1 Luglio 2018

Armand Point’s St.Cecilia & the Painters of the Soul: Bridging Art & Life in Fin de Siècle France


Iconocrazia 13/2018 - "Iconocrazia: Art, Astronomy, Politics and Religion", Saggi

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In France in the 1890s a diffuse current of symbolism took shape generating loyal followers and vituperative critics.[1]  It cohered into a distinct movement in 1893 when Gustave Soulier referred to “les artistes de l’âme” in the journal L’Art et la vie.  In 1894 Soulier and Fernand Weyl delivered a lecture entitled, “The painters of the soul” at the Théâtre de la Bodinière in Paris.  The lecture was accompanied by a modest exhibition that included works by Carlos Schwabe, Aman-Jean, Osbert, Armand Point and others. The tenets of the Artists of the Soul were articulated in a series of lectures and published in the symbolist review L’Art et la vie in 1895.[2] This was the starting point for what would become the Exhibition of the Painters of the Soul held at the same venue in 1896. “Oeuvres des peintres de l’âme: l’Art et la vie” (fig.1).

Figura 1
Figure 1

The Contemporary Review in Britain, quoting Charles Recolin, described the engaged aesthetic:  “In regard to Art itself, instead of the old motto, ‘Art for Art,’ that paper [journal] has substituted a new one, ‘Art from Life and for Life.’”[3]  This impulse reflects an intersection between socially progressive ideas, even socialism, and Symbolist Idealism in late nineteenth-century France, a phenomena which has been neglected.  Writing in the journal, Cosmopolis, in 1896, Edouard Rod characterized the collaborators of L’Art et la vie as “inclined toward socialism but cling to the aesthetic … though tinted with mysticism, their ‘idealism’ remained independent of any religious belief.”[4] 

The episteme that aesthetic withdrawal was the only escape from a society disillusioned by the disastrous results of the Franco-Prussian war, the instability of the Third Republic and facing the harsh realities of modern, industrial life was rejected.  Mallarme’s Princess Hérodiade secreted in a tower was not to be destroyed, as the later Vorticists or the Surrealists demanded, but freed from the notion that Beauty achieves immortality by cutting itself off from life.[5]  The Artists of the Soul sought to integrate art into the life-world of praxis to socio-spiritual, even political, effect.  The “idea clothed in sensuous form” to quote Jean Moréas’ famous definition of symbolism was mobilized by the artists toward socio-spiritual regenerative purpose.  This distinguishes the artists from the figure with whom they are most commonly associated and who was an important influence: Joséphin Péladan and his spectacular Salon Rose + Croix. In fact, the exhibition Oeuvres des peintres de l’âme: l’Art et la vie as well as others to follow in the George Petit gallery sought to distance themselves and even contest the ever-more occult and esoteric orientation of Péladan.  The work of Point and the “Painters of the Soul”, in general, have remained in the shadow of the spectacular figure of Péladan and the cult of personality he cultivated within his revolutionary theatre of art.[6] This short paper focuses on the cover picture of the painters of the soul exhibit  to tease out some of the ways in which this exhibition initiative may be distinguished from that of Péladan, particularly for its socially conscious, active agenda.          

            The cover of the Bodinière exhibition of the Painters of the Soul was designed by Armand Point.  Only a few years, earlier, in May 1893, Point secured a travel grant from the  Ministre des Beaux-Arts for to travel to Italy to study the techniques of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian art.[7]  Traveling with his companion, Hélène Linder, he immersed himself in the study of fifteenth-century Florentine painting and art treatises. He returned to Paris so committed to the forms and techniques of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian art that he likened his aesthetic re-orientation to a religious conversion. Symbolist poet, Camille Mauclaire writes, “then he went to Italy … and he returned transformed. He was another man, another spirit, another painter.”[8] Before his momentous trip to Italy, he was known as painter of orientalist and genre scenes in an academic technique touched by impressionism. He earned a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. His orientalist style was markedly unaffected and notable for its deft treatment of light, which Mauclaire praised as “intense desert luminosities.”[9]

What prompted Point’s appeal to Ministre des Beaux-Arts to go to Italy, even though he was past the age limit for the application, has not been explored in the small amount of scholarship on the neglected artist.[10] Accounts have tended to assume it was related to his attraction to the counter-cultural idealism of Joséphin Péladan, who invited him to participate in the Rose+Croix Salons.  But such an assumption overlooks the fact that Point first commissions upon his return from Italy were from the state. His traditionalism might be understood more along the lines of Puvis de Chavannes who, while generally regarded as a precursor of Symbolism, was independent of any contemporary movement and whose work resonated with both academic and avant-garde artists.

Figure 2
Figure 3

The image on the cover of the catalog derives from one of Armand Point’s earliest works after he returned from Italy and reflects his radical reorientation to the forms and techniques of Quattrocento Florentine painting, particularly that of Leonardo’s Florentine period and Botticelli.  Charles Yriarte, Inspector-General of Fine Arts in the French Government, was impressed with Point’s dedication to Quattrocento forms and techniques and thought them relevant to state art education:

Armand Point, through personal experimentation and studying Cennino Cennini’s treatise, has rediscovered the techniques of fresco and distemper [tempera] … used by the primitives…he thought it would be positive for all artists to recreate effects used in the past, alas fallen into disuse […] it would therefore be logical to commission a tempera and a fresco. The tempera could be exhibited as a finished painting in one of our national art schools as an example of the vivid colors that can be achieved with tempera. Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Old Man with a Young Boy (at the Louvre) is a famous example of this technique.[11]

On April 10, 1895 the state heeded Yriarte’s recommendation and commissioned Point to create a fresco to serve as an example for contemporary art students in France. Designed as an allegory of early Spring, it was entitled, April, and depicted a figure evocative of the patron saint of music, Saint Cecilia, framed in a Gothic arch, and surrounded by lilacs.  The fresco, which was mounted onto canvas is very damaged and is today in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Even in its damaged state, the simplified treatment of form and flat fields of color show his close study of fifteenth-century Florentine fresco painting. His Study of a Face: April offers a hint at what the damaged fresco once looked like. In this small head study, the lessons of his close reading of Cennini’s Libro dell’arte are evident, even though the painting is in oil.  The picture corresponds fairly closely to Cennini’s instruction to achieve the youthful face of an underpainting, using green and white and verdaccio to create chiaroscuro for the face, and white “to systematically pick out the prominences and reliefs of the countenance,” and “then put a little pink on the lips and some ‘little apples’ on the cheeks.” [12]   The reduced articulation of volumes and the restricted color palette with backgrounds in warmer or cooler greys, recalls the techniques of Masaccio, which Point had seen in Florence.

