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ARTIST A PRIVILEGED CHARACTER
DOLLAR A DAY RATE
FIG TREE OF MARTIGUES
PAINTER AND TOURIST
SKETCHING-GROUNDS IN FRANCE
PAINTERS' HAUNTS ABOUT PARIS
FONTAINEBLEAU AND BARBIZON
ALONG THE VALLEY OF THE LOING
"TYPE" FROM THE LATIN QUARTER
COSTUME MODELS OF BRITTANY
FONT AVEN AND "JULIA'S"
AMONG THE WINDINGS OF THE SEINE
HOTEL BELLEVUE, PETIT ANDELYS
PROVENÇAL SCHOOL OF ART
PAINTING IN SPAIN
SOROLLA'S OPEN-AIR STUDIO
ARTISTS' SKETCHING-GROUNDS ABROAD
THOSE who travel with a paint-box and a white umbrella slung over their shoulders are a privileged class in Europe, and not the least of the concessions which are tacitly bestowed upon them is the right to pre-empt certain little corners and stake them out as their own, with the understanding that they have the first claim to the beauties by right of discovery and appropriation of these charms to the domain of the Republic of Art with a capital A.
The original inhabitants are usually proud of the distinction, and encourage the artist in his proprietary attitude towards their country, thus forming together what might be called an artistic co-operative society, though this tends sometimes to place the plain, everyday tourist somewhat at a disadvantage.
Let one come with a painting outfit, no matter from what land, or of what school of art they may be the followers, whether they set their palettes upside down, – as do those latest radicals, the Post Impressionists, – draw everything on curves, give a porcelain finish to the interpretations of nature, run to a riot of colour, or paint everything in a scale of grey, she, or he, will be welcomed with a camaraderie and a genuine warmth, while the artistic possibilities of the neighbourhood will be mapped out ungrudgingly. It is this which makes for the appeal of these artists' sketching-grounds scattered about Europe, though they are in danger of being spoiled by the laymen, who often come here to loaf, because of the sympathetic qualities so different from those of a banal existence in a community whose occupations are of a purely social nature.
There is no better way to travel cheaply than to carry a paint-box. The white umbrella is a passport that calls for moderate charges, and the artist can usually get into a hotel for five francs, while the casual traveller often pays double. Is this undue discrimination? No; it is but a rightful tribute to the profession. The word "artist" does not always say genius. Modesty forbids, for it is true that the more readily an artist can sling paint with ability, the more unassuming he usually is. No, the consideration is demanded in the interests of Art and a slim purse, and usually it is granted without question. Does he, or she, establish a scale of conduct based on the cut rate of five francs? No, indeed; the best that is to be had is demanded, and no one is disappointed. The landlord may snap his fingers and mutter "sapristi" under his breath, but he will give in to the privileged class sooner or later and be glad of the opportunity of doing so.
As an illustration of local pride and artistic privilege, the following will bear quoting:
One summer from fifty to a hundred artist folk were sketching in a little Mediterranean fishing port – Martigues – in sunny Provence. It is one of those artists' sketching-grounds of which those Americans engaged in the serious business of touring have never heard, but to which the artists flock from all over Europe – French, Belgian, Austrian, Russian, all the cosmopolitan brotherhood. The Grand Hôtel Chabas is the artists' headquarters in La Venise Provençale.
Martigues was originally brought into fashion by one of the greatest of modern colourists – Ziem – and its vogue has since become great.
Here these artist men and women were busy putting on to canvas the picturesque life of the canals, the lateen-sailed Mediterranean fishing boats and the fisher people at work among their nets. These fisher folk of Martigues have become inflated with pride at the distinction that Art has conferred upon them. Have not pictures of themselves, their boats and their houses decorated each year the walls of nearly every art exhibition in the world? They take as much pride in keeping up their end of the artistic standard as the artists themselves; they see to it that the mellow tints of their houses and boats are not disturbed by fresh coats of paint, and have learned to pose at their work in the manner most approved by the artists.
There was one classic motive at Martigues which every one painted, one of those perfectly composed subjects, forming the keynote to one of the most picturesque corners of the town. It was a fig-tree that had sprung up from a crevice in the foundations of an old stone house overhanging one of the principal canals. One morning, to the consternation of the group of artists painting the "fig-tree house," as it was called, a crash was heard and down fell the tree into the water. It was learned that the house had been rented to a stranger, who, finding that the tree completely darkened the north side of the house, not unreasonably had it cut down. Townspeople and artists were alike horrified at the sacrilege.
