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Figure L Evening dress.—The coiffure here is extremely pretty and very Dimple. It consists of a small ostrich feather on each side, connected by a wreath of foliage of green velvet, each leaf being edged with silver. Hair in plain bandeaux. Robe of tulle with two skirts, the lower of tulie de Lyons, trimmed with nine rows of narrow blonde; the second skirt is of tulle-illusion, cut in waves around the edge, and trimmed with seven rows of blonde, set on very full and following the outline. The bouquet de jupe placed at the side is composed of foliage liko that of the coiffure. Corsage with berthe-cbale and covered with narrow blondes. Four rows of similar blonde form the sleeves.
Figure 2. Evening dress.—Cap of rich lace ornamented with flowers and enveloping the back part of the head. Rose of taffetas broche, rose, white, and in the foliage green. Skirt without trimming. Corsage high behind and upon the shoulders, and cut low and square in front. The general tendency of dross is very much toward this stylo of corsage. TrimmiMl around the edge with rather wide lace. Sleeves demi-long, and finished with two rows of lace similar to that on tho corsage.
Figure 3. Toilette de. ville.—Bonnet of black beaver, lined with white satin disposed in folds, and extending forward
only to a little more than one half the length of the face and finished out with a band of black frizzed feathers. Upon the left side of the bonnet is a crescent, formed of black satin riband arranged in numerous small folds placed close one over the other. The crown is rounded behind. The cape is of black satin lined with white; the brides also are white. Redingote of green satin depciL Corsage high and close-fitting, and trimmed with eleven rows of lace de laine forming a V. The upper four rows extend to the scam upon the shoulder, but tin- others, seven in number, diminish in length gradually to the waist. Round the neck is a narrow edging of white lace. Upon the skirt is an apron-like trimming of the same material, narrow at the top, but qnito wide at the bottom. The arrangement of the lace in this trimming is zigzag, something in the shape of an M. All these laoes are a
TOILETTE DE VILLE.
little gathered, and extend one over the other. Sleeves a little short, and finished with five rows of the lace de laine. White puffing under-sleeves.
Figure 4. Ball Toilette.—Front hair in rounded puffing bandeaux. Upon tho head, a little in the Marie Stuart style, 1a a fillet of foliage, and at the side, pink flowers, in velvet, with long branches, slender and flexible, falling upon the shoulders. The back hair is enclosed in a little coif composed of foliage, arranged upon purl. This coif or cap has the form of a crown with the several crossings of the foliage.
Dress of white taffetas. Corsage cut lower in front than ai the shoulders, trimmed with a berthc of white blonde, In dents. This berthe is formed thus:—starting from the right shoulder, a row of the blonde passes round behind to the left shoulder, where it underlies a similar row starting thence, and, diminishing gradually in width across the front, comes to a point at the right shoulder. This berthe has very little fulness elsewhere than at the shoulders: it is trimmed at the top with flowers, liko those of the coiifure, forming little bouquets at the shoulders, and a row diminishing thence to the front.
The three very light overskirts of white tulle have each a heavy hem. The first, starting from the waist, descends en biais, and, passing entirely round, comes up on the other side near the starting point. The second and third follow the same arrangement. Being transparent, they are seen one over the other. Upon the right side are five bouquets corresponding in character with the other flowers. The form of these bouquets is peculiar; each has a head of flowers, and two branches of foliage placed right and
left, at an oblique angle with each other, one being much tho longer. They are arranged so that tho longer of these branches alternately extends towards the right and left, following the course of a hem. These ornaments are very beautiful and tasteful, the light, flowing, and delicate character of tho foliage and flowers counteracting the effect of their profusion.
The prevailing fancy for rich fabrics causes stuffs brochees to be worn later than usual this spring. Many robes prepared in Paris, and intended to be worn very late in the season, are of taffctas lightly broche, some on turtle-coloured ground with white figures, some gray with white figures, some blue with black figures, and others with blended blue and green ground with figures green and white.
For trimming on robes in the spring, narrow lace matching the stuif is much in vogue, placed before in many rows and much gathered or turned in spirals. Dresses are made shorter in front than formerly, and, consequently, slippers take the place of boots.
For full evening dress of young persons the following are admired. First: Wreath of red currants and changeable foliage, falling almost to the shoulders. Robe of white taifetas with two plain jupes; berthe cut sloping upon the shoulders and bordered before with a ruche of riband. Corsage bouquet like tho coiffure, with long light foliago falling even to the waist. Second: Coiifure of heath-flowers disposed in a little puff, placed upon the top of the head; front hair turned back d la Valois. Rolw of rose tulle with two skirts upon an underskirt of satin, each skirt with five or six rather wide plaits. Corsage bouquet of heath with large loose branches.
