« 上一頁繼續 »
ture of Jephthah meeting his daugh my board there. "I could live out at ter, which hung opposite. Jephthah, in a some farmer's, and earn good wages by very plumny helmet, starting back on very my labor," I told my mother, -I was just strong levs, I thought very expressive of twelve years old. a father's feelings. His tall daughter, She smiled, and told me they would arrayed in a lilac mantle, and pink dress only give me my clothes. with a long train, immediately became my "I can rlraw, and sell my drawings.” ideal of wattainable female beauty. The She smiled again. attendant damsel, with her willowy figure "Well, then, after I have improved a and white dress, I thought extremely little, I can take portraits, and be paid pretty also; I knew a slender little girl for them.” who wore a white dress and blue sash to She smiled approvingly this time, and church, whom she looked very much I felt that my way lay open before me. like.
I wished to run directly to Fanny Ann's The next day I made a fine drawing of house-into which I had never yet enterthis picture on our barn door. Jephthah ed--and ask her to sit to me; but I felt was drawn in a black tunic, with red a little timid about it. I might not take chalk legs. The daughter's mantle was a good likeness, and she would laugh at stained lilac with iris-petals, her train pink me-girls did laugh so! I had better with rose ditto. The maiden was drawn take private sketches of her at church in in white chalk with bewitching grace. I the hymn-books, I thought, and practise could not make Jephthah stand very firm upon my mother first, who immediately ly on his legs, and start back at the same proposed putting on her black silk dress, time; but Niss Jephthah's train gave great
which she had worn for the last ten steadiness and composure to her figure. years on state occasions; but her everyThis spirited sketch was the admiration day short-gown would be more picturof all the neighboring boys, and they esque. I thought. She could not be quite came every day for me to draw them in reconciled to this. The villagers were warlike positions, to represent Jephthah's accustomed to the black silk, and she army stan ling around him. One day I thought it due to them and to me that made a hasty sketch of my dog, Skyblue, she should be taken in it. However, the in his favorite attitude, and, stepping back portrait was painted in the short-gown; to mark the effect, found he was biting but the villagers never saw much of it. the heels of Jephthah. Ilow the boy's It was not considered a very good likelaughed! I made a new drawing of the ness, for somehow I got a dark frown anguished father, and greatly improved about the eyes, and a very dejected exupon the hands, spreading them out like pression about the mouth. My mother Mr. Flamclown's, when he was giving the never frowned, and looked particularly parting blessing to his congregation, only smiling while I was painting her. opening the fingers wider to express con I had a hard time of it that winter: so sternation.
many brave designs launched forth upon One day one of the boys brought an the tide of hope, and run aground upon artist, who was boarding at his house, to unknown bars. In the summer Mr. look at my frescoes. Ile laughed, and Ochre came again and taught me how to told me if I would come to his room, he steer my way better. He told me that would paint Jephthah for me.
faces should not appear to be pasted fiat feeling approaching awo I watched him to the canvas, and that a dark outline all conjuring into life the well-known forms. round them was not perfectly true to naYet I was not wholly satisfied with the ture; that lips were not exactly vermilresult. I thought Jephthah's figure was ion, nor cheeks pure lake; and eyes were not thrown back enough to express his not made of stone; that shadows were emotion with sufficient force, and that not a distinct feature of the face; and the daughter had lost much of her queen lights did not consist entirely of white liness with her train. The damsel who paint. I learned a wonderful deal from followed was no longer white, and did not him in a few weeks; and having painted look in the least like Fanny Ann.