Figure 4

While Point approached the media and techniques of Quattrocento painting with the attentiveness of a restorer, in his theoretic writing he describes a quasi-platonic encounter with an indwelling spirit in Quattrocento painting, particularly that of Botticelli’s  Primavera. Several years after his return from Italy, he wrote an essay elaborating this experience: “Florence. Botticelli. La Primavera,” was published in Mercure de France (1896) and recounts how Botticelli’s Primavera and led to an aesthetic communion which he frames as a conversion:

My mind was guided by the spiritual radiation emanating from the work of Botticelli, for none of the thoughts that accompany the creation of a work of art are ever lost: the molecules of matter shelter them, and when a soul delicately touches them, they return to talk to the visiting friend … … this is no longer the facile achievement of a little sensation … it is the manifestation of a choice between the three great domains of creation, whereby our mind conceives the supreme harmony, the domain of raw matter that feeling vivifies, and the realm that thought illuminates to perceive God.[13]

Point’s emphasis on subjective experience is, generally, traceable to the theses of Fichte, Schopenhauer.  Closer to the Symbolist milieu, they also accord with Moréas’ rejection of rationalism and materialism in favor of pure subjectivity and the expression of an immaterial idea over realistic description of the natural world. But more than any other source, Point’s writing aligns itself closely to the theories Albert Aurier, who, drawing on Plotinus’ Enneads, insisted that “the only means of comprehending a work of art is to become its lover.”[14] For Aurier “the work of art is a special natural language of the spirit . . . containing the essential spirituality of various objective beings”. The complete work of art is “a new being, one that is absolutely alive, since it has an animate soul, which is the synthesis of the soul of the artist and the soul of nature,” which he nearly likens to paternal and maternal energy. “The new being is nearly divine because it is immutable and immortal”. For beholders with sufficient emotional preparedness, the work of produces a “a radiant sympathy, a feeling of beauty which is the fruit of the communion of two souls: the human soul and the superior and active soul of the work of art”. Aurier’s chooses early Italian works as exemplary asking:

Who then, I ask, can boast of having really understood the Mona Lisa or Saint John of Leonardo, the glorious Virgin of Angelico or that of Botticelli, before having felt, before these mysterious and beautiful beings, as the delightful fusion of his soul, to himself, into another soul, theirs? before having felt, in their sight as a first thrill of love? And was it not only this unforgettable moment of close intimacy that we all began to really hear and truly understand the harmonious language of these sublime images, to converse with them as well as with divine lovers, to penetrate and the intimacy of their dazzling souls, sensing that they would always have to reveal to us some new and miraculous joys eternally? [15]

      A large, well-developed charcoal and chalk study for the fresco, April or St Cecilia, shows how deeply the “mysterious and beautiful beings” by Leonardo and Botticelli imprinted Point’s creation. The central figure’s gown with its high bodice and composition of repeating vertical folds, recalls the robe of the central figure in the Primavera and Botticelli’s linearism generally.  The drawing’s overall treatment of light, shadow and botanical precision points to the hand of Leonardo, as does her head and plaited hair which is reminiscent of his now-lost painting of Leda. Point may have also known  French edition (1889) of Eugene Müntz, Histoire de l’art pendant la renaissance: Italie; les primitifs which contained an extensive section on the representation of 14th and 15th century women, with special attention to costume and hair arrangements. Among the Artists of the Soul, Leonardo’s portraits were hailed as expressing the spiritual or psychological life of his subject, as well as the immateriality of a metaphysical ideal. Séaille’s study, Léonard de Vinci – L’artiste et le savant (1892), attributes to Leonardo’s people “all that can appear of the human soul,” and claims that Mary’s face in  The Madonna of the Rocks embodies the “eternal feminine.”[16] Paul Valery in his Introduction à la method de Léonard de Vinci (1894) wrote: “I name the man and Leonardo … the power of the spirit.”[17]

Figure 5

Following Aurier’s argument that the beholder is passive and the art work active in the spiritual communion between beholder and picture, the obvious reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s and the figure of Venus in Primavera become material expressions of his partial self-negation as an autonomous modern artist.  The work insofar as it refers to Botticelli and Leonardo point away from itself to the beloved object, the original which inspired its creation in the first place. The picture invites a kind of re-enactment of the neo-platonic ascent of the soul, where remnants of a unified whole –the Quattrocento masterpiece — are manifest partially in their material referentiality to an absent original. Rather than simply pastiche, the obvious quotes to pictures point beyond themselves to an original of which it is only a partial reflection. Such idealism interposed with neo-platonic thought and Quattrocento Florentine painting was one current of a rather porous notion of reformative idealism in art in late nineteenth-century France.

Idealism and “idealist” were terms with a high currency in the 1880s and 90s in Paris. Most extravagantly it was invoked by Joséphin Péladan to promote the revolutionary aesthetic agenda of Salon de La Rose+Croix.  Péladan declared the purpose of his salons was “to ruin realism, reform Latin taste, and create a movement of idealist art.”[18] His use of the term “idealist” reflects the currency of this term in Paris in the 1890s, and his phrase “ruin realism” places it in the context of the anti-naturalism of the period. It is important to note that here the term is not to be confused with idealism of “grand” painting of the French Academy but indicates opposition to naturalism and positivism.[19]  Péladan’s idealism is based on the esoteric tradition in which beauty is a divine manifestation insofar as matter is an expression of the spirit, a theory that draws on the idealism of Plato, Plotinus, and Hegel. In L’art idéaliste et mystique (1894), Péladan writes that Plato “alone dared to consider Beauty as a spiritual being, existing independently from our conceptions.”[20] But Plotinus’ “One” corresponds more closely to Péladan’s Christian monotheism. He writes: “There is no other reality than God, there is no other truth than God, there is no other beauty than God.”[21] Hegel’s premise that each age has a distinct mind or spirit, which is expressed through its art is also critical to Péladan’s idealism.[22] “The book, the monument, the fresco,” says Péladan, “express through different modes—the words, the lines, the colors—the same thing: the state of the soul of an epoch.” Unlike Hegel’s historical determinism in which the Spirit or Geist is ever-advancing, Péladan’s epochal soul, “elevates itself or falls into decline as it nears or draws further from God.”[23] Like Aurier, Péladan  turns to fifteenth-century Italian art as exemplary or elevated art, that drew near to God  and called for a return to the style of thirteenth- to fifteenth-century art:

