Volume 16, Issue 2 | Autumn 2017

welcome phantom At last year's CAA meeting in Seattle, art editors had a special meeting to discuss "the crisis in art publishing." Apparently, the publication of art books is becoming so costly that it is no longer economically viable. This is even truer for scholarly art history books, which are printed in small editions and have a long shelf life. One editor told me in private that junior faculty can no longer count on having a book published by the time they come up for tenure, as university presses won't be able to produce as many books as there are junior scholars who need them to keep their jobs. phantom
While this is worrisome, it is a sign of the times. Paper publishing, especially of scholarly materials, is slowly becoming a thing of the past. A New York Times article, dated June 26, 2004, informed its readers that many scientists are abandoning the old, established paper journals to publish in online journals instead. In part, this is a question of economics: most libraries can no longer afford the astronomical cost of science journals. But according to Pamela Burdman, the author of the article, there is more at stake than money alone: "Free and widespread distribution of new research has the potential to redefine the way scientific and intellectual developments are recorded, circulated and preserved for years to come."
E-journals such Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide are the new reality of scholarly publishing. Most universities now recognize electronic peer-reviewed journals as a valid mode of circulating new scholarship and many have already articulated this in their tenure documents. An informal survey suggests that university presidents and deans are more open to e-publishing than faculty members (particularly in the humanities), many of whom remain stuck on paper publishing. No wonder that in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (November 7, 2003), Richard Atkinson advocates that "faculty members [my emphasis] should recognize and reward colleagues who choose alternative ways to disseminate their research." Says Richardson, "The rapid emergence of scholarly electronic publishing challenges our traditional methods of assessing professors' work for tenure and promotion purposes. We should take steps to guarantee that our evaluation practices keep pace with the adoption of new communication technologies."
While e-publishing is eminently accessible, particularly in the cases of journals that are free (hence not password-protected), there are some concerns that they don't have the same visibility in the scholarly world as paper journals. Thanks to the fact that both Art Index and BHA have begun to index e-journals, including Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, this no longer seems to be an issue. Many are also listed on university library websites, making them, literally, a few clicks away from the reader.
Another concern frequently voiced against e-journals is their alleged limited lifespan. Authors worry that their articles will disappear in cyberspace as technology changes. A new program, LOCKSS, funded in part by the Mellon Foundation, helps selected journals with digital preservation to guarantee continued access. We are happy to inform you that Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide has been targeted as one of the humanities e-journals in the LOCKSS preservation program.
We, herewith, present you with the eighth issue of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, hoping that we can count on your continued support as readers, authors, and/or funders. We remain grateful to all who have helped us to come as far as we have.
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Manet's Oceanic Feeling
by Nancy Locke


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Fig. 01 Édouard Manet, Dead Christ with Angels, 1864. Oil on canvas. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


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Fig. 02 Édouard Manet, Bullfight, 1864. Oil on canvas. New York, Frick Collection


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Fig. 03 Édouard Manet, The Dead Toreador, 1864. Oil on canvas. Washington, National Gallery


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Fig. 04 Cham, "Ayant eu à se plaindre de son marchand de couleurs, M. Manet prend le parti de ne plus se servir que de son encrier," from "Une Promenade au salon. Croquis par Cham," 1864. Wood engraving. Le Charivari, 22 May 1864


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Fig. 05 Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864. Oil on canvas. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


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Fig. 06 Édouard Manet, The Battle of the U. S. S. "Kearsarge" and the C. S. S. "Alabama", 1864. Oil on canvas. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art


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Fig. 07 Édouard Manet, Steamboat Leaving Boulogne, 1864. Oil on canvas. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago
I find unenclosed water intolerable. I like to see it imprisoned in a yoke between the geometrical walls of a quay.
—Charles Baudelaire
Following a new mandate after the effect of negative chic and the general uproar over the Salon des Refusés, the jury for the Salon of 1864 had been more inclusive, and Manet exhibited two works: the Dead Christ with Angels (fig. 1) and the Episode from a Bullfight.1 The Episode was later cut up and is now known in two fragments: the Frick Collection Bullfight (fig. 2) and the Dead Toreador (fig. 3) in the National Gallery in Washington.2 The experimental perspective of the piece was succinctly captured in a caricature by Cham (fig. 4).3 Critics were often unkind to Manet, but 1864 was an early low point. "The Spanish pictures of M. Manet don't attract attention; they take it by force," said Adrien Paul in the Republican daily, Le Siècle. "One feels held up as in a corner of a woods, and mugged."4 Louis Auvray in La Revue artistique et littéraire advised Manet to study—of all people—the Barbizon landscapist Charles Jacque. "He doesn't have this mania for simplifying nature to give it more grandeur, as does M. Manet; he finds nature as it is, great enough, beautiful enough, and he copies it religiously . . . We believe, M. Manet, that which God has made is well-made, and you should content yourself with that."5 Alphonse Audéoud in La Revue indépendante also based his critique of Manet on the idea of Manet's realism, wagering that the painter's realism was not a Balzacian realism but "an exclusive cult of the ugly grotesque."6 And the pseudonymous "X, a retired painter" (actually Aubry-Foucault), in the Legitimist Gazette de France, after having compared Manet's palette to an ashtray, found the bullring to be "une masse informe" (a shapeless mass) "that holds at the same time a bull, a rhinoceros, and a rat from the sewers of Paris." Like the more well-known critique of Théophile Thoré in the same year, "X" accused Manet of imitating Goya, "that strange master who, with a few streaks of black against white, sometimes awakens, in a flash, something like the frisson of the infinite."7 After proclaiming that no one could imitate Goya and that it was a dangerous precedent for young artists to try, "X" put his money on Gustave Moreau for the future.8
"X" was not the only critic who thought Moreau walked away with the Salon of 1864. Adrien Paul said the Oedipus and the Sphinx (fig. 5) was "magisterially painted and grandly conceived."9 Mme de Sault focused an entire article in the liberal daily Le Temps on Moreau's painting, and at the end, counseled young artists to follow Moreau, not Manet. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."10
Manet left Paris for Boulogne in July following the Salon. Although his family had traveled to Boulogne before, the 1864 trip would be the first that followed the opening of the new beach club at Boulogne, as Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener have shown in Manet and the Sea, an exhibition that encourages a reevaluation of Manet's seascapes.11 Manet would go on to paint the Metropolitan Museum canvas of the USS Kearsarge and a fishing boat, a watercolor of the same U.S. ship (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon), and the magisterial and politically juicy Philadelphia painting of the battle between the USS Kearsarge and the Confederate ship Alabama (fig. 6).12 These paintings are rooted in Manet's familiarity with ships that dates back to his naval voyage to Rio in 1848–49, and they speak to his ongoing political interest in the New World that probably had its beginnings then and would be even more strongly realized in the series of paintings and prints he did in 1867 on the subject of the execution of Maximilian. In addition to these closely related marine works, Manet also painted Steamboat Leaving Boulogne, now in the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 7). The wake of this steamboat cutting a slice across the glossy surface of the Channel underlines the expansiveness of the sea here: sailboats and schooners become mere shapes against the flat background of water.
In comparison with the ambition of The Battle of the USS "Kearsarge" and the CSS "Alabama", and certainly in comparison with the works that took a beating at the Salon, the Chicago painting is something of a day off, a whiff of fresh air. It was almost certainly executed quite rapidly. It was a chance for Manet to work in his most self-assured, painterly mode: to lay on a sensuous, nuanced blue field of water, float a few silhouettes of sailboats over it, and paint in some gray and white steam coming from the steamship. We can almost sense his delight at tracing that line of the steamboat's wake in paint; it is pure Manet. Although one can picture an emerging artist—Monet perhaps, or Whistler—painting something of equal simplicity, or finding inspiration in Japanese sources as Manet does here, no one Manet knew in 1864 would have taken on a marine subject in this manner. One can almost picture Manet in Boulogne that summer thinking to himself, "Take that, Adrien Paul! Who else can paint this way?" I think we can go even farther in our speculation as to the rejuvenating effect of the 1864 marine subjects in Manet's art. In these paintings, there is a spatial openness combined with an interest in the mobility of the subject that is entirely different, almost the antithesis of Manet's extremely costumed and studio-bound figure paintings of the early 1860s.13 In place of the paintings that represented one figure posing as another, or paintings that purported to be or to transform the image of a Parisian type, here was painting that engaged a subject that moved freely.
We can think back to the Episode from a Bullfight and its utter daring with regard to perspective—and maybe to the critic in Le Hanneton who looked at the painting and exclaimed "O perspective! Voilà de tes coups?" (O perspective! Take these blows!)14 The perspective could be described as that of a radically wide-angle lens that had swallowed the bull in the middle-ground, made the toreros in the background tiny, and thrust the elegant dead toreador into the foreground, right under our noses.15 By contrast, the Channel in the Chicago painting allows Manet to make seamlessly the shifts in scale from the grand sailboat in the foreground to the steamboat in the middle distance, to the flecks of gray against the horizon line—done in an instant—that represent a faraway sailboat. I would like to suggest that this is not mere casualness on Manet's part, but a crucial discovery for him, and that the repercussions for his art will be wide-ranging and significant.
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Fig. 08 Édouard Manet, Study of Ships, Sunset, 1868. Oil on canvas. Le Havre, Musée Malraux
One notes a sense of the expansiveness of the water in many of Manet's later marine paintings. For instance, Study of Ships, Sunset of 1868, now in the Musée Malraux in Le Havre (fig. 8), shows no human figures. Unlike some of the more ambitious paintings, such as The "Kearsarge" and the "Alabama," it does not even show the interaction of ships or the presence of built elements such as a jetty. The painting is almost Whistlerian in its abstraction.16 Its format goes beyond that of the double-square—its width is more than twice its height—and its subdued grays and green-blues are heightened by a cadmium red mixed into a great deal of white, probably with a breath of burnt umber to produce the passage of flesh tone in the sky. As minimalist as this seascape by Manet is, it is not alone in his oeuvre—consider The Bay of Arcachon and Lighthouse on Cape Ferret of 1871 (Collection Rudolf Staechelin), in which a couple of fishing boats and a ghostly lighthouse against the horizon are the only signs of human presence. Or consider the pages from Manet's 1868 Boulogne sketchbook, on view at the "Manet and the Sea" exhibition after only recently coming to light. In some of these sketches, even determining the line where ocean meets sky is difficult. The aesthetic pleasure of the look of watercolor on paper is offset by what, for a nineteenth-century viewer, would have been a vertiginous, almost subjectless abstraction.17

There were nineteenth-century viewers who tried to articulate this experience of limitlessness. What had been postulated by Edmond Burke in aesthetics and Immanuel Kant in philosophy as the experience of the sublime was being adapted by the disciples of Victor Cousin in the nascent discipline of psychology.18 As the Abbé Blampignon noted in the newspaper Le Correspondant in 1866:

In the presence of a vast expanse, of the immensity of the sands or of the water, of the ocean or the Sahara, the soul experiences an ineffable satisfaction. It sees there the image of liberty without barrier, of expanse without limit. The soul believes itself transported and flies there in imagination. In feeling free for a moment of all constraints, man is content, while he becomes gloomy on finding himself so dependent and so shrunken . . . . The most intense pleasure is in the idea we have of it. We dream endlessly of the joys we cradle in our imagination, and, when the moment of possession arrives, we find we were waiting for something better. Life goes by in desiring.19

The writer here is actually reviewing a book, Du Plaisir et de la Douleur, (Of Pleasure and Pain) , by Francisque Bouillier (1813–1899), published in 1865. Bouillier wanted the field of psychology to avoid confusing affective phenomena, such as the experience of pleasure and pain, with the expression of voluntary acts or facts.20 Before Freud theorized about the pleasure principle and the reality principle, Bouillier located the stimulus of our activity in the world in the attraction of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Yet he went beyond this postulate as well. The pleasure that we feel in having our desires satisfied shows that desire ultimately is a function of will. Why is inactivity, or rest, also pleasurable, he wondered. The answer he proposed was that pleasure was ultimately not merely experienced passively as an affective phenomenon. We take pleasure, says Bouillier, in free activity—in the exercise of our free will. The possibility of experiencing pleasure in an unimpeded arena is the experience of looking out at ocean or desert that Blampignon describes.

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Fig. 09 Édouard Manet, Jetty at Boulogne, 1868. Oil on canvas. Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum

It is interesting that a book concerned with human desires satisfied, and pleasure taken, in the experience of unimpeded free will, would suggest to at least one writer in Le Correspondant an image of limitlessness, a feeling one gets looking out at the immensity of an expanse of ocean or sand. It is a sensation Romain Rolland, and then more famously Freud, would call the "oceanic feeling"—"a sensation of 'eternity', a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded—as it were, 'oceanic'," wrote Freud.21 Rolland had suggested that a confrontation with this feeling could be seen as the true source of religious feeling. But Freud, who could not confirm the existence of the "oceanic feeling" in himself, postulated that an infant cannot yet distinguish his own ego from the external world, and only with maturity does a person draw a boundary around an internal feeling of "self" or "ego" and a larger sensation of what is external to the self.

If we may assume that there are many people in whose mental life this primary ego-feeling has persisted to a greater or less degree, it would exist in them side by side with the narrower and more sharply demarcated ego-feeling of maturity, like a kind of counterpart to it. In that case, the ideational contents appropriate to it would be precisely those of limitlessness and of a bond with the universe—the same ideas with which my friend elucidated the 'oceanic' feeling.22

Might we say that the crossing of this demarcation from an experience of ego into that "primary ego-feeling" in which we no longer feel a boundary separating us from the external world, in which we can experience limitlessness, can be said to characterize a state of liminality? Manet, after all, not only gave us marine paintings approaching abstraction, like the Le Havre painting and the Boulogne sketchbook pages, but also paintings that suggest limitlessness by juxtaposing it with its opposite. Jetty at Boulogne, recently acquired by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, contrasts typically Manet-esque clusters of well-dressed spectators firmly planted, parasols and binoculars in hand, on a well-constructed horizontal form of the jetty, with a view toward the endlessness of the sea (fig. 9). The possibility of merely experiencing the social interchange on the jetty coexists with that of looking out to the horizon, toward the "vast expanse," "the immensity of the water." The painting's spectator, like the small figures contained therein, is positioned to experience one or the other; the space of the viewer is the liminal space of the jetty, glimpsing the well-defined sociability of the elegant subscribers to Boulogne's beach club, or the confrontation with the ineffable, the limitless—the very image of free activity without constraint.

Let me briefly recap the texts I have just intertwined. Bouillier's Du Plaisir et de la douleur located pleasure in the experience of unimpeded free will; Blampignon, in his review, found that pleasure was always more intense in the imagination, in the anticipation of it, in desire—in other words, than it was in its realization. Freud contrasts the idyllic feeling of limitlessness with the mature person's assertion of ego and firm boundaries around self and other. Identity, we might say, is formed from that insertion of boundaries: this is self—this is what remains constant about the self—this is other. An awareness of desire simply reinforces those boundaries: I am, I desire. By taking the self across that boundary to an idyllic state, pleasure transports, multiplies, and ultimately blurs the sensation of self and ego.23 That act of blurring pushes through from mundane awareness of self to the liminal state that is not stamped out by identity. I suggest that this is precisely what Manet found in the sea: a subject whose expansiveness moved him to a wholly different notion of identity, and I would like to trace how this might have unfolded after Manet's 1864 Boulogne trip.
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Fig. 10 Édouard Manet, Philosopher, 1865. Oil on canvas. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection, 1931.504, Reproduction, The Art Institute of Chicago


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Fig. 11 Édouard Manet, Street Singer, 1862. Oil on canvas. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
First, Manet discovers the freedoms possible when representing the sea in the 1864 paintings. If the Art Institute of Chicago painting allows him to treat the ships blandly, indifferently—to use Bataille's word—as so many chess pieces on the chessboard of the glossy sea, the "Kearsarge" and the "Alabama" was the reverse: the ships are filled with sailors, the sea is a battlefield, the United States in the Kearsarge firing at, fatally wounding the South, its interests, and Napoleon III's support for the secession.24 Manet's new spatial arena, we might say, could embrace either fairly neutral subjects or highly charged ones. He returns to Paris and prepares for the Salon of 1865. That history is well-known. He feels overwhelmed and defeated by the critiques of Olympia (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) and the Christ Mocked by the Soldiers (Art Institute of Chicago), complains to Baudelaire and leaves for Madrid. After seeing Velázquez in the Prado, he paints the suite of philosopher-beggars (fig. 10).25
Consider the space in the Philosopher. It is true that it was not the first Manet figure painting with an apparently blank background; Manet had tried this at least as early as 1862 in his Boy with a Sword (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The so-called blank background, however, takes on a different feel as Manet rethinks the large-scale figure painting through Velázquez and through the sea paintings of 1864. The background in the Philosopher is not a simple absence; it is palpable; it is felt; it holds its own next to the figure. It creates an atmosphere not unlike that of the fog eclipsing the horizon line beyond the jetty in the Van Gogh Museum picture. It is "oceanic." And its effects on the way we read the figure in the painting are oceanic as well. If Manet in the early 1860s frequently depicted marginal figures in Paris, such as The Old Musician (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and The Street Singer (fig. 11), those figures were usually represented in a context. However vague the trees and rocks in The Old Musician are, they are definitive enough that Marilyn Brown, as well as Theodore Reff, can relate the painting to the neighborhood of La Petite Pologne.26 The Street Singer is coming out of an estaminet (inn) in which we can see hats hanging on a wall, customers, an aproned waiter, and potted plants. Our reading of the singer as nomadic and elusive is facilitated by her coming out of that context of cafés and the repression of public begging in the 1860s.27 These paintings have been understood, mostly rightly I believe, as rooted in nineteenth-century materialism: human subjects—their appearance, character, gestures, manners—ultimately derive from the material context in which they can be found. Yet there has always been something in Manet's figure paintings that goes beyond this classical conception, this narrative that out of a given material context comes a predictable, accountable set of characteristics.28 It is hinted at in the way Victorine Meurent appears alternately as courtesan, street singer, and bullfighter, but it comes to fruition in the figure paintings of 1865 and after: works in which we are given no clear material context in which to situate the figure that stands before us.
Formalism has always had a good argument when it came to these figure paintings. Manet's Fifer (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) issues from the challenge of Velázquez and says to the world that the painter can construct an illusion of convexity with the most minimal of means. Manet can make épaulettes and stripes that almost, but not quite, line up with the contours of the figure; give him the tiniest of shadows; make him stand against a background without any articulation whatsoever, and make him take form. Manet, says the formalist, puts a carafe and a lemon next to Théodore Duret because the painting needs that extra burst of color.29 But how can these arguments suffice when the subject is an impoverished beggar holding out his hand? How does the historian balance political concerns and formal concerns when it comes to a subject that cannot be accounted for in form and color alone?

The answer, I think, is in the "oceanic." If Manet creates a ground for these figures that is absolute, blanketing, suggestive of a space that is infinite but giving us no coordinates by which to take its measure—not even a figure with binoculars on a jetty—Manet is perhaps looking for the sensation of the expansiveness of the ocean, and (perhaps) doing so specifically in order to represent a figure whose "gestures, attitudes, ways of envisaging the world, and behavior" "come first."30 Here, I quote from Bernard-Henri Lévy on Sartre because I think the way Manet stages the viewer's confrontation with the beggar-philosopher prefigures Sartre's existentialism. It is a view of the human subject rooted in materialism, and still looking for ways of pushing that materialism to new limits. It is a way of remaining faithful to materialism while positing human freedom at the same time.

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Fig. 12 Édouard Manet, Races at Longchamp, 1867. Oil on canvas. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.424, Reproduction, The Art Institute of Chicago


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Fig. 13 Édouard Manet, Races at Longchamp, 1864. Watercolor on paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Art Museums

The new visual thinking that comes out of Manet's 1864 Boulogne trip also extends to more complex, multifigure subjects. Consider, for instance, the picture in the Art Institute of Chicago that has been called Races at Longchamp and generally assigned to 1867 (fig. 12).31 Prior to undertaking this painting, Manet had painted a watercolor, now in the Harvard University Art Museums, with a panoramic view of the racetrack from the stands at right to the elite party waiting past the finish line on the left side of the composition (fig. 13). The Chicago painting was actually cut from a larger canvas that originally resembled the 1864 watercolor composition more closely. The result of the cropping is a complete revision in the space of the oil painting that is, I would argue, rooted in what Manet discovered in painting Steamboat Leaving Boulogne. The highly simplified ocean painting allowed Manet the opportunity to look out at an almost limitless expanse of water, without the constraints of urban landmarks or the special demands of models and historical subjects, and literally move the compositional elements—the few simple shapes of boats—around freely. This directly affects the formulation of the space in the Races at Longchamp. There, it is as if the flat plane of the sea with its ships moving away from us has been inverted, and the artist funnels the space toward us instead. Ships sailing away have become horses thundering toward the viewer. The cutting of the painting has emphasized this through the removal of the panorama of elite spectators at left, and through the placement of the group of horses even closer to the painting's foreground. Manet intensifies the sensation of space in the painting by concentrating the energy in it.32 The unleashing of the horses, I would suggest, can be seen as a development of what he experiences in painting the sea at Boulogne.

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Fig. 14 J. E. Thierry, Bathing machine, 1829. Engraving. P.-J.-B. Bertrand, Précis de l’histoire physique, civile et politique, de la ville de Boulogne-sur-Mer et de ses environs, depuis les Morins jusqu’en 1814, vol. 2 (Boulogne: Chez Tous les Libraires, 1829), facing p. 553


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Fig. 15 Édouard Manet, Beach at Boulogne, 1868. Oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Photo: Katherine Wetzel © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
This essay has emphasized a notion of the "oceanic" with roots in Romanticism and the aesthetic of the sublime. It is important to remember, however, that many nineteenth-century viewers were sufficiently briefed as to the dangers and terrors of the sea that the way in which they experienced the ocean was as protected as possible. As Alain Corbin has shown, upper-class women and tourists were specifically instructed as to ways in which the waters should be taken, which included the wearing of flannel smocks, clogs or ankle boots for walking on sand, the dumping of buckets of water over the head to prepare oneself for immersion, and the retreat into the privacy and comfort of the bathing machine, invented in Boulogne: a Bath chair built up into a mobile cabin pulled by a horse (fig. 14).33 We even see one in Manet's 1868 Beach at Boulogne (fig. 15). The bathing machine and its rituals suggest that at least for the upper-class nineteenth-century urban-dweller, the experience of the water was the experience of a frisson, and the idea was to control that, to protect people from it, maybe even to keep people from having an oceanic feeling.
For Manet, the sea was more than merely the antithesis of the social scene in Paris. It opened up a new way of thinking for him. How does one paint the sea in its materiality? Courbet had asked that question, and answered it; Manet looks at the sea in its materiality and discovers its unknowability, maybe even what the painter-critic "X" meant by that "frisson de l'infini." He rediscovers a different kind of space—we could even call it the space of painting.

This essay is a revised version of a paper presented at the symposium "Manet: Eternal Modern" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 19, 2004, held in conjunction with the museum's installation of the exhibition Manet and the Sea; I would like to thank John Zarobell and Joe Rishel for that opportunity. I would also like to acknowledge comments made at the symposium by Juliet Wilson-Bareau and Steven Z. Levine that I have incorporated here, as well as comments by my colleagues Charlotte Houghton, Sarah Rich, and Brian Curran. Furthermore, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Robert Alvin Adler for his editorial suggestions, Lucy Locke for help with translations, and most of all, Christopher Campbell for sharing his insights into Manet's paintings in ways that guided my analysis here.

1. On the Salon jury, see Adolphe Tabarant, Manet et ses oeuvres, 6th ed. (Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1947), pp. 81–2.

2. Summarized in Françoise Cachin, Charles S. Moffett, and Michel Melot, Manet 1832–1883, Exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, 1983), pp. 195–98.

3. On the reconstruction of the painting, see Susan Grace Galassi et al., Manet's "The Dead Toreador" and "The Bullfight": Fragments of a Lost Salon Painting Reunited, Exh. cat. (New York: Frick Collection, 1999). The Cham appeared in Le Charivari, 22 May 1864.

4. Adrien Paul, "Salon de 1864," Le Siècle, 29 May 1864: "Les toiles espagnoles de M. Manet n'attirent pas l'attention, elles la prennent de force; on se sent arrêté comme au coin d'un bois, et l'on s'en revient dévalisé." Unless otherwise noted, all translations in the text are my own.

5. Louis Auvray, "Salon de 1864," La Revue artistique et littéraire, 5 année, t. 7 (1864): pp. 14–15: "M. Charles-Émile Jacque, peint les animaux et le paysage avec un talent supérieur. Voilà un interprète fidèle de la vie des champs, il n'a pas, comme M. Manet, la manie de simplifier la nature pour lui donner plus de grandeur, il trouve la nature, telle qu'elle est, assez grande, assez belle, et il la copie religieusement . . . Ah! M. Manet, venez méditer devant le tableau de M. Jacque, et vous reconnaîtrez que la vraie nature est celle que cet artiste a peinte, celle que tout le monde voit, et non celle qu'une imagination égarée veut inventer. Croyons-nous, M. Manet, ce que Dieu a fait est bien fait, contentez-vous en."

6. Audéoud, La Revue indépendante, 1 July 1864, p. 768. Manet is allied with Fantin-Latour and Courbet along these lines. In that same journal, the same reviewer would go on to write at the Salon of 1865: "D'autres [artistes] encore prétendent forcer l'admiration en exagérant la réalité, ou plutôt en cultivant le laid, le grotesque et l'horrible" (15 June 1865), p. 720.

7. "X," [Aubry-Foucault], "Le Salon de 1864," Gazette de France, 11 June 1864: "ce maître étrange qui, avec quelques rayures de noir sur du blanc, éveille parfois, dans un éclair, comme le frisson de l'infini." On Thoré's critique, see Tabarant, Manet et ses oeuvres, 1947, p. 85.

8. Ibid.

9. Paul, "Salon de 1864": "magistralement peinte et grandement conçue." For an interesting discussion of the success of Moreau's painting and the perceptibly negative critical effect it had on Manet's paintings in Room "M," see Michael Fried, Manet's Modernism, or, The Face of Painting in the 1860s (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), pp. 308–17.

10. C. de Sault [Mme de Charnace], "Salon de 1864," Le Temps 12 May 1864; see also Tabarant, Manet et ses œuvres, 1947, p. 83.

11. Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener et al., Manet and the Sea, Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2003), p. 63.

12. The full titles are: USS "Kearsarge" off Boulogne—Fishing Boat Coming In Before the Wind (Metropolitan Museum of Art), USS "Kearsarge" off Boulogne (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon), and The Battle of the USS "Kearsarge" and the CSS "Alabama" (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

13. This aspect of Manet's art has received special emphasis in Carol Armstrong, "To Paint, to Point, to Pose: Manet's 'Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe'," in Paul H. Tucker, ed. Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 90–118.

14. Spitafangama, "Au Salon," Le Hanneton: Journal des Toqués (26 June 1864), p. 4. The critic mistakenly refers to Manet as Massé.

15. Anne Coffin Hanson compares compositional strategies among the lost Episode, the Mlle V. in the Costume of an Espada (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and the seascapes of 1864 (especially the Philadelphia Kearsarge) in "A Group of Marine Paintings by Manet," Art Bulletin 44, no. 4 (December 1962), pp. 332–33.

16. Manet, of course, knew Whistler, and both appear in Fantin-Latour's Hommage à Delacroix of 1864 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris).

17. It is interesting to contemplate Baudelaire's comments on the pastel seascapes of Boudin that he recounted seeing in the artist's studio in his "Salon of 1859," and Manet's possible recollection of them when he undertook these paintings. Although Baudelaire claims not to miss the human figures absent from the seascapes, he also maintains that they are studies that will need to be developed into paintings. See Oeuvres complètes, ed. Marcel A. Ruff (Paris: Aux Éditions du Seuil, 1968), p. 417.

18. For a penetrating discussion of the aesthetic of the sublime as it relates to Monet's seascapes, see Steven Z. Levine, "Seascapes of the Sublime: Vernet, Monet, and the Oceanic Feeling," New Literary History 16, no. 2 (Winter 1985), pp. 377–400.

19. E. A. [Émile Antoine] Blampignon, review of Francisque Bouillier, Du Plaisir et de la douleur, in Le Correspondant (25 November 1866), p. 758: "En presence d'une vaste étendue, de l'immensité des sables ou des eaux, de l'Océan ou du Sahara, l'âme éprouve une ineffable satisfaction. C'est qu'elle y voit l'image de la liberté sans nulle barrière, de l'étendue sans aucune limite. Elle s'y croit transportée et y vole en imagination. En se sentant dégagé pour un moment de toute contrainte, l'homme est heureux, tandis qu'il s'assombrit en se trouvant si dépendant et si rétréci. . . . Le plus vif plaisir est dans l'idée qu'on s'en fait. Nous rêvons longtemps aux joies dont nous berçons notre imagination, et, le moment de la possession venu, il se trouve que nous attendions mieux. La vie se passe à désirer."

20. Francisque Bouillier, Du Plaisir et de la douleur (Paris: Baillière, 1865), p. 23. Blampignon and Bouillier were linked by their mutual interest in the Cartesian philosopher Malebranche; Blampignon had already cited Bouillier's 1854 Histoire de la philosophie cartésienne in his Étude sur Malebranche d'après des documents manuscrits, suivie d'une correspondance inédite (Paris: Charles Douniol, 1862), 100.

21. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, trans., ed. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1989), p. 11.

22. Ibid., p. 15.

23. Here, I am drawing on the thinking of Michel Foucault, especially as analyzed by David M. Halperin in Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 94–96.

24. On The Battle of the U.S.S. "Kearsarge" and the C.S.S. "Alabama", see Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David C. Degener, Manet and the American Civil War: The Battle of the U.S.S. 'Kearsarge' and the C.S.S. 'Alabama', Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). Georges Bataille discusses Manet's "supreme indifference" to the subject in Manet (New York: Skira/Rizzoli, 1983), passim.

25. During the discussion period at the symposium "Manet: Eternal Modern" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, April 19, 2004, Juliet Wilson-Bareau questioned the traditional account that the Philosopher series was painted after Manet's 1865 trip to Spain, and her catalogue entry for A Philosopher (Beggar with Oysters) in Gary Tinterow and Geneviève Lacambre, Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting, Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), p. 494, also suggests that Manet had painted them before his encounter with the work of Velázquez. In her view, the restoration of the two Chicago Philosopher paintings "clearly revealed their facture" that could be contrasted with the "more luminous aspect and freer handling of The Ragpicker" (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California), dated to 1869. Although the series marks a return to the "ragpicker" subject of Manet's rejected 1859 Salon submission, the Absinthe Drinker (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen), which was certainly executed well before Manet had seen Velázquez in any depth or breadth, it is possible that the paintings owe less to Velázquez than is commonly assumed, or that some were at least begun prior to the 1865 trip. I am, however, supporting the view that the Philosopher series was largely inspired by Manet's trip to the Prado, a view which was recently upheld in the catalogue by Manuela B. Mena Marqués, Manet en el Prado, Exh. cat. (Museo Nacional del Prado, 2003), pp. 247, 462. Mena Marqués also acknowledges Wilson-Bareau's theory that the paintings could have been inspired by Goya's etched copies of Velázquez; however, she finds that the Philosophers' "size and force" suggest their indebtedness to the 1865 trip to Spain.

26. Marilyn R. Brown, "Manet's 'Old Musician': Portrait of a Gypsy and Naturalist Allegory," Studies in the History of Art 8 (1978): pp. 77–87, and Theodore Reff, Manet and Modern Paris, Exh. cat. (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1982), pp. 174–75.

27. See my Manet and the Family Romance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 65–71. On the repression of saltimbanques (street clowns), see T. J. Clark, The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848–1851 (1973; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), pp. 118–23.

28. My thinking here, and my use of the words "narrative" and "classical," are indebted to Bernard-Henri Lévy's account of Sartre's critique of psychologism in Sartre: Philosopher of the Twentieth Century, trans. Andrew Brown (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003), p. 50.

29. See the Portrait of Théodore Duret, 1868 (Musée du Petit Palais, Paris); for the sitter's account of the addition of the lemon, see Théodore Duret, Histoire d'Édouard Manet et de son oeuvre, 4th ed. (Paris: Bernheim-Jeune, 1926), pp. 88–89.

30. Lévy, Sartre: Philosopher of the Twentieth Century, 2003, p. 50.

31. In her keynote address for "Manet: Eternal Modern," delivered on 18 April 2004, Juliet Wilson-Bareau provocatively analyzed this series of paintings and related drawings as possibly having roots in Manet's 1864 Boulogne trip. Wilson-Bareau suggested that the landmarks and topography in the background bear a close similarity with the outskirts of Boulogne, and do not match the view of the Paris environs from the Longchamp racetrack in the Bois de Boulogne. If this is the case, and Races at Longchamp was actually painted or begun in Boulogne itself, then there would be additional support for my argument in the text that lessons learned from Steamboat Leaving Boulogne could have been applied to the Races painting.

32. This concentration of energy is different from Michael Fried's analysis of the passages of the painting that connote "speed of execution," although he aptly addresses the disparate modes of the painting; Fried, Manet's Modernism, 1996, pp. 221–23.

33. Alain Corbin, The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750–1840, trans. Jocelyn Phelps (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 57–96. See also P.-J.-B. Bertrand, Précis de l'histoire physique, civile et politique, de la ville de Boulogne-sur-Mer et de ses environs, depuis les Morins jusqu'en 1814, 2 vols. (Boulogne: Tous les Libraires, 1829), vol. 2, pp. 551–54, and Wilson-Bareau and Degener, Manet and the Sea, p. 62.

 

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John Scott Bradstreet: the Minneapolis Crafthouse and the Decorative Arts Revival in the American Northwest
by Sarah Sik


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Fig. 1 John S. Bradstreet, 1900. Photograph by Sweet. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
When the Minneapolis interior designer John Scott Bradstreet (1845-1914) died in a car accident at the age of sixty-eight, the Minneapolis Journal began its tribute to his life with high praise. "If this section of the country is to furnish a name that will be known to the America of one hundred years from today," the Journal's tribute began, "That name is more likely to be that of John Scott Bradstreet than any other." With shrewd and unfortunately accurate foresight the author of the eulogy continued: "We say 'more likely,' because fame is a thing about which it is impossible to make accurate or even reasonable predictions."1 For nearly forty years Bradstreet, a New Englander by birth, devoted his talents and artistic vision to his adopted city of Minneapolis, a bustling frontier outpost still in the awkward stages of metropolitan adolescence. Working at a time when gaudy Victorianism reigned and industrially manufactured furniture and "art produce"2 were increasingly available to the emerging class of successful settlers, Bradstreet strove from his earliest ventures to offer to the city's residents an artistic alternative. Quickly achieving prominence as an entrepreneur of considerable artistic vision, Bradstreet used his position as a local tastemaker to offer a refined version of artistic eclecticism and to cautiously introduce to the region contemporary styles with which he had become acquainted during his many travels.
Once described as "a conscientious student of the art decorative in many lines for many years,"3 Bradstreet developed his style principally by following the trajectory of larger international movements. Initially interested in the 1870's in the modern Gothic style popularized by English Arts and Crafts designers, by the beginning of the 1880's Bradstreet had also enthusiastically embraced the ideals of Whistler and the Aesthetic movement, had fully immersed himself in the contemporary Moorish craze, and had become increasingly interested in the art of Japan. In this formative decade, Bradstreet applied his discriminating tastes to the project of assimilating these contemporary styles for importation back to Minneapolis, while steadily developing his own unique design theories and distinctive style.
The Minneapolis Crafthouse, opened in 1904, marked the culmination of Bradstreet's career as a tastemaker to the city of Minneapolis and contributed substantially to his growing reputation as a significant presence on the American decorative arts scene.4 Its opening attracted attention far beyond the city of Minneapolis and it became celebrated as a haven for the handicrafts, a museum of the decorative arts, and an achievement in the eclectic but refined synthesis of an array of popular styles. In a 1904 review accompanied by photographs of the building and grounds, the widely read International Studio approvingly assessed, "To hit upon the unexpected always adds interest to the investigation of an undertaking; and to find that Minneapolis can boast one of the most striking and 'go-ahead' establishments for the propagation of the crafts came, we must confess, as a surprise to us—and will to many."5 As the International Studio's review suggested, the idealism, sophistication, and artistic progressiveness of the Crafthouse was something of an anomaly, given its location in what was then colloquially called the American Northwest.6
The Crafthouse embodied both physically and conceptually a synthesis of styles that became known as "the fellowship of good things."7 It represented Bradstreet's belief that the American designer was heir to all that was good from every school of design and that exclusive devotion to the style of any country or period was restrictive and hollow in its purely imitative nature. The eclectic possibilities of this design theory were an ideal counterweight to the inherently Utopian leanings of the Crafthouse and allowed Bradstreet to cater to a broad range of tastes among his patrons. At the same time, he was able to remain true to his desire to create a workshop and showroom aligned theoretically with the major tenets of the English Arts and Crafts movement in its emphasis on the preservation of handicrafts and the creation of an imaginative environment hospitable to the meeting of the arts. Bradstreet's pragmatic approach lent the Utopian venture wide appeal and a degree of financial viability that allowed him room to pursue his more avant-garde ideas and to develop and nurture his most progressive endeavor, the jin-di-sugi style of woodworking. These achievements, upon which the enduring significance of his work rests, were the product of a long and varied career; and Bradstreet's transformation from humble beginnings as an engine turner at Gorham Manufacturing, to a furniture salesman in the pioneer city of Minneapolis, to an interior designer of international repute, serves as the backdrop for his development as a member of the American decorative arts revival. While Bradstreet's contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement in America took many forms, as will be argued here, it was essentially through the organization of the Crafthouse that he was able to present a mature and coherent stylistic approach to interior design reform.
I. Bradstreet's Early Years
John Scott Bradstreet (fig. 1) was a member of one of New England's oldest families and could trace his heritage back to William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth colony.8 Born on December 14, 1845 in Rowley, Massachusetts, a small town about thirty miles north of Boston, Bradstreet appears to have enjoyed a relatively comfortable upbringing, but as the eldest of four children of a shoe cutter,9 the privileges to which he was exposed must have been somewhat limited. He received his education at Putnam Academy in nearby Newburyport and in December of 1863, shortly before his eighteenth birthday, secured work at Gorham Manufacturing, an important producer of high-end silver wares located in Providence, Rhode Island. Although the date of his graduation from Putnam remains to be established, his employment at Gorham prior to the conclusion of the Civil War suggests that it is unlikely that he saw military service. Starting out at Gorham as an engine turner, within two years he was promoted to the position of salary clerk, eventually becoming the company's supply clerk until his departure in the summer of 1872.10 Bradstreet does not appear to have been involved in any creative capacity during his nine years at Gorham; rather the period was significant for the valuable business and logistical experience he gained working in a large American decorative arts firm and also for the establishment of relations with the Thurber family, co-owners of Gorham, with whom he would later enter into an important business partnership.
In the summer of 1872, Bradstreet left Gorham and resettled in Minneapolis, finding work as a salesman for the furniture firm Barnard, Clark, and Cope.11 Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Bradstreet's decision to venture west. Throughout his life, he was plagued by frail health, and his desire to find a climate better suited to the tuberculosis which he had contracted has been cited as the reason for his decision to move to the drier air of Minnesota.12 When Bradstreet arrived in Minneapolis the city was, as one Minneapolitan later recounted, "little more than a sprawling frontier town."13 Less than twenty-five years old, the city was accelerating through a period of development—railroad, grain, and lumber industries were rapidly being developed and fortunes were briskly accumulating. An emerging retail industry catered to the growing market of successful settlers who wished to flaunt their newly earned wealth and status. In these early years High Victorianism was epidemic and culture and refined taste were rare commodities. One friend of Bradstreet later recounted, "He came into a raw, pioneer community early in its formative stage, when the brutal hideousness of rampant bad taste found expression in crude and glaring examples, both without and within, abhorrent to the trained and cultivated intelligence."14 To the market for professional interior design advice created by this excess of wealth and dearth of taste, Bradstreet's amiable personality and natural artistic temperament were particularly well suited.15
Bradstreet's inclination toward elegance extended to his personal life as well, and he assiduously cultivated a public persona of a man of breeding and intelligence. He moved to a "private" boarding house16 and was often seen driving about town in his phaeton pulled by a bob-tailed horse. He presented a meticulous image as a fashionable man about town and paragon of good taste. Noted for his dandyish style, he was remembered in these early days for a penchant for dressing in tan suits chosen to compliment his auburn hair, the combination of which he set off by jade cuff links and ties crafted from his finest upholstery samples.17 Bradstreet quickly formed business and personal relationships with Minneapolis's burgeoning middle and upper classes and became enthusiastically involved in the city's emerging cultural scene. Within five years he had successfully prevailed upon his friends to assist him in organizing the city's first loan exhibit of art open to the public. Held in 1878, the interest it roused contributed substantially to the founding of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts five years later.18
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Fig. 2 John S. Bradstreet Business Card, 1876-1878. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 3 Phelps and Bradstreet Furniture and Upholstery Store, located on Nicollet Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets, Minneapolis, 1880. Photograph courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society


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Fig. 4 Bradstreet, Thurber & Co., located in the Syndicate Block at Nicollet Avenue and Sixth Street, Minneapolis, 1891. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 5 Judd House, 1874. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 6 Douglas Volk, Portrait of John S. Bradstreet, 1890. Oil on Canvas. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph © Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 7 Bradstreet, Thurber & Co. Brochure, 1884. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 8 Photograph of Japanese Items in the Showrooms of John S. Bradstreet and Co., date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 9 John S. Bradstreet in Japan, before 1901. Photograph by Tamamura, from The Burton Holmes Lectures


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Fig. 10 John S. Bradstreet in Japan, about 1905. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 11 Mr. Bradstreet and Mr. Kellner of Germany stopping at a rest hut while ascending Fujiyama, Japan, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 12 John S. Bradstreet in Japan, 1905. Photograph © Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 13 Program from a Lecture on Japan, 1899. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 14 Faries's Residence, 327 South Seventh Street, Atlas of the City of Minneapolis, 1903. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis City Archives, Minneapolis City Hall


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Fig. 15 John S. Bradstreet & Co., 327 South Seventh Street, Insurance Maps of Minneapolis, 1912. Photograph Courtesy of the Minneapolis City Archives, Minneapolis City Hall


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Fig. 16 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, 1905. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection























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Fig. 17 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Entrance, 1905. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 18 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Entrance Hall, 1905. Photograph taken from the John S. Bradstreet & Co. Promotional Booklet


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Fig. 19 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Bradstreet's Office, 1910. Photograph courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society


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Fig. 20 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Main Showroom, 1905. Photograph taken from the John S. Bradstreet & Co. Promotional Booklet


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Fig. 21 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Crafthouse Main Hall, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 22 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Crafthouse Main Hall, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


































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Fig. 23 The Japanese Garden at the Judd House, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 24 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Japanese Garden, 1910. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 25 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Japanese Entrance, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Collection


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Fig. 26 The Minneapolis Crafthouse, Japanese Garden, 1918. Photograph courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
























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Fig. 27 Bradstreet and Workers in the Japanese Garden of the Minneapolis Crafthouse, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society


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Fig. 28 Two of Bradstreet's Workers with the Studio Pet, 1913. Photograph courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society























































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Fig. 29 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Insitute of Arts. Photograph © Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 30 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 31 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Jin-di-sugi Sconce with Tiffany Favrile Shades, Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 32 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Jin-di-sugi Sconce with Tiffany Favrile Shades, Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 33 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Jin-di-sugi Mantel (detail), Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 34 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Steinway Panel with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 35 John S. Bradstreet & Co., Driftwood Tripod Table, Prindle Living Room, 1906. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


















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Fig. 36 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Settee with Jin-di-sugi elements, 1903-1905. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by the author


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Fig. 37 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Settee with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), 1903-1905. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by the author


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Fig. 38 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Settee with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), 1903-1905. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by the author


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Fig. 39 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Settee with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), 1903-1905. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by the author


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Fig. 40 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Side Chair with Jin-di-sugi elements, 1905. American Decorative Art 1900


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Fig. 41 John S. Bradstreet v and Co., Side Chair with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), 1905. American Decorative Art 1900


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Fig. 42 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Side Chair with Jin-di-sugi elements (detail), 1905. American Decorative Art 1900


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Fig. 43 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Jin-di-sugi Lotus Table, Prindle Living Room, 1903-07. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photograph © Minneapolis Institute of Arts, http://www.artsMIA.org


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Fig. 44 John S. Bradstreet and Co., Jin-di-sugi Lotus Table, 1905. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Gift of Helena Woolworth McCann and the Winfield Foundation, by exchange
In 1875, just two years after his arrival to the city, Bradstreet opened his first fine furniture shop, advertising his establishment as a manufacturer of artistic domestic furniture of Modern Gothic and other designs (fig. 2).19 In 1878 Bradstreet formed a friendship and business partnership with Edmund J. Phelps, a young entrepreneur recently arrived from the East.20 An article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporting the opening of their elegant new showrooms (fig. 3) described a selection of fashionable items to be found within the novel furniture shop: a Modern Gothic canopied bed draped with rich fabrics of dull Persian blue and Venetian red, furniture and cabinets of rich woods, luxurious velvet hangings, Indian silks, and other exotic items such as "a framework in Queen Anne style with panels and carvings Japanesque," and windows shaded by Japanese scenes, an element which the Press deemed, "both original and effective."21 As partners the firm of Phelps and Bradstreet flourished, eventually occupying six floors of Minneapolis's Syndicate Block, with a staff consisting of a collector, five salesmen, twelve cabinet makers, ten upholsterers, four varnishers, three sewing girls, two teamsters, five men to receive and ship goods, and a bookkeeper.22

When Phelps sold his interest in 1884 to pursue banking and other business ventures, his shares were purchased by the Thurber family, Bradstreet's former employers at Gorham.23 Under the name Bradstreet, Thurber, and Co., the establishment remained in its location at the Syndicate Block throughout the remainder of the 1880's and into the early 1890's (fig. 4).24 The business offered popular period reproduction furniture as well as the latest in European and East Coast fashions. While his friend Perry Robinson later recalled that he was, "not quite certain that Mr. Bradstreet now would approve of everything that was in those windows then," Robinson related that the overall impression of the business at the time had been of an establishment, "obviously in advance of its surroundings."25 The business catered predominantly to Minneapolis's growing upper class; first generation families of wealth who wished to display their affluence and taste. The Minneapolis Business Souvenir wrote in 1885 of the enterprising business, "This is one of the few firms whose presence in our city has had a very marked influence in moulding a taste for fine goods. Through their influence a large demand has been created for fine and artistic furniture, such as could not have been sold here a few years since."26 While it appears that at some point the company endured serious business trials, Bradstreet seems to have emerged from the ordeal relatively unscathed; and the recollections of his friend, Perry Robinson, concerning the events serve to further illustrate the primacy Bradstreet placed on the integrity of his art, rather than its ability to simply turn a profit. Robinson wrote:

I doubt if [these trials] ever really vexed his soul as did other and what would be to most people, vastly minor afflictions. There was, for instance, an excellent and wealthy citizen of Minneapolis—an admirable man in other ways—who referred to the choice bronzes which Bradstreet was putting into his house, with infinite consideration of every detail of effect, as "them pots."27

In 1884, the year he became associated with the Thurbers, Bradstreet took up stylish quarters at an exclusive boarding house owned by William Sheldon Judd (fig. 5). Its grounds covered an entire city block across from the Minneapolis City Hall, with extensive lawns and gardens surrounding the mansion.28 It was the most fashionable boarding house of the time and, according to the city directory, was "the residence of many people of social standing."29 Bradstreet was given free reign to remodel the rooms he occupied at the Judd House and the unique environment he created for himself is an expression of his early tastes. He altered the architecture of one room to include Moorish arches and painted a band of pseudo-Arabic script around the upper boarder, accenting the room with plush pillows, incense burners, and works of Oriental art (fig. 6).

During the last quarter of the 19th century, Bradstreet, like many other designers of the time, was especially interested in the art of the Orient and became well known as an enthusiastic advocate of the contemporary vogue for Oriental aesthetics.30 It has not yet been established whether Bradstreet's Orientalist tastes were developed through direct exposure to the Near East or simply in response to the Orientalist vogue popular at the time in Europe and on the East Coast. While records have not emerged recording early trips to the Near East, it is known that Bradstreet traveled extensively in the last quarter of the 19th century, and by 1889 had become especially interested in Japan and its art.31 Throughout the rest of his life Bradstreet expanded and refined his appreciation for all things Japanese, visiting the country nine times in total.32 As a savvy connoisseur with strong connections on the East Coast, however, Bradstreet was well aware of the Japonist craze before his first visit to Japan in 1889. Michael Conforti argues that Bradstreet may even have been exposed to Japanese aesthetics prior to coming to Minnesota, pointing to the significant role played by Newburyport, the town in which he was educated, in the early American trade with the Far East. Conforti also raises the possibility that Bradstreet, while still a resident of Providence, may have seen a copy of Hokusai's Manga as an edition is known to have been acquired by the library of his first employer, Gorham Manufacturing, shortly before he left the company.33 It is not known whether Bradstreet attended the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876, where the American craze for all things Japanese began; but, at the very least, he must have recognized an emerging market opening to the type of exotic aesthetics which he favored. As early as 1878, influences of "Japanesque" aesthetics appear in written and pictorial material associated with Bradstreet's businesses (figs. 7-8). These early occurrences, however, are somewhat clumsy and unsophisticated in their implementation; and during the 1890's Bradstreet's knowledge of Japanese life and art grew steadily as he traveled extensively throughout Japan, collecting, educating himself, and forging relationships with dealers in Japanese antiques and fine art (figs. 9-12). He brought back what one friend described as "wagon-loads" of "plunder" from around the globe34 and became a popular guest lecturer as his reputation as an authority on Japan grew (fig. 13).

Bradstreet's travels throughout the globe in the concluding decades of the 19th century also brought him into contact with prominent artists and trends in Europe. He became a great admirer of the art of the Spanish and Italian Renaissance35 and was also especially enthralled by Whistler and the Aesthetic movement in England in addition to his admiration of Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.36 He used his time onboard ships to make connections with potential clients and became increasingly involved in international clubs, including the National Art Cub of New York, the Ends of the Earth Club of New York and London, and the Royal Asiatic Society of London, establishing contacts that would be crucial in the formation and dissemination of his mature creative style.37 Additionally the business and personal relationships he was establishing locally, encouraging Minneapolitans to value and appreciate art, and whetting their appetites for luxury, quality, and exoticism, helped to prepare a fertile and receptive ground for his increasingly ambitious endeavors. In their tribute to his life, the Minneapolis Institute of Art recalled of this period:

His ideals were high, and he never departed from them. In the midst of depressing aesthetic surroundings his courage never flagged. He measured accurately the future of Minneapolis and as truly gauged the capacity of its citizenship. And so he devoted himself to fostering an understanding of the value—commercial as well as aesthetic—of beauty in everyday life, and became the pioneer, not only in Minneapolis, but in the Northwest, of artistic appreciation, and of the application of its principles to all phases of individual and civic progress.38

While Bradstreet's first twenty-five years in Minneapolis produced very little that has as of yet proven to be of lasting artistic significance, the period was essential to the development of contacts both at home and abroad, to the refinement of his tastes, and to the accumulation of the experience and capital needed to start his most ambitious venture—the Crafthouse.

II. Bradstreet and the Minneapolis Crafthouse
In 1893 the Bradstreet-Thurber building and its stock was severely damaged by fire, resulting in losses suffered by the company estimated at nearly $100,000.39 It is unclear whether Bradstreet and the Thurbers had disassociated just before or just after the fire, but whatever the case may be, after the fire their association was at an end. The Thurbers returned to Rhode Island and Bradstreet resumed operating under his own name solely for the first time in fifteen years. In 1901, Bradstreet, with Frank Waterman and Fannie M. Jaquess, incorporated John S. Bradstreet and Co. with capital stock of $ 50,000. 40
After the Syndicate blaze, the company occupied a number of temporary homes and, in October of 1903, Bradstreet announced the business' removal to the Faries's residence at 327 South Seventh Street, to which he had secured a ten-year lease.41 Throughout the remainder of the fall, Bradstreet remodeled the building, installing electricity, and constructing a large attached shop and showroom.42 Prior to the grand opening, he redesigned the façade of the house, transforming it from an Italianate villa into an Oriental retreat. His activities greatly piqued the interest of his patrons and neighbors, but he insisted on maintaining suspense until the grand opening in January of 1904, which met with an enthusiastic review in the Minneapolis Journal.43

Bradstreet steadily expanded the space, beyond the original alterations, to accommodate his growing business. While the architectural floor plans for the alterations appear to have been lost, the extent of the changes he made to the property in the decade after the Crafthouse's opening can be understood by comparing detailed lot illustrations from the 1903 Minneapolis City Atlas (fig. 14) with those from the 1912 issue of the Insurance Maps of Minneapolis (fig. 15). By 1912, Bradstreet had developed the property substantially and acquired adjacent lots on which he had built a complex of showrooms, offices, workshops, and storage areas. Although the manner in which the Crafthouse attractively marketed interior furnishings has been previously known through photographic records, the 1912 lot details provide new insight into the functioning of the Crafthouse as a business, the occupation of which was to manufacture these furnishings by hand. While the 1904 write up of the Crafthouse in the International Studio listed only approximately thirty workers in Bradstreet's employ, by 1910, the Minneapolis Journal reported that the Crafthouse's workforce had increased to more than eighty men.44 To accommodate this number of craftsmen and the great demand for product, Bradstreet built facilities for cabinetry, painting, gilding, upholstery, ceramics, and constructing lighting fixtures. He also constructed a larger second office separate from his own private business quarters.

Throughout his years as one of the prominent citizens of Minneapolis, Bradstreet had become widely known as a gentle, sensitive, and artistic soul and the Crafthouse was the ultimate expression of his self, and his tastes (fig. 16). In dramatic contradistinction to the stolid and imposing brick department store which Bradstreet, Thurber, and Co. had occupied (fig. 4), the Crafthouse was as much an artistic entity as were the items displayed within. The interior, exterior, and grounds were designed with an overarching objective—to infuse artfulness, novelty, and beauty into every detail. The result, in the spirit of the German concept of gesamtkunstwerk, was an artistic oasis entirely set apart from the world around it. The visitor entered the enclosed grounds through a small Japanese gateway, framed by supports of rough, stippled cement, colored a rich, quiet green and accented by small green stones set into the cement to achieve the impression of velvety moss covered with lichens.45 The gateway was crowned by a floral woodcarving which Bradstreet had brought back from a Japanese temple. Impressed into the cement underfoot was the tatsu, (a circumscribed dragon) which served as the Crafthouse's logo and symbolized the meeting of the arts.46 As an establishment that sponsored concerts and exhibited art and antiques from around the world in addition to producing decorative art of the finest quality and design, the logo greeting the Crafthouse's guests seems especially well-chosen.

While the walkway led to the main entrance to the Crafthouse, winding paths invited the guest to stroll about the gated grounds to enjoy the lush lawns, verdant gardens, and picturesque details of the building.47 The building itself was covered by a soft gray stucco accented with small pebbles utilized to produce a lichen effect that simulated the effects of age and exposure to the elements.48 In a further departure from convention, Bradstreet sought stylistic harmony rather than unity in the unexpected combinations of exterior elements, which were orchestrated to delight the visitor with constant surprise and to sustain a lively interest in touring the grounds. With a disregard for symmetry, Bradstreet introduced pieces brought back from his travels throughout England, India, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Egypt in the quaint and artistic touches to the entrances, windows, and grounds. "All the world has contributed here," Bradstreet & Co. announced in a promotional booklet, "and the effect is most picturesque. The odd and curious corners of the Orient have been searched, not once but many times, in quest of material and ideas for this wonderful shop, and the result has been a rare collection of the beautiful."49 The buildings and the idyllic environment within which they were nestled stood in sharp contrast to the surrounding neighborhood; the varied window treatments, gothic tower, Italianate sculpture, and Japanese garden all announcing to the passerby Bradstreet's design theory of "the fellowship of good things."

