Page images

still less known generally than her work with the brush, and yet I feel that in these pastels, examples of which are here reproduced, one finds the loveliest and best works that she has conceived. We are too apt to associate the term pastel with pansy-painting or with amateur plaque-decoration, but one needs only a survey of Miss Cassatt's work in this medium to realize what it can become in the hands of an artist.



The Stolen Fra

THE world of art ex-

perienced another unexpected sensation in the announcement of the theft of a famous small painting of great value, the Madonna della Stella by Fra Angelico— Beato Angelico, his contemporaries called him— from the cloister museum of the old Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence, Italy, Sunday evening, November 19, and of its subsequent recovery by officials of the Italian government a few days later. The Italian museum authorities move more quickly and more definitely in an emergency than the

French; and so, when the Gabrielle d'Annunzio, while writing his play, Saint Sebastian, made a study of paint

discovery was made that ings of the saint by old masters and decided that this Mantegna most fully met his own conception of the martyr

the Madonna of the Star

had been stolen, not an ality, and out of deference to her attitude, instant was lost in shutting off every posone would not wish to pose as her Vasari. sible route of escape to the thieves. In However, enthusiasm for her work and an fact, the captain of the carabinieri not understanding and an appreciation of it is only traced the hiding-place of the thieves, sufficient impetus to call attention to the but skilfully surrounded the house in which place that it occupies in contemporary effort. the masterpiece had been hidden. Then, Perhaps Miss Cassatt's absolute mastery as one of the culprits sought to steal forth

the very difficult medium of pastel is under cover of night with the precious ob

very first

ject hidden beneath his coat, a volley of ters. In cell number XXXIII, the stolen blank cartridges resounded like the salute to Madonna of the Star was given place. The an emperor. Not expecting such a distinc- picture is a small painting, exquisitely tion, the thief dropped his burden and took wrought with the technique of a miniaturto his heels. While an officer of the cara- ist, and although the photographic reprobinieri stepped forth from his concealment duction suggests, by reason of its comin a near-by doorway and picked up Fra position, a picture of ample proportions, Angelico's painting, whole and uninjured, the painting is, in reality, so small-being another officer intercepted the frightened only twelve by twenty-four inches-that thief who had chosen to make a pastime it was an easy enough task for the thieves of filching Fra Angelicos, and placed to abstract it undetected. Originally, the fleet-footed one under arrest.

Fra Angelico's madonna adorned the This old monastery of

sacristy of the Church of Santa San Marco from which

Maria Novella, whence it was the painting was stolen

removed some years ago. no longer belongs to the

Professor Carocci, Dimonks, but is held by

rector of San Marco, the State as a national

wept with joy on hearmuseum, containing

ing of the recovery of many of the finest

the little panel, and examples of early

breathed a sigh of painting extant in

relief to know that, Italy. Here one

although this is finds the

believed greatest

to be the number of works by Fra

instance of the Angelico collected

theft of a paintin any one place.

ing from an Italian San Marco has

national museuni, suffered little,

San Marco's adminarchitecturally,

istration would not since its designer,

have to undergo the Michelozzo,

opprobrium of losing worked out its

one of its chief masterplans for Cosimo de'

pieces. In passing, it Medici and the Domin

may be noted that the icans; and the hole in

only example of the the roof that the thieves

work of Fra Angelico in made in order to mislead

America is, the Death the investigators prob

and Assumption of the ably upset the dust of

l'irgin in the private centuries for the first

collection of Mrs. John time since the Beato

L. Gardner of Boston. Angelico came from near-by Fiesole and

A New Mastertook up his abode

piece for the there as a mem

Louvre ber of the order, working for ten

7 HILE years on the

Italy frescoes that

was tempostill adorn

rarily mournthe walls of

ing the Mamany of the

This bronze celestial globe, supported upon the back of the fabulous winged donna della monastery's horse, Pegasus, forms one of the most striking objects in Mr. J. Pierpont

