of perspective here. He found this so irritating that 
finally he corrected it himself, to the great annoyance of Legros, 
who stole the picture back in order to restore it to its original 

246 THE SALON OF 1859 

admirable. This year M. Amand Gautier has exhibited a 
single work which bears the simple title, Les Sceurs de 
Charite^ It requires a true mastery to distil the tender 
poetry contained in those long uniform garments, in those 
rigid head-dresses and those attitudes as modest and serious 
as the religious Hfe itself. Everything in M. Gautier's pic- 
ture contributes to the development of the central thought; 
those long white walls, those trees correctly set in line, that 
fagade which is simple to a degree of poverty, those up- 
right attitudes, lacking all feminine coquetry, that whole 
sex subdued to discipline like a soldier, its face gleaming 
sadly with the rosy pallor of consecrated virginity— all these 
things give us a sensation of the eternal, of the invariable, 
of duty pleasurable in all its monotony. While studying this 
canvas, which is painted with a touch as broad and simple 
as its subject, I felt that curious impression which is pro- 
duced by certain paintings of Lesueur and by the best of 
PhiHppe de Champaigne— those, I mean, which represent 
the monastic life. If any of my readers wants to seek these 
pictures out, I should warn him that they are to be found 
at the far end of the gallery, in the left part of the building, 
in the depths of a great square haU where an innumerable 
multitude of canvases have been confined— so-caUed re- 
ligious paintings, for the most part. The general effect of 
this gallery is so chilly that few people find their way to it, 
as if it were a comer of a garden unvisited by the sun. It is 
to this glory-hole of false ex-votos, to this immense milky 
way of chalky ineptitudes that these two modest canvases 
have been banished. 

But the imagination of Delacroixl Never has it flinched 
before the arduous peaks of rehgionl The heavens belong 
to it, no less than heU, war, Olympus and love! In him you 
have the model of the painter-poet. He is indeed one of 
the rare elect, and the scope of his mind embraces religion 
in its domain. His imagination blazes with every flame and 
every shade of crimson, Kke the banks of glowing candles 
before a shrine. All that there is of anguish in the Passion 
impassions him; all that there is of splendour in the Church 
casts its glory upon him. On his inspired canvases he pours 
* Now in the Lille Museum; see pi. 17. 


blood, light and darkness in turn. I believe that he would 
willingly bestow his own natural magnificence upon the 
majesties of the Gospel itself, out of superabundance. I 
remember seeing a Httle Annunciation^ by Delacroix in 
which the angel visiting Mary was not alone, but was 
escorted in ceremony by two other angels, and the effect of 
this celestial retinue was powerful and touching. One of 
his youthful pictures, the Christ in the Garden of Olivet 
(*0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!,' 
in the church of St Paul, rue St. Antoine), positively melts 
with feminine sensibility and poetic unction. Anguish and 
Splendour, which ring forth so sublimely in reUgion, are 
never without an echo in his mind. 

Very well, my friend, this extraordinary man who has 
wrestled with Scott, Byron, Goethe, Shakespeare, Ariosto, 
Tasso, Dante and the Gospels; this man who has illumined 
history with shafts of Hght from his palette, and has poured 
out his fantasy in waves upon our dazzled eyes; this man 
who, though advanced in the number of his years, is yet 
stamped with the stubbornness of youth, and who since 
his earliest manhood has consecrated all his time to the 
exercise of his hand, his memory and his eye for the forging 
of ever surer weapons for his imagination— this genius, in 
short, has recently found a master to teach him his art, in 
a young journalist whose ministry had so far confined itself 
to giving an account of the dress of Madame So-and-so at 
the latest ball at the Hotel de Ville. Ohl those pink horses, 
those lilac-coloured peasants, and that red smoke (red 
smoke! what a daring touch!) ! In what a bilious-green man- 
ner have they been treated! Delacroix's complete works 
have been ground to powder and scattered to the foiu: 
winds of heaven. This kind of article, which you can hear 
spoken in any bourgeois drawing-room, begins invariably 
with these words: 1 must own that I make no pretensions 
of being a connoisseur, for the mysteries of painting are a 
closed book for me, but nevertheless . . .' (in that case, 

^Painted in 1841 (Robaut No. 1707). 

"Exhibited in 1827. 

^See the Exposition Universelle article (p. 213), where the 

journalist's name is given; it was Alphonse Karr. 

248 THE SALON OF 1859 

why speak of it?), and it generally ends with some acri- 
monious remark which is equivalent to a glance of envy 
directed towards those fortunate people who comprehend 
the incomprehensible. 

But what does stupidity matter, you may say, so long as 
genius triumphs? Nevertheless, my friend, it is by no means 
time wasted to measure the strength of resistance against 
which genius is pitted; the whole importance of this young 
journalist amounts to the fact that he represents the general 
level of the bourgeois mind— and that is quite enough for 
our purpose. Please remember that this comedy has been 
played against Delacroix since 1822, and that ever since 
that time our painter, always punctual for his engagements, 
has at every exhibition given us several pictures amongst 
which there has always been at least one masterpiece, show- 
ing untiringly (to use M. Thiers' polite and indulgent 
expression) 'that spurt of superiority which revives hopes 
which have aheady been a trifle dashed by the too moderate 
merit of all the others.' And a little later he added, 'Some 
strange recollection of the great masters seized hold of me 
at the sight of this picture (Dante and Virgil). Once more 
I found that power— v^dld, ardent yet natural— which yields 
without effort to its ovm impulse ... I do not think that 
I am mistaken when I say that M. Delacroix has been given 
genius; let him advance v^dth assurance, let him devote 
himself to immense tasks, an indispensable condition of 
talent ...'*! do not know how many times during his 
life M. Thiers has been a prophet, but he was so on that 
day. Delacroix has hurled himself into immense tasks— and 
he has not disarmed opinion. To see this majestic, inex- 
haustible outpouring of painting, it would be easy to guess 
the name of the man whom I heard one evening saying: 
'Like all men of my age, I have known many passions; but 
it is only in work that I have felt myself perfectly happy.' 
Pascal said that togas, purple and plumes were very happy 
inventions to impress the vulgar, to mark with a label what 
is truly to be respected; and yet the oflBcial distinctions of 

® Baudelaire had already quoted a long passage from Thiers* 
Salon de 1822 (including the sentences quoted here) in his 
own Salon de 1846 (see pp. 51-2 above). 


which Delacroix has been the object have done nothing to 
silence ignorance. But to look carefully at the matter, I 
think that for those, who, like myself, hold that artistic 
affairs should only be discussed between aristocrats, and 
believe that it is the scarcity of the elect that makes a 
paradise, everything is perhaps for the best. He is indeed 
a privileged man for whom Providence keeps enemies in 
reserve; fortunate among the fortunate is he whose talent 
not only triumphs over obstacles, but even creates new 
obstacles in order to triumph over them. He is as great as 
the old masters, in a country and a century in which the 
old masters would not have been able to survive. For when 
I hear men like Raphael and Veronese being lauded to the 
skies, with the manifest intention of diminishing the merit 
of those who came after them, then, although I am quite 
prepared to bestow my enthusiasm upon these great shades 
who have no need of it, I ask myself if a merit which is 
at least the equal of theirs (I will even admit for a moment, 
and out of pure compliance, that it may be inferior) is not 
infinitely more meritorious, since it has triumphantly 
evolved in an atmosphere and a territory which are hostile 
to it. The noble artists of the Renaissance would have been 
positively to blame if they had not been great, prolific and 
sublime, encouraged and incited as they were by an illus- 
trious company of princes and prelates— but why do I stop 
here? by the masses themselves, I should say, who were 
artists to a man in that golden age I But what are we to 
say of the modem artist who has risen to the heights in spite 
of his century, unless it be things which this age will not 
accept, and which we must leave to future ages to utter? 

But to return to reUgious painting, tell me if you have 
ever seen the essential solemnity of the Entombment^ better 
expressed? Do you honestly believe that Titian would have 
invented this? He would have conceived it, or rather he 
did conceive it, differently; but I prefer it this way. The 
setting is the vault itself, an emblem of the subterranean Hf e 
which the new religion was to lead for many years. Outside, 
a spiral of light and air gliding upwards. The Holy Mother 
is about to faint, she can scarcely support herself. We 
" Repro. Escholier, vol. Ill, facing p. 240. 

250 THE SALON OF 1859 

should note in passing that, instead of turning the most 
Holy Mother into a Httle woman from an Easter Album, 
Eugene Delacroix always bestows upon her a tragic breadth 
of gesture which is perfectly appropriate to this Queen 
of Mothers. It is impossible for an amateur who is anything 
of a poet not to feel his imagination struck, not by an 
historical impression, but by an impression of poetry, re- 
ligion and universality, as he gazes at that little group of 
men who are tenderly carrying the body of their God into 
the depths of a crypt, into that sepulchre which the world 
will adore, 'the only sepulchre', as Ren6 superbly said, 
Vhich will have nothing to give up at the end of time/ 

The Saint Sebastian^^ is not only a marvel of painting, 
but is also an exquisite thrill of sadness. The Ascent to 
Calvary'^^ is a complicated, passionate and learned com- 
position. 'It was to have been carried out on a large scale 
at St. Sulpice', we are told by the artist who knows his 
world, 'in the baptismal chapel, whose purpose has now 
been altered.' Although he has taken every precaution, and 
has clearly said to the pubHc, 1 want to show you the 
small-scale project of a large work with which I had been 
commissioned', the critics have not failed, as usual, to 
rebuke him for only being able to paint sketches I 

Look next upon the famous poet who taught the Art oj 
Love; there he is, lying on the wild grass, with a soft sad- 
ness which is almost that of a woman.^^ \yi]] j^g noble 
friends in Rome be able to overcome the emperor's spite? 
Will he one day know again the luxurious pleasures of that 
prodigious city? No: from this inglorious land the long 
and melancholy river of the Tristia will flow in vain; here 
he is to live and to die. 'One day, after crossing the Istei 
near its mouth and becoming separated from my band ol 
huntsmen, I found myself within sight of the waves of the 
Euxine Sea. I came upon a tomb of stone, o'er which a 
laurel was growing. I tore away the grasses which covered 

^°Robaut 1353: repro. Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1859, vol. 11, 

facing p. 138. 

" Now in the Metz Museum; see pi. 60. 

^ The picture in question is Ovid in Exile among the Scythians 

(Robaut 1376); see pi. 59. 


several words of Latin, and soon I succeeded in reading 
this first line of the elegies of an ill-fated poet; 

'You will go to Rome, my book, and you will go to 
Rome without me/ 

'I could not depict to you my feelings on finding the 
tomb of Ovid in the heart of this desert. You can imagine 
the sadness of my reflections upon the pains of exile, which 
were also my own, and upon the uselessness of talents in 
securing happiness! Rome today deHghts in the pictures 
painted by the most ingenious of her poets; but for twenty 
years Rome could watch the flowing tears of Ovid with 
dry eyes. But less ungrateful than the peoples of Ausonia, 
the wild inhabitants of the banks of the Ister still remember 
the Orpheus who appeared in their forests 1 They come and 
dance around his ashes; they have even retained something 
of his language, so sweet to them is the memory of that 
Roman who accused himself of being a barbarian because 
his voice was not heard from the Sarmatic shorel'^^ 

It is not without reason that, on the subject of Ovid, I 
have quoted these reflections of Eudorus. The melancholy 
tone of the poet of Les Martyrs suits this picture, and the 
languishing sadness of the Christian prisoner is faithfully 
reflected in it. You will find therein the broadness of touch 
and feeling which characterized the pen which wrote Les 
Natchez; and in Eugene Delacroix's rough idyll I recog- 
nized a 'tale of perfect beauty', because he has put into it 
'the desert's flower, the grace of the primitive dwelling and 
a simplicity in teUing a tale of sorrow which I do not flatter 
myself have preserved'. ^^ I shall certainly not try to translate 
with my pen all the luxurious melancholy which this 
verdant exile distils. Perhaps it is better just to quote the 
catalogue, which speaks in the concise, tidy language of 
Delacroix's literary works; 'Some of them are examining 
him with curiosity', we are told quite simply; 'others are 
greeting him in their manner, and are offering him wild 
fruits and mare's milk.' For all his sadness, the poet of 
fashionable elegance is not insensible to these barbarian 

" The above passage is quoted from Chateaubriand's Les Mar- 
" Quoted from the epilogue to Chateaubriand's Atala. 

25^ THE SALON OF 1859 

graces, to the charm of this rustic hospitality. All the deli- 
cacy and fertility of talent that Ovid possessed have passed 
into Delacroix's picture. And just as exile gave the brilliant 
poet that quality of sadness which he had hitherto lacked, 
so melancholy has clothed the painter's superabundant 
landscape with its own magical glaze. I find it impossible 
to say that any one of Delacroix's pictures is his best, for 
the wine comes always from the same cask, heady, ex- 
quisite, sui generis; but it can be said of Ovid among the 
Sctfthians that it is one of those wonderful works such as 
Delacroix alone can conceive and paint. The artist who has 
painted this can count himself a happy man, and he who 
is able to feast his eyes upon it every day may also call 
himself happy. The mind sinks into it with a slow and 
appreciative rapture, as it would sink into the heavens, or 
into the sea's horizon— into eyes brimming with thought, 
or a rich and fertile drift of reverie. I am convinced diat 
this picture has a charm all its own for subtle spirits; I 
would almost be prepared to swear that, more than others 
perhaps, it must have pleased highly-strung and poetic 
temperaments— M. Fromentin, for example, of whom I shall 
have the pleasure of talking to you presently. 

I am cudgelling my brain in order to extract some 
formula which may properly express Eugene Delacroix's 
speciality. ^^ He is an excellent draughtsman, a prodigious 
colourist, an eager and resourceful composer— all this is 
obvious, all this has akeady been said. But how comes 
it that he produces a sensation of novelty? What does he 
give us which is more than the past has given us? He is as 
great as the great, as clever as the clever, but why does 
he please us more? One might perhaps say that, gifted 
with a richer imagination, he expresses for us above all the 
inmost secret of the brain, the wonderful aspect of things, 
so faithfully does his work retain the stamp and temper of 
its conception. It is the infinite within the finitel It has 
the quahty of a dream! and by this word I do not mean 
those riotous Bedlams of the night, but rather the vision 
which comes from intense meditation, or, with minds less 
naturally fertile, from artificial stimulants. In a word, 
^ See n. on p. 307. 


Eugene Delacroix is above all the painter of the soul in its 
golden hours. Believe me, this man sometimes makes me 
crave to live as long as a patriarch, or, in spite of all the 
courage that it vi^ould need for a dead man to consent to 
come alive again ('Send me back to Hell!', as the poor soul 
cried when the Thessalian witch restored him to life), 
nevertheless to be revived in time to take part in the 
raptures and the praises which he will provoke in a future 
age! But what is the good? For even if I should be granted 
this childish prayer and should see my prophecy fulfilled, 
what profit would I gain, beyond the shame of ha\dng to 
admit that I was a feeble spirit, possessed by the need of 
seeing its convictions ratified? 




Combine the epigrammatic wit of France with an element 
of pedantry, so as to lend a Httle weight to its natural 
buoyancy, and you will have the fons et origo of a school 
which Theophile Gautier, in his benevolence, politely calls 
the 'Neo-Greek', but which I, if you vdU allow me, propose 
to dub the 'school of the pointus'.^ In this school the object 
of erudition is to disguise a lack of imagination. For most 
of the time it has simply been a matter of transporting 
common, everyday life into a Greek or Roman setting. 
Dezobry and Barthelemy^ will be of great assistance in this, 
and pastiches of the frescoes of Herculaneum, with their 
pale tints obtained by means of impalpable washes of 
colour, wiU allow the painter to dodge all the difficulties 
of rich and soHd painting. Thus on one side you v^ill find a 
pile of bric-a-brac (the serious element), and on the other 
a transposition of the trivialities of life into antique cir- 

^ According to Crepet, Baudelaire borrowed this phrase from 
his friend Nadar, who used it to describe pedantic authors. 

Both celebrated antiquarian writers, the former of the 19th 
and the latter of the 18th century. 

254 THE SALON OF 1859 

cumstances (the element of surprise and success), and 
these between them will henceforth take the place of all 
the conditions required for good painting. So we shall see 
antique urchins playing at antique ball and with antique 
hoops, amusing themselves with antique dolls and antique 
toys; idyllic tots playing at grown-ups {Ma Sceur ny est 
pas);^ cupids astride aquatic monsters {Decoration for a 
bathroom);'^ and 'Love-Brokers' in plenty, who oflFer their 
merchandise hung up by the wings, Hke rabbits pinned by 
the ears— these should be sent back to the Place de la 
Morgue, where an abundant traffic in more natural birds is 
carried on. Love, inevitable Love, the immortal Cupid of 
the confectioners, plays a dominant and universal role in 
this school. He is the president of this courtly and simpering 
repubhc. He is a fish which accommodates itself to every 
sauce. And yet are we not very weary of seeing paint and 
marble squandered on behalf of this elderly scamp, winged 
like an insect or like a duck, whom Thomas Hood has shov/n 
us squatting like a cripple and squashing flat his cloud- 
pillow with his flabby obesity? In his left hand he holds his 
bow propped against his thigh, Hke a sabre; with his 
arrow in his right hand he executes the order 'Shoulder 
arms!'; his hair is thickly curled hke a coachman's wig; his 
fat wobbHng cheeks press against his nostrils and his eyes; 
it is doubtless the elegiac sighs of the universe which dis- 
tend liis flesh, or perhaps I should rather call it his meat, for 
it is stuffed, tubular and blown out hke a bag of lard 
hanging on a butcher's hook; on his mountainous back is 
attached a pair of butterfly's wings. 

'In sober verity,— does such an incubus oppress the fe- 
male bosom? ... Is this personage the disproportionate 
partner for whom Pastorella sigheth,— in the smallest of 
cots?— Does the platonic Amanda (who is all soul), refer, 
in her discourses on Love, to this palpable being, who 
is all body? Or does Behnda, indeed, beUeve that such 

^ By J. L. Hamon ( Salon, 1853 ) ; it was bought by the Emperor, 
and perished at the burning of the Tuileries in 1871. 
* Probably the four Seasons by Etex, described in the catalogue 
as 'panneaux decoratifs d'un salon de bains'. 


a substantial Sagittarius lies ambush'd in her perilous 
blue eye? 

It is the legend, that a girl of Provence was smitten 
once, and died, by the marble Apollo; but did impas- 
sioned damsel ever dote, and wither, beside the pedestal 
of this preposterous eflBgy? or, rather, is not the un- 
seemly emblem accountable for the coyness and pro- 
verbial reluctance of maidens to the approaches of Love? 

'I can believe in his dwelling alone in the heart- 
seeing that he must occupy it to repletion;— in his con- 
stancy, because he looks sedentary and not apt to roam. 
That he is given to melt— from his great pinguitude. That 
he burneth with a flame, for so all fat bumeth— and hath 
languishings— like other bodies of his tonnage. That he 
sighs— from his size. 

1 dispute not his kneeling at ladies' feet— since it is 
the posture of elephants,— nor his promise that the 
homage shall remain eternal. I doubt not of his dying,— 
being of a corpulent habit, and a short neck.— Of his 
blindness— with that inflated pig's cheek. But for his 
lodging in BeHnda's eye, my whole faith is heretic— for 
she hath never a sty in it.'^ 

This makes sweet reading, does it not?— and it gives us a 
little revenge on that great chubby, dimpled dolly which 
represents the popular idea of Love. For my part, if I were 
asked to represent Love, I think I should paint him in the 
form of a maddened horse devouring its master, or perhaps 
a demon with eyes ringed by debauch and insomnia, drag- 
ging noisy chains at its ankles, hke a ghost or a galley-slave, 
shaking a phial of poison in one hand, and in the other a 
dagger dripping with the blood of its crime. 

° Translated by Baudelaire from Thomas Hood's sketch, *On 
the Popular Cupid', in Whims and Oddities (1826). The pas- 
sage is here given in the original. Against the final pun, Baude- 
laire added the following footnote: *Une etable contient plu- 
sieurs cochons, et, de plus, il y a calembour; on pent deviner 
quel est le sens du mot sty au figure . On the whole passage, 
see Margaret Oilman's 'Baudelaire and Thomas Hood', in The 
Romanic Review, vol. XXVI, No. 3, July-Sept. 1935, pp. 241-4. 
Hood's essay was accompanied by his own sketch which is 
described by Baudelaire above, and reproduced here on p. 305. 

256 THE SALON OF 1859 

The school in question, whose principal characteristic 
(to my eyes) is to be perpetually irritating, has simul- 
taneous contact with the proverb, the rebus and the neo- 
archaism. In the rebus, it has not yet reached the standard 
of V Amour fait passer le Temps and Le Temps fait passer 
VAmour,^ which taken together have the merit of an exact, 
brazen and irreproachable rebus. Next, by their mania for 
dressing up trivial modern life in antique garments, the 
adherents of this school are forever perpetrating what I 
should be inclined to call counter-caricatures. If they want 
to become even more irritating, I fancy that I am doing 
them a great service by suggesting M. Edouard Founder's 
little book'^ as an inexhaustible source of subjects. To clothe 
all modem history and all the modern professions and in- 
dustries in the costumes of the past would be, I think, an 
infalHble and infinite means of causing wonder. Even the 
honorable sage will take some pleasure in it. 

It is impossible to fail to recognize some noble qualities 
in M. Gerome, chief among which are his quest for the new 
and his taste for great subjects; and yet his originaHty 
(if at least he has such a thing) is often of a laborious 
nature and scarcely to be detected. Coldly he warms up 
his subjects by the addition of little ingredients and by 
childish devices. The idea of a cock-fight^ naturally evokes 
a memory of Manila or of England. M. Gerome, however, 
will seek to beguile our curiosity by transforming this game 
into a land of antique pastoral. In spite of great and noble 
efforts— the Si^cle dAuguste^ for example, which is yet one 
more proof of his national tendency to look for success 
elsewhere than in pure painting— M. Ger6me was never yet, 
nor will he be, any more than the first of the pointus—SLt 
least this is much to be feared. I have no doubt at all that 
he has exactly portrayed those Roman games,^'' nor that 

' Cf. V Amour et le Temps, a song by the comte de Segur. 

^ Le Vieux neuf, published in 1859. 

® Gerome's Combat de Coqs was exhibited at the 1847 Salon, 

and is now in the Louvre. See pi. 32. 

® Formerly in the Amiens Musemn; destroyed by enemy action. 

^° In his Ave, Cisarl, which was Lot 165 at Christies, 30 Nov. 



the local colour has been scrupulously observed— I shall not 
whisper the sHghtest suspicion on this subject (and yet, 
seeing that he gives us the retiarius, why not also the 
mirmillo?) ; but if you base your success upon elements of 
this kind, are you not playing a game which, if not posi- 
tively dishonest, is at least a dangerous one? and are you 
not liable to stir up a suspicious resistance among many 
who will go away shaking their heads and wondering if 
it is really certain that things happened exactly like this? 
Even supposing that such a criticism may be unjust (for 
one can generally recognize in M. Gerome a mind which 
is both curious of the past and eager for instruction), it is 
nevertheless the deserved punishment of an artist who 
substitutes the amusement of a page of erudition for the 
joys of pure painting. The facture of M. Gerome's painting, 
it must be admitted, has never been either strong or origi- 
nal. Indecisive, on the contrary, and but feebly distin- 
guished, it has always oscillated between Ingres and 
Delaroche. But apart from this I have a sharper criticism 
to make of the picture in question. Even in order to 
demonstrate a callousness in crime and debauchery, even 
to make us suspect the secret abysms of gluttony, it is not 
necessary to join hands with caricature; and I think that 
the habit of exercising command— above all when it is a 
question of commanding the world— confers, in default of 
virtues, at any rate a certain nobility of attitude which is 
far too remote from this self-styled Caesar, this butcher, 
this obese wine-merchant; the most that he could aspire to 
would be the editorship of the Good Trencherman's Journal, 
as his own seductive and trenchermanly pose suggests. 

His King Candaules is once again a snare and a distrac- 
tion. Many people go into ecstasies in front of the furnish- 
ings and the decoration of its royal bed. Just look, an Asiatic 
bedroom! what a triumphl But is it really true that his 
terrible queen, who was so jealous of her own person that 
she considered herself no less polluted by a glance than 
by the touch of a hand, looked Hke this flat marionette? 
There is, besides, a great danger in a subject such as this, 
which is situated at an equal distance between the tragic 
and the comic. If an Asiatic anecdote is not treated in a way 

258 THE SALON OF 1859 

which is itself sinister, bloody and Asiatic, it will always 
raise a laugh; it will invariably call to mind the licentious 
frivolities of the Baudouins and Biards of the 18th century, 
in which a half-open door allows two wide-open eyes to 
observe the play of a syringe between the exaggerated 
adornments of a Marquise. 

Julius Caesarl^i What a sunset splendour this name sheds 
upon the imagination! If ever a man on earth has seemed 
Hke God, it was Caesar. Powerful and charming, coura- 
geous, learned and generous, he had every power, every 
glory and every elegance! He whose greatness always went 
beyond victory, and who grew in stature even in death! he 
whose breast, transfixed by the blade, could find utterance 
only for a cry of a father's love! he to whom the dagger 
seemed less cruel than the wound of ingratitude! Certainly 
M. Gerome's imagination has been carried away this 
time; it was indeed a happy moment when he conceived 
his Caesar alone, stretched out in front of his overturned 
thi-one— when he imagined the corpse of this Roman who 
was pontiff, warrior, orator, historian and master of the 
world, filling an immense and deserted hall. This way of 
showing the subject has been criticized, but to my mind it 
could not be too highly praised. Its effect is truly great. 
This terrible summary is enough. We all of us know suffi- 
cient Roman history to imagine all that is implied, both the 
disorder which preceded and the tumult which followed. 
We can guess at Rome behind this wall, and we can hear 
the cries of the Roman people, stunned at their deHverance, 
and thankless at one and the same time towards both victim 
and assassin: 'Let Brutus be Caesar!' About the picture 
itself, there remains to explain one thing which is inex- 
plicable. Caesar carmot be made into a Moor; his skin was 
very fair; besides, it is by no means siUy to recall that the 
dictator took as much care of his person as the most refined 
dandy. Why then this earthy colour v^th which his face 
and arms are veiled? I have heard it suggested that it is 
the corpse-like hue with which death strikes the face. In 
that case how long a time are we to suppose it is since the 

^ See Moreau-Vauthier, Gerome, Paris 1906, pp. 152-3. A ver- 
sion of this subject was in the Corcoran Gallery, Washington. 


living man became a corpse? Those who put forward such 
an excuse must regret the absence of putrefaction. Others 
are content to point out that the arm and the head are 
enveloped in shadow. But this excuse would imply that 
M. Gerome is incapable of representing white flesh in a half 
light, and that is not to be believed. And so I am forced 
to abandon the solution of the mystery. Such as it is, and 
with all its faults, this canvas is the best, and incontestably 
the most striking, that the artist has shown us for a long 

French victories in the field are ceaselessly responsible 
for great quantities of military pictures. I do not know, 
my dear M— , what you think of mihtary painting considered 
as a professional speciahty. For my part I do not beheve 
that patriotism compels a taste for the false or the insig- 
nificant. But if you think about it carefully, this kind of 
painting positively exacts either falseness or nulHty. A real 
battle is not a picture; for, in order to be intelligible, and 
consequently interesting as a battle, it can only be repre- 
sented in the form of black, white or blue fines, which 
stand for the battafions drawn up. In a composition of this 
kind, no less than in reafity, the terrain becomes more im- 
portant than the men. But in such conditions there is no 
picture left, or at least there is only a picture of tactics and 
topography. M. Horace Vemet beheved once, or even 
several times, that he was solving the diflBculty by accumu- 
lating and juxtaposing a series of episodes. From that mo- 
ment his picture lost all unity, and began to be like one 
of those bad plays in which an excess of parasitic incidents 
prevents one perceiving its central idea, the conception 
which gave it birth. Thus, apart from pictures made for 
tacticians and topographers, which we must exclude from 
pure art, a mifitary picture will only be inteUigible and 
interesting on the condition that it is a simple episode from 
military life. This has been very well understood by M. 
Pils for example, whose sofid and imaginative compositions 
we have often admired; and in earfier times, by Charlet 
and Raffet. But even within a simple episode, even within 
the simple representation of a hand-to-hand fight in a small, 
enclosed space, how much falseness, exaggeration, and 

260 THE SALON OF 1859 

monotony the spectator's eye has often had to endure 1 
I own that what distresses me most of all in this kind of 
spectacle is not the abundance of wounds, the hideous pro- 
fusion of slashed limbs, but rather the immobiHty within 
the violence, the dreadful cold grimace of a motionless 
frenzy. How many more criticisms could one not justly 
make! First of all, those long, drab lines of troops, dressed 
as our modern Governments dress them, can hardly sustain 
a picturesque treatment, and it is rather to the past that 
our artists turn in their bellicose hours; there they can find 
a plausible pretext for displaying a fine variety of arms and 
costumes, as M. Penguilly has done in his Combat des 
Trente. Next, there exists in the heart of man a pecuHar 
love of victory which is not confined by truth, and this often 
gives to such canvases the false air of an advocate's speech. 
This is not a httle apt to chill an enthusiasm in a rational 
mind, which is otherwise quite ready to burst into flame. 
When Alexandre Dumas recently recalled the fable, 'Ah! 
si les lions savaient peindre!'^^ in this context he drew 
upon himself a sharp rebuke from one of his colleagues. It 
is only fair to mention that the moment was not very well 
chosen,^^ and that he ought to have added that all peoples 
naively display the same fault in their theatres and mu- 
seums. Just consider, my friend, to what a pitch of madness 
a patriotic writer can be led by a passion which is exclusive 
and foreign to the arts. One day I was turning the pages 
of a famous compilation which depicts the military vic- 
tories of the French, with the accompaniment of a text. 
One of these prints represented the conclusion of a Peace 
Treaty. The French actors in this drama were booted, 
spurred and haughty in bearing, and their very glances 
seemed to insult the humble and embarrassed diplomats of 
the opposing side; and the text praised the artist for having 
contrived to express the moral vigour of the former by 
means of their muscular energy, and the cowardice and 
feebleness of the others by a roundness of form which was 
quite feminine! But let us set aside these idiocies, whose 
too lengthy analysis is but an hors-d'oeuvre, and let us con- 
" La Fontaine, Book III, No. 10, Le Lion ahattu par Vhomme. 
^^ Because of the Austrian war. 


tent ourselves with drawing this morah namely, that it is 
possible to lack modesty even in the expression of the most 
noble and the most magnificent of sentiments. 