The eclectic scheme announced by the exterior of the Crafthouse was carried to conclusion in its interior which functioned as a craft shop, showroom, and museum of sorts. The main entrance (fig. 17), located between the original house and Bradstreet's initial additions, opened into a small vestibule paneled in Bradstreet's signature jin-di-sugi style (fig. 18). To the left of the entrance hall stood the original house which contained Bradstreet's office in the front and a textile room and craft workshops at the back. Bradstreet's personal office (fig. 19), like his private dwellings, expressed his taste at its most uncompromised. A warm but masculine aura was achieved in the wall treatment by contrasting a dull copper stenciled wallpaper with luxurious cypress wainscoting and rich-grained sassafras paneling. The Old English design of the stained glass window and the colonial furniture from the Bradstreet homestead in Massachusetts attested to Bradstreet's heritage. The details of the room, however, revealed his love of the Orient. He decorated the office with cherished items from his travels, including a Japanese print, a gourd vase, small statues of Buddha, and an exquisite Japanese bookcase constructed of soft brown wood with large sliding doors adorned with a delicate cherry blossom motif.50 The combined effect of the office not only argued for Bradstreet's immense skill as a designer of interior spaces, but also asserted his prestigious lineage and impressive credentials as a traveler and connoisseur of Oriental art.
To the right of the entrance hall a large general showroom, approximately fifty feet in length by forty feet in width, connected the original house to the Crafthouse's main hall. This general showroom (fig. 20.) displayed Oriental pieces, period reproductions, and other items manufactured by Bradstreet's craftsmen. It was accented by two windows, one East Indian and one Egyptian, which admitted sunlight into the interior. Typical of Bradstreet's taste for the eclectic and exotic, the windows coexisted harmoniously achieving an effect that one visitor described as wholly romantic, "even though they look out on the prosaic streets of a prosaic city."51 Adjacent to the general showroom the visitor entered into the Crafthouse's main hall (figs. 21-22). An expansive two-story room, open to its peak, the hall gave the immediate impression of a gothic chamber with its large walnut hammer beams supporting the vaulted ceiling.52 Skylights designed to provide light without glare or excessive shadow were installed on the east side of the ceiling, admitting sunlight which struck the gold sackinto53 cloth wall coverings, creating a soft diffused light and further enhancing the mystical atmosphere.54 A small minstrel's gallery (fig. 22) was constructed over the north Japanese entrance which welcomed visitors from the exterior into the hall.55 Around the upper register of the room ran a series of Japanese frescoes and on the floor, completing the eclectic effect, lay large Oriental carpets. A relatively small lattice window was placed in the long west wall opposite the room's large fireplace, which was flanked by a pair of plaster elephant heads—mementoes rescued when Minneapolis's Grand Opera House, for which Bradstreet had designed a Moorish interior in his younger days, was torn down in the 1890's.56 The walls were adorned with framed paintings, Japanese prints, tapestries, and small jin-di-sugi carvings.57 Bradstreet spaciously and meticulously exhibited the cream of his collection in the Crafthouse hall. Photographs suggest that special attention was given to objects from Japan and to his signature jin-di-sugi furniture, but he was not slavishly devoted to any single aesthetic and he also introduced period reproductions into the space with remarkable ease. One visitor wrote, "The room is admirably planned, dignified in proportions, and perfect in atmosphere. Each object of the exhibit is given its due both in space and lighting, there is no injustice to any object through an obtruding neighbor. This room is the final argument of the Crafthouse in its plea for breathing space and beauty."58

In addition to its commercial focus, the Crafthouse strove to provide a "home for the handicrafts" and a "museum of decorative arts."59 Bradstreet often equated the experience of traveling throughout the shop, with its artful combination of the Orient and the Occident, to the experience in miniature of traveling the world.60 The shop's design encouraged visitors to seek and discover treasures in its quaint corners with the same delight Bradstreet had enjoyed in originally discovering them in the remote stretches of the world. Although Bradstreet became a tastemaker to the city, he was not interested in dictating taste or peddling sophistication. Rather, he wished to create an atmosphere in which to present his designs and to cultivate among his visitors a love of the exotic and of the thrill of discovering and savoring unique treasures. Edwin Hewitt, a good friend and accomplished architect, reminisced of the experience:

Who has not had the experience of discovering hidden away in an obscure corner, or concealed in some odd cabinet, a rare piece, duly marked but which Mr. Bradstreet doubtless hoped would escape the notice of the buyer. When brought to his attention the object would be hastily withdrawn from sale. On the other hand, when approached by some lover of the beautiful who was persistent enough, he might consent to part with one of these pieces.61

In the spirit symbolized by the Crafthouse's logo—the meeting of the arts—the Crafthouse was also the host to many elegant dinners, concerts, special exhibits, and other soirees. In the evenings, two large wrought iron chandeliers provided a soft amber light in the main hall, and the grounds were lit by Japanese lanterns.62 The experience of an evening's entertainment at Mr. Bradstreet's must have indeed been a whimsical and enchanting experience. His efforts to find the beauty in everything extended to all aspects of his life and associations and one friend recalled after his death that "the company which counted him an intimate, found in him a reinforcement of all their gentler and better selves."63

In addition to his desire to bring nature into the interior of the Crafthouse through abundant arrangements of fresh flowers,64 Bradstreet's profound regard for the beauty of the natural world was further manifested in the manicured lawns and lovingly landscaped grounds surrounding the Crafthouse. Inspired by a tour with Josiah Conder through the most celebrated Japanese gardens of the time, Bradstreet became determined to incorporate Japanese gardening into his own life.65 One of his first attempts appears to have been in the gardens of the Judd property, where he boarded. Like Bradstreet's other known early attempts to introduce Japanese art and aesthetics to Minnesota, the Judd garden (fig. 23) appears to be arranged in a rather simplistic and amateurish fashion consisting simply of a small pond, a stone lantern, bronze crane, and thatched shelter. His work at the Crafthouse attested to a much more confident and knowledgeable hand (fig. 24). Placed near the Japanese entrance to the main hall (fig. 25), the garden, as one visitor observed, provided a relaxing point to pause "at the threshold of the building itself, [where] the passer-by may freely linger, and take undoubted inspiration to his own home life." Based upon the Japanese principle of presenting nature in miniature, the garden centered around a small pool upon which white lilies and pink and purple lotuses floated in season (fig. 26). The garden overall, however, was consistent with the relatively insignificant role played by flowers in the Japanese garden, focusing rather upon carefully placed shrubs, plants, and potted dwarf trees arranged on the bed of rock and gravel which contained the pool. Adjacent to the pond was a rock garden surmounted by a small bronze dragon from whose mouth a small stream of water trickled, flowing lazily downward from rock to rock. A small bridge, crafted from planks of an ancient junk which had been exhibited by the Japanese government at the St. Louis Exposition, served as a walkway over the pond. Other Japanese elements were introduced throughout by the inclusion of bronze cranes, bird houses, and small stone lanterns which cast a luminous glow onto the pond when lit in the evening hours. While the overall effect was that of a Japanese garden, the space was also remarkable for the ease with which Bradstreet incorporated into it plants and trees native to North America. Gustave Stickley, the major designer from Syracuse, concluded his enthusiastic review of it in his journal The Craftsman, with the praise, "The unobtrusive work of Mr. Bradstreet is worthy to initiate a national movement."66
The grounds and the Crafthouse united to form a Utopian environment in which art, music, fellowship, literature, and the quest to find beauty in all things could be pursued. While his love of beauty for beauty's sake was strongly influenced by the Aesthetic movement, Bradstreet's desire to preserve the integrity of the handicrafts he produced—and the handicraft tradition—through the establishment of an environment devoted to this purpose, was modeled upon William Morris's Kelmscott Manor.67 "In these days of a surfeit of machine-made everything," Bradstreet asserted, "the demand is constantly increasing for articles that bear the stamp of individuality, rather than the label of the factory."68 Bradstreet employed a large contingent of highly skilled craftsmen, many of Scandinavian and Japanese origins.69 William Eckert, an interior decorator who started as Bradstreet's apprentice, recalled that Bradstreet was devoted to apprenticing young men in whom he identified potential. Bradstreet took an intense interest in their training and, as their skills grew, gradually increased their responsibility until they were able to carry out jobs on their own. Once they had progressed to this stage, Bradstreet never interfered with their work. Although he had strict rules for his employees, barring smoking, drinking, and gossip, he enjoyed a familial relationship with them and was, as Eckert recalled years after Bradstreet's death, worshipped by many of the younger men for the kindness and fairness he had extended to them.70 Photographs record a happy environment showing Bradstreet associating with his workers in the Japanese garden (fig. 27) and Crafthouse workers cavorting with the studio's pet cat (fig. 28). "It was a delight," his friend Hewitt recalled, "to see how affectionately his workmen strove to realize his ideas. Long years of association with him bred an affection and respect due to a master." The creative environment of the Crafthouse also provided the locale for Bradstreet and his Craftsmen to develop the jin-di-sugi style of woodcarving, a signature style that would attract wide attention, making his furniture and room interiors startling additions to the American decorative arts revival.

III. Jin-di-Sugi, Bradstreet's Signature Style
While period reproductions had been a staple of Bradstreet's early retailing and remained a strong business base at the Crafthouse, the chief achievement of Bradstreet and his craftsmen, and the project to which he was most personally devoted, was his jin-di-sugi line of woodworking. The woodcarving technique, although new to the decorative arts of the West, had a long tradition in the art of Japan where it was known as jindai-sugi, meaning "Cedar of God's age."71 Beginning in 1889,72 Bradstreet traveled extensively and repeatedly throughout the islands of Japan, enthusiastically absorbing the particular regard for nature and the decorative arts central to Japanese culture. Among the islands' temples and palace compounds, Bradstreet encountered jindai-sugi carvings. Japanese artisans achieved the technique by taking advantage of the natural degradation of soft fibers which occurred when living cryptomeria trees (Japanese cedars) were exposed for long periods of time to water or muddy sediments. Each year the wet conditions eroded the spring growth of the submerged portion of the trees and, after hundreds of years, the jindai-sugi effect could be achieved by harvesting the trees and carving designs which took advantage of the natural lines of the raised hard grain which had been left behind.73 The woodcarvings elicited the interest of other travelers to Japan as well, and in 1903 the Handicraft journal published by The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, included an article concerning several Japanese woodcarvings recently acquired by Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. The author wrote admiringly of the panels:

We find the quality of the surfaces in many cases treated with great variety and personal interest, and the obvious intention of allowing time and exposure to the weather to do their share in the erosion of the surfaces. In many cases the Japanese carver has allowed his fancy to follow closely the concentric rings of the grain of the wood, which thus play an important part in the construction of the animal or bird or flower represented.74

Bradstreet, who had acquired Japanese temple screens at the same time as the Boston Museum,75 was similarly fascinated by the technique and became determined to devise a method to reproduce it more quickly. After long periods of study and trial, Bradstreet arrived at a method of successfully duplicating the effect by brushing scorched cypress with a wire brush to remove the soft grains of the wood, leaving behind the raised grain of the hard fibers.76 The wood was then washed and waxed to achieve a soft, velvety finish that could be carved, stained, or painted upon. Achieving this method around the turn of the century,77 Bradstreet applied for patents and began to incorporate the technique into designs for furniture and paneling, developing an aesthetic that stressed the creative utilization of nature in introducing beauty into the everyday environment. The firm began promoting the sugi (an abbreviation for jin-di-sugi) line as early as 1903 and specifically stressed the uniqueness of their product, emphasizing in their marketing campaigns that they were, "the only manufacturers of this Special Wood Treatment."78

Bradstreet effectively applied the technique to paneling but also used it on the surface of traditional Western furniture designs, marrying Western and Eastern aesthetics in the most sophisticated manifestation of his theory of "the fellowship of good things." Carvings of such motifs as birds, dragons, fish and lotus blossoms floating upon stylized waves, imitated the Japanese love of taking inspiration from nature and abstracting from it, often making the shape the image assumed subservient to the whims of the wood's grain. While the retention of traditional furniture designs into which the carvings were incorporated perhaps prevents discussion of Bradstreet's sugi style as entirely progressive, the technique of the carving itself was extremely innovative and closely aligned to the principles of the contemporary Art Nouveau movement. Louis Comfort Tiffany, for one, recognized the originality of the new product line, enthusing, "I consider your furniture, as designed and brought out in the Jin-di-Sugi finish, the most unique and artistic treatment of wood yet produced."79 The treatment quickly became recognized as Bradstreet's specialty and clients from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and other locals visited the Crafthouse to obtain sugi pieces.80
IV. Bradstreet and Interior Design
Throughout his career Bradstreet was also devoted to designing interior spaces. At the height of his career he collaborated with such important American decorative arts firms as Tiffany and Co., Rookwood Pottery, and the Grueby Faience Company, and his clientele extended not only to many of the best homes in Minneapolis, but far beyond to both Coasts and into Canada.81 In concurrence with contemporary American design reform concerns, Bradstreet was dedicated to introducing the pleasures of an artistic home into the daily lives of those he served and, in executing his commissions, sought to complement the family's personality through the décor of their home. Before embarking on the first stages of planning, he met with the family, including the children, in order to get a sense of the atmosphere that would be best suited to the family's dynamic.82 His services were not limited to the wealthy and he was equally willing to accept small commissions; in fact, it was recalled of him that he had done some of his best work in homes of modest means, although no examples of such interiors have been yet discovered.83
While known surviving examples of interiors by Bradstreet are extremely rare, several important examples of his mature sugi style have emerged in recent years. The most complete sugi interior to have come to light was once part of the Prindle home in Duluth. The living room from the home, designed circa 1906, is now exhibited as a period room in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (figs. 29-30). Particularly valuable for its preservation of an intact interior containing both its original furniture as well as structural detailing, the room illustrates Bradstreet's assiduous attention to color and theme as well as the manner in which he combined sugi elements with glasswork by Tiffany and Co., one of the most fashionable East Coast art firms of the time, to achieve a unified design.
The moss green tone of the walls combined with the dark wood paneling establishes the room's dusky color scheme, drawing the attention of the eye to the room's sources of light. Two large sets of windows drew sunlight into the interior and also provided for the natural beauty of a vista of Lake Superior to be incorporated into the room's many artificial variants on the theme of nature. Soft electric light was provided by lamps, a Tiffany chandelier, and Tiffany wall sconces placed throughout the room. A Tiffany dragonfly lamp appears on the desk, and gold favrile shades attached to the sugi bases of the wall sconces (figs. 31-32) and main chandelier added warm golden accents to the room. Additional favrile elements are introduced in the aqua-green tiles surrounding the fireplace, all uniting to provide a superb example of the manner in which Bradstreet successfully combined sugi elements with glasswork by Tiffany and Co. to achieve a unified design.
The rug and velvet curtains continue the predominant dark green color scheme while introducing light pink accents in their lotus blossom borders. Cypress wainscoting with intermittent carved sugi panels based on themes from nature comprise the lower portion of the wall décor, with a large sugi panel above the fireplace (fig. 33). This panel, which serves as one of the focal points of the room, establishes the room's decorative motif of the lotus blossom and lily pad. The woodworking of the mantel follows in part the Japanese prescription for allowing the natural grain of the wood to dictate the composition, an element which can be seen particularly well in the break of the wave in the lower center of the panel. In their asymmetry and adoption of the Japanese practice of stylizing and abstracting from nature, these sugi elements clearly owe a compositional debt to the art of Japan.
The theme of the lotus is continued in the decorative treatment of several of the room's more heavily embellished sugi pieces, including the lotus tea table and the Steinway piano (fig 34). Like the driftwood footstool also included in the decorative scheme, two tables incorporating driftwood planks suggest the contrast between nature's treatment of wood and the artisan's handling of wood. The panel forming the top of the larger of the two tables (fig. 35) is marred by several large knots in the wood. Rather than rejecting the panel as flawed, however, the craftsman chose a decorative motif of a carved dragon and small turtle which incorporate, as essential parts of their form, the ridges and crevices of the knots. Again, in this way, the woodwork in the Prindle Room demonstrates its debt to Japanese precedents. An article published in a 1912 edition of The Craftsman concerning the sugi finish in general, reveals that Japanese craftsmen to whom, "a knot in a board with the irregular grain of the surrounding wood was exquisite, something to be preserved, something to furnish a decorative note to the room in which it was placed," similarly incorporated natural "defects" into their designs.84 In this way, the carving on the tabletop exhibits both a thorough acquaintance with Japanese technique and a sophisticated and capable assimilation of it by Bradstreet's craftsmen.
While all of the elements of the room cannot be discussed here, the room as a whole illustrates Bradstreet's masterful understanding of color and light and demonstrates one of the manners in which he introduced sugi woodworking into the design for a domestic interior. The Prindle home was situated in the far reaches of the Northwest, then a provincial region, yet the room is neither provincial in its design nor does it copy from fashions first made popular on the East Coast or in Europe. Bradstreet's extensive use of his own sugi style, combined with glasswork by Tiffany and Co., assured the Prindles of a room characterized by luxury and taste, entirely original in concept and at the cutting edge of artistic experimentation.
Bradstreet's sugi style was appreciated not only in the Northwest, however, and a suite of sugi furniture commissioned for an Adirondack lodge85 suggests the wider appeal of the style, as well as the diverse results of which it was capable. While the design of the original interior environment in which the ensemble was placed is unknown, the suite as a whole is characterized by a unified design of form, color, and ornament. Comprised of a settee, two side chairs, a curious bergère, and a lotus table, the suite combines traditional western furniture designs with lavishly carved sugi panels that meditate upon themes from nature. The cypress panels were burnished to a rich, velvety finish and combined with more subdued natural motifs to achieve a softer synthesis of the sugi style than that employed in the Prindle home. Stained a luminous dark green, the pieces contain a fascinating intrinsic range of colors, varying subtly under different light conditions from a cool blue-green to a rich brown-green. The carvings, more softly and realistically rendered than those in the Prindle Room, reveal a superb use of the natural line of the raised grain to form integral parts of the composition. While the compositions are free-flowing in comparison to their stylized counterparts in the Prindle room, they are equally elegant in design and execution.
The decorative panels of the settee (fig. 36) and side chairs (figs. 40-42) feature the most delicately rendered sugi elements in the suite. The carvings featured in the panels again linger on the theme of the lotus blossom and lily pad, themes especially loved by Bradstreet and greatly inspired by his admiration for the art of Japan. The blossoms are languorously strewn across the panels rather than forced into decorative contortions, adding to the harmony of the designs. Variety is achieved through the introduction of additional natural elements including turtles, frogs, and a dragonfly. The smooth, tactile body of the settee's plump frog (fig. 37) as well as the curving head and neck of the turtle and the interior structure of the flower above him (fig. 38) all serve as especially remarkable examples of the skilled artisan's ability to utilize the natural line of the raised hard grain revealed in the sugi process to form integral parts of the composition. While the sugi technique employed to create the panels for the suite remains firmly conversant in its Japanese origins, the compositions are far less stylized than those in the Prindle room and are less overtly indebted to Japanese models. The arms of the settee feature stylized sugi dolphins (fig. 39) related to those on the arms of the Prindle's Steinway piano. In this case, however, they are elongated to complement the more delicate form of the settee which they grace. The creatures with dolphins's heads—but with fish-like bodies—also serve to wittily evoke both the Japanese and Western prototypes to which the design owes its origins, recalling the dolphins commonly featured on the arms of empire-era settees as well as the popularity of the fish motif in Japanese art.
The harmonious coexistence of Eastern and Western design principles was central to Bradstreet's philosophy of "the fellowship of good things," and the sophisticated merging of styles which he achieved is key to the suite's success. The value sugi products placed on beauty, honesty of craftsmanship, and the incorporation of natural motifs drew equally from the Arts and Crafts tradition, the Aesthetic movement, and the art of Japan. Indebted to its diverse roots, Bradstreet's sugi style was remarkably effective and versatile; equally suited to integration with the other exotic elements of the Prindle room and its heavy Arts and Crafts furniture as it was to the delicate forms of the pieces of the Adirondack suite.
The presence of the lotus table in both ensembles(fig. 43-44) suggests the privileged place the design held within Bradstreet's oeuvre and also suggests his success in promoting this piece in particular, within the marketing campaign for the new style in general. Featured in local advertisements in The Bellman more frequently than any other sugi design, the lotus table was also marketed directly to at least one private patron. In 1903, Bradstreet's business partner Frank H. Waterman, addressed a letter to a patron from New York to introduce the new piece. "Your known appreciation of the beauty in art has prompted us to write you in reference to this new work," Waterman wrote. "The possession of this table will prove as satisfying as a grand painting by one of the 'old masters' and similarly, besides being exclusive it is difficult to state its real worth in dollars and cents."86 The piece was available for a specific price, however, and could be purchased for $65.00.87 Although the design was executed multiple times, individuality was not entirely sacrificed; and of the four known extant versions, none is exactly similar to another. The tables, even when based on a specific design, were still each produced by hand and could be subtly varied in their carvings, stains, and surface treatments to render each version unique and artistically expressive.88 As the signature piece of Bradstreet's signature style, the lotus table embodies his desire to introduce luxury, beauty, and honest craftsmanship into the artistic home. In concluding his letter to the prospective client, Waterman wrote, "In your drawing room, library, den, reception room—a present to your club—or placed in your private office—Wherever you may locate it, you will find it a source of pleasure."89
V. Conclusion
Bradstreet's effect upon the cultural life of the city of Minneapolis was profound and it is impossible to consider his career apart from the city to which he devoted most of his adult life. His importation of aesthetics and design principles absorbed during his many travels and his opening of the Minneapolis Crafthouse contributed to the city's emerging consciousness of the scope of international art and its own place within the arts community. "The fact is," a Crafthouse publication pronounced in 1905, "that the prosperous existence of such an institution as the Bradstreet Craftshouse, based primarily on local support, means that Minneapolis has grown beyond the pioneer period and is now a city of culture, artistic perception, and wealth which enables it to gratify an educated taste."90 Bradstreet was not merely a symptom of the city's development, however, as much as he was one of the propelling forces behind it. His inexhaustible devotion to promoting the refinement of taste both privately and civically contributed to the development of a community amenable to the opening of his Crafthouse, an institution which garnered an international reputation and attracted visitors from around the globe. As an artist Bradstreet was perceptive and sensitive, willing to acknowledge his sources of inspiration. His mature eclectic style gestated slowly until, with the opening of the Minneapolis Crafthouse, he emerged fully as an original and innovative artist with a unique contribution to make to the American decorative arts revival. Working in the American Northwest, an area not previously noted for progressive interior designs, Bradstreet exhibited in his jin-di-sugi style the manner in which the art of Japan could provide inspiration for departure from stale historicist style and demonstrated in the interior designs executed in his region, strong links to the international design reform movement.

Acknowledgements: I wish to express my gratitude to my adviser, Dr. Gabriel P. Weisberg, who suggested this topic as the basis for my dissertation research and to whose instruction, advice, and constant encouragement I am greatly indebted. I would also like to thank the following individuals and institutions for the assistance they have provided to me throughout the course of my research: Jennifer Carlquist, Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Janice Lurie, Ken Krenz, and Debra Hegstrom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Steve Nielsen and Kathryn Otto at the Minnesota Historical Society. Patty Dean at the Museum Collections Department of the Minnesota Historical Society. Todd Mahon at the Hennepin History Museum. Barbara Bezat at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota. Wendy Anderson at the Minneapolis Public Library. JoEllen Haugo and Toni Miller at the Special Collections Department of the Minneapolis Public Library. Steven J. Ristuben at the Office of City Clerk, Minneapolis City Hall. Bob McCune and Craig Steiner at the City Archives, Minneapolis City Hall. John Helgeson at the Municipal Building Commission Archives, Minneapolis City Hall. Leslie Johnson and Donna Lyons at the Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Ray Erickson at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Annie Young at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Daniel Necas at the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota. Dr. Erika Lee, History Department, University of Minnesota. Amy Kurlander at the Japan Society Gallery, New York. Tim Hallman at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Barbara Gilbertson at the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Dr. Michael Hussey at the National Archives and Records Administration. Tessa Veazey at the Archives of American Art. Kristen Wetzel, David Aylsworth, and Yuki Sato at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen and Amelia Peck at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. S. Jordan Kim at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Mariam Touba at the New York Historical Society. Mike M. Thornton at the Art and Architecture Department, New York Public Library. Gerald W.R. Ward at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Paul at the Library of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Paula Bradstreet Richter and Kristen Weiss at the Peabody Essex Museum. Ed Bell, Ryan Thomas Maciej, and Elizabeth A. Marzuoli at the Massachusetts State Archives. Janice Chadbourne and Kim Tenney at the Boston Public Library. Hina Hirayama at the Boston Athenaeum. Nancy Carlisle at the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Lenox Brands Consumer Services. Dr. Mark N. Brown and Tim Engels at the John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Jennifer Morrison at the History and Special Collections Department, Grand Rapids Public Library. Anna Buruma, archivist at Liberty & Co. Kathleen Weber at Carson Pirie Scott. Jane Prentiss at Skinner Auction House. Leah Stevens at Briggs Auction Inc. Jodi Pollack at Sotheby's. I also wish to thank the following dealers who have kindly corresponded with me: Mark Golding at The Arts and Crafts Home, Jerry Cohen at Craftsman Auctions/David Rago Art & Auction Center, Stuart Holman at Stuart Holman Auctions, Isabella Corble at Berwald Oriental Art, Martin Levy at H. Blairman & Sons Ltd., Jill West at Circa 1910 Antiques, Edith Frankel at E&J Frankel Ltd., John Alexander at John Alexander Ltd., Robert Berman at Robert Berman Antiques, Robyn Turner at Robyn Turner Gallery, and a very special thank you to Robert Edwards at American Decorative Art. I also wish to extend special thanks to the following individuals: Fritz Nelson, Mark Hammons, Mark Perrin, Ronald Beining, Jon Bjornnes, Peter Sturm, Kendahl Sweet, Robert Levine, Nick and Sandra Hay, Scott McGinnis, Joseph Cunningham, Bruce Smith, Robert Furniss, Robert Glancy, Dr. Donald J. Doughman, James V. Toscano, Darrell Peart, and Leone Medin.

1. Obituary, Minneapolis Journal, 10 August 1914.

2. This phrase, which seems particularly apt for much of the mass-produced imitative work of the period, is taken from Beverly Brandt's article, "Worthy and Carefully Selected: American Arts and Crafts at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904," Archives of American Art Journal 28, no. 1 (1988): 2-16.

3. "Fine Collection in its New Home," Minneapolis Journal, 30 January 1904.

4. As early as the 1890's Bradstreet appears to have enjoyed renown far beyond the city in which he worked. In an article appearing in a 1907 issue of The Bellman, the English journalist Perry Robinson reminisced of his friend Bradstreet's early international success: "Some fifteen years ago I was in London on a flying visit and went into Liberty's famous place. On coming away I stopped to ask some question about the duties on the things which I had bought and intended taking to America. It was the first intimation that the man to whom I spoke had had that I was from America; and the first question that he asked was if I knew a Mr. Bradstreet. He could not remember the name of the town where Mr. Bradstreet lived, so I furnished it. 'Ah, yes,' he said, 'of course. Is it not a remarkable place for such a man to be in? Could he not get much wider recognition in New York, for instance?' Undoubtedly he could; but, after all, I suggested, the place for a missionary was among the savages." Perry Robinson, "John S. Bradstreet and his Work," The Bellman 2, no. 20 (18 May 1907): 598.

5. "Notes on the Crafts," The International Studio 23 (1904): 335-37. This article appeared in a supplement to The Studio concerning the international art scene. Also featured in the article is Tiffany and Co. in New York and the studios of Mrs. Priestman in Philadelphia.

6. In 1905, Bradstreet & Co. boasted in a promotional brochure, "Bradstreet's has become the mecca of all such lovers of art, whether they come from the great cities of the east or the small towns of the west, and it is one of the important sights for Minneapolis visitors." John S. Bradstreet & Co, Promotional Booklet (Minneapolis: Byron and Willard Co, 1905). A brief biographical essay on the history of the Minneapolis Skylight club, of which Bradstreet was a founding member, asserts that the clientele of the Crafthouse, "extended to both coasts of the United States and into Canada," and an obituary published by the Minneapolis Tribune additionally comments that "his neighbors must have been surprised could they have known how wide was his fame." Bergman Richards, Skylight Club "Red Book," 6th ed. (Minneapolis: Harrison & Smith, 1965); Obituary, Minneapolis Tribune (11 August 1914), 6.

7. Obituary, Minneapolis Tribune.

8. Biographical material is gathered primarily from the Bradstreet obituaries. I also feel compelled to give special credit to two individuals, Miriam Lucker Lesley and Fritz Nelson, who have both contributed considerably to the compilation of biographical material on Bradstreet. Lucker Lesley compiled the first known body of academic research on Bradstreet for her unpublished master's thesis written for the Department of Art History, University of Minnesota, 1941. While Lucker Lesley's primary research was fairly limited, she contributed invaluably to the present knowledge of Bradstreet through a series of interviews which she conducted with individuals who knew him and which she documented in her notes. Fritz Nelson significantly furthered the primary research begun by Lucker Lesley for his directed research paper, "First Apostle: John Scott Bradstreet in Minneapolis," written for the Department of Art History, University of Minnesota, 1980. While Nelson's manuscript was never published, his work greatly expanded the body of primary sources referenced by subsequent writers and I feel especially indebted to his creative and substantial contributions.

9. 1860 U.S. Census, Massachusetts, Essex County, Rowley, p. 132, line 14.

10. Information gathered from the Gorham Pay Records, Volumes A-E, and the Providence City Directories, 1863-1872. Both in the collection of the John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

11. Minneapolis City Directory, 1873. When the firm of Barnard, Clark, and Cope was taken over by Edward C. Clarke in 1874, Bradstreet continued as an employee of Mr. Clarke until his shop closed in 1875. Minneapolis City Directory, 1874.

12. Miriam Lucker Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Master's thesis, University of Minnesota, 1941), 1. Copy residing in the collection of the library of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

13. Richards, Skylight Club.

14. William C. Edgar, "John Scott Bradstreet," The Bellman 17, no. 422 (15 August 1914): 215-16.

15. Bradstreet's temperament is characterized in this manner in nearly all written accounts referencing his personality. A few such examples include the obituaries published in the Minneapolis Journal and in the Minneapolis Tribune; The memorial statement published in the Bulletin of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts 3, no.10 (October 1914): 25; Robinson, "John S. Bradstreet and his Work," 597-600; and Edwin H. Hewitt, "John S. Bradstreet—Citizen of Minneapolis: An Appreciation of his Life and Work," Journal of the American Institute of Architects 4 (October 1916): 424-27.

16. Edgar, "John Scott Bradstreet," 215-16.

17. Miriam Lucker Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator." (Notes for master's thesis, University of Minnesota, 1941). Copy residing in the collection of the library of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Note # 1: from a conversation with William Eckert, an interior decorator who started as Bradstreet's apprentice.

18. Richards Skylight Club,; Jeffrey Hess also discusses the show briefly in Their Splendid Legacy: The First 100 Years of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, 1985), 4.

19. Minneapolis City Directory, 1875.

20. Michael P. Conforti, "Orientalism on the Upper Mississippi: The Work of John S. Bradstreet," The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin 65 (1981-82): 3.

21. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 8 December 1878.