BT CHABLX8 0. LELANB.
Wi believe that all arbitrary divisions of mankind according to their intellectual characteristics, are generally conceded to be absurdities. The political utilitarian, who sees in his fellow-beings merely the productive and nonproductive, or who balances the growers of corn and wool against the fruges consumere nati, would be at issue with the scholar, who confidently classifies them as the ignorant or the enlightened. The advocates of faith and morals would be prone to adopt a very different standard from that of the Mephistophelian cosmopolite, whose analysis of human nature simply results In the comparison of anvil to hammer, wolf to lamb, or cheater to cheated, the latter, indeed, being akin in absurdity to the unfortunate being who, struck by the hypocrisy of this world, divided its inhabitants into "the found out" and the " not found out;" or the Lynn tutor who recognised only the shoemaking and non-shoe making units of humanity.
But though such classifications can never be established for mankind at large, we must yet assert that they are absolutely true and necessary when applied to those subdivisions of actors or thinkers created by their mental tastes or necessities. In a one-sided point of view, the divisions of the utilitarian or scholar are founded in sense and justice, and no rational mind will cavil at them.
And if there be a branch of intellectual effort eminently capable of such a separation, it is that of criticism, or the appreciation and judgment of excellence in literature and art. As long as Nature shall abstain from creating men entirely free from prejudice, or equal In mental abilities, so long will there exist in criticism those positive and negative divisions of judges, whose appreciation of merit Is determined on the one hand, by the existence or nonexistence of faults and defects, and on the other, by the excellencies which a work presents.
To this classification the reader, whose eclecticism has not been pushed to extremes, will probably assent, adding in his own mind,—" And the part of a truly wise man is to side with neither, but to strive to find the juste milieu between!" To which we reply,—" By no means: examine the system moro closely, and you will be convinced that he whose judgment is influenced rather by the excellencies than the defects of a work, and who criticises that which was created expressly for admiration by the degree of admiration which it excites, is infinitely nearer the
truth than the poor carper, who, incapable of the effort nf appreciation, lazily catches at real or imagined blemishes, and cries, *It is nothing!'"
The fault-finder sees nothing—known nothing beyond his own limited range. His puddle is always the ocean— his sty the universe. But the admirer, the appreciator, includes him, with all his knowledge—all his philosophy —in a very small corner of his own sphere, and even admits as useful truth all of his remarks and all his observations—barring only the conclusion and application.
This is the inevitable classification to which we are led. if we adopt with Quatremere de Quincy the principle at excellence in kind, as the true standard of every work of art, which is, in fact, simply a requisition that the work be judged, not according to our tastes or distastes— to our fondness for the romantic, material, or spiritual— but that it be executed according to the subject, with all the perfection of which the artist is capable.
But it may be asked,—" Aro we then to shut our eyes to every defect, however glaring, and blindly open the path to conceited Ignorance of every description, conditioning only that it bring a few pearls in its pack of trash?" By no means:—certainly not There are two descriptions of fault (apart from understood offences against morals and religion), against which the critic is bound to declare war to the knife—to follow with the fire of ridicule and the sword of severity, and to give, as he wonld assuredly receive, no quarter. And these faults may all be summed up in three words:—Mannerism, and Mechanical deficiency. The latter of these may always be cured by industry; the former, when not proceeding from absolute idiocy, insanity, or incurable narrow-mindedness, by a change of style, subject, or thought. If the disposed to consider these remedies as in i tical, we for one are in no ways inclined to differ with him.
But a work of art is not to be absolutely condemned— as very many aro inclined to think—even when disgraced by mechanical defects, or even by mannerism, provided always that these do not predominate. There are gross defects in the anatomy and drapery of the early Gothic masters—there are mannerism and affectation, even to the top of the measure, in the paintings of Vanderwerff and Oreuse, or the sculptures of Bernini; and yet these will always find places in galleries, or admirers—and justly so, as long as Genius, in spite of the trammels with which ignorance and circumstances have loaded it, can make itself felt But for their Imitators—those who, in spite of better lights, blindly persist In copying even their defects, our only cry should be—"Away with them!''—if not into outer darkness, at least back to the school, the lecture-room, and the atelier, until they are capable, in some way, of feeling God and appreciating nature.