There is one military picture, however, which we must 
praise, and with all our fervour; it is not a battle-piece; on 
the contrary, it is almost a pastoral. You will aheady have 
guessed that I am referring to M. Tabar's picture. The 
catalogue says simply: Guerre de Crimee, Fourrageurs. 
What an expanse of grassland, and what beautiful grass- 
land, gently rolling in hnes which follow the movement of 
the hills! Here the soul breathes a complex scent; it is not 
only the freshness of growing things, the tranquil beauty 
of a scene which sets us dreaming rather than arguing, but 
it is at the same time the contemplation of that eager, 
adventurous life, in which every day commands a different 
task. It is an idyll shot through by war. The sheaves are 
stacked, the needful harvest is done and the day's work is 
doubtless finished, for the bugle's recall is echoing through 
the air. The soldiers are returning in groups, following the 
undulations of the landscape up and down with an ease of 
movement which is at once nonchalant and regular. It 
would be difficult to turn so simple a subject to better ac- 
count; aU is poetic here— both nature and man; all is true 
and picturesque, down to the piece of twine or the single 
strap which here and there supports a pair of red trousers. 
And the soldiers' uniforms set the gay flame of the poppy 
to this vast ocean of greenery. Moreover the subject-matter 
is of an allusive nature; and before I opened the catalogue, 
as I stood in front of this army of reapers, my thoughts 
turned first to our African troops, whom the imagination 
depicts as always so prepared for anything, so active, so 
truly Raman— although, in fact, this scene is set in the 

Do not be surprised to find an apparent confusion inter- 
rupting the methodical gait of my report for several pages. 
In the triple title of this chapter it was not without some 
reason that I chose the word Fantasy. Genre-painting im- 
pHes a certain prosaic quaHty, and Fancy-painting,^^ which 
answered my idea rather better, excludes the idea of the 
^^Peinture romanesque. 

262 THE SALON OF 1859 

fantastic. In this type of painting one's judgement must 
be more than usually strict; for fantasy is all the more 
dangerous as it is the more easy and unconstrained; as 
dangerous as the prose-poem or the novel, it has much in 
common with the love inspired by a prostitute, w^hich 
quickly falls into idiocy or degradation; it is as dangerous 
as all absolute liberty. But fantasy is as vast as the universe, 
multiplied by the number of all the thinking beings who 
inhabit it. It is the first thing that comes, interpreted by the 
first comer; and if he has no soul to throw a magic and 
supernatural light upon the natural obscurity of things, 
fantasy is a purposeless horror, it is the first thing that 
comes defiled by the first comer. Here then you must expect 
no more analogies, except by chance; on the contrary, you 
must be prepared for disorder and contrast— a field 
chequered by an absence of regular cultivation. 

First let us throw a passing glance of admiration, and 
almost of regret, upon the charming productions of some 
few men who, during that period of noble renaissance of 
which I spoke at the beginning of this work, were the artists 
of the pretty, the precious and the delightful— Eugene Lami, 
for example, who, between his paradoxical Httle figures, 
gives us a glimpse of a world and a taste which have dis- 
appeared; and Wattier, that scholar who loved Watteau 
so much. It was a period of such beauty and fruitfulness, 
that not one spiritual need was forgotten by its artists. 
While Eugene Delacroix and Deveria were creating a great 
and picturesque art, others, witty and noble within a little 
sphere— painters of the boudoir and of a fighter kind of 
beauty— were adding incessantly to the present-day album 
of ideal elegance. This renaissance was great in everything, 
from the heroic down to the vignette. On the robuster 
scale of today, M. ChapHn, who is moreover an excellent 
painter, sometimes continues this cult of the pretty, though 
he does it with a touch of heaviness; his work smacks less 
of the world, and a Httle more of the studio. M. Nanteuil^^ 
is one of the most nobly productive workers to honour the 
second phase of this epoch. Admittedly he has poured a 

^ Nanteuil was a prolific illustrator of such autliors as Balzac, 
Dumas, Eugene Sue and Victor Hugo. 


finger of water into his wine; but he always paints with 
energy and imagination. There is a fatal quality in the 
children of that triumphant school: Romanticism is a grace, 
either from Heaven or Hell, to which we owe eternal 
stigmata. I can never contemplate that series of dusky and 
white vignettes with which Nanteuil illustrated the works 
of his friends, the authors, without feeling a Httle shiver 
of the memory, as though caused by a gust of cool air. And 
in M. Baron have we not also a man of rare gifts? without 
exaggerating his merit beyond all measure, is it not delight- 
ful to see so many faculties employed in such modest and 
fanciful works?^^ He composes admirably, he groups his 
figures with ingenuity and colours with ardour, and into all 
his little dramas he casts an amusing flame; I call them 
dramas because his composition is dramatic, and he pos- 
sesses something like the genius of opera. I should be really 
ungrateful if I forgot him; for I owe him a delightful sen- 
sation. When a man comes out of a dirty and iU-Ht hovel, 
and finds himself suddenly transported into an apartment 
which is clean, adorned with weU-contrived furniture and 
clothed with caressing colours, he feels his mind light up 
and his sensibility prepare itself for the things of happiness. 
Such is the physical pleasure which the Hdtellerie de saint 
Luc caused me. I had just been sadly contemplating a 
whole chaos of horror and vulgarity, constructed as it were 
of plaster and earth, and when I approached this rich and 
luminous painting, I felt my heart cry out: At last, we are 
back again in fine society! How cool they are, these waters 
which bear those parties of distinguished guests beneath 
a portico streaming with ivy and roses! How splendid they 
are, these women, and their escorts, these master-painters 
who are past-masters in beauty, aU plunging into this haunt 
of joy, to do honoxu: to their patron saint! This composition, 
which is so rich, so gay, and at the same time so noble and 
elegant in attitude, is one of the most perfect dreams of 
happiness which painting has ever attempted to translate. 
Because of her noble proportions, M. Clesinger's Eve 

" Henri Baron's Entree d'un cabaret vSnitien ou les maitres 
peintres allaient fSter leur patron saint Luc was lepro. Illustr., 
vol. 33 (1859), p. 388. 

264 THE SALON OF 1859 

forms a natural antithesis to all these charming, tiny crea- 
tures of whom we have just been speaking. Before the 
Salon opened, I had heard much gossip about this pro- 
digious Eve, and when at last I saw her, I had been so 
forewarned against her that my first reaction was a feeling 
that people had mocked far too much. It was quite a natural 
reaction, and one, furthermore, which was favoured by my 
incorrigible passion for the large. For I must make an 
admission, my friend, which will perhaps cause you to 
smile; both in nature and art, supposing an equaUty of 
merit, I prefer large things above all others— large ani- 
mals, large landscapes, large ships, large men, large 
women, large churches; and transforming my tastes into 
principles, Hke so many others, I have come to beheve that 
size is no unimportant consideration in the eyes of the 
Muse. However, to return to M. Clesinger's Eve, she pos- 
sesses other merits too; a happy movement, a tortured ele- 
gance in the Florentine taste, and impeccable modeUing, 
particularly in the lower parts of the body, in the knees, 
the thighs and the stomach— such, in short, as one might 
expect from a sculptor; it is a very good work, which de- 
served better than it received. 

Do you remember the first appearance of M. Hebert, 
that happy, almost riotous occasion?^''' His second picture 
claimed particular attention; if I am not mistaken it was 
the portrait of a woman, sinuous and opalescent— more than 
that, she was blessed almost with transparence— and writh- 
ing (mannered, but exquisite) in an atmosphere of en- 
chantment.i® Certainly the success was a deserved one, and 
M. Hebert, like a man of full distinction, announced him- 
self with a flourish, as though he would always be a wel- 
come guest. Unfortunately the very thing that caused his 
just celebrity will one day perhaps cause his decHne. For 
his kind of distinction Hmits itself too readily to the charms 
of morbidity and to the monotonous languors of the album 
or the keepsake. It is undeniable that he paints veiy well 
indeed, but even so he does it without sufficient authority 

"His first picture, Le Tasse en prison (1839), was bought by 
the state, and is now in the Grenoble Museum. 
^'Probably his Almee (Salon 1849). 


and energy to hide a weakness of conception. I have tried 
hard to dig beneath all the engaging quahties which I see 
in him, and what I have found is a singular degree of 
worldly ambition, an explicit intention to please by means 
accepted in advance by the pubhc, and finally a certain 
fault which it is horribly diflScult to define and which, for 
want of a better term, I shall call the fault of all the lit- 
teratisants. I am eager that an artist should be literate, but 
it distresses me to see him attempting to woo imagination 
by means of devices which are situated at the extreme hmits 
of his art, if they be not positively beyond them.^^ 

M. Baudry is more of a natural artist, although his paint- 
ing is not always sufficiently soHd. His works betray a 
serious and loving study of the Italian masters, and his 
figure of a Httle girl, who I believe is called Guillemette, 
has had the honour of causing more than one critic to think 
of the dashing and lively portraits of Velasquez. All in all, 
however, I cannot help fearing that M. Baudry remains 
no more than a 'distinguished' artist. His Madeleine peni- 
tente^^ is just a little frivolous and facilely painted, and 
on the whole I prefer his ambitious, complicated and cou- 
rageous picture of the Vestal^^ to his canvases of this year. 

M. Diaz is a curious example of an easy fortune achieved 
by a unique faculty. The time is not yet long past when 
there was a positive craze for him. The gaiety of his colour, 
which was scintillating rather than rich, called to mind the 
happy motley of oriental fabrics. The eye was so honestly 
entertained that it readily forgot to look for contour and 
modelling. Like a true prodigal, M. Diaz used up this 
unique faculty with which nature had prodigally endowed 
him; and then he felt a more difficult ambition stirring 
within him. These first impulses expressed themselves in 
the form of pictures of a greater size than those in which 
we had generally taken so much pleasure. But it was an 
ambition which turned out to be his ruin. Everyone noticed 

" Of Ernest Hebert's exhibits this year, Les Cervarolles is now 

in the Louvre (see pi. 21), and Rosa Nera d la fontaine was 

repro. Illustr., vol. 33 ( 1859), p. 276. 

^ Now in the Nantes Museum; see pi. 30. 

^ Exhibited 1857, and now in the Lille Museum. 

Z66 THE SALON OF 1859 

the time when his mind was tormented by jealousy in re- 
spect of Correggio and Prud'hon. But it would seem that 
his eye, which had grown used to noting down the scin- 
tillation of a little world, could now no longer see vivid 
colours on a large scale. His sparkhng palette turned to 
plaster and chalk; or perhaps, seeing that his ambition from 
now on was to model with care, he therefore dehberately 
forgot the qualities which had hitherto constituted his 
glory. It is difficult to define the causes which have so 
rapidly diminished M. Diaz's lively personahty; but perhaps 
we may be allowed to suppose that these laudable desires 
have come to him too late. Some reforms are impossible 
after a certain age, and nothing is more dangerous in the 
practice of the arts than to be always putting off indispen- 
sable studies until the next day. For long years you rely on 
an instinct which is generally happy, and when at last you 
want to correct a haphazard education and to acquire prin- 
ciples until then neglected, it is already too late. The brain 
has adopted incorrigible habits, and the rebellious and un- 
settled hand can no more express what it once expressed 
so well than it can give form to the new ideas with which it 
has now been entrusted. It is truly disagreeable to have to 
say things like this about a man of such renowned worth 
as M. Diaz. But I am only an echo; what I am writing 
today, everyone has already said for himself, either aloud 
or in a whisper, with malice or with sorrow. 

It is quite different with M. Bida; he, on the contrary, 
seems to have stoically repudiated colour and all its pomps 
in order to give more value and Hght to the human char- 
acters which his pencil undertakes to express. And he 
expresses them with a remarkable intensity and depth. 
Sometimes he agreeably heightens his drawing by the 
apphcation of a delicate and transparent tint in a luminous 
passage— but this, however, vdthout breaking its severe 
unity. One thing that distinguishes M. Bida's works above 
aU is the intimate expression of his faces. It is impossible to 
attribute them indifferently to one or another race, or to 
suppose that these individuals profess a rehgion which is 
not theirs. Even without the catalogue's explanations 
(Predication maronite dans le Liban, Corps de garde 


d'Arnautes au Caire), any experienced eye would easily 
guess the differences.^^ 

M. Chifflart won the grand prix de Rome, and, what a 
miracle!, he has his originaHty. His sojourn in the eternal 
city has not quenched his mental powers— which, after all, 
only goes to prove one thing: namely, that they alone die 
there who are too weak to Hve there, and that the 'school' 
only humiliates those who are dedicated to humility. Every- 
one justly rebukes M. Chifflart's two drawings {Faust au 
combat and Faust au sabhat^^) for their excess of darkness 
and gloom, above all in drawings of such complexity. But 
their style is truly fine and imposing. What a dream of 
chaos 1 Mephisto and his friend Faust, invincible and invul- 
nerable, are plunging at the gaUop through the storm of 
war, with their swords held high. Marguerite, a long, sin- 
ister, unforgettable figure, floats in mid-air and stands out 
in relief, like a pang of remorse, upon the immense, pale 
disk of the moon. I count it to M. Chifflart's greatest credit 
that he has treated these poetic subjects heroically and 
dramatically, and that he has thrust far from him all the 
accepted trappings of melancholy. The painter who never 
tired of doing just one more Christ in the form of his Faust, 
and one more Faust in the form of his Christ, either of 
which was indistinguishable from a pianist about to pour 
forth his private sorrows upon the ivory keys— the good 
Ary Scheffer,24 I mean, should really have seen these two 
vigorous drawings in order to understand that he alone 
may be allowed to translate the poets who feels in himself 
an energy equal to theirs. I do not believe that the assured 
pencil which has drawn this sabbath and this slaughter 
could ever abandon itself to the silly melancholy of young 

Among the younger reputations, one of the most solidly 
established is that of M. Fromentin. He is neither precisely 
a landscape nor a genre painter; these two territories are 
too restricted to contain his free and supple fancy. If I 

^Bida's La Priere was repro. Illustr., vol. 34 (1859), p. 21, 

where it is described as a drawing. 

^ Both lithographed by Alfred Bahuet. See pi. 29. 

^ He had died the previous year. 

268 THE SALON OF 1859 

said of him that he is a teller of travellers' tales, I should 
not be saying enough, for there are many travellers with 
neither poetry nor soul, and his soul is one of the rarest 
and most poetic that I know. His painting, which is 
properly so called, judicious, powerful, and well-controlled, 
evidently derives from Eugene Delacroix. With him too 
we find that expert and innate understanding of colour, 
which is so rare among us. But light and heat, which cast 
a kind of tropical madness into certain brains, shaking 
them with an unappeasable frenzy and driving them to 
unknown dances, only pour the sweetness and repose of 
contemplation into his soul. It is ecstasy rather than fanati- 
cism. It is to be presumed that I myself am sufiFering to 
some extent from a nostalgia which drags me towards 
the sun; for I find an intoxicating mist arising from these 
luminous canvases, which soon condenses into desires and 
regrets. I catch myself envying the lot of those men who 
are lying outstretched amid their azure shades, and whose 
eyes, neither waking nor sleeping, express, if anything at 
aU, only love of repose and the feeling of a bfissful happi- 
ness inspired by an immensity of light. M. Fromentin's 
mind has something of the feminine about it— just enough 
to add a grace to his strength. But a faculty which is cer- 
tainly not feminine, and which he possesses to an eminent 
degree, is that of snatching up the particles of beauty which 
He scattered over the face of the earth, and of tracking 
out beauty wherever it may have sHpped in between the 
triviahties of a degenerate nature. Therefore it is not diffi- 
cult to understand the passion with which he loves the 
grandeurs of the patriarchal life, nor the interest with which 
he observes those men among whom some trace of an 
antique heroism stiU remains. It is not only with gorgeous 
fabrics or with curiously-wrought arms that his eyes are 
in love, but above all widi that patrician gravity and dandy- 
ism which mark the chiefs of powerful tribes. We had the 
same sensation some fourteen years ago when the painter 
Catlings brought us his North American Indians, who, even 
in their state of decadence, made us dream of the art of 
Pheidias and of Homeric grandeurs. But what is the object 
^ In April, 1845. See pp. 72-^ above. 


of dwelling on this subject? why explain what M. Fro- 
mentin has himself so well explained in his two charming 
books, Un ete dans le Sahara and Le Sahel?^^ Everyone 
knows that M. Fromentin tells his travellers' tales twice 
over; that he writes them as well as painting them, in a 
style which is his alone. The old masters also love to have 
a foot in both camps and to use twin tools to express their 
thought. M. Fromentin has succeeded both as writer and 
as artist, and both his written and his painted works have 
such charm that if one were given permission to prune and 
to cut back some of the shoots of the one in order to give 
more soHdity, more vigour to the other, it would be really 
very difficult to choose. For in order to achieve a possible 
gain, we should have to resign ourselves to a great loss. 

We remember seeing, at the 1855 Exhibition, some ex- 
cellent little pictures of a rich and intense colour but of a 
meticulous finish, whose costumes and figures reflected a 
curious love of the past; these charming canvases were 
signed with the name 'Lies'. Not far from them were 
hanging some other exquisite pictures, no less preciously 
wrought, and marked with the same qualities and the same 
retrospective passion; these bore the name 'Leys'. Practi- 
cally the same painter; practically the same name. This 
change of a letter is like one of those intelligent sports of 
Chance, which sometimes shows a subtlety of wit which 
is almost human. One is the pupil of the other; it is said 
that a warm friendship unites them. But have they for that 
reason been raised to the dignity of the Dioscures? In order 
to enjoy one of them, must we be deprived of the other? 
M. Lies has taken his bow this year v^dthout his Pollux; 
will M. Leys pay us a visit next without his Castor? The 
comparison is all the more legitimate in that M. Leys was, 
I believe, the teacher of his friend, and it was Pollux too 
who wanted to cede one half of his immortality to his 
brother. Les Manx de la Guerre!^'^ what a title 1 Think of 
the conquered prisoner with his brutal conqueror lunging 

^ The first of these was published in 1857, the second in 1859. 
Of Fromentin's exhibits this year, Une rue d, El-Aghouat was 
repro. in the Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1859, vol. II, p. 293. 
^ Now in the Brussels Museum. See pi. 26. 

2/0 THE SALON OF 1859 

after him; think of the disordered bundles of loot, the rav- 
ished maidens, that whole world of blood, misery and dejec- 
tion; the sturdy cavalryman with his shaggy red hair; the 
camp-follower, who, I believe, is not present, but might 
easily be— that painted jade of the middle ages, who had 
the authority of the Prince and of the Church to accom- 
pany the army, just like the Canadian courtesan who 
accompanied tiiose other warriors in their beaver-skins— 
and finally the waggons, harshly and indiscriminately buf- 
feting the young, tiie weak and the infirm: all this was 
bound of necessity to produce a thrilling, a truly poetic 
picture. At first the mind harks back towards Callot; but 
I do not think that I have seen anything in all the long 
series of his works which is more dramatically composed. 
I have nevertheless two criticisms to make to M. Lies. First, 
his light is too generally spread out— or rather squandered; 
his colour, monotonously bright, seems to quiver. In the 
second place, the immediate impression that the eye is 
fated to receive as it falls upon this picture is the disagree- 
able, uneasy impression of a piece of trellis-work; M. Lies 
has put a black line not only around the general contour 
of his figures, but also around every detail of their accoutre- 
ment, and he has done it in such a way that each of these 
characters has the appearance of a leaded fragment of a 
stained glass window. Observe too that this annoying effect 
is only reinforced by the general brightness of the colours. 
M. Penguilly is also in love with the past. His is an 
ingenious, enquiring, assiduous mind. Add, if you will, all 
the most honourable and courteous epithets which can be 
applied to poetry of the second rank— to poetry which just 
fails of being nakedly great and simple. He has the minute- 
ness, the burning patience and the neatness of the anti- 
quarian. His works are wrought like the weapons and the 
furniture of ancient times. His painting has the polish of 
metal and the cutting-edge of a razor. As for his imagina- 
tion, I shall not say that it is positively great, but it is 
singularly active, impressionable and enquiring. I was en- 
chanted by his Tetite Danse Macabre, which reminded me 
of a band of belated drunkards, half dragging themselves 
along, half dancing, in step with their scrawny captain. I 


beg you to look carefully at each of the little grisailles 
which serve the principal composition both as frame and 
commentary. There is not one of them which is not an 
excellent little pictme in itself. Modem artists are far too 
neglectful of those magnificent allegories of the middle 
ages, in which the grotesque and the horrible entwined 
themselves in a kind of mad, eternal game, as they do still. 
Perhaps our nerves have now become too delicate to endure 
a symbol which is too plainly forbidding. Or perhaps it is 
charity which exhorts us to avoid anything which may dis- 
tress our fellows— but this is extremely unlikely! Towards 
the end of last year a publisher in the rue Royale put on 
sale a prayer-book of a very choice type; and the adver- 
tisements published in the newspapers informed us that all 
the vignettes which framed the text had been copied from 
ancient works of the same period, in such a way as to give 
a rare unity of style to the whole. They went on to say 
that a unique exception had been made with respect to 
the macabre figures; according to the note, doubtless 
drafted by the publisher himself, the greatest care had 
been taken to avoid reproducing these, as being no longer 
to the taste of this age; 'to such an enlightened taste', he 
should have added, if he had wished to conform entirely 
to the taste of the said age. 

Le mauvais gout du siecle en cela me fait peur.^^ 

There is a worthy pubHcation^^ in which every contributor 
knows all and has a word to say about all, a journal ia 
which every member of the staff is as universal and encyclo- 
pedic in his knowledge as the citizens of ancient Rome, 
and can instruct us turn and turn about in politics, religion, 
economics, the fine arts, philosophy and literature. In this 
vast monument of fatuity, which leans towards the future 
like the tower of Pisa, and in which nothing less than the 
happiness of the human kind is being worked out, there 
is one very honest man who does not want us to admire 
M. Penguilly. And his reason, my dear M— , his reason? It 

^® Moliere, Misanthrope, Act I. See Appendix. 

^This was Le Siecle; the critic referred to below was called 

Louis Jordan. 

9.JQ. THE SALON OF 1859 

is because there is a tedious monotony in his work. Surely 
these words do not refer to M. Penguilly's imagination, 
which is excessively picturesque and varied? This thinker 
must have meant that he did not like a painter who treated 
all his subjects in the same style. But Good Heavens! it is 
his own style 1 Do you want him to change it, then? 

I do not want to leave this agreeable artist, all of whose 
pictures are equally interesting this year, wdthout drawing 
your attention more particularly to his Petites Mouettes; 
the intense blue of the sky and the water, the two rocky 
boulders which form a door open upon the infinite (you 
must know that the infinite seems all the more immense 
the more it is restricted), a cloud, a multitude, an ava- 
lanche, a plague of white birds— and solitude! Reflect on 
that, my dear M— , and then tell me if you think that M. 
Penguilly's mind is devoid of poetry. 

Before concluding this chapter I would also direct your 
eye to M. Leighton's picture— he was the only EngHsh 
artist, I presimie, to be punctual for his appointment: it is 
called Count Paris comes to the house of the Capulets to 
claim his bride Juliet, and finds her apparently lifeless.^^ 
This is a rich, meticulous painting, violent in colour and 
choice in finish; a very dogged work, but dramatic, rhe- 
torical even; for our friends from across the Charmel do 
not paint theatrical subjects as though they were real 
scenes, but as scenes acted with the necessary exaggera- 
tion; and this fault, if it be one, confers upon their works 
an element of strange and paradoxical beauty. 

In conclusion, if you have time to return to the Salon, 
do not forget to look at the enamel-paintings of M. Marc 
Baud. This artist, in a thankless and ill-appreciated genre, 
displays surprising qualities— those of a true painter. To 
sum up in a word, he paints richly precisely where so many 
others spread out their poor colours meanly; he knows how 
to make a great gesture in a small space. 

^ Exhibited the previous year at the Royal Academy. Leighton 
had one other painting at the Salon in 1859. 




I DO NOT imagine that the birds of the air would ever make 
it their business to provide for the expenses of my table, 
nor that a Hon would do me the honour of serving me as 
grave-digger or undertaker. Nevertheless, in the Thebaid 
my brain has made for itself, I too, like one of those who 
knelt alone and wrangled with that incorrigible death's- 
head, still stuffed with all the false reasoning of the mortal 
and perishable flesh— I, too, sometimes dispute with gro- 
tesque monsters, with phantasms of the daylight, with spec- 
tres of the street, the salon and the omnibus. I see in front 
of me the Soul of the Bourgeoisie; and beheve me, if I 
were not afraid of indehbly staining the hangings of my 
cell, I would gladly fling my ink-stand in her face, and with 
a vigour that she does not suspect me of possessing! Just 
listen to what she said to me today, that wretched Soul 
who is no hallucination: In truth, our poets are singularly 
mad to claim that imagination is necessary in all the func- 
tions of art. What need is there of imagination in painting 
a portrait, for example? in painting my soul— my soul which 
is so visible, so clear, so well-known? I pose, and in reality 
it is I, the model, who consent to do the bulk of the work. 
I am the artist's true supplier. I myself, all by myself, am 
the whole thing!' To which I reply: 'Caput mortuum, be 
silent! Hyperborean brute of ancient days, eternal Esqui- 
mau, be-spectacled, or rather be-scaled, whose eyes not aU 
the visions of Damascus, not all the thunders and Hghtnings 
of the heavens, would be able to hghteni The more positive 
and soHd the thing appears to be, the more subtle and 
laborious is the work of the imagination. A portrait! what 
could be simpler and more comphcated, more obvious and 
more profound? If La Bruyere had had no imagination, 
would he have been able to compose his Caracteres, whose 
raw-material was nevertheless so obvious, and presented 
itself so obhgingly to him? And however restricted one may 

274 THE SALON OF 1859 

suppose some historical subject or other, what historian can 
flatter himself that he can paint and illumiruite it— without 

The portrait, that type of painting which appears so 
modest, calls for an immense intelligence. No doubt the 
artist's submissiveness must be great, but his power of 
divination must be equally so. Whenever I see a good 
portrait, I can guess at all the artist's eflForts, just as he 
must not only have seen at once all that lay on the surface, 
but must also have guessed at what lay hidden. I compared 
him just now to the historian, and I might also compare 
him to the actor, whose duty it is to adopt any character 
and any costume. If you will examine the matter closely, 
nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference. Gesture, 
grimace, clothing, decor even— all must combine to realize 
a character. Great painters, excellent painters— David, for 
example (both when he was just an 18th-century artist, 
and after he had become a chef cT Scale), or Holbein, in 
all his portraits— have often aimed at expressing the charac- 
ter which they undertook to paint, widi sobriety but with 
intensity. Others have sought to do more, or to do it differ- 
ently. Reynolds and Gerard added an element of romance, 
but always in accord v^th the natural disposition of the 
sitter; thus a stormy and troubled sky, light and airy back- 
grounds, poetic furnishings, a languorous attitude, an in- 
trepid bearing, etc. . . . There you have a dangerous, but 
not a culpable procedure, which unfortunately demands 
genius. Finally, whatever may be the means most visibly 
employed by the artist, whether he be Holbein, David, 
Velasquez or Lawrence, a good portrait always seems to 
me to be like a dramatized biography, or rather, like the 
natural drama inherent in every man. Others have wanted 
to restrict the means. Was it because of their incapacity 
to use them all? or was it in the hope of obtaining a greater 
intensity of expression? I do not know; or rather I should 
be incHned to believe that in this, as in many other human 
affairs, both reasons are equally acceptable. 