The artists hurried to the principal café to hold an indignation meeting and threatened to leave town in a body. Such a slight could not be put upon the municipality. The mayor could not put the tree back, but he would wait upon the unfortunate newcomer. The result was that an apologetic statement was published in the local paper to the effect that the stranger did not realise how much of an artistic asset the fig-tree really was, and that it would be permitted to grow again as speedily as the laws of nature would allow.
The artist is the last lineal descendant of the gentleman vagabond of old. He is almost the sole survivor of an uncommercial guild of workman. He goes on his summer outing with rolls of canvas instead of a dress suit, and with "stretchers" in place of boot-trees. He looks upon the automobile as his greatest curse, principally because it has been the means of bringing the ordinary tourist in droves to spy upon the beauties of many of his own particular painting grounds, and has been known even to refuse to sell a picture to the owner of one of these beasts of a machine, though he is not averse to riding in one when asked. Baedecker tourists the artist regards as his natural enemies, for are they not directly responsible for the advance in prices at the little inn which had for so long been content with his modest patronage? With every fresh batch of tourists that comes along he threatens to leave and look for an unspoiled location, though as a matter of fact he comes back year after year.
The same little coterie of painters is usually to be found gathered together in some quaint inn on the bank of some Dutch canal, by the olive and orange groves of the Mediterranean, in some barbarian mountain hamlet, or in some little Norman townlet in the valley of the Seine. Each year they discuss the same old theories with the same enthusiasm, and so it goes on from year to year, and will go on in spite of the comings and goings of the world that travels.
The suffragette would find these artist communities match up very nearly with her ideals of equality. The woman painter, if she is serious, if her work is worthy, is welcomed. Her status in the little community is fixed, and she enjoys good-fellowship, both in work and play, to the utmost.
To these sketching-grounds, too, come that béte noire of the serious-minded artist, the class of amateurs herded together under the supposed artistic guidance of some commercially minded maitre.
Usually these classes are composed of women, sentimental aspirants, willing enough to follow some leader, but too timid to strike out boldly for themselves, either in art or travel. In this way they are able to enjoy a little of both, but invariably mixed in homeopathic proportions. For a stipulated sum, which usually includes their tuition and living expenses, they can paint under the eye of their teacher, for the term for which they have enlisted. It may be that for a certain sum they are allowed to study methods in the shadow of some master's easel, whilst their "keep" is a thing apart. Such classes may be composed of students of both sexes, but it is the unattached woman, with a taste rather than a talent for painting, who forms the bulk of such followers, and water-colour is the medium in which she mostly sins.
These international artist sketching-grounds are most numerous and most popular in France. This is but natural in a land which has given expression to the best of the painter's genius, and is responsible for the highest development of the "plein air" school of painting. Here art is officially recognised, is practically encouraged by the State, which yearly devotes a certain sum of the public funds for the purchase of pictures independent of the artist's nationality. The Nation even has its Ministere des Beaux Arts, who is a member of the Supreme Council of State, the Cabinet. No wonder artists possess the land, or at any rate some of its choicest spots, and that the stranger can wander about with a painting kit and find always that truly warmest welcome at an inn.
As soon as the Paris salons are closed the last of June, and the artists have recovered from the verdicts of success or failure which have been doled out to them, the studios of Montmartre and Montparnasse empty themselves out into the favoured haunts of the countryside.
There are dozens of these about Paris, not too expensive to reach or too expensive at which to stay. This makes for the popularity of the nearby places.
Fontainebleau, with Barbizon as a centre, might be called the master school of modern outdoor painting, though Barbizon to-day is more of a cheap trippers' resort than anything else; not even the sacred association of the great Barbizon quartette of painters can draw the artist now, in the height of the tourist season. Instead he goes to one of a chain of little towns that skirt the southern border of the forest or the valley of the Loing, that has a summer clientele of artists, picturesque, old-time villages, untouched by the near influence of Paris or the holiday-makers who haunt the forest proper.
If old-time Barbizon, with its memories of Millet, Corot and Rousseau, is no longer the fashion, it is but a step across the forest to Moret, the centre of the present-day cult. Here Moret's ancient bridge, its water-mills, its town gates and walls and Gothic church – first made famous on canvas by Sisley – form a galaxy of motifs irresistible.