      Here are the Christs of Margaritone, the Virgins of Cimabue. Giotto is there; the blessed Fra Angelico follows. Primitive art, the greatest of all, blossoms within the Godhead. But suddenly a mirage leads all astray: the Renaissance. Man believed he had rediscovered antiquity; he had only come upon Rome, that caricature of Athens.[24]

Point, who exhibited in all but the last of Rose+Croix salons, shared Péladan’s passion for the early Italians but his argument for their contemporary relevance is more subtle and humanistic than Péladan. His “Primitifs et Symbolistes” published in 1895 in L’Ermitage outlines his theoretic case for the contemporary value of Quattrocento Italian painting. Drawing on the implications of Hegel’s interpretation of history where successive stages of human cultural development are reflected in each era’s art, he writes art is “the clearest manifestation of an individual as of a time and each generation continues a desire and need for Beauty.” Like Péladan, he rejects Hegel’s telos of an ever-advancing zeitgeist, and sees human epochs as more cyclical, receding or advancing in relation to a universal transcendent of beauty which it is the artist’s task to sense and reflect:

By the gift that he received from sensing and guiding the mystery of the unity of universal harmony, the artist strives for his conquest and, in the work, sculptors, painters, architects, musicians, poets and philosophers, each one shows the share of light which he has been able to delight in the great sun where our souls are orientated. Because the work does not exist only for the unfathomable joy of the dilettante, it is the permanent memory of a country of beauty from which we come, and towards which we walk; thus, every artist, by working, becomes the star, leader of the great human flock.[25] 

The degree to which an artist may transmit a part of this transcendent realm of beauty is directly related to the health of the artist’s culture.  In this he follows the pattern of Johann Joachim Winkelmann whose theoretical apologia for Neo-classicism advanced the notion that the aesthetics of Greek and art were directly related to conditions that enabled it to flower—societal health, particularly climate and political liberty and this is what justifies it as a universal metric of taste. While Winckelmann’s universal was aligned to a eighteenth-century conception of taste, Point orientation is more metaphysical, suggesting a causal relationship between the health of a society and artists ability to resonate and reflect a neo-platonic conception of a supernal realm to which all of humanity belongs. 

Those centuries when people are happy, the artist is able to speak a clear language that is easily understood. The masterpieces that time has conserved for us, testify to the splendor of the spirits, when a thought could unleash it as a flame, free and clear under the sky. . . . Venus will be queen in the groves where laurels grow [Botticelli’s Birth of Venus]. Above all, these are eternal symbols, where humanity has generalized the great feelings which move it. [26]

      John Ruskin in his Stones of Venice (1851-53)and The Two Paths: Being Lectures on Art and its Application (1859) argues that laissez-faire capitalism is antithetical to the expression of beauty. The epochs, especially what he calls the Gothic, preceding the sixteenth century were not plagued by brute specialization of labor and so individual workers had greater expressive freedom, without which the creation of beauty is impossible. By the 1890s fragments of Ruskin’s writing had been translated into French, and his ideas were important not only to Point, Peladan but also Paul Desjardins initiatives to align French idealism with art making and social reform.[27]

For Point, Quattrocento Florence exemplifies a society in socio-cultural balance where artists sought to manifest the laws of a universal harmony unifying all aspects of being.[28] Comparing the art of Masolino to contemporary naturalist and realist art, he writes that “Adam and Eve by Masolino, in the Carmine Chapel in Florence, resemble as closely as possible a man and a woman: but it is not Mr. X, a pork butcher, taking his bath like a frog, nor Mrs. Z, a maid, washing disgracefully nude in a bathtub.”[29]    In his close discussion of Quattrocento artists study of nature he distinguishes it from the indiscriminate transcriptions of nature by modern artists.  Quattrocento artists sought in their subjects to balance an appearance of nature with an emotion or a pure, noble idea. Misguided contemporary artists seek vain honors, he writes, degraded by Caliban and “shamefully misunderstanding the naturalism of Masaccio, Masolino, etc.” without ever having beheld them in person. He continues, emphasizing the importance of a material encounter with early Italian art: 

I have seen them, these great poets what they took to be life is the means of expression, the line, the color, the chiaroscuro. But what they express are rare and noble sentiments…They did not illustrate a good beer or a potato picker…Read the history, visit the museums of ltaly, city to city, and you will see that from Cimabue in Florence, from Duccio to Siena, from Pisano to Pisa, the only concern, up to Michelangelo, is to find in Nature an expressive form corresponding to the feeling that the artist wanted resonate through centuries, not to replicate a random scene of life on the street. [30]

Framing Italian painting of the centuries preceding the so-called Renaissance was not new in France. Alexis François Rio, among others, was a spokesperson for an Ultramontane aesthetic which was especially intense during the conservative reign of Pius IX (1846 to 1878).[31] This neo-Catholic tendency, like the German and Austrian Nazarene appreciation of Trecento and Quattrocento art—particularly the work of early Raphael and Fra Angelico—for its stasis, sincerity, and simplicity.[32] Both Rio and the Nazarenes placed the expression of sincere feeling—specifically Christian feeling—in art above any other metric of evaluation. Even Péladan tended to frame his appreciation for the Quattrocento painters some way in relation to a returning to a pure form of Catholic art. What is notable about Armand Point’s writing is that it is quite distant from any self-consciously Catholic agenda and emphasizes synthesis, unity, and harmony:

Under a pantheistic influence Faith disappears…a wind blows from Greece, and Venus and Bacchus spring up from the earth … : the artists take their fantasies for a walk in the groves of oranges where the Graces are enlaced with each other [Primavera]. … Blond Venus, under a rain of roses, comes on a breath of wind toward Gaia who presents her with a mantle of royalty [Birth of Venus].[33]

      Point’s seamless movement from singing the praises of the sincere Christian expression in Masolino and Masaccio in the Carmine Chapel in Florence to the sweet wind blowing from Greece ushering in a pantheistic perspective manifest in the arts points to a broader syncretic tendency in fin-de-siècle French idealist intellectual thought that has not adequately been related to Armand Point or the artists of the soul. 