Stella, the muMorgan's art collection. The composition bears the date 1570 and is the cells and cloiswork of one of the artist-artisans of Vienna

seum of the



Louvre was consoling itself for the loss of Mantegna's development, — the Calvary the Mona Lisa by the acquisition of the representing the work of his maturity, Our most important painting that has come Lady of Victory and the Allegories from Isato any national collection in France since bella d'Este's grotto, that of his old age. the advent within those same walls of It is said that when Gabrielle d'Annunzio the famous Botticelli Villa Lemmi frescoes was writing his play, Saint Sebastian, which some years ago. The newly acquired master awakened an almost unprecedented interest piece is a Saint Sebastian by Andrea Man at the time of its production in Paris, he tegna, a painting that was for many years made a pilgrimage to all the great contithe chief art possession of the little chapel nental museums for the purpose of studying of Aigueperse, a village in the department all the paintings of the saint by the old of Puy-de-Dôme. Civic poverty, however, masters to be found, finally seeking out compelled the authorities to sell the paint- Mantegna's at Aigueperse, upon seeing ing to the French government for some which his enthusiasm was unbounded, and $40,000, so the Louvre had no longer need he declared that it met more fully than any to expose bare nails on its lately devasted other work his conception of the martyrwall in the Salon Carré, Mona Lisa's old saint. The Louvre possesses a number of home.

other versions of Saint Sebastian, Perugino's The story of this Saint Sebastian by Man among them, but it is doubtful if any tegna is not without historic interest, it painting depicting the youthful martyr being one of the most precious morceaux of surpasses in beauty or in interest this by the classical Renaissance. It was brought Andrea Mantegna. into France from Italy upon the occasion of the marriage of Gilbert de Montpensier Howard Pyle's Death and Claire di Gonzaga, granddaughter of Lodovico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, WE

E have lost a notable figure in the hisMantegna's patron, whose service the tory of American art in the passing of great painter entered just thirty years Howard Pyle, whose death in Florence, Italy, before Columbus discovered America. The in November, it is a sad duty to record. His beautiful Claire carried the Saint Sebastian devotion to the serious study of sound drawwith her from Mantua. Even in those

Even in those ing, which resulted in his mastery of line, was days, it was considered a magnificent dot, a devotion rare enough in these days. Howalthough there were few in the rough ard Pyle was still a young man when he left France of that period who had any regard us,-he was only fifty-eight,--and we had for painting, associating it with the per hoped that he would live to a ripe old age and fume of the South, which they still derided. continue to add to the luster of American Nevertheless, Gilbert de Montpensier held illustration. Perhaps his enthusiasm for rebrilliant court, and he and the lady of his produced work led him astray in the matter heart found many to admire the art trea of color, for in such work we find him thorsure that had been brought with her dower. oughly successful neither as a painter nor as Andrea Mantegna seems to have been some an illustrator. But in line-drawing Howard what prolific in Saint Sebastians,-there is Pyle must rank as one of the foremost origone from his hand in the collection of Baron inal draughtsmen of the era. His antiquarian Giorgio Franchetti in Venice (this work was equipment was extensive and extraordinary, found in Mantegna's atelier after his death) and one might almost call his style Dürand one in the Vienna museum. Although eresque to an extreme degree, certain marked there is a difference of opinion among critics peculiarities in his technique being very remas to the time at which Mantegna painted iniscent of the early German engraver of this Saint Sebastian that the Louvre has pur- Nuremberg. Unfortunately, this artist dechased from Aigueperse, I consider it a work voted little time to mural painting, though of Mantegna's youth, probably executed just we are fortunate in having examples of this subsequent to the completion of his immor phase of his art for the new Essex County tal paintings in the Ovetari chapel at Padua, Court House. We shall miss Howard Pyle, perhaps just about the time of the death of both his personality and his influence upon Fra Angelico in Florence. The acquisition the younger generation of illustrators, but of this painting completes the Louvre's his is an influence that will live long after incomparable series of works illustrating him in his works.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

Professor See's Book on the Evolution of the Stellar
System, Condensed and Explained for the Layman


J. B. Kerfoot

Over a century ago, the French astronomer Laplace promulgated his famous nebular theory as to the origin of the solar system. Up to the present time, the scientific world has accepted that theory as the best working hypothesis that has ever been offered, and the non-scientific . world has almost forgotten that it is only an hypothesis and has come to look upon it rather as an established fact. Of late years, however, astronomers have been growing more and more convinced that the Laplacean hypothesis is inadequate and destined soon to be superseded by a new

theory more nearly in accord with the mass of facts that have been accumulating since Laplace's time. In his recent book on the evolution of the stellar system, Professor T. J. J. See propounds such a new theory - - a theory so vast in its scope that it cannot fail to stir the imagination of anyone who has ever looked up with awe and wonder at the infinite reaches of the night sky. The WORLD TO-DAY prints the following review of the book by the kind permission of Professor See's publishers, Thomas P. Nichols & Sons

[graphic][merged small]

F some one stops us in the street and

asks us how far it is to the railroad station, we think it a perfectly natural question.