At this point, my friend, I am very much afraid that I 
am forced to lay hands on one of your idols. I want to speak 
of the school of Ingres in general, and of his method as 


applied to the portrait in particular. Not all his pupils have 
strictly and humbly followed their master's precepts. 
Whereas M. Amaury-Duval courageously pushes the asceti- 
cism of the school to extremes, M. Lehmann makes some 
attempts to excuse the origin of his pictures by the admix- 
ture of alien ingredients. On the whole one might say that 
his teaching has been despotic, and that it has left a pain- 
ful scar on French painting. A very stubborn man, gifted 
with several precious faculties, but determined to deny 
the utility of those which he does not possess, he has laid 
claim to an extraordinary and exceptional glory— that of 
extinguishing the sun. As for the few smoky embers that 
are still left to wander in space, the master s disciples have 
undertaken to stamp them out. It is not to be denied that 
Nature, as expressed by these simplifiers, has turned out 
to seem more intelligible; but it is obvious how much less 
beautiful and exciting she has become in the process. I 
am bound to admit that I have seen a few portraits by 
MM. Flandrin and Amaury-Duval which, though falsely 
disguised as paintings, nevertheless offered some admirable 
specimens of modelling. I will even admit that the visible 
character of these portraits, save everything relating to 
colour and light, was vigorously and carefully expressed, 
and in a penetrating manner. But I ask you if it is playing 
fair to decrease the difficulties of an art by suppressing 
some of its parts. I think that M. Chenavard is more coura- 
geous and more frank. He has simply repudiated colour as 
a perilous display, as a reprehensible, emotional element, 
and has put his trust in the simple pencil to express all the 
import of his idea. M. Chenavard is incapable of denying 
all the advantages conferred upon laziness by a procedure 
which consists in expressing the form of an object without 
the variously-colomred light which clings to each of its 
molecules; only he claims that this sacrifice is a glorious 
and a useful one, and that form and idea are both equally 
the gainers. But M. Ingres's pupils have very pointlessly 
retained a semblance of colour. They beheve, or they pre- 
tend to beheve, that they are painters. 

Here is another charge— a commendation, perhaps, in the 
eyes of some— which touches them more sharply; it is that 


their portraits are not true likenesses. Just because I never 
cease to call for the employment of the imagination and 
the introduction of poetry into all the functions of art, 
surely no one will suppose that I desire a conscientious 
alteration of the model, in the portrait above all? Holbein 
knew Erasmus; he knew him and studied him so well that 
he created him afresh and evoked him visibly, immortally 
and superlatively. M. Ingres finds a model that is fine, 
picturesque and attractive. 'Here we have a curious type, 
to be sure,' he says to himself. 'Beauty or grandeur, I shall 
express it with care; I shall leave nothing out, but I shaU 
add to it something which is indispensable: that is, style.' 
And we know what he means by 'style'. It is not the 
naturally poetic quality of the subject, which must be 
extracted so that it may become more visible. It is an alien 
poetry, usually borrowed from the past. I think that I am 
justified in concluding that if M. Ingres adds something to 
his model, it is because he is incapable of making it at once 
both great and true. But by what right does he add? It is 
the art of painting that should alone be borrowed from 
tradition, and not the devices of sophistication. Take that 
Parisian lady, a ravishing specimen of the butterfly graces 
of a French salon; in spite of herself, he wiU endow her 
with a certain heaviness, vvdth a Roman complacency. 
Raphael demands it. Those arms are of the purest curve and 
the most seductive contour— there is no doubt about it; but 
they are a trifle slender, and if they are to achieve the 
preconceived style, they require a certain measure of em- 
bonpoint—of the sap of matronhood. M. Ingres is the victim 
of an obsession which relentlessly drives him to displace, to 
transpose and to alter the beautiful. His pupils do likewise; 
as each one of them sets to work, he always makes ready, 
according to his dominant taste, to distort his model. Do 
you find this fault a slight one, or my criticism unmerited? 
Among those artists who are content with the natural 
picturesqueness of the original, the most outstanding are 
M. Bonvin, who gives a vigorous and surprising vitality to 
his portraits, and M. Heim, at whom some superficial critics 
have mocked in the past, and who, this year again, as in 
1855, has revealed to us a marvellous understanding of the 


human grimace in a whole cavalcade of sketches. I presume 
that you will not take this word in a disagreeable sense. 
I am alluding to the natural and professional grimace which 
belongs to each one of us. 

M. Chaplin and M. Besson both know how to paint 
portraits. The first has not shown us anything of the kind 
this year; but enthusiasts who follow the exhibitions atten- 
tively, and who know to which of his earlier works I am 
referring, will have noted their absence with regret, as I 
did. The second, who is a very good painter, has in addi- 
tion all the Hterary qualities and the imagination needed 
to portray actresses worthily. More than once, while con- 
templating M. Besson's living and luminous portraits, have 
I found myself dreaming of all the grace and devotion 
which the artists of the 18th century put into the pictures 
which they have bequeathed us of their favourite god- 

At different times, various portrait-painters have caught 
the fashion, some by reason of their qualities, others by 
their dejects. The pubHc, which is passionately in love with 
its own image, knows no half-measures in its love for the 
artist to whom it most wilHngly entrusts the task of depict- 
ing it. Amongst all those who have managed to snatch 
this favour, the man who seems to me to have deserved it 
the most, because he has always remained a frank and 
genuine artist, is M. Ricard. A lack of soHdity in his 
painting has sometimes been noticed; his taste for Van 
Dyck, Rembrandt and Titian, and his grace, which is some- 
times English, sometimes Italian, have been exaggeratedly 
rebuked. But such criticisms are just a Httle unfair. For 
imitation is the intoxication of supple and brilliant minds, 
and often even a proof of their superiority. To his painter's 
instincts, which are altogether remarkable, M. Ricard unites 
a very wide learning in the history of his art and a critical 
mind of great finesse; there is not a single work of his in 
which we do not find evidence of all these quahties. 
Formerly perhaps he made his models too pretty; and yet 
I ought to add that in the portraits of which I am speaking, 
this particular fault may have been demanded by his model. 
Nevertheless the virile and noble part of his mind was 

278 THE SALON OF 1859 

quick to prevail. He truly has an understanding which is 
always ready to grasp and depict the soul which poses in 
front of him. Take that portrait of an old lady, in which 
there is no cowardly disguising of her age; it immediately 
reveals a reposeful character, a sweetness and a charity 
which command confidence. The simpHcity of her gaze and 
of her attitude accords happily with that warm, softly- 
golden colour which seems to me to have been specially 
made to convey the sweet thoughts of the evening. But if 
you want to recognize energy in youth, grace in health, 
and candour in a countenance which is trembHng with life, 
then consider his portrait of Mile. L. J. This certainly is a 
portrait both true and great. If a beautiful model does not 
confer talent, it is certain that at least it adds a charm to 
existing talent. But how few painters are masters of an 
execution which could better reahze the solidity of this 
pure and generous nature, and the deep heavens of this 
eye with its great velvet star! The contour of the face, the 
curves of this broad, youthful brow with its helmet of heavy 
tresses, the richness of these lips and the dazzling grain of 
the skin— all is carefully expressed; and then— the most 
charming thing of all, and the most difficult to paint— that 
touch of slyness which is always mingled with innocence, 
and that strange, nobly ecstatic air which in human beings, 
no less than in animals, gives such a mysterious appeal to 
the countenances of the young. The number of portraits 
painted by M. Ricard is aheady very considerable; but 
this one is as good as any, and the activity of this remark- 
able mind, which is always on the alert and in pursuit, 
promises us many others. 

I think that in a summary but sufficient manner I have 
explained why the portrait, the true portrait, this genre 
which is apparently so modest, is in fact so difficult to 
practise. It is therefore only natural that I have but few 
specimens to adduce. Many other artists— Mme. O'Connell 
for example— know how to paint a human head; but if I 
was to deal with them all, I should be obhged to go over 
the same ground again and again, with reference to this 
quality or that defect— and we agreed at the beginning 
that I should content myself as far as possible with explain- 


ing what may be regarded as the ideal, in respect of each 
class of painting. 



If AN assemblage of trees, mountains, water and houses, 
such as we call a landscape, is beautiful, it is not so of 
itself, but through me, through my own grace and favour, 
through the idea or the feeling which I attach to it. It 
amounts to saying, I think, that any landscape-painter who 
does not know how to convey a feeling by means of an 
assemblage of vegetable or mineral matter, is no artist. 
I know very well that by a singular eflFort the human 
imagination can momentarily conceive of Nature without 
Man— can conceive of all the suggestive mass of the universe 
dispersed throughout space without a contemplator to ex- 
tract from it comparison, metaphor and allegory. It is true 
enough that all that universal order and harmony would 
lose none of the inspirational quality with which providence 
has entrusted it; but in that case, in default of an intelli- 
gence to inspire, this quality would be as though it did 
not exist at all. Those artists who want to express nature 
minus the feelings which she inspires are submitting to an 
odd sort of operation which consists in killing the reflective 
and sentient man within them; and believe me, the disaster 
is that for the majority of them this operation has nothing 
odd nor painful about it at aUl Such is the school which 
prevails today, and for a long time has prevailed. Like 
everyone else, I wiU admit that our modem school of land- 
scape-painters is singularly strong and skilful; but in this 
triumph and predominance of an inferior genre, in this 
silly cult of a nature neither purged nor explained by 
imagination, I see an obvious symptom of general degra- 
dation. We shall doubtless seize upon several differences in 
practical skiU between this and that landscape-painter; but 
these differences are very small. Pupils of various masters, 
they all of them paint remarkably well, and almost all of 

28o THE SALON OF 1859 

them forget that a natural view has no value beyond the 
immediate feeHng that an artist can put into it. Most of 
them fall into the error to which I drew attention at the 
beginning of this study. They take the dictionary of art for 
art itself; they copy a word from the dictionary, believing 
that they are copying a poem. But a poem can never be 
copied; it has to be composed. Thus, they open a vmidow, 
and the whole space contained in the rectangle of that 
window— trees, sky and house— assumes for them the value 
of a ready-made poem. Some of them go even further. In 
their eyes a study is a picture. M. Frangais^ shows us a 
tree— an enormous, ancient tree, it is true— and he says to 
us, 'Behold, a landscape.' The technical superiority shown 
by MM. Anastasi,2 Leroux,^ Breton,^ Belly, Chintreuil, etc., 
only serves to make the universal lacuna more visible and 
more distressing. I know that M. Daubigny^ wishes, and 
is able, to do more. His landscapes have a grace and a fresh- 
ness which fascinate the eye at once. They immediately 
convey to the spectator's soul the original feeling in which 
they are steeped. But it seems that M. Daubigny has only 
been able to obtain this quahty at the expense of finish and 
of perfection in detail. Many a picture of his, otherwise 
ingenious and charming, lacks soHdity. It has the grace, 
but also the flabbiness and impermanence, of an improvisa- 
tion. Before all else, however, we must record to M. 
Daubigny's credit the fact that his works are generally 
poetic, and v^th all their faults I prefer them to many 
others which are more perfect, but lack the quality which 
distinguishes him. 

It is style, especially, that M. Millet^ seeks; he makes no 
secret, rather he makes a show and glory of it. But part of 

^ His Soleil couchant repro. Illustr., vol. 34 ( 1859), p. 20. 

^ His Un lac en Tyrol repro. Illustr., vol. 33 ( 1859), p. 388. 

' See pi. 23. 

* His Rappel des glaneuses is now in the Louvre. 

^ Of Daubigny's five exhibits, Les Graves au bord de la mer, d 

Villerville is in the Marseilles Museum and Les Bords de I'Oise 

in the Bordeaux Museum. See pi. 33. 

" Millet's sole exhibit, his Femme faisant paitre sa vache is now 

in the Bourg Museum. See pi. 37. 


the ridicule which I directed against M. Ingres's pupils 
sticks to him. For 'style' has been his disaster. His peasants 
are pedants who have too high an opinion of themselves. 
They display a kind of dark and fatal boorishness which 
makes me want to hate them. Whether they are reaping 
or sowing, whether they are grazing or shearing their 
animals, tiiey always seem to be saying, *We are the poor 
and disinherited of this earth— but it is we who make it 
fertile! We are accomplishing a mission, we are exercising 
a priestly functionl' Instead of simply distilling the natural 
poetry of his subject, M. Millet wants to add something 
to it at any price. In their monotonous ugliness, aU these 
little pariahs have a pretentiousness which is philosophic, 
melancholy and Raphaelesque. This disastrous element in 
M. Millet's painting spoils all the fine qualities by which 
one's glance is first of all attracted towards him. 

M. Troy on is the finest example of skill without soul. 
And so, look at his popularity! With a soul-less public, he 
deserved it. While still a young man, M. Troyon painted 
with the same assurance, the same skiU and the same in- 
sensitivity. Long years ago he had already amazed us by 
the soundness of his craftsmanship, by the 'directness of his 
playing', as one says of an actor, and by his unfailing, 
moderate and continual merit. He has a soul— I grant that— 
but it is a soul too much within the reach of all other souls. 
The encroachment of these second-class talents cannot take 
place vdthout injustices being created. When any other 
beast but the lion takes the lion s share for itself, there 
cannot fail to be some modest creatures who find their 
modest portions much too much reduced. I mean that 
among those second-class talents who are successfully 
cultivating an inferior branch of art, there are several who 
are worth every bit of M. Troyon, and who may find it odd 
that they do not obtain all that is their due, while this 
man takes much more than is his. I must be careful not 
to mention names; the victims would perhaps feel them- 
selves no less outraged than the encroacher. 

The two men who have always been marked out by 
public opinion as the most important in the special field 
of landscape are MM. Rousseau and Corot. With artists of 

282 THE SALON OF 1859 

such eminence one must be full of reserve and respect. 
M. Rousseau's manner of working is complicated, full of 
tricks and second thoughts. Few men have had a sincere 
love for Kght, or have rendered it better. But the general 
silhouette of his forms is often difficult to grasp. His 
luminous haze, which sparkles as it is tossed about, is 
upsetting to the physical anatomy of objects. M. Rousseau 
has always dazzled, but he has sometimes exhausted me 
too. And then he falls into that famous modem fault which 
is bom of a blind love of nature and nothing but nature; 
he takes a simple study for a composition. A gHstening 
marsh, teeming with damp grasses and dappled with 
luminous patches, a rugged tree-trunk, a cottage with a 
flowery thatch, in short a Httle scrap of nature, becomes a 
sufficient and a perfect picture in his loving eyes. But even 
all the charm which he can put into this fragment torn 
from oxn: planet is not always enough to make us forget 
the absence of construction in his pictures. '^ 

If M. Rousseau— who, for aU his occasional incomplete- 
ness, is perpetually restless and throbbing v^dth life— if M. 
Rousseau seems like a man who is tormented by several 
devils and does not know which to heed, M. Corot,^ who 
is his absolute antithesis, has the devil too seldom within 
him. However inadequate and even unjust this expression 
may be, I chose it as approximately giving the reason which 
prevents this serious artist from dazzling and astonishing 
us. He does astonish— I freely admit— but slowly; he does 
enchant— little by little; but you have to know how to 
penetrate 4nto the science of his art, for with him there is 
no glaring briUiance, but everywhere an infalHble strictness 
of harmony. More than that, he is one of the rare ones, the 
only one left, perhaps, who has retained a deep feeling for 
construction, who observes the proportional value of each 
detail within the whole, and (if I may be allowed to com- 
pare the composition of a landscape to that of the human 
frame) the only one who always knows where to place the 

' Rousseau exhibited five landscapes this year. See pi. 35. 
^ Among Corot's seven exhibits were the Dante and Virgil 
(Boston Museum), tlie Macbeth (Wallace Collection) and the 
Idylle ( Lille Museum ) . See pi. 40. 


bones and what dimensions to give them. You feel, you 
guess that M. Corot draws in a summary and broad manner, 
which is the only way of making a rapid accumulation of 
a great quantity of precious raw-materials. If it had been 
granted to a single man to restrain the modem French 
school in its impertinent and tedious love of detail, cer- 
tainly he would have been that man. We have heard this 
eminent artist criticized because his colour is somewhat too 
soft and his light is almost crepuscular. It might be said 
that for him all the Hght which floods the earth is every- 
where dimmed by one or more degrees. His eye, which is 
keen and judicious, is more concerned with what establishes 
harmony than with what emphasizes contrast. But even 
supposing that this criticism is not too unjust, it is well to 
remark that our exhibitions of painting are not favourable 
to the effect of good pictures— above all of those which are 
conceived and executed soundly and with moderation. The 
sound of a clear voice, but one which is both modest and 
harmonious, gets lost amid an uproar of deafening or rau- 
cous shouts, and even the most luminous Veroneses would 
often appear pale and grey if they were surrounded by 
certain modern paintings which are more garish than 
peasants' scarves. 

Among M. Corot's merits one must not forget the ex- 
cellence of his teaching, which is sound, luminous and 
methodical. Of the numerous pupils whom he has shaped, 
sustained or restrained far from the seductions of the times, 
M. Lavieille is the one who has given me the greatest 
pleasure. There is quite a simple landscape of his; a cottage 
on the skirts of a wood, with a road disappearing into it. 
The snow's whiteness makes a pleasant contrast with the 
conflagration of the evening, which is slowly burning down 
behind the innumerable mastheads of the leafless forest. 
For several years now our landscape-painters have been 
turning more frequently to the picturesque beauties of the 
sad season. But no one, I think, feels them better than M. 
LavieiUe. Not a few of the effects which he has often 
realized seem to me, however, to be chosen extracts from 
the joys of winter. In the sadness of this landscape, which 
wears the sombrely pink and white livery of the fine days 

284 THE SALON OF 1859 

of winter as they draw towards their close, there is an 
irresistible and elegiac thrill of pleasure which is known 
to all lovers of solitary walks. 

Allow me, my friend, to return once more to my obsession 
—I mean to my feeling of regret when I see the imagina- 
tion's part in landscape being more and more diminished. 
Here and there, at long intervals, there appears the trace 
of a protest, a great and free talent which is no longer in 
the taste of the age. There is M. Paul Huet, for example; 
in him we have a veteran of the old guard! (I can apply 
this famiHar and grandiloquent expression to the debris of 
a fighting glory like Romanticism, which is already so far 
behind us.) M. Paul Huet remains faithful to the tastes of 
his youth. His eight paintings of marine or rustic subjects, 
which are to serve for the decoration of a salon, are veritable 
poems of lightness, splendour and freshness. It seems 
superfluous to detail the talents of so exalted an artist, who 
has produced so much; but what seems to me to be all 
the more remarkable and praiseworthy in him is that all 
the time that the taste for minuteness has been everywhere 
gaining ground step by step, he has remained constant in 
his nature and his method, and has continued to give to 
all his compositions a character which is lovingly poetic. 

Nevertheless this year a little consolation has come my 
way, from two artists of whom I should not have expected 
it. M. Jadin, who up to the present has too modestly con- 
fined his glory to the hovel and the stable (this is now 
obvious), has sent a splendid view of Rome, taken from 
the Arco di Parma. It contains first of all this artist's usual 
qualities, which are those of energy and solidity, but in 
addition it reveals the perfect capturing and realization of 
a poetic impression. It is the glorious and melancholy im- 
pression of evening as it falls upon the holy city; a solemn 
evening, shot with bands of scarlet and blazing with splen- 
dour Hke the Roman religion itself. The second is M. 
C16singer, for whom sculpture alone is not enough; he is 
hke those children whose turbulent blood and bounding 
ardour impel them to scale all heights in order to inscribe 
their names thereon. His two landscapes, Isola Farnese 
and Castel Fusana, are penetrating of aspect, and of a 


native and austere melancholy. Their waters are heavier 
and more solemn than elsewhere, their soKtude more silent, 
their very trees more monumental. M. Clesinger's rhetoric 
has often raised a laugh; but he will never lay himself 
open to mockery on the score of littleness. Vice for vice, 
I agree with him that excess in everything is better than 

Yes, imagination certainly avoids landscape! I can under- 
stand how a mind which is absorbed in taking notes has 
no time to abandon itself to the prodigious reveries con- 
tained in the natural sights which confront it; but why does 
imagination avoid the landscape-painter's studio? Perhaps 
the artists who cultivate this genre are far too mistrustful 
of their memory, and adopt a method of immediate copy- 
ing because it perfectly suits their laziness of mind. If 
they had been with me recently in the studio of M. Boudin 
(who, by the way, has exhibited a good and careful picture: 
Le Pardon de sainte Anne Palud^), they would have seen 
several hundred pastel-studies, improvised in front of 
the sea and sky, and would then have understood what 
they do not yet seem to understand— the gulf which sep- 
arates a study from a picture.^^ But M. Boudin, who might 
plume himself on this devotion to his art, evinces the 
greatest modesty in showing his curious collection. He 
knows quite well that all this will have to be turned into 
a picture, by means of the poetic impression recalled at 
will; and he lays no claim to be offering his notes as pic- 
tures. Later, no doubt, these prodigious enchantments of 
air and water will be displayed for us in finished paintings. 
On the margin of each of these studies, so rapidly and so 
faithfully sketched from the waves and the clouds (which 
are of all things the most inconstant and difficult to grasp, 
both in form and in colour), he has inscribed the date, the 
time and the wind: thus for example, 8th October, midday, 

' Now in the Museum at Le Havre. 

" Baudelaire had recently met Boudin at Honfleur. See John 
Rewald, History of Impressionism (New York, Museum of 
Modem Art, 1946, p. 38). Rewald reproduces one of Boudin's 
sky-studies. It is hardly necessary to point out the parallel with 
Constable's activities in the early 1820s. See pi. 39. 


North-West wind. If you have ever had the time to be- 
come acquainted with these meteorological beauties, you 
will be able to verify by memory the accuracy of M. 
Boudin's observations. Cover the inscription with your 
hand, and you could guess the season, the time and the 
wind. I am not exaggerating. I have seen it. In the end, 
all these clouds, with their fantastic and luminous forms; 
these ferments of gloom; these immensities of green and 
pink, suspended and added one upon another; these gaping 
furnaces; these firmaments of black or purple satin, 
crumpled, rolled or torn; these horizons in mourning, or 
streaming with molten metal— in short, all these depths 
and all these splendours rose to my brain like a heady 
drink or Hke the eloquence of opium. It is rather an odd 
thing, but never once, while examining these liquid or 
aerial enchantments, did I think to complain of the absence 
of man. But I must take care not to allow the abundance of 
my pleasure to dictate a piece of advice to the world at 
large, any more than to M. Boudiu himself. It would really 
be too dangerous. Let him remember that man is never 
loth to see his feUow (as was observed by Robespierre, 
who was weU versed in the humanities); and if he wants 
to win a little popularity, let him take care not to imagine 
that the pubKc has arrived at an equal enthusiasm for 

There is a lack not only of seascapes— such a poetic 
genre, moreover; though I do not count as seascapes those 
military dramas which are played at sea— but also of a 
genre which I can only call the landscape of great cities, 
by which I mean that collection of grandeurs and beauties 
which results from a powerful agglomeration of men and 
monuments— the profound and complex charm of a capital 
city which has grown old and aged in the glories and 
tribulations of life. 

Some years ago a strange and stalwart man— a Naval 
Officer, I am told— began a series of etched studies of the 
most picturesque views in Paris. By the sharpness, the re- 
finement and the assurance of his drawing, M. Meryon^i 
^ There was at one time a project that Baudelaire should write 
short texts to accompany a collection of Meryon's etchings of 
Paris, but unfortunately it came to nothing. 


reminded us of the excellent etchers of the past. I have 
rarely seen the natural solemnity of an immense city more 
poetically reproduced. Those majestic accumulations of 
stone; those spires Vhose fingers point to heaven';^^ those 
obelisks of industry, spewing forth their conglomerations 
of smoke against the firmament; those prodigies of scaf- 
folding round buildings under repair, applying their open- 
work architecture, so paradoxically beautiful, upon 
architecture's solid body; that tumultuous sky, charged with 
anger and spite; those limitless perspectives, only increased 
by the thought of all the drama they contain— he forgot 
not one of the complex elements which go to make up the 
painful and glorious decor of civilization. If Victor Hugo 
has seen these excellent prints, he must have been pleased; 
again he will have found worthily depicted his— 

Mome Isis, couverte d'un voilel 
Araignee a I'immense toile, 
Ou se prennent les nations! 
Fontaine d'urnes obsedeel 
Mamelle sans cesse inondee, 
Ou, pour se nourrir de I'idee, 
Vieiment les generations! . . . 

Ville qu'un orage enveloppe!^^ 

But a cruel demon has touched M. Meryon's brain; a mys- 
terious madness has deranged those faculties which seemed 
as robust as they were brilliant. His dawning glory and 
his labours were both suddenly cut short. And from that 
moment we have never ceased waiting anxiously for some 

^ The phrase 'clochers montrant du doigt le del' ( italicized by 
Baudelaire) deserves a note. Baudelaire probably had it from 
Gautier, who quoted it {Fantaisies, III), with the addition of 
the adjective 'silencieux', as the only line of Wordsworth that 
he knew. The line occurs in Wordsworth's The Excursion ( Book 
VI, 1. 19); in the first edition of that poem, Wordsworth has a 
note to the effect that he had derived the phrase 'point as with 
silent finger' from Coleridge. 

" Les Voix interieures, IV, *A I'Arc de Triomphe'. Crepet, in his 
edition of the Curiosites esthetiques (p. 497-8) quotes an ap- 
preciative letter which Baudelaire received from the exiled 
Hugo. See Appendix. 

288 THE SALON OF 1859 

consoling news of this singular naval officer who in one 
short day turned into a mighty artist, and who bade fare- 
well to the ocean's solemn adventures in order to paint the 
gloomy majesty of this most disquieting of capitals. 

In still regretting the landscape of Romanticism, and 
even the landscape of Romance (which akeady existed in 
the 18th century), I am perhaps being unconsciously obe- 
dient to the customs of my youth. But surely our landscape- 
painters are far too herbivorous in their diet? They never 
willingly take their nourishment from ruins, and apart from 
a small number of men such as Fromentin, the sky and the 
desert terrify them. I feel a longing for those great lakes, 
representing immobiHty in despair; for immense moun- 
tains, staircases from our planet to the skies, from which 
everything which formerly seemed great now seems small; 
for castle keeps (yes, I do not even stop at that!); for 
crenellated abbeys, reflected in gloomy pools; for gigantic 
bridges, towering Ninevite constructions, haunts of dizzi- 
ness—for everything, in short, which would have to be in- 
vented if it did not aheady existl 

I must confess in passing that, although he is not en- 
dowed with a very decided originahty of manner, M. Hllde- 
brandt has given me a keen pleasure with his enormous 
display of water-colours. As I run through these amusing 
travel-albums, it always seems to me that I am seeing again, 
that I am recognizing what in fact I have never seen. Stimu- 
lated by him, my imagination has ranged across thirty- 
eight^^ romantic countrysides, from the echoing ramparts 
of Scandinavia to the luminous countries of the ibis and 
the stork, from the Fiord of Seraphitus to the point of 
Teneriffe. The moon and the sun have taken it in turns 
to illimiine these scenes, the one pouring forth his explosive 
Hght, the other her patient enchantments. 

You see, my friend, that I can never regard choice of 
subject as a matter of indifference, and that, in spite of the 
necessary love which needs must fertilize the humblest 
fragment, I hold that subject-matter plays a part in the 
artist's genius, just as it plays a part in my own pleasure- 
barbarian as I am! On the whole my examination of the 
^* Two of these were oil-paintings; the remainder, water-colours. 


landscape-painters has only yielded a few well-behaved or 
little talents, accompanied by a great idleness of imagina- 
tion. Not one of them has been able to show me the 
natural charm, so simply expressed, of Catlin's savannahs 
and prairies (I'll wager they do not even know the name 
CatlinI)— let alone the supernatural beauty of Delacroix's 
landscapes, or the magnificent imagination which streams 
through the drawings of Victor Hugo, just as mystery 
streams through the heavens. (I speak of his drawings^^ 
in Chinese ink, for it is too obvious to mention that in 
poetry our poet is the king of landscape-painters.) 

