Cherries Ripe! by Metzmacher, Part 1 of the Introduction to Art and Artists of Our Time.
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Cherries Ripe!
by Metzmacher.



    FRENCH ART has a long ancestry, and one that any nation might be proud to own. It was the salvation of Gaul that she was conquered by Rome, brought so completely under her laws, and forced to share in her civilization. If what she owes to her in other directions, socially and politically, be incalculable, her debt on the side of Art is no less. The mingling of the two streams - the Northern and the Southern - produced a new mixture, of splendid temper, and infinite possibilities of growth and expansion; and while Germany, not without justifiable pride, recalls the fact that she was never conquered, and that her blood runs free from any foreign strain, she pays the penalty of her immunity, in her Art as in other matters, by a narrowness of aim, and a poverty of ideas that her greatest spirits have been most conscious of.
    There were always artists in France, and under the roman occupation, and long after, no doubt, the main of artistic work was done by native hands. But in the time of the Renaissance, when Italy was the leader of European culture, France sought for men from that country to come and teach their art to her people, and to adorn her palaces and noble houses with the work of their own more accomplished hands. Thus, Francis I. brought Leonardo da Vinci into his kingdom from Italy, together with Rosso, Primaticcio, Benvenuto Cellini and Andrea del Sarto, while a native sculptor, Jean Goujon, gave to France a name equal to that of any artist brought from abroad, unless it were that of Leonardo in his prime, for, as is well known, Leonardo did nothing in his art after his arrival in France. Jean Cousin and Germain Pilon are other names of sculptors who have added luster to the annals of French art and to the splendor of the reign of Francis I., but with the exception of Clouet, a portrait-painter of distinction, no name of any painter of importance reaches us until we come to the time of Claude and Poussin, and the school founded by them. We shall consider these artists when we come to speak of the rise of the modern landscape-school in France, but it may be well to note, here, that these men, great as they were, were not really French painters, though born in France; their teaching was had in Italy, and all their work was formed on Italian models. But, from the beginning of the seventeenth century the names of French artists thicken, and though few of them attained to a world-wide fame, they yet did a vast deal to advance the growth and extend the influence of the arts in France.




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