22. Edmund Joseph Phelps, Letter written to his Aunt Asenath (25 December 1883). Typewritten copy residing in the curatorial files of the Department of Decorative Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

23. Minneapolis City Directory, 1883-84.

24. Minneapolis City Directory, 1884-1893.

25. Robinson's recollections of his first encounter with Bradstreet again appear in his article for The Bellman. "It was as a stranger to the Northwest that I wandered by the Syndicate Block, a day or so after my arrival, and my astonished eyes met the windows of Messrs. Bradstreet, Thurber & Co. I am not quite certain that Mr. Bradstreet now would approve of everything that was in those windows then, but even as it stood, the place was so obviously in advance of its surroundings, it so evidently did not belong to the town, that mere astonishment made me go inside. As I entered, a tall (yes, quite tall) and thin (decidedly thin) man, imperfectly concealed behind a large mustache, came forward and wanted to know what he could do for me. Well, he could show me things. I couldn't afford to buy anything; but I did want to look and, if he didn't think me impertinent, I wanted to know what on earth that place was doing in that precise latitude and longitude." Robinson, "John Scott Bradstreet," 597.

26. "Bradstreet, Thurber & Co," Minneapolis Business Souvenir (1885). Photocopy residing in the curatorial files of the Department of Decorative Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

27. Robinson, 597. Much remains to be established regarding these mysterious business trials, and in fact, their existence would most likely have remained forgotten had it not been for Perry's article. Perry wrote: "I have said that he had trials. There were business trials on a large scale of which the public knew a good deal, for they involved publicity and lasted for some years."

28. Fritz A. Nelson, "First Apostle: John S. Bradstreet in Minneapolis," (Directed research paper, Department of Art History, University of Minnesota, 1980), 5.

29. Minneapolis City Directory, 1884.

30. In an article appearing in the Minneapolis Tribune in 1929, Bradstreet's friend William C. Edgar described Bradstreet's extensive use of Oriental motifs in his designs of 1887 for alterations to Minneapolis's Grand Opera House. "After the house had been in commission for four or five years, although it was not yet shabby, the owners determined to redecorate it. John S. Bradstreet, who traveled the world over in search of material for his art, was given a free hand and produced a result that made a sensation in the theatrical world. When the Grand reopened for the season, it undoubtedly had the most beautiful interior of any theater in America. Mr. Bradstreet chose to make the effect Oriental. The framing of the boxes was in Moorish lattice work, the proscenium arch rested on elephant heads with dimmed lights behind their glass eyes, the draperies and carpets were richly Oriental, the drop curtain pictured a visit of the sultan to the mosque, in the outer lobby was a statue of a Moorish water carrying girl. To carry out the theme the programs were painted with Oriental decorations in rich colors, and the boys who distributed them were robed in Oriental garments. Small colored lads, similarly arrayed, carrying Oriental trays, flagons and cups, passed among the audience between the acts, serving water. No estimate of the cost of this work had been given in advance and Mr. Conklin was fearful that the outlay would be very heavy as Mr. Bradstreet was considered an expensive artist. When the bill came in, it was found that, not to be outdone in public spirit, the great decorator had made no charge for his own services and nothing but the cost of material and the workmen's wages was included in the account." Minneapolis Tribune, 28 Oct 1929; The Moorish interiors Bradstreet executed for Minneapolis's West Hotel were further commented on by the East Coast writer Montgomery Schuyler in his American Architecture: "The interior presents several interesting points of design as well as of arrangement, but perhaps it owes its chief attractiveness to the rich and quiet decoration of those of its rooms that have been intrusted [sic] to Mr. Bradstreet, who for many years has been acting as an evangelist of good taste to the two cities, and who for at least the earlier of those years must have felt that he was an evangelist in partibus." Montgomery Schuyler, American Architecture and Other Writings (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1961), 306.

31. By the time of his death in 1914, Bradstreet had traveled to an impressive number of locales. No complete itinerary of his travels has surfaced, but a chronological account is currently being reconstructed by the author. William C. Edgar's memorial tribute to Bradstreet appearing in The Bellman lists among Bradstreet's many destinations: the eastern Atlantic Coast, Florida, California, Nassau, the islands of the Pacific, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sicily, India, China, Japan, and Korea. Among the additional destinations that have surfaced in newspaper and society pages are: Canada, the Suez Canal, Siam, Singapore, Java, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

32. Henry H. Saylor, "The Japanese Garden in America," Country Life in America 5, no. 5 (March 1909): 481-84.

33. Conforti, "Orientalism on the Upper Mississippi," 13.

34. Robinson, "John Scott Bradstreet," 600.

35. This interest can be especially well seen in advertisements for Bradstreet and Co. appearing in The Bellman that feature period reproductions of Italian and Spanish Renaissance prototypes constructed by Bradstreet's craftsmen. The advertisements also often specify that the original models are antiques acquired by Bradstreet during his trips to Europe. A few examples appear in the following issues of The Bellman: 2, no. 14 (6 April 1907): 400; 9, no. 229 (3 Dec 1910): 1536; 11, no. 266 (19 Aug 1911): 228.

36. Bradstreet's close friend Perry Robinson wrote of Bradstreet's admiration of the English Arts and Crafts movement: "I imagine that if he were asked he would himself confess that he has been more influenced of late years by William Morris than by any other person or school of art, and he is himself doing a work not unlike that which Morris did. The Craftshouse is a radiating centre of good artistic impulses which can not inappropriately be compared to Kelmscott—as I believe it has already been compared." Robinson, "John Scott Bradstreet," 600. Bradstreet's admiration of Whistler is similarly evinced in a 1911 article recounting the first exhibition by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts in 1883: "A Whistler room in yellow, the master's favorite color, was the dream of John S. Bradstreet in the first loan exhibition ever held in Minneapolis which opened Nov. 20, 1883. The amber tints, the sunset glow, the molten gold, all held in a quasi-religious reverence by the great Whistler painter, poet and etcher had exerted a similar spell upon Mr. Bradstreet. This was heightened in a great degree when Mr. Bradstreet visited London and saw the magnificent Whistler collection of etchings, all on a marvelous velvet background. To this day Mr. Bradstreet has a piece of the original yellow drapery used in the London exhibition. Looking back to that first loan exhibition Mr. Bradstreet today told of the connection he had with it. He said he had just returned from London and was greatly taken by the Whistler vogue. When he was commissioned to hang the pictures, he decided on a room in honor of the master. He purchased a great quantity of yellow paint and covered the walls with it. He then devoted his attention to the floor which he tinted yellow and light brown. When completed he looked at his work with pleasure only to find that a long black stove pipe running the full length of the room disturbed the harmony. 'This could not be,' said Mr. Bradstreet. 'It ruined the whole setting. I proceeded to decorate the stovepipe in yellow. I painted it a hue calculated to blend with the general tone of the room and the visitors had many a laugh when they saw that yellow stovepipe.' Mr. Bradstreet to this day has the one original Whistler etching that adorned the walls of the room. Though it was the whole Whistler show, so to speak, it attracted much attention and today is one of the most valuable Whistlers in the world. It is a scene called 'Venetian Doorways.'" "First Art Show Recalled Today," Minneapolis Journal, 11 January 1911. Additionally, Oscar Wilde lectured on the English Renaissance in both Minneapolis (at the Academy of Music on 15 March 1882) and St. Paul (at the Opera House on 16 March 1882) while on his famous lecture tour of the United States. No records have surfaced, however, documenting any meetings between Wilde and Bradstreet. John T. Flanagan, "Oscar Wilde's Twin City Appearances," Minnesota History 17, no. 1 (1936): 38-48.

37. Edgar, "John Scott Bradstreet," 215-16.

38. Memorial Statement, Bulletin of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts 3, no. 10 (October 1914): 25.

39. Details regarding the fire and the subsequent arrest of a young man in Bradstreet's employ are found in the following articles: "A Syndicate Blaze," Minneapolis Journal, 7 June 1893; "A Youthful Firebug: John Singleton Confesses Having Set the Bradstreet-Thurber Fire," Minneapolis Journal, 12 July 1893; "Told a Cellmate," Minneapolis Journal, 13 July 1893.

40. "Mr. Bradstreet Takes a Partner," Minneapolis Journal, 28 September 1901; "Town Talk," Minneapolis Journal, 16 October 1901.

41. "J.S. Bradstreet & Co. have taken the Faries property, Fourth Avenue S and Seventh Street for ten years and will establish their business there. Improvements to cost from $8,000 to $10,000 are contemplated and under way. J.L. Robinson, the contractor, is already engaged in putting up a brick building on the rear of the inside lots, and the house will be remodeled on Mr. Bradstreet's general plan for the corner, which is understood to be unique, involving a Japanese garden. The corner measures 182 feet on Seventh Street and 165 on the avenue, affording an excellent opportunity for effective landscaping. Part of the new building will be two stories in height. This will give opportunity in the second story room for exhibitions and art meetings." "Bradstreet's New Move," Minneapolis Journal, 15 October 1903.

42. Inspector of Buildings Card for 325-29 South Seventh Street (18 September 1888—27 January 1954). Minneapolis Public Library Special Collections.

43. "Fine Collection in its New Home," Minneapolis Journal, 30 January 1904.

44. The International Studio 23 (1904): 335; "The Crafthouse of John S. Bradstreet & Company: One of the Beauty Spots of Minneapolis," Minneapolis Journal, 31 March 1910, sec. 2.

45. Gustave Stickley, "A Garden Fountain," The Craftsman 7 (October 1904): 69-75.

46. Richards, Skylight Club.

47. Hewitt, "John S. Bradstreet," 424-27.

48. Keith Clark, "The Bradstreet Crafthouse," The House Beautiful 16 (June 1904): 21-23.

49. John S. Bradstreet & Co., Promotional Booklet.

50. Clark, "The Bradstreet Crafthouse," 21-23.

51. Ibid.

52. Richards, Skylight Club.

53. The term sackinto appears in the caption of a period photograph of the Crafthouse interior, but research has revealed nothing of the nature of the cloth to which this term refers.

54. This dull yellow color appears to have been a special favorite of Bradstreet throughout much of his career. As early as 1883 he expressed an appreciation for the evocativeness of the tone in his admiration of its use by Whistler in the famous White and Yellow exhibit which Bradstreet attended in London. "First Art Show Recalled Today."

55. Clark, "The Bradstreet Crafthouse," 21-23.

56. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 17: from conversation with William Eckert

57. A more complete notion of the range of items the Crafthouse contained is given in an excerpt from a promotional booklet: "The lover of the quaint and beautiful finds the salesrooms most interesting. He will see displayed many articles which are specimens of fine skill in handicraft and full of historic interest: Florentine marbles, odd chairs, tables and chests from Italy; oak cabinets, old and artistic furniture and bric-a-brac from Germany; fine Gobelin, Brussels and Aubuson tapestries and ancient furniture from France, some pieces belonging to the period of the Empire, others of the times of the Louis'; Scotch, German and Oriental rugs of exquisite workmanship which can be had to order, made after special designs; Japanese bronzes, embroideries, prints and carvings." John S. Bradstreet & Co., Promotional Booklet.

58. Clark, "The Bradstreet Crafthouse," 21-23.

59. John S. Bradstreet & Co., Promotional Booklet.

60. Ibid.

61. Hewitt, "John S. Bradstreet," 424-27.

62. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 17: from conversation with William Eckert.

63. Richards, Skylight Club.

64. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 14.

65. Saylor, "Japanese Garden in America," 481-84. Descriptions of the garden also taken from: Hewitt, "John S. Bradstreet," 424-27, and Stickley, "A Garden Fountain," 69-75.

66. Stickley, "A Garden Fountain," 69-75.

67. Bradstreet made this comparison himself in a promotional booklet for the Crafthouse. John S. Bradstreet & Co., Promotional Booklet.

68. Ibid.

69. Richards, Skylight Club.

70. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Notes # 1 and 13: from conversation with William Eckert.

71. Kevin P. Rodel, Jon Binzen, and Erica Sanders-Foege, eds., Arts and Crafts Furniture: Classic to Contemporary (Newton: Taunton Press, 2003), 193.

72. In an article published 13 July 1903, Bradstreet indicated that his first trip to Japan occurred fourteen years prior, placing the most likely date of his first travels in the country to the year 1889. "Japan of To-day: Impressions of John S. Bradstreet Just Back from Trip thru the Empire," Minneapolis Journal, 13 July 1903.

73. Kevin P. Rodel, Jon Binzen, and Erica Sanders-Foege, ed., Arts and Crafts Furniture: Classic to Contemporary. (Newton: Taunton Press, 2003), 193.

 

74. J. T Coolidge, "A Few Considerations of Japanese Wood-Carving," Handicraft 2, no. 3 (June 1903): 50.

75. John S. Bradstreet and Co. wrote in an advertisement appearing in the 18 January 1908 edition of The Bellman, "This screen is made in our special Sugi wood treatment, the upper panel being a reproduction of an old carving taken from a Japanese temple frieze. The original carving may be seen in our showrooms. Other carvings from the same frieze were purchased by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts."

76. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 9: from conversation with William Eckert. Author's note: Some evidence has recently come to light suggesting that the sugi effect was achieved through the use of acids. Such evidence, even if verified, would not necessarily disprove the currently accepted explanation of Bradstreet's method, nor would it preclude the possibility that both techniques were used.

77. The precise date of the introduction of the sugi line of woodworking by Bradstreet and Co. is unknown, but written accounts of designs by Bradstreet include descriptions of sugi wares as early as March of 1903. The first known example of the inclusion of sugi details in an interior design by Bradstreet appears in the written description of the offices of Watson & Co. at the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. "Interior woodwork, decorations and furnishings for these offices have all been designed and made to order with the intent of producing an entirely harmonious effect—and in this the artist-designer has been entirely successful. The wood used is cypress in a new and original finish called "Sugi." Wainscoting of this material and finish fills some seven feet of the walls of both the outer and inner offices, except between them where it is but four feet high and the remaining space is filled with stained glass. The wainscoting is paneled and the furniture of the same material and finish is especially designed to harmonize with the fixed woodwork. Both are carved after designs by Mr. John S. Bradstreet, who took complete charge of the decorations and fittings of the rooms." "Magnificent Apartments of Watson & Co." Minneapolis Journal, 30 March 1903, sec. 2. Additionally, an article concerning interior decoration and furnishings includes descriptions of several sugi pieces seen in Bradstreet and Co.'s showrooms in 1903. "The Japanese artists are probably unsurpassed by any in the world in producing decorative effects with wood. Western woodworkers have indeed studied these Eastern models to much purpose, as was evidenced in some extremely beautiful pieces of furniture seen recently in the artistic rooms of a leading decorator. Notable among these was a table of cypress wood, treated with the new process of eating out the soft parts of the wood by acids, bringing out the natural markings and veinings of the wood strongly, yet leaving an indescribably soft and beautiful finish to the surface. The wood lends itself admirably to such treatment, on account of its large, decided grain. This table was for a library, with slight hexagonal outline, and around the natural veinings and markings of the center which looked like a piece of watered silk moiré, was carved a broad border of large plantain leaves and interlacing stems. The twisting stems ran down the supporting column beneath the table. The price of this rich and beautiful table was but $85.00. A wall cabinet, showed another novel suggestion, as the recessed panels of the doors were open work carvings with a red background showing thro' the interstices of the woodcarvings relieved against it. A vine-like arrangement of lotus leaves and blossoms formed the design on one door of the cabinet and chrysanthemums on the other. A small electric bulb was cleverly introduced inside the cabinet, and when the light shone through the red background the relief effect was greatly heightened. Those who know furniture only as the product of the department stores, have no conception of its refinements, when submitted to the hands of such artists." Henrietta Keith, "Decoration and Furnishings," Keith's Magazine 10, no. 4 (October 1903): 185.

78. John S. Bradstreet & Co. wrote in an advertisement appearing in the 11 May 1907 issue of The Bellman, "We have made a study of the various wood-finishes and treatments. Our 'Jin di Sugi' finish is unlike any other wood-finish; it has all the beauties of the Japanese 'Cryptomeria' and is the result of years of experiment and study. We are the only manufacturers of this Special Wood Treatment." The earliest known example of the promotion of sugi ware occurs in a letter written on 30 May 1903 by Frank H. Waterman, the Crafthouse's treasurer, to Mr. S.O. Barnum of Brooklyn, N.Y. The letter, part of a personalized marketing campaign, cites Louis C. Tiffany and other "prominent decorators throughout the country" as enthusiastic supporters of the new sugi technique and offered exclusivity to the prospective buyer, stating, "Provided that your order is received by return post and previous to others, if so directed in your original order, we will sell no duplicate of the table No. 96 [the lotus tea table] herein described, in your city except by your permission."

 

79. Frank H. Waterman, Letter to Mr. S.O. Barnum (30 May 1903). Original residing in the Special Collections of the Minneapolis Public Library.

80. John S. Bradstreet & Co, Promotional Booklet.

81. Richards, Skylight Club.

82. Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 8: from conversation with William Eckert. John S. Bradstreet and Co. proclaimed in an advertisement appearing in the 16 November 1907 issue of The Bellman, "There's an indefinable something in every room of every house that can only be called the 'spirit' of the place, and that spirit is what friends and strangers see and feel, before they see any more tangible, expressible thing. When you entrust us with the making of a room's interior we begin our work with the study of what its 'personality' should be."

83. Edgar, "John Scott Bradstreet," 215-16. Also mentioned in Lesley, "John Scott Bradstreet: Minneapolis Interior Decorator," (Notes for master's thesis), Note # 8: from conversation with William Eckert.

84. "Sugi Finish: A Japanese Decorative Treatment of Woods," The Craftsman 22 (May 1912): 220.

85. Information gathered from email correspondence with Robert Edwards of American Decorative Art (31 January 2004).

86. Waterman, Letter to Mr. S.O. Barnum.

87. John S. Bradstreet & Co., "Carved Table No. 96, Lotus Design." Presumed to be a proof for an advertisement. Copy residing in the curatorial files of the Department of Decorative Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

88. Four known examples of the Lotus Table exist, each varying slightly in design. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts retains the Lotus Table from the Prindle Room. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston acquired the Lotus Table from the Adirondack suite. A third table which includes a small turtle on its base was last listed in the collection of Tazio Nuvolari; an image can be viewed on p. 220 of Janet Kardon's, The Ideal Home 1900-1920: the History of the Twentieth-Century American Craft (New York: H.N. Abrams in association with American Craft, 1993). A fourth example from a private European collection was sold at Sotheby's, New York on 17 June 2004. The table, which is distinct in it faint bronze gilding, now resides in an unknown collection.

89. Waterman, Letter to Mr. S.O. Barnum.

90. John S. Bradstreet & Co., Promotional Booklet.

 

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phantom

Symphonic Seas, Oceans of Liberty: Paul Signac's La Mer: Les Barques (Concarneau)
by Robyn Roslak


phantom
Reproduction, including downloading, of Signac's work is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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Fig. 1 Paul Signac, Cap Lombard, Cassis (opus 196), 1889. Oil on canvas. The Hague, Gemeentemuseum

In 1890, the art critic Félix Fénéon's biography of the neo-impressionist painter Paul Signac appeared in Paris as part of a new series on contemporary and vanguard artists and writers.1 Most of the text was an analysis of the neo-impressionists' efforts to represent the effect of solar light upon objects using a divided, often pointillized touch and a prismatic palette harmonized around the juxtaposition of complementary colors. But in his closing paragraph Fénéon also acknowledged the inventive and abstract ends behind these "scientific" means. "A new technique," he wrote, "must correspond to a new way of seeing,"2 the result of which he described a few lines later as "authentic Reality:"

M. Paul Signac was able to create exemplary specimens of an art of great decorative development, which sacrifices anecdote to arabesque, nomenclature to synthesis, the fleeting to the permanent, and in its celebrations and its magic, confers on Nature, which at last grew weary of its precarious reality, an authentic Reality.3

Fénéon's poetic synopsis of neo-impressionism, quoted so often in contemporary studies that it has become nearly a cliché, was the sole critical response to the movement Signac chose to include in his belated manifesto, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme (1899), where it appeared at the end of a chapter explaining and justifying the neo-impressionist facture and its decorative and evocative qualities.4 Signac must have felt Fénéon's words legitimized the manifesto's underlying claim: that la division, as he called the neo-impressionist technique, made possible an art capable of transcending base materialism (Fénéon's "precarious reality") in favor of images infused with, in Signac's words, both "an overall harmony and a harmony of a moral order."5

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Fig. 2 Paul Signac, La baie de Cassis, Cap Canaille (opus 200), 1889. Oil on canvas. Private collection


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Fig. 3 Paul Signac, Coucher de soleil, Herblay (opus 206), 1889. Oil on canvas. Glasgow, Art Gallery and Museum. Reproduced Courtesy of Glasgow City Council (Museums).
Fénéon's biography singled out three of Signac's paintings as evidence for his claim that the neo-impressionists were painters of "authentic Reality." Two, Cap Lombard, Cassis (opus 196) (fig. 1) and La baie de Cassis, Cap Canaille (opus 200) (fig. 2), belong to a series of five seascapes entitled La Mer –Cassis (Bouches-du-Rhone) , painted in 1889 in the Mediterranean port of Cassis and exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1890. The other, Coucher de soleil, Herblay (opus 206) (fig. 3), is one of a series of four views of the Seine and its banks entitled Le Fleuve, painted near the village of Herblay outside of Paris. At the Indépendants, the Cassis canvases were grouped together under the title of their series and identified individually only by their respective opus numbers, the latter of which Signac had been writing since 1887 in the lower right corner of most of his paintings in the spot usually reserved for a signature.6 Fénéon commented in his biography on this habit of assigning numbers to paintings, implying that by avoiding conventionally descriptive titles Signac was renouncing literal content in his work.7 Indeed, the opus numbers alone have nothing to say about the anecdotal details of the paintings to which they belong. But their reference to musical compositions suggests that Signac saw his work, in particular the river- and seascapes that dominated his output from 1888 through the early 1890s, as comparable to music, an analogy he made explicit in D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme. There, he compared the neo-impressionist painter to a composer ("the painter has played on his keyboard of colors in the same way that a composer handles the diverse instruments to orchestrate a symphony"8); a single touch of color in a neo-impressionist painting to "a note in a symphony;"9 and the experience of viewing a neo-impressionist painting to listening properly to a live musical performance ("to listen to a symphony, one doesn't situate oneself among the brass but in a place where the sounds of the diverse instruments blend in the way the composer wanted them to. After that one could enjoy dissecting the score, note by note, and in doing so study the manner of its orchestration. In the same way, in front of a divided picture, it will be advisable first to stand far enough away to perceive the impression of the whole, then stop and come closer to study the play of colored elements").10
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Fig. 4 Paul Signac, Scherzo (opus 218), 1891. Oil on canvas. Private collection


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Fig. 5 Paul Signac, Larghetto (opus 219), 1891. Oil on canvas. Private collection


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Fig. 6 Paul Signac, Evening Calm, Concarneau, Opus 220 (Allegro maestoso) [Allegro maestoso (opus 220)], 1891. Oil on canvas. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.208). Photograph © 1997 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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Fig. 7 Paul Signac, Setting Sun, Sardine Fishing. Adagio. Opus 221 [Adagio (opus 221)], 1891. Oil on canvas. New York, The Museum of Modern Art. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, New York


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Fig. 8 Paul Signac, Presto (finale) (opus 222), 1891. Oil on canvas. Private collection
Signac's effort to link painting and music via opus-numbered canvases lasted through 1893, but its high point came two years earlier in the summer of 1891 in a series of five seascapes he painted in Concarneau, a tiny fishing village on the southern coast of the Breton peninsula not far from Pont-Aven. Collectively titled La Mer: Les barques (Concarneau 1891) (hereafter called La Mer), the paintings are the culmination of a five-year experiment with images-in-series featuring the subject of water in the form of rivers or seas.11 La Mer is unique among them because of the musical titles Signac assigned to its individual canvases: Scherzo (opus 218) (fig. 4); Larghetto (opus 219) (fig. 5); Allegro maestoso (opus 220) (fig. 6); Adagio (opus 221) (fig. 7); and Presto (finale) (opus 222) (fig. 8).12 By identifying and arranging the images in this way, Signac was encouraging his viewers to imagine the series as a pictorial version of a symphony, which explores a melodic theme or themes variously from movement to movement in order to express contrasting emotions or ideas without sacrificing the balance and harmony of the whole. The five canvases of La Mer are comparable to a five-movement symphony with its characteristic pattern of alternating tempos: scherzo is fast; larghetto is slow; allegro maestoso is fast; adagio is slow; and presto is very fast. The explicitly musical titles, however, are not all that make La Mer more "musical" than the six series preceding it. Just as important is the formal unity of its canvases in relation to one another, the comprehensiveness of which Signac's other landscapes-in-series cannot match. The images cohere around similarly placed horizon lines which divide their surfaces into roughly equal units of sea and sky; a common color palette organized around two sets of complementaries (shades of yellow and violet, and blue and orange); and a recurring motif of fishing boats whose repetitive patterns and rhythms recall the cadence, the harmonies, and even, in their placement upon the horizontal lines of rippled water, the notation of music.13
While creating unity among the "movements" of La Mer was clearly one of Signac's goals, he simultaneously highlighted their differences by depicting opposing times of day (mornings in Scherzo and Larghetto; evenings in Allegro maestoso and Adagio; an indeterminate time of day in Presto [finale]).14 Likewise, he arranged their boats to create a symmetrical scheme when the canvases are hung together in a row in the order of their consecutive opus numbers: Scherzo and Presto (finale), with their boats forming a line or lines moving from background to foreground under cloudy skies, "frame" the three remaining images, in which the boats are arranged along the horizon in narrower configurations under clear skies.15 Thus, the series as a whole expresses "unity in variety" or "variety in unity," phrases Signac used to describe what he considered to be the chief aesthetic merits of all good art but which describe equally well the structure of symphonic music.16
This essay explores the significance of Signac's use of music in the construction of his marine paintings, using La Mer as a case study. I begin by discussing musicality as a symbolist device for expressing and amplifying aesthetic and social ideals in literature and painting alike, paying particular attention to the ideas of Charles Baudelaire, Richard Wagner, Téodor de Wyzewa, and Charles Henry, all of whom helped shape Signac's musical idiom. Next, I discuss the paintings of La Mer as decorative landscapes, capable, in the minds of the symbolists and other writers familiar to Signac, of catalyzing and transforming human feeling and behavior. Following this, and building on its ideas, is an analysis of the relationship of La Mer's musicality, its oceanic subjects, and its emphasis on movement to Signac's well-known and openly-professed anarchist sympathies.17 The paintings in the series intersect in particular with the geographic ideals of Élisée Reclus, an anarchist geographer whose writings Signac knew well and admired.18 A recurrent theme in the work of Reclus and his colleagues is water, especially the sea, as a metaphor for permanent social cohesiveness and harmony, and its movement as a sign and a driver of historical progress, propelling humanity toward a future of global unity. Signac thus combined visual harmony with the ideals of musical and social harmony in La Mer to create a multi-faceted expression of "authentic Reality."
The Idea of Musical Art
Analogies between music and avant-garde painting were commonplace in fin-de-siècle art criticism and theory, especially among the symbolist poets and writers whose goal it was to evoke feelings and ideas indirectly through association. They and the artists they championed often turned for inspiration to the writings of Charles Baudelaire, who drew numerous parallels between sound and color. Signac, for one, developed his understanding of art and musicality in part by reading Baudelaire's Curiosités esthétiques and L'art romantique, collections of essays published for the first time in 1867. He included excerpts from the 1885 editions of both in D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, many of which are statements proposing an analogy between color and musical patterns or arrangements (e.g. "in color one finds harmony, melody and counterpoint").19 But L'art romantique also contains more nuanced references to music that do not appear in Signac's manifesto but undoubtedly were familiar to him. They pertain to Baudelaire's doctrine of correspondences, a theory of literary and artistic expression linking different modes of sensory perception.20 The essay "Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris" (1861) is particularly interesting in this regard, for it suggests that the stimulation of one of the body's senses (say, the eye through color or the ear through music) can arouse an equally powerful and simultaneous response in another (thus, color can also be "heard" and music "seen"). This perceptional ability, now known as synesthesia, increases the possibility of extracting meaning from a work of art or music in those who possess it. Baudelaire also stressed that color and music, in essence rather than through objective description, could express the thoughts and feelings of an artist. "For what would be really surprising," he wrote, "would be if sound were incapable of suggesting color, colors incapable of evoking a melody, and sound and color incapable of translating ideas; for things have always expressed themselves through reciprocal analogy, since the day God decreed the world a complex and indivisible whole."21 Thus, artists intent on producing highly effective or broadly meaningful works of art would have done well, following a Baudelairean model, to construct their works around the idea of multiple sensory stimuli.