Montigny, on the southern border, is one of the best of the forest gateways, and Bourron, with its quaint little Hôtel de la Paix, is a great relief after more populous neighbourhoods.
At Marlotte nearby a number of artists have built homes, and domesticity and art flourish together in many a picturesque little villa in this happy Valley of the Loing.
Then there is Nemours, a bustling market town, and Larchant, with a ruined church sitting on a hilltop surrounded by lonesome pines. Not far away is the popular Grez and Crécy-en-Brie – where the cheese comes from. At all of these the artist, if she works it right, may be taken in at almost any small hotel for not more than five francs a day.
Up the valley of Oise, north of Paris, is Daubigny's
with Auvers as its capital. Here on the walls of the Hostellerie du
are some of the master's Sketches of this soft, green, pastoral
but Paris' Sunday crowds rather ruffle the equanimity of the artist,
the real atmosphere of the place is sadly contaminated for one day out
Just outside is Ville d'Avray, where one can paint, if not the same trees that did Corot, at least others that look the same.
To one or another of these haunts comes the typical Parisian artist of the velveteen corduroy suit, slouch hat and black, floating tie. He settles down for the summer, bringing not much else besides his painting kit, though occasionally some "unconventional" will bring with him his bon amie, a little model, perhaps, who may, or may not, at the same time keep studio for him in Paris. The life they lead will likely enough be decorous to view, she sitting beside him at her fancy work as he assumes to fabricate his masterpieces, and washing his brushes for him at the end of day.
It is this sort of thing that is apt to give the lone woman artist a shock when she first drifts in on many of these little artists' sketching-grounds, and it is even true, sometimes, that there are gay doings in between periods of picture making, when the bohemianism is apt to be of a very genuine Montmartre quality, or again it is the atmosphere of the Quartier Latin which is transplanted to the open country. On the other hand, there are quite enough of the other elements to preserve propriety, though no sketching-grounds enjoy such a cosmopolitan freedom as do those of France.
The social life of such places is thus apt to be a little disconcerting, and sometimes composed of startling elements, but as an old artist's model once said, "The American woman knows well the art of keeping the disagreeable outside her range of vision."
The company one sees is as a congress of all nations. The English are there, painting decorously in company with their wives, and there is the sandy, canny Scot from the Glasgow school, and of course innumerable Americans – whom all foreigners regard rather jealously as the aristocrats of the profession, chiefly for the reason that they usually spend treble the sum that they need to. There are representatives from all northern lands; rabid German Secessionists, Austrians, Finns and all the strong army of Scandinavians. The one language which they have in common is that of art.
Usually one dines out of doors in the pleasant country fashion in the courtyard of the little artists' inn, or on a terrace overlooking a river, and meal times are always the occasion of much "shop talk," the courses punctuated with impromptu picture exhibitions as canvases representing the day's work are propped up on chairs and exposed to the hot and merciless criticism of the party.
What difference does it make if the soup is cold, or that a stray wasp drops into the confiture? No one grumbles except the ostracised tourist who may happen along.
Further away from Paris one somewhat loses certain objectionable features in connection with artists' life in easy reach of the capital of bohemianism. Brittany may be called the great "costume model" sketching-ground of France. Nowhere else in western Europe do the inhabitants so tenaciously cling to old-time dress and customs as in this land of fêtes and pardons.
Pont Aven takes precedence over all other artists' towns of Brittany. It was the first to become a centre for a little band of Parisian painters who were attracted here by its unique collection of water-mills and pretty girls. This was long ago, and the painters who first made Pont Aven famous are grey-headed, and the girls perhaps a bit faded, though others have come to take their places.
Without "Julia" and her Hôtel des Voyageurs, Pont Aven might never have become the world-renowned sketching-ground that it is. "Julia's" is still the chief gathering place for artists in all Brittany, but her clientèle is chiefly of the younger generation. Concarneau is next door to Pont Aven, and usually takes the second place in popularity. The great Bay of Concarneau, dotted with the brown-sailed sardine boats, draped in their blue fishing nets, is a veritable symphony of blue and brown, and though the smell from the sardine canneries often drives the artist away, it is a fact that the ready-made motifs of the little fishing town are superlative of their kind. Then a little further westward is Quimperlé who has not seen the washerwomen of Quimperlé? They figure in every salon of every year.