It is chiefly to modern works of art that the principle of excellence in kind should be applied in all its rigour. We know the earlier masters, we understand or feel the influences and circumstances which inspired them. History and biography have made them, with their times, clear to us. But how are we to judge of the productions of this complex and confused age, which understands all things save itself? How are we to know whether a Greek Slave is the genuine result of the naturalism of the nineteenth century, or a subject masked in imitations of the classic day? To which we reply, that we know of no better criterion than that already given.
It may he objected by the ignorant and unreflecting, this Is a principle easier of enunciation than of application. To which wo reply that we are acquainted with no rale which will enable those unfamiliar with art to appreciate it in all its details. He who would know Homer or Dante must study them in the original, and not by means of translation* or garbled extracts. He who would fully understand the romance and beauty of a Doric temple or of a Gothic cathedra1, would not act unwisely in first learning, not only a little architecture, but somewhat of history and romantic literature to boot. To which some one cries,—"But must we then turn our brains to encyclopaedias, before we can be permitted to admire aught lu art or literature?" By no means;—admire—;feel—line in the beautiful as much—as far as you can. It was chiefly to gratify this sense that such works were produced. But if you will criticise—teach—Pind Sault—then I say, first go learn your trade.
There is a certain old-fashioned style of French and English criticism—would that it were in every sense oldfashioned and extinct—which regards the employment of certain vapid words and phrases, as the Shibboleth, by which a knowledge of Art was established among the elegant initiated. This was the dialect of the Dilettanti—a sect which we are happy to Bay has partially died off in Prance,—almost entirely so in Germany,—but which unfortunately still exhibits a tenacious vitality in certain other parts of the world. The following sentence, inspired by a Venus of Titian, and uttered, we presume, by one of its adepti, was recently furnished us by a friend.
"Titian! Titian.' /—truly Titian 111 The face is beautiful—the form majestie,—and the embonpoint sufficiently recherche, to satisfy the most fastidious connoisseur.'"
We will appeal to those familiar with the literature of the present day, and demand if this be not fairly in the vein and style of nine tenths of tho criticism with which we are deluged by foreign tourists, and many others who, ignorant of the principles, and unstudied in the theory or history of Art . strive, by words and cant phrases, to impose upon others their knowledge, or rather ignorance of all thereto relating. Truth is great and must prevail, but would that this rubbish were cleared from her track!
There is at presont in Philadelphia a group entitled wth* Wreck," by Mr. E. A. BrackEtt of Boston, now in plaster, but shortly to be immortalized in marble — a work, we venture to assert, so remarkable in its originality, that were it even bristling with defects, we should deem it worthy of comment and preservation, as a memorial of that which future ages will probably regard as a very peculiar a moment" in the history of intellectual progress—we mean tho American and English art of our present century. And we have deemed the preceding remarks no inappropriate introduction to a notice of this group, as we desire to apply to it with all possible strictness, tho test of excellence in kind.
The Wreck represents the dead bodies of a young mother and her infant, as they may be supposed to appear immediately after the extinction of the vital spark— a subject, be it borne in mind, capable of a wide range of thought—of stirring up in different minds extremely varied trains of thought—of gentle melancholy, intensely painful, or highly beautiful associations, and consequently permitting a wide range in the sphere of representation —a subject, moreover, which could not fail to interest the majority, though ever Bo lamely treated, and against whose first impression we should, in a certain sense, carefully guard, lest the "idea," or "motive," should obscure our appreciation and judgment.
We may be permitted to remark, en passant, that the amateur in art cannot guard too strictly against the influence which an attractive idea or subject is apt to exert, when ever so wretchedly handled. We have more than irace seen works of tho least possible merit acquire both for themselves and their manufacturer a high reputation, idmply because an attractive or popular subject formed their theme. More than one opera owes its success with the multitude quite as much to the plot and other melodramatic associations, as to the merit of the music; and the satire history of art is lamentably full of instances whero
even good critics have been blinded by prejudice, or led away by popular opinion into views which their better judgment would assuredly have condemned. That this is natural no one will deny, but it is also true, as has been remarked, that all which is natural is not in every instance equally creditable. Objects which recall touching associations, or, as Kugler remarks, suggest those ideas which we would not willingly impart to every one, will naturally interest even the strictest critie, and induce him to gaze with a lenient eyo upon the worst faults of execution. The true ground upon which this rests is the abuse of the romantic principle, and it has occasionally done quite as much to retard the progress of art as the vilest mannerism.