Like Baudelaire, symbolist writers interested in highlighting the similarities between color and music linked the two in various ways and at various levels. No one, however, did so with the quite the combination of intelligibility and imagination as Louis de Lutèce, whose prose-poem "Les symphonies: Pochades impressionnistes" is close in time and spirit to Signac's La Mer and may well have been one of its sources of inspiration. It appeared in 1890 in Art et critique, a left-wing symbolist weekly that featured reviews of neo-impressionist painting, including one written in 1890 by Signac.22 Lutèce's "sketches," each numbered and titled with the name of a color (e.g. "I: Symphonie en bleu," "II: Symphonie en vert," etc.) are poetic descriptions of colors as they appear in the human and natural worlds. Most relevant to La Mer is the commentary preceding the sketches, in which Lutèce not only established analogies between color, music, and seasonal or temporal conditions, but also matched the moods evoked by nature's "colored symphonies" to specific musical tempos:

From spring to winter, from winter to spring; from dawn to dusk, from dusk to dawn; at each season of the year, at each hour of the day or night, nature never tires, striking up innumerable divine symphonies of color, now gay, now sad, now dazzling, now sober, always beautiful! Each one of these marvelous symphonies has its dominant color lavished passionately upon it and blended with love…Its favorite note, which recurs, sings, captivates, charms, is never monotone although always the same, playing either a joyous allegro, or a sacred andante, or a playful scherzo, or a sonorous finale.23

Lutèce extended his analogy between nature and music a few lines later in his poem by comparing particular times of day during particular seasons of the year to the tempos listed above. He equated the vivacious rhythms of a scherzo with a spring dawn, the swift brightness of an allegro with a sunny summer day, the slow pace of an andante with an autumn twilight, and the passionate strains of a finale with the bold colors of a winter sunset.24

When it came to discussing neo-impressionism as musical art, symbolist critics quickly realized that the divisionist technique, with its emphasis on precisely applied touches of color that remain discrete and individually vibrant even as they harmonize in the eye, lent itself easily to a comparison with the laws and formal structures of music. A case in point is Georges Vanor, who compared neo-impressionism's science, namely its basis in color theory, to the laws governing the elements of musical composition (melody, harmony, and rhythm) in his L'art symboliste of 1889: "[It] tends, through the observation of the reactive powers of one color on the color next to it, to compose the painting like a [musical] score of consecutive and analytical touches of tone, which they [the neo-impressionists] then orchestrate into an overall harmony."25 Vanor's reading focuses exclusively on the similarities between artistic and musical form, bypassing altogether the issue of their ideational significance. A preference for form over content also characterizes the writings of other symbolist critics who similarly compared the physical experience of viewing a painting in the divisionist style to the perception of symphonic music. Paul Adam's analysis of neo-impressionism for La revue rose in 1887 is typical:

One walked up to the paintings and strove to understand the orchestration of these choruses: drops of color uniting their expressiveness for the sake of the harmony of the whole...From then on, the work would be perceived in accordance with the particular charm that belongs to listening to a symphony, where, at the same time as the combination of sounds is felt, the value of each orchestral element is experienced as a unique and vibrant force.26

Even Signac, who underscored the social significance of neo-impressionist painting by describing himself and his colleagues in 1891 in an essay he wrote for the anarchist periodical La révolte as "pure esthetes, revolutionaries by temperament" who "give a solid blow of the pick to the old social edifice,"27 based his comparison of neo-impressionism and music on their similar combination of rational theory and inventive practice, rather than on the ideas they expressed. The best artists, he claimed in D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, apply color to their canvases with theoretical rigor and precision in order to achieve maximum luminosity and aesthetic harmony, an empirical working method he considered comparable to a musician's (hence his reference to Delacroix's comment that "the art of the colorist is obviously related in some respects to mathematics and music,"28 as well as to Charles Blanc's opinion that "color, subject to fixed rules, can be taught like music").29

The neo-impressionist technique—unblended brushstrokes systematically applied to create harmonious wholes—is so insistent from one painting to the next that it is easy to understand why critics focused upon it and compared it solely to the formal properties of music. But Signac's interest in musicality as a model or standard for his art, especially his seascapes, was also the result of music's abstract capacity for, in Baudelaire's words, "translating ideas." Music's rational harmonies, analogous to the aesthetic harmonies of neo-impressionism, suggest rather than transmit directly their composers' ideas, much the way a translation at best approximates the form or language of the original. According to Signac, neo-impressionism's "idea" was ultimately social (as he wrote in 1902, "justice in sociology, harmony in art: the same thing"30), but only rarely do his paintings represent explicitly his personal convictions as an anarchist. In his essay for La révolte, written while he was at work on La Mer, he stressed that artists who wished to express themselves as revolutionaries should not, in fact, feel compelled to make overtly political works of art. "It would thus be a mistake," he declared, "committed all too often by the best-intentioned revolutionaries, like Proudhon, to make it a standard demand that works of art have a precise socialist thrust…." Instead, he believed artists should feel free to express their social consciousness indirectly, by "leav[ing] the beaten path to paint what they see, as they feel it."31 Music and musicality allowed Signac to do exactly that, by functioning as vehicles to express the "superior, sublimated reality" that Fénéon identified in 1887 as the consummate result of neo-impressionist representation.32

"Superior reality" (or "authentic Reality," as Fénéon later called it) in painting has its musical parallel in the philosophy and works of the composer Richard Wagner, whose impact on late-nineteenth-century French culture, particularly the symbolist movement, was profound. Of pressing interest to the symbolist writers and artists in the orbit around Fénéon was Wagner's ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), which fused music, words, movement, and stage sets into synthetic "music-dramas" designed to stimulate as many of the senses as possible and revitalize the human spirit. The quintessential example was the composer's epic four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungs) (1854-74), with its leitmotifs (recurring themes), continuous melody, and non-stop orchestration. In total it resembled a huge symphony rather than a series of traditional operas with their distinct recitatives, arias and abbreviated melodic phrases.

Among the neo-impressionists, it was Seurat and Signac who best knew and appreciated Wagner's work.33 Signac even named two of his boats after the composer, calling the first "Manet-Zola-Wagner" and the second, one of several he owned in 1890, "La Walküre" ("The Valkyrie," the second opera in Der Ring), which Fénéon mentioned in the conclusion of his biography while underscoring the importance of water and sailing to the development of Signac's painting.34 Both artists also were familiar with the symbolist monthly La revue wagnérienne, founded in 1885 by the critic Téodor de Wyzewa and replete with interpretations of Wagner's work and his musical theories. Notably, Seurat and Signac each received personally from Fénéon a copy of the May 1886 issue of the review featuring Wyzewa's essay "Notes sur la peinture wagnérienne et le Salon de 1886,"35 the gist of which anticipates Fénéon's opinions regarding "precarious" vs. "authentic" reality. It was especially significant to Wyzewa that Wagner not only understood the creative process and the perception of its results as life-giving activities, but also imagined artists purposefully creating works that would stand as alternatives to the shortcomings of the contemporary era:

Art, Wagner tells us, must create life...To see, to hear, is to create appearances within oneself, therefore to create life...And the Life which we have created—created in order to give us the joy of creating—has lost its original character. It is therefore necessary to recreate it: one must build, over and above this world of defiled, habitual appearances, the holy world of a better life: better, because we can create it intentionally, and know that we create it. This is the very task of art.36

A "better life" in art, Wyzewa said, necessarily had to begin with the mundane material of everyday existence (he called it "biased reality"), which the Wagnerian artist then transformed into something ideal:

But where will the artist get the elements of this superior life? He cannot take them from anywhere, if not from our inferior life, from what we call Reality…Thus is explained the necessity of Realism in art: but not a realism whose goal is only to transcribe the appearances that we believe real: [rather] an artistic reality, tearing down those false appearances of biased reality where we perceive them, and transporting them to the better reality of an unbiased life. We see around us trees, houses, men, and we suppose they are alive: but thus perceived, they are only empty shadows, covering the shifting scene of our vision: they will live only when the artist...imposes on them this superior life, recreates them for us.37

Wagnerian painters were those with the ability to express convincingly the "superior life" (analogous to Fénéon's "superior" or "authentic" reality) that lay beyond the unmediated world of the everyday, in paintings Wyzewa described as "emotional and musical, disregarding the objects that the colors and lines represent, taking them only as signs of emotions, blending them so that they produce in us, through their free play, a total impression comparable to that of a symphony."38

Wyzewa was not the only one of Signac's contemporaries who would have piqued his interest in the idea of "musical" painting as a route to envisioning or building a better life. Charles Henry, a mathematician and psycho-aesthetician with whom Signac worked closely in the late 1880s, undoubtedly played a role as well.39 Henry not only devised a theory of linear and chromatic expression—the idea that movements upward or toward the right (whether real or represented in a work of art) as well as the colors red, orange and yellow were dynamogenous or pleasurable, while movements downward or toward the left and the colors green, blue and violet were inhibitory or sad—but also believed that the chords of tonal music and the distinctive sounds of musical instruments were analogous to certain colors or color harmonies and, like color, could elicit feelings in a listener ranging from extreme pleasure to extreme pain.40 He explored these ideas for the first time in 1886-1887 in three studies: "Loi d'évolution de la sensation musicale;" La théorie de Rameau sur la musique; and Wronski et l'esthétique musicale.41 A year later he repeated their major points in a chapter on auditory sensation in Le cercle chromatique, a text Signac knew well.42 While the essays and the chapter are abstruse and laden with formulae incomprehensible to anyone not thoroughly familiar with mathematical principles, one idea is easily gleaned from all of them: the elements of music, like those of visual art, exhibit contrast, rhythm and measure, and thus are not only similar to the lines and colors in an artwork but are equally evocative in terms of their dynamogenous or inhibitory qualities.43 Moreover, Henry insisted in Le cercle chromatique that if artists and designers would learn to correlate their directional lines with corresponding pairs of complementary colors according to the laws of contrast, the resulting harmony would approach the elicitory richness of music. "It is plain," he wrote, "that in assigning to each direction colors separated by a variable rhythmic interval on the chromatic circle, one will obtain virtual melodies at the same time as linear rhythms, and consequently, harmonies of a thoroughly musical power."44

Like Signac, Henry also considered his scientific aesthetic capable not only of inducing specific emotions in a viewer or listener but also of promoting positive social change on a much larger scale, an idea he proposed for the first time in 1885 in his essay "Introduction à une esthétique scientifique:"

What science can and must do: it is to expand the agreeable in us and outside of us and from this point of view its social function is immense in these times of oppression and hollow conflict. It must spare the artist hesitations and useless attempts, by indicating the way in which he can find ever richer aesthetic elements.45

He addressed this subject again in an interview conducted by Jules Huret entitled "Enquête sur l'évolution littéraire," published in L'écho de Paris in June 1891 just as Signac was beginning to work on La Mer.46 In response to Huret's opening question—"In what direction do you think the future of literature will develop?"—Henry cited the downfall of naturalism and realism and the simultaneous rise of symbolism, a movement he welcomed because of its expansive and subjective notion of aesthetic expression and communication. He told Huret:

Among the actual symbolists, several have understood, more or less vaguely, that outside of the logical boundaries of ideas there could be associative images inseparably founded on purely subjective laws. This is borne out in the fact that there can be intimate relationships between the hearing of certain sounds, the vision of certain colors, and the feeling of certain states of the soul.47

He went on to explain that his embrace of an art of analogy capable of stirring the emotions in specific yet also very personal ways was the result of his disillusionment with modern industrial society. The problem, he claimed, was the tendency among European nations to compete to "produce much, cheaply, and in a very short time," a material and economic goal that demanded a single-minded and ultimately fatiguing pursuit of rational thought and behavior in order to realize.48 As a corrective to this preoccupation with reason, Henry touted the benefits of art with symbolist tendencies. "I believe," he told Huret, "in the future of an art which would be the reverse of any ordinary logical or historical method, precisely because our intellects, exhausted by purely rational efforts, will feel the need to refresh themselves with entirely opposite states of mind."49 His comment, which at first sounds like a rejection of scientific aesthetics, in fact signifies his embrace of the "subjective laws" of aesthetics and visual perception that artists ideally would marshal to promote in their viewers an abundance of dynamogeny, a condition he described as "continuity and unity of action" and insisted was a biological preference of the human species.50

Theoretically then, the more senses a work of art could dynamogenously stimulate in a viewer, listener, or reader, the more socially beneficial its role would be. "Musical" or "symphonic" painting, with its allusion to harmonious progressions of sound and its supposed power to suggest an idea(l) on multiple sensory levels without resorting to the literal or the mundane, was a promising prospect in this regard. Signac clearly understood its potential, as did many of the symbolist critics who responded to La Mer, including Antoine de la Rochefoucauld. In an essay on Signac published in Le coeur in 1893, just after he had purchased Allegro maestoso, he wrote: "He [Signac] knows how to extend the limits of painting and, a true hierophant, fearlessly penetrates the most ideal provinces of music. If his canvases are admirable to the eyes, their symphonies are no less charming and stirring through the miracle of luminous waves transformed into sonorous waves, complete with grandeur and majesty."51

Refuge and Reform: The Sea as an Ideal Landscape
La Mer recalls, in its harmonies of complementary colors, its single theme explored five ways, and the extended period of time required to experience it, a symphony with its unique but interconnected movements or a Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk with its multiple yet synthesized modes of creative expression. Contributing further to its musicality is the decorative formalism Signac employed in each of its paintings via the interplay of horizontal ripples and vertical or diagonal masts and sails; the rhythmic repetition of boats; and the plethora of simplified and flattened forms. Together, these decorative devices push La Mer's imagery in the direction of abstraction, a condition comparable to music's inherently non-mimetic and abstract qualities.

It is no small matter that Signac linked decorative style and music much more decisively in his landscape paintings than in his earlier opus-numbered paintings of Paris, for the symbolists believed that decorative landscapes were both unusually expressive and also capable of improving the quality of life for their modern urban viewers. Alphonse Germain explored these claims in an essay of 1891 entitled "Le paysage décoratif," which offers a definition of decorative landscape Signac would have endorsed. Germain echoed Henry's belief that an artful arrangement of lines and colors in a painting could, in and of itself and independent of what it actually described, evoke specific feelings in its viewers. He also emphasized the decorative landscape's synthetic (that is, its essential and "timeless" rather than anecdotal and naturalistic) representation of nature's varied conditions, much as we see in the canvases of La Mer. According to Germain:

The decorative landscape can no more represent any old jagged corner than it can an unlikely fiction, even more it is not necessary that it recall sceneography; as often as possible, it must correspond to a mood and always synthesize it—by a dominant expressiveness of affective lines and colorations (cheerful or melancholy, severe or smiling, according to the intended purpose of the piece)—and synthesize as well the varied effects of the seasons, the months, the times of day, the atmosphere.52

Germain also underscored the remedial role decorative landscapes could play in their viewers' lives, by providing them with aesthetic alternatives to the denatured landscape of the city. "Oh!," Germain wrote, "to forget the ugliness of the streets in front of the idealized, lyrical landscape that evokes the infinite! To live the illusion that is life in the illusion of an eternally gracious nature!"53 That, surely, was an opinion Signac could not have helped but appreciate, with his move away from urban and suburban subject matter in the late 1880s toward pure landscape, and his public declaration in 1891 of the social benefits of neo-impressionism.

Just as important as Signac's triad of musicality, decorative style, and landscape in his series paintings are his subjects, most of which focus upon bodies of water, either the Seine or, more commonly, the sea. As an avid sailor whose travels along the rivers and coasts of France were as much for the purpose of sailing as they were for painting, it is little wonder that many of his plein air paintings either picture boats skimming over gentle waves or were painted from the vantage point of one of his many sailing vessels afloat on the water (for examples of the latter, see figs 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8). But images of the sea, its movement, and the movement of boats on its surface, in concert with musicality and its ideals, signify in much broader social terms when they are viewed from the symbolist perspective shared by Signac, his sympathetic critics, and the writers whose work he most enjoyed.

Like many of his contemporaries, Signac regularly left Paris during the summer and early fall months for the country's western and southern coasts, both to paint and to relax.54 In a letter he wrote to Fénéon from Concarneau in September 1891 while he was finishing La Mer, he described himself, his partner Berthe Roblès, and his friend Georges Lecomte, basking together in the warmth of late summer and enjoying the views from the shore, as "wild with happiness."55 His mood coincides with a sentiment shared by various left-wing writers who explored the sea as an antidote to modern life, from anarchists (discussed below) to the populist historian Jules Michelet, whose La mer (1861), a paean to the restorative properties of the sea, concludes with the claim that "renovation by nature, by air, by the sea, by a day of rest would be a thing of justice, as well as a benefit to the human race…The earth supplies you with life; it offers you the sea, the best it has, to revive you."56 But Signac would have understood the experience of life on and along the water in more than the diversionary sense of the typical vacationer. Periodicals sympathetic to neo-impressionism and symbolism were full of references to water, especially the sea, as the embodiment of, or a catalyst for imagining, alternative, often "musical," realities. In 1890, for example, the review Entretiens politiques et littéraires published a prose-poem by the symbolist poet Henri de Régnier entitled "L'eau," which begins by comparing the colors of water—described musically in one instance—to precious gems and metals ("smooth running rubies, showers of amethysts, melodious waterfalls of sapphires, molten gold"), then proceeds to imagine its surface as a mirror not only of nature but also of "faces which lean over it to anticipate in it a pre-vision of another life."57 What, exactly, constituted that life Regnier did not specify, only that it would be lived in the future in cities characterized by beauty, logic, and centrally-located bodies of water.58

A similarly poetic and socially evocative view of water appeared several years later in L'art moderne in a travelogue entitled "Sur la mer et sous les étoiles." The anonymous author, an artist at the beginning of his summer vacation, boards a steamship in Antwerp with a feeling of relief he compares to "breathing at the surface after a long, long swim under the troubled waters of social existence."59 Once afloat, he is mesmerized by the colors and movements of the ocean's surface, which repeatedly remind him of music. As the ship approaches the open sea, he imagines he hears "the deep notes sound on the keyboard of the waves" and describes the play of light and color upon the water as a "miraculous orchestration."60 The sailboats passing by become, in his eyes, "ornament for the polyphonic sea," an image of accord between nature and human culture reminiscent of Signac's boats scattered in rhythmic patterns across the water in La Mer.61 In this utterly remote and magnificent setting the author feels the "curtains of misery" lift from his soul and a calm peacefulness descend to take their place, along with a sense of "duty, sacrifice, and solidarities" that he attributes to the "great impressions" he has received while surrounded by water.62

Water as both a literal and a figurative source of escape from the disappointments of the urban-industrial world was also a theme in the writings of Guy de Maupassant, arguably Signac's favorite contemporary author (a copy of Maupassant's African travelogue Au soleil appears prominently in Signac's painting Nature morte. Livre, oranges of 1882).63 Besides Au soleil, which pits the weary monotony of metropolitan existence against the freedom of life on the road and the water, Signac also read Maupassant's Sur l'eau (1888), a series of short stories about his travels by boat along the Mediterranean coast, and likely knew as well his La vie errante of 1890, a poetic travelogue set in Italy, Africa, and on the Mediterranean. The latter is especially interesting in relation to La Mer, for it describes the author's synesthetic experience as he lay one night on the deck of his yacht watching the shifting colors of sea and sky. Blissfully removed from the clamor and the disconcerting culture of "manufacturing and selling" in Paris,64 and afloat in a world of seemingly "endless solitude, where the sound of murmuring worlds is deadened," he suddenly hears operatic music coming over the water and is engulfed by strong perfumes of myrtle, citron, lavender, thyme and mint.65 At once surprised and refreshed by these sounds and smells but unable to fathom where they have come from, he suddenly recalls Baudelaire's poem "Correspondances" (reproduced in full in Maupassant's text) and the relevance of one of its lines to his experience:

Had I not just felt, in my innermost soul, the meaning of this mysterious line: "Perfumes, colors, and sounds answer each other." And not only do they answer each other in nature, but the answer is also given within us, and they mingle "in a dark and deep unity," as the poet says…This phenomenon, however, is known to medical science. A great many articles have been written on the subject, this year even, under the title "Colored Hearing."66

Maupassant's experience, which he attributes in large part to being away from the city and surrounded by open water, is similar in its essence to a comment Charles Henry made in his interview with Huret regarding the symbolist or "synesthetic" literary art of the future. Henry linked this ideal art metaphorically to water, suggesting that it, and its reception, were akin to a symbolist version of hydrotherapy, able to heal both the bodies and the spirits of increasingly enervated modern citizens:

I see in the future men fatigued by moral calculus, the problems of distribution, and so forth, who will seek repose in physical and moral hydrotherapy; yes, the extraordinary turmoil of these brains will need for their repose baths of very cosmic, universal, and elevated moral sentiments, idylls from which all reality and all contingencies will be banished.67

While this highly esoteric interpretation of the social utility of symbolist aesthetics bears no direct relationship to Signac's La Mer, Henry's trio of water, a condition of totality and harmony, and moral or social improvement nevertheless appears in the subjects, the style, and the ideological intent of Signac's series. The significance of that triad to the artist and his sympathetic critics, however, cannot be fully understood without examining the role it played in the geographical studies of Élisée Reclus and his colleagues. Reclus's metaphorical reading of the sea, in particular, considered together with La Mer's musicality, would have encouraged viewers familiar with late-nineteenth-century anarchist theory to understand the series not only as an expression of aesthetic ideals but also as a politicized version of "authentic Reality."

Harmony, Social Solidarity, and the Sea: An Anarchist Trio
Just as Signac's paintings were artful and socially-conscious reconstructions of what Fénéon called the "precarious reality" of the visible world, so Reclus's geography was more than simply an effort to describe the earth's surface objectively from a disengaged, scientific point of view. Like Signac, he also understood it subjectively and imaginatively as landscape, altered in his mind's eye to conform to an aesthetic ideal.68 Even his most straightforward and dispassionate geographies are laden with descriptions of landforms as visually harmonious wholes (in his massive Nouvelle géographie universelle, for example, he described France as a nation that "distinguishes itself, among all the countries of Europe, by the elegance and the equilibrium of its forms. Its undulating contours are harmonized in the most gracious manner with the solid majesty of the ensemble and are regularly developed in a series of rhythmic undulations.)"69 No wonder Signac named Reclus as one of the prime influences on his intellectual and political development, for Reclus's penchant for aestheticizing the earth—the anarchist Pierre Kropotkin called it "a true poet's capacity for understanding Nature" and characterized the result as a "broadly painted landscape"70—offered his readers, as Signac did his viewers, a selection of beautiful landscapes designed to appeal to both their artistic and social sensibilities.71 But rather than merely describing the earth in its natural and undeveloped state as the embodiment of aesthetic harmony, Reclus also considered it a catalyst for transforming the human community, claiming that to gaze upon, let alone live within, a naturally beautiful environment would promote maximum intellectual and moral development. As he wrote in La terre, his first book-length geographical study, "one feels that, under threat of moral and intellectual diminishment, it is necessary at any cost to counterbalance the vulgarity of all things ugly and mediocre, where narrow spirits see the testament of modern civilization, with the sight of great scenes of the earth."72 Although he believed many contemporary natural sites provided such ideal views, he also acknowledged how limited in number they were. For that reason, he believed it was the responsibility of each "truly civilized" individual to function "like an artist, to give the landscapes which surround him the most charm, grace and majesty," and thus "assume part of the responsibility for the harmony and the beauty of surrounding nature."73
It is tempting to think of the canvases or "musical movements" of La Mer as responses to Reclus's call for human intervention to increase the earth's natural beauty in an artistically sensitive manner. With their decorative style, in particular their rhythmically-moving waters, evenly-scattered boats, and limited palette of complementary colors, they picture nature and culture alike as the preserve of harmony, beauty, and equilibrium. (Even Presto [finale], with its "unharmonious" detail of fishermen struggling with a broken mast during a squall, is an unusually well-ordered view, given the inclement weather; likewise, its curlicued clouds are so ornamental they belie their threat of rain.) Signac's equation of La Mer with a symphony further underscores its harmonic properties, while its alternating tempos remind viewers that its harmony, like a symphony's, is built out of contrast, the elements of which (line, color, time of day, weather, and movement) work together to serve a dominant theme. The goal of creating harmony through contrast is also, of course, at the heart of neo-impressionist aesthetic theory, as Seurat made clear in his terse axiom of 1890: "Art is Harmony. Harmony is the analogy of opposites, the analogy of similarities of tone, of tint, of line…"74 Signac, too, emphasized the importance of contrast to divisionism in an entry in his diary, by paraphrasing Eugène Chevreul's law of simultaneous contrast in words that sound as applicable to human relationships as they are to art: "For a color to be beautiful, it should influence its neighbor by harmonizing with it and subduing it, for their common benefit. From this charming duo is born perfect harmony…It is the great scientific and philosophic law of contrast."75
As a staunch anarchist, Signac naturally would have understood contrast from both an aesthetic and a social perspective, for the idea of contrast as integral to harmony was a recurring theme in anarchist theory. Anarchists collectively celebrated and fought to preserve individual autonomy and difference (i.e. contrast), without which they considered their dream of freedom from human authority incomplete. At the same time, they yearned for one social condition above all others: perfect harmony between the individual and society as a whole, with one equally responsible for the welfare of the other (as Jean Grave wrote in 1884 in an essay on the structure of organizations in an anarchist future, "social interest and individual interest can never be found in antagonism in a well-balanced society").76 Often, anarchists imagined this social configuration as a balancing act between "variety" and "unity," the very words Signac used in his writings to summarize the neo-impressionist aesthetic.77 In 1887, for example, an anonymous writer for Le révolté78 described an optimally healthy social structure as "harmony, [or] order in infinite variety."79 Likewise, the anarchist chemist and poet André Veidaux, in an article on anarchist philosophy written for the symbolist journal La plume, used the phrase "variety in unity" to characterize the most highly evolved form of human society: "Society, in a word, will work [first] with the individual in polymorphous, occasional, mobile groups, [then] with a grouping of groups, homologous and equivalent...This will be variety in unity, because it is the spectacle of natural Harmony, it is the Law of Evolution."80
Veidaux implies that harmony based on contrast is a condition inherent in nature itself, a belief shared by most anarchists but articulated most often and most forcefully by Reclus. It was of such importance to his understanding of geography that he titled the first chapter of La terre, in which he discussed the fundamental structure of the earth's surface, "Les harmonies et les contrastes." There, in a nutshell, he articulated the entire premise of his work as a geographer: "The life of the planet," he wrote, "like all other life, presents perpetual contrasts alternating with perpetual harmony…Physical geography is none other than the study of these terrestrial harmonies."81 Indeed, throughout his career Reclus imagined geographical features, from the smallest plot of land to the entire globe, as harmonious wholes, the diverse parts of which were equally necessary in determining their distinctive character and assuring their smooth function. His description of France in La nouvelle géographie universelle is a case in point: "The ensemble [of the country's geographical features] continually presents a sort of harmony in its very contrasts; great is the diversity, but it all keeps its character of geographic unity."82 His words seem to refer only to the physical landscape of France, but Reclus always intended the whole of organic life, including humanity, to be part of his "ensemble." He optimistically insisted, for example, that the country's regional populations, which in practice often competed with or stood deliberately apart from one another, were in fact naturally harmonized merely because of humanity's innate understanding of the earth as a perfect whole: "In all the provinces [of France]," he wrote, "local diversities are already dominated by the conscience of [the earth's] superior unity."83 Yet he also understood the human condition realistically, noting in La terre that "the planet's characteristics will not have their complete harmony if men are not first united in a concert [my emphasis] of justice and peace."84
If there was one geographical feature that Reclus imagined representing this superior, musical unity and helping it grow, it was water, a subject he began to explore in earnest in 1869 in his book Histoire d'un ruisseau, a charming and entirely readable account of a fictional stream and its influence upon the geographic and social landscapes surrounding it. The story has no traditional plot, for its only character is water, which Reclus traces from a spring high in the mountains to its incorporation into rivers, lakes, and ultimately the ocean. Along the way, he discusses the many ways in which humankind has utilized bodies of water throughout history. But the book, which was reissued in 1882, is more than a straightforward narrative; it is also Reclus's effort to represent the earth, using the example of one of nature's elements, as a "great teacher, [which] has not ceased to remind nations of harmony and the quest for liberty."85 With this in mind, he encouraged readers to appreciate water for its inherent harmony, which he often attributed to contrast, and its ability to evoke or promote social ideals. He observed, for example, how each drop of the stream's water "has its particular course, a bizarre series of vertical, horizontal and oblique curves, comprising the great meanders of the stream."86 Likewise, he compared the undulating banks of the stream, using an analogy Signac surely would have appreciated, to the pleasing rhythms of music ("the rounded convex and concave forms alternating along the banks: they are a rhythm, a music for the eye"87), and the clarity of spring water to impeccable morals ("in all times, the transparence of the river's source was the symbol of moral purity)."88 He also stressed the importance, especially to workers, of leisure time spent near water, whose mere presence he claimed would prevent them from "falling to the level of the beasts," and whose views would restore them in body, mind and spirit.89

It is Histoire d'un ruisseau's final chapter, however, entitled "Le cycle des eaux," that is especially pertinent to La Mer, given the series' profound aesthetic harmony, the ideals associated with its musicality, its oceanic subject, and the social role Signac would have intended it to play as a result of its divisionist facture. In the chapter's concluding paragraph, Reclus compared the natural order of the hydrological cycle to the anatomical order of the human body and, ultimately, to the course of human history as anarchists hoped to see it play out:

Isn't this great circuit of waters the image of all life?...In the eyes of the anatomist, each of us...is none other than a liquid mass, a river...Just as man is considered separately, so society taken as a whole can be compared to flowing water...People mix with people like streams mix with streams and rivers with rivers; sooner or later, they form no more than a single nation, just as all the waters of the same basin end by mixing into a single river...People, having become intelligent, will certainly learn to associate themselves into a free federation: humanity, until now divided into distinct currents, will be no more than the same river, and, reunited into a single wave, we will descend together toward the great sea where all lives lose themselves and are renovated.90

Reclus thus understood the sea metaphorically as a sign for humanity in its most highly developed—i.e. its most anarchistic—state, when complete and lasting harmony would prevail among all the people of the earth. To him, the ocean was not only the most inherently harmonious of all the planet's geographical features (as he wrote in the abridged edition of La terre, "the natural movement of water is to re-establish the equality of its surface in the parts where an accidental disturbance has been produced"91), but was also an equalizer in a more figurative and revolutionary sense, leading him to dream of a time in the future when conflict and disorder among individuals and nations would disappear and all life would coexist in a dynamic and "fluid" whole.