A few choice spirits prefer Poldhu, also on the shore. It is not so overcrowded, not to say amateurish, as Pont Aven, and the pretty fishermaids are not so nearly spoiled as those who have been longer in the profession as models.
Camaret in Finistère, almost at the western point of France, is reminiscent of Cottet and his famous Luxembourg picture of its brown-sailed sardine fishing boats. After comes the bleak, black Côtes-du-Nord, a mysterious region of black rocks and sad, grey houses. All of Brittany has that touch of melancholy about it that comes from the fight with the sea and hard conditions of life generally, but here it is more pronounced than elsewhere.
Not the least of Rochefort-en-Terre's attractions is its Hôtel le Cadre, and the artist who strolls along that way as he does the round will well remember the two little Breton sisters who preside over this neat and attractive little hotel of wild Brittany.
On the north coast of France, not far from Boulogne, is Étaples. Its dirty streets are offset by the excellent Hôtel Joos. At Étaples, a little artist colony has been formed by buying up, or renting, the fishermen's cottages at nominal prices and turning them into studios. Such is the popularity of art that the native fisher people importune one to be taken on for models with as much insistence as the beggars of Naples appeal to strangers for money.
A few miles away, but still within sight of the flashing twin lights on the dunes beyond Étaples, is Montreuil-sur-Mer, where, within the old town walls, at the sixteenth-century Hôtel de France, or outside the walls at the Bellevue, you may live and be well taken care of whilst painting the charming gentle landscape of this region of tidal streams and poplar-lined banks. The same is true of nearby Picquigny, and little more than a dollar a day should cover the cost.
There are some delightful painting centres hidden away in the windings of the Seine below Paris. No one part of France has been so painted as this silver-grey, serpentining ribbon of water edged by thin trees.
Claude Monet is the lodestone that draws artists to Giverny. The place is just a little village of frame and stucco houses, with a few other dwellings a bit more pretentious sandwiched in here and there. The great modern impressionist has made his home here for years and received much of his inspiration from the tranquil charms of the rural neighbourhood. Giverny has become popular with "classes" of late, so prices have soared somewhat above what they were in a former day at the little Hôtel Baudy. Baudy's is the one hotel of the place, and in season you may pay city prices.
Further down river from Paris, below Giverny, are' the Norman twin towns of Les Andelys. The artist goes to Petit Andelys, the town by the river, for the combination of the chalk cliffs and the grey walls of Château Gaillard towering high above the Seine, also for the privilege of living for a space at the Hôtel Bellevue, one of the most characteristically excellent country inns of France.
M. Thiriet, the proprietor of the Bellevue, can still be persuaded by his old, long-standing artist clientele into granting its members the traditional five-franc-a-day rate – if he likes you he will do anything for you, even lose money, – but for the masses he will hold up his hands in horror at the mere suggestion of such a figure. "Pas possible! Pas possible," he will say in a high treble. And judging from what one who is thus favoured gets for the money, it is not difficult to believe this in these days of increasing prices.
Below Les Andelys, in another bend of the river, is Pont de l'Arche. It has for a unique attraction the only church in all the world dedicated to the cause of art and artists – Notre Dame des Arts. The Hôtel de Normandie, by the old stone bridge with many arches, is a pleasant place to stay if one can get foot within the portal. Its capacity is limited, and it is popular with those who like to paint in tranquil, simply disposed surroundings. The salle à manger of the inn is decorated with panels, sketches which have been left behind by artists who have gone before as remembrances for the kindly proprietor.
Caudebec-en-Caux, still by the banks of the Seine, is almost too popular as a sketching-ground. Its crazy old houses, whose foreheads almost touch each other over the meanderings of a tiny tributary of the Seine, are reminiscent of the architecture of the school drawing-books of olden time.
Northward, sitting high on a bluff overlooking the sea, is Etretat, now no longer fashionable as a resort, nor popular as a painter's paradise. Isabey, Hamon and Fromentin all gave it a vogue among connoisseurs of canvas, and Alphonse Karr, the écrivain-jardinier, sent its widespread fame abroad. All this is changed, but there will always be a scattering of artist folks to be found here painting the wonderful effects of sea and sky and shore.
Across the estuary of the Seine, opposite Le Havre, is Honfleur, the pays of Eugene Boudin, a painter whose vogue with a former generation was classic and whose motifs have been left behind for others to fabricate if they can, sturdy fishermen and women, all sorts and colours of boats, queer old tumble-down houses and quaint seaside churches and chapels. Normandy, take it all in all, is one of the most varied and delightful of sketching-grounds.