      It is well known that French symbolism developed out of a broader intellectual opposition to the naturalism and positivism in the second half of the nineteenth century, particularly that of Auguste Comte.  Comte, motivated by the social and moral problems that followed the French revolution, believed that the practice of a science which discredited all that cannot be observed would eventually lead to social regeneration and progress. Comte organized the process by which humans come to the know the world along a biological model where in “childhood” human beings sought theological solutions, giving divine explanations for phenomena;  in “youth,” metaphysical; and in “adulthood” scientific with its most advanced practice being what he called ‘social physics’ or ‘sociology’ which was concerned with identifying laws which govern human behavior which might be brought to together with social institutions to produce a complex, yet predictable system. Late in life he fantasized would lead to, among other things, a Religion of Humanity where historical figures would be revered in relation to their contribution to society. While positivist philosophers who succeeded Comte, such as Emile Littre or even the historian Hippolyte Taine, differed on many points with Comte, positivism came to be popularly associated with a kind of relentless materialism, an anti-religious rationalism, and an attack on the traditional schools of philosophy. [34]

      In early summer 1889, an inspired young writer, moralist, and to some degree philosopher, published an article in Revue bleue in which he defined the antipostivist position of his friend and colleague Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé and provided a short summary of the reaction against naturalism in French intellectual thought.  He despaired that what plagued France was a “simultaneous invasion of positivism in thought, of naturalism in art, of mechanism and analysis in criticism, of realism and the hoax in literature, of agnosticism and indifference in religion, and of a practical sense in life”. Citing a number of examples, he writes, “ In 1855, France gave the lessons of experimental physiology by Claude Bernard…In 1857 Mr. Taine’s Essays of Criticism and History appeared with the promulgation of his famous method…In 1859 the Origin of Species was to appear, translated almost immediately from English into French.” [35] He continues by outlining a new generations rejection against the scientific materialism of their writing:

This state of scientific fervor, a drought for all races, has already passed and we have commenced judge it … poetry is reborn…painting and the sculpture are reinterpreted as in a New Fiesole. They have gone back to the primitive masters, have given up the idea of ​​equalizing their candor, their intensity, their understanding of the invisible world. Some artists, such as M.Puvis de Chavannes or M. Gustave Moreau, have finally met their true contemporaries among the young men.[36]

      Desjardins founded the Union pour l’action morale in 1892 calling for a moral and ethical transformation of society in response to contemporary pessimism, positivism, materialism and decadence. In 1896 he embarked on a campaign to educate the masses through moralizing and idealizing art. He commissioned Puvis de Chavannes to design the campaign’s poster, illustrating the Childhood of St. Geneviève. An article in the Union’s bulletin emphasized the capacity of Puvis’ art to transcend the present with timeless images. Carlos Schwabe, another important artist of the soul, was an active participant in the Unionand designed the cover for a collection of art for the people and by illustrating the Union’s bulletin. He shared the views of the Ligue des droits de l’homme, and supported Dreyfus, and  illustrated the works by Félicité Robert de Lamennais, a forerunner of liberal Catholicism and Social Catholicism. Another artist of the soul, Alexandre Séon, worked on the “Palace of the People” project which aimed to draw all social classes toward the beneficent power of art in the Louvre, organizing tours of the museum, as well as publishing inexpensive prints.  Louis Welden Hawkins, a little appreciated symbolist idealist, who underwent a conversion from a naturalist style to the forms characteristic of early Italian painting, illustrated several portraits of the radical humanitarian and socialist Séverine. He drew up plans for a ‘Foyer universel’ conceived to unite the arts with civic activities  to create a “cathedral of the people.” “In the Middle Ages he wrote, “the home of the people was the church until they were driven away by priests; we wish to draw on all intellectual resources and modern life to create a new center for people to feel alive.”[37]

      In many ways these efforts to align an ideal form of art that draws on the traditions of the past recall the advocacy of John Ruskin and William Morris in Britain who embarked on magnificently ambitious campaigns to mobilize the power of art and beauty – particularly as it was exemplified in Trecento and Quattrocento art — to regenerate social and moral life.  Ruskin’s writing was of significant importance to Desjardins.  Extracts from nine of Ruskin’s books were translated over twenty three issues of the Bulletin de l’Union pour l’action morale between 1893 and 1903.  As Hauptman has most recently outlined, Ruskin and Morris, along with Edward Burne-Jones and Rossetti had—especially following Edourd Rod’s writing of 1887, Olivier-Georges Destrees’s of 1894, and Robert de Sizeranne of 1896[38]—become the central objects of a French anglomania in the 1890s.[39]  In 1896 Point established an artist’s colony at Marlotte, a village not far from Valins. Christened Haute-Claire in 1896 by Élémir Bourges, it was partly inspired by the Arts and Crafts atelier of William Morris at Merton Abbey.[40] The way Ruskin, Morris, Burne-Jones, and Rossetti were refracted through a particularly French symbolist aesthetic is highlighted by Edourd Rod who acclaimed the Pre-Raphaelites particularly Rossetti and Burne-Jones not for their “truth to nature” but for grounding images in idées abstraites and their early Italianate form suggestive of a foundational aesthetic ideal similar to what Point outlined in his essay Primitifs and Symbolists in L’Ermitage.

      Paul and Victor Margueritte, in an essay in La Plume, credit Point with the ability to extract harmony from a tangle of threads—the material world’s entanglement with the metaphysical—quoting Point to have said that the artist is the “clairvoyant of the laws of harmony.”[41]In some sense, this is what April or St. Cecilia represents and goes a long way to explain why the picture, which began as a fresco commission for the state, was chosen as the cover image for the catalogue, Exhibition of the Works of the Painters of the Soul–Art & Life.

      There is much in the picture of April or St. Cecilia  that alludes a syncretic search to unify a wide range of ideas.  Is the woman holding the harp an allegory of Spring or Saint Cecilia? Is she in a garden of lilacs or, as the arched form above her suggests, a gothic cathedral? Is she a pantheistic or Christian allusion to the divine?  From this perspective, the harp she plays is a metonym for the divine harmony the Artists of the Soul sought to channel.  Her closed eyes are polyvalent: she—the musical being—surrenders her song to a metaphysical harmony, but this surrender also reflects that of the artists who drew her, and the beholder who looks at her– to see, hear, and feel a unity that transcends both fragmentation and division in the physical world. Forms from the quattrocento past are woven with those of the symbolist present to create harmony unifying a range of disparate elements in the physical and spiritual world to suggest they spring from a common source. He likely would have measured the success of his picture by the degree to which it drew its beholding subject—immured in the sensory dulling and socially alienating conditions of modern urban life—toward an encounter with a beneficent metaphysical reality that promised unity in the face of fragmentation.

