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The craftsman
Volume XXVII, Number 5 (February 1915)

Henri, Robert
"My people",   pp. 459-469 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 459

        OLUME XXVII      FEBRUARY, 1915!   NUMBER 5
  EDITOR'S NoTE-Robert Henri's paintings of the people of France, Holland,
Spain and
Ireland are famous the world over. During the past summer he painted the
people of most
vital interest to him in California and the Southwest. The following article
was written at
the request of THE CRAFTSMAN, that our readers might more fully understand
and enjoy
his point of view as a painter of people.
HE people I like to paint are "my people," whoever
they may be, wherever they may exist, the people
through whom dignity of life is manifest, that is, who
are in some way expressing themselves naturally along
the lines Nature intended for them. My people may
be old or young, rich or poor, I may speak their
             language or I may communicate with them only by
gestures. But wherever I find them, the Indian at work in the white
man's way, the Spanish gypsy moving back to the freedom of the
hills, the little boy, quiet and reticent before the stranger, my interest
is awakened and my impulse immediately is to tell about them through
my own language-drawing and painting in color.
   I find as I go out, from one land to another seeking "my people,"
that I have none of that cruel, fearful possession known as patriotism;
no blind, intense devotion for an institution that has stiffened in
chains of its own making. My love of mankind is individual, not
national, and always I find the race expressed in the individual. And
so I am "patriotic" only about what I admire, and my devotion to
humanity burns up as brightly for Europe as for America; it flares
up as swiftly for Mexico if I am painting the peon there; it warms
Toward the bull-fighter in Spain, if, in spite of its cruelty, there is
that element in his art which I find beautiful; it intensifies before the
Irish peasant whose love, poetry, simplicity and humor have enriched
31y existence, just as completely as though each of these people were
of my own country and my own hearthstone. Everywhere I see at
times this beautiful expression of the dignity of life, to which I
respond with a wish to preserve this beauty of humanity for my
friends to enjoy.
  This thing that I call dignity in a human being is inevitably the
result of an established order in the universe. Everything that
is beautiful is orderly, and there can be no order unless things are
i1 their right relation to each other. Of this right relation through-
)'ut the world beauty is born. A musical scale, the sword motif for
L hiso      t   w    aig      ylv     fm nidi       niiul  o
  hmnt y  un  pa  rgtyfrErp  sfrA eia  tfae
  toad he ul-ihe inSaniinsieo isereyteei
  r hteeeti  i  r  hc  idbatfl  titniisbfr  h
  Iishpaatwoelvpersmlct  n  u o  aeerce

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