many portraits of the worthy people about Mr. Ochre went away the next day, me, which sold for two dollars a piece, but left me a few paints and brushes, and and scraped together a little money, I told me if I would come to New York in went to New-York in the winter with a the winter, he would teach me something bounding heart-perfectly conscious that This now became the height of my ambi I was the great American genius. tion; and I tried to devise schemes by The first thing I did in New-York, which I could earn a little money to pay after settling inyself in the little attić
room Mr. Ochre had engaged for me, was to find my way to a picture gallery. I neither shouted nor jumped when I entered; but was certainly very much dazzled. It was partly the picture frames, I thought —they were so very bright. I immediately saw the importance of gilt frames, and that without one no painting could be of any value. I wondered how much they cost, and whether I could afford to buy one for my portrait of Fanny Ann, which I had brought to the city with me. I knew at once there was no painting in the gallery equal to that; and walked along with the proud consciousness that I was the creator of that gem, which only needed a fine frame to be instantly brought down from my attic, into the public gaze, for the delight of every one. However, I did pause a moment before one little head -the head of a child with a smile in her eyes, and life upon her lips. I looked into the catalogue to be sure that it was good. It was by Copley. 6 An oldfashioned painter," I thought. "I shall do better things soon."
Then I came to a young lady in a green dress and black waist, turning her head towards the spectator, and stepping into a brook. “Excellent !” I exclaimed. “That looks a little like Jephthah's daughter, only she is not quite so tall." Then came a very puzzling head: I could not tell to what race it belonged—“Indian, I suppose.” It was named, “Portrait of Judge G.” He could not have been an Indian; it must be the shadows. What infatuated young artist could have sent that here?" Then came two little girls holding a kitten between them. Sweet little innocents! That looked like one of my own pictures, and I looked for the name: “Infancy, by P. Pinkall.”
“I shall certainly make Mr. Pinkall's acquaintance," I thought. Then came a young lady looking over her shoulder in the loveliest manner. Such golden hairsuch blue veins-such a rose-tint on the cheek—such heavenly eyes! Such a transparent creature altogether! I stood enraptured: that was better than Fanny Ann. “Fancy head, by T. Sully," I found it to be. “Oh, what a fancy !” I exclaimed, in boyish enthusiasm, "That I can never surpass.”
A young man was copying it, and I immediately resolved that I would do the same. Mr. Ochre came into the gallery at that moment, and I hastened to meet him. “I have found the most exquisite painting!" I exclaimed, leading him eagerly towards it," and I know you will approve of my copying it."
What, -that waxy little thing," he said. “My dear child, do you not know better than that, after all my instructions?" and he took me back to the head by Copley, and told me I might copy that if I could. “But you had better not copy any thing,” he added—“ draw from nature, my boy. Go on as you have begun, only do not make your faces pink and white, and get Fanny Ann out of your mind as fast as you can.” I wondered how he knew that I thought about Fanny Ann; I had never mentioned her name but twice in his presence, and then almost in a whisper.
So I went to Mr. Ochre's studio every day: and Irish boys were hired from the street to sit for me and the other pupils. Very unfit subjects for my brush I thought them, until I chanced to see a picture of a beggar boy by Murillo, and then they rose in my esteem. I had heard that Murillo was a very great genius, and if he painted beggar boys, why should not I?
Well, I painted Irish boys and German boys, until I knew I had learned all I could from Mr. Ochre, and that it was time for me to set up my own studio, and patronize American ladies-immortalize them as only a genius can. “R. Gumbo, Portrait Painter,” was the golden name upon the sign that decked one corner of a doorway, which led to a flight of stairs, which led to another flight of stairs, and so on to the fourth story, where I sat in state, awaiting my unknown visitors. My studio was furnished with a skylight, an easel, an old shawl with a very effective border, covering a table on which stood a torso, a small Venus, a chair for the sitter, and two for friends, a lay figure, six new, suggestive canvases, and my paint brushes. “Now, I am ready!" I exclaimed, wielding my maul-stick and making a thrust at the portrait of an Irish boy eating an apple. “My dear little fellow, you will soon see what beauty and grace will appear.” I had gone to my studio at nine o'clock-I stayed until dark: I ate two crackers for dinner, and an apple, like the Irish boy, and nobody
I wondered at it very much. Two of my best portraits were in the Exhibition, and I thought the public were dying to be taken. “But they cannot know I am here," I meditated. "One little sign in a city full of signs attracts no attention. I ought to advertise my number; but advertising is so expensive. I wish some one would buy my pictures in the Exhibition; but there is no love for art in this country. Rosewood and buhl
are more valued than genius. Oh Italy!” I sighed, and locked my door, and went home to my attic.
