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By Fr. Crastre, Frederic Taber Cooper

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At the moment," he said, "when ordinarily the best of artists have done no more than to give indications of their originality and when ripening years alone begin to keep the promises of youth, Jules Bastien-Lepage died, leaving masterpieces behind him, besides having liberated an artistic formula from the tendencies and exaggerations which hampered it, and indicated to the art of painting a new pathway along which his young heirs are advancing with an assured step. He loved nature and truth; he loved his own people, and no one ever lived who was surrounded with a greater degree of affection; he inspired faithful friendships which he himself enjoyed to the full; and those whom he left behind soothe their heart-ache with the balm of tender memories; he practised his art without ever making sacrifice to passing fashion or sordid profit; there was no place in his mind or in his heart for any other than noble and generous thoughts.

His success this time was more marked: he received a medal of the second class. A less modest artist would have allowed himself to be borne tranquilly along by the mounting tide of glory; but Bastien-Lepage did not yet feel that he was sufficiently sure of himself. He wished to continue for a while longer, working, learning, perfecting himself; he even conceived the idea, in spite of his renown, of competing for the Prix de Rome. Accordingly, the painter of The Song of Springtime and Her First Communion might shortly after have been seen entering the lists like any ordinary nobody.

Here, at the first stroke, is an assertion of the young painter's independence, his formal determination to emancipate himself from the accepted formulas in his treatment of the eternal theme of a young girl's soul, opening to the first appeal of love. As a matter of fact, the allegory is somewhat clumsy; you realize that the author's talent does not run to sentimental compositions. Yet the young girl is brushed in with an energetic hand, and all that rather coarse robustness that distinguishes the women of peasant stock is blended in a masterly manner with the naïve innocence of simple souls.

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