I would rather return to the diorama, whose brutal and 
enormous magic has the power to impose a genuine illu- 
sion upon mel I would rather go to the theatre and feast 
my eyes on the scenery, in which I find my dearest dreams 
artistically expressed and tragically concentrated! These 
things, because they are false, are infinitely closer to the 
truth; whereas the majority of our landscape-painters are 
liars, precisely because they have neglected to fie. 



At the heart of an ancient library, in the propitious 
gloom which fosters and inspires lengthy thoughts, 
Harpocrates, standing upright and solemn, a finger placed 
upon his hps, commands silence and, like a Pythagorean 
pedagogue, bids you 'Hush!' with an authoritative gesture. 
Apollo and the Muses, those imperious phantoms whose 
divine forms shine forth in the half-light, watch over your 
thoughts, assist at your labours and urge you to the sub- 

In the fold of a wood, sheltered beneath heavy shades, 
eternal Melancholy gazes at her august face in the waters 
of a pool as motionless as she is. And the passing dreamer, 
both saddened and charmed as he contemplates this great 

^^ An excellent collection of these is to be seen at the Musee 
Victor Hugo, in the Place des Vosges, Paris. 

ago THE SALON OF 1859 

figure whose limbs, though robust, are languid from a 
secret grief, cries out, 'Behold, my sister 1' 

As you are hurrying towards the confessional, in the 
midst of that little chapel which is shaken by the clatter 
of the omnibus, you are halted by a gaunt and magnificent 
phantom who is cautiously raising the cover of his enormous 
tomb in order to implore you, a creature of passage, to think 
of eternity! And at the corner of that flowery pathway 
which leads to the burial-place of those who are still dear 
to you, the prodigious figure of Mourning, prostrate, di- 
shevelled, drowned in the flood of her tears and crushing 
the powdered remains of some famous man beneath her 
heavy desolation, teaches you that riches, glory, your 
country even, are pure frivoHties compared to that great 
Unknown which no one has named nor defined; which 
man can only represent by mysterious adverbs such as 
'Perhaps', 'Never', 'Always!';— and which contains, as some 
hope, the infinite beatitude which they so much desire, or 
else an anguish without respite, whose image is rejected 
by modern reason with the convulsive gesture of a death- 

Your spirit charmed by the music of gushing waters, 
sweeter still than the tongues of nurses, you tumble into 
a boudoir of greenery, where Venus and Hebe, those play- 
ful goddesses who sometimes presided over your life, are 
displaying beneath alcoves of leafage the charms of their 
well-rounded limbs, upon which the furnace has bestowed 
the rosy sheen of life. But you are hardly Hkely to find these 
delightful surprises elsewhere but in the gardens of the 
past; for of the three excellent substances— bronze, terra- 
cotta and marble— which are available to the imagination 
for the fulfilment of its sculptural dream, the last alone 
enjoys an almost exclusive popularity in our age— and very 
unjustly so, in our opinion. 

You are passing through a great city which has grown old 
in civilization— one of those cities which harbour the most 
important archives of the universal Hfe— and your eyes are 
drawn upwards, sursum, ad sidera; for in the public 
squares, at the corners of the crossways, stand motionless 
figures, larger than those who pass at their feet, repeating 


to you the solemn legends of Glory, War, Science and 
Martyrdom, in a dumb language. Some are pointing to the 
sky, whither they ceaselessly aspired; others indicate the 
earth from which they sprang. They brandish, or they 
contemplate, what was the passion of their life and what 
has become its emblem; a tool, a sword, a book, a torch, 
vdtai lampada! Be you the most heedless of men, the most 
unhappy or the vilest, a beggar or a banker, the stone 
phantom takes possession of you for a few minutes and 
commands you, in the name of the past, to think of things 
which are not of the earth. 

Such is the divine role of sculpture. 

Who could doubt that a powerful imagination is needed 
to fulfil such a magnificent programme? It is indeed a 
strange art, whose roots disappear into the darkness of 
time and which already, in primitive ages, was producing 
works which cause the civilized mind to marvel! It is an 
art in which the very thing which would rightly be counted 
as quality in painting can turn into a defect or a vice, an 
art in which true perfection is by so much the more neces- 
sary as the means at its disposal— which are apparently 
more complete, but are also more barbarous and childish 
—will always give a semblance of finish and perfection, 
even to the most mediocre works. Faced with an object 
taken from nature and represented by sculpture— that is 
to say, a round, three-dimensional object about which one 
can move freely, and, like the natural object itself, en- 
veloped in atmosphere— the peasant, the savage or the 
primitive man feels no indecision; whereas a painting, be- 
cause of its immense pretensions and its paradoxical and 
abstractive nature, will disquiet and upset him. We may 
observe at this point that the bas-relief is already a he, that 
is to say a step taken in the direction of a more civilized 
art, departing by that much from the pure idea of sculpture. 
You wiU remember that, because he did not understand 
this, the painter CatHn was aU but embroiled in a very 
dangerous quarrel between two of his native chiefs; after 
he had painted a profile-portrait of one of them, some of 
the others started to tease and reprove the sitter for 
allowing himself to be robbed of half his facel In the same 


way monkeys have been known to be deceived by some 
magical painting of nature and to go round behind the 
picture in order to find the other side. It is a result of the 
barbarous conditions which restrict sculpture that, as well 
as a very perfect execution, it demands a very elevated 
spirituality. Otherwise it will only produce the kind of 
marvellous object which dumbfounds the ape and the 
savage. Another result is that even the eye of the true 
amateur is sometimes so wearied by the monotonous white- 
ness of all these great dolls, exact in all their proportions 
of height and thickness, that it abdicates its authority. The 
mediocre does not always appear contemptible to it, and 
short of a statue's being aggressively wretched, it is 
capable of taking it for a good one; but a subHme for a bad 
one, never! In sculpture, more than in any other medium, 
beauty imprints itself indehbly on the memory. With what 
a prodigious power have Egypt, Greece, Michelangelo, 
Coustou^ and a few others invested these motionless phan- 
toms! with what a glance these pupil-less eyes! Just as 
lyric poetry makes everything noble— even passion; so sculp- 
ture, true sculpture, makes everything solemn— even move- 
ment. Upon everything which is human it bestows 
something of eternity, which partakes of the hardness of 
the substance used. Anger becomes calm, tenderness 
severe, and the flickering and faceted dream of painting is 
transformed into a soHd and stubborn meditation. But if 
you will stop to think how many different types of perfec- 
tion must be brought together in order to achieve this 
austere magic, you will not be surprised at the exhaustion 
and discouragement which often take possession of our 
minds as we hasten through these galleries of modern 
sculpture, where the divine aim is nearly always misunder- 
stood and a trifling prettiness is indulgently substituted for 

But our taste is a tolerant one, and our dilettantism can 
accommodate itself in turn to every sort of grandeur or 
frivoHty. We are capable of loving the mysterious and 
sacerdotal art of Egypt and Nineveh; the art of Greece— 

^ The reference is probably to Guillaume Coustou I ( 1677— 
1746), the sculptor of the 'Chevaux de Marly'. 


at once so charming and so rational; the art of Michelangelo 
—as precise as a science, as prodigious as a dream; and the 
cleverness of the eighteenth century, which is bravura 
within Truth: but in all these different manifestations of 
sculpture we find a power of expression and a richness of 
feeling which are the inevitable results of a deep imagina- 
tion only too often lacking amongst us today. And so you 
will not be surprised to find me brief in my examination 
of this year's works. Nothing is sweeter than to admire, 
and nothing more disagreeable than to criticize. But the 
great and cardinal faculty, like the pictures of the Roman 
patriots, is only conspicuous by its absence. Now, then, is 
the moment to thank M. Franceschi for his Andromdde.^ 
While exciting general attention, this figure has given rise 
to several criticisms which in our opinion were too facile. 
It has the immense merit of being poetic, exciting and 
noble. It has been called a plagiarism, and M. Franceschi 
has been accused of simply taking a recumbent figure by 
Michelangelo and standing it upright. This is not true. 
The languor of these forms, which are small in size though 
great in feeling, and the paradoxical elegance of these 
limbs are clearly the doing of a modern artist. But even if 
he should have borrowed his inspiration from the past, 
I would see in this a ground for praise rather than for 
criticism; it is not given to everyone to imitate what is 
great, and when- such imitation is the doing of a young 
man, who has naturally a great span of life open before 
him, it gives the critic far more reason for hope than for 

What an extraordinary man is this M. Clesingerl Perhaps 
the finest thing that you can say of him is that, to see such 
an easy production of works so varied, you imagine an 
intelligence, or rather a temperament, which is always on 
the alert, a man who has the love of sculpture in his very 
bowels. You admire a marvellously well-executed fragment; 
but then some other fragment completely spoils the statue. 
How thrilling is the slender thrust of this figure! but look 
at those draperies, which, with the intention of seeming 
Hght, are nevertheless tubular and twisted like macaronil 
^ Repro. Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1859, vol. II, p. 369. 

294 THE SALON OF 1859 

If M. Clesinger sometimes catches movement, he never 
achieves complete elegance. The beauty of style and of 
character, which has been so much praised in his busts of 
Roman ladies,^ is neither assured nor perfect. It would 
seem that in his impetuous passion for his work, he often 
forgets muscles and is neglectful of a thing so precious and 
important as the shifting planes of modelling. I would 
rather not speak of his unhappy Sapphos, for I know that 
he has frequently done much better; but even in his best- 
executed statues, the practised eye is distressed by his 
method of abbreviation, whereby the human face and 
human Hmbs aU have the banal finish and polish of wax cast 
in a mould. If Canova was sometimes charming, it was 
certainly not thanks to this defect. His Taureau Romain has 
received well-deserved praise from everybody; it is really 
a very fine work: but if I were M. Clesinger, I should not 
like to be praised so magnificently for having created the 
image of an animal, however noble and superb that animal 
may have been. A sculptor of his cahbre ought to have 
other ambitions and to set his hand to the creation of other 
images than those of buUs.^ 

The Saint Sebastian by a pupil of Rude, M. Just Becquet, 
is a painstaking and vigorous piece of sculpture. It makes 
one think at once of the painting of Ribera and of the 
harsh statuary of Spain. M. Rude's teaching has had a 
great eflFect upon the school of our time; but if it has 
profited some— those, doubtless, who were able to edit that 
teaching with the aid of their own natural intelligence— it 
has nevertheless plunged others, too docile, into the most 
amazing aberrations. Look at that GauHsh woman^ for 
examplel The first shape that a woman of Gaul assumes in 
your mind is that of a figure of noble bearing, free, power- 
ful, robust and supple of form, a strapping daughter of the 
forests, a wild and warlike woman, whose voice was heard 

^Mme. Sabatier (pi. 57) was represented by Clesinger as a 

Roman lady. 

* Three of Clesinger's exhibits, including one of his Sapphos, and 

the Roman bull, are repro. Estignard, Clesinger (Paris 1900), 

facing pp. 56, 72, and 172. 

^ By J. B. Baujault. 


in the councils of the fatherland. But in the unfortunate 
object of which I am speaking, there is a complete absence 
of all that constitutes beauty and strength. The breast, hips, 
thighs, legs— everything, in fact, that ought to stand 
in reHef, is hollow. I have seen corpses like this on dissec- 
tion-tables, ravaged by disease and a continuous poverty 
of forty years. Can it be that the artist has sought to repre- 
sent the decay and the exhaustion of a woman who has 
known no other nourishment but acorns? and has he con- 
fused his warrior-woman of ancient Gaul with a decrepit 
female Papuan? Let us look for a less ambitious explanation 
and simply assume that, having heard it frequently re- 
peated that one must faithfully copy the model, and not 
being endowed with the necessary perspicacity to choose a 
fine one, he has copied the ugliest that he could find, with 
a perfect devotion. This statue has found praise, doubtless 
because of its far-darting eye, like a 'Keepsake' Velleda. I 
am not at all sinrprised. 

If you want to study the opposite of sculpture once 
again, but this time in another form, look at those two 
little theatrical microcosms invented by M. Butte: they 
represent, I believe. The Tower of Babel and The Flood. 
But subject-matter has Httle importance, anyway, when 
by its nature, or by the manner in which it is treated, the 
very essence of the art is found to have perished. This 
HlHputian world, these miniature processions, these little 
crowds which wind in and out among the rocky boulders, 
put one simultaneously in mind of the reHef maps in the 
Marine Museum, of musical picture-clocks, and of those 
landscapes with fortress, draw-bridge and the changing 
of the guard which may be seen in pastry-cooks' and toy- 
sellers' shops. I find it extremely unpleasant to have to write 
such things, especially when we are concerned with works 
in which both imagination and ingenuity are otherwise to 
be found; and if I speak of them, it is only because they 
are important in this one respect— that they serve to put 
on record one of the mind's greatest vices, which is a 
stubborn disobedience to the constituent rules of art. How 
could one conceive of quahties fine enough to counter- 
balance such an enormity of error? What healthy brain 

zqQ the salon of 1859 

could imagine without horror a painting in relief, a piece 
of sculpture mechanically activated, a rhymeless ode, a 
novel in verse, and so on? When the natural aim of an art 
is misunderstood, it is natural to call to its aid all the devices 
w^hich are alien to that art. And in the case of M. Butte, 
who has wanted to represent, on a small scale, vast scenes 
demanding an innumerable quantity of figures, we may 
observe that the ancients always confined such ventures to 
the bas-relief, and that among the modems, even very great 
and clever sculptors have never attempted them widiout 
damage and danger to their art. The two essential condi- 
tions—unity of impression and totahty of effect— are griev- 
ously violated thereby, and no matter how great the 'stage 
director's' talent, the spectator's mind will be troubled and 
will start wondering if it has not had a somewhat similar 
impression from Curtius's^ waxworks. The vast and mag- 
nificent groups which adorn the gardens of Versailles are 
not a complete refutation of my opinion; for, apart from 
the fact that they are not all equally successful, and that 
some of them, by their chaotic structure, would only serve, 
on the contrary, to confirm the said opinion (I refer par- 
ticularly to those in which almost aU the figures are 
vertical), I would like to point out that there you have an 
entirely special kind of sculpture, whose faults, which are 
sometimes quite deliberate, vanish altogether beneath a 
Hquid firework display, beneath a luminous rain; in a word, 
it is an art which is completed by hydraulics, an inferior 
art on the whole. Yet even the most perfect among these 
groups are only so because they approach the closer to true 
sculpture, and because, by means of their leaning attitudes 
and their interlacings, the figures create that general com- 
positional arabesque which is motionless and fixed in paiut- 
ing, but as mobile and variable in sculpture as it is in a 
mountainous landscape. 

We have already spoken, my dear M— , about the school 
of the pointus, and we recognized that amongst these subtle 

* The popularizer of waxwork shows in Paris, dmring the last half 
of the 18th century. He had two museums, one of 'grands 
hommes et gens de marque' at the Palais-Royal, and another for 
*les criminels' on the Boulevard du Temple. 


spirits, who are all more or less tainted with disobedience 
to the idea of pure art, there were nevertheless one or two 
of some interest. In sculpture too we find the same mis- 
fortunes. Undoubtedly M. Fremiet is a good sculptor; he 
is clever, daring, and subtle; he searches for the striking 
effect, and sometimes he finds it; but that is precisely where 
his misfortune lies, for he often searches for it some Httle 
way from the natural road. His Orang-outang dragging a 
woman into a woocP (a rejected work, which naturally I 
have not seen) is very much the idea of a pointu. Why not 
a crocodile, a tiger, or any other animal which is liable 
to eat a woman? But that is not the point! Be assured that 
this is no question of eating, but of rapel Now it is the 
ape alone, the gigantic ape, at once more and less than a 
man, that has been known to betray a human appetite for 
woman. So there, he has found his means of astonishing 
us! 'He is carrying her off; MdU she be able to resistP Such 
is the question which will engage the entire female public. 
A strange and complex feeling, composed partly of terror 
and partly of priapic curiosity, vdll sweep it to success. 
Nevertheless, seeing that M. Fremiet is an excellent work- 
man, both the animal and the woman will be equally well 
imitated and modelled. But to tell the truth, such subjects 
are unworthy of so ripe a talent, and the jury has acted 
well in refusing this wretched melodrama. 

If M. Fremiet tells me that I have no right to scrutinize 
the aims, or even to speak, of what I have not seen, I will 
humbly fall back upon his Cheval de saltimbanque.^ Taken 
in himself, the little horse is charming; his thick mane, his 
square muzzle, his intelligent air, his low-hung quarters, 
his Httle legs, both soHd and spindly at the same time— 
everything marks him out as one of those humble beasts 
that have breeding. But I find the owl perched upon his 
back just a Httle disturbing (for I suppose I have not read 
the catalogue), and I start to wonder why Minerva's bird 

^Repro. facing p. 82 in PhiHppe Faure-Fremiet, Fremiet (Paris 

1934 ) ; see also pp. 67-70. Fremiet later made several variations 

on this subject; examples are in the Nantes Museum and at 


® Repro. Faure-Fremiet, op. cit., facing p. 48. 

298 THE SALON OF 1859 

should be placed upon Neptune's creation. Then I notice 
the puppets which are hooked to his saddle; the idea of 
wisdom represented by the owl leads me to deduce that 
the puppets embody the frivoHties of the world. It remains 
to explain the function of the horse, who, in the language 
of apocalypse, may well symboHze Intelligence, Will or 
Life. In the end I positively and patiently worked it out 
that M. Fremiet's work represents human intelHgence car- 
rying everywhere with it the idea of wisdom and the taste 
for foUy. So here we have the immortal philosophic an- 
tithesis, the essentially human contradiction upon which, 
from the beginning of time, all philosophy and all Htera- 
ture have turned, from the tumultuous reigns of Ormuzd 
and Ahriman to the Reverend Matmin, from Manes to 
Shakespeare! . . . But a bystander whom I pestered with 
my questions was pleased to inform me that I was looking 
for apples on a pear-tree' and that the statue simply repre- 
sents a tumbler's horse . . . What, then, of that solemn 
owl, those mysterious marionettes? do they add nothing 
new to the idea of the horse? In so far as it is simply a 
horse, in what particular do they increase its merit? Obvi- 
ously this work should have been entitled A tumblers horse 
in the absence of the tumbler, who has gone off to Jmve a 
game of cards and a drink in a neighbouring tavern! That 
is the real title! 

MM. Carrier, OHva and Prouha are more modest than 
M. Fremiet or myself; they are content to astonish us by 
the flexibility and skill of their art. All three of them have 
an evident sympathy with the hving sculpture of the 17th 
and 18th centuries, and to this they devote their more or 
less concentrated faculties. They have loved and studied 
CajQBeri, Puget, Coustou, Houdon, PigaUe and Francin. 
True enthusiasts have for long admired M. OUva's vigor- 
ously-modelled busts, in which life breathes and even the 
eyes sparkle. That which represents General Bizot is one 
of the most military busts that I have seen, and M. de 
Mercey is a masterpiece of finesse. Everyone will have 
recently noticed M. Prouha's statue in the courtyard of 
the Louvre— it recalled the noble and courtly graces of the 
Renaissance. M. Carrier may congratulate and compliment 


himself. Like his favourite masters, he possesses energy and 
spirit, though a slight excess of disorder and disarray in the 
costume may perhaps be held to contrast unhappily with 
the vigorous and patient finish of his faces. I am not claim- 
ing that it is a fault to crumple a shirt or a cravat, or 
to give a pleasant twist to the lapel of a coat; I am only 
referring to a lack of harmony with relation to the total 
idea. And yet I will readily own that I hesitate to attach 
too much importance to this observation, for M. Carrier's 
busts have caused me a pleasure quite keen enough to 
make me forget this entirely fleeting little impression. 

You will remember, my friend, that we have already 
spoken of Jamais et Toujours; I have not yet been able to 
discover the explanation of this riddling title. Can it be a 
last resort, or a motiveless whim, like Rouge et Noir? Or 
perhaps M. Hebert^ has bowed to the taste of MM. Com- 
merson and Paul de Kock which prompts them to see a 
thought in the fortuitous clash of any antithesis? However 
that may be, he has made a charming piece of sculpture 
(chamber-sculpture, shall we call it? although it is doubt- 
fxil if the ladies and gentlemen of the bomrgeoisie would 
want it to decorate their boudoirs)— a kind of vignette in 
sculpture, but one which nevertheless might make an ex- 
cellent funereal decoration in a cemetery or a chapel, if 
executed on a larger scale. A young girl, generous and sup- 
ple of form, is being lifted and swung up with a harmonious 
lightness; and her body, convulsed in ecstasy or in agony, 
is resignedly submitting to the kiss of an immense skeleton. 
It is generally held, perhaps because antiquity did not 
know it, or knew it but httle, that the skeleton should be 
excluded from the realm of sculpture. This is a great error. 
We see it appear in the middle ages, comporting and dis- 
playing itself with all the impudent clumsiness, with all 
the arrogance of the Idea without Art. But from then until 
the 18th century (the historical chmate of love and roses) 
we see the skeleton blossom and flourish in every subject 
in which it is allowed to make an entrance. The sculptor 
was very quick to understand all the mysterious and ab- 
stract beauty inherent in this scraggy carcass which the 
* i.e. Emile Hebert: see p. 228 above. 

300 THE SALON OF 1859 

flesh serves as clothing, and which is itself a kind of map 
of the human poem. And so this sentimental, sardonic, 
almost scientific kind of Grace, cleansed and purified of the 
soil's defilement, took its stand in its turn among the in- 
numerable other Graces which Art had already wrested 
from ignorant Nature. M. Hebert's skeleton is not, properly 
speaking, a skeleton at all. Nevertheless I am not suggest- 
ing that the artist has tried to sidestep the difficulty, as 
they say. If this redoubtable personage has here assumed 
the vague character of a phantom, a spectre or a lamia; 
if in some parts it is still clothed with a parchment-Uke skin 
which adheres to its joints hke the membranes of a palmi- 
ped; and if it is half enfolded and draped in an immense 
shroud which is raised here and there by its projecting 
articulations, all this is doubtless because the artist wanted 
above all to give expression to the vast and floating idea 
of total negation. He has succeeded, and his phantom is 
full of nothingness. 

The pleasant occurrence of this macabre subject has 
made me regret that M. Christophe has not exhibited two 
pieces of his composition, the one of an altogether analo- 
gous nature, the other more gracefully allegorical. This 
second^^ represents a naked woman, quite Florentine in the 
grandeur and vigour of her frame (for M. Christophe is 
not one of those feeble artists whose imagination has been 
destroyed by Rude's positive and finicky teaching); seen 
from the front, she presents the spectator with a smiling 
and dainty face, an actress's face. A light drapery, cleverly 
knotted, serves to join this pretty, conventional head to the 
robust bosom on which it seems to be resting. But if you 
take a further step to the right or the left, you will discover 
the secret of the allegory, the moral of the fable— her real 
head, I mean, twisted out of position and in a swoon of 
agony and tears. What at first had enchanted your eyes 
was but a mask— the universal mask, your mask, my mask, 
the pretty fan which a clever hand uses to conceal its pain 
or remorse from the eyes of the world. This work is all 

^° A later version of this statue is now in the Tuileries. It is the 
subject of Baudelaire's poem, Le Masque (Les Fleurs du Mai, 


charm and solidity. The robust character of the body is in 
picturesque contrast to the mystical expression of an en- 
tirely worldly idea, and surprise does not play a more 
important part than is permissible. If ever the artist should 
agree to let the dealers have this child of his brain, in the 
form of a small-scale bronze, I can confidently predict it an 
immense success. 

As for the other idea, believe me, for all its charm I 
would not answer for it; so much the less because, in order 
to be fully realized, it needs two substances, the one pale 
and dull (to represent the skeleton), the other dark and 
shining (to render the clothing), and this would naturally 
increase the horror of the idea, and its unpopularity. ^^ 

Les charmes de Thorretir nenivrent que les forts I^^ 

Imagine a great female skeleton all ready to set out for a 
revel. With her flattened, negress's face, her lipless and 
gumless smile, and her gaze, which is no more than a pit 
of shadows, this horrible thing, which once was a beautiful 
woman, seems to be vaguely searching in space for the deli- 
cious moment of her rendezvous, or for the solemn moment 
of the sabbath which is recorded on the invisible clock of 
the centuries. Her bust, which Time has eaten away, leaps 
coquettishly from her corsage, like a withered bouquet from 
its cone, and this whole funereal conception takes its stand 
upon the pedestal of a sumptuous crinoline. To cut matters 
short, may I be allowed to quote a fragment of verse in 
which I have tried, not to illustrate, but to explain the 
subtle pleasure distilled by this figurine— rather in the man- 
ner that a careful reader scribbles with his pencil in the 
margin of his book? 

Fiere, autant qu'un vivant, de sa noble stature, 
Avec son gros bouquet, son mouchoir et ses gants, 
Elle a la nonchalance et la desinvolture 
D'une coquette maigre aux airs extravagants. 

^ See pi. 58. 

"^From Danse Macabre (Les Fleurs du Mai, XCVII). See Ap- 

302 THE SALON OF 1859 

Voit-on jamais au bal une taille plus mince? 
Sa robe, exageree en sa royale ampleur, 
S'ecroule abondamment sur un pied sec que pince 
Un Soulier pomponne joli comme une fleur. 

La ruche qui se joue au bord des clavicules, 
Comme un ruisseau lascif qui se frotte au rocher. 
Defend pudiquement des lazzi ridicules 
Les funebres appas qu'elle tient a cacher. 

Ses yeux profonds sont faits de vide et de tenebres, 
Et son crane, de fleurs artistement coiff^ 
Oscille mollement sur ses freles vertebres. 

charme du neant follement attifel 

Aucuns t'appelleront une caricature. 

Qui ne comprennent pas, amants ivres de chair, 

L'elegance sans nom de I'humaine armature! 

Tu reponds, grand squelette, a mon gout le plus cherl 

Viens-tu troubler, avec ta puissante grimace, 
La fete de la vie . . . P^^ 

1 think, my friend, that we can stop here; I might pro- 
duce some new specimens, but I could only regard them 
as superfluous proofs in support of the principal idea 
which from the beginning has controlled my work— namely, 
that the most ingenious and the most patient of talents can 
in no wise do duty for a taste for grandeur and the sacred 
frenzy of the imagination. For some years past, people 
have been amusing themselves with more than allowable 
criticism of one of our dearest friends; very well, I am one 
of those who can confess, without blushing, that whatever 
the skill that is annually displayed by our sculptors, never- 
theless, since the death of David,^^ I look around me in 
vain for the ethereal pleasures which I have so often had 
from the tumultuous, even if fragmentary, dreams of 
Auguste Pr6ault. 

" The earliest published version of the opening stanzas of Bau- 
delaire's Dame Macabre. See Appendix. 
^* David d' Angers died in 1856. 

ENVOI 303 


At last the moment has come to utter that irrepressible 
ouf! of relief which is breathed with such joy by every 
simple mortal who is not devoid of spleen and has been 
condemned to a forced march, when at last he can throw 
himself into the longed-for oasis of rest. From the very 
beginning, I will willingly admit, the blessed characters 
which spell the word end have been floating before my 
brain, clothed in their black skins, like tiny Ethiopian 
dancers ready to execute the most engaging of 'character 
dances'. My honourable friends the artists— I speak of true 
artists, of those who agree with me that everything that is 
not perfection should hide its head, and that everything 
that is not sublime is useless and blameworthy; of those 
who know that there is an awesome profundity in the first 
idea that comes, and that among the innumerable methods 
of expressing it, there are at the most only two or three 
excellent ones (in this I am less strict than La Bruyere) 
—those artists, I mean, who are always restless and unsatis- 
fied, Hke souls confined, will not take amiss certain mocking 
thrusts and peevish quirks which they have to suffer as 
often as the critic does himself. They know as well as I do 
that nothing is more wearisome than to have to explain 
what everyone ought to know aheady. If boredom and 
contempt can be regarded as emotions, they too will have 
found contempt and boredom the most difficult of emo- 
tions to deny— the most fatal, the most ready to hand. I 
impose upon myself the same harsh conditions which 
I should like to see everyone else impose upon himself; I 
never stop asking myself, 'What is the good?', and when- 
ever I imagine that I have expounded a good argument, I 
ask myself 'Whom, and what, can it serve?' Amongst the 
numerous omissions of which I am guilty, some are de- 
liberate; I have purposely neglected a crowd of obviously 
gifted artists who are too well-known to be praised, or not 

304 THE SALON OF 1859 

unusual enough, either for good or for ill, to serve as a 
theme for criticism. I set myself the task of seeking Imagi- 
nation throughout the Salon, and having found it but sel- 
dom, I have only had to speak of a small number of men. 
As for the involuntary omissions or errors which I may have 
committed, the Muse of Painting will surely forgive me, as 
being a man who, witliout having made extended studies, 
nevertheless has the love of Painting in every fibre of his 
being. Besides, anyone who may have some reason for com- 
plaint will find innumerable allies to avenge and console 
him, without counting that one of us to whom you will 
entrust the task of analysing next year's exhibition, and 
whom you will grant the same liberties as you have been 
kind enough to accord to me. I hope with all my heart 
that he may find more subjects for wonder and amazement 
than I have conscientiously found. The noble and excellent 
artists whom I was invoking a moment ago will say, as I 
do: 'To sum up, a great deal of technique and skill, but 
precious little genius!' That is what everyone says. Alas 
then, I agree with everyone I You see, my dear M— , it was 
quite unnecessary to explain what they all of them agree 
with us in thinking. My only consolation is that, by parad- 
ing these commonplaces, I may perhaps have been able to 
please two or three people who will guess that I am think- 
ing of them, and in whose number I beg you to be so kind 
as to include yourself. 