I thought my pictures might have sold, if the subjects had been of more general interest. No one wants portraits except relations, and the relations of these cannot afford to purchase such luxuries,” I said. "If I paint a composition, it will find a ready sale, — what shall it be?” My imagination was filled with the remembrance of Jephthah and his daughter; but I did not care to attempt the warrior, and the daughter alone would hardly suffice; so I determined to paint Iphigenia as priestess at Aulis.
I draped my lay figure with a sheet, and commenced. The treatment was purely classical. The garment fell in dignified folds to the feet, broken only by an invisible girdle at the waist: it was fastened on each shoulder by a burning gem, -I painted them from two brass brooches, set with crimson glass, which I bought for the occasion. One hand rested lightly upon an altar, represented by my table and the bordered shawl-the other was pressed upon her breast. The arms were very white, and one of them quite round. The face was raised, and the expression of pious resignation was very well given. The hair was beautifully dishevelled. The blue Mediterranean in the distance led the eye to the horizon, and the mind to revery. The figure was half-size, and I was a whole week painting it. I worked quite steadily, fearing visitors might come if I went out. Occasionally, exhausted by the inspiration of my subject, I took a short walk; but always pinned up a paper to say that I should return immediately, and placed a chair outside my door, thinking ladies would be out of breath coming up so many stairs, and would wait longer if they found a resting-place. When I returned, I always felt quite sure that some one had called during my absence, and I regretted that I had been out.
When my painting was finished, I doubted whether I had better ask Mr. Ochre to come and look at it, or not. I knew there was great jealousy among artists, and feared he might not be pleased to find his pupil had become his rival ; but I told him in an off-hand way, one day, that I had a picture on my easel he might like to step in and look at some time when he was passing; and he came.
I saw a smile quivering upon his lips as he stood before it. He walked about my studio, looked at the torso, praised my Venus, asked me where I bought my paints, approached the priestess, and
burst into a loud laugh. "I can't stand it, Gumbo," he exclaimed: “It is too good!”
I knew it was good myself, but its merits had a very different effect upon
I was astonished at his laughing; I had intended that the painting should produce exalted emotions, mingled with sorrow. “How did you make the folds of that drapery so straight ?” he said, "you must have ruled them, and there are no limbs under them.
The arms like chop-sticks; they are not half so good as those of little Patrick Mahone, you painted six months ago. The head is stuck on with a skewer, is it not? Nothing else could keep it up so. And the figure does not stand-a breath of air would puff it all away. No, no; this will never do. You must keep to real life; your fancy pictures are absolutely good for nothing.” And he turned to me with what he intended for a goodnatured smile, I suppose; but I saw that jealous look in the corner of his eye.
“The public shall judge between us," I said, quite grandly.
He looked at me as if he would laugh again ; but laying his hand on my shoulder, said—“ Come, my boy, I see how it is. You think you have done something very good, and that I am envious of you. I assure you by all I know of art that the whole thing is ridiculous. Place it in the exhibition, and you will see that it is so considered; but send it anonymously, I beg of you. I should not like to have your name laughed at.”
“Yes,” thought I; "he wishes to have the credit of it himself; and it is a little in his style, certainly."
