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Gerome: Introductory and Critical

Gerome: A Collection of the Works of J.L. Gerome in One Hundred Photgravures. Multiple Volumes. New York: Samuel L. Hall, 1881.


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INTRODUCTORY AND CRITICAL.

works; by the tendencies which are distinct in his greatest things, and only tentative in his ephemera. But is it not possible for one who knows and loves him well to project himself, with a special effort, into the twentieth century, and construct, by main force, the estimate which will then be made of him? I should like to try.

The taste of the time tends to drift diametrically from him, and to exult in a triumphant painting of still -life. Yet, I hope, when Vollon and Munkacsy have worked all their will; when realism is quite perfected and done; when the last veil of distinction shall have disappeared between the perishable object, in its reek and sweat and savor, and its immortality on canvas; that Gerome will' only shine out the distincter for the contrast. The last of the nineteenth century classical painters, "growing old in an age he condemns," I have yet hopes that there is a brain in his work which will live on when painting of the senses shall have had its day.

His more characteristic creations are deeply moving—piercingly pathetic poems. Such are the POLLICE VERSO, the AVE CAESAR, the NILE PRISONER, the EGYPTIAN RECRUITS, and other inventions that are distinct appeals of eloquence. The purpose to be moving, to gripe the heart, is equally proud and challenging in its pretension when he selects pure history, as in the DEATH OF CA€SAR, the PHRYNE, the CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA, the DEATH OF NET; it shows itsef, too, with distinctness, in inventions which he values less, as the MASKED Duel, the portrait of RACHEL. In each such composition, even in the historical ones, he builds precisely like the poets in their more deliberate apical works; he constructs, in forms of chosen beauty, an apparatus for the enslavement of the imagination,—essays a careful and calculated grasp' of our feelings, just such as was essayed when '"Christabel" was written, or "Sohrab and Rustum," or "The Pot of Basil," or "In a Balcony," or " On ne Badine Pas avec !'Amour," or "Albert Savarus," or "The Scarlet Letter," or "The Mill on the Floss." It is a poor definition of narrative poetry which will not accommodate all these different works, along with the "Ave/ Cesar, Morituri le Salutaut."

And let me pause to point out here that the invention of deliberate, suggestive poems on canvas was a notion introduced by the French school of art. I have never seen this claim enunciated in set terms; but let us see if it be not a valid one. The exceptions that would naturally be made—the appeal for other nations—would



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