Saint Cecilia, with her multi-layered allusions to harmony, is not unlike Baudelaire’s ideal vision of a profound unity. Like a religious icon, she points beyond herself to a transcendent accord ordering the physical and metaphysical world. In the shadow of a pointed Gothic arch suggestive of a cathedral, while her immersion in nature  invokes also a pantheistic perspective. Especially enamored with Cennino Cennini’s 1390 treatise on painting, he quotes him in his essay “Primitifs et Symbolistes”: “And this is an art that one calls painting . . . of finding a thing not seen, hidden in the shadow of nature and formed with the hand to demonstrate that what is not, is.”[42] Saint Cecilia is such a new and secret thing, hidden in the shadow of nature, pointing beyond herself to a divine harmony.  That this harmony alludes also to a new age is suggested not only her alternative title, April.

She also points to the idea that society might be led to a socially superior age founded on the principles of harmonics. This concept had a broader resonance in philosophical and scientific thought in the nineteenth century. Sociologist-philosopher Pierre Leroux in “On the poetry of our time” (1831) writes of harmonic vibrations of different sense modalities constituting the soul:

One part of which is colors, another movements, another judgments, and so forth, all vibrating simultaneously … so that a vibration in one region communicates itself to another. … From these harmonic vibrations of the diverse regions of the soul an accord results, and this accord is life; and when this accord is expressed, it constitutes art. And it so happens that when this accord is expressed, it is a symbol, and the form of its expression is rhythm …: that is why art is the expression of life, the reverberation of life, life itself.[43]

            Leroux’s articulation of the constituents of the soul in terms of harmonic vibrations relates to the way in which physicists had begun to see natural phenomena in terms of simple harmonic motion. From the recognition that musical notes are a function of different vibrational frequencies, to the sine or cosine waves of spring mechanisms, to the oscillations of a pendulum, these new ways of structuring knowledge led some to see harmonics as bridging the mundane and the spiritual world. French utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon envisioned creating a harmonic, though hierarchic union among classes. Charles Fourier went so far as to imagine a “Harmonic” society of the future, an ideal social system aligned to numeric harmonics.[44]

Armand’s Point’s essay Primitifs et Symbolists is prefaced with the famous first stanza of Baudelaire’s sonnet Correspondences,” first published in Flowers of Evil in 1857:

Nature is a temple in which living pillars.

Sometimes emit confused words;
Man crosses it through forests of symbols
That observe him with familiar glances.[45]

      This is Baudelaire’s famous articulation of his theory of “correspondences,” foundational to literary symbolism in France, and is part of the “Spleen and Idéal” section of the book. In Walter Benjamin’s reading of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, he interprets particularly the Spleen and Ideal cycle of poems as a response to modern urban life. Following Freud’s notion of the unconscious,  Baudelaire’s  “spleen,” says Benjamin,  “holds in its hands the scattered fragments of genuine historical experience … exposing the passing moment in all its nakedness … mustering the multitude of seconds against it,” and “evoking the present state of the collapse of that experience.”[46]  The “ideal” operates in counterpoise:  it “pursues wholeness and reintegration in the face of this disintegration.”   The poem “Correspondences” uses literary strategies to retrieve—temporarily in the reader’s consciousness—the integrity of lived experience that Benjamin sees as irretrievably lost in Baudelaire’s Paris.    Baudelaire’s poetics are grounded in a fundamentally metaphysically oriented system of correspondences and analogies that functions on the symbolic—or what Benjamin would say—ritual level producing a sense of unity that functions beyond the realm of the material and the stark reality of alienation, and sensory deadening shocks of an urban existence.  Benjamin sees Baudelaire’s idealas expressive of a longing to reintegrate fractured, modern consciousness, writing the “idéal supplies the power of remembrance.”[47] Unlike, Baudelaire, St. Cecilia or April offers the promise of stability precisely because of her active engagement to respond to the issues of modern life that had deadened Baudelaire’s city dwellers’ sensory capacities.

      This concept that art in accord with a harmony at once transcendent and immanent in nature may lead to an enlightened future is expressed on the cover of the catalog for the 1896 Exhibition of the Works of the Painters of the Soul–Art & Life (Fig. 3-10). Saint Cecilia is depicted with irises springing up around her,  grounding  image in the living world. The subtitle of the exhibition, “Art and Life” [L’Art et la Vie],” stresses the social ambition of the artists, like the journal of the same title founded by Maurice Pujo in 1892. Unlike Jean Des Esseintes’ withdrawal from the world into an artificial reality in J.K. Huysmans’ Au Rebours, where the aesthetic sense becomes a neurotic pathology, these artists sought to bring the transformative power of an ideal art into the living world and inaugurate a socially and spiritually superior future.

In his prose piece, “The Lost Halo,” Baudelaire imagines a lyric poet’s crossing a busy Parisian boulevard and, in the chaos of urban traffic, loses hold of his halo.  As horses and carriages come galloping from all sides, he hasn’t the courage to retrieve it and concludes it is less painful “to lose one’s badge than to have one’s bones broken.” His consolation is that without his nimbus he is now free to go about the world unknown, “and do mean things, launch into debauches, like ordinary mortals.”[48] The Artists of the Soul wanted to pick up the fallen halo and present it to ordinary mortals believing it more than a badge, and that far from being soiled by the chaos and vulgarity of urban life would radiate its light, acting as a socio-spiritual restorative.  Their enlightened socialist actions and artistic efforts underline their commitment and their courage.  Though World War I would disperse and disorient their vision, their efforts to bring an ideal of Beauty to live amidst the realities of industrial, modern life that a refined and sensitive sector of European culture had deemed intolerable warrants serious scholarly attention today.


*Unless otherwise indicated all translations are my own.

[1] Octave Mirbeau wrote notoriously, “Mais j’entendrai, toute la journée, le voix maudites me corner aux oreilles: « Du lys !…du lys ! du lys ! » [ ah all day these accursed voices echo in my ears, of the lilies, of the lilies, of the lilies!” Octave Mirbeau, “Des Lys! Des Lys!” Le Journal (7 April 1895).