Your very devoted collaborator and friend. 

"Tell me, my heart, can this be Love?' 


To the Editor of the Opinion Nationale 


Once more and for the last time I wish to pay homage 
to the genius of Eugene Delacroix, and I beg you to be 
so kind as to extend the hospitaHty of your journal to the 
following few pages in which I shall attempt to bring to- 
gether, as briefly as possible, the history of his talent, the 
reasons for his pre-eminence (which in my opinion is still 
not sufficiently recognized) and finally a few anecdotes and 
observations upon his life and his character. 

I had the good fortune to be associated at a very early 
age with the illustrious deceased (from the year 1845, as 
far as I can remember); and this association, from which 
reverence on my part and indulgence on his in no wise 
excluded mutual confidence and famiHarity, enabled me 
to form the most accurate notions not only upon his method, 
but also upon the most intimate qualities of his great soul. 

You would not expect me, Sir, to carry out here a de- 
tailed analysis of the works of Delacroix. Quite apart from 
the fact that each of us has aheady performed the task in 
accordance with his own powers and by gradual degrees as 
the great painter revealed to the pubHc the successive 
labours of his brain, the fist is such a long one that even 
if only a few Hnes each were to be allotted to his chief 
works, an analysis of this kind would fill almost a whole 
volume. Let it be enough for us to confine ourselves here 
to a brisk summary. 

His monumental paintings are there for all to see in the 

^ This article, in the form of a long letter to the editor, was pub- 
lished in the Opinion Nationale in three parts (2nd Sept., 14th 
and 22nd Nov. 1863). Delacroix had died on 13th August 1863. 
Baudelaire also used the article as a lecture in Brussels (2nd 
May 1864), when he preceded it with a short passage of intro- 
duction (see Crepet's ed. of L'Art Romantique). 


'Salon du Roi'^ and the library^ at the Chambre des depu- 
tes; in the library at the Palais du Luxembourg;^ in the 
'Galerie d'Apollon'^ at the Louvre; and in the 'Salon de la 
Paix' at the Hotel de Ville.^ These decorations comprehend 
an enormous mass of allegorical, religious and historical 
subjects, all of them belonging to the noblest realms of the 
intelligence. As for his easel-pictures, his sketches, his 
grisailles, his water-colours, etc., the reckoning amounts 
to an approximate total of two hundred and thirty-six. 

The great subject-pictures exhibited at various Salons 
reach the number of seventy-seven. (I am taking these 
figures from the catalogue which M. Theophile Silvestre 
has placed at the end of his excellent account of Eugene 
Delacroix in his Histoire des artistes mvantsJ) 

I myself have tried more than once to draw up this enor- 
mous catalogue;^ but my patience was always exhausted 
by the incredible fecundity of the man, and finally, for the 
sake of peace and quiet, I gave it up. If M. Theophile 
Silvestre has made mistakes, they can only be mistakes of 

I believe, Sir, that the important thing for me to do here 
is to search for, and to try and define, the characteristic 
quality of Delacroix's genius; to seek to discover in what 
it is that he differs from his illustrious ancestors, while 
equalling them; and finally to show, as far as the written 
word is capable of showing, the magical art with whose 
help he has been able to translate the word by means of 
plastic images more vivid and more appropriate than those 
of any other creative artist of the same profession— to dis- 
cover, in short, what was the specialty^ with which Provi- 

^833-7. U838-47. * 1840-6. ^849-51. 
"1851-3: destroyed during the Commune. 
^Published 1856: the catalogues were by L. de Virmond. 
^Robaut {L'Oeuvre complet de Delacroix, 1885) lists 1968 
works in all. 

® Oilman (p. 250, n. 27) suggests that Baudelaire's italicizing 
of this word may reflect Swedenborg's and Balzac's use of it to 
denote a state of intuitive and immediate vision of aU things, 
both material and spiritual, 'in their original and consequential 
ramifications'; it would amount, therefore, to a full understand- 
ing of the 'correspondances . 


dence had charged Eugene Delacroix in the historical de- 
velopment of painting. 

What is Delacroix? What role did he come into this world 
to play, and what duty to perform? That is the first ques- 
tion that we must examine. I shall be brief, and I look for 
immediate conclusions. Flanders has Rubens, Italy Raphael 
and Veronese; France has Lebrun, David and Delacroix. 

A superficial mind may well be shocked, at first glance, 
by the coupling of these names which represent such differ- 
ing qualities and methods. But a keener mental eye will 
see at once that they are united by a common kinship, a 
kind of brotherhood or cousinage which derives from their 
love of the great, the national, the immense and the uni- 
versal—a love which has always expressed itself in the kind 
of painting which is called 'decorative', or in what are 
known as great machines. 

Many others, no doubt, have painted great machines; 
those that I have mentioned, however, painted them in the 
way most suited to leave an eternal trace upon the memory 
of mankind. Which is the greatest of these great men who 
differ so much from one another? Each must decide as he 
pleases, according as whether his temperament urges him 
to prefer the prolific, radiant, almost jovial abundance of 
Rubens; the mild dignity and eurhythmic order of Raphael; 
the paradisal— one might almost say the afternoon colour 
of Veronese; the austere and strained severity of David; 
or the dramatic and almost Kterary rhetoric of Lebrun. 

None of these men is replaceable; aiming, all of them, at 
a like goal, they yet used different means, drawn from their 
individual natures. Delacroix, the last to come upon the 
scene, expressed with an admirable vehemence and fervour 
what the others had translated but incompletely. To the 
detriment of something else, perhaps, as they too had done? 
It may be; but that is not the question that we have to 

Many others apart from myself have gone out of their 


way to pontificate on the subject of the fatal consequences 
of an essentially personal genius; and it may also be quite 
possible, after all, that the finest expressions of genius, else- 
where than in Heaven— that is to say, on this poor earth, 
where perfection itself is imperfect— could only be secured 
at the price of an unavoidable sacrifice. 

But doubtless, Sir, you will be asking what is this strange, 
mysterious quality which Delacroix, to the glory of our age, 
has interpreted better than anyone else. It is the invisible, 
the impalpable, the dream, the nerves, the soul; and this 
he has done— allow me, please, to emphasize this point— 
with no other means but colour and contour; he has done 
it better than anyone else— he has done it with the per- 
fection of a consummate painter, with the exactitude of a 
subtle writer, with the eloquence of an impassioned musi- 
cian. It is, moreover, one of the characteristic symptoms 
of the spiritual condition of our age that the arts aspire if 
not to take another's place, at least reciprocally to lend one 
another new powers. 

Delacroix is the most suggestive of aU painters; he is the 
painter whose works, even when chosen from among his 
secondary and inferior productions, set one thinking the 
most and summon to the memory the greatest number of 
poetic thoughts and sentiments which, although once 
known, one had beHeved to be for ever buried in the dark 
night of the past. 

The achievement of Delacroix sometimes appears to me 
like a kind of mnemotechny of the grandeur and the native 
passion of universal man. This very special and entirely new 
merit, which has permitted the artist to express, simply 
with contour, the gesture of man, no matter how violent 
it may be, and with colour what one might term the at- 
mosphere of the human drama, or the state of the creator s 
soul— this utterly original merit has always earned him the 
support of all the poets; and if it were permissible to deduce 
a philosophical proof from a simple material manifestation, 
I would ask you. Sir, to observe that amongst the crowd 
that assembled to pay him his last honours, you could count 
many more men of letters than painters. To tell the blunt 
truth, these latter have never perfectly understood him. 


And what is so very surprising in that, after all? Do we not 
know that the age of the Raphaels, the Michelangelos and 
the Leonardos— not to speak of the Reynoldses— is already 
long past, and that the general intellectual level of artists 
has singularly dropped? It would doubtless be unfair to 
look for philosophers, poets and scholars among the artists 
of the day; but it would seem legitimate to demand from 
them a little more interest in rehgion, poetry and science 
than in fact they show. 

Outside of their studios, what do they know? what do 
they love? what ideas have they to express? Eugene Dela- 
croix, however, at the same time as being a painter in love 
with his craft, was a man of general education; as opposed 
to the other artists of today, who for the most part are Httle 
more than illustrious or obscure daubers, sad specialists, 
old or young— mere artisans, possessing some the ability 
to manufacture academic figures, others fruit and others 
cattle. Eugene Delacroix loved and had the ability to paint 
everything, and knew also how to appreciate every kind 
of talent. 

His was of all minds the most open to every sort of idea 
and impression; he was the most eclectic and the most im- 
partial of voluptuaries. 

A great reader, it is hardly necessary to mention. The 
reading of the poets left him fuU of subHme, swiftly-defined 
images— ready-made pictures, so to speak. However much 
he differed from his master Guerin both in method and in 
colour, he inherited from the great Republican and Imperial 
school a love of the poets and a strangely impulsive spirit 
of rivalry with the written word. David Guerin and Girodet 
kindled their minds at the brazier of Homer, Virgil, Racine 
and Ossian. Delacroix was the soul-stirring translator of 
Shakespeare, Dante, Byron and Ariosto. The resemblance 
is important; the difference but slight. 

But let us enter a Httle further, if you please, into what 
one might call the teaching of the master— a teaching which. 


for me, results not only from the successive contemplation 
of aU his works, and from the simultaneous contemplation 
of certain of them (as we had the opportunity of enjoying 
at the Exposition Universelle^ of 1855), but also from 
many a conversation that I had with him. 


Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, and 
coldly determined to seek the means of expressing it in 
the most visible way. In this duahty of nature— let us ob- 
serve in passing— we find the two signs which mark the 
most substantial geniuses who are scarce made to please 
those timorous, easily-satisfied souls who find su£Bcient 
nourishment in flabby, soft and imperfect works. An im- 
mense passion, reinforced with a formidable wiU— such was 
the man. 

Now he used continually to say: 

'Since I consider the impression transmitted to the artist 
by nature as the most important thing of all to translate, 
is it not essential that he should be armed in advance with 
all the most rapid means of translationF 

It is evident that in his eyes the imagination was the 
most precious gift, the most important faculty, but that this 
faculty remained impotent and sterile if it was not served 
by a resourceful skill which could follow it in its restless 
and tyrannical whims. He certainly had no need to stir the 
fire of his always-incandescent imagination; but the day 
was never long enough for his study of the material means 
of expression. 

It is this never-ceasing preoccupation that seems to ex- 
plain his endless investigations into colour and the quality 
of colours, his lively interest in matters of chemistry, and 
his conversations with manufacturers of colours. In that 
respect he comes close to Leonardo da Vinci, who was no 
less a victim of the same obsessions. 

In spite of his admiration for the fiery phenomena of life, 
never will Eugene Delacroix be confounded among that 
^ See pp. 210-9 above. 


herd of vulgar artists and scribblers whose myopic intelli- 
gence takes shelter behind the vague and obscure word 
realism'. The first time that I saw M. Delacroix— it was in 
1845, I think (how the years slip by, swift and greedy!) — 
we chatted much about commonplaces— that is to say, about 
the vastest and yet the simplest questions; about Nature, 
for example. Here, Sir, I must ask your permission to quote 
myself, for a paraphrase would not be the same thing as 
the words which I wrote on a former occasion, almost at the 
dictation of the master:^ 

'Nature is but a dictionary, he kept on repeating. Prop- 
erly to understand the extent of meaning implied in this 
sentence, you should consider the numerous ordinary 
usages of a dictionary. In it you look for the meaning 
of words, their genealogy and their etymology— in brief, 
you extract from it all the elements that compose a sen- 
tence or a narrative; but no one has ever thought of his 
dictionary as a composition, in the poetic sense of the 
word. Painters who are obedient to the imagination seek 
in their dictionary the elements which suit with their 
conception; in adjusting those elements, however, with 
more or less of art, they confer upon them a totally new 
physiognomy. But those who have no imagination just 
copy the dictionary. The result is a great vice, the vice 
of banality, to which those painters are particularly 
prone whose specialty brings them closer to what is 
called inanimate nature— landscape-painters, for exam- 
ple, who generally consider it a triumph if they can 
contrive not to show their personalities. By dint of con- 
templating and copying, they forget to feel and think. 
'For this great painter, however, no element of art, of 
which one man takes this and another that as the most 
important, was— I should rather say, w— anything but the 
humblest servant of a unique and superior faculty. If a 
very neat execution is called for, that is so that the 
language of the dream may be translated as neatly as 
possible; if it should be very rapid, that is lest anything 

^The following two passages are quoted from Baudelaire's 
Salon de 1859; they contain a few minor verbal discrepancies. 


may be lost of the extraordinary vividness which accom- 
panied its conception; if the artist's attention should even 
be directed to something so humble as the material 
cleanliness of his tools, that is easily intelligible, seeing 
that every precaution must be taken to make his execu- 
tion both deft and unerring/ 

I might mention in passing that never have I seen a palette 
as meticulously and deHcately prepared as that of Dela- 
croix. It was Hke an expertly matched bouquet of flowers. 

'With such a method, which is essentially logical, all 
the figures, their relative disposition, the landscape or 
interior which provides them with horizon or back- 
ground, their garments— everything, in fact, must serve 
to illuminate the general idea, must wear its original 
colour, its livery, so to speak. Just as a dream inhabits its 
own proper, coloured atmosphere, so a conception which 
has become a composition needs to move within a col- 
oured setting which is peculiar to itself. Obviously a 
particular tone is allotted to whichever part of a picture 
is to become the key and to govern the others. Every- 
one knows that yellow, orange and red inspire and 
express the ideas of joy, richness, glory and love; but 
there are thousands of different yellow or red atmos- 
pheres, and all the other colours wiU be affected logically 
and to a proportionate degree by the atmosphere which 
dominates. In certain of its aspects the art of the colour- 
ist has an evident afifinity with mathematics and music. 
'And yet its most delicate operations are performed 
by means of a sentiment or perception, to which long 
practice has given an unquaHfiable sureness. We can 
see that this great law of general harmony condemns 
many instances of dazzling or raw colour, even in the 
work of the most illustrious painters. There are paintings 
by Rubens which not only make one think of a coloured 
firework, but even of several fireworks set off on the 
same platform. It is obvious that the larger a picture, 
the broader must be its touch; but it is better that the 
individual touches should not be materially fused, for 
they wiU fuse naturally at a distance determined by the 


law of sympathy which has brought them together. 
Colour will thus achieve a greater energy and freshness. 

'A good picture, which is a faithful equivalent of the 
dream which has begotten it, should be brought into 
being like a world. Just as the creation, as we see it, is 
the result of several creations, in which the preceding 
ones are always completed by the following, so a har- 
moniously-conducted picture consists of a series of pic- 
tures superimposed on one another, each new layer con- 
ferring greater reaHty upon the dream and raising it 
by one degree towards perfection. On the other hand, 
I remember having seen in the studios of Paul Delaroche 
and Horace Vemet huge pictures, not sketched but actu- 
ally begun— that is to say, with certain passages com- 
pletely finished, while others were only indicated with 
a black or a white outline. You might compare this kind 
of work to a piece of purely manual labour— so much 
space to be covered in a given time— or to a long road 
divided into a great number of stages. As soon as each 
stage is reached, it is finished with; and when the 
whole road has been run, the artist is delivered of his 

It is clear that all these rules are more or less modi- 
fiable in accordance with the varying temperaments of 
artists. Nevertheless I am convinced that what I have 
described is the surest method for men of rich imagi- 
nation. Consequently, if an artist's divergences from the 
method in question are too great, there is evidence that 
an abnormal and undue importance is being set upon 
some secondary element of art. 

1 have no fear that anyone may consider it absurd 
to suppose a single method to be applicable by a crowd 
of different individuals. For it is obvious that systems of 
rhetoric or prosody are no arbitrarily invented tyrarmies, 
but rather tiiey are collections of rules demanded by the 
very constitution of the spiritual being. And systems of 
prosody and rhetoric have never yet prevented original- 
ity from clearly emerging; the contrary— namely, that 
they have assisted the birth of originality— would be 
infinitely more true. 


'To be brief, I must pass over a whole crowd of corol- 
laries resulting from my principal formula in which is 
contained, so to speak, the entire formulary of the true 
aesthetic, and which may be expressed thus : The whole 
visible universe is but a store-house of images and signs 
to which the imagination will give a relative place and 
value; it is a sort of pasture which the imagination must 
digest and transform. All the faculties of the human soul 
must be subordinated to the imagination, which puts 
them in requisition all at once. Just as a good knowledge 
of the dictionary does not necessarily imply a knowledge 
of the art of composition, and just as the art of compo- 
sition does not itself imply a universal imagination, in 
the same way a good painter need not be a great painter. 
But a great painter is perforce a good painter, because 
the universal imagination embraces the understanding 
of all means of expression and the desire to acquire 

'As a result of the ideas which I have just been making 
as clear as I have been able (but there are still so many 
things that I should have mentioned, particularly con- 
cerning the concordant aspects of all the arts, and their 
similarities in method!), it is clear that the vast family 
of artists— that is to say, of men who have devoted them- 
selves to the expression of beauty— can be divided into 
two quite distinct camps. There are those who call them- 
selves "realists"— a word with a double meaning, whose 
sense has not been properly defined, and so, in order 
the better to characterize their error, I propose to call 
them "positivists"; and they say, "I want to represent 
things as they are, or rather as they would be, suppos- 
ing that I did not exist." In other words, the imiverse 
without man. The others, however— the "imaginatives"— 
say, "I want to illuminate things with my mind, and to 
project their reflection upon other minds." Although 
these two absolutely contrary methods could magnify 
or diminish any subject, from a religious scene to the 
most modest landscape, nevertheless the man of imagi- 
nation has generally tended to express himself in reli- 
gious painting and in fantasy, while landscape and the 


type of painting called "genre" would appear to offer 
enormous opportunities to those whose minds are lazy 
and excitable only with difficulty . . ? 

'The imagination of Delacroix! Never has it flinched 
before the arduous peaks of religion! The heavens belong 
to it, no less than hell, war, Olympus and love. In him 
you have the model of the painter-poet. He is indeed 
one of the rare elect, and the scope of his mind embraces 
rehgion in its domain. His imagination blazes with every 
flame and every shade of crimson, like the banks of 
glowing candles before a shrine. All that there is of 
anguish in the Passion impassions him; all that there is 
of splendour in the Chinrch casts its glory upon him. 
On his inspired canvases he pours blood, Hght and dark- 
ness in turn. I beHeve that he would willingly bestow 
his own natural magnificence upon the majesties of the 
Gospel itself, out of superabundance. 

T remember seeing a Httle Annunciation by Delacroix 
in which the angel visiting Mary was not alone, but was 
escorted in ceremony by two other angels, and the effect 
of this celestial retinue was powerful and touching. One 
of his youthful pictures, the Christ in the Garden of 
Olives ("O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass 
from me") positively melts with feminine sensibility and 
poetic unction. Anguish and Splendour, which ring forth 
so sublimely in religion, are never without an echo in his 

And more recently still, when writing on the subject of the 
chapel of the Holy Angels at Saint-Sulpice (Heliodorus and 
Jacob and the Angel), his last great labour, and one so 
stupidly criticized, I said:^ 

'Never, not even in the Justice of Trajan, or in the 
Entry of the Crusaders, has Delacroix displayed a palette 
- See pp. 238-42 above. 
^ See pp. 246-7 above. 

* The following passage is taken from an article published in the 
Revue Fantaisiste, 15th Sept. 1861. The remainder of the article 
—little more than a description of the paintings— was published 
in L'Art Romantique as Teintures murales d'Eugene Delacroix 
a Saint-Sulpice.' 


more splendidly or more scientifically supernatural; never 
a draughtsmanship more deliberately epic. I know very 
well that some people— bricklayers no doubt, or possibly 
architects— have uttered the word "decadence" in con- 
nection with this last work. This is the moment to recall 
that the great masters, whether poets or painters, Hugo 
or Delacroix, are always several years ahead of their 
timid admirers. 

In relation to genius, the public is like a slow-running 
clock. Who among the ranks of the discerning does not 
understand that the master's very first picture contained 
all his others in embryo? But that he should be cease- 
lessly perfecting and diligently sharpening his natural 
gifts, that he should extract new effects from them and 
should himself drive his nature to its utmost limits— that 
is inevitable, foredoomed and worthy of praise. The prin- 
cipal characteristic of Delacroix's genius is precisely the 
fact that he knows not decadence; he only displays prog- 
ress. The only thing is that his original quahties were so 
forceful and so rich, and they have left such a powerful 
impression upon even the most commonplace of minds, 
that day-to-day progress is imperceptible for the major- 
ity; it is only the dialecticians of art that can discern it 

1 spoke a moment ago of the remarks of certain brick- 
layers.^ By this word I wish to characterize that class of 
heavy and boorish spirits (their number is legion) who 
appraise objects solely by their contour, or worse still, by 
their three dimensions, length, breadth and height— for 
all the world like savages and rustics. I have often heard 
people of that kind laying down a hierarchy of qualities 
which to me was absolutely unintelligible; I have heard 
them declare, for example, that the faculty that enables 
one man to produce an exact contour, or another a con- 
tour of a supernatural beauty, is superior to the faculty 
whose skill it is to make an enchanting assemblage of 
colours.^ According to those people, colour has no power 

® The French word magon is regularly used ia such a figurative 

sense, to denote crass stupidity of one kind or another. 

" Although the text as originally printed in the Revue Fantaisiste 


to dream, to think, or to speak. It would seem that when 
I contemplate the works of one of those men who are 
specifically called "colourists", I am giving myself up to 
a pleasure whose nature is far from a noble one; they 
would be deHghted to call me a "materialist", reserving 
for themselves the aristocratic title of "spiritualists".'^ 

It seems not to have occurred to those superficial 
minds that the two faculties can never be entirely sep- 
arated, and that they are both of them the result of an 
original seed that has been carefully cultivated. External 
nature does nothing more than provide the artist with a 
constantly-renewed opportunity of cultivating that seed; 
it is nothing but an incoherent heap of raw materials 
which the artist is invited to group together and put in 
order— a stimulant, a kind of alarum for the slumbering 
faculties. Strictly speaking there is neither fine nor colour 
in nature. It is man that creates line and colour. They 
are twin abstractions which derive their equal status 
from their common origin. 

*A born draughtsman (I am thinking of him as a 
child) observes in nature, whether at rest or in motion, 
certain undulations from which he derives a certain 
tiiriH of pleasure, and which he amuses himself in fixing 
by means of lines on paper, exaggerating or moderating 
their inflexions at his will. He learns thus to achieve 
stylishness, elegance and character in drawing. But now 
let us imagine a child who is destined to excel in that 
department of art which is called colour; it is the colli- 
sion or the happy marriage of two tones, and his own 
pleasure resulting therefrom, that will lead him towards 
the infinite science of tonal combinations. In neither case 
has nature been other than a pure excitant. 

'Line and colour both of them have the power to set 
one thinking and dreaming; the pleasures which spring 
from them are of different natures, but of a perfect 
equality and absolutely independent of the subject of 
the picture. 

reads 'couleurs', which is evidently correct in the context, all edi- 
tions of L'Art Romantique have contained the obvious misprint 
'contours' at this point. 
' In the philosophical, not tlie mediumistic sense. 


*A picture by Delacroix will already have quickened 
you with a thrill of supernatural pleasure even if it be 
situated too far away for you to be able to judge of its 
linear graces or the more or less dramatic quality of its 
subject. You feel as though a magical atmosphere has 
advanced towards you and already envelops you. This 
impression, which combines gloom with sweetness, hght 
with tranquillity— this impression, which has taken its 
place once and for all in your memory, is certain proof 
of the true, the perfect coloinist. And when you come 
closer and analyse the subject, nothing will be deducted 
from, or added to, that original pleasure, for its source 
lies elsewhere and far away from any material thought. 

'Let me reverse my example. A well-drawn figure fills 
you with a pleasure which is absolutely divorced from 
its subject. Whether voluptuous or awe-inspiring, this 
figure will owe its entire charm to the arabesque which 
it cuts in space. So long as it is skilfully drawn, there 
is nothing— from the limbs of a martyr who is being 
flayed alive, to the body of a swooning nymph— that does 
not admit of a kind of pleasure in whose elements the 
subject-matter plays no part. If it is otherwise with you, 
I shall be forced to believe that you are either a butcher 
or a rake. 

'But alas! what is the good of continually repeating 
these idle truths?' 

But perhaps. Sir, your readers will set much less store 
upon all this rhetoric than upon the details which I myself 
am impatient to give them concerning the person and the 
habits of our late-lamented genius. 


It is Eugene Delacroix's writings^ above all that reveal that 
duaHty of nature which I have mentioned. I need hardly 

^ The articles mentioned below by Baudelaire are included in 
the two volumes of Oeuvres Litteraires d'Eugene Delacroix 
(Paris 1923). 


remind you, Sir, that many people were astonished at the 
sagacity of his written opinions and at the moderation of 
his style, some finding this a matter for regret, and others 
for approval. The Variations du Beau, the studies on Pous- 
sin, Prud'hon and Charlet, and other pieces pubHshed 
either in L' Artiste (whose proprietor at that time was M. 
Ricourt) or in the Revue des Deux Mondes, only go to 
confirm that two-sidedness of great artists which drives 
them, as critics, to praise and to analyse more zestfully 
those quahties which, in their capacity as creators, they 
need the most, and which form a kind of antithesis to those 
they already possess in superabundance. If Eugene Dela- 
croix had praised and magnified the qualities which we 
admire pre-eminently in him— his violence and abruptness 
in gesture, his turbulence of composition and the magic of 
his colour— that would indeed have been a matter for 
astonishment. Why look for what one already has almost 
to excess? and how can one fail to praise what seems rarer 
and more difficult to acquire? You will always observe the 
same phenomenon occurring with creative geniuses, be 
they painters or writers, whensoever they apply their 
faculties to criticism. At the time of the great struggle be- 
tween the two schools, the Classic and the Romantic, simple 
souls were amazed to hear Eugene Delacroix ceaselessly 
extolling Racine, La Fontaine and Boileau. I could name 
a poet, by nature always stormy and restless, whom a line 
of Malherbe, with its balanced and symmetrical melody, 
will throw into long ecstasies. 

Nevertheless, however judicious, however sound, how- 
ever compact of expression and intention we find the great 
painter's hterary fragments, it would be absurd to suppose 
that they were written easily or with the bold assurance 
of his brush. His feeling of confidence that he was writing 
what he really thought about a canvas was always balanced 
by his concern that he was not able to paint his thoughts 
upon the paper. 'The pen,' he used often to say, 'is not my 
tool. I am conscious of the justness of my thought, but the 
need for order, to which I am obliged to submit, I find quite 
terrifying. Would you believe it, but the necessity of writing 
a page gives me a sick headache!' It is this awkwardness. 


which results from lack of practice, that may perhaps ex- 
plain certain slightly threadbare forms of words— outworn 
cliches, even— which too often escaped this naturally dis- 
tinguished pen. 