Whether Signac was thinking in terms similar to these when he planned and painted La Mer is entirely unknown, but his political sympathies and his respect for Reclus are convincing reasons to read the series from this particular perspective. Certainly the anarchist press would have offered him other examples of writers who imagined the ocean as an instigator of, as well as a metaphor for, an advanced or anarchist society, including Léon Metchnikoff, an anarchist geographer and Reclus's personal secretary. His work often appeared in the pages of La révolte in the late 1880s and early 1890s, much of it excerpted from his book La civilisation et les grands fleuves historiques. There, Metchnikoff identifed three phases of human history, beginning with the fluvial—the least "progressive"—and proceeding through the mediterranean to the oceanic or the atlantic. He linked these historical periods to geographic locations, noting that humanity would achieve its highest level of sociability only when the coasts of the continents had become the world's population centers and people had begun to travel regularly across the oceans:

Every great river leads to the sea; every fluvial civilization at its beginning must, barring destruction or being absorbed into a larger current, develop itself naturally into a more immense civilization, a communicative, expansive, maritime civilization…The transmissibility of civilizations, quite great already since the beginning of the mediterranean period, will only be able to grow when history has left the shores of the interior seas, to be transported to a more immense milieu, the Ocean.92

The anarchist Sébastien Faure also used water as his metaphor of choice for human progress. Writing in the summer of 1891 for the anarchist journal L'endehors (which Signac undoubtedly read93), he compared humanity to a river that begins its journey restricted by authority and ends it free and unfettered in the waters of the sea: "the human river…has Authority as its point of departure and, here filling in ravines, there submerging mountains, but ceaselessly widening its bed, it seems destined to pour its torrential waters into the Ocean of liberty."94 Two years later, Daniel Saurin offered readers another, very similar version of water as an analog to human social organization in his book L'ordre par l'anarchie: "Individuals go toward the multitude, like rivers go toward the sea; for a long time they struggle, and laboriously carve out with their energy the passage that circumstances allow; then they come to the end, and, in the final peace of the Ocean, the diverse rivers mingle."95

Common to all these conceptions of history is the idea of movement toward ever more complex and ideal stages of social organization. According to anarchist theory, such progress or evolution was the rule of nature, the latter of which included humanity. Using Darwin's theory of evolution as proof, anarchists claimed that the evolutionary process would be facilitated by a species' biological instinct for internal cooperation (anarchists called it "mutual aid") in the interest of furthering its development. Struggle and competition certainly existed, but in the human world they were the result of private property and the individual accumulation of wealth, and therefore would disappear once capitalism was overturned. Thus, anarchists called for the working class to unite and its members to cooperate in order to overthrow the bourgeoisie, whose survival was hindered by a "primitive" competitive ethos.
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Fig. 9 Paul Signac, Saint-Cast Harbor (opus 209), 1890. Oil on canvas. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts. Gift of William A. Coolidge, 1991.584. Photograph © 2004 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


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Fig. 10 Paul Signac, Saint-Briac, les balises (opus 210), 1890. Oil on canvas. Switzerland, Private collection


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Fig. 11 Paul Signac, Saint-Briac, la Garde Guérin (opus 211), 1890. Oil on canvas. Zurich, Rau Foundation

Reclus explored these ideas at length in his political pamphlet Évolution et révolution, published for the first time in 1880,96 but he also alluded to them in his geographical writings by emphasizing the importance of movement in general to the progressive development of life. "Everything changes," he wrote in the abridged edition of La terre, "everything is mobile in the universe, because movement is the very condition of life."97 Faure echoed that claim in 1891, expanding it to include humanity: "Isn't activity an inherent need of the human organism? Organized, thinking, moving matter, gifted with electricty, warmth, and movement, cannot be immobilized without suffering progressive disintegration."98 For Reclus, it was water above all else that embodied the movement without which life, including human life, could not progress. Equally important, he believed that regular contemplation of bodies of water, whose surfaces and shores were in continual flux, would lead to mental rejuvenation.99 He also claimed that humans were naturally attracted to, and enlivened by, the sight and sound of moving water, a landscape prospect they would find especially pleasing if it was balanced by more static views of nature:

It is often said that a landscape cannot be truly beautiful when it lacks the simmering of a lake or the movement of running waters. Indeed, it is because man, whose life is so short and consequently so mobile, has an instinctive loathing of immobility. In order for him to feel the life of nature, his senses must show an interest in movement and noise; being able to appreciate the age-long movements of the earth's surface only through lengthy reflection, he needs the swift leaps of water gushing from cascade to cascade or the harmonious undulation of the waves; by the same token, he also needs the contrast of the stable and the unstable, of movement and immobility.100

Signac's La Mer, with its focus upon harmony and the sea, and its contrast between mobility and stasis (rippled water; boats in sail; birds in flight; fishermen straining at their oars in Adagio; vs. the solid shore; the immobile rocks; the boats at rest; the fortified walls of old Concarneau), intersects at many points with Reclus's anarchist ideals. Movement, in particular, was crucial to the series' conception, as its musical titles suggest. Signac chose tempos, rather than keys or other musical sounds, as the basis for his analogy between pictorial form and music, underscoring not only the movement represented on each canvas but also the movement of viewers who must proceed, visually or on foot, from one work to the next in order to experience the whole. La Mer's indisputable connection between music and movement, especially the rhythmic movement traditionally associated with music, is what makes it more complex and evocative than Signac's earlier marines-in-series, none of which contain musical titles or represent natural or human activity in such a measured or harmonic way. A case in point is a series of four canvases he painted along the Breton coast in 1890 in the villages of Saint-Briac and Saint-Cast, also called, collectively, La Mer (figs. 9-11).101 In common with the series of 1891, the images cohere around a pared-down decorative style and a simple compositional scheme: a strip of sand in the foreground, the sea in the middleground, and a flat expanse of sky above. But La Mer of 1890 is marked by a pervasive stillness as a result of its empty skies, its smooth or barely-ruffled water, and its boats that either lie at anchor with their sails furled (as in Saint-Cast Harbor [opus 209] , fig. 9) or are located so far in the distance that they read only as nondescript dabs of white paint (as in Saint-Briac. La Garde Guérin [opus 211] , fig. 11). Movement is suggested in Saint-Cast by the boats in full sail and the gentle waves near the shore, but it is minimal in comparison to even the calmest image from La Mer of 1891—Adagio—in which fishermen work to position their vessels before casting their nets.

The idea of movement as the instigator of harmony, whether the aesthetic variety or the social harmony toward which humanity was continually evolving, was not only an anarchist theme but appears as well in the work of Charles Henry, where Signac would have found it discussed in a manner equally relevant to the formal properties and social intentions of La Mer. Henry insisted that every feeling, impulse, and act of perception was the result of rhythmic movement, either muscular or "virtual" (i.e. confined to the realm of the mind).102 He was concerned in particular with dynamogenous movement—movement from a lower to a higher point and from left to right, or simply "continuity and unity of action"103—because it promoted physical and emotional well-being and was therefore beneficial to human life. Dynamogeny, he said, was a condition naturally preferred by every individual; it would therefore help propel humanity—a collectivity of individuals—toward an "era of absolute harmony."104 This theory of movement, the anarchist thrust of which is unmistakable,105 coincides with the movements represented in La Mer. It is not the directional lines in the paintings that are dynamogenous, however, for most of them are horizontal and vertical or move from lower right to upper left; rather, dynamogeny is expressed in the waves; the boats in Scherzo, Adagio, and Presto (finale); and the groups of fishermen in Adagio and Presto (finale), all of which display continuous and unified movement.
The social resonance of that movement, like the social resonance of the musicality it also expresses, is far from explicit in La Mer.106 Yet the human elements of Signac's subject—working sardine boats and the fishermen who depended upon them for their livelihood—suggest that he wanted viewers to understand his seascapes from a social as well as an aesthetic point of view. Although Signac was an avid and highly skilled sailor who regularly participated in regattas during his summers along the Breton coast, the boats pictured in La Mer are vessels used for fishing rather than for sport.107 Regattas, in which the boats often appear to be moving together as a unit, would seem to be a suitable subject for marine paintings concerned, as Signac's are, with harmony, but as highly competitive events pitting sailors against one another they were not nearly as appropriate to La Mer, from the perspective of an anarchist, as the flotillas of sardine boats Signac chose to depict instead. Sardine fishing at Concarneau was an artisanal, communal, and mutually supportive enterprise, representative of the type of labor anarchists deemed ideal.108 Each boat was a small unit of cooperative production, controlled by five fishermen who were collectively called the équipage: a patron, who owned the boat and its nets, plus four hired hands (similar groups of five men are pictured in the boats in Adagio and in several of the boats in Allegro maestoso). A boat's profits were divided into two equal portions, one reserved for the maintenance of the boat and the nets and for buying bait; the other divided equally among the fishermen.109 The équipage was traditionally a stable, close-knit group of men, who fished together from year to year and were committed to assisting any among them who fell ill or were otherwise incapacitated.110 At the same time, however, they also identified themselves as members of the greater community of sardine fishermen, a sector of the working class in Concarneau known for its radical republicanism and its communitarian spirit.111
The boats moving at identical angles in Scherzo and Presto (finale), the groups of fishermen who pull their oars in unison in Adagio or work together to control their craft in Presto (finale), and the boats clustered evenly along the horizon in Larghetto, Allegro maestoso and Adagio, are therefore vehicles for expressing not only La Mer's musicality but also the communal and cooperative spirit of Concarneau's sardine fishermen. That combination of musical and human harmony would have resonated with Reclus, who compared the benefits of shared labor to the pleasing blend of rhythms and sounds accompanying a properly performed piece of music: "How much greater is the effect of rhythm," he wrote in La terre, "when many individuals, united for a joint task, add to the measured noise the sounds of their instruments of work. Then, none among the workers can avoid the common effort; the muscles tense themselves out of the same call for cadence; you work together."112 Fénéon, too, would have appreciated the human dimension of La Mer's musical-cum-aesthetic harmony, for it complements the subtly anthropomorphic description of divisionism he included in his biography of Signac: "The flight of each color is free, and the solidarity of all is strict: the canvas is unified under their surge."113 His words conjure up an image of a flowing and cohesive multitude, akin to Reclus's "great sea" of unified humanity, where individual volition is balanced with a sense of common purpose.
It is probably safe to say that Signac did not conceive of La Mer with these specific interpretations in mind. But by forgoing narrative structure and naturalistic description and connecting his imagery to the abstract and intangible qualities of music, he nonetheless encouraged viewers to read the series from multiple points of view, including, but certainly not limited to, those suggested here. Two things, however, are certain: he wanted his viewers to recognize and celebrate the "authentic Reality" that his art, including La Mer, offered as an antidote to the "precarious reality" of the modern world; and he understood his work, of which La Mer is but one example, as an outgrowth of his political sympathies. Knowing this, he likely would have appreciated an article on art and revolution written anonymously in 1886 for the periodical L'art moderne, which singled out Pierre Kropotkin's book Paroles d'un révolté and Jules Vallès's L'insurge as consummate examples of revolutionary art. Using aquatic imagery, the author describes the public reception of these and similar works of art with an anarchist or socialist thrust, emphasizing their circuitous but ultimately successful journey from obscurity to a point of cultural recognition and influence. They begin, he says, by "enter[ing] the channel where the current of these [revolutionary] ideas rolls energetically and swiftly;" then they are swept along through "backwashes which lead to nothing," and over "small waves which come to die near the shore," until, finally, they catch "the central wave that carries them toward the high sea," the place "with all the honor."114

Note: All translations are the author's unless otherwise indicated.

1. Félix Fénéon, "Signac," Les hommes d'aujourd'hui, no. 373 (1890), reprinted in Félix Fénéon, Oeuvres plus que complètes, vol. 1, ed. Joan U. Halperin (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1970), pp. 174-179.

2. Ibid., p. 176: "une technique nouvelle doit correspondre à une nouvelle manière de voir."

3. Ibid., p. 177: "M. Paul Signac put créer les exemplaires spécimens d'un art à grand développement décoratif, qui sacrifie l'anecdote à l'arabesque, la nomenclature à la synthèse, le fugace au permanent, et, dans les fêtes et les prestiges, confère à la Nature, que lassait à la fin sa réalité précaire, une authentique Réalité."

4. Paul Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme (Paris: Hermann, 1978), p. 126. First published 1899.

5. Ibid., p. 104: "…elle [une oeuvre néo-impressionniste] comporte une harmonie d'ensemble et une harmonie morale." Signac also claimed (p. 51) that the neo-impressionists were preoccupied with "the moral effect of lines and colors" ("Se préoccupant [le néo-impressionniste] ainsi l'effet moral des lignes et des couleurs").

6. Since 1882, Signac also had been assigning opus numbers to most of his canvases as he recorded them systematically in a cahier d'opus (opus notebook). He continued to number his paintings this way through 1893. Paintings on which he actually wrote the opus numbers usually included his signature and a date, written in the lower left corner as opposed to the lower right.

7. Fénéon, "Signac," p. 177. Fénéon wrote: "Signac forgoes admitting into his pictures the literal. He numbers them" ("M. Signac renonce à mettre de la littérature sous ses tableaux. Il les numérote").

8. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, p. 122: "Le peintre aura joué de son clavier de couleurs de la même façon qu'un compositeur manie les divers instruments pour l'orchestration d'une symphonie." These words appear in the manifesto just a few paragraphs before Fénéon's synopsis, thus encouraging readers to understand the critic's claim that a neo-impressionist painting "sacrifices anecdote to arabesque" as both a visual and a musical reference (an arabesque is not only an abstract element of design but also a short and fanciful musical piece).

9. Ibid., p. 118: "une touche n'est qu'un des infinis éléments colorés dont l'ensemble composera le tableau, élément ayant juste l'importance d'une note dans une symphonie."

10. Ibid., p. 125: "Pour écouter une symphonie, on ne se place pas parmi les cuivres, mais à l'endroit où les sons des divers instruments se mêlent en l'accord voulu par le compositeur. On pourra ensuite se plaire à décomposer la partition, note par note, pour en étudier le travail d'orchestration. De même, devant un tableau divisé, conviendra-t-il de se placer d'abord assez loin pour percevoir l'impression d'ensemble, quitte à s'approcher ensuite pour étudier les jeux des éléments colorés."

11. In 1886 he painted ten views of the Seine at Les Andelys; the following year he painted four seascapes set in Collioure along the Mediterraean coast; in 1888 he painted eight seascapes at Portrieux in Brittany; in 1889 he painted both the Cassis and the Herblay series; and in 1890 he painted a series of four marines in Saint-Briac and Saint-Cast in Brittany.

12. These are the titles Signac originally gave the paintings and by which they were identified at the 1892 exhibition of Les Vingt in Brussels (the first time they appeared in public). Later that year they were exhibited at the Indépendants in Paris, where, for reasons unknown, Signac assigned them new titles and omitted their opus numbers: Scherzo became Rentrée ("Return"), Concarneau; Larghetto became Matin ("Morning"), Concarneau; Allegro maestoso became Soir ("Evening"), Concarneau; Adagio became Calme ("Calm"), Concarneau; and Presto (finale) became Brise ("Breeze"), Concarneau (Signac probably intended the last title to be a play on words, for "brise" also means "breaks," a reference to what has happened to the mast of the boat in the lower left corner of the painting). Françoise Cachin, in Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), lists the works by yet another set of titles which includes not only the new names, but the opus numbers and the original "movement" names as well: Concarneau. Le sardinier ("Sardine Boat"), Opus 218 (Scherzo); Concarneau. Calme du matin ("Morning Calm"), Opus 219 (Larghetto); Concarneau. Calme du soir ("Evening Calm"), Opus 220 (Allegro maestoso); Concarneau. Pêche à la sardine ("Sardine Fishing"), Opus 221 (Adagio); and Concarneau. Rentrée des chaloupes ("Return of the Longboats"), Opus 222 (Presto finale). Today, Allegro maestoso and Adagio are in public collections, where they are called, respectively, Evening Calm, Concarneau, Opus 220 (Allegro maestoso) and Setting Sun, Sardine Fishing. Adagio. Opus 221. In my text I use the titles Signac first gave the paintings. The captions to my illustrations feature the titles assigned to the works by their current owners (if known), followed in square brackets by Signac's original titles.

13. The first person to notice the similarity between Signac's boats on the water and the notes on the horizontal lines of a musical staff was Marie-Thérèse Lemoyne de Forges in her discussion of Adagio in Signac, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre, 1963), p. 47.

14. Signac himself identified two of the times of day depicted in the series, via the new titles he assigned to the paintings when they were exhibited in 1892 at the Indépendants: Matin ("Morning"), Concarneau and Soir ("Evening"), Concarneau. Rentrée ("Return"), Concarneau also must be set in the morning because this was when the sardine boats at Concarneau returned to port after a night working their nets (see Bernard Cadoret et al., Ar vag: voiles et travail en Bretagne atlantique [Grenoble: Éditions des Quatres Seigneurs, 1978], p. iii). Calme ("Calm"), Concarneau, in contrast, was painted from the shore looking west over the water at sunset.

15. Signac did not maintain pictorially the strict alternation between fast and slow implied by his titles. The images in the first two paintings of the series, Scherzo and Larghetto, coincide closely with their respective tempos (in the former, brisk winds and swift movement are represented by the boats in full sail and the assertive ripples of water; in the latter, lighter winds and slower movement are represented by the raised but windless sails and the more gently undulating water). But Allegro maestoso, which pictures a calm evening with only a trace of wind, could hardly be called a scene of rapid movement. Why Signac did not match perfectly his titles and his imagery is anyone's guess. Perhaps he originally envisioned the series as three "quieter" or calmer images framed by two faster and more energetic ones, but then decided he wanted his viewers to understand it at the same time as a musical symphony with the latter's characteristic alternating tempos (hence, his choice of titles). Or, perhaps the lack of agreement between the tempos and what is actually represented was simply his way of personalizing his "symphony" and exercising his creative freedom, the latter of which meant a great deal to him as an anarchist (see note 31, below).

16. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, p. 157: "N'est-il pas un artiste, celui qui s'efforce de créer l'unité dans la variété?" Signac used the phrase "variety in unity" to describe the neo-impressionist aesthetic in his diary in 1894. See Paul Signac, "Excerpts from the Unpublished Diary of Paul Signac," pt. 1, trans. and ed. John Rewald, Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 36 (July-December 1949), p. 170.

17. Analyses of the neo-impressionists' anarchist sympathies are numerous. See especially John Hutton, Neo-Impressionism and the Search for Solid Ground: Art, Science, and Anarchism in Fin-de-Siècle France (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994); Joan Ungersma Halperin, Félix Fénéon, Aesthete and Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle Paris (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988); and Robyn Roslak, "The Politics of Aesthetic Harmony: Neo-Impressionism, Science, and Anarchism," The Art Bulletin 73 (September 1991), pp. 381-90. For a discussion of Signac's only overtly anarchist painting, his mural Au Temps d'harmonie of 1894-95, see Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, "Au Temps d'harmonie: une oeuvre engagée," 48/14: La revue du Museé d'Orsay, no. 12 (Spring 2001), pp. 84-89; and Margaret Werth, The Joy of Life: The Idyllic in French Art, circa 1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), chap. 2.

18. In a letter written to the anarchist Jean Grave in 1916, Signac looked back over his life as a politically committed artist and recalled proudly for his friend the roots of his social conscience: "Nourished by your principles, by those of Reclus, by those of Kropotkin...it is you who have formed me" ("Nourri de vos principes, de ceux de Reclus, de ceux de Kropotkine...c'est vous qui m'avez formé"). Cited in Robert Herbert and Eugenia Herbert, "Artists and Anarchism: Unpublished Letters of Pissarro, Signac, and Others," pt. 2, Burlington Magazine 102 (December 1960), p. 520.

19. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, p. 56: "On trouve dans la couleur l'harmonie, la mélodie et le contrepoint" (the words are Baudelaire's). For a discussion of the importance of Baudelaire's text to Signac, see the introduction to D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, pp. 17-18.

20. See Baudelaire's poem "Correspondences" of 1857, reproduced in Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology, ed. Henri Dorra (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 11.

21. Charles Baudelaire, "Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris," L'art romantique, in Charles Baudelaire, Oeuvres complètes de Baudelaire, ed. Y.-G. Le Dantec (Paris: Gallimard, 1954), p. 1051: "car ce qui serait vraiment surprenant, c'est que le son ne pût pas suggérer la couleur, que les couleurs ne pussent pas donner l'idée d'une mélodie, et que le son et la couleur fussent impropres à traduire des idées; les choses s'étant toujours exprimées par une analogie réciproque, depuis le jour où Dieu a proféré le monde comme une complexe et indivisible totalité."

22. See Paul Signac [S.P., pseud.], "Catalogue de l'exposition des XX à Bruxelles," Art et critique 2, no. 36 (1 February 1890), pp. 76-78.

23. Louis de Lutèce, "Les symphonies: Pochades impressionnistes," Art et Critique 2, no. 62 (2 August 1890), p. 484: "Du printemps à l'hiver, de l'hiver au printemps; de l'aurore au crépuscule, du crépuscule à l'aurore; à chaque saison de l'année, à chaque heure de jour ou de la nuit, la nature jamais lasse, entonne d'innombrables et divines symphonies de couleurs tantôt gaies, tantôt tristes, tantôt éblouissantes, tantôt sombres, toujours belles! Chacune de ces merveilleuses symphonies a sa couleur dominante prodiguée avec passion, nuancée avec amour...Sa note favorite qui revient, chante, captive, charme, jamais monotone, quoique toujours la même et jouant ou un joyeux allegro, ou un religieux andante, ou un badin scherzo, ou un final sonore."

24. Ibid.: "L'aube naissante ou la tendre aurore d'une matinée de printemps n'ont-elles pas les jolies délicatesses, les prestes coquetteries d'un scherzo?...Le soleil flamboyant d'un midi estival: les ardentes gaietés, les joyeux éblouissements d'un allegro?...Le crépuscule étoilé d'un soir d'automne: les douceurs infinies, les mélancolies profondes, le calme grandiose d'un andante?...Et les rayons sanglantes d'un couchant d'hiver: les surprises éclatantes, les fureurs ardentes d'un finale?" Lutèce revisited these ideas two years later in another prose-poem entitled "Mélodies," which opened with the following words: "According to the seaon or the hour, nature is colored with ever harmonious but diverse symphonies, the sublime stanzas of a divine poem" ("Suivant la saison ou l'heure du jour, la nature se colore de symphonies toujours harmonieuses bien que diverses, les strophes sublimes du poème divin"), Art et critique 4, no. 95 (26 March 1892), p. 172.

25. Georges Vanor, L'art symboliste (Paris: La Bibliopole Vanier, 1889), p. 42: "La technique nouvelle tend, par l'observation de facultés réactives d'une couleur sur son adjacente, à composer le tableau comme une partition de taches consécutives et analytiques des tons, qu'ils orchestrent ensuite par une harmonie d'ensemble."

26. Paul Adam, "Les artistes indépendants," La revue rose (May 1887), pp. 140 and 142: "On s'approchait des toiles, on s'efforçait à comprendre l'instrumentation de ces choeurs, gouttes colorantes liant leurs expressions pour la parfaite harmonie de l'ensemble...Dès lors, l'oeuvre se percevra selon ce charme particulier promu par l'audition d'une symphonie musicale où, en même temps que se trace la résultante synthétique des sons, la valeur de chaque élément orchestral se conçoit comme une force unique et vibrante."

27. Paul Signac [Un camarade impressionniste, pseud.], "Impressionnistes et révolutionnaires," La révolte 4 (13-19 June 1891), p. 4: "les purs esthètes, révolutionnaires par tempérament, qui…donnent…un solide coup de pioche au vieil édifice social."

28. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, p. 54: "L'art du coloriste tient évidemment par de certains côtés avec mathématiques et à la musique." The words are Delacroix's. Signac, who was an avid reader of Delacroix, probably was familiar also with Delacroix's comments on painting and musicality in his essay "Réalisme et idéalisme," including this: "There is an emotion peculiar to painting, of which nothing in [literature] can give an idea. There is an impression which results from a certain arrangement of colors, lights, shadows, and so forth. It is what one might call the music of the painting. Before you even know what the painting represents,...when you are too far away from it...you are conquered by this magical accord" (cited in English in Symbolist Art Theories, p. 3).

29. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme, p. 57: "La couleur, soumise à des règles sûres, se peut enseigner comme la musique." Blanc's words come from the 2nd edition of his Grammaire des arts du dessin (Paris: Renouard, 1870).

30. Cited in Robert Herbert and Eugenia Herbert, "Artists and Anarchism: Unpublished Letters of Pissarro, Signac, and Others," pt. 1, Burlington Magazine 102 (November 1960), p. 479: "Justice en sociologie, harmonie en art: même chose." The quotation comes from an unpublished manuscript in the Signac Archives, Paris.

31. Paul Signac [Un camarade impressionniste, pseud.], "Impressionnistes et révolutionnaires," p. 4: "Ce serait donc une erreur, dans laquelle sont tombés trop souvent les révolutionnaires les mieux intentionnés, comme Proudhon, que d'exiger systématiquement une tendance socialiste précise dans les oeuvres d'art, car cette tendance se retrouvera beaucoup plus forte et éloquente chez les purs esthètes, révolutionnaires par tempérament, qui…peignent ce qu'ils voient, comme ils le sentaient."

32. Félix Fénéon, "Le néo-impressionnisme," L'art moderne (1 May 1887), reprinted in Fénéon, Oeuvres plus que complètes, vol. 1, p. 74: "…la réalité objective leur est simple thème à la création d'une réalité supérieure et sublimée où leur personnalité se transfuse" ("…objective reality for them is simply a theme for the creation of a higher and sublimated reality in which their personality is transfused").

33. For a discussion of Seurat as a Wagnerian painter, see Paul Smith, Seurat and the Avant-Garde (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 105-55. Smith's analysis of Wagnerian painting, examples of which are Seurat's seascapes as well as his paintings of urban entertainment, has been instrumental to my understanding of Signac's engagement with music. Smith focuses on musicality in Seurat's La parade, Le chahut, and Le cirque rather than on its appearance in his seascapes.

34. Fénéon, "Signac," p. 179. On Signac as a sailor, see Anne Distel, "Portrait of Paul Signac: Yachtsman, Writer, Indépendant, and Revolutionary," in Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon and others, Signac, 1863-1935, exh. cat. (New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2001), p. 38.

35. Smith, Seurat and the Avant-Garde, p. 107.

36. Téodor de Wyzewa, "Notes sur la peinture wagnérienne et le Salon de 1886," La revue wagnérienne 2 (May 1886), pp. 101-102: "L'Art, nous dit Wagner, doit créer la vie…Voir, entendre, c'est créer en soi des apparences, donc créer la Vie…Et la Vie que nous avions créée, créée [sic] afin de nous donner la joie créatrice, a perdu son caractère premier. Il faut donc la recréer: il faut, au dessus de ce monde des apparences habituelles profanées, bâtir le monde saint d'une meilleure vie: meilleur par ce que nous le pouvons créer volontairement, et savoir que nous le créons. C'est la tâche même de l'art."

37. Ibid., p. 102: "Mais où l'artiste prendra-t-il les éléments de cette vie supérieure? Il ne les peut prendre nulle part, sinon dans notre vie inférieure, dans ce que nous appelons la Réalité…Ainsi s'explique la nécessité du Réalisme dans l'art: mais non point d'un réalisme transcrivant, sans autre but, les apparences que nous croyons réelles: d'un réalisme artistique, arrachant ces apparences à la fausse réalité intéressée où nous les percevons, pour les transporter dans la réalité meilleure d'une vie désintéressée. Nous voyons autour de nous des arbres, des maisons, des hommes, et nous les supposons vivans [sic]: ils ne sont, ainsi perçus, que des ombres vaines, tapissant le décor mobile de notre vision: ils vivront seulement lorsque l'artiste...leur imposera cette vie supérieure, les recréera devant nous."

38. Ibid., p. 104: "[une peinture] émotionnelle et musicale, négligeant le soin des objets que ces couleurs et lignes représentent, les prenant, seulement, comme les signes d'émotions, les mariant de façon à produire en nous, par leur libre jeu, une impression totale comparable à celle d'une symphonie."

39. Signac began to work closely with Henry in the fall of 1888, when he designed a watercolor poster illustrating Henry's Le cercle chromatique. The following year, he drew up plates and diagrams for Henry's Application de nouveaux instruments de précision (cercle chromatique, rapporteur et triple-décimètre esthétique) à l'archéologie and his Éducation du sens des formes. Both projects required more than 600 hours of his labor, according to Cachin, Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, p. 357.

40. Michael Zimmerman meticulously analyzes Henry's theory of expression in Seurat and the Art Theory of His Time (Antwerp: Fonds Mercator, 1991), chap. 6.