[2] See, especially, Gustave Soulier, “Les Artistes de l’âme, Armand Point,” L’Art et la vie (1894): 171-77; Henri Béranger, “Les Artistes de l’âme, Edmond Aman-Jean,” L’Art et la vie (1893): 31-37; Fernand Weyl, “Alexandre Séon,” L’Art et la vie (1894): 406-13; Gustave Soulier, “Andhré des Gachons,” L’Art et la vie (1894): 479-84. Mercure de France, with Camille Mauclair as art critic following Aurier’s sudden death, became sympathetic to the new formation as Mauclair grew increasingly hostile to Gauguin and the Nabis in “Choses d’art,” Mercure de France 12 (Nov. 1894): 284-86. In “Armand Point,” in the same periodical, 9 (Dec. 1893): 331-36, Mauclair singled out his subtly and his revival of early Italian painting. The same Mauclair, in “The Influence of the Pre-Raphaelites in France,” The Artist (Dec. 1901): 169-180, rightly pointed out that some of the same artists, and a few others like Moreau’s pupils René Piot, Georges Rouault, and Georges Desvallières, constituted a group of “idealists” influenced by Puvis and Moreau.

[3] S.C. de Soissons, “The New French Idealism,” The Contemporary Review, vol. 78, 1900, quoting Charles Recolin, L’anarchie littéraire  (Perrin et cie, 1898), 182: « A la formule de l’art pour l’art doit être substituée celle-ci : l’Art par la vie.” 

[4] Edouard Rod, “Le Mouvement des Idées en France (l’Idéalisme contemporaine),“ Cosmopolis  (July 1896) : 156 : “inclinent vers le socialisme, mais se raccrochent à l’esthétique … Teinté de mysticisme, leur « idéalisme » demeure indépendant de toute croyance religieuse. ”

[5] In the opening scene between Hérodiade and her nurse her beauty is untouchable: Nurse. Are you a living princess or her shadow? Let me kiss your fingers and their rings, and bid you/Walk no longer in an unknown age…

Hérodiade. A kiss would kill me, woman, /If beauty were not death… [Tu vis! ou vois-je ici l’ombre d’une princesse? / À mes lèvres tes doigts et leurs bagues et cesse / De marcher dans un âge ignoré… H. O femme, un baiser me tûrait/ Si la beauté n’était la mort…] Stéphane Mallarmé, Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 29.

[6] Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond has pioneered the neglected movement. See Jumeau-Lafond, Les peintres de l’âme: le symbolisme idéaliste en France (Gent: Snoeck-Ducaju and Zoon, 1999); and expanded in Jean-David Jumeau-LafondPainters of the Soul. Symbolism in France (Tampere: Tampere Art Museum, 2006).   For biographical  and source material on Armand Point, see Robert Doré, Armand Point – De l’orientalisme au symbolisme 1861-1932 (Bernard Giovanangeli Editeur, 2010).

[7] For documentation of the reception of the British Pre-Raphaelites in France, see Jacques Lethève, “La connaissance des peintres préraphaélites anglais en France (1855-1900),” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 53 (May-June 1959): 315-28; Laurence Brogniez, Préraphaélisme et symbolisme: peinture littéraire et image poétique (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2003); Annie Dubernard-Laurent, “Le rôle de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts dans la réception de la peinture préraphaelite britannique en France,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 131 (January 1998): 41-52; Susan P. Casteras, “The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy to Symbolism: Continental Response and Impact on Artists in the Rosicrucian Circle,” in Pre-Raphaelite Art in Its European Context, ed. Susan P. Casteras and Alicia Craig Faxon (London: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 33-50; William Hauptman, “The Pre-Raphaelites, Modernism, and Fin-de-Siècle France,” in Twenty-First-Century Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Art: Essays in Honor of Gabriel P. Weisberg, ed. Petra ten-Doesschate Chu and Laurinda S. Dixon(Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008), 249-253; and Edith Hoffmann, “Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite Influence, in Paris,” The Burlington Magazine 114, no. 830 (May 1972): 354-357. For a primary source examining the influence of the British Pre-Raphaelites on the Artists of the Soul, and a few others affiliated with Gustave Moreau and Puvis de Chavannes, see Camille Mauclair, “The Influence of the Pre-Raphaelites in France,” The Artist (Dec. 1901): 169-180. For a bibliography of French writing on Ruskin and fragments of his work translated into French, see Jean Autret, Ruskin and the French before Marcel Proust (Genève: Librairie Droz, 1965).

[8] Mauclaire, “Armand Point,” 52: “Puis il part en Italie … et il revient transformé. C’est un autre homme, un autre esprit, un autre peintre.”

[9] Camille Mauclaire, “Armand Point: Peintre, Fresquiste, Émailleur, Orfèvre,” Armand Point—La Plume numéro exceptionnel, 15 January 1901, 50: “luminosités intense du désert.” Mauclaire goes on to say he produced “an important Orientalist oeuvre revealing an affection for impressionist effects [Il rassemble une œuvre importante d’orientaliste, où un impressionniste câlin].” Point was born in Algiers to a Spanish mother and a French father.  In 1870 he left Algiers and enrolled in Rollin College in Paris and became a student of Auguste Herste (1825-1900) and excelled in drawing. He returned to Algiera in 1877 and became a student of painter, Hippolyte Lazerges, painting scenes of daily life at the Casbah of Algiers and desert scenes at Bou Saâda. 1888 he returned to Paris, becoming a student of Fernand Cormon at École des Beaux-Arts.

[10] See n3

[11] Jumeau-Lafond, Painters of the Soul, 302.

[12] Cennino Cennini, The Craftsman’s Handbook “Il Libro dell Arte” Cennino of Andrea Cennini, trans Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. (New York: Dover Publications, 1960), lxviii.

[13] Armand Point, “Florence. Botticelli. La Primavera,” Mercure de France, 17 (January 1896): 12-16, trans. in Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories, 173.

[14] G.-Albert Aurier, “Préface pour un livre de critique d’art (i),” Mercure de France, December 1892, 331; reprinted in Œuvres posthumes (Paris: Mercure de France, 1893), 201: “Le seul moyen de comprendre une œuvre d’art, c’est donc d’en devenir l’amant.”