“ And now I will tell you what I will do for you,” he continued. “A little cousin of mine wishes me to paint her before her father's birth-day; but I have too much on my hands just at present. You shall do it. You can sometimes hit upon a likeness, -and if you do not satisfy her, why, I will paint her afterwards. She is rich, and can afford to pay for two pictures, and ought to encourage young artists, --she has a fancy for these things herself. She has some beauty, and if you treat the bject artistically, you can make a pretty picture of it. I will make the proposal to her this evening, and let you know her answer, if you will call upon me to-morrow.” And taking my half-reluctant hand, he bade me good morning
“Very patronizing !" I thought. "He will paint her himself if I do not succeed ! I will have nothing to do with it. But,
young, and beautiful, and fond of these would
with her nephew, Mr. things—it is a temptation. I will make Ochre. up my mind what to do in the morning." There was an opening into society! I Meantime I considered the style in which had a nice dress coat and light vest that I should paint her. “I succeed so well in had belonged to my father, and had been heads looking up," I thought, glancing at made over for me by my mother, two Iphigenia. “But I should not like to have years before. I bought a new cravat, and two pictures alike even if they were both spent two hours trying to brush the curls very good. I might have the face looking out of my hair and make it look as smooth down, and a blue mantle on the head, and as that of the young gentlemen I had seen the hands folded. Ochre would certainly in Broadway. I went to call for Mr. call that treating the subject artistically, Ochre, very well pleased with myself; I so many old pictures are painted in that certainly looked much better than he did. style. She probably has pretty hands, - Upon entering the room I was at first if not, I can make them so."
dazzled, as I had been by the gilt frames The next day, while I was yet hesitat at the Exhibition. There was a great ing whether to go to Ochre's or not, I crowd of people, a great deal of noise, and heard ladies' voices and a gentle knock at light, and bewilderment. I withdrew my door. I flew round to arrange my into a corner to regain my composure; studio; threw a cloth over the Priestess, taking care, however, to stand where I to give her a mysterious effect-only a could observe Miss Beljay, for even in the few folds of her robe and a sandalled foot confusion of making my bow, I had seen were visible; placed a sketch on my easel, at a glance that she greatly resembled and opening the door made a low bow to Jephthal's daughter. I had thought so a the ladies, with my palette and stick in little in the morning, but now I was sure my hand. I flattered myself that effect of it; she was so tall and dignified when was artistic.
she was standing, and had on a pink dress The elder lady introduced herself as too, very long and flowing: -nothing was Mrs. Beljay, who had brought her daughter wanting but the blue mantle. to sit to me. Actually there—my first While I was thus gazing in silence she sitter! She was soon seated in the chair brought her father and introduced me to with a blue mantle thrown over her. I
him. They conversed with me some time, asked her to incline her head slightly and and were evidently much pleased with to fold her hands—they were very pretty for they invited me to dine with them ones. “Do I not look like a wounded
the next day. dove ?” she asked her mother, and they I was invited there very often during began to laugh.
the three weeks Miss Beljay was sitting, I begged her to keep her face still, and much to my own satisfaction. going across the room for something, care way thither one evening with Ochre, he lessly brushed the cloth from Iphigenia, said to me, "It is a good thing to visit in hoping the sight of that sorrowful coun the family of a sitter, you have so many tenance would give a more subdued ex chances of studying your subject. It was pression to hers, but they both laughed on this account that I advised Mrs. Beljay very much, although evidently trying not to invite you to her house." to do so. They made little jokes and pre To him, then, I owed all my invitations tended they were laughing at those. Miss and not to my own attractions. I had a Beljay said she thought she could main great mind not to accept any more, but tain the expression I wished if she had such opportunities of seeing Miss Beljay knitting with her, and other silly things; were not to be resisted. but a wild fear shot through me that At length I announced that the portrait
they were laughing at Iphigenia, and I sud was finished, and Mr. Ochre came with - denly took it away. Then they became the ladies to see it. He looked from the
very quiet, and I made an excellent sketch. painting to Miss Beljay and back again to They wished to see it, but I could not the painting, smiling a little because she permit them to, so soon. Mrs. Beljay smiled, as young ladies often will when said she did not think it could be like, for looked at. “The mantle is pretty good,” Fanny had never been so still in her life he said, at length, "and the mouth is a before. I started at the name. “She little like.” also is Fanny !” I thought, " but not my I believe I should have made some very Fanny Ann."
fierce reply if the ladies had not been there. When they were going away Mrs. Bel As it was I turned with great calmness to jay told me they were to have a little Mrs. Beljay, and asked her what she party in the evening, and she hoped I thought of it. “It is a little like her,"
she answered, “only much more pensive.”
