The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, “Exposition Art Gallery”, Saturday, August 7, 1886, page 6
EXPOSITION ART GALLERY.
Mr. George L. Seney’s Recuperated Fortunes – The Forty Picture He Sends This Year – Other Works Worthy of Attention.
In a letter just received by Maj. Wright, Mr. Kurtz reports that he has secured 45 paintings from Mr. George I. Seney, whose generasity in loaning paintings to the first Exposition, in 1883, is well remembered. Many who enjoyed Mr. Seney’s superb paintings in that year-the “Helping Hand” of Renonf, Corot’s “Morning in Spring,” Sobreyer’s “Horses in a Storm,” Jacques’ “Shepherdess and Sheep,” Douzatte’s “Moonlight,” Jules Breton’s “Going to Prayers,” Becker’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and a score of others-received the report of Mr. Seney’s failure, a few months later, with feelings of regret and sympathy such as they would have felt if the trouble had fallen upon an intimate personal friend; and now, upon learning that Mr. Seney has, to a great extent, recovered his fortunes-after having made good, dollar for dollar, the losses of those who temporarily suffered through his failure-they will heartily rejoice in the success which has crowned his labors during the past two years, and will honor him the more for the manner in which he has emerged from his misfortunes. Mr. Seney, through his pictures, made many friends in Louisville three years ago, and he will sell the number this year by his renewed kindness.
Only a few rich men are known more widely for the good they do than for the amount of their wealth, but Mr. Seney is one of these. In proportion to the total amount of his wealth, he has probably given more in charity in the foundation of hospitals, educational institutions, etc., than any other man now living. When he was possessed of two or three millions, he gave half a million at a time. Had he kept half the money thus bestowed, he would still have been an exceptionally generous man, and need never have failed in business. But it was “his way” to do as he did, and at no time would he have recalled the hundreds of thousands given in his prosperous days if he could. The knowledge that by his efforts suffering bad sometimes been alleviated and lives made more happy, was a source of satisfaction for which no financial equivalent could stand.
Next to Mr. Seney’s love for humanity is his love for nature and art. No man better appreciates the beauties of this world, or the artistic expression of them. A new picture of merit is to Mr. Seney what a wonderfully interesting book would be to a bookish man, and the “discovery”, of a new artist is in his eyes almost as important as the discovery of a new country. It must have been a severe trial for him to give up his pictures when his troubles came; only a man who loves the things he has gathered about him one by one, and whom they have become part of his life, can appreciate such a situation. Yet Mr. Seney bore the trial bravely. With the improvement of his affairs by various fortuitous circumstances, added to his remarkable business sagacity, Mr. Seney again became a picture buyer. He entered the field with more experience than he had when he acquired his first collection, and the new collection promises to surpass the first in a degree that seems remarkable, when we consider the merit of the latter. Already his apartments in his hotel have the appearance of a superb art gallery. On the walls are examples of the most important work of Francois Millet, Jules Breton, Ludwig Kraus, Vibert, Gerome, Alfred Stevens, and other such men of the old world, as well as Inness, Wyant, Tryon, Frank Millet, Dillman, Chase, Gifford, Wood and Carlsen of our own country.
Latterly, Mr. Seney has paid particular attention to the collection of fine examples of the best work of our American artists, and has made frequent visits to the studios, which have gladdened the hearts of the dwellers therein. He is a liberal buyer, and is liberal with his pictures. He is one of the few men willing to take the risk of loaning his valuable possessions to exhibitions conducted for charitable purposes or for the sake of encouraging a love for art among the people. A railroad accident or a fire might destroy what could never be replaced, yet Mr. Seney assumes the risk for the sake of the pleasure his pictures may give and the art interest they may awaken or foster. By the exercise of this liberality he is, probably, doing more for art of this country than any other art collector-excepting, possibly, Mr. Thomas B. Clarke, of New York, Mr. W. T. Walters, of Baltimore, and Mr. D. W. Powers, of Rochester, N.Y.