[15] Albert Aurier, “Beaux-Arts: Les Symbolistes, ” Revue Encyclopédique : recuil documentaire universel et illustre (Paris : Librairie Larousse, 1892), 481: L’œuvre d’art est la traduction en une langue spéciale et naturelle, d’une donnée spirituelle, de valeur variable, au reste, laquelle est comme minimum un fragment de la spiritualité essentielle des divers êtres objectifs. L’œuvre d’art complète est donc un être nouveau on peut dire absolument vivant, puisqu’il a pour l’animer une ame, qui est même la synthèse de deux âmes, l’âme de l’artiste et l’âme de la nature, j’écrirais presque l’âme paternelle et l’âme maternelle.  Cet être nouveau quasiment divin, car il est immuable et immortel, doit être estime susceptible d’inspirer a qui communie avec lui dans certaines conditions, des émotions, des idées, des sentiments spéciaux, proportionnés a la pureté et a la profondeur de son âme. C’est cet influx, ce rayonnement sympathiques ressentis a la vue d’un chef-d’œuvre, que l’on nomme le sentiment du beau, l’émotion esthétique, et ce sentiment et cette émotion, ainsi expliques par la communion des deux âmes, l’une inferieure et passive, l’ âme humaine, l’autre supérieure et active, l’âme de l’œuvre, apparaitra sans doute, a qui voudra de bonne foi approfondir, très analogue a ce qu’on nomme : l’Amour, plus vraiment même l’Amour que l’Amour humain toujours macule de quelque boueuse sexualité. Comprendre un œuvre d’art, c’est en définitive l’aimer d’amour, la pénétrer, dirai-je, au risque de faciles railleries, d’immatériels baisers. Je sais tout le ridicule que doit provoquer, en ce siècle de grossier scepticisme pareille esthétique sentimentale. Mais qu’import ? Qui donc, je le demande, peut se vanter d’avoir vraiment compris la Joconde ou le Saint Jean deLéonard, la Vierge glorieuse de l’Angelico ou celle de Botticelli, avant d’avoir senti, devant ces êtres mystérieux et beaux, comme la délicieuse fusion de son âme, à soi, en une autre âme, la leur ? avant d’avoir senti, a leur vue comme un premier frisson d’amour ? Et ne fut-ce point seulement de cette minute inoubliée d’intime rapprochement que, tous nous avons commencé de vraiment entendre et de vraiment comprendre l’harmonieuse langue de ces images sublimes, de converser avec elles ainsi qu’avec de divines amantes, de pénétrer et l’intimité de leurs âmes éblouissantes, pressentant qu’elles auraient toujours a nous révéler quelques nouvelle et miraculeuses joies éternellement ? 

[16] Gabriel, 1452-1519: l’artiste & le savant: essai de biographie psychologique (Paris: Perrin, 1892), 138: “[Leonardo] rendre tout ce qui, sur un visage et dans un corps, peut apparaître de l’âme humaine.”

[17] Paul Valéry, Introduction à la méthode de Léonard de Vinci (1894; Paris: Gallimard, 1957), 11: “J’ai nommé homme et Léonard ce qui m’apparaissait alors comme le pouvoir de l’esprit.”

[18] Joséphin Péladan,“Règle du Salon de la Rose+Croix,” Salon de la Rose +Croix. Règle et Monitoire (Paris: E.Dentu, 1891). Reprinted in La Décadence Latine: Éthopée, X: Le Panthée (Paris: E.Dentu, 1892), 291: “Le Salon de la Rose +Croix veut ruiner le réalisme, réformer le goût latin et créer une école d’art idéaliste.”

[19] Even within these parameters the term avoided a strict definition. M. Charles Henry wrote in the early 1890s, “I don’t believe in the future of psychologism, or of naturalism, nor in general of any realist school. I believe in the coming, more or less, of a very idealist art, even mystical.”[19] Anatole Baju, editor of Le Décadent, defined the ideal as “physical beauty, the soul of things and moral beauty, this quintessence of the soul.”[19] The question of whether styles based on past traditions belonged within the compass of the new idealism was also contested. Charles Morice stressed the importance of the “idea of God” but did not advocate a return to a style that mocked the past.[19] In his 1884 Salon review, André Michel pronounced it absurd to revive Greek or Italian ideals in French contemporary art, saying it is a “more complex and more troubled ideal that emerges from modern hearts and minds.”[19] In this essay he refers to critics who defend the “Tradition” and the “Ideal,” a clear allusion to Péladan’s criticism in Le Foyer, L’Artiste, and in a series of Salon reviews. For an elaboration of the contested use of this porous term see Michael Marlais, Conservative Echoes in Fin-de-Siècle Parisian Art Criticism (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), 25-76.

[20] Péladan, L’art idéaliste et mystique, 113: “Platon seul a osé considérer la Beauté comme un être spirituel, existant indépendamment de nos conceptions.”

[21] Ibid., 107: “Il n’y a pas d’autre Réalité que Dieu, il n’y a pas d’autre Vérité que Dieu. Il n’y a pas d’autre Beauté que Dieu. ”

[22] Hegel writes: “The final cause of the World at large we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of the Spirit.” G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (London: George Bell & Sons, 1894), 20-21. For Péladan’s references to Hegel, see Joséphin Péladan, Les idées et les formes: antiquité orientale (Paris: Mercure de France, 1908), 176; Joséphin Péladan, les idées et les formes: introduction à l’esthétique (Paris: E. Sansot, 1907), 55; Joséphin Péladan, Traité des antinomies: métaphysique (Paris: Bibliothèque Charconal, 1901), 65, 253.

[23] Péladan, L’art ochlocratique, 13, quoted and trans. in Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories, 264: l’art s’élève ou déchoit, selon que les cœurs se rapprochent ou s’éloignent de Dieu.”

[24] Joséphin Péladan, “Materialism in Art,” in Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology, ed. Henri Dorra (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 265. The essay first appeared as “Le Matérialisme dans l’art,” in Le Foyer, journal de famille, 21 August 1881, 177-79. It was reprinted with minor changes in Joséphin Péladan, L’art ochlocratique: salons de 1882 & de I883 (Paris: C. Dalou, 1888), 13-16. Péladan’s acclaim for fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian art also appears in Joséphin Péladan, L’art idéaliste et mystique: précédé la réfutation de Taine (Paris: E. Sansot, 1911), 11, 27, 50.

[25] Point, “Primitifs et Symbolistes,” 11: Par le don qu‘il reçut de pressentir et de deviner le mystère de l’unité d’Harmonie universelle, l’Artiste s’efi’orce à sa conquête et, dans l‘Œuvre, sculpteurs, peintres, architectes, musiciens, poètes et philosophes, chacun montre la part de lumière qu’il a su ravir au grand soleil où s’orientent nos âmes. Car l‘œuvre n’existe pas seulement pour la joie inféconde du dilettante, elle est le souvenir permanent d’un pays de beauté d’où nous venons, et vers lequel nous marchons ; ainsi tout Artiste, en œuvrant, devient l’étoile, meneuse du grand troupeau humain.