The most manifest characteristic of Delacroix's style is its 
concision and a kind of unobtrusive intensity— the cus- 
tomary result of a concentration of the entire mental powers 
upon a given point. 'The hero is he who is immovably 
centred', says the transatlantic morahst, Emerson,^ who, in 
spite of his reputation as the leader of the wearisome Bos- 
tonian school, has nevertheless a certain flavour of Seneca 
about him, which effectively stimulates meditation. 'The 
hero is he who is immovably centred'. But this maxim, 
which the leader of American Transcendentalism applies to 
the conduct of life and the sphere of business, can equally 
well be applied to the sphere of poetry and art. You might 
equally well say, 'The literary hero, i.e. the true writer, is 
he who is immovably centred'. It will therefore hardly seem 
surprising to you. Sir, when I tell you that Delacroix had 
a very marked sympathy for concise and concentrated 
writers— for writers whose simple, unadorned prose seems 
to imitate the swift movements of thought, and whose sen- 
tences are like gestures— Montesquieu, for example. Let me 
offer you a curious example of this pregnant and poetic 
brevity. Like me, you must recently have read a very ad- 
mirable and interesting study by M. Paul de Saint- Victor 
on the ceiling of the Galerie d'Apollon. It appeared in La 
Presse.^ The various different conceptions of the flood, the 
way in which the legends relating to the flood should be 
interpreted, the moral significance of the episodes and 
actions which make up the ensemble of that wonderful 
picture— everything was there; and the picture itself was 
minutely described in that delightful style, as witty as it 
is highly-coloured, of which the author has already shov^ni 
us so many samples. And yet all this will leave no more 
than a shadowy phantom in the memory— like something 
dimly seen through a telescope. Now compare that vast 

^In the Conduct of Life, 'Considerations by the Way' (Prose 
Works, Boston 1870, vol. II, p. 463). 
' 13th Sept. 1863. 


essay with the following few lines which, in my opinion, 
are much more forceful and much better adapted to con- 
jure up a picture, even assuming that the picture which 
they summarize did not aheady exist. I am simply copying 
the programme which M. Delacroix distributed to his 
friends when he invited them to inspect the work in ques- 


'Mounted upon his chariot, the god has already shot a 
portion of his arrows; his sister Diana is flying at his heels 
and holding his quiver out to him. Already transfixed by 
the shafts of the god of warmth and Hfe, the bloody 
monster writhes as it breathes forth the last remnants 
of its life and impotent rage in a flaming cloud. The 
waters of the flood are begiiming to run dry, leaving the 
bodies of men and animals upon the mountain-tops, or 
sweeping them away with it. The gods are wrathful to 
see the earth abandoned to misshapen monsters, foul 
products of the primeval slime. Like Apollo, they have 
taken up arms; Minerva and Mercury leap forth to their 
destruction, until the time comes for eternal Wisdom to 
repeople the soHtude of the universe. Hercules is crush- 
ing them with his club; Vulcan, the god of fire, is driving 
the night and the foul mists before him, while Boreas 
and the Zephyrs dry up the waters with their breath and 
finally dispel the clouds. The nymphs of the rivers and 
the streams have regained their reedy bed and their urn, 
still soiled by filth and debris. A few of the more timid 
divinities are standing aside and watching this combat 
between the gods and the elements. Meanwhile from 
the summit of the heavens Victory is flying down to 
crown Apollo the conqueror, and Iris, the messenger 
of the gods, is unfolding her veil in the airs— a symbol of 
the triumph of Hght over darkness and the revolt of the 

I know that the reader will be obHged to use his imagina- 
tion a great deal— to collaborate, so to speak, with the 
author of the note. But do you really think, Sir, that my 
admiration for the painter is making me see visions in this 


matter? Tell me, am I totally mistaken in pretending to 
discover here the evidence of aristocratic habits acquired 
in good reading, and of that rectitude of thought Vi^hich 
has enabled men of rank, soldiers, adventurers, or even 
simple courtiers, to write— sometimes even to dash off— very 
excellent books which even we, who are writers by trade, 
are constrained to admire? 

Eugene Delacroix was a curious mixture of scepticism, 
politeness, dandyism, burning determination, craftiness, 
despotism, and finally of a sort of personal kindness and 
tempered warmth which always accompanies genius. His 
father belonged to that race of strong men of whom we 
knew the last in our childhood— half of them fervent apostles 
of Jean- Jacques, and the other half resolute disciples of 
Voltaire, though they all collaborated with an equal zeal 
in the French Revolution, and their survivors, whether 
Jacobins or Cordeliers, all rallied with a perfect integrity 
(it is important to note) to the aims of Bonaparte. 

Eugene Delacroix never lost the traces of his revolu- 
tionary origin. It may be said of him, as of Stendhal, that 
he had a great dread of being made a fool of.^ Sceptical 
and aristocratic, he only knew passion and the supernatural 
through his forced intimacy with the world of dreams. A 
hater of the masses, he really only thought of them as icono- 
clasts, and the acts of violence perpetrated upon several of 
his works in 1848^ were ill-suited to convert him to the 
political sentimentalism of our times. There was even some- 
thing of Victor Jacquemont^ about him, as regards style, 

^ See p. 244 above. 

^ His Richelieu disant la Messe was destroyed in the Palais- 
Royal, and his Corps de garde marocain was somewhat damaged 
at the Tuileries. 

^ The botanist and traveller, who visited America and India. He 
was weU known through the two volumes of his correspondence 
which were published in 1834, two years after his death. See 
David Stacton, A Ride on a Tiger (London 1954). 


manners and opinions. I know that the comparison is just 
a little offensive, and therefore I should only wish it to be 
applied with an extreme discretion; for there is a touch 
of the rebellious bourgeois wit in Jacquemont— a kind of 
churlish sarcasm which is just as Hkely to mystify the min- 
isters of Brahma as those of Jesus Christ, while Delacroix, 
cautioned by the taste which is always inherent in genius, 
could never fall into such vulgar crudities. My comparison 
only relates therefore to the sense of prudence and the 
sobriety which characterized them both. In the same way, 
the hereditary marks which the 18th century had left upon 
his nature seemed to have been borrowed above all from 
that class which is just as far removed from the Utopians as 
from the fanatics— I mean from the class of the polished 
sceptics, the victors and the survivors, who, generally speak- 
ing, stemmed more from Voltaire than from Jean- Jacques. 
And so, at first glance Eugene Delacroix simply gave the 
impression of an enlightened man, in the honorable ac- 
ceptance of the word— of a perfect gentleman,^ with neither 
prejudices nor passions. It was only by seeking his company 
more assiduously that one could penetrate beneath the 
varnish, and guess at the hidden comers of his soul. A man 
to whom one could compare him more justly, both in his 
outward appearance and in his manners, would be M. 
Merimee.^ There we find the same apparent, slightly af- 
fected, coldness, the same icy mantle which cloaked a bash- 
ful sensitivity and a burning passion for the good and the 
beautiful; beneath the same hypocritical pretence of ego- 
tism, we find the same devotion to his private friends and 
his pet ideas. 

There was much of the savage in Eugene Delacroix— this 
was in fact the most precious part of liis soul, the part which 
was entirely dedicated to the painting of his dreams and 
to the worship of his art. There was also much of the man 
of the world; that part was destined to disguise and excuse 
the other. It was, I think, one of the great concerns of his 
life to conceal the rages of his heart and not to have the 
seeming of a man of genius. His spirit of dominance, which 
* This word is used in the original. 
^ Baudelaire's admiration for Merimee was not reciprocated. 


was quite legitimate and even a part of his destiny, had 
almost entirely disappeared beneatii a thousand kindnesses. 
You might have called him a volcanic crater artistically 
concealed behind bouquets of flowers. 

Another feature of resemblance with Stendhal was his 
propensity for simple formulas, brief maxims for the proper 
conduct of life. Like all men whose passion for method is all 
the more intense as their ardent and sensitive temperaments 
seem to deflect them from it, Delacroix loved to construct 
those little catechisms of practical moraHty which the 
thoughtless and the idle (who practise nothing) would 
scornfully attribute to M. de la Palisse,^ but which genius 
does not despise, because genius is aUied with simplicity— 
I mean sound, strong, simple and firm maxims, which serve 
as buckler and cuirass to the man whom the fatality of his 
genius hurls into an endless battle. 

Need I tell you that the same spirit of inflexible and 
contemptuous wisdom inspired M. Delacroix's opinions in 
political matters also? He believed that nothing changes, 
although everything appears to change, and that certain 
climacteric moments in the history of the nations wiU in- 
variably bring with them analogous phenomena. On the 
whole, his thinking in matters of this kind came very close 
(particularly in its attitude of cold and sorrowful resigna- 
tion) to the thinking of a historian of whom I for my part 
have a quite special respect, and whom you. Sir, who are 
so perfectly famiHar with these arguments, and know how 
to assess talent even when it contradicts you, must have 
felt constrained to admire more than once, I feel sure. 
I am referring to M. Ferrari,'' the subtle and learned author 
of the Histoire de la raison d'Etat. And so the speaker who, 
in M. Delacroix's presence, gave way to childish Utopian 
enthusiasms had very soon to suffer die effect of his bitter 
laugh, shot through with a sarcastic pity; and if anyone was 
imprudent enough in his company to launch forth the great 
chimera of modem times, the monster-balloon of per- 

" The phrase une verite de la Palisse' means a stale truism. 
^Giuseppe Ferrari (1811-76), philosopher, politician, and edi- 
tor of Vice. His Histoire de la raison d'Etat was published in 
Paris in 1860. 


fectibility and indefinite progress, he would be swift to 
ask, 'Where then are your Pheidiases? where are your 
Raphaels ?* 

Be assured, however, that this grufif good sense did not 
divest M. Delacroix of any of his graces. This zest of in- 
credulity, and this refusal to be taken in, seasoned his con- 
versation—already so poetic and so colourful— Hke a dash 
of Byronic salt. He owed also to himself, far more than to 
his long familiarity with the world of society— to himself, 
that is to say to his genius and the consciousness of his 
genius— a sureness, a marvellous ease of manner, combined 
with a poHteness which, like a prism, admitted every 
nuance, from the most cordial good nature to the most 
irreproachable rudeness. He possessed quite twenty dif- 
ferent ways of uttering the words 'mon cher Monsieur , 
which, for a practised ear, represented an interesting range 
of sentiments. For finally it must be said— since to me this 
seems but one more reason for praise— that Eugene Dela- 
croix, for all that he was a man of genius, or because he was 
a man of complete genius, had much of the dandy about 
him. He himself used to admit that in his youth he had 
thrown himself with deHght into the most material vanities 
of dandyism, and he used to tell with a smile, but not 
without a certain touch of conceit, how, with the collabora- 
tion of his friend Bonington, he had laboured energetically 
to introduce a taste for English cut in clothes and shoes 
among the youth of fashion. I take it that this will not seem 
to you an idle detail, for there is no such thing as a super- 
fluous memory when one has the nature of certain men to 

I have told you that what most struck the attentive 
observer was the natural part of Delacroix's soul, in spite 
of the softening veil of a civilized refinement. He was all 
energy, but energy which sprang from the nerves and from 
the will— for physically he was frail and deHcate. The tiger 
intent upon his prey has eyes less bright and muscles less 
impatiently a-quiver than could be observed when the 
whole spiritual being of our great painter was hurled upon 
an idea or was struggling to possess itself of a dream. Even 
the physical character of his countenance, his Peruvian or 


Malay-like colouring, his great black eyes (which, however, 
the blinkings of concentration made to appear smaller, so 
that they seemed to do no more than sip at the light), his 
abundant and glossy hair, his stubborn brow, his tight lips, 
to which an unceasing tension of will gave an expression of 
cruelty— his whole being, in short, suggested the idea of an 
exotic origin. More than once, when looking at him, I have 
found myself thinking of those ancient rulers of Mexico, of 
Montezuma, whose hand, with sacrificial skill, could im- 
molate three thousand human creatures in a single day 
upon the pyramidal altar of the Sun, or perhaps of some 
oriental potentate who, amid the splendours of the most 
brilliant of feasts, betrays in the depths of his eyes a kind 
of unsatisfied craving and an inscrutable nostalgia— some- 
thing like the memory and the regret of things not known. 
I would ask you to observe too that even the general colour 
of Delacroix's pictures has something of the colour proper 
to oriental landscapes and interiors, and that it produces 
a somewhat similar impression to that which is experienced 
in tropical lands by a sensitive eye; I mean that there, in 
spite of the intensity of local tones, the immense diflEusion 
of light creates a general effect which is almost crepuscular. 
The morality of his works— if it is at all permissible to speak 
of ethics in painting— is also visibly marked with Molochism. 
His works contain nothing but devastation, massacres, con- 
flagrations; everything bears witness against the eternal 
and incorrigible barbarity of man. Burnt and smoking cities, 
slaughtered victims, ravished women, the very children 
cast beneath the hooves of horses or menaced by the dagger 
of a distracted mother— the whole body of this painter's 
works, I say, is Hke a terrible hymn composed in honour 
of destiny and irremediable anguish. Occasionally he found 
it possible to devote his brush to the expression of tender 
and voluptuous feelings— for certainly he was not lacking 
in tenderness; but even into these works an incurable bitter- 
ness was infused in strong measure, and carelessness and 
joy— the usual companions of simple pleasure— were absent 
from them. Once only, I believe, did he make an experiment 
in the role of clown or comedian, and as though he had 


guessed that this was both beyond and below his nature, 
he never more returned to it.^ 


I KNOW several people who have a right to say 'Odi pro- 
fanum xmlgus; but which among them can triumphantly 
add 'et arceo'? Too much hand-shaking tends to cheapen 
the character. But if ever a man had an ivory tower, well 
protected by locks and bolts, that man was Eugene Dela- 
croix. And who has ever had a greater love for his ivory 
tower— \ha.t is, for his privacy? He would even, I beheve, 
have armed it with artillery and transported it bodily into 
a forest or to the top of an inaccessible rock! Who has had 
a greater love for the home^—ho\h. sanctuary and den? As 
others seek privacy for their debauches, he sought privacy 
for inspiration, and once he had gained it, he would give 
himself up to veritable drunken orgies of work. "The one 
prudence in hfe is concentration; the one evil is dissipa- 
tion,' says the American philosopher whom we have already 

M. Delacroix might almost have written that maxim; but 
certainly he austerely practised it. He was too much a man 
of the world not to scorn the world; and the e£Forts to 
which he went in order not to be too visibly himself drove 
him naturally to prefer our society. The word *our' is not 
only intended to imply the humble author of these lines, 
but several others as well, young or old, joumaHsts, poets 
and musicians, in whose company he could freely relax and 
be himself. 

In his delightful study on Chopin, Liszt puts Delacroix 
among the poet-musician's most assiduous visitors, and 
tells how he loved to fall into deep reverie at the strains of 
that tenuous and impassioned music which is like a brilliant 
bird fluttering above the horrors of an abyss. 

^ Delacroix published a few lithographic caricatures in Le Miroir 

in 1821. 

^ This word is used in the original. 

Mn the Conduct of Life, 'Power' (p. 353). 


That is how it came about that, thanks to the sincerity 
of our admiration, we were able, though still very young, to 
penetrate the fortifications of that studio where, in spite 
of the rigours of our climate, an equatorial temperature 
prevailed, and where the eye was immediately struck by a 
sober solemnity and by the classic austerity of the old 
school. We had seen such studios in our childhood, belong- 
ing to the late rivals of David— those touching heroes long 
since departed. One felt instinctively that this retreat could 
not be the habitation of a frivolous mind, titillated by a 
thousand incoherent fancies. 

There were no rusty panoplies to be seen there, not a 
single Malayan kris, no ancient Gothic scrap-iron, no 
jewellery, no old clothes, no bric-a-brac, nothing of what 
indicts its owner of a taste for toys and the desultory wan- 
derings of childish daydreaming. A marvellous portrait by 
Jordaens, which he had unearthed somewhere or other, and 
several studies and copies, made by the master himself, 
suflBced to decorate that vast studio, in which a softened 
and subdued Hght illumined self-communion. 

These copies will probably be seen at the sale of Dela- 
croix's drawings and pictures which is fixed, I am told, for 
next January.^ He had two very distinct manners of copy- 
ing. The first, which was broad and free, was a mixture of 
fideHty and betrayal of the model, and into this he put much 
of himself. The result of this method was^ a fascinating 
mongrel-compound which threw the mind into a state of 
deHghtful uncertainty. It is in that paradoxical Hght that 
I remember a large copy of Rubens' Miracles of St. Bene- 
dict.^ In his other manner Delacroix made himself the 
humblest and most obedient slave of his model, and he 
achieved an exactness of imitation of which those who have 
not seen these miracles may weU be incredulous. Such, for 
example, are the copies which he made after two heads 
by Raphael^ in the Louvre— copies in which expression, 
style and manner are imitated with such a perfect sim- 

* In fact it took place in February, 1864. 

* Now in the Brussels Museum. 

^Robaut lists three such copies; Nos. 1925-7. 


plicity that one could reciprocally and in turn mistake the 
originals for the translations. 

After a luncheon lighter than an Arab's, and with his 
palette arranged with the meticulous care of a florist or a 
cloth-merchant, Delacroix would set himself to grapple 
with the interrupted idea; but before launching out into 
his stormy task, he often experienced those feehngs of 
languor, fear and prostration which make one think of the 
Pythoness fleeing the god, or which remind one of Jean- 
Jacques Rousseau dilly-dallying, rummaging among his 
papers and turning over his books for an hour before 
attacking paper with pen. But as soon as the artist's special 
magic had started to work, he never stopped until overcome 
by physical fatigue. 

One day, when we happened to be talking about that 
question which always has such an interest for artists and 
vmters— I mean, about the hygienics of work and the con- 
duct of life— he said to me: 

'Formerly, in my youth, I was unable to get down to 
work unless I had the promise of some pleasure for the 
evening— some music, dancing, or any other conceivable 
diversion. But today I have ceased to be like a schoolboy, 
and I can work without stopping and without any hope of 
reward. And then (he added), if only you knew how un- 
remitting work makes one indulgent and easy to satisfy 
where pleasures are concemedl The man who has well 
filled his day will be prepared to find a sufficiency of wit 
even in the local postman, and will be quite content to 
spend his evening playing cards with him!' 

This remark made me think of MachiaveUi playing at 
dice with the peasants. Now one day (a Sunday it was) 
I caught sight of Delacroix at the Louvre in the company 
of his old servant,^ she who so devotedly looked after and 
cared for him for thirty years; and he, the elegant, the 
exquisite, the erudite, was not too proud to point out and 
to explain the mysteries of Assyrian sculpture to that ex- 
cellent woman, who, moreover, was listening to him v^th 
an artless concentration. The memory of Machiavelli and 

' There is a portrait by Delacroix of his servant, Jenny le Guillou, 
in the Louvre; see Journal, pi. 28. 


of our former conversation leapt immediately into my mind. 

The truth is that during his latter years everythkig that 
one normally calls pleasure had vanished from his life, 
having all been replaced by a single harsh, exacting, ter- 
rible pleasure, namely work, which by that time was not 
merely a passion but might properly have been called a 

After having dedicated the hours of the day to painting, 
either in his studio or upon the scaffolding whither he was 
summoned by his great decorative tasks, Delacroix found 
strength yet remaining in his love of art, and he would 
have judged that day ill-filled if the evening hours had not 
been employed at the fire-side, by lamp-light, in drawing, 
in covering paper with dreams, ideas, or figures half- 
ghmpsed amid the random accidents of life, and sometimes 
in copying drawings by other artists whose temperament 
was as far as possible removed from his own; for he had a 
passion for notes, for sketches, and he gave himself up to 
it wherever he happened to be. For quite a long time he 
made a habit of drawing at the house of friends to whom 
he went to spend his evenings. That is how it comes about 
that M. Villot''^ possesses a considerable quantity of draw- 
ings from that fertile pen. 

He once said to a young man of my acquaintance: 'If you 
have not sufficient skill to make a sketch of a. man throwing 
himself out of a window, in the time that it takes him to 
fall from the fourth floor to the ground, you will never be 
capable of producing great machines.' This enormous hy- 
perbole seems to me to contain the major concern of his 
whole fife, which was, as is well known, to achieve an 
execution quick and sure enough to prevent the smallest 
particle of the intensity of action or idea from evaporating. 

Delacroix was, as many others have been in a position to 
observe, a man of conversation. But the humorous side of 
it is that he was as frightened of conversation as he was 
of a debauch, a dissipation in which he ran the risk of 
wasting his strength. When you entered into his presence 
he began by saying: 

^ Delacroix's Journals contain many references to his friend 
Frederic Villot. 


1 think perhaps that we had better not talk this morning, 
don't you? or only a very, very little/ 

And then he would chatter away for three hours! His 
talk was brilliant and subtle, but full of facts, memories and 
anecdotes— in short, 'the word that nourisheth'. 

When he was roused by contradiction, he drew back 
momentarily, and instead of a frontal assault upon his ad- 
versary (a thing which runs the risk of introducing the 
brutalities of the hustings into the skirmishes of the draw- 
ing-room), he played for some time with him, and then 
returned to the attack vvdth unexpected arguments or facts. 
It was indeed the conversation of a man who loved a tussle, 
but was the slave of courtesy, shrewd, giving way on pur- 
pose, and full of sudden feints and attacks. 

In the intimacy of his studio he freely relaxed so far as 
to deliver his opinions upon his contemporary painters, and 
it was on these occasions that we often had to admire that 
special forbearance of genius which derives perhaps from 
a particular kind of simplicity or of readiness to appreciate. 

He had an astonishing weakness for Decamps, who today 
has fallen very low, but who doubtless was still enthroned 
in his mind through the power of memory. And the same 
for Charlet. He once sent for me to come and see him on 
purpose to rap me sharply over the knuckles about a dis- 
respectful article^ that I had perpetrated on the subject of 
that spoiled child of chauvinism. In vain did I try to explain 
to him that it was not the Charlet of the early days that 
I was censuring, but the Charlet of the decadence— not the 
noble historian of the old campaigners, but the tavern- wit. 
But I never managed to win my pardon. 

He admired Ingres in certain of his aspects, and assuredly 
he must have had great critical stamina to admire by reason 
what he can only have rejected by temperament. He even 
carefully copied some photographs which had been made 
of a few of those meticulous pencil-portraits in which we 
see the relentless and searching talent of M. Ingres at its 
best, for he is all the more resourceful as he is the more 
cramped for space. 

Horace Vemet's detestable colour did not prevent him 
' See pp. 156-60 above. 


from feeling the personal potentiality with which most of 
his pictm^es are charged, and he hit upon some amazing 
expressions in order to praise their scintillation and their 
indefatigable passion. His admiration for Meissonier went 
a Httle too far. He had appropriated, almost by violence, 
the drawings which had been used in the preparation of 
La Barricade,^ the best picture of an artist whose talent, 
nevertheless, finds far more energetic expression with the 
simple pencil than with the brush. Of Meissonier he often 
used to say, as though anxiously dreaming of the future, 
'After all, he is the most certain of us all to livel' Is it not 
strange to see the author of such great works showing some- 
thing very hke jealousy of the man who only excels in small 

The only man whose name had the power to wring an 
abusive word or two from those aristocratic Hps was Paul 
Delaroche. In that man's works there was obviously not a 
single extenuating circumstance to be found, and he never 
rid himself of the memory of the distress which had been 
caused him by all that sour and muddy painting, executed 
with 'ink and boot-poHsh', as Theophile Gautier once ob- 
served in an unusual access of independence. 

But his favourite choice as his travelling-companion on 
vast exiles of talk was the man who resembled him least of 
all in talent as in ideas, his veritable opposite pole— a man 
who has not yet received all the justice which is his due, 
and whose brain, although as fog-ridden as the fuHginous 
sky of his native city, contains a whole host of admirable 
things. I am describing M. Paul Chenavard. 

The abstruse theories of the painter-philosopher of Lyons 
made Delacroix smile; and that doctrinaire pedagogue held 
the sensuous pleasures of pure painting to be frivolous, if 
not blameworthy things. But however remote they may 
have been from one another, or precisely because of that 
remoteness, they loved to set course for one another, until, 
Hke two vessels secured by grappHng-irons, they could no 
longer part company. Both of them, moreover, being highly 
educated and endowed with a remarkable sense of socia- 
bility, met together on the common ground of erudition. 
^ Now in the Louvre; see pi. 47. 


It is well known that generally speaking this is not the 
quality for which artists are conspicuous. 

Chenavard was thus a precious resource for Delacroix. It 
was a real pleasure to watch them set to in innocent 
struggle, the words of the one marching ponderously like 
an elephant in full panoply of war, and those of the other 
quivering like a fencing-foil, equally keen and flexible. 
During the last hours of his life our great painter expressed 
the desire to shake the hand of his friendly sparring-partner 
once more. But he was far from Paris at that time. 


Sentimental and affected women wiU perhaps be shocked 
to learn that, Hke Michelangelo (may I remind you that 
one of his sonnets ends with the words 'Sculpture! divine 
Sculpture! thou art my only love!'), Delacroix had made 
painting his unique muse, his exclusive mistress, his sole 
and sufficient pleasure. 

No doubt he had loved woman greatly in the troubled 
hours of his youth. Who among us has not sacrified too 
much to that formidable idol? And who does not know that 
it is precisely those that have served her the best that 
complain of her the most? But a long time before his death 
he had already excluded woman from his Hfe. Had he been 
a Mohammedan, he would not perhaps have gone so far 
as to drive her out of his mosques, but he would have been 
amazed to see her entering them, not being quite able to 
understand what sort of converse she could have with Allah. 

In this question, as in many others, the oriental idea 
dominated him keenly and tyrannically. He regarded 
woman as an object of art, delightful and well suited to 
excite the mind, but disobedient and disturbing once one 
throws open the door of one's heart to her, and gluttonously 
devouring of time and strength. 

I remember that once we were in a public place, when 
I pointed out to him the face of a woman marked with 
an original beauty and a melancholy character; he was very 
anxious to be appreciative, but instead, to be self-consistent, 


he asked with his little laugh, 'How on earth could a woman 
be melancholy?', doubtless insinuating thereby that, when 
it comes to understanding the sentiment of melanchoha, 
woman is lacking in some essential ingredient. 

This, unfortunately, is a highly insulting theory, and I 
certainly would not want to advocate defamatory opinions 
upon a sex which has often exhibited glowing virtues. But 
you will surely allow that it is a prudential theory; and 
further, that talent could not be too well armed with 
prudence in a world that is full of ambushes, and that the 
man of genius is privileged to hold certain doctrines (so 
long as they are not subversive of order) which would 
rightly scandalize us in a mere citizen or a simple family 

At the risk of casting a shadow upon his memory in the 
estimation of elegiac souls, perhaps I ought to add that 
neither did he show any aflFectionate partiality for child- 
hood. He never thought of children except with jam- 
smeared hands (a thing that dirties canvas and paper), 
or beating a drum (a thing that interrupts meditation), or 
as incendiaries and animaUy dangerous creatures like 

1 remember very well (he used to say sometimes) that 
when I was a child, I was a monster. The understanding of 
duty is only acquired very slowly, and it is by nothing less 
than by pain, chastisement and the progressive exercise of 
reason that man can gradually diminish his natural wicked- 

Thus, by the road of simple good sense he reverted 
towards the Cathohc idea. For it is true to say that, gen- 
erally speaking, the child, in relation to the man, is much 
closer to original sin. 


You would have thought that Delacroix had reserved his 
entire sensibiHty, which was manly and deep, for the 
austere sentiment of friendship. There are people who be- 
come easily attached to the first comer; others reserve the 


use of the divine faculty for great occasions. If he had no 
love of being bothered over trifles, the famous man about 
whom I am now talking to you with so much pleasure 
knew how to be a courageous and zealous ally when im- 
portant matters were in question. Those who knew him 
well have had many an opportunity of appreciating his 
positively English loyalty, punctiliousness and stability in 
social relations. If he was exacting to others, he was no 
less severe upon himseH. 

It is sad and distressing to me to have to say a few words 
about certain accusations that have been brought against 
Eugene Delacroix. I have heard people taxing him with 
egotism and even with avarice. I would ask you to observe. 
Sir, that this reproach is always directed by the countless 
tribe of commonplace souls against those that endeavour 
to bestow their generosity wdth as much care as their friend- 

Delacroix was very economical; for him it was the only 
way of being, on occasion, very generous. I could prove 
this with several examples, but I would hesitate to do so 
without having been authorized by him, any more than 
by those who have had good reason to thank him. 

Please observe too that for many a long year his paintings 
sold very badly, and that his decorative works ate up 
almost the whole of his salary, when he did not actually 
have to dip into his own purse. He gave innumerable 
proofs of his scorn for money when needy artists revealed 
a desire to possess one of his works. Then, like those Uberal 
and generous-minded doctors who sometimes expect to be 
paid for their professional services, and sometimes give 
them free, he would give away his pictures, or part with 
them at a nominal price. 

Fioally, Sir, we must remember that the superior man, 
more than any other, is obliged to have an eye to his per- 
sonal defences. It might be said that the whole of society 
is at war with him. We have had more than one opportunity 
of confirming this. His courtesy is called coldness; his 
irony, however much he may have softened it, is interpreted 
as spitefulness; and his economy, as avarice. But if, on the 
other hand, the poor creatine turns out to be improvident. 


society will say, 'Quite right too! EUs penury is a punish- 
ment for his prodigality/ 

I am able to assert that, so far as money and economy 
were concerned, Delacroix completely shared the opinion 
of Stendhal— an opinion which reconciles greatness and 

'The sensible man,' said Stendhal, *must devote himself 
to acquiring what is strictly necessary to him in order not 
to be dependent upon anyone (in Stendhal's time, this 
meant an income of 6,000 francs) ;i but if, once he has 
achieved this security, he wastes his time increasing his 
Fortune, he is a scoundrel/ 

Pursuit of the essential, and scorn of the superfluous— 
that is the conduct of a wise man and a Stoic. 