41. Charles Henry, "Loi d'évolution de la sensation musicale," La revue philosophique de la France et de l'étranger 11 (July-December 1886), pp. 81-87; La théorie de Rameau sur la musique (Paris: Publications de La vogue, 1887); Wronski et l'esthétique musicale (Paris: Publications de La vogue, 1887).

42. Signac wrote a commemorative essay entitled "Charles Henry" in Cahiers de l'étoile, no. 13 (January-February 1930), in which he recalled being maniacally interested in Le cercle chromatique in the 1880s (p. 72).

43. For example, Henry wrote in La théorie de Rameau sur la musique, p. 15: "Consonance and dissonance, melody and harmony, the modes are simply particular cases of absolutely general subjective functions: contrast, rhythm, and measure" ("La consonance et le dissonance, la mélodie et l'harmonie, les modes ne sont que des cas particuliers de fonctions subjectives absolument générales: le contraste, le rythme, et la mesure"). Likewise, from Le cercle chromatique (Paris: Charles Verdin, 1888), p. 5: "I have chosen the best studied excitations: lights, colors, forms, sounds. I have shown that the phenomena known under the name of optical illusions, consonance, dissonance, modes, and harmony are particular cases of subjective functions common to all nervous reactions—contrast, rhythm, and measure" ("J'ai choisi les excitations les mieux étudiées: lumières, couleurs, formes, sons. J'ai montré que les phénomènes connus sous le nom d'illusions d'optique, consonance, dissonance, modes, harmonie sont des cas particuliers de fonctions subjectives, communes à toutes les réactions nerveuses: le contraste, le rythme, la mesure").

44. Henry, Le cercle chromatique, p. 69: "Il est clair qu'en attribuant à chaque direction une couleur distante sur le cercle chromatique d'un intervalle rythmique variable, on obtiendra simultanément aux rythmes linéaires des mélodies virtuelles et conséquemment des harmonies d'une puissance toute musicale."

45. Charles Henry, "Introduction à une esthétique scientifique," La revue contemporaine 2 (August 1885), p. 442: "Ce que la science peut et doit faire: c'est répandre l'agréable en nous et hors de nous et à ce point de vue sa fonction sociale est immense en ces temps d'oppression et de collisions sourdes. Elle doit épargner à l'artiste des hésitations et des essais inutiles, en assignant la voie dans laquelle il peut trouver des éléments esthétiques toujours plus riches."

46. The interview was published a second time in October 1891 in L'art moderne. It was translated into English by José Arguelles in his Charles Henry and the Formation of a Psychophysical Aesthetic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), pp. 176-181.

47. Ibid., 178.

48. Ibid.

49. Ibid.

50. "The species," he wrote in Le cercle chromatique, p. 147, "tends toward dynamogeny, that is to say toward continuity and a unity of action" ("L'espèce tend vers la dynamogénie, c'est-à-dire vers une continuité et une unité d'action").

51. Antoine de la Rochefoucauld, "Paul Signac," Le coeur 1, no. 2 (May 1893), p. 4: "Il sait reculer les limites de la peinture et, véritable hiérophante, il pénètre hardiment dans les contrées plus idéales de la musique. Si ses toiles sont admirables pour les yeux, leurs symphonies n'en charment et n'en émeuvent pas moins, par le miracle des ondes lumineuses transformées en ondes sonores, toutes de grandeur et de majesté."

52. Alphonse Germain, "Le paysage décoratif," L'ermitage 2, no. 11 (November 1891), p. 644: "Le paysage décoratif ne peut pas plus représenter un coin découpé n'importe où qu'une invraisemblable fiction, il ne faut pas davantage qu'il rappelle la scénographie; il doit, de plus souvent possible, correspondre à un état d'âme et synthétiser toujours—par une dominante expressive des lignes et de colorations affectives (gaies ou mélancoliques, sévères ou riantes, selon la destination de la pièce)—et synthétiser aussi bien les effets variés des saisons, des mois, des heures de la journée, de l'atmosphère que les aspects multiformes de la nature."

53. Ibid., p. 641: "O! oublier la laideur des rues devant le paysage idéalisé, lyrique, évocateur d'infini! Vivre l'illusion qu'est la vie dans l'illusion d'une nature gracieuse éternellement!"

54. Among the neo-impressionists, Seurat, too, painted marines-in-series along the Atlantic coast of France—at Grandcamp in 1885, Honfleur in 1886, Port-en-Bessin in 1888, and Gravelines in 1890—all of which are well-known and well-studied in comparison to Signac's. Critics occasionally read musicality into Seurat's seascapes, which in turn may have inspired Signac to structure La Mer around the same. Paul Adam, for one, claimed that Seurat was the first artist to use color in a musical way in his article "Les artistes indépendants" for La revue rose (see note 26). His description of the shimmering color in Seurat's seascapes from Honfleur encourages one to think of the vibrancy of music, pp. 142-143: "M. Seurat was the first to apply this pictorial process…Above all he is the prodigious evoker of seas with infinite droves of waves, and calm beaches…The Shore at Bas-Butin is like that, so delightfully dusted with its blond sand, over which the sea pours its changing tints of malachite and emerald, and also lapis, while the sky vibrates like a box full of tiny gems"("Le premier, M. Seurat appliqua ce procédé pictural…Avant tout il est le prodigieux évocateur des mers aux infinis troupeaux de vagues, et des calmes grèves…Ainsi la Grève du Bas-Butin si adorablement poudrée de ses sables blonds, où s'épanche une mer aux changeantes teintes de malachite et d'émeraude, de lapis aussi; tandis que le firmament vibre, comme un écrin emplis de minuscules gemmes").

55. Cited in Cachin, Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, p. 361: "Les amis…se disent 'éperdus de bonheur' et jouissent de cet été tardif."

56. Jules Michelet, La mer (Paris: Gallimard, 1983), p. 328: "la rénovation de nature, l'air, la mer, un jour de repos, ce serait une justice, un bienfait encore pour le genre humain…La Terre vous supplie de vivre; elle vous offre ce qu'elle a de meilleur, la mer, pour vous relever." An 8th edition of La mer appeared in 1882.

57. Henri de Régnier, "L'Eau," Entretiens politiques et littéraires 1, no. 4 (1 July 1890), p. 120: "on l'a muée en roulements silencieux de rubis, en pluies d'améthystes, en mélodieuses chutes de saphirs, en fusions d'ors…miroir du ciel, de la pierre et des arbres et des visages qui s'y penchent pour y anticiper une préapparition d'autre vie." Signac knew Régnier personally, for they both were regular participants in 1886 in the writer Robert Caze's Friday evening gatherings (see Cachin, Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, p. 350).

58. He wrote, about an ideal life to come, ibid.: "Elle [water] sera au centre des futures villes, logiques et belles."

59. "Sur la mer et sous les étoiles," L'art moderne 6, no. 36 (6 September 1896), p. 281: "La respiration à la surface après la longue, longue nage sous les eaux troublées de la sociale existence."

60. Ibid., p. 283: "Sur le clavier des flots sonnent maintenant les notes profondes…Orchestration miraculeuse!"

61. Ibid., p. 282: "Les voiliers que nous dépassons ou qui nous croisent ne semblent plus là que pour l'ornement de la mer polyphonante."

62. Ibid., pp. 283-284: "Dans mon âme monte la paix salutaire des détachements et des solitudes, et son ennoblissement. Déjà les rides des misères s'effacent, et leurs mauvais plis…Ces grandes impressions servir les justes causes, invigorant en moi le sentiment du devoir, du sacrifice et des solidarités."

63. Reproduced in color in Ferretti-Bocquillon and others, Signac, 1863-1935, p. 98.

64. Maupassant's synesthetic experience takes place in the second chapter of La vie errante. The first chapter, entitled "Lassitude" ("Weariness"), is a set-up for the invigorating and liberating travels that comprise the rest of the text. "Lassitude" refers to the way in which the author feels about Paris during the Universal Exhibition of 1889, which he finds crowded, filthy, and focused too exclusively on utilitarian science and the commercial benefits of industrial production. He writes: "On dirait que les cours de l'esprit humain s'endigue entre deux murailles qu'on ne franchira plus: l'industrie et la vente," Guy de Maupassant, La vie errante in Oeuvres complètes de Guy de Maupassant, vol. 28 (Paris: Louis Conard, 1926), p. 7.

65. Ibid., p. 13: "Et ce minuscule battement [of the ship's clock] troublant seul l'immense repos des éléments, me donne soudain la surprenante sensation des solitudes illimitées, où les murmures des mondes, étouffés à quelques mètres de leurs surfaces, demeurent imperceptibles dans le silence universel!"

66. Ibid., pp. 19-20: "Est-ce que je ne venais pas de sentir jusqu'aux moelles ce vers mystérieux: 'Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.' Et non seulement ils se répondent dans la nature, mais ils se répondent en nous et se confondent quelquefois "dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité," ainsi que le dit le poète…Ce phénomène, d'ailleurs, est connu médicalement. On a écrit, cette année même, un grand nombre d'articles en le désignant par ces mots: 'l'Audition colorée.'" The "articles" to which Maupassant refers likely include A. de Rochas's "L'audition colorée," published in 1885 in La nature; René Ghil's Traité du verbe of 1886 (a correlation of the sounds of vowels with certain musical instruments and certain colors); and Suarez de Mendoza's book L'audition colorée of 1890. In La vie errante, Maupassant also cites Arthur Rimbaud's "La Sonnet des voyelles" of 1871, a poem in which each vowel is paired with a corresponding color.

67. Cited in Arguelles, Charles Henry and the Formation of a Psychophysical Aesthetic, p. 181.

68. For a discussion of Reclus's poetic approach to geography in the 1870s and 1880s, see Joël Cornuault, Élisée Reclus, géographe et poète (Église-Neuve d'Issac: Fédérop, 1995).

69. Élisée Reclus, La nouvelle géographie universelle, vol. 2, La France (Paris: Hachette, 1879), pp. 4-5: "La France se distingue encore, entre toutes les contrées de l'Europe, par l'élégance et l'équilibre de ses formes. Ses contours mouvementés s'harmonisent de la manière la plus gracieuse avec la solide majesté de l'ensemble et se développent régulièrement en une série d'ondulations rythmiques." La nouvelle géographie universelle, which Reclus considered an encyclopedia of geography, was published in 19 volumes between 1879 and 1894.

70. Pierre Kropotkin, "Élisée Reclus," The Geographical Journal 26, no. 3 (September 1905), p. 340.

71. In addition to La nouvelle géographie universelle, Reclus's most popular geographic writings from this period include La terre (1868-9, with subsequent editions in 1870-2, 1874-6, 1877-81, and 1883); its abridgment (Reclus called it an "édition populaire") entitled Les phénomènes terrestres (1872-4, with subsequent editions in 1875, 1879, 1882, and 1886); Histoire d'un ruisseau (1869, with a second edition published in 1882); and Histoire d'une montagne (1880, followed by an edition in 1882).

72. Élisée Reclus, La terre: description des phénomènes de la vie du globe, vol 2, L'océan—l'atmosphère—la vie, 4th ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1881), p. 759: "On sent que, sous peine d'amoindrissement intellectuel et moral, il faut contrebalancer à tout prix, par la vue des grandes scènes de la Terre, la vulgarité de tant des choses laides et médiocres, où les esprits étroits voient le témoignage de la civilisation moderne." Reclus first expressed this opinion in exactly the same words in 1866 in an article entitled "Du sentiment de la nature dans les sociétés modernes," La revue des deux mondes 63 (15 May 1866), p. 380.

73. Élisée Reclus, "De l'action humaine sur la géographie physique," La revue des deux mondes 54 (15 December 1864), p. 763: "L'homme vraiment civilisé, comprenant que son intérêt propre se confond avec l'intérêt de tous et celui de la nature elle-même, agit tout autrement. Il répare les dégâts commis par ses prédécesseurs, aide la terre au lieu de s'acharner brutalement contre elle, travaille à l'embellissement aussi bien qu'à l'amélioration de son domaine. Non seulement il sait, en qualité d'agriculteur et d'industriel, utiliser de plus en plus les produits et les forces du globe; il apprend aussi, comme artiste, à donner aux paysages qui l'entourent plus de charme, de grâce ou de majesté. Devenu 'la conscience de la terre,' l'homme digne de sa mission assume par cela même une part de responsabilité dans l'harmonie et la beauté de la nature environnante."

74. Seurat wrote those words to Maurice Beaubourg in a letter of August 29, 1890, cited in Robert Herbert and others, Georges Seurat, 1859-1891, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991), p. 382. He had dictated them to his biographer Jules Christophe a few months earlier, including at the same time some examples of artistic contrast: light and dark tones, complementary colors, and perpendicular lines. See Jules Christophe, "Seurat," Les hommes d'aujourd'hui, no. 368 (March-April 1890).

75. Signac, "Excerpts from the Unpublished Diary of Paul Signac," pt. 1, p. 171.

76. Jean Grave, "Autorité et organisation," pt. 3, Le révolté 6 (11 May 1884), p. 2: "l'intérêt social et l'intérêt individuel ne peuvent jamais se trouver en antagonisme dans une société bien équilibrée."

77. As in note 16.

78. The editor of Le révolté changed the journal's name to La révolte in September, 1887.

79. "La loi de la force et le concert pour l'existence," Le révolté 9 (7-13 May 1887), p. 1: "l'harmonie, l'ordre dans l'infinie variété."

80. André Veidaux, "Philosophie de l'anarchie," La plume 5 (1 May 1893), p. 193: "La société, en un mot, fonctionnera de l'individu aux groupes polymorphes, occasionnels, mobiles, du groupement au faisceau de groupements, homologues et équivalents...Ce sera la variété dans l'unité, car c'est le spectacle publique de l'Harmonie naturelle, c'est la Loi de l'Évolution."

81. Reclus, La terre: description des phénomènes de la vie du globe, vol. 1, Les continents, 4th ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1877), pp. 89-90: "La vie de la planète, comme toutes les autres vies, présent de perpétuels contrastes alternant dans une harmonie perpétuelle...La géographie physique n'est autre chose que l'étude de ces harmonies terrestres."

82. Reclus, La nouvelle géographie universelle, vol. 2, p. 11: "Toutefois l'ensemble présente une sorte d'harmonie dans les contrastes mêmes; grande est la diversité, mais le tout garde son caractère d'unité géographique."

83. Ibid., p. 47: "dans toutes les provinces, les diversités locales sont déjà dominées par la conscience de l'unité supérieure."

84. Reclus, La terre, description des phénomènes de la vie du globe, vol. 2, p. 760: "Les traits de la planète n'auront point leur complète harmonie si les hommes ne sont d'abord unis en un concert de justice et de paix."

85. Élisée Reclus, Histoire d'un ruisseau, 2nd ed. (Paris: J. Hetzel, 1882), p. 12: "La terre…est restée la grande éducatrice, et n'a cessé de rappeler les nations à l'harmonie et à la recherché de la liberté."

86. Ibid., p. 135: "Dans le lit commun, chaque gouttelette a son cours particulier, bizarre série de courbes verticales, horizontales, obliques, comprises dans les grands méandres du ruisseau."

87. Ibid., pp. 136-136: "Les rondeurs convexes et concaves alternant le long des bords: c'est un rythme, une musique pour le regard."

88. Ibid., p. 4: "De tout temps la transparence de la source fut le symbole de la pureté morale."

89. Ibid., pp. 183-185: "Ah! baguenauder sur le bord de l'eau, quel repos agréable et quel puissant moyen pour ne pas retomber au niveau de la brute!…Toutes ces images gracieuses que nous offrent les chutes, les rides entre-croisées, les broderies d'écume nous reposent promptement des ennuis du métier ou des lassitudes du travail; elles nous relèvent l'esprit…La vue du ruisseau nous restaure et nous renouvelle…nos idées rajeunissent aussi."

90. Ibid., pp. 313-317: "Ce grand circuit des eaux n'est-il pas l'image de toute vie?...Aux yeux de l'anatomiste, chacun de nous...n'est autre chose qu'une masse liquide, un fleuve...Aussi bien que l'homme considéré isolément, la société prise dans son ensemble peut être comparée à l'eau qui s'écoule...Les peuples se mêlent aux peuples comme les ruisseaux aux ruisseaux, les rivières aux rivières; tôt au tard, ils ne formeront plus qu'une seule nation, de même que toutes les eaux d'un même bassin finissent par se confondre en un seul fleuve...Les peuples, devenus intelligents, apprendront certainement à s'associer en une fédération libre: l'humanité, jusqu'ici divisée en courants distincts, ne sera plus qu'un même fleuve, et, réunis en un seul flot, nous descendrons ensemble vers la grande mer où toutes les vies vont se perdre et se renouveler."

91. Élisée Reclus, Les phénomènes terrestres, vol. 2, Les mers et les météores, 5th ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1886), p. 5: "Le mouvement naturel de l'eau est de rétablir l'égalité de sa surface dans les parties où s'est produit un trouble accidentel."

92. Léon Metchnikoff, La civilisation et les grands fleuves historiques (Paris: Hachette, 1889), pp. 152-153: "Tout grand fleuve aboutit à la mer; toute civilisation fluviale à ses débuts, doit, à moins de périr ou de s'absorber dans un courant plus large, se développer naturellement en une civilisation plus vaste, une civilisation communicative, expansive et maritime...La transmissibilité des civilisations, bien grande déjà dès le début de la période méditerranéenne, ne fera que s'accroître quand l'histoire aura quitté les rives des mers intérieures, pour se transporter vers un milieu plus vaste, l'Océan." Metchnikoff likely came up with his theory of historical progress with the help of Reclus, who considered coastal environments ideal for human development because they fostered the creation of a socially unified earth. He believed port cities, in particular, facilitated a flow back and forth of diverse people and ideas, encouraging those who lived in them to understand contrast as the basis for social harmony from a global perspective. As he wrote in La terre, vol. 2, pp. 650-651: "At the present time, the regions best-suited for the progress of mankind are the wide plains which look out over the sea…These fertile regions...attract numerous people...and the adjacent ports are those to which commerce is directed, where commodities are exchanged, where men learn to know men, and ideas mingle with ideas" ("Les régions les mieux disposées actuellement pour les progrès des l'humanité sont donc les grandes plaines continentales qui regardent par dessus la mer...Ces terres fertiles…appellent de nombreuses populations…c'est vers les ports voisins que se dirige le commerce, que les denrées s'échangent, que les hommes apprennent à connaître les hommes, que les idées se mêlent aux idées").

93. In 1891, Signac was receiving a free copy of every issue of the journal from its founder and editor, Zo d'Axa. This information comes from a letter Fénéon wrote to Signac in August 1891, cited in English in Halperin, Félix Fénéon, Aesthete and Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle Paris, p. 246: "My dear Paul," Fénéon wrote, "You didn't know who was sending you those free copies of L'endehors: it was Gallo (is that the spelling?), who used to be a schoolmate of yours and now goes by the name of Zo d'Axa."

94. Sébastien Faure, "Où nous allons...," L'endehors 1, no. 16 (25 August 1891), n.p.: "le fleuve humain…a pour point de départ l'Autorité et, de ci comblant les ravins, de là submergeant les montagnes, mais élargissant sans cesse son lit, il semble destiné à déverser ses eaux torrentielles dans l'Océan de la liberté."

95. Daniel Saurin, L'ordre par l'anarchie (Paris: L'imprimérie de La révolte, 1893), p. 69: "Les individus vont à la foule, comme les fleuves vont à la mer; longtemps ils luttent, et, péniblement creusent le passage que les circonstances permettent à leur force; puis ils arrivent au terme, et, dans la paix finale de l'Océan, les fleuves divers se confondent."

96. Évolution et révolution went through six editions, most of them published in Geneva, Switzerland. One, however, was published by the Bureau de La révolte in Paris in 1891, while Signac was working on La Mer.

97. Reclus, Les phénomènes terrestres, vol. 1, Les continents, 5th ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1884), p. 220: "Tout change, tout est mobile dans l'univers, car le mouvement est la condition même de la vie."

98. Sébastien Faure, Féodalité ou révolution: Le machinisme et ses conséquences, 2nd ed. (Paris: La révolte, 1891), p. 20: "L'activité n'est-elle pas un besoin inhérent à l'organisme humain? La matière organisée, pensante, mouvante, douée d'électricité, de chaleur, du mouvement, ne peut s'immobiliser sous peine de désagrégation progressive."

99. Reclus expressed this belief in a chapter of Histoire d'un ruisseau devoted to the ever-changing nature of the stream (vs. the more static scenery around it), p. 185: "the view of the stream restores us and renovates us so much better than the scene itself, by its modification from season to season, month to month, day to day. Thanks to landscape which changes around us, our ideas also are rejuvenated" ("la vue du ruisseau nous restaure et nous renouvelle d'autant mieux que la spectacle lui-même se modifie de saison en saison, de mois en mois, de jour en jour. Grâce au paysage qui change autour de nous, nos idées rajeunissent aussi").

100. Reclus, La terre: description des phénomènes de la vie du globe, vol. 1, p. 378: "On a souvent dit qu'un paysage ne peut être vraiment beau quand il lui manqué le frémissement d'un lac ou le mouvement des eaux courantes. C'est qu'en effet l'homme, dont l'existence est si courte, et par conséquent si mobile, a l'horreur instinctive de l'immobilité. Pour lui faire sentir la vie de la nature, il faut que le mouvement et le bruit la témoignent à ses sens; ne pouvant apprécier par de longues réflexions la grandeur des mouvements séculaires de la surface terrestre, il lui faut les bonds rapides de l'eau jaillissant de cascade en cascade ou l'ondulation harmonieuse des vagues; il lui faut encore le contraste de stable et de l'instable, du mouvement et de l'immobilité."

101. A color reproduction of the fourth image in the series, Saint-Briac. Le Port Hue (opus 212), which cannot be reproduced here, is found in Cachin, Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, p. 37.

102. Henry wrote in Le cercle chromatique, p. 143: "The most complex psychic phenomena always come down to representations, that is to ramifications of virtual movements" ("Les phénomènes psychiques les plus complexes se réduisent toujours à des représentations, c'est-à-dire à des ramifications de mouvements virtuels").

103. As in note 50.

104. In Le cercle chromatique, p. 147, Henry underscored his belief in the "tendance individuelle vers la dynamogénie" ("the individual tendency toward dynamogeny"). He then added, p. 148: "l'individualité tend à être collective et que la collectivité tend à être individuelle. La réalisation de cette double fin serait l'ère d'une harmonie absolue" ("individuality tends to be collective and collectivity tends to be individual. The realization of this double end would be the era of absolute harmony").

105. In Seurat and the Art Theory of his Time, p. 275, Zimmerman likewise notes: "Finally, Henry even deduced his image of society from the theory of dynamogeny. The development towards a harmonious, anarchistic or socialist organization of humanity was, according to this, inevitable."

106. Critics who responded to the series when it was exhibited did not read it from a social, let alone an anarchist, perspective, not even Fénéon whose anarchist sympathies were at least as strong as Signac's. Rather, it was the series' musicality in its own right that interested them.

107. The details of Signac's avocation as a sailor are discussed in Ferretti-Bocquillon and others, Signac, 1863-1935, p. 164.

108. The most comprehensive anarchist defense of artisanal labor and the mutual aid accompanying it is found in Pierre Kropotkin's Fields, Factories, and Workshops (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1899).

109. See Cadoret et al., Ar vag, p. 210.

110. Ibid., p. lxxi.

111. Michel Gueguen and Louis-Pierre Le Maitre, Matelots de Concarneau (1800-1914) (Concarneau: Claude Le Tendre, 1978), p. 243.

112. Cited in Cornuault, p. 78: "Combien plus grand est l'effet du rythme, quand plusieurs personnes, unies pour une besogne solidaire, ajoutent au bruit mesuré les sons de leurs instruments de travail. Alors, nul parmi les ouvriers ne peut se soustraire à l'effort commun; les muscles se tendent par l'appel même de la cadence; on travaille ensemble."

113. Fénéon, "Signac," p. 176: "L'essor de chaque couleur est libre et la solidarité de toutes strictes: le tableau s'unifie sous leur houle."

114. "L'art et la révolution," pt. 1, L'art moderne 6, no. 29 (18 July 1886), p. 226: "Un art prend promptement sa place quand, inconsciemment ou non, il entre dans le détroit où roule, énergique et rapide, le courant de ces idées. Il laisse bientôt loin derrière lui les écoles légères, exclusivement amoureuses de la forme, attardées dans les criques qui dentellent les rives, valsant dans les remous qui ne mènent à rien, sautillant sur les petites vagues qui viennent mourir près des bords. Heureux ceux qui sont repris par le flot central et qu'il emporte vers la haute mer…où soit tout l'honneur."

 

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Alexandre Cabanel's Portraits of the American 'Aristocracy' of the Early Gilded Age
by Leanne Zalewski

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Fig. 1 Alexandre Cabanel, Emperor Napoleon III, 1865. Oil on canvas. Baltimore, Walters Art Museum
As vast fortunes were being accumulated in the wake of the Civil War, social and cultural roles were being forged to match that wealth. Art played an important part in creating the appropriate image of money and power and, as the critic Edward Strahan (a.k.a. Earl Shinn) recorded in 1879, wealthy Americans amassed collections of contemporary European art, mainly French and academic.1 They were also eager to have their portraits painted, preferably by artists of note whose reputation would lend an air of cultural sophistication to their pictorial images. For such portraits, too, many Americans turned to French painters. While men's portraits tended to be rather sober and direct, women's portraits were more subtle. What was the public image prosperous American women were trying to project in their portraits? Kathleen McCarthy wrote that upper-class women in the Gilded Age forged public roles through philanthropic endeavors.2 However, when it came to their portraits, most wealthy women chose to be represented in their prominent roles as society figures; roles that were most obviously expressed by their demeanor, dress and accessories.
One French artist, Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), was especially successful in capturing the public image desired by these wealthy women. Today, Cabanel is known almost exclusively for his Birth of Venus, exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1863. His other works—history and genre paintings as well as portraits—have been largely ignored by scholars. However, by the 1870s, many American collectors, such as William Astor, William T. Walters, William H. Vanderbilt, and Jay Gould, to name a few, had purchased Cabanel's historical paintings, and others like silver mine millionaire John W. Mackay, and the inventor of the reaper, Cyrus Hall McCormick,3 had commissioned portraits of themselves and of their spouses from Cabanel.4 Cabanel was well known as a portraitist and in the 1870s and 1880s he was the painter of choice for Gilded Age Americans, particularly women, who desired an aristocratic image to match their wealth. In 1879 an American critic estimated that, aside from Ernest Meissonier, Cabanel was the best-known French artist in the United States.5
Cabanel's reputation in the United States was preceded by his success in Paris where, by the 1860s, he was already a favorite portraitist of European aristocracy, especially women. An established and decorated history painter, Cabanel did not need to paint portraits for money, but he seems to have enjoyed painting portraits and chose to exhibit them frequently in the Paris Salons. His portrait of the Countess Clermont-Tonnerre, exhibited in the Salon of 1863, and the portraits of the Viscountess of Ganay (an American) and Emperor Napoleon III (fig. 1), both exhibited in the Salon of 1865, attracted critical attention in France as well as in the United States for their distinctive contemporary style.6
Cabanel's portrait of Napoleon III won the artist a Medal of Honor at the Salon of 18657 and was praised on both sides of the Atlantic for its simplicity and sophistication. Roger Riordan, writing for the Art Amateur, claimed that it was Cabanel's best portrait.8 French writer Henry de Chennevières praised Cabanel's modest representation of the emperor as a bold, modern, and original conception.9 Rather than portray the Emperor in his imperial finery, Cabanel depicted him wearing a simple black evening suit; the imperial robes lay on a chair behind him. The combination of modesty with an aristocratic air impressed the Americans as well as the French and may well have been an impetus for wealthy Americans to choose Cabanel for their likenesses. The artist's reputation, no doubt, was an even greater draw. Who would be a better choice for the American nouveaux-riches, those aspiring "aristocrats," than the man who had painted an emperor?
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Fig. 2 Alexandre Cabanel, Duchess of Vallombrosa, 1869. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Reproduced in Moreau 1907, p. 143.
Cabanel's reputation was enhanced by the many portraits he painted of female European aristocrats. While his early portraits of French women tended to be heavily accessorized, in the manner of the portraits of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, with whom he was frequently identified,10 Cabanel's portrait of the Duchess of Vallombrosa (fig. 2), exhibited in the Salon of 1870, is more in line with his later portraits of American women, who preferred simple backdrops and few accessories. The portrait of the Duchess, one of the few of his female portraits to have been reproduced in contemporary publications, received positive reviews in periodicals such as L'Artiste and Le Temps. A critic for L'Artiste called the portrait a "masterpiece," in which the soul shone through the eyes.11 Herton, writing in Le Temps, admired the "aristocratic elegance" of the work and noted that the portrait had a "boneless" quality, a remark that calls to mind similar comments about Ingres' figures as well as Cabanel's own Birth of Venus.12 But unlike Ingres, Cabanel did not overtly manipulate the figure for aesthetic reasons, though he did subtly elongate limbs and necks to create more flowing lines.
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Fig. 3 Alexandre Cabanel, Mary Leiter, 1887. Oil on canvas. Derbyshire, England, Kedleston Hall; National Trust for Places of Historic Interest, United Kingdom
Cabanel's earliest portrait of an American may be that of Mrs. John Jacob Ridgway of Philadelphia dated 1861 (location unknown).13 Portraits of sitters that I have identified as American that he exhibited at the Paris Salon were those of the Viscountess of Ganay, John Jacob Ridgway's daughter, Salon of 1865; John W. Mackay, Salon of 1879; Eva (Eveline Julia) Mackay, John Mackay's step-daughter, Salon of 1881; Eveline Hungerford, John Mackay's mother-in-law, Salon of 1883; a Miss A. Ogden of Chicago, Salon of 1884; and Mary Victoria Leiter, Salon of 1888 (fig. 3). In the United States, his portraits could be seen in exhibitions at the National Academy of Design (1876, 1898) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1875, 1876, 1887).
Praised as a portraitist of women, Cabanel expressed that he was particularly adept at painting portraits of American women. In an interview translated in an American journal, he said, "I have painted the portraits of a great many Americans, the delicacy and grace and refined type of American beauty being peculiarly congenial to my pencil."14 C. Stuart Johnson, writing in New York's Munsey's Magazine, stated that Cabanel was the best portrait painter of his time.15 In Edith Wharton's famous novel set in the Gilded Age, The Age of Innocence, Cabanel's name was mentioned three times; twice in the context of his famous portraits.16 A French critic also noted Cabanel's popularity with Americans: "The effect produced among the American colony in Paris may be readily imagined, and at the present time every American of any pretensions rushes to Cabanel's studio."17 Pretensions, in this context, probably refer to aristocratic pretensions, or American social and cultural aspirations to rival the Europeans.
Americans who desired a portrait by the master had to travel to Paris to sit for him—Cabanel never came to the United States. This would not have been problematic for most, since overseas trips were de rigueur, and probably enhanced the value of the portrait back home.18 Socialites from the United States often went abroad to mingle with the European social elite and true aristocracy, and some wealthy American families, like the Mackays, kept mansions in Paris and entertained regularly.19
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Fig. 4 Léon Bonnat, William T. Walters, 1883. Oil on canvas. Baltimore, Walters Art Museum


