Studio: international art — 8.1896

Page: 17
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The Salon of the Champ de Mars

seule " by e. aman-jean

The two annual exhibitions of French
art are now open to the public gaze, and about
five thousand artists show us the fruit of their
labours in these overstocked galleries. One may
renounce at the very outset the idea of finding
therein any sign of a homogeneous art movement,
any general aesthetic principle, any common ideal.
French art is every day becoming more and more
individual, whether for good or for ill. Individu-
ality of the right sort, of course, is capable of great
things. It means that firmness of character, that
strength of will, which fit one for splendid efforts,
often resulting in noble achievement; but the in-
dividuality of the great majority of the artists
whose work we have to examine each year, is not
of that sort at all; it is simply exaggerated egoism,
o'erweening conceit, sheer fatuity, born of the
frantic craving for notoriety, which actuates them
one and all, and prompts them to all kinds of
noisy futile eccentricity, simply to attract notice,

simply that their pictures may not be passed un-
heeded in the throng of so many others, conceived
and executed in something of the same fashion,
and with the same object in view. It may be
imagined how few are the works really worthy of
notice, possessing serious merit, and revealing a
sound and cultured artistic personality; how few
in which one can discover that sincerity, that truth,
that charm which go to make up a genuine work
of art.

There are, of course, numberless canvases here
which attract and delight, and satisfy the public
who linger in admiration before them. As a rule,
these are military scenes, or historical anecdotes,
or big compositions of philosophic or " improving "
tendencies, or else decorative paintings done to
order at so much a yard for the mairie or the sous-
prefecture—generally with a soldier holding out his
hand to a labourer, or a woman seated in sober
garb, doing her best to symbolise Duty, or other
commonplaces of the kind.

So far as actual workmanship is concerned,
nearly all these painters, even those of inferior
ability, show so much cleverness that, despite one's

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