One of our painter's greatest concerns during his last 
years was the judgment of posterity and the uncertain 
durability of his works. One moment his ever-sensitive 
imagination would take fire at the idea of an immortal 
glory, and then he would speak with bitterness of the 
fragility of canvases and colours. At other times he would 
enviously cite the old masters who almost all of them had 
the good fortune to be translated by skilful engravers 
whose needle or burin had learnt to adapt itself to the 
Qature of their talent, and he keenly regretted that he had 
Dot found his own translator. This friability of the painted 
work, as compared with the stability of the printed work, 
was one of his habitual themes of conversation. 

When this man, who was so frail and so stubborn, so 
highly-strung and so courageous; this man, who was unique 
m. the history of European art; the sickly and sensitive 
artist who never ceased to dream of covering walls with his 
grandiose conceptions— when this man, I say, was carried 
dAF by one of those inflammations of the lung, of which, it 
seems, he had a convulsive foreboding, we all of us felt 
something approximating to that depression of soul, that 
sensation of growing solitude which the death of Chateau- 
briand and that of Balzac had already made famiHar to us 
-a sensation which was quite recently renewed by the 

^See Stendhal De l' Amour (Levy edition) p. 193. 


death of Alfred de Vigny.^ A great national sorrow brings 
with it a lowering of general vitality; a clouding of the 
intellect which is like an eclipse of the sun; a momentary 
imitation of the end of the world. 

I believe however that this impression is chiefly confined 
to those proud anchorites who can only make themselves 
a family by means of intellectual relations. As for the rest 
of the community, it is only gradually that they most of 
them learn to realize the full extent of their coimtry's loss 
in losing its great man, and to appreciate what an empty 
space he has left behind him. And yet it is only right to 
warn them. 

I thank you, Sir, with all my heart for having been so 
kind as to aUow me to say freely all that was suggested to 
my mind by the memory of one of the rare geniuses of our 
unhappy age— an age at once so poor and so rich, an age 
at times too exacting, at times too indulgent— and too often 

^ Chateaubriand had died in 1848, Balzac in 1850, and Vigny 
only a few months before Delacroix. 



Pages 211-2. Noble creatures are sometimes bom under the 
sun; earthly epitomes of aU that one dreams of— bodies 
of iron, hearts of flame, glorious spirits. God seems to 
produce them so as to prove Himself; He takes a softer 
clay to mould them, and often spends a century in bring- 
ing them to perfection. Like a sculptor, He places the 
print of His thumb on their brows, which shine with the 
glory of the heavens; their fiery haloes burgeon in rays 
of gold. 

Calm or radiant they go their way, never for a mo- 
ment abandoning their solemn gait, with the motionless 
eye and the bearing of the gods . . . Give them but 
one day, or give them a hundred years, tumult or tran- 
quillity, the palette or the sword: they will fulfil their 
shining destinies. Their strange existence is the reality 
of the dream; they will carry out your ideal plan, as a 
clever sculptor carries out a pupil's sketch. Through the 
triumphal arch which you have built in dreams, your 
unknown desires will ride behind them on their steeds 
... Of such men each nation can count five or six, five 
or six at the most, in prosperous ages, ever-living sym- 
bols of which legends are made. 

Page 214. And once left, the picture torments and follows 

Page 271. The bad taste of the age in this matter frightens 

Page 287. Gloomy Isis, covered with a veil! Spider with an 
immense web in which the Nations are caughtl Foun- 
tain beset with urns I Breast ever-flowing with milk. 


whither the generations of mankind come to receive the 
food of ideas 1 . . . City tempest-wrappedl 

Page 301. The charms of horror only thrill the strong! 

Pages 301-2. As proud of her noble stature as if she were 
alive, with her huge bouquet, her handkerchief and her 
gloves, she has the nonchalance and the imconcem of a 
skinny coquette with extravagant airs. Did you ever see a 
slimmer figure among the dancers? Her gown, billowing 
out in its regal abundance, cascades upon a dry foot which 
is pinched by a tasselled shoe, as pretty as a flower. The 
frill which plays about her shoulder-blades, like a wan- 
ton brook foaming against a rock, chastely shields those 
funereal charms which she is so anxious to hide from 
stupid jeerers. Her deep eyes are wells of darkness and 
shadow, and her skuU, tastefully crowned with flowers, 
sways slackly on her slender spine— Oh speU of nothing- 
ness, madly bedeckedl Some will call you a caricature— 
those whose drunken love of the flesh does not allow 
them to understand the nameless elegance of the body's 
scaffolding. Huge skeleton, you echo my dearest tastel 
. . . Do you come to disturb the festival of life, v^th 
your awesome grimace? 



The Illustrations have been arranged according to the 
following over-all design: 1. Illustrations to the Introduc- 
tion (Nos. 1-11); 2. A series of identified works from the 
Salons of 1845, 1846, and 1859 (excluding Delacroix) 
(Nos. 12-41); 3. A few works from other Salons which 
are mentioned by Baudelaire; typical works by artists 
whom he discusses but who do not figure in the first series; 
prints and sculptures (Nos. 42-58); 4. Works by Ingres 
and Delacroix (Nos. 59-71); and 5. Caricatxires (Nos. 
Unless otherwise stated, the medium is oil. 

1. Charles Baudelaire (1821-67): Self-Portrait, 
C.1860 Pen and red chalk. 

Lausanne, M. Armand Godoy 

One of a series of self-portrait drawings which may 
have been intended (but were not used) for the 
second edition of the Fleurs du mal (1861). Accord- 
ing to Baudelaire's friend and publisher, Poulet- 
^ Malassis, this was the best of the group. See Dessins 
de Baudelaire (Paris, 1927). 

2. Baudelaire's 'Salon de 1846': Title-page 
London, British Museum 

Baudelaire's mother was bom Caroline Archimbault- 
Dufays, and his first works were published under the 
composite name 'Baudelaire Dufays'. 

3. Gavarni (1804-66): The artist and his Critic 
Lithograph, from Le Charivari. See p. 41. 
London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

4. Octave Tassaert (1800-74): *Don't play the 
heartless one I' 

Lithograph, from the series *Les Amants et les Epoux'. 

See p. 71. 

Paris, Bibliothdque Nationale 

344 notes on the plates 

5. Etienne Carjat (1828-1906): Photograph of Bau- 
delaire, C.1863 

6. Edouard Manet (1832-83): Portrait of Baude- 
laire, 1862 

Etching (Gu^rin 31). 

London, Private Collection 

Taken from the figure o£ Baudelaire in Manet's La 

Musique aux Tuileries, and published in Charles 

Asselineau's Charles Baudelaire et son oeuvre (1869). 

7. Eugene Lami (1800-90): Portrait of Delacroix 
Water-colour, after a pastel by Eugene Giraud. 
France, Private Collection 

8. The Ingres Gallery at the Exposition Univer- 
selle, 1855 

Contemporary photograph. See pp. 204-5. 
London, Victoria and Albert Museum 
The large circular painting in the centre is the Apoth- 
eosis of Napoleon. To the left can be seen the Joan of 
Arc, the Grande Odalisque, the Venus Anadyomene 
and the portrait of Mme. Gonse: below, the Muse de 
Cherubim and the portrait of M. Bertin the elder: to 
the right, the Bather of Valpingon, Christ giving the 
keys to St. Peter, Oedipus and the Sphinx, and, at 
the top, three cartoons for stained glass. 

9. Honore Daumier (1808-79): The Salon of 1859 
Lithograph (Deltiel 3138) from the series 'L'Ex- 
position de 1859'. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

The following is a translation of the caption:— 

—Just look how they have *skied' my picture I 

—Why, my dear fellow— arent you pleased? But you 

ought to be enchanted to see that they have hung 

your little things well above those of Meissonierl 

10. Baudelaire: Portrait of Daumier, 1856 
Pen and wash. 
Lausanne, M. Armand Godoy 


11. GuSTAVE CouRBET (1819-77): Portrait of Baude- 

Montpellier, Musee Fabre 

According to Champfleury (Souvenirs et portraits de 
jeunesse, 1872, p. 135), Courbet found Baudelaire a 
difficult subject. 1 don't know how to finish Baude- 
laire's portrait,' he said: Tiis face changes every day.' 
*It is true,' added Champfleury, *that Baudelaire had 
the ability to alter his appearance like an escaped con- 
vict seeking to evade recapture. Sometimes his hair 
would hang over his collar in graceful perfumed ring- 
lets: the next day his bare scalp would have a bluish 
tint owing to the barber's razor. One morning he 
would appear smiling with a large bouquet in his hand 
. . . two days later, with hanging head and bent 
shoulders, he might have been taken for a Carthusian 
friar digging his own grave.' 

12. William Haussoullier (1818-91): The Fountain 
of Youth 

Salon of 1845 (La Fontaine de jouvence). See pp. 8- 

London, Mr. Graham Reynolds 

This painting was lot 107 at Christies, 17 Dec. 1937. 
It is dated 1843, and measures 51 by 72 in. Its inter- 
mediate history is unknown. 

13. Haussoullier: The Fountain of Youth (detail) 

14. Adrien Guignet (1816-54): Joseph interpreting 


Salon of 1845 (Joseph expliquant les songes du 

Pharaon) . 

See p. 27. 

Rouen, Musee des Reaux-Arts 

15. Horace Vernet (1789-1863) : The Capture of the 
Smala (detail) 

Salon of 1845 (La prise de la smalah d'Abd-el-Kader) . 
See pp. 7-8. 


Versailles, Musee 

The capture of the smaldh—ox encampment— of the 
Emir Abd-el-Kader by the French forces under the 
due d'Aumale took place in 1843 and was one of the 
most picturesque episodes in the North African cam- 
paign. This was Horace Vemet's largest composition, 
the present detail representing only about a quarter of 
the complete picture. 

16. Louis Janmot (1814-92): Flowers of the Field 
Salon of 1845 (Fleurs des champs). See p. 20. 
Lyon, Musee des Beaux- Arts 

17. THEfODORE Chasseriau (1819-56): The Caliph of 


Salon of 1845 (Le Kalifat de Constantine suivi de son 

escorte). See p. 16. 

Versailles, Musee 

Ali-ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantine, had recently 

paid a lengthy visit to Paris. 

18. Louis de Planet (1814-75): The Vision of Saint 

Salon of 1845 (La Vision de sainte Therese). See pp. 


France, Private Collection 

See also Louis de Planet, Souvenirs de travaux de 

peinture avec M. Eugdne Delacroix (Paris, 1929), 

pp. 80-4. 

19. GusTAVE Lassale-Bordes (1814-C.1868): The 
Death of Cleopatra 

Salon of 1846 (La Mort de Cleopatre). See pp. 68-9. 
Autun, Musee Municipal 

Like Louis de Planet and Leger Cherelle, Lassale- 
Bordes was one of Delacroix's assistants in his decora- 
tive works. 

notes on the plates 347 

20. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875): 
Homer and the Shepherds 

Salon of 1845 (Homere et les bergers). See p. 29. 
Saint'Lo, Musee 

21. Corot: Landscape— The Forest of Fontainehleau 
Salon of 1846 (Vue prise dans la foret de Fontaine- 
hleau ). 

See pp. 113-4. 

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 

22. Paul Chenavard (1807-95): Dante's Inferno 
Salon of 1846 (L'Enfer de Dante). See p. 109. 
Montpellier, Musee Fabre 

On Baudelaire's opinion of Chenavard, see also Joseph 
C. Sloane's article 'Baudelaire, Chenavard, and "Philo- 
sophic Art"', in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art 
Criticism, vol. XIII, No. 3, March 1955. Prof. Sloane s 
identification of a portrait-drawing of Baudelaire by 
Chenavard does not however seem to be entirely con- 

23. Ary Scheffer (1795-1858): St. Augustine and 
St. Monica 

Salon of 1846 (Saint Augustin et sainte Monique). 

See p. 105. 

London, Tate Gallery 

This is in fact a replica of the Salon picture, which 

was formerly in the collection of Queen Marie Amelie. 

24. Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (1803-60): Souvenir 
of Turkey in Asia 

Salon of 1846 (Souvenir de la Turquie d'Asie). See 
p. 78. 

Chantilly, Musee Conde 

It is presumably of this picture that Baudelaire ob- 
serves that the ducks have been given a 'slab of stone 
to swim on'. 

348 notes on the plates 

25. Decamps: Turkish Landscape 

Salon of 1846 (Paysage turc). See p. 78. 
Amsterdam, Fodor Museum 

26. Joseph Lies (1821-65): The Evils of Wab 

Salon of 1859 (Les Manx de la guerre). See pp. 


Brussels, Musee d'Art Moderne 

27. Alphonse Legros (1837-1911): The Angelus 
Salon of 1859 (L'Angelus). See pp. 243-5. 
Cheltenham, Mr. Asa Lingard 

28. Amand-Desire Gautier (1825-94): Sisters of 

Salon of 1859 (Les Soeurs de charite). See pp. 245-6. 
Lille, Musee des Beaux-Arts 

29. NicoLAS-FnANgois Chifflart (1825-1901): Faust 
AT THE Sabbath (detail) 

Salon of 1859 (Faust au sabbat). See p. 267. 
London, Victoria and Albert Museum 
The reproduction is taken from A. Bahuet's lithograph 
after Chifflart's drawing, whose present whereabouts is 
not known. 

30. Paul Baudry (1828-86): The Penitent Magdalen 
Salon of 1859 (La Madeleine penitente). See p. 265. 
"Nantes, Musee des Beaux- Arts 

31. Paul Flandrin (1811-1902): Landscape 
Salon of 1859 (Paysage). 
Montauban, Musee Ingres 

Although Baudelaire did not write about Paul Flandrin 
at the Salon of 1859, he gave him a paragraph in 
1845 (p. 31), and in 1846 devoted two pages to an 
attack on 'Historical Landscape*, of which this pic- 
ture is a good example (pp. 112-3). 

notes on the plates 349 

32. Ernest Hebert (1817-1908): Peasant Women of 

Salon of 1859 (Les Cervarolles). See p. 264. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

33. Charles Daubigny (1817-78): Landscape by the 
River Oise 

Salon of 1859 (Les Bords de I'Oise). See p. 280. 
Bordeaux, Musee de Peinture 

34. Charles le Roux (1814-95): Water-Meadows at 


Salon of 1859 (Prairies et marais de Corsept, a I'em- 
bouchure de la Loire, au mois d'aout) . See p. 280. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 
The figures are by Corot 

35. Theodore Rousseau (1812-67): The Gorges 
d'Apremont, Fontainebleau 

Salon of 1859 (Les Gorges d'Apremont) . See pp. 


Princeton, Mrs F. J. Mather, Jr. 

36. Rousseau: The Forest of Fontainebleau— Morning 
Salon of 1850-1 (Lisi^re de foret— effet de matin). 
London, Wallace Collection. 

A larger picture representing the same scene at sunset 
(now in the Louvre), and exhibited at the same Salon, 
had been commissioned in 1848 by the State. This 
marked the beginning of Rousseau's official recog- 

37. Jean-Franqois Millet (1814-75): The Cowgirl 
Salon of 1859 (Femme faisant paitre sa vache). See 
pp. 280-1. 

Bourg-en-Bresse, Musee de VAin 

38. Millet: The Angelus 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 


Although painted in 1858-9, at about the same time 
as the Cowgirl, this picture was not exhibited until 
the Exposition Universelle of 1867. 

89. Eugene Boudin (1824-98): Sky-Study 
Pastel. See pp. 285-6. 
London, O'Hana Gallery 

This pastel, which is not however inscribed, is similar 
in style to others which have been referred to Baude- 
laire's description in the Salon of 1859. 

40. Corot: Macbeth and the Witches 

Salon of 1859 (Macbeth, paysage). See pp. 281-3. 
London, Wallace Collection 

In the original sketch for this picture, Macbeth was 
alone and immounted. The Shakespearian subject 
shows Corot's orthodox Romantic sympathies. 

41. Constant Troyon (1810-65): The Retubn to the 

Salon of 1859 (Le Retour a la ferme). See p. 281. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

42. Charles Gleyre (1806-74): Evening 
Salon of 1843 (Le Soir). See pp. 18-9. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

This picture achieved a great popular success, and was 
engraved under the title Les Illusions perdues. Clement 
{Gleyre, 1886 edition, p. 98) gives a long quotation 
from Gleyre's Journal, in which he describes the 
'vision' he had in March 1835 beside the Nile, which 
gave rise to the picture. The seated man in the fore- 
ground represents the poetic hero who sadly watches 
his youthful illusions pass away from him. 

43. Jean-Leon Ger6me (1824-1904): The Cock-Fight 
Salon of 1847 (Jeunes Grecs faisant battre des coqs). 
See p. 256. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 


This was Gerome's first exhibit at the Salon; it earned 
him the title of the 'Master of the Neo-Greeks' (see 
pp. 253 E). 

44. FRANgois-MABius Granet (1775-1849): The 
Interrogation of Savonarola 

Lyon, Musee des Beaux- Arts 

Although Granet exhibited an Interrogatoire de 
Savonarole at the Salon of 1846, it cannot be identi- 
fied with the present version, which had already 
entered the Lyon Museum in the previous year. On 
Granet's colour, see pp. 97 and 101. 

45. HippoLYTE Flandrin (1809-64): Portrait of 
Mme. Vinet 

Dated 1840. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 

A characteristic example of the Ingres-school portrait, 

on which see pp. 93-5 and 275-6. 

46. GusTA%^ RiCARD (1823-73): Portrait of a Girl 
Lyon, Mu^ee des Beaux-Arts 

On Ricard, see pp. 277-8. 

47. Ernest Meissonier (1815-91): The Barricade 
Salon of 1850-1 (Souvenir de guerre civile). See 
p. 333. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 

The scene is set in the rue de la Mortellerie, Paris, 
which no longer exists. On Meissonier, see particu- 
larly p. 27. 

48. Meissonier: A Painter Showing his Drav^^ings 
Salon of 1850-1 (Un peintre montrant ses dessins). 
London, Wallace Collection 

Among the pictures on the wall in the background is a 
self-portrait and a sketch for Meissonier's unfinished 
Samson slaying the Philistines. 

352 notes on the plates 

49. Narcisse Diaz (1807-76): Love's Offspring 
Dated 1847. 

London, Tate Gallery 

On Diaz, see particularly pp. 80-1 and 265-6. 

50. Diaz: Study of Trees 

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

51. Theodore Caruelle d'Aligny (1798-1871): The 
Acropolis, Athens 

Salon of 1846. Etching. See pp. 113-4. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

No. 5 in Aligny's Vues des sites les plus ceUhres de la 

Grece Antique, Paris, 1845. 

52. George Catlin (1796-1872): Buffalo-hunt under 
THE Wolf-Skin Mask 

Washington, Smithsonian Institution 

Probably painted in 1832, on the plains of the Upper 


On Catlin, see particularly pp. 72-3. 

53. George Catlin: Mah-to-he-ha, the Old Bear 
Washington, Smithsonian Institution 

Painted in 1832, among the Mandan fanners of the 
Upper Missouri river. The sitter was described by 
Catlin as *A very distinguished brave; but here repre- 
sented in the character of a Medicine Man or Doctor, 
with his medicine or mystery pipes in his hands, and 
foxes' tails tied to his heels, prepared to make his last 
visit to his patient, to cure him, if possible, by hocus 
pocus and magic'. 

54. Charles Meryon (1821-68): The Clock Tower, 

Etching, 1852. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

No. 28 in Delteil and Wright, Catalogue raisonnS of 

the etchings of Charles Meryon, 1924. On Meryon, see 

pp. 286-8. 


55. P.-J. David d'Angers (1788-1856): Child with a 
Bunch of Grapes 

Salon of 1845 (L'Enfant a la grappe). Marble. See 

p. 35. 

Faris, Musee du Louvre 

56. James Pbadier (1792-1852): The Frivolous Muse 
Salon of 1846 (La Poesie legere). Marble. See p. 122. 
Nimes, Musee des Beaux-Arts 

57. AuGusTE Clesinger (1814-83): Bust of Madame 

Marble, 1847. 
Taris, Musee du Louvre 

Baudelaire's 'Venus blanche', and called by Gautier 
*la Presidente', Apollonie Sabatier became a cele- 
brated literary and artistic hostess in the 1850s. 
Whether she was Baudelaire's mistress in the strict 
sense of the word is still uncertain, but he is known 
to have addressed anonymous love-letters to her, and 
a group of poems in the Fleurs du mal refers to her. 
On Clesinger's sculptures, see pp. 293-4. 

58. Ernest Christophe (1827-92): *Danse Macabre' 
Terracotta (?), 1859. See pp. 300-2. 

Present whereabouts unknown 

This maquette, which was the source of Baudelaire's 
poem of the same name, was in 1917 in the collection 
of Comte Robert de Montesquieu, when it was repro- 
duced as frontispiece to Le Cinquantenaire de Charles 
Baudelaire (Paris, Maison du Livre). In the course 
of the publication of Baudelaire's articles on the Salon 
of 1859, Christophe wrote to him hoping that he 
would not be forgotten when it came to the section on 
sculpture. Christophe married B6b6, the younger sister 
of Mme. Sabatier. 

59. J.-A.-D. Ingres (1780-1867); Cherubini and his 


Dated 1842 (La Muse de Cherubini). See p. 87. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 

The composer Chembini died in Paris in 1842. 

60. Ingres: The Comtesse d'Haussonville 
Dated 1845. See p. 88. 

Islew York, Frick Collection 

61. Ingres: Apotheosis of Homer 
Dated 1827. See pp. 61 and 87. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

62. Ingres: The 'Grande Odalisque' 
Dated 1814. See pp. 70 note, and 88. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

63. Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) : Dante and Virgil 
Salon of 1822 (Dante et Virgile conduits par 
Phlegias). See pp. 51-2 and 212. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 

64. Delacroix: Women of Algiers 

Salon of 1834 (Femmes d' Alger dans leur apparte- 


See pp. 54 and 66. 

Paris, Musee du Louvre 

Among Baudelaire's pictures was a copy of the 

Femmes d' Alger by Emile Deroy. 

65. Delacroix: Hamlet and the Gravedigger 

Salon of 1839 (Hamlet et Horatio au cimetiere). See 
pp. 65-6 and 214. 
Paris, Musee du Louvre 

66. Delacroix: Romeo and Juliet 

Salon of 1846 (Les Adieux de Rom^o et Juliette). See 

pp. 64-5 and 214. 

Formerly with Messrs. Bernheim-Jeune, Paris 

notes on the plates 355 

67. Delacroix: The Sultan of Morocco with his 

Salon of 1845 (Muley Abd-err-Rahman, sultan de 

Maroc, sortant de son palais de Mequinez). See 

p. 7. 

Toulouse, Musee des Augustins 

A later version is reproduced Journal, pi. 67. 

68. Delacroix: The Last Words of Marcus Aurelius 
Salon of 1845 (Demieres paroles de Tempereur Marc- 
Aurele). See pp. 4-6. 

Lyon, Musee des Beaux-Arts 

69. Delacroix: The Sibyl with the Golden Bough 
Salon of 1845 (Une Sibylle qui montre le rameau 
d'or). See p. 7. 

Formerly in the collection of M. Bessonneau 
The reference is to the sixth book of the Aeneid, in 
which Aeneas consults the Cumaean Sibyl and is told 
that he must find the golden bough before he can 
speak with his father, Anchises, in Hades. 

70. Delacroix: Ovid in Exile among the Scythians 
Salon of 1859 (Ovide en exil chez les Scythes). See 
pp. 250 and 252. 

Private Collection 

71. Delacroix: The Ascent to Calvary 

Salon of 1859 (La Montre au Calvaire). See p. 250. 
Metz, Musee Central 

72. Charles- Joseph Travies (1804-59): Liard— The 
Philosopher Tramp 

Lithograph (Liard— chiflFonnier philosophe). See 

p. 176. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

Published in Le Charivari: Beraldi, Le Graveur du 

XIXe sidcle, vol. XII (1892), p. 151, No. 4. 

356 notes on the plates 

73. Gavarni (1804-66): After the Ball 
Lithograph (unpublished) 

Paris, Bibliothdque Nationale 

A posthumous work. No. 2691 in Armelhaut and 
Bocher's Oeuvre de Gavarni, 1873. The two girls are 
dressed in the costume of 'debardeurs'. On Gavarni, 
see pp. 173-4. 

74. Edme-Jean Pigal (1798-1872): 'The other foot, 
sm, please r 

Lithograph ('L*auf pied, not' maitre') 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

No. 7 of the series, 'Miroir de Paris', published in Le 

Charivari. On Pigal, see pp. 155-6. 

75. Honore Daxjmier (1808-79): Robert Macaire— 

Lithograph (Delteil 362). See p. 168. 
Private Collection 

No. 9 of the series, 'Caricaturana'. The following is a 
translation of the caption:— 

'My dear Bertrand, give me a hundred crowns and I'll 
have you acquitted on the spot!'— 1 haven't got a 
shilling.'— Very weU, a hundred francs!'— I haven't got 
a penny.'— Haven't you got ten francs?'— 'Not a far- 
thing.'— 'Then give me your shoes, and I'll plead ex- 
tenuating circumstances.' On Daumier, see particu- 
larly pp. 160-70. 

76. Daumier: Dido and Aeneas 
Lithograph (Delteil 939). See pp. 168-9. 
Private Collection 

No. 15 of the series, 'Histoire Ancienne'. The follow- 
ing is a translation of the caption, which is a comic 
adaptation from Virgil:— 

A protective fog obscured the heavens; and as they 
both happened to have come out without their um- 
brellas, Aeneas guided his lady-friend into a dim 
grotto, there on this fine day to crown his passion. 

notes on the plates 357 

77. William Hogarth (1697-1764): The Reward of 

Engraving. See pp. 179-80. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

No. 4 of the series, *The Four Stages of Cruelty' 


78. Francisco Goya (1746-1828): Who would have 
believed it? 

Aquatint (Quien lo creyeral). See p. 184. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

No. 62 of Los Caprichos. On Goya, see pp. 182-6. 

79. Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835): Roman Carni- 

Water-colour, dated 1806. 

London, Victoria and Albert Museum 

On Pinelli, see pp. 187-8. 


The vignettes in the text are as follows:— 

p. 133 Damnier, 'Cholera', from La Nemesis Medicate 
(Paris, 1840); see pp. 166-7. 

p. 153 Trimolet, *The dead plaintiff, from the Physi- 
ologie de Thomme de hi (Paris, 1841?). 

p. 191 Seymour, *OhI the deep, deep sea!' See p. 181. 

p. 195 Ingres v. Delacroix, with the Institut in the back- 
ground; from a contemporary caricature. For de- 
vices Ingres has 'La couleur est xme utopiel Vive la 
lignel', and Delacroix *La ligne est une couleur I' 

p. 305 Hood, 'The popular Cupid', from Whims and 
Oddities (1826). See pp. 254-5. 



Aligny, Theodore Caruelle d' 

(1798-1871), 113-14, Pi. 

Amaury-Duval, E.-E. (1808- 

85), 89, 93-95, 275 
Anastasi, Auguste (1820-89), 

Ariosto, Lodovico, 105, 218, 

247, 310 
Aristophanes, 141 
Aristotle, 245 
Arondel (exh. 1845-46), 32, 


Babou, Hippolyte, 115 
Balzac, Honore de, 97, 127, 

130, 157, 174, 197-98, 203, 

307, 337 
Bandinelli, Baccio, 229 
Banville, Theodore de, 9 
Barbey d'Aurevilly, Jules, 128 
Bard, J.-A. (b. 1812), 28, 110 
Baron, Henri (1816-85), 24, 

Barthelemy, Jean-Jacques, 253 
Bartolini, Lorenzo ( 1777- 

1850), 34-35, 36 
Baud, Marc ( 1828-after 

1870), 272 
Baudouin, P.-A. (1723-69), 

Baudry, Paul (1828-86), 265, 

PI. 30 
Baujault, J.-B. (1828-99), 

Becquet, Just (1829-1907), 

Bellini, Giovanni, 11 
Belloc, J.-H. (1786-1866), 22 
Belly, Leon (1827-77), 280 
Beranger, Antoine ( 1785- 

1867), 108 
Beranger, Pierre-Jean de, 99, 

156, 159 
Berry, Duchesse de, 14 
Berlin, Victor (1775-1842), 


Besson, Faustin (1821-82), 

81, 277 
Biard, F.-A. (1799P-1882), 

110-11, 155, 229, 258 
Bida, Alexandre (1823-95), 

Boileau, Nicolas, 320 
Boissard de Boisdenier, J.-F. 