Down through mid-France are some delightfully unspoiled sketching-grounds known not to the scorching globe-trotter who jumps crazily about Europe from one great capital to another.
The lower valley of the Loire, that of the Upper Seine and Marne and those of the Indre and the Chef are quite in a class by themselves.
In the Department of the Creuze is a vast, purple, heather-blown plateau which has made the fame and fortune of Didier-Puget. He alone has made it the basis of his riots of colour on canvas, and the land will certainly be exploited by his followers, who may be expected to come quickly on his trail once his stamping ground is located.
In the valley of the Yonne, an upper tributary of the Seine, at Joigny and Villeneuve, are little artist colonies of men and women working quietly away, unrecognised as yet by the world at large, but carving out for themselves something new, a thing which is difficult in these days of over-exploitation.
Down along the shores of the Mediterranean, painters – those of a new school – have already begun to make themselves at home. They are seeking something different from the greenness of northern latitudes and are falling desperately in love with the patti-coloured marine life of the busy little ports, none the less than the white, dusty, cypress-lined roads, olive groves and a sad, morne aspect of earth's topography which is as much of the Near East as Greece or Arabia.
First in favour among these French Mediterranean sketching-grounds is Martigues of fig-tree fame. Artists work here quartered in one or another of the town's three hotels, or, hermit-like, hide away in a cabanon in the hills, a tiny, windowless house set among vineyards and olive groves, as lonesome as the Sahara.
On towards the Spanish frontier is the half-French and half-Spanish Collioure, quite at the end of the world as far as conventional travel goes, and withal a bit crude and uncouth, but a heaven for the artist. A step farther, almost into Spain this time, is Banyuls-sur-Mer, with a local colour which is remarkable from all counts, and especially so in the vintage time, when the town is overrun with Spanish muleteers, men and beasts covered with the gayest trappings one is likely to see outside of a circus. There are Catalan fishermen, too, and boats as gaudy as the mules, and there is an excellent hotel which, while lacking anything pretentious or even picturesque, knows well what it is that the artist wants, and so it is a sort of a Mecca for those who are in the know.
Crossing into Spain one enters another sphere of unworldliness. The round is not to be described here in detail, but from Palamos in the cork forests, and quaint Gerona in the north, to Seville and Algeçiras in the south are to be seen on every hand things for the artist to paint which may not be found out of Iberia. Then, too, there is Tangier, just across the Straits, in Africa, the nearest of all the painting grounds affected by the "Orientalistes."
Wielders of the brush are looking forward to the exploitation of Valencia as a sketching-ground, since it is found that Sorolla used its beach as a background for the chief of his figure studies. Life here in the hot Spanish seaside sands is somewhat free and relaxing, for all things in Spain relax with the heat, even custom, and not the least of all – etiquette. Spain sees nothing out of the ordinary in bathers undressing and dressing on the open beach, nor in the artist posing an "academic" model en plein soleil. Spanish artists in droves are hastening here to get in touch with the methods of the modern master.
Around Marseilles is Cezanne's country. At the pottery town of Aubagne, backed up with the foothills of the Maritime Alps, at Estaque, at Allauch and in a dozen other little nearby corners of old Provence one sees Cezanne's motifs scarcely without looking for them. It was he who really gave this filip to a new school of art – the Provençal school, a method which is being carried on industriously by Galliardini, Montenard, Dauphine, Nardi, Olive and a dozen others, not to say the old-school master, Ziem, though he really belongs to the Venetian school, Provençal and Martigau though he be.
Eastwards, towards the real Riviera of the tourists, there are to be found a half-dozen little exploited sketching-grounds between Toulon and Saint Tropez. There is Cap Brun, overlooking the great Rade de Toulon, a rival of Naples Bay in all things, and there is Carquieranne with its rocks and pines, until finally, going eastward by the coast, one sees the quaint Saracen tower of the church at Saint Tropez looming ahead. Here lives Paul Signac, the apostle of the newest of the new manners of painting, the president of "Les Independants," those secessionists from the old salon who have nearly upset the Paris art world.
The town is half-aquatic, half-terrestrial, and, from the excellent Hotel Sube on the quay, one has scarcely to go the proverbial stone's throw to find motifs ready-made. There is the luxuriance of the lazy southerner's life in all its aspects forming groupings as fleeting as the clouds ever about, and there is as wonderful a panorama of the life of seamen in little Mediterranean coasting vessels as may be found between Gibraltar and the Piraeus. Saint Tropez indeed runs Martigues a close second in popular favour, and the excellence and variety of what it has to offer the artist with the facile brush.