Among Mr. Seney’s pictures to be shown in Louisville this summer (as referred to in Mr. Kurtz’s letter) may be mentioned a superb work by Madraro entitled La Toilette, characterized as one of the most refined productions of this artist. The painting of textures is described as something truly marvelous. Claririn’s “Puppet Show” is another of the great pictures listed, and there is a Schreyer-“Arabian Horses”-which ranks among that artist’s masterpieces. A small picture showing a Dutch cottage interior is by the celebrated Jozef Israels-one of the greatest colorists in Europe-few of whose pictures have been seen in this country. Besides these, there are works by Kaemmerer, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Stevens, Boldini, Piot, Harburger, Grotlarac, Niczky, Kronburger and De Beaumont, among the foreign artists. De Beaumont will be remembered here by his powerful “Temptation of St. Anthony,” shown in the Exposition gallery two years ago. The pictures loaned by Mr. Seney is entitled “The Fortune Teller,” and is a painting of much more refinement than its predecessor. The picture by Niczky introduces us to Patrarch’s “Laura,” and it is one of the most exquisitely painted picture in this country.
The bulk of Mr. Seney’s loan is of American pictures, and those who are interested in watching the progress of American art will see among these works some of the very best of the most recent productions of our artists-works which will hand by the side of and very favorably compare with those of the most distinguished foreigners represented.
The picture by Carl Marr, entitled “The Gossips,” would be a great feature in a Royal Academy or Salon Exhibition. It is technically one of the greatest achievements of American art. Two Hollandish peasant women are searted inside a broad window, through which the list streams over them. The figures are admirably drawn, and the faces are full of interested expression. The effects of light and shadow in the picture are superb; we can scarcely realize that the light is not real light coming through a real window. The faces of the women, turned toward us, are, of course, in shadow, and the shadow is as tender and clear and transparent as one might see it in nature. Artists appreciate the great difficulties to be overcome in the technical treatment of such a picture, and several artist’s ability in no measured terms. Edward Moran has enthusiastically declared that he considers the picture superior in many respects to the Jules Breton of the Morgan sale, which brought the absurd price of $45,000. The picture is certainly one which will interest artists and amateur alike; it will be one of the most attractive works in our gallery. The painting was purchased by Mr. Seney in London a few months ago. It was exhibited this summer in the Prize Fund exhibition in New York, where, by the unanimous vote of the jury, it was awarded the gold medal. Mr. Marr, the artist is a native of Milwaukee. He is at present living in Munich.
Two paintings by Frank D. Millet will also be favorites. One, “The Toilet,” represents a graceful young Pompeian woman in a light, flowing, diaphanous robe, through which the color and undulations of her form are faintly discernible-sitting on a marble seal, before a sculptured marble table, holding a small mirror in one hand, while with the other she combs her auburn hair. This apartment is open, showing a view of the perostyleum, or court-yard, with its marble columns, fountain and statuary and a bit of deep blue Italian sky above. The picture is more successful in drawing and color than the same artist’s “Story of Ceacpa,” shown here two years ago. It makes one think somewhat if Alma Tadema, whose work it certainly equals. Mr. Millet’s other picture is a “Flower Girl,” and is one of the most beautiful pieces of refined drawing and color which will be seen in the collection. It is the artist’s most recent production. “A Head,” by Frederick Dillman, is a picture which, though small in size, held a noteworthy place in the last Academy exhibition for its superb technical qualities as well as its intrinsic beauty, Frank C. Jones’ “Something Worth Reading at Last” was another notable Academy picture, and so also was T. W. Wood’s “Putting on Airs,” showing a white bootblack having a colored member of his “profession” black his shoe while he loftily puffs a cigarette. The picture is in Mr. Wood’s happiest vein, and will be much admired.
Mr. Seney contributes landscapes by Wyant, Inness, Tryon, Swain Gifford, George Smillie, Murphy, and others. Four splendid works by Inness are among the best pictures the artist has painted. They are such pictures as will give a new (and improved) idea of Inness to those who have only seen his pictures as exhibited in the Exposition galleries in past years. They are great pictures-great in precisely the same sense that the best world of Daubigny and Rousseau are esteemed great. They interpret to us much of the spirit of nature-they give its poetry and sentiment, as well as its external beauty.
Mention must be be withheld of a large painting by Emil Carlsen, the last painting purchased by Mr. Seney, when he generously sends to Louisville before having had it in his own home. It represents a young Normandy peasant woman plucking a number of birds, preparatory to sending them to market. It is a picture of strong realistic qualities and fine color effect, and will be a feature of the gallery. Mr. Carlsen is a Swede by birth, but an American by adoption. He is one of the most splendid colorists in the country, and this picture shows him at his best.
Mr. Seney is reported to have expressed great interest in the Exposition, and so have promised, if he can make it at all convenient, to visit the Exposition in October. If he comes, he will receive a warm and genuine Kentucky welcome.
WORKS BY EMIL CARLSEN