"Fanny, will you please to sit in the chair and hold your head down,” said Ochre. "Now let me see. You have made the nose too straight; Fanny's, although a very good one, is not Grecian.” There she fairly laughed. “You must have been thinking of some ideal of yours. Neither do her lids droop so heavily; you should have opened the eyes with a more sunny expression. The mouth is a little like, as I toll you before, and so is the outline of the face. The mantle hides the fine turn of the head and the beautiful hair. The hands are well enough, only they have not the usual allowance of joints. As for the coloring—it is like plaster of Paris, but that is because you wished to paint her pale, à la Magdalen, perhaps. You must have chosen this style before you had seen her, I think.” (I felt a guilty consciousness that I had done so.) “Let me show you how I think she should be drawn."
IIe sketched in a head, lightly set on the throat, an, turning with an arch expression as the figure moved away.
The hair, sostly waving on the forehead was knotted behind, and a flower fell gracefully on one side. The whole figure was airy and elegant.
* There, that is my cousin Fanny as I know her. What do you say, Aunt Julia ?"
"It is Fanny herself—nothing could be better!"
I could not but admire the sketch, so free. so characteristic, so lovely, so like the beautiful form which had been before me day after day, and had been hidden from me beneath the mantle of my own misconception. After they had gone away I looked at my poor head, so weak, so spiritless, and turned it with its facé to the wall. “All, all wrong!” I exclaimed, and hiding my face in my hands I should have wept if I had been a boy-but I was eighteen years old, and could not indulge in that. I remembered all the happy, hopeful days I had passed in painting it, all the apparent kindness that had been bestowed upon me, and now they had gone and would never think of me again, or only laugh at my foolish endeavor. Í almost vowed that I would never touch a brush again, and going out wandered about the streets all the evening, with the saddest heart.
The next day I could not return to my studio. I walked down Broadway and round about the Battery. The waves were breaking against the stones, and I
thought I would go to sea.
I walked up Broadway and went into the Exhibition ; I saw my two portraits and wished I could shoot them. I looked at every picture in the room, to see if there were any as bad as mine, and found there were many, but was
encouraged by them. My eyes seemed opened by magic. I saw how poor most of them were even in promise, and appreciated the good ones as I had never done before, remembering many things Ochre had said about them, which I had scarcely noticed at the time. I saw that difficulties had been conquered of which I had never dreamed, and that all I had hitherto done was mere child's play. I went toward Ochre's studio, and thought I would go in and ask him to take me as a pupil again, but feared he would not think it worth while. While I paced to and fro on the side-walk, Miss Beljay and her mother came down the steps. I knew she had been sitting to Ochre, but they did not tell me so. They shook hands with me, and Mrs. Beljay said I must send home the picture as soon as it was ready; remarked that it was a pleasant day, &c.; hoped I would be at her reception in the evening; I must come every Thursday, she said, when I was not otherwise engaged.
How the sun shone-how very pleasant the day had become! I ran up into Ochre's room and asked him to take me back. Gumbo,” he said, “ you know I would not for the world 'extinguish the least spark of genius in you or in any one, but think for yourself. You have been painting three or four years, and what does it amount to? You cannot paint a picture that begins to be good. I know you have some talent, but many have as much who do not think of painting as a profession, because they know not to excel in it is to fail. I know I am not a good painter myself,” and he looked sadly round his studio, “but will you ever be even so good a one ? If not, to devote yourself to Art will be to throw yourself into a sea in which you cannot swim. Would it not be wiser to choose an occupation in which you will be master of your faculties, than one in which you will be the victim of endless hopes, delusions, and disappointments. Think of your mother, too, who can ill spare the money shé sends you. For her sake, as well as for your own, I advise you to accept an offer which Mr. Beljay is about to make you. He has occasion, he says, to employ an honest, intelligent young man in his business, and thinks you are such a one as he wants. You will still have some