[26] Point, “Primitifs et Symbolistes,” 11: “L’Art, étant la plus claire manifestation d’un individu comme d’une époque. . . . Il y eut des siècles et des peuples heureux, où l’Artiste en parlant son pur langage était aisément compris. Les chefs-d’œuvre que le temps nous a conservés témoignent de la splendeur des esprits lorsque la pensée pouvait dresser sa flamme bien claire, librement, sous le ciel.”

[27] See, n.20.

[28] Ibid.,12.

[29] Paraphrased, ibid.: “L’Adam et L’Eve de Masolino, dans la chapelle del Carmine à Florence, ressemblent le plus possible à homme et à femme : mais ce n’est ni monsieur X charcutier, prenant son bain à la grenouillère, ni Mme Z concierge, lavant sa nudité honteuse dans un tub.”

[30] Point, “Primitifs et Symbolistes,” 12: Lisez l‘histoire, visitez les musées d‘ltalie, ville à ville, et vous verrez qu‘à partir de Cimabue à Florence, de Duccio à Sienne, de Pisano à Pise, le seul souci, jusqu‘à Michel-Ange, c’est de trouver dans la Nature une forme expressive correspondante au sentiment que l‘artiste voulait crier à travers les siècles, et non pas de reproduire une scène de la vie, au hasard de la rue.

Ceci n’est pas une déduction de fantaisie.

[31] Alexis François Rio’s De la poésie chrétienne (1836), for example, shifted emphasis from French Medieval architecture as repositories of a pure Catholic spirit to Italian art from roughly the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. For this shift, see J.B. Bullen, The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1994), 59-90.

[32] See Bruno Foucart, Le renouveau de la peinture religieuse en france, 1800-1860 (Paris: Arthena, 1987); for the influence of Ultramontane aesthetics on fin-de-siècle modernism, see Michael Paul Driskel, Representing Belief: Religion, Art, and Society in Nineteenth-Century France (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992).

[33] Ibid.,13: “Sous une influence panthéiste la Foi disparaît; un vent soufflé de la Grèce, les Vénus, les Bacchus, surgissent de la terre . . . : les artistes promènent leurs fantaisies dans des bocages d’orangers où les Grâces s’entrelacent. . . .Vénus blonde sous une pluie de roses, s’en vient au souffle des vents vers la Gaïa qui lui présente le manteau royauté.”

[34] For a discussion of popular conceptions of positivism see Michael Marlais, Conservative Echoes in Fin-de-Siècle Parisian Art Criticism (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), 10.

[35] Paul Desjardins, “Sur M.E Melchior de Vogüé, A propos de sa réception académique, “ Revue bleue, xxvi (8 June 1889),  714: Et ce fut une invasion simultanée du positivisme dans la pensée, du naturalisme dans l’art, du mécanisme et de l’analyse dans la critique, du réalisme et de le blague dans la littérature, de l’agnosticisme et de l’indifférence dans la religion, du sens pratique dans la vie. … En 1857 parurent les Essais de critique et d’histoire, de M. Taine. avec la promulgation de sa fameuse méthode-, la Question d’argent, de M.Dumas fils, et Madame Bovary, de Flaubert. En 1858, les Amis de la nature, de M. Champfleury (c’est le naturalisme); les Lionnes pauvres, de M. Emile Augier; Fanny, de Feydeau. En 1859 devait paraître l’Origine des espèces, traduite presque aussitôt de l’anglais en français.

[36] Ibid., 17: Cet état de ferveur scientifique, de sécheresse pour tout le reste, voici que nous l’avons dé passé déjà, puisque nous commençons à pouvoir le juger…. La poésie renaît… La peinture, la sculpture se sont retrempées comme dans une nouvelle Fiesole. Elles sont remontées aux maîtres primitifs, ont lâché d’égaler leur candeur, leur intensité, leur entente du monde invisible.Des artistes tels que M. Puvis de Chavannes ou M. Gustave Moreau ont rencontré enfin leurs vrais contemporains parmi les jeunes gens.

[37] Quoted in Jumeau-Lafond, “Les Peintres de l’âme, 1999, 23: Jadis, au Moyen Age, écrit-il, l’église était le foyer du peuple. Il en a été chasse par les prêtres; nous foulons avec toutes les ressources de l’intelligence et de la vie modern lui redonner un centre ou il se verra et se sentira vivre.  For documentation of this effort see press clippings between 1903 – 1904 (Paul Hervieu et Louis Payen) in the Archives nationales in Paris (F 21 6990)

[38] Sizeranne published Ruskin et le réligion de la beauté in 1896.

[39] Most recently, William Hauptman’s essay, The Pre-Raphaelites, Modernism, and Fin-de-Siècle France, traces this relationship citing Olivier-Georges Destrée’s publication on 1894 which reflects his particular admiration for William Morris.  While it was Edourd Rod’s article of 1887 that initiated an anglomania for PR art.

[40] For other visitors, see Fanica, “A l’occasion du soixantième anniversaire de la mort d’Armand Point,” 22-35.

[41] Paul and Victor Margueritte, “Hauteclaire,” Armand Point—La Plume: 114: “le voyant de lois d’Harmonie.” The French reception of Burne-Jones’ linearity as visual poetry may have influenced Point’s investment in line to reflect feeling. Ruskin’s Ariadne Fiorentina (1892) locates the power of Botticelli’s line in its expression of moral feeling. Through Merrill, Point may have known Pater’s description of Botticelli as “before all things a poetical painter, blending the charm of story . . . with the charm of line and color,” Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 34.

[42] Cennino Cennini, Il libro dell’arte (c.1390), quoted in Point, “Primitifs et Symbolists,” 13: “E questa è un’arte, che si chiama (dépingere) che conviene avere fantasia, e operazione de mano, (di trovare cosa non vedute, caciandosi sotto ombra si naturali) e formare con la mano dando a demonstrate quello, che non é, sia.”

[43] Pierre Leroux, “De la poésie de notre époque,” Revue encyclopédique 52 (1831): 404, quoted in Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories, 8.

[44] Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories, 8.

[45] Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres complètes, ed. Jacques Crépet (Paris: Connard, 1923) 1:17, quoted in Point, “Primitifs et Symbolistes,” 12: “La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers / Laissent parfois sortis de confuses paroles; / L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles / Qui l’observent avec des regards familiers.” English translation from Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories, 11.

[46] Walter Benjamin, “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt and trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1968), 185.

[47] Benjamin, “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire,” in Illuminations, 185.

[48] Charles Baudelaire, Paris spleen: little poems in prose, trans. Keith Waldrop (Wesleyan University Press, 2009), 88.

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