Art as well as trade follows the flag, and across the Mediterranean, in the French province of Algeria, as much French as Algiers itself is a Little Paris, the best traditions of French art are being followed. At Bou Saada, away down in the Sahara, is an incipient sketching-ground. Here, under the protection of a French army post, easels are set up in the sands, and the attempt is being made to lure onto canvas the torrid, exotic charms of Sheiks wrapped in burnouses, and barbaric dancing girls in not much of anything at all.
It is the little Hôtel Baille at Bou Saada that protects the life of the painter here in this little desert town quite as much as the soldiery. It is not bad when the surroundings are considered, but according to European tastes it has its limitations in the food line. One eats first class with the officers or second class with the natives, lives at the hotel, or hires an adobe hut, with a servant to watch it, for the sum total of about a franc a day all told. Life is not particularly strenuous, but it is varied and would be a rather hard proposition for the woman painter who liked her ease. The diet is principally that of stewed goat and chicken, made into the national couscouss, and while filling and supposedly nutritious, is decidedly monotonous. The alternative is thin, scrawny chicken alone, chicken fattened principally on the sands of the desert. Meanwhile, the few artists that come to Bou Saada chuckle with glee. There is no danger of Bou Saada becoming too popular, considering that its food supply is what it is, and that one has to ride two nights and a day in a stuffy, smelly, Arab-crowded diligence to get there.
The artist tilts at the windmills of Holland with the impunity of a Don Quixote. The Pays Bas is a happy hunting ground for the painter. Holland, with its pines and dunes of the northern provinces, quaint customs and gay little houses, and Belgium, with its tree-lined canals and its low-roofed farmhouses, will strike a new note in many an artist's song of art.
Dordrecht and its maze of canals is one of the best known of Holland's sketching-grounds. White umbrellas are as thick along the canal banks as are tubby boats on their surfaces. Almost any householder at Dordrecht will take in an artist and lodge and feed him in an ample and not too expensive fashion; some even have made over their lofts and attics into studios, looking to every white umbrella and painting kit that they see coming down the towpath as a possible tenant. One thing they insist upon, these householders of Dordrecht, and that is that the painters whom they may shelter beneath their roofs shall not be allowed to plaster their palette scrapings on the walls. The Dutch housekeeper, with her passion for cleanliness, absolutely refuses to take as an excuse the fact that the procedure is custom immemorial and comes as a natural consequence of the artistic temperament.
Laren is a tiny Dutch village which is the capital of Mauve's country. Here come his disciples in droves to copy, as near as may be, the style of the Dutch landscapist. Israels, too, had not a little to do with making Laren famous. All these artists' sketching-grounds have some tutelary genius who is the prime drawing attraction, the central sun around which the lesser lights revolve, but here there were two arcs, or at least a sun and a moon.
It may be a question as to whether Dordrecht or Volendam, the latter on a tiny island in the Zuyder Zee, is the chief of Dutch sketching-grounds. The English and American elements seem to prefer Volendam, and it is they who have made most of the profits for Spaander's little red-roofed, red-walled inn. The thrifty Dutchman saw the wave of prosperity coming long years ago, and has even fitted up a studio where one may work indoors.
At Volendam, which one reaches by boat from the mainland, one sees the quaintest and most nearly unspoiled of all the old-time Dutch costumes, those of the women and girls being, if not the most remarkable, at least the most attractive, tight-fitting white caps with spreading wings on either side, short-sleeved bodices and voluminous skirts.
Mynheer Spaander's little inn is not in the dollar-a-day class; it is expensive, and costs four or five florins a day, whereas the same accommodation could have been had in a former day for half as much. Models can be had cheaply enough, for the frugal Dutch still consider that money earned in this way, with no apparent expenditure of energy, as light work and accordingly profitable – the idea of being paid for doing nothing. It is much better than being harnessed to a tow-line and pulling heavy boats along canals or carrying two heavy brass jugs full of milk, three or four gallons to each, across the shoulders, swung on the end of a pole.