But to return to Mr. Bracket t's Group. We have remarked that it embodies a subject capable of a great variety of development, a subject, indeed, which may be treated according to the tendency of tho artist, in every method, and involving every characteristic from the lowest materialism to the most refined and elevating spirituality. Yet as a subject of art in itself, divested as far as possible of extraneous attribute, we are convinced that the pathetie, as far as compatible with the awful dreamlike mystery of death, should be its leading characteristic or predominant motive. And in insisting upon an absenoe of varied attribute and detail, the reader will understand that by pathetic we by no means imply that theatrical, sentimental quality which obtains so largely in the French school, and which has transmuted into trash numbers of otherwise excellent productions of French art.
But simple as the correct and natural mode of carrying out this idea appears, we doubt whether one artist in twenty would hit upon it. We have heard a celebrated Professor of Natural Philosophy remark, that as long as a road to false theory and error remained open, though never so carefully hidden, men never failed to follow it in preference to the right way, which (unaccountably enough) is generally the very last discovered, though staring them all the while in full view. Goethe has indeed remarked on this very subject of the Pathetic in Art, that "It has been the usual fate of artists to blunder in their choice of subjects of this sort;" and Goethe might have added, that, even when the subject is well chosen, it has been quite as usual for them to blunder (as not unfrequently happens even with very skilful operators) in the after'trcatment.
We have remarked that the subject of a dead mother and infant, may be treated in a spirit of the vilest materialism, which is the literal imitation of Nature in her lowest and most revolting forms. Those who have seen at Florence, in the Mumo di Storia Naturale, the infamous statuettes of the Sicilian monk Zumbo, in which human ingenuity appears to have exhausted every resource "which could render death terrible and the grave loathsome," will recall the mother just dead of the plague, holding in her arms a bloated little corpse, which has already attracted the fly and tarantula. And yet these preparations of Zumbo are executed with an almost Incredible degree of artistic skill, in the mere mechanical branches. This is undoubtedly the worst perversion known in Art, of this subject, though in "Fire, Famine, and Slaughter," a sketch somewhat allied to it, may be found—
u A baby beat its dying mother;
A faint excuse for the statuettes of Zumbo may be found in the fact that they were intended to perpetuate, for religious purposes, the sufferings which Florence had endured during the Great Plague. A far better justification of the poem rests on the ground that it is intended to set forth, like Callot's inimitable scries of engravings, "The Horrors of War."
In tho "Murder of the Innocents," and West's u Death on the Pale Horse," we have this subject again, elevated, it is true, to the higher region of " the romantie," whose peculiar property is that it induces the observer to continue or develope in his own mind, impressions which the work of art merely awakens, or but partially concludes; but it is almost exclusively the romantie, for the scenes of slaughter and terror by which they are in both instances surrounded, naturally awake in the mind associations widely remote from the calm and majesty of death. Viewed by themselves—each as a whole—we admit that we should regard them In an extremely different light. Bat as this evidently formed no pari of the original design of the artists—as they have pressed them upon us as accessories to another idea, we can by no means judge of them according to the ideal which such a subject by itself requires.
But when a work of art lifts us, even above the highest romantic associations, into the sphere of absolute purity and goodness—when the discords inseparable from everything worldly are as far as possible softened down or banished—when wc rise as far aa we can above the objective necessities of shadow, darkness, and relief, into the pure life of light and feeling, or in default thereof, advance as far as possible into those ideas which conduce thereto, then we approach, be it in life or art, to the Spiritual. This Is indeed done whenever we indulge in the better emotions of our nature; and what emotion, would we ask, is better, purer, or holier than the love of a mother for her child? So generally understood, is this,—so deeply is it impressed by instinct and every imaginable association, that there is no question, in beholding this subject, as to its existence. As truly as the mother lived, even so truly do we know that her last effort and thought was for her infant.
Mr. Brackett's sufiject is ensnaring and fascinating—it is highly spiritual. Divested of all unnecessary attribute, our attention is directed simply to the mother and child. But the entire history of religious art abounds in proofs that tho highest possible degree of spiritualism may be found united with defects of so grave a nature as to mar its excellence and even defeat its aim. The question therefore now is,—"Granting the spiritual beauty of the conception, is it in any degree amenable to the charges of mechanical deficiency, or mannerism?"
