« PreviousContinue »
JEAN FRANCOIS RAFFAELLI
THE UNIVERSALITY OF ART
[Address by Jean Frangois RafTaelli, painter, sculptor, and critic, Chevalier of the Legion Oi Honor (born in Paris, April 20, 1850;
), delivered at the fourth celebration of Founder's Day, at the
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, Pa., November 2, 1899. President W. N. Frew occupied the chair.]
Mr. President And Friends:—I would have laughed much if I had been told, some twenty years ago, that I would consent to cross the ocean and come to America in order to act as a member of a jury in Pittsburg, and I would have hastened to consult the map about the situation of this city. For in France our geographical knowledge does not extend beyond Switzerland and Belgium, East and North, and Italy and Spain on the South. And, besides, twenty years ago, if I am to believe the most authoritative ci your fellow citizens, Pittsburg did not exist for us; we, the artists, scarcely existed for Pittsburg. This fact was to be regretted both by the people of Pittsburg and by the artists. To speak the truth, if I have agreed to come among you, it was because your city really represents not only that genius of construction and invention which is peculiar to this nation, but because, thanks to Mr. Andrew Carnegie, it represents by the establishment of this Carnegie Institute an idea, a truly great idea.
If France has deserved some consideration in the history of nations, it is because she has, for a long time,—has ever struggled more for ideas than for material interests. Indeed, when Lafayette came to place himself on your side a hundred years ago, it was because you then represented in the human society, an idea, beautiful above all ideas, the idea of the liberty of the people. And if artists of some renown have come, and will come,—and submit to be more or less sick on a rough sea for fifteen long days— it is because Pittsburg, outside of her great industrial interests, which excell those'of the largest industrial cities of the two worlds, represents to-day in the world of arts an idea. This idea is not only the idea of national but of international, universal art.
And allow me to claim here the priority of this idea for a small group of artists to whom I had the honor to belong in my you'h. I refer to that group who were called Impressionists. Twenty years ago, in Paris, the Academy des Beaux Arts was all-powerful, just as in London is the Royal Academy. Now, at that time a dozen of artists united together, to use a Biblical expression. These artists, most of them poor, had a mutual admiration for each other, which is rather rare among artists. [Laughter.] They aimed to be the painters of their time, of their epoch, at a moment when Greek or Roman subjects alone were admired and rewarded. They grouped themselves, exhibited their works together, and the public, who did not understand them at that time, with laughter and mockery, called them "The Impressionists." None of us at first accepted this name, because we did not know, no more than we do to-day, what it meant. But it remained attached to us, and we had to keep it and to drag it along, just as dogs drag a saucepan which has been fastened to their tails. Thus we became what people Galled the Impressionists.
Now, do you know of whom this group was composed, each of whom was of a temperament totally different from that of his neighbor, just as the artists who were called the artists of the School of 1830—Corot, Eugene Delacroix, and Millet—differed? This little group was made up of Degas, whose mother was an Italian; of Claude Monet, a Frenchman; of Mary Cassatt, an American, whose family's cradle was in Pittsburg; of Sissley, whose mother was English; of Pissarro, from Holland; of Reneir, a Frenchman; and of your servant, whose grandfather was a Florentine. These were the members of the little group that has since agitated the world of arts. We represented—yes, we represented, without thinking of it, the art of all peoples, of all countries, the art of humanity. And this idea has triumphed everywhere. It has just triumphed here in Pittsburg; for years have followed years and here is disclosed what has meanwhile happened in the world of art.
In the first place, and under this influence of the Impressionists, a society was formed in Paris nearly ten years ago, called the National Society of Beaux Arts. This is eminently an International society, for the most famous of the artists who compose it are foreigners. To begin with the American artists: the admirable St. Gaudens, Dannat, Alexander, the excellent artist of Pittsburg; HumphreyJohnston, MacMonnies, Walter Gay, Melchers, the great artist, Sargent, and many others. Yes, our beautiful National Society of Beaux Arts ought to be called by its true name—the International Society of Fine Arts, for the greatest artists of all countries show their work there.
Then, again, other societies were formed, and everywhere with this same idea of the internationality of art, pursuing thus what the Impressionists had begun. These societies are: the Society of Secession, in Munich; the Austrian Secession, in Vienna; the International Society of Fine Arts, in Venice; and finally the Carnegie Institute, of Pittsburg, where the art of all countries finds a generous refuge. And I remark here that this International Exhibition of Pittsburg is the only International Art Society existing in the United States. This is the idea which I have come to salute here: the idea of the internationality of art. [Applause.]
If we look back on the history of the past centuries, we shall see that every nation had, in its turn, a national art. But the nations were separated by long distances. To-day, on the contrary, by the numerous and rapid means of communication these distances are either altogether or greatly reduced. Yet, six days on board a steamer is still a long time, and, so far as I am concerned, I shall not come to see you again until the voyage is reduced to four days. Take my word for it! And since there are no more distances, or scarcely any, this art which the ancient nations transmitted to each other like a sacred relic, has no longer any reason for being national; it ought to be international and to belong, as the sacred mark of civilization, to all civilized nations. When I was asked in this country: "Is there an American art?" I answered: "There is no American art; no more than there is at present a French art. There is the art, that is all."
It was for the Americans, a national, cosmopolitan people, as no other, to defend this idea of the universal art. By this idea we artists become the champions of the alliance of all the civilized nations. A noble mission indeed. You must aid us to fulfil it worthily.
Therefore, let us salute here the man who has by his liberality made the splendid idea of a universal art possible in America—Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Let us salute also his co-workers, the officers and members of the Board of Trustees and the Director of Fine Arts. And I shall ask you to salute the excellent artist who for twenty years has devoted every moment to the art of which he is one of the noblest champions in this country—William M. Chase, who has done so much for art and eminent teaching in America. And let us congratulate one another in this idea. There is only one art in the world, as there is only one God. There is only one art, as there is only one ideal among civilized people. There is only one art, as there is only one brain in a head, as there is only one heart in a body, as there is only one soul in every one of us. [Applause.]
WILLIAM NORTH RICE
SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
[Address by William North Rice, professor of geology in Wesleyan
University (born in Marblehead, Mass., November 21, 1845; ),
delivered at the Centennial Celebration of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, October n, 1899.]
Gentlemen:—It is an interesting fact that the life of our Association is almost coextensive with that Nineteenth century of Christian civilization which is now drawing to a close. In intellectual, as in physical phenomena, we are tempted to overestimate the magnitude of near objects and to underestimate that of distant ones; but science and art tend to advance with accelerated velocity, and we are undoubtedly right in ranking the achievements of our age in science and its applications as far greater than those of any previous century.
When our predecessors assembled a hundred years ago to organize this Academy, they could avail themselves of no other means of transportation than those which were in use before the time of Homer. If they were required to traverse distances overland too great for convenient walking, they were carried or drawn by horses. If they had occasion to cross bodies of water, they used oars or sails. We have been brought to our destination to-day by the forces of steam and electricity. The harnessing of these mighty forces for man's use has transformed not only the modes of transportation, but also the processes of production of all kinds of commodities. It has wrought a revolution in the whole industrial system. The day of the small workshop is gone. The day of the great factory