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French Art term paper

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"Caravaggio was one of those men to be to winning applause, lack entirely those which distinguish artists from conjurers; who, further and far more strangely, endowed with ambition, audacity, and a shrewd notion of how to get into the limelight, perceive that one can turn a knack for "doing" as well to doing what happens to be considered important as what is considered trivial. Herein lies their singularity; they perceive that the gifts which make an immensely prosperous but comparatively insignificant cheap-jack or advocate will as easily make an infinitely honourable rebel or a famous prophet, and preferring glory to cash more often than not get both. Inevitably, only a very few of them are remembered, for they are of a race ideally designed to be admired and forgotten. Caravaggio, with his extraordinary gift for creating illusions and advertising them, is the most eminent of the tribe; Carlyle and Zola are possible runners-up; Keyserling and Joyce are the best examples in the present, the age that is always theirs. Instead of remaining useful journeymen, minor poets, storytellers, likeness-catchers, West-end playwrights and reporters, they become apostles and innovators; instead of remaining Friths they become Futurists. With their rebellious or prophetic airs they impress the more thoughtless of the very young. When they are perceived to be mere Royal Academicians in wolves' clothing the young like them less; on the other hand, the old like them more. Lord and master, the most gifted of a gifted race, stands Caravaggio; and when Poussin reached Rome his brilliantly impressive melodrama was still the rage. The young, including the young French - Valentin Vignon - were his humble, or rather arrogant, servants. It could hardly have been otherwise. Whom else should they ape? The school, though respectable, was so feeble and uninspiring that a lad of mettle could not be expected to subscribe to its articles."
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"In the Middle Ages by the influence of the saints men were torn away from their monotonous lives, and compelled to take a staff and set out through the world. All travellers were then pilgrims. The poorest went from abbey to abbey, from hospice to hospice, as far as the shrine of St. James at Compostella, while those who could not undertake a long journey contented themselves with offering a candle to St. Mathurin of Larchant or St. Faron of Meaux. The roads in France were crowded with travellers who wore in their hats the leaden image of St. Michel du P"ril or of St. Gilles of Languedoc. These pilgrim signs were worth a king's safe-conduct, and these peaceable men who travelled "for the good of their souls" were unmolested by hostile armies.

Then, too, in each province there were sacred spots, consecrated by some bishop, hermit or martyr. The springs formerly inhabited by a primitive goddess, or the rocks of the plain haunted by fairies, had been blessed by a famous saint. The peasant of the Morvan came yearly to drink at the spring which had gushed forth at the touch of St. Martin's crosier, or dragged himself on his knees round the rock on which the great bishop's mule had left the impress of its shoe. The saints took the place of the genii of mountains, valleys and forests. The hill-tops formerly dedicated to Mercury were now consecrated to St. Michael, the messenger of heaven who shows himself on the heights. As in Celtic times, France became a great sanctuary in whose remotest parts the memory of some man of God was venerated."
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"Manet, as a confirmed republican, waited for the Empire to collapse and then enlisted (as did Degas) in an artillery unit of the National Guard. Pissarro, living at Louveciennes, found himself in the path of the advancing Germans and fled to England, leaving behind hundreds of his pictures together with many that Monet had stored with him. Torn from their frames and used as floor-mats and aprons by the Prussian soldiery, who turned his house into the regimental butcher shop, all were destroyed - an irreparable loss, depriving us of by far the greater part of Pissarro's pre-1870 output and a substantial part of Monet's. To these losses, in the case of Monet, must be added the many canvases which he himself ripped to shreds in fits of despair or to prevent their being seized by his creditors. Things went no better for him in London than in France. The English public showed complete indifference to his work. He submitted some pictures to an exhibition at the Royal Academy, but they were rejected. He had the good luck, however, to run into Daubigny, who introduced him to his own dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, also a refugee in London, who had opened a gallery at 158 Bond Street."
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