As regards the anatomy of the figures, in which we include the position and expression which bodies may assume subsequent to death, we believe the work to be faultless. Mr. Brackett is himself an excellent anatomist, having, as we are informed, carried his studies in this branch to a degree seldom attained by American artists at the present day. We have further learned that the principal anatomists and medical men in Boston have more than admired it as a singular specimen of accuracy in this particular—they have recommended it as a study. A writer in the Boston Medical Journal, in a ion.' article, in which this group is treated solely in a physical point of view, advises his readers to pay attention to it, as a work capable of imparting, in this particular, valuable information.
Mechanical Defects may be in painting almost infinite in their number. But in sculpture we are inclined to think that they may all be reduced to infringements of the laws of anatomy, that is, when the human body alone, devoid of all attribute, forms the subject. But even when attributes are concerned, our theory still holds good. A different wound would undoubtedly have been the occasion of different attitudes, both in the Laocotin and the Dying Gladiator; but is it not within the province of the anatomist to decide the position which the irritation of certain nerves would induce?
Mannerism is a charge not only graver in its nature, but also more uncertain of application. We have generally considered that artist as a mannerist who blindly follows a certain style or school, or is slavishly influenced by the opinions of others. Goethe has well said, that the man who copies even nature without thoroughness, endeavouring to give only the striking and brilliant, will soon pass into mannerism—a remark so much more applicable to the American and English paintings of the present day
than the German, that we cannot too strongly insist upon
We cannot by any means condemn those minds who, incapable of forming an original style, have bant all their energies to acquire the style of some great master. Of such was Birnardo 1/ iv. whose paintings are not unfrequently confounded with those of his master. Leonardo da Vinci, and Joris Van Vliet, a successful imitator of Rembrandt . But we have still always been inclined to believe with Saint Meuricc, that it is generally easier to make a good original than a bad copy, out of minds which show extraordinary talent even in imitating.
It may be groundless theory—it may bo a vain misleading, but judging from our knowledge of the past and present state of American art, we are strongly inclined to surmise that in the elevated naturalism of this work, which is of a much higher grade than the average type of the English school, we see the presentiment of a coming school of American art, which shall be something new, glorious, and beautiful. We confess that we were at on* time slightly fearful that if in these eclectic times it were possible for any one type to predominate, it would be that of a literal reproduction of nature—in a beautiful form it might be—as in the Greek Slave, but wanting both in the truly romantic and spiritual. But we are now firmly convinced that the excess of the practical in our country has met with its necessary consequence, and a reaction has of late years manifested itself in art and literature (more particularly the latter), which only within a comparatively recent period has begun to assume form and stability. The present tendency of literature in our country is decidedly more towards the ideal than in England, and if we judge by the general sense of the people, in spite of an array of great and powerful names, we might add, than in Franco. There is, in fact, no reason why a new Softool of art should not (we speak with every possible allowance and qualification) spring up and flourish among us.
After such an admission, with such a reference to the group in question, the reader will not be surprised if we assert that we consider this work as remarkably free from mannerism of any description whatever. And we ground our opinion, not upon a vague impression of originality or force, but from the evident manifestation therein of two elements, either of which would be sufficient to redeem any work whatever from such a charge.
The first of these is the evident confidence of the artist in every effect which he produces. Those who have carefully compared the best landscapes of the Munich school with similar French and English productions, must have noticed the great reliance which tho latter place, in fortunate self-suggesting accidents. This is particularly manifested in their treatment of clouds or light, and in atmospheric effects generally. But the German artist never wins his game by scratching. In bis most mysterious shades, his dimmest clouds, his most impalpable halos and reflexes, we can always feel that every thing existed legibly in the mind of the painter before he transferred it to canvass. Be never hurls his sponge at the picture, that it may create for him an idea. And taken in detail, this work of Brackett's presents in every part (we refer more particularly to the figure of the mother) an incredible assemblage of bold and beautiful lines, every one of which was the effect of deliberate study.
The other element to which we refer is, indeed, of a more vague description, but not less real and palpable to the true critic. We refer to the principle of progressive ness, which is the unfailing indication of every mind, which to subjective and ideal tendencies joins the faculty of labour, and a full appreciation of the importance of the real or material. There are certain artists who form for themselves an ideal—perhaps the literal imitation of nature. They work on until the crowd cry " Natural as lifeor perhaps until birds peck at their fruit, and then retire, satisfied with having fulfilled their mission. But 'we find in this work indications of a different nature. Mr. Brackett's genius is, we conceive, of that order whose