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Fig. 5 Alexandre Cabanel, Mary Frick Garrett, later Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs, 1885. Oil on canvas. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Mary Frick Jacobs Collection, BMA 1938.238


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Fig. 6 Alexandre Cabanel, French, 1823-1889, Mrs. Collis Huntington, 1882. Oil on canvas, 85 1/4 x 50 1/2 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Archer M. Huntington, 40.3.11
While many American women sat for Cabanel during their overseas trips, men often sat for Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), whose renown as a portraitist nearly equaled that of Cabanel. Bonnat's portraits were usually three-quarter length, somber, and dignified. Their format, dark palette, and brushwork were inspired by the works of Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Ribera, and led many to consider him a "manly" painter.20 Bonnat was, thus, a natural choice for male sitters, such as William T. Walters (fig. 4). He became popular with wealthy Americans in the late 1870s, following the enthusiastic reception of his portrait of the celebrated French actress Madame Pasca at the Salon of 1875.21 His reputation as a portraitist of men was solidified the following year by the success of his portrait of Adolphe Thiers, the first of several French presidents he painted. Cabanel's portraits shared a similar format, often three-quarter length with the sitter looking directly at the viewer, but they were lighter in palette, more carefully modeled and smoothly finished; features that were especially suitable for women's portraits.22
Patrons did not often approach artists directly to commission paintings. Instead, dealers such as the Americans George A. Lucas and Samuel P. Avery usually acted as liaisons between American clients and Cabanel, Bonnat, and other European artists. Lucas was originally from Baltimore and worked in Paris, and Avery was based in New York but made frequent trips to Paris. Both men kept diaries in which they recorded their business arrangements.23 Lucas negotiated with Cabanel and Bonnat on behalf of Baltimoreans Robert Garrett and his wife Mary Frick Garrett, later Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs (fig. 5), to have their portraits painted in Paris, and accompanied them to the artists' studios.24 Robert sat for Bonnat, and Mary sat for Cabanel; her portrait was begun in early June of 1885 and completed in late September of 1885. There are no references to portrait arrangements with Cabanel in Avery's diary, although he mentioned seeing a portrait of Arabella Worsham, later Mrs. Collis Potter Huntington (fig. 6) on September 5, 1882.25 Although he did not explicitly state that she made arrangements through him, this was likely the case.
The diaries contain little information about the prices Cabanel charged for his portraits, except for the amount the Garretts paid: 20,000 francs, (about $4,000 at the time), to Cabanel and 20,000 francs to Bonnat.26 It may be assumed that Cabanel charged similar prices for his other portraits.27 The diaries do divulge amounts for other artists: in May 1879, Bonnat asked for 25,000 francs to paint a full-length portrait, or 15,000 francs for a three-quarter-length portrait, of one General Brown; in 1880, Carolus-Duran (Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran) (1838-1917) asked Lucas for 15,000 francs for a full-length portrait and 12,000 francs for a three-quarter length portrait of a woman.28 By the 1890s, Carolus-Duran charged $4,000 to $8,000 for a portrait.29
Among Cabanel's numerous female American sitters were Eva Mackay and Mary Victoria Leiter, both of whom, shortly after their portraits were painted, married European aristocrats, thus realizing for their mothers the dream of many of the nouveaux-riches of the Gilded Age with aristocratic pretensions. It is interesting to speculate to what extent their portrayal by Cabanel played a role in the arrangement of their successful marriages. Certainly the portraits were meant to impress, and both of these women's portraits were exhibited (and advertised) at the Paris Salon for all to see. Mackay's portrait was also exhibited in the Exposition Nationale of 1883 in Paris. Although identified in the Salon catalogs with only the sitters' initials, Salon-goers of a certain class would recognize them.30 Within a few years after her portrait was completed, Eva Mackay married an impecunious Italian aristocrat, Fernando di Colonna, Prince of Galatro in 1885. Her portrait was said to be so fine that even one of Cabanel's detractors, French critic Edmond About, had to sing its praises.31 The current location of the portrait is unknown.
Mary Leiter was the daughter of Levi Leiter, a dry goods millionaire who co-founded Leiter & Field, now known as Marshall Field's department store, and also served briefly as president of the fledgling Art Institute of Chicago. Her portrait was painted when she was a debutante and aspiring to be socially prominent. Leiter and her mother sat for Cabanel on a trip to Paris in 1887, and Mary's portrait was exhibited at the Salon the following year, where it attracted favorable attention.32 She was known for her beauty and sophisticated demeanor, two of her most praised social assets, which are clearly reflected in her portrait.33 Shortly after her successful society debut in Washington D.C.— closely followed by the exhibition of her portrait—Leiter's mother was anxious for her to marry, and after several disappointing trips to Europe, the Leiters traveled to England where Mary won the heart of George Nathaniel Curzon, later Marquess of Kedleston, in 1890.34 They married in 1895, and Mary Curzon became the vicereine of India from 1899 to 1905, the highest political position held by an American woman of the time.35 Today her portrait hangs in Kedleston Hall, in Derbyshire, England.
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Fig. 7 Alexandre Cabanel, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1876. Oil on canvas. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Reproduced in Rowlands 1889, p. 12.


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Fig. 8 Alexandre Cabanel, Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting, 1887. Oil on canvas. New York, Museum of the City of New York. Photograph by the author.

Other portraits of American socialites painted by Cabanel include those of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (fig. 7), Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting (fig. 8), Mary Frick Jacobs (fig. 5), and Arabella Huntington (fig. 6). These women sat for Cabanel when they were already married, except Wolfe, and had achieved stature in their philanthropic and social roles. Wolfe, the first female subscriber to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bequeathed to it her art collection—including her portrait—along with an endowment of $200,000 for its upkeep.36 She also left a large sum of money to Grace Church on Broadway and Twelfth Street in New York City, which owns a loosely-painted replica of her Cabanel portrait from the hand of the prolific American portraitist Daniel Huntington.37 Cutting was a philanthropist and the wife of railroad baron, William Bayard Cutting.38 Jacobs, a childless philanthropist, was one of the leading hostesses in Baltimore, presiding over many lavish balls held in her grand townhouse.39 Married to Robert Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, at the time her portrait was painted, Jacobs bequeathed her art collection, including the portrait, to the Baltimore Museum of Art.40 At the time Arabella Huntington had her portrait painted, she was probably widowed from John Worsham, who had been the owner of a gambling parlor.41 She later married New York railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington, and then Collis' nephew, Henry E. Huntington. Her son Archer Huntington bequeathed her portrait to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1940.

Why would these prominent women all choose Cabanel to paint their portraits? Cabanel had the ability to lend his sitters an air of gentility and urbanity, and to give them an aristocratic allure. The terms "elegance," "grace," and "refinement" appear frequently in comments on Cabanel's portraits.42 An obituary noted that "no modern artist delineated ladies with more simple grace or elegant reserve than Cabanel."43 But Cabanel's contemporaries saw even more in his portraits than elegance and grace. Perhaps C.H. Stranahan best summarized the contemporary appeal of these portraits in her History of French Painting, published in 1888, just prior to Cabanel's death. She wrote of Cabanel:

As a portrait painter he is especially the master of every grace attractive to woman: a consummate skill in accessories; great judiciousness in rendering what his subtle reading of the human face gives him; great power and knowledge of hands, to which he ascribes much character; a tendency to poetic interpretation, which leads to his throwing a veil of mystery over the expression, and to giving to all women a tinge of interesting sadness; he avoids accentuation, even leaving in a softening vagueness the too marked characteristics.44

His careful combination of expression, gesture, fashion and finish imparted to each woman not just a pleasant appearance, but an enchanting presence, as exemplified in the portraits of Wolfe, Cutting, Jacobs, Huntington, and Lady Curzon.

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Fig. 9 Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, undated. Engraving. Reproduced in Spooner 1907, pp. 282-283.

Cabanel's three-quarter length portrait of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, painted when the sitter was in her mid-forties, exemplifies the attention the artist paid to his sitters' posture and especially to their hands which, he found, were too often neglected in portraiture.45 Wolfe had a reputation as a pious woman, a great philanthropist, and a gracious hostess,46 and in her portrait she appears ready to welcome guests. What struck critics most were Wolfe's lady-like comportment, and her well-placed, beautifully rendered hands. One American critic admired the "cultured gesture" of the hands,47 while another called the portrait "an exquisite specimen of Cabanel's skill as a painter of dames du monde," and added that Wolfe's "fine personality" permeated the picture.48 A third commented:

Cabanel is a born courtier and while retaining a likeness to a surprising degree has lent to the traits of our late fellow townswoman an aristocratic look, softened away the traces of age, given to her hands and figure the distinction that few ladies inherit and painted an elaborate costume with a brilliant brush.49

This description of Cabanel's portrait of Wolfe seems accurate when compared with an engraving of Wolfe, (fig. 9), possibly from a photograph, in which she wears a stern expression, a prim dress, and long gloves that cover limp hands. Cabanel transformed Wolfe's appearance from unremarkable to striking. He paid close attention to the costume as well as to the hands, and carefully painted Wolfe's gorgeous white satin evening dress with its plunging neckline trimmed with Russian sable and its lace-trimmed cuffs, an example of the latest in contemporary fashions from Paris, possibly by Worth, the most sought-after fashion designer of the time.50 Cabanel was especially successful in rendering the shimmer of satin and the softness of fur, and made prominent a chic detail in her gown: the colorful striped fabric gathered in her bustle swag. It was expected of the upper class gentlewoman to make at least one annual pilgrimage to Paris to refresh her wardrobe,51 and Wolfe made frequent trips to Europe.52

Olivia Cutting sat for Cabanel in 1887, when she was in her early thirties; her husband sat for Bonnat.53 She wears an off-the-shoulder pale rose satin gown adorned with nothing more than a single pearl at the center of her décolletage and a single-strand pearl necklace around her slim neck. In her hands she displays a partially opened fan, a common accessory of the fashionable society woman. Like Wolfe, Cutting is portrayed in a stylish evening gown, the cut of which begs the question of propriety. The seductiveness of her appearance is neutralized, however, by the viewer's knowledge of her wealth. Wealthy women could wear low-cut evening gowns and maintain propriety while their poorer counterparts could not. Furthermore, the potentially risqué appearance of her dress is offset by Cabanel's representation of the sitter in a dignified and self-assured pose, a necessity for a well-bred woman,54 and by the airy, even ethereal quality he gave to many of his portraits of women. Émile Zola, one of Cabanel's detractors, made the somewhat sarcastic and somewhat truthful observation in 1868 that Cabanel "transforms the body into a dream."55 While Zola may have considered that quality uncomplimentary, Countess Laincel-Vento, author of Les Peintres de la femme, extolled Cutting's portrait for her aristocratic appearance and her "divinely elegant shoulders" as well as her "dreamy youth."56

Mary Frick Jacobs, in her portrait dated 1885, gently grasps a lorgnette, monogrammed with her initials, in her left hand, as if she has stopped briefly at Cabanel's studio for a quick sitting before dashing off to the opera. The inclusion of this prop—Stranahan's "judicious use of accessories"—hints at her cultured status, since the opera was considered an elite leisure activity, and every society member had, or coveted, an opera box.57 She is wearing a pale ivory gown similar in style to Cutting's, which is set off against the same dark-colored tapestry background Cabanel used for both Cutting's and Wolfe's portraits. Her soft, rounded shoulders and long neck are devoid of jewelry. A ring and a bracelet are the only accessories she wears. Jacobs wistfully gazes out at the viewer with her head slightly tilted to one side, while on her lips she wears a slight, wan smile, reminding us of Stranahan's comment regarding Cabanel's ability to lend to his sitters' faces "a tinge of interesting sadness." Her wistful expression, mannered hand gesture, and a lorgnette are also found in a photograph of Jacobs.58

In her almost life-size, full-length portrait, dated 1882, art collector and philanthropist Arabella Huntington, known as Belle, wears a rich red velvet gown, with black lace trim around the sleeves and décolletage. Her accessories include small, dark blue earrings, a prominently placed, shiny gold wedding band, a bright red corsage, and an open fan made of red feathers, which she holds in her right hand. Leaning on a swath of heavy fabric draped over a gilt-wood carved open armchair, she exudes poise and confidence. Barely noticeable is her pince-nez, an allusion to her notoriously bad eyesight. Cabanel felt this portrait was one of his best and regretted that Huntington carried the portrait off without allowing him to exhibit it in Paris, although he exhibited it in his studio.59
In all these portraits, Cabanel captured the public image that the sitters of the Gilded Age desired to present, and that suited their social needs. The public for these portraits were members of the same social class who would have seen them in each other's homes, and understood the importance, and cost, of owning such a work. A portrait by Cabanel was "a consecration of elegance."60 In their portraits, the sitters wear the most fashionable evening dresses, which would have been worn only to social events such as a ball or the opera; the social venues over which they dominated. As the women were not depicted wearing much jewelry—a display of jewelry would have been considered in poor taste— these gowns were the main indicators of their wealth. The modish gown, coupled with a dignified bearing and reserved facial expression, formed the appropriate image.
While little specific information is available about the placement of these portraits in their owners' homes, it appears that many were hung in the drawing room where guests were received. Cabanel's portraits of Eva Mackay's parents, John and Marie Louise, were hung in "places of honor" on either side of the doorway of the drawing room at the Mackay's new London mansion at 6 Carlton House Terrace during its inaugural reception on June 25, 1891, and Marie's son noted that the host and hostess received many compliments on their portraits.61 Wolfe's portrait hung over the mantel in her library until a year before her death, when it was moved to her dining room, where she had a recess constructed to accommodate the portrait.62 According to a contemporary visitor, she accorded another work by Cabanel to a prime spot in her drawing room, the Shulamite (Salon of 1876), which Wolfe had commissioned.63 Because Marie Mackay considered the prime placement of her portrait in the drawing room vain,64 I interpret the placement of Wolfe's portrait in her library as an exhibition of modesty. It did, however, hang prominently in her collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art after her death.65
Leiter's portrait occupied a significant place in her wedding reception in 1895. Leiter, dressed in a Worth gown, and George Curzon, held their reception in the Leiter's Washington D.C. mansion. For their receiving line, the couple stood before the grand fireplace in the Leiter's drawing room beneath Cabanel's portrait of her, the frame of which was adorned with forget-me-nots for the occasion.66 Perhaps the prominent placement of the portrait was related to the role it had played in their courtship. It may also have suggested the role the portrait was to play in keeping Leiter's memory alive in her parents' home. The forget-me-nots were appropriate, given that the couple, soon after the wedding, sailed for England, never to return to the United States.
While most contemporary critics praised the grace and elegance of Cabanel's portraits, there were some who complained of his lack of interest in his sitters' individual traits and character. One American critic complained that Cabanel flattered his sitters as he idealized the figures in his mythological paintings and that he concentrated on lovely representations rather than character.67 French critic Charles Blanc referred to Cabanel's portrait strategy as showing his sitters' "Sunday faces."68 What these critics failed to see, or refused to concede, is that Cabanel was bound by his sitters' social code. These women were expected to hold themselves with dignity and aloofness as they were to be seen and admired. Any display of eccentricity in a formal portrait would have been alarming to their exclusive social set. Cabanel was expected to deliver a public image for his sitters of cool detachment, with the aura of wealth, dignity, and reserve expected of a well-heeled, upper-class American society woman in the 1870s and 1880s.
Cabanel did depict personality, but in subtle ways, through posture and expression. Looking out of the picture to meet the gaze of the viewer, the portraits of Wolfe and Huntington convey an impression of strong, self-possessed women. Due to their marital status—the former never-married, the latter thrice-married and the father of her child never definitively established69—these two women did not quite fit the mold of the respectable married woman, yet their wealth, social status, and philanthropic endeavors, had helped them overcome societal prejudices. The portraits of Cutting, Jacobs, and Leiter show the softer side of some of the Gilded Age society women, displaying that "interesting tinge of sadness" Stranahan mentioned.
After Cabanel's death in January, 1889, many patrons began to prefer the services of the younger portraitists who painted in a new, loose, bravado style—artists like Carolus-Duran, Giovanni Boldini, and John Singer Sargent; yet, Cabanel's tighter, more polished treatment of the sitters lived on in the portraits painted by his former student, Théobald Chartran, who was popular in the later Gilded Age.70 Had Cabanel himself lived on, I suspect that he would have successfully continued painting portraits of Americans well into the 1890s, as did Bonnat.
Today, Cabanel's portraits are rarely seen, and the locations of many of them are unknown. The ones that are owned by museums are for the most part in storage, reflecting the lack of interest in early Gilded Age portraits, especially those painted by French rather than American painters. Cabanel's portraits have not been included in studies of American portraiture and their neglect has prevented a full understanding of the development of this genre during the early Gilded Age.71 It also has deprived historians of a group of "documents" that provide important insights into the culture of this colorful period in U.S. history.
Edward Strahan expressed the opinion that Cabanel's portrait of Wolfe reflected "the national character of a period."72 Indeed, Wolfe's portrait and Cabanel's other portraits of wealthy American women show how these women wanted others to view them—beautiful, cool, elegant, and cultured. Cabanel's controlled and smoothly finished style, his cool palette, and his preference for traditional poses lent to his portraits the aristocratic allure that the nouveaux-riches of the early Gilded Age not only desired but needed to secure their social position as members of the new ruling class in America. For these women a portrait by Cabanel, portraitist of the Emperor, acted not only as a "consecration of elegance," but also, by its presence at the Paris Salon, as an introduction into the European beau monde, as the portraits of Mary Leiter and Eva Mackay indicate. By lending his American models the elegance and glamour of his portraits of the French nobility, Cabanel sanctioned their aristocratic pretensions.

Bibliography

I would like to extend a warm thanks to those who have read and commented upon various drafts of this article: the managing editor, Dr. Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, my anonymous reviewer, copy editor Robert Alvin Adler, Dr. Patricia Mainardi, Dr. Sally Webster, Dr. Jane Roos, Elizabeth Watson, Heather Lemonedes, Paul Tutwiler and Miriam Beames. Audience members asked thought-provoking questions at symposia held at the Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, and at the Cleveland Museum of Art at which I presented earlier versions of this paper. I am also grateful to Dr. William Gerdts, who shared his Cabanel file with me several years ago which got me started on this project. Those who allowed me to view Cabanel's portraits in storage deserve a special thanks: Eileen K. Morales, Museum of the City of New York; Patrice Mattia, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sona Johnston, Baltimore Museum of Art; and Stephen Lockwood, California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

All translations, unless otherwise noted, are the author's.

1. Strahan 1879. A list of the works in each featured collection follows the end of each chapter. See for example, vol. 1, pp. 52, 64, 80, 94, 106, 118, and 134.

2. McCarthy 1991, p. xii.

3. Dates, where known, are as follows, in the order of mention: William Astor (1848-1919), William T. Walters (1820-1894), William H. Vanderbilt (1821-1885), Jay Gould (1836-1892), John W. Mackay (1831-1902), Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884), Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Eva (Eveline Julia) Mackay (1861-1919), Mary Victoria Leiter (1870-1906), Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), Mme.Pasca (1835-1914), Adolphe Thiers (1796-1877), George A. Lucas (1824-1909), Samuel P. Avery (1822-1904), Robert Garrett (1847-1896), Mary Frick Garrett, later Mary Jacobs (1851-1936), Arabella Worsham, later Arabella Huntington (1852/6?-1924), Carolus-Duran (Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran) (1838-1917), Levi Leiter (1834-1904), George Nathaniel Curzon, Marquess of Kedleston (1859-1925), Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828-1887), Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting (1855-1949), Daniel Huntington (1816-1906), William Bayard Cutting (1850-1912), John Worsham (1850?- 1878?), Collis Potter Huntington (1821-1900), Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927), Archer Huntington (1870-1955), Marie Louise Mackay (1843-1928), Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Théobald Chartran (1849-1907).

4. Several of these men's collections are featured in Strahan 1879: William T. Walters, founder of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD, vol. 1, pp. 81-94; William Astor, vol. 2, pp. 69-78, and William H. Vanderbilt, vol. 3, pp. 95-108. Strahan also authored a book on Vanderbilt's collection, see Strahan 1883. A work by Cabanel which Jay Gould originally purchased in 1881 from Knoedler Gallery, was auctioned from Gould's collection at Sotheby's in New York, 25 May 1994, I thank Melissa De Medeiros of Knoedler for this information. A portrait of John W. Mackay, dated 1878 and exhibited in the Salon of 1879, was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York, 23 October 1997. An engraving of Cabanel's portrait of Cyrus Hall McCormick is reproduced in Hutchinson 1935, p. 231. The original, dated 1867, is in the collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, WI.

5. Hooper, 1879a, p. 286.

6. The name of the Viscountess of Ganay has also been spelled "Ganoy" and "Ganey" and may have been Cabanel's first portrait of an American exhibited at the Paris Salon. For commentary on the portraits, see Meynell 1886, p. 274; Mantz 1863 p. 484; and Mantz 1865, pp. 514-16. The original portrait of Emperor Napoleon III may have been destroyed or is lost. William T. Walters began negotiations to purchase a reduction of the picture in 1886, several decades after it had been painted. See Lucas 1979, p. 623.

7. Stranahan 1888, p. 399.

8. Riordan 1889, p. 78.

9. Chennevières 1882, p. 254. See also Hamerton 1901, pp. 108-9; Stranahan 1888, p. 399; Mantz 1865, pp. 514-16; Gautier 1865, p. 282.

10. See for example, Au Jour 1889, p. 2 ; Blanc 1876, p. 416; Gautier 1855, p. 248.

11. Bertrand 1870, p. 310.

12. Herton 1870, p. 2. Regarding the Birth of Venus, see for example, Cicerone 1880, p. 6.

13. Riordan 1889, p. 78.

14. Cabanel's American 1889, p. 69.

15. Johnson 1892, p. 641.

16. Wharton 1993, pp. 52, 61, 205 (page references are to the reprint edition).

17. Chennevières 1882, p. 260.

18. Origo 1970, p. 24. It is possible that some patrons had their portraits painted from photographs, even if they had journeyed across the Atlantic. Although some artists, like Léon Bonnat, are known to have used photographs to aid in painting a portrait, I have not yet come across any information that Cabanel used photographs to paint his portraits.

19. See for example, Berlin 1957, pp. 241-242, 249, 257 and Lewis 1986, pp. 79-80.

20. Luxenberg 1991, pp. 131-132.

21. Although Bonnat's first great success was a portrait of a woman, Madame Pasca, her portrait was described by some critics in masculine terms. See Luxenberg 1991, p. 144.

22. Although Cabanel painted portraits of men, in a darker and more austere palette than in his portraits of women, they excited little comment. Of the forty portraits that he exhibited in the Paris Salons during his career, only six depicted men: a government official, Rouher in 1861, Emperor Napoleon III in 1865, a public prosecutor, Delangle in 1867, John W. Mackay in 1879, the Abbot Pailleur in 1886, and an unknown man, a Mr. P, in 1887. Aside from the portraits of Napoleon III and the Abbot Pailleur, there is little commentary on the other portraits in Salon criticism. For commentary on the portrait of Mackay, see Hooper 1879c, p. 189. For commentary on the portrait of the abbot, see L.K. 1886, p. 3, Nécrologie 1889, p. 3, and Olmer 1886, p. 78. Refer to note 9 for commentary on the portrait of Napoleon III.

23. Avery 1979, Lucas 1979.

24. Lucas 1979, v. 2, p. 609.

25. Avery 1979, p. 706. Avery's entries indicate that he went to artists' studios on business: to make arrangements for commissions, to check on progress or to make payments or purchases. In this case, he probably stopped at Cabanel's studio to check on the progress of the portrait.

26. Lucas 1979, v. 2, p.620.

27. A full-length portrait of Madame van Loon was arranged in 1888 through Goupil in Paris, for 30,000 francs. See Goupil 1846-1919, vol. 12, no. 18869.

28. Lucas 1979, v. 2, pp. 473-474, 509.

29. Nonne 2003, p. 41.

30. Simon 1995, p. 139.

31. Vento 1888, 207.

32. Capital Society 1888, p. 11. Levi Leiter (1834-1904) later had Cabanel paint his portrait as well.

33. Capital Society 1888, p. 11 and Nicolson 1977, p. 27.

34. Mary Leiter and her father went to Europe in May 1888, spending ten days in Paris. It is possible that they went to the Paris Salon, which opened in May, to see her portrait in the exhibition. Nicolson 1977, pp. 32, 36.

35. Nicolson 1977, p. vii.

36. See Metropolitan 1887, p. 6, for an excerpt from her will regarding the bequest.

37. The painting is undated, and the circumstances regarding the commission of a replica of Cabanel's portrait of Wolfe by Daniel Huntington for Grace Church are unknown.

38. For basic biographical information, see National 1953, v. 38, p. 449. For a recollection of her personality and charity, see Origo 1970, pp. 25-26. Cutting was also one of Mrs. Astor's famous "Four Hundred." See Patterson 2000, p. 214.

39. Patterson 1996, p. 97; Johnston 2000, p. 22.

40. Her husband published a catalog of her collection. See Jacobs 1938.

41. There is some confusion regarding her first husband, about whom little is known. See Thorpe 1994, pp. 308-309.

42. Delaborde 1889, pp. 236, 245; Paris Salon 1883, p. 263; Stranahan, p. 399; Mantz, 1865, pp. 514-16; Gautier 1865, p. 282.

43. M. Alexandre 1889, p.124.

44. Stranahan 1888, p. 399.

45. Hooper 1879b, p. 314.

46. Charity 1887, p. 8; Strahan 1879, p. 120. See also Huntington 1887.

47. Strahan 1879, v. 1, p. 120.

48. Rowlands 1889, p. 14.

49. Wolfe Pictures 1887, p. 4.

50. Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), was the couturier of European aristocracy from the early 1860s on, and Americans soon followed in their footsteps. See De Marly 1990, pp. 90, 98, 168, 198, and 212-229.

51. Carter 1903, pp. 26-27; Origo 1970, p. 24.

52. Rowlands 1889, p. 14; Rabinow 1998, p. 49.

53. Vento 1888, p. 172.

54. Origo 1970, p. 26.

55. Zola 1970, p. 294. Also quoted in Simon 1995, p. 154 as "transforms women's bodies into dreams."

56. Vento 1888, p. 172. The Countess visited Cabanel in his studio while he was still working on the portrait of Cutting which was in his studio along with another nearly finished painting, his full-length portrait of Madame van Loon, which he subsequently exhibited in the Salon of 1888. Refer to note 27.

57. Origo 1970, p. 25.

58. This photograph, Z24.621 VF, is in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD.

59. Cabanel's American 1889, p. 69. See also Vento 1888, p. 208.

60. Vento 1888, p. 209.

61. Berlin 1957, p. 388.

62. Rabinow 1998, pp. 50, 54, note 13.

63. Strahan 1879, p. 120.

64. Berlin 1957, p. 388.

65. Wolfe Pictures 1887, p. 4.

66. Nicolson 1977, p. 79; Peacock 1901, pp. 274-275.

67. Riordan 1889, p. 78.

68. Blanc 1876, p. 431.

69. Thorpe 1994, p. 307-309.

70. See Weisberg 1997, pp. xix, 77, 139, 215, 216, and 223 for examples of Chartran's work.

71. For an overview of American portraitists in the nineteenth-century up to 1870, see Gerdts 1981.

72. Strahan 1879, vol. 1, p. 120.