Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 23 >> Puvis De Chavannes to Radium Therapy >> Puvis De Chavannes

Puvis De Chavannes

poetry, italy, composition, wall, department, paris, times and france

PUVIS DE CHAVANNES, Pierre, pe-ir pii6ves de sha-van, French painter: b. Lyons, 14 Dec. 1824; d. Paris, 25 Oct. 1898. He sprung from an old Burgundian family of strong Catholic traditions. His father was an engi neer and he himself was destined to the same career, but an intervening illness and a journey to Italy confirmed a predilection for painting. His first master was Ary Scheffer, with whom he studied but a short time and went for a second visit to Italy. Returning he put him self under the tuition first of Delacroix, then of Couture, but parted from each of them after a short period, as he had• with his former master, from an inability to submit to any leading but his own artistic instincts. Certain marks of the influence of these men are seen by critics, particularly of Delacroix, even in the very latest products of Puvis' life. These may he traced in the more fundamental traits of his drawing, in the composition, spacing and the like. Others incline to the belief that his work mther suggests the Influence of his early visits to Italy, in a sort of reminiscence of the fres coes of Piero della Francesca. Such sugges tions seem for the most part only an effort toward subtle resemblances urged on by the really insistent originality of this artist's work. Working out his own theories which were at variance with all the ruling tra ditions of his day it is not wonderful that he should have encountered oppoition. The Salon refused his work nine times. In 1861 came his first recognition when he gained a second-• class medal and sold his pictures (War) and (Peace) to the state. These were placed in the Museum of Amiens to which the painter later presented the companion pieces (Rest) and 'Labor.> In 1872, as member of the'Salon jury, he disagreed with his colleagues and resigned. He was made president of the Society of French Artists, holding their exhibition in, the Champs de Mars and in 187? was officer of the Legion of Honor.

As a wall-painter he was the great leader of modern times in recognizing the limitations imposed by this branch of painting and in sub mitting himself to its demands. He saw that fresco was only the agreeable decoration of a wall surface, which should not attempt to con ceal its character as a wall by sharp contrasts of light and shadow and elaborate arrange- • ments of foreshortening and perspective. Con sequently he painted in flat tones of cool green, blue, brown or lilac, having always in mind the relation of his designs to their architectural surroundings. His pictures themselves were es sentially architectural in their arrangements.

Among his mural decorations are those at Marseilles, Lyons, Lille and Poitiers, those in the hotels de Ville at Rouen and Paris, the Hemicycle of the Sorbonne in Paris, the series on Saint Genevieve in the Pantheon and the decorations of the staircase of the public library in Boston. In the last-named work he sought, as he himself stated, to represent under a symbolic form and in a single view the intellectual treasures collected in this beauti ful budding.* The whole seems to be summed up in the composition entitled The Muses of Inspiration hail the Spirit, the Harbinger of Apollo occupies the centre of this panel and the white-robed Muses, draped in filmy white, are ranged in mid-air against a background of pale green grass, with flowering bushes and slendei trees, with the deep blue ocean and pale luminous sky stretching beyond. *Out of this composition,* writes Puvis de Chavannes, have developed which an swer to the four great expressions of the human mind, Poetry, Philosophy, History, Science" On the right-hand wall of the stair case as one enters appear in three panels: (1) Pastoral Poetry (Virgil) ; (2) Dramatic Poetry (iEschylus and the Oceanides); (3) Epk Poetry (Homer crowned by the Iliad and Odyssey). Consult Michel, de Chavan nes) (1912).

PUY, Le, le pii-e, France, arrondissement and capital city of the department Haute Loire. (1) The arrondissement, a little to the south east of the centre of the department, has an area of 8,680 square miles and a population of about 145,716 and is divided into 14 cantons and 115 communes. Its capital and that of the department is (2) Le Puy, or Le Puy-en-Velay, lying at the confluence of the Dolezon and the Born, on the sides and top of the Mout Anis (whence its mediaeval Latin name of Anicium or Podium Anicense), so that its least elevation is about 2,500 feet above sea-levet and its great est, the volcanic dike called the Rocher de Corneille about 2,500. It is ill-built but pictur esque. The Rocher de Corneille is topped by a statue of Notre Dame de France made from Russian cannon taken at SebastopoL The city is a bishop's seat and has a cathedral at the top of a staircase with 136 steps; other important buildings are an old chapel of the Templars, known as Diana's temple, the Gothic church of Saint Michel d'Aiguille (962-984), the splendid marble and bronze Crozatier Fountain, and the Crozatier Museum, which is especially rich in exhibits of the industries of the town. These are chiefly laces, especially guipure, tulle, woolens, bells and clocks. Pop. 21,420.