The old Flemish city of Bruges entertains a cosmopolitan crowd of artists each year. A five-franc-a-day rate is possible at certain hotels, for Belgium is cheap on all hands. At the Hôtel de Flandre and the Hôtel du Commerce are sure to be found a very considerable artist clientèle in summer, but if you are not wary you will be charged more than the others if you are a late comer. The artist's life here may be made very enjoyable, and there is a specious variety of paintable things about Bruges' deserted old squares and its solitary canal banks which are as much of yesterday as to-day.
The artistic life of England is much more conventional than that of the Continent. It runs in oiled grooves almost as easily as an ordinary existence, for the English soil is not suitable to the giving root to Bohemianism, an eccentric plant which requires a peculiar form of foothold in order to flourish at its best. Bohemianism in England died out with those giants of English art who founded its greatest school of outdoor painting – Moreland, who swapped his masterpieces at horse-trading and drank away his art appreciation in carousing with pot-boys, and others of his ilk and time. The life of those who pursue art in England to-day is as well-ordered in outward appearances as that of a country gentleman.
England has some charming sketching-grounds, but they are exploited on conservative lines, and only patronised to any extent by the English themselves. A cosmopolitan atmosphere is wanting, and the only section that has anything of an international reputation is the Cornish coast. Here the mild winter climate and the paintable qualities of the rugged, storm-swept shore have attracted many artists, so that they have formed themselves into groups and colonies and given to Cornwall, the Land's End of England, a world-wide fame which it never would have known otherwise.
The trade of the fisherman seems always to have a great fascination for the picture maker, and the south coast fishing villages of Saint Ives, Penzance and Polperro, afford glimpses of him at work which are unequalled.
Saint Ives is the nucleus of an artists' colony, and as journeys to London are long and expensive, most of its members have built comfortable houses with studio attachments and settled down.
These same painters were responsible for the booming of Saint Ives as a resort, for their pictures first drew the outside world thither, and coming for curiosity, first to see, they stayed on because they liked it and could hang on to the fringe of a life which was so different from their own. The artists first deplored this popularity, but found it profitable to rent their studio-houses in summer to the people who came from out their own sphere, and hie themselves away to Continental sketching- grounds, coming back to paint the mists and storms of winter when the crowds had gone.
The fisher people of Saint Ives resented the coming of the artists as a pertinent intrusion, of which they did not the least understand the purport.
When easels were first planted before the grey-slated walls and roofs of the fishermen's cottages not a few were bowled over, but the artists persevering, the native got used to the procedure and went about his work as of yore, which was exactly what the artists wanted most. To-day many a fisherman and woman of the early days has forsaken their former trade to become a model at a more lucrative wage.
In Kent and Sussex and Surrey are charming old Georgian architectural groupings posed quaintly in the midst of wold and rolling downs. In the historic old coast town of Rye, one of the celebrated "Cinq Ports," one gets a really foreign composition and colouring, the most "foreign" combination to be seen in all England, the roofs and gables of the town in all their variety and quaintness being in strong contrast to that usual variety of English background which one associates with leafy lanes, whimsically pretty rivers or Norman Keeps and Castles.,
There is a Sussex school of art, as there is a Glasgow school of art, but in the southern county the background composes itself of green-topped chalk cliffs instead of misty braes and burns peopled with long-horned cattle as in wild Caledonia.
Up in East Anglia, as the east coast of England is familiarly known, is Constable's country. Here was really originated that free and large method of outdoor painting which was later so highly developed across the Channel at Barbizon.
Great cumulus clouds still sweep over the landscape of East Anglia as they did in Constable's time. There are lazily turning, decrepit old windmills still, and there are the classic "Oaks" and "Mills" and "Hay Wains." Little is changed in general outlines from what it was generations ago except the public taste, and this is the real reason why the East Anglian school of painting no longer ranks high. Surroundings and accessories are much as they were. Modernity has not tempered the atmosphere – nor the climate, nor changed the slow-going methods of life of a bucolic population.
Crome and Cotman, too, worked not far away, and Norfolk and its Broads and their famous wherries form an interlude in landscape composition which is not to be met with elsewhere. They are still moving incidents in a pageantry which has not quickened its pace for centuries.
One cannot ignore the charming little artists' village of Broadway, least of all an American, for here first settled the late Edwin A. Abbey and Frank D. Millet, two Americans who have led the best traditional methods of the New World across the seas and, as one may put it, made them flourish on an alien soil. For this reason hundreds, thousands doubtless, perhaps tens of thousands, have already paid their respects to this shrine of art.