Art in America Part 9

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In Philadelphia the new movement has some powerful allies, among whom should be prominently mentioned Thomas Eakins, a pupil of Gerome, and at present professor in the Philadelphia Academy of Art. One of Mr.

Eakins's most ambitions paintings represents a surgical operation before a cla.s.s in anatomy. It is characterized by so many excellent artistic qualities, that one regrets that the work as a whole fails to satisfy.

Admirable draughtsman as this painter is, one is surprised that in the arrangement of the figures the perspective should have been so ineffective that the mother is altogether too small for the rest of the group, and the figure of the patient so indistinct that it is difficult to tell exactly the part of the body upon which the surgeon is performing the operation. The monochromatic tone of the composition is, perhaps, intentional, in order to concentrate the effect on the b.l.o.o.d.y thigh and the crimson finger of the operating professor. But as it is, the attention is at once and so entirely directed on that reeking hand as to convey the impression that such concentration was the sole purpose of the painting. In similar paintings by Ribeira, Regnault, and other artists of the horrible, as vivid a result is obtained without sacrificing the light and color in the other parts of the picture; and the effect, while no less intense, is, therefore, less staring and loud. As to the propriety of introducing into our art a cla.s.s of subjects. .h.i.therto confined to a few of the more brutal artists and races of the Old World, the question may well be left to the decision of the public. In color Mr. Eakins effects a low tone that is sometimes almost monochromatic, but has very few equals in the country in drawing of the figure. Some of his portraits are strongly characteristic, and give remarkable promise. Miss Emily Sartain is devoting herself with good success to _genre_ and portraiture; and Miss Mary Ca.s.satt merits more extended notice and earnest praise for the glory of color and the superb treatment and composition of some of her works.

When we review the various forces now actively at work to hasten forward the progress of American art, we see that they are, with one or two exceptions, still immature; while, on the other hand, the sum of their influence is such as to prove that they are already sufficiently well established to give abundant promise of vitality, and of a career of success that seems destined to carry the arts to a degree of excellence never before seen in America. While the ideal is a more prominent feature of our art than formerly, the tide also sets strongly toward realism, together with a clearer practical knowledge of technique. And while we do not discover marked original power in the artists who represent the new movement, we find in them a self-reliance and a st.u.r.diness of purpose which renders them potential in establis.h.i.+ng the end they have in view. It is to their successors that we must look for the founding of a school that shall be at once native in origin, and powerful in the employment of the material to express the ideal.


Art in America Part 9

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Art in America Part 9 summary

You're reading Art in America Part 9. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Samuel Greene Wheeler Benjamin already has 533 views.

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