(1813-66), 15-16,74 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 208, 323 
Bonington, R. P. (1802-28), 

224, 236, 326 
Bonvin, Frangois (1817-87), 

Borget, Auguste (1809-77), 

31, 116 
Bossuet, J.-B., 134 
Boudin, Eugene (1825-1908), 

285-86, PI. 39 
Bouilly, J.-N., 107 
Boulanger, Louis (1806-67), 

15-16, 96-97, 236 
Bourdaloue, Louis, 134 
Brascassat, J.-R. (1804-67), 

Breton, Jules (1827-1905), 

BriUouin, L.-G. (1817-93), 

33, 90 
Brueghel, Peter, the elder, 

Brueghel, Peter, the younger, 

Bmne, Adolphe (1802-75), 

Butte, Stephano (Butti, Ste- 

fano, working 1850-59), 

Byron, Lord, 201, 218, 247, 

310, 326 

Cabat, Louis (1812-93), 113- 

CafiBeri, Jean- Jacques (1725- 

92), 298 
Calamatta, Mme. Josephine 

(d. 1893), 90 

364 INDEX 

Calame, Alexandre ( 1810- 

64), 30-31 
Callot, Jacques, 146, 187, 270 
Camagni, H.-N. (1804-49), 

Canova, Antonio ( 1757- 

1822), 294 
Carracci, the, 208 
Carrier de Belleuse, A.-E. 

(1824-87), 298-99 
Catlin, George (1796-1872), 

49, 72-73, 268, 289, 291, 

Pis. 52-53 
Cattermole, George ( 1800- 

68), 222 
Cazotte, Jacques, 231 
Cervantes, 183 
Chacaton, J.-N.-H. de (b. 

1813), 77, 116 
Chalon, J. J., RA (1778- 

1854), 221 
Champaigne, Philippe de, 246 
Champfleury, 147, 162, 168, 

171, 177 
Chaplin, Charles (1825-91), 

262 277 
Charlet, N.-T. (1792-1845), 

155-60, 259, 320, 332 
Chass^riau, Theodore (1819- 

56), 16, PI. 17 
Chateaubriand, Frangois Rene 

de, 203, 228, 251, 337-38 
Chazal, Antoine (1793-1854), 

Chenavard, Paul (1807-95), 

108-9, 224, 275, 333-34, 

PI. 22 
Chennevieres, Philippe de, 

Cherelle, L^gar (b. 1816), 68 
Chevandier de Valdrome, Paul 

(1817-77), 113 
Chifflart, N.-F. (1825-1901), 

267, PI. 29 
Chintreuil, Antoine (1816- 

73), 280 
Chopin, Frederic, 328 
Christophe, Ernest ( 1827- 

92), 300-2, PI. 58 

Claude le Lorrain, 17, 76, 221 
Clesinger, Auguste ( 1814- 

83), 37, 263-64, 284-85. 

293-94, PI. 57 
Clovis, 194 
Cogniet, Leon (1794-1880), 

21, 97 
Coignard, Louis (c.1810-83), 

Coleridge, S. T., 287 
Comairas, Philippe ( 1803- 

75), 109 
Commerson, Jean, 299 
Compte-Calix, F.-C. (1813- 

80), 107 
Comeille, Pierre, 225 
Cornelius, Peter (1783-1867) 

19, 101 
Corot, J.-B. C. (1796-1875) 

28-30, 113-14, 281, 282- 

83, Pis. 20, 21, 40 
Correggio, 7, 266 
Cottin, Pierre (1823-86), 10'; 
Courbet, Gustave (1819-77 

205, Pi. 11 
Court, J.-D. (1797-1865), 2$ 
Coustou, Guillaume, I, 292 

Couture, Thomas (1815-79) 

6, 81 
Crabbe, George, 201 
Crowe, Catherine, 238 
Cruikshank, George ( 1792- 

1878), 175, 181-82 
Cumberworth, Charles ( 1811- 

52), 121 
Curtius (Curtz), 296 
Curzon, Alfred de (1820-1 

95),30, 33, 90-91 

Daguerre, L.-J.-M., 230 

Dantan, Antoine-Laurent, th( 

elder (1798-1878), 37, 12f 
Dantan, Jean-Pierre, th< 

younger (1800-69), 37 
Dante, 59, 62, 65, 218, 247 

Daubigny, Charles (1817-78) 

280. PI. 33 

>aumier, Honore (1808-79), 
6, 97, 160-70, 173, 174, 
176, 224, Pis. 9, 75-76 

•avid, Jules (1808-92), 14, 

•avid, Louis (1748-1825), 
52, 93, 202-3, 204, 223, 
224, 274, 308, 310, 329 

'avid (d' Angers), P.-J. 
(1788-1856), 35-36, 121, 
302, PI. 55 

'ebon, F.-H. (1807-72), 74 

eburau, J.-B.-G., 79, 147- 

ecamps, Alexandre-Gabriel 
(1803-60), 11-13, 19, 27, 
37, 75-78, 96, 106, 110, 
116, 163, 193, 332, Pis. 24- 

edreux, Alfred (1810-60), 

elacroix, Eugene ( 1798- 
1863), 3-7, 8, 16, 17, 37, 
49, 50-68, 70, 72, 76, 87, 
97, 98, 104, 106, 117, 125, 
193, 210-19, 223, 224, 236, 
237, 238-39, 243, 246-53, 
262, 268, 289, 306-38, Pis. 

elaroche, Paul (1797-1856), 
61, 95, 106, 240, 257, 314, 

elecluze, E.-J., 1, 209 

esaugiers, Antoine, 175 

esgoffe, Alexandre ( 1805- 
82), 113 

everia, AchiUe (1800-57), 
13-15, 71, 73-74, 236 

everia, Eugene (1805-65), 
13-14, 73-74, 236, 262 

ezobry, C.-L., 253 

iaz de la Peiia, N.-V. (1807- 
76), 24, 80-81, 96, 265-66, 
Pis. 49-50 

iday, Frangois (1802-77), 

iderot, Denis, 106, 227 

'rolling, Martin ( 1752- 
1817), 27 

INDEX 365 

Dubufe, C.-M., the elder 

(1790-1864), 21, 95 
Dubufe, E.-L., the younger 

(1820-83), 21 
Duckett, William, 160 
Dumas, Alexandre, the elder, 

128, 231, 236-37, 260 
Durand-Ruel, 119 
Diirer, Albrecht, 201 
Duval-Lecamus, Pierre 

(1790-1854), 15 
Duveau, J.-L.-N. (1818-84), 


Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 199, 

Etex, Antoine (1808-88), 20, 

36-37, 254 

Fay, Joseph (1813-75), 19- 

Fenelon, Frangois de, 64 
Ferrari, Giuseppe, 325 
Feuch^re, J.-J. (1807-52), 36, 

Flandrin, Hippolyte (1809- 

64), 22-23, 89, 93-95, 275, 

PI. 45 
Flandrin, Paul (1811-1902), 

31, 113, PI. 31 
Flaxman, John (1755-1826), 

Flers, CamiUe (1802-68), 116 
Fontaine, Alexandre- Victor (b. 

1815), 81 
Foumier, Edouard, 256 
Foumier, Marc, 100 
Frangais, F.-L. ( 1814-97 ) , 

30, 115, 280 
Franceschi, Jules (1825-93), 

Francin, Claude, 298 
Frank-Carre, 163 
Fremiet, Emmanuel ( 1824- 

1910), 297-98 
Fromentin, Eugene ( 1820- 

76), 223, 252, 267-69, 288 
Fualdes, J.-B., 180 

366 INDEX 

FuseH, Henry, RA (1741- 
1825), 222 

Gainsborough, Thomas, RA, 

Gautier, Amand-Desir^ 

(1825-94), 243, 245-46, 

PI. 28 
Gautier, Eugenie (exh. 1834- 

69), 21-22, 96 
Gautier, Theophile, 6, 13, 91- 

92, 105, 147, 182, 211-12 
Gavarni (1804-66), 41, 71, 

128, 136, 173-74, Pis. 3, 73 
Gayrard, Raymond ( 1777- 

1858), 121 
GeflEroy, E.-A.-F. (1804-95), 

Gerard, Frangois, baron 

(1770-1837), 52, 53, 274 
Gericault, Theodore (1791- 

1824), 52-53, 212 
Ger6me, Jean-Leon ( 1824- 

1904),256-59, PI. 43 
Gigoux, Jean (1806-94), 26, 

Girardin, Emile de, 225 
Giraud, Eugene (1806-81), 

Girodet de Roucy Trioson, 

A.-L. (1767-1824), 202-3, 

204, 224, 310 
Glaize, Auguste (1807-93), 

Gleyre, M.-C.-G. (1806-74), 

1&-19, PI. 42 
Godwin, William, 201 
Goethe, 65, 105, 247 
Gou^zou, Joseph (1821-80), 

Goujon, Jean (1515-72), 120 
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco 

Jose de (1746-1828), 158, 

182-86, PI. 78 
Grandville (1803-47), 162- 

63, 171-72, 176, 179, 189 
Granet, Frangois ( 1775- 

1849), 97, 101-2, PI. 44 
Grant, Sir Francis, PRA 

(1810-78), 221 
Gros, Antoine-Jean, baron 

(1771-1835), 202, 224 
Gudin, Theodore (1802-80), 

Guerin, P.-N., baron (1774- 

1833), 52, 202-3, 224, 310 
Guignet, Adrien (181&-54), 

12, 27, 77, 110, PI. 14 
Guignet, J.-B. (1810-57), 96 
Guillou, Jenny le, 330 

Haffner, Felix (1818-75), 22, 

30, 82, 95-96 
Hamon, J.-L. (1821-74), 254 
Haussoullier, William (1818- 

91), 8-11, 37, 42, Pis. 12- 

Hebert, Emile ( 1828-93 ) , 

228, 299-300 
Hebert, Ernest (1817-1908), 

264-65, PI. 32 
H^douin, Edmond ( 1820- 

89), 82 
Heim, Frangois (1787-1865), 

Heine, Heinrich, 57, 194 
Heroult, A.-D. (1802-53), 

Hildebrandt, Eduard (1818- 

69), 288 
Hoffmann, E. T. A., 49, 94, 

144_45, 146, 150-53, 187 
Hogarth, WilHam, 157, 179- 

80, 201, PL 77 
Holbein, Hans, the younger, 

274, 276 
Homer, 59, 310 
Hood, Thomas (1799-1845), 

254-55, 305 
Hook, James Clarke, ARA i 

(1819-1907), 221 J^ 

Homung, Joseph (1792- 

1870), 27-28 
Houdon, J.-A. (1741-1828), 

Huet, Paul (1803-69), 30, 


Hugo, Victor, 15, 25, 54-56, 
108, 126, 215, 287, 289, 317 

Hunt, William Henry (1790- 
1864), 221 

Himt, William Holman 
(1827-1910), 221 

Ingres, J.-A.-D. (1780-1867), 
6, 8, 10, 23, 34, 58, 59, 61, 
70, 86-89, 93, 95, 125, 202- 
10, 257, 274-76, 281, 832, 
Pis. 8, 59-62 

Isabey, Eugene ( 1803-86), 24 

Jacque, Charles-Emile (1813- 

94), 34, 174, 178 
Jacquemont, Victor, 323-24 
Jadin, Godefroy (1805-82), 

Janmot, Louis (1814-92), 20, 

90, PI. 2 
Jordaens, Jacob, 70, 74, 329 
Jouvenet, Jean, 8, 102 
Joyant, Jules (1803-54), 116 

Karr, Alphonse, 213, 247 
Kaulbach, Wilhelm von 

(1805-74), 245 
Kean, Edmund, 222 
Kendall, H. E., jun. (1805- 

85), 222 
Kiorboe, Carl Fredrik (1799- 

1876), 118 
Klagmann, J.-B.-J. (1810-67), 

Kock, Paul de, 174, 299 
Kotzebue, August von, 228 

La Bruyke, Jean de, 273, 303 

Lacenaire, 129-30 

Laemlein, Alexandre ( 1813- 

71), 74-75 
La Fayette, Marquis de, 163 
La Fontaine, Jean de, 24, 28, 

Lami, Eugene (1800-90), 

128, 262, PI. 7 

INDEX 367 

Landelle, Charles ( 1821- 

1908), 107 
Lang, Andrew, 199 
La Rochefoucauld, Sosth^nes 

de, 53-54 
Lassale-Bordes, Gustave 

(1814-C.68), 68, PI. 19 
Lavater, Johann Kaspar, 84, 

133, 165, 207 
Lavieille, Eugene (1820-89), 

Lawrence, Sir Thomas, PRA 

(1769-1830), 21, 22, 87, 

93, 274 
Lebrun, Charles, 176, 218, 

223, 308 
Leclaire, 176-77 
Lecurieux, J.-J. (b. 1801), 

Legros, Alphonse (1837- 

1911), 243-45, PI. 27 
Lehmann, Henri (1814-82), 

23, 89, 93-95, 275 
Lehmann, Rudolphe ( 1819- 

1905), 26 
Leighton, Frederick, Lord, 

PRA (1830-96), 272 
Leleux, Adolphe (1812-91) 

and Armand (1818P-85), 

Lemaitre, Frederick, 67, 132 
Lemud, F.-J.-A. de (1817- 

87), 33 
Lenglet, C.-A.-A. (exh. 1846- 

55), 122-23 
Leonardo da Vinci, 186, 201, 

310, 311 
LepauUe, F.-G.-G. (1804-86), 

95 . 
Le Roux, Charles (1814-95), 

115, 280, PI. 34 
Leroux, Pierre, 200 
Leshe, Charles Robert, RA 

(1794-1859), 221 
Le Sueur, Eustache, 246 
Le Vavasseiu*, Gustave, 134 
Leys, Henri, baron (1815- 

69), 269 

368 INDEX 

Lies, Joseph (1821-65), 269- 

70, PI. 26 
Liszt, Franz, 328 
Lottier, Louis (1815-92), 

Louis-Philippe, King, 3, 23, 

161-63, 165 

Machiavelli, Niccolo, 830-31 
Maclise, Daniel, RA (1806- 

70), 221 
Macready, William Charles, 

67, 221 
Maistre, Joseph de, 133-34 
Malherbe, Frangois de, 320 
Manzoni, Ignacio ( 1799- 

1880), 79-80 
Mar^chaL, Charles-Laurent 

(1801-87), 83 
Marie Antoinette, 136 
Marilhat, Prosper (1811-47), 

Marivaux, Pierre de, 173 
Matout, Louis (1811-88), 

Maturin, the Rev. C. R., 139, 

201, 298 
Maurin, N.-E. (1799-1850), 

Meissonier, Ernest ( 1815- 

91), 27, 100, 115,225,333, 

Pis. 47-48 
Merimee, Prosper, 244, 824 
M^ryon, Charles (1821-68), 

286-88, PI. 54 
Michelangelo, 52, 60, 67, 86, 

98, 120, 200, 201, 229, 292, 

293, 310, 334 
Millais, Sir J. E., Bt, PRA 

(1829-96), 221 . 
MiUet, J.-F. (1814-75), 280- 

81, Pis. 37-38 
Mirbel, Mme. de (1796- 

1849), 97 
Moliere, 99, 146, 156, 168, 

169, 271 
Monnier, Henry (1805-77), 

170-71, 176, 180 
Months, the Abbe, 129-30 

Montesquieu, 321 
Morel, Jean, 220 
Miiller, Charles-Louis (1815- 
92), 25, 81 

Nadar (1820-1910), 220 
Nanteuil, Celestin (1813-73), 

81, 262-63 
Noel, Jules (1815-81), 118 

O'Connell, Mme. Frederique 
(1823-85), 95, 278 

OHva, A.-J. (1824-90), 298 

Ordener, General, 163 

Ossian, 310 

Overbeck, Friedrich (1789- 
1869), 104 

Ovid, 251-52 

Papety, Dominique ( 1815- 

49), 26-27, 108-9 
Pascal, Blaise, 248 
Paton, Sir J. Noel, RSA 

(1821-1901), 222 
Penguilly-rHaridon, Octave 

(1811-70), 78-79, 223, 

260, 270-72 
Pensotti, Mme. Celeste (exh. 

1837-57), 106 
Perese, Leon (exh. 1841-46), 

Perignon, A.-J. (1806-82), 22, 

Perugino, 200 
Pheidias, 268, 326 
Philipon, Charles (c. 1800- 

62), 160-61, 169, 177-78 
Pigal, E.-J. (1798-1872), 

155-56, PI. 74 
Pigalle, J.-B. (1714-85), 298 
Pilon, Germain, 120 
Pils, Isidore (1813-75), 259 
PineUi, Bartolomeo ( 1781- 

1835), 159, 186, 187-88, 

PI. 79 
Planche, Gustave, 1 
Planet, Louis de (1814-75), 

17-18, 68. PI. 18 

Plato, 142, 224 

Plautus, 141 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 196, 199, 

218, 230 
Poterlet, Pierre (1804-81), 

Poussin, Nicolas, 11, 77, 113, 

208, 320 
Pradier, James (1792-1852), 

36, 122, PI. 56 
Preault, Auguste (1810-79), 

120, 224, 302 
Prouha, P.-B. (d. 1888), 298 
Pnid'hon, Pierre-Paul (1758- 

1823), 266, 320 

Rabelais, Francois, 132, 146 
Racine, Jean, 310, 320 
Raffet, D.-A.-M. (1804-60), 

Raphael, 6, 11, 45, 52, 56, 66, 

77, 85, 87, 123, 200, 201, 

206, 207, 249, 276, 308, 

310, 326, 329-30 
Rembrandt, 45, 67, 70, 76, 

93, 111, 117, 125, 218, 277 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, PRA 

(1723-92), 93, 201, 221, 

274, 310 
Ribera, Jos6 de, 35, 294 
Ricard, Gustave (1823-73), 

224, 277-78, PL 46 
Richard-Cavaro, C.-A. (b. 

1819), 107 
Ricourt, Achille, 160, 320 
Riesener, Louis (1808-78), 

Robert, Leopold (1794- 

1835), 188 
Robert, Victor (1813-88), 17, 

Roberts, David, RA (1796- 

1864), 80 
Robespierre, 286 
Rochette, Raoul, 43 
Romano, GiuHo, 229 
Rosa, Salvator, 27, 110 
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 127, 

323-24, 330 

INDEX 369 

Rousseau, PhiKppe ( 1816- 

87), 119 
Rousseau, Theodore ( 1812- 

67), 28, 117, 120, 281-82, 

Pis. 35-36 
Rouvi^re, Philibert, 214 
Rubens, Sir Peter Paul, 5, 6, 8; 

32, 52, 59, 66-67, 70, 90, 

111, 117, 218, 240, 308, 

313, 329 
Rude, Frangois (1784-1855), 

294, 300 

Sainte-Beuve, C.-A. de, 35-36 
Saint- Jean, Simon (1808-60), 

32, 118-19 
Saint-Pierre, Bemardin de, 

107, 136-37 
Saint-Victor, Paul de, 321 
Scarron, Paul, 177 
Scheffer, Ary (1795-1858), 

104-6, 267, PI. 23 
Scheffer, Henri (1798-1862), 

23, 106 
Schlesinger, H.-G. (1813-93), 

Schnetz, J.-V. (1787-1870), 

Scott, Sir Walter, 213-14, 218, 

Scribe, Eugene, 101, 115 
Segur, comte de, 256 
Seigneurgens, Ernest ( exh. 

1844-75), 227 
Seneca, 142 
Seymour, Robert (1798- 

1836), 180-81, 191 
Shakespeare, 25, 62, 65, 105, 

201, 213, 218, 247, 298, 310 
Signorelli, Luca, 200 
Silvestre, Th^ophile, 307 
Standish, Lord, 3 
Stendhal, 42, 44, 85, 244, 323, 

325, 337 
Susse, 121 
Swedenborg, Emmanuel, 307 

Tabar, F.-G.-L. (1818-69), 

370 INDEX 

Tassaert, Octave (1800-74), 

25, 69-72, PI. 4 
Tasso, Torquato, 247 
Teytaud, Alphonse (exh. 

1839-50), 113 
Thiers, Adolphe, 51-52, 53, 

54, 59, 248 
Tintoretto, 8 
Tissier, J.-B.-A. (1814-76), 

Titian, 208, 249, 277 
Travi^s, Charles-Joseph 

(1804-59), 162, 174, 175- 

77, PI. 72 
Trimolet, Louis-Joseph 

(1812-43), 154, 174-75 
Troyon, Constant (1810-65), 

80, 96, 115, 226, 237, 281, 

PI. 41 

Valenciennes, Pierre-Henri 

(1750-1819), 226 
Valentin, 74 
Van Dyck, Sir Anthony, 21, 

Velazquez, 87, 201, 265, 274 
Verdier, Marcel-Antoine 

(1817-56), 81 
Vemet, Carle (1758-1836), 

154-55, 156 
Vemet, Horace (1789-1863), 

7-8, 22, 98-102, 103, 106, 

110, 159, 240, 259, 314, 
332-33, PI. 15 

Veronese, 7-8, 48, 49, 64, 66- 

67, 90, 218, 229, 249, 283, 

Vidal, Victor (exh. 1841-47), 

14, 34, 91-92 
Vidal, Vincent (1811-87), 34 
Vigny, Alfred de, 338 
Villa-Amil, Genaro Perez 

(1807-54), 80 
Villon, Frangois, 159 
Villot, Fr6deric, 331 
Virgil, 203, 224, 310 
Virmond, L. de, 307 
Voltaire, 146, 209, 323-24 

Watteau, Antoine, 34, 69-70, 

111, 123, 221, 262 
Watteau (de Lille), Frangois 

(1758-1823), 70 

Wattier, Charles-Emile 
(1800-68), 80, 262 

Weber, Carl Maria von, 66^ 

Winckelmann, Johann Joa- 
chim, 193 

Winterhalter, F. X. (1806- 
73), 95 

Wordsworth, William, 287 

Zurbaran, Francisco, 201 


ALAiN-FOURNiER, HENRI The Wanderer A14 
ARISTOPHANES Fivc Comcdies A^y 


Elizabethan Song Book A56 
BARZUN, JACQUES Tcacher in America ^425 
BAUDELAIRE, CHARLES The Mirror of Art A84 
BEDiER, JOSEPH The Romancc of Tristan and Iseult A2 
BENTLEY, ERIC {Ed.) The Modcm Theatre I, II, III ^^8fl, 

A48b, A48C 

From the American Drama A48d 

BERENSON, BERNARD Acsthetics and History A^6 

BERGSON, HENRI The Two Sources of Morality and Religion 


"Laughter" in Comedy A8y 

BREBNER, JOHN BARTLETT The Explorers of North America 

BURCKHARDT, JACOB The Age of Constantino the Great A65 
BURTT, EDWIN ARTHUR The Metaphysical Foundations of 

Modem Science A41 
CASH, WILBUR J. The Mind of the South As"/ 
CAssiRER, ERNST An Essay on Man A^ 

The Myth of the State A52 

CHEKHOV, ANTON Peasants and Other Stories A66 

COLETTE My Mother's House & The Vagabond A62 

CONANT, JAMES B. Modcm Scicncc and Modern Man Aio 

CONRAD, JOSEPH The Secret Agent A8 

couLANGEs, FUSTEL DE The Ancient City Ay6 

DANTZiG, TOBIAS Number, the Language of Science A6y 

DIDEROT, DENIS Ramcau's Nephew and Other Works A61 

DOUGHTY, G. M. Travcls in Arabia Deserta A^o 

DUPEE, F. w. Henry James A68 

FERGUS SON, FRANCIS The Idea of a Theater A4 

FRANKFORT, HENRI The Birth of Civilization in the Near 

East A8g 

FRY, ROGER Transformations Ayy 

GiDE, ANDRE Lafcadio's Adventures A'j 

GOYA, FRANasco DE The Disasters of War AAi 


HADAs, MOSES {Trcns.) Three Greek Romances A21 

[Ed.) A History of Rome A78 

HELOisE and abelard Letters Agi 

HUI23NGA, J. The Waning of the Middle Ages A42 

JAMES, HENRY What Maisic Knew A43 

JESPERSON, OTTO Growth and Structure of the English Lan- 
guage A46 

JEWETT, SARAH ORNE The Couutry of the Pointed Firs A26 

JONES, ERNEST Hamlet and Oedipus A31 

KAFKA, FRANZ Amerika A4g 

KAziN, ALFRED On Native Grounds A6g 

KEATS, JOHN Selected Letters ^470 

KIERKEGAARD, soREN Fear and Trembling & The Sickness 
Unto Death A30 

KiTTO, H. D. F. Greek Tragedy A38 

LASKY, MELViN J. {Ed.) The Anchor Review Number One 

LAWRENCE, D. H. Sea and Sardinia & Selections from Twi- 
light in Italy ^59 

— Studies in Classic American Literature A^ 

LEAVis, H. R. The Great Tradition A40 

LUBELL, SAMUEL The Future of American Politics Ayi 

MALTNOwsKi, BRONisLAw Magic, Scicncc and Religion A23 

MAURL\c, FRANgois Ther^sc Ayg 

MEREDITH, GEORGE "The Uscs of the Comic Spirit" in 
Comedy A8y 

MILLER, PERRY {Ed.) The American Puritans: Their Prose 
and Poetry A80 

MURAsAKi, LADY The Tale of Genji A55 

MURRAY, GILBERT Five Stages of Greek Religion A51 

NIETZSCHE, FREEDRicH The Birth of Tragedy & The Gene- 
alogy of Morals A81 

ORTEGA Y GASSET, josi The Dchumauization of Art Ay2 

ORWELL, GEORGE A Collection of Essays A2g 

PANOFSKY, ERwaN Meaning in the Visual Arts A^g 

PETERSEN, WILLIAM {Ed.) American Social Patterns A86 
piRENNE, HENRI Medieval Cities A82 
POWER, EILEEN Medieval People A32 
RiESMAN, DAVID The Loncly Crowd A16 

Selected Essays from Individualism Reconsider'ed A58 

ROURKE, CONSTANCE American Humor A12 
SANTAYANA, GEORGE Character and Opinion in the United 
States Ay 3 

Three Philosophical Poets Aiy 


SCOTT, GEOFFREY The Architecture of Humanism As 3 

SHAW, BERNARD Shaw on Music A§3 


STENDHAL The Charterhouse of Parma Ai 


SUZUKI, D. T. Zen Buddhism Ago 

SYPHER, WYLiE Four Stages of Renaissance Style A45 

TAYLOR, A. E. Socratcs Ag 

TocQUEviLLE, ALEXIS DE The Old Regime and the French 

Revolution A60 
TRAVERSi, D. A. An Approach to Shakespeare Ay4 
TREVELYAN, G. M. History of England I, II, III A22a, A22bf 

TRILLING, LIONEL The Liberal Imagination A13 
TURNER, w. J. Mozart: The Man and His Works A24. 
VAN DOREN, MARK Shakespeare An 
VERGA, GIOVANNI The House by the Medlar Tree A^y 
VIRGIL The Aeneid A20 

WADDELL, HELEN The Wandering Scholars A63 
WALEY, ARTHUR Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China 

WIENER, NORBERT The Human Use of Human Beings A34. 
wiLLEY, BASIL The Seventeenth Century Background Aig 
WILSON, EDMUND Eight Essays Asy 

To the Finland Station A6 

A Literary Chronicle: 1 920-1 950 AS^ 

WOODWARD, c. VANN Reunion and Reaction AS3 

YOUNG, G. M. Victorian England: Portrait of an Age ^55 


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Critical Studies By 

Baudelaire was one of the greatest poets of the nine- 
teenth century, and at the same time one of its major 
art-critics — "the first aesthetician of his age." His 
most important writings on art, many of them trans- 
lated into English for the first time in The Mirror of 
Art, have been selected by Jonathan Mayne from 
Curiosites Esthetiqiies and VArt Romantique. 
Baudelaire studies in precise detail the artists of mid- 
'^'"eteenth century — among them Corot, D.-diliier, 
Delacroix, Ingres, and Millet — whose works appeared., 
in the Salons of 1845, 1846 and 1859 and in the 
Exposition Universelle of 1855. Yet these brilliant and 
poetic essays form a coherent body of criticism and 
art-theory. The discussion centers around several es- 
sential questions which prompted in Baudelaire some 
of his profoundest insights into life and art: the nature 
of Romanticism; color; caricature; the heroism of 
modern life; the essence of laughter. "The Life and 
Work of Eugene Delacroix," which appears complete 
in this volume, gathers many of these themes together 
in a penetrating discussion of the painter between I 
whose work and Baudelaire's there is a close affinity, j 
These studies are not only a major work in art criticism j 
and the philosophy of art, but they are essential to a i 
full understanding of Baudelaire the poet and the man. 
The present volume has the unique advantage of a 
systematic collection of illustrations, so that the reader 
may examine in reproduction most of the works of I 
which Baudelaire writes.