But if some one stopped us in the street and asked us how far it was to the sun, we should very likely think that the man was crazy and call a policeman.

Which proves (although at first sight we do not realize it) that while we do not expect every one to know his way around towr, we take it as a matter of course that every one should know his way around the srlar system.

There are some things that we do so unconsciously that we deny them indignantly if any one accuses us of them. Snoring, for instance. Or taking an interest in astron

omy. There is probably not one man in a hundred but would unhesitatingly tell us that it is because the public takes no interest in astronomy that it refuses, almost to a man, to sit up till 2 A. M. to watch an eclipse of the moon. But, of course, it is really the other way about. It is precisely because the public takes sufficient interest in astronomy that it dares to sleep through such a phenomenon.

To prove it, you have only to introduce an element of uncertainty into the outcome of any advertised celestial event. When Biela's comet was expected to brush the earth with its tail a year ago, and astronomers were of several minds as to what the effect would be, the newspapers suddenly bloomed into astronomical journals, the

smoking cars on suburban trains were motions of the heavenly bodies and were turned into debating clubs, and for a week puzzled to understand how it was that they there were more opera-glasses and more revolved about the earth in such irregular prayers directed to heaven than had been fashion, the complicated explanation of the known for a generation.

concentric and eccentric This wasn't because we sud

spheres was devised by the denly began to take an interest

Greeks and for some fourteen in astronomy. It was because

centuries was accepted by the our habitual, and hence uncon

world. scious, 'interest in it suddenly

Now, as we are about to try became acute enough to be

to grasp the general outline of conscious. Astronomically

the latest attempt to overspeaking, we snored so loud

throw one of these accepted that we woke ourselves up.

theories and to set up a new Neither history nor tradition

one in its place, we may as well tells us of a time when men

keep in mind the law that were happy without some ex

governs the formulation, the planation of what they saw in

acceptance, and the discardthe depths of space. Mr. T.J.

ing or renovating of these J. See, the eminent astronomer

“The word nebula is the Latin

guesses at reality. Perhaps it in charge of the United States

equivalent of nephele, which is may be stated somewhat as Naval Observatory at Mare

used by Greek writers, from follows: A theory is first ad

Aristotle to Ptolemy, to denote Island, California, whose new a cloud or cloud-like object"

vanced by a scientist as a recogtheory of the origin and evo

nizedly tentative attempt to lution of the stars we are going to try to get

find a formula that will harmonize all the the hang of, is merely the latest of an im observed facts of the case. When such a formemorial line of seers and scientists who mula refers to some natural phenomenon that have successively fitted new explanations directly interests or concerns the laity,it gento newly recognized facts. But there has erally tends to be accepted by the public as a always been A Theory. There had to be, statement of literal fact, and, if it satisfies the if men were to be free to go about their needs of science for any length of time, to mundane business.

be dogmatized by the public into doctrine. Take, for example, the case of our savage And long after a new race of scientists have ancestors who (with a blundering discern- piled up enough observations discordant ment that does credit to their scientific in with the old theory to satisfy them of its tuitions) worshiped the Sun as their living inadequacy, the laity continue to regard and visible god. Think of the terror that the familiar hypothesis as among the fundamust have come to them when, in broad mentals of knowledge. It is only when daylight and a clear sky, the invisible moon some synthetic mind has devised a new began to take bites out of the sacred person theory that (1) brings into apparent harof their deity. And think of the sense of mony all the outwardly discordant discovsafety that must have been derived from eries that have been accumulating, that (2) the explanation that this was caused by a pushes speculative constructiveness far dragon that was trying to eat him, and that enough ahead to insure itself a scientific if all the faithful gathered in the open and lease of life, and that (3) gives to the whole made horrible noises the dragon would be mass of observations and speculations a come frightened and run away. We call dramatic unity that at once fires the imagthat folk-lore, or mythology. It was noth ination and satisfies the reason of the pubing of the kind. It was astronomy in swad lic, that the old scientific dogma disindling clothes. It was a scientific theory tegrates before the fire of a new scientific that is to say, a formula that seemed to faith. work. It was the Dragonial Hypothesis. This is what happened when Laplace, in

Of course, this was a very simple hypothe 1796, promulgated the famous Nebular sis-in every sense of the word simple. But Hypothesis—the theory that for a century then the observed facts that it undertook the scientific world has'accepted as a working to explain were few. Later on, when men approximation to the truth while scientists had disentangled something of the varying were busy testing its myriad implications;

« PreviousContinue »