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