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ings of Mr. Hamerton certainly, indeed, show —as did a book, ‘The Painter's Camp in the Highlands,’ of which Mr. Hamerton was the author—decided Preraphaelite and Ruskinite proclivities. These pictorial efforts, kindly submitted to public view under the care of the man “Thursday,” must be admitted as every way creditable to an amateur. They, however, by no means induce us to alter the opinion we have long entertained of the impracticabilities of this thankless school — a school which makes of its disciples slaves, and reduces art to drudgery. These penalties, attaching to the carrying out of certain plausible but essentially false principles, seem to have disgusted the leaders of a schism which at one time threatened in its consequences to grow serious, if not fatal. However, as we have said, this eccentric school is now all but extinct. The pictures of Mr. Millais, and even of Mr. Holman Hunt, are naturalistic, and nothing more. The landscape this year exhibited in the Academy by Mr. Brett, an artist hitherto identified with the most ultra of dogmas, is wholly free from extravagance, and may be commended for a beauty which, in the ‘Bay of Naples,' no Preraphaelite spectacles were needed to discover. These and other vigorous men, it is to be hoped, have at length thrown off a bondage which became intolerable to bear. Still it is to be feared that others of the weaker sort have foundered in deep and troublous waters, and will remain for ever lost. Thus—less fatally, on the whole, than might at one time have been expected—ends a drama which was put upon the stage with more than ordinary pomp and flourish of advertisement. We have been much pleased with a brilliant series of drawings executed by Mr. William Simpson during a tour of three years through the most renowned portions of our Indian empire. They are remarkable alike for their artistic beauty, their historic truth, and their topo

graphic fidelity. We regret that space does not enable us to survey in detail two other Exhibitions, to which, since the close of the International Galleries at Kensington, the English public have been indebted for the knowledge of recent productions of Continental schools, The French and Flemish Exhibition of the present year is chiefly to be remembered by two noble works of the Belgian Gallait; a cabinet picture, great, nevertheless, in genius, by Gerome, the painter of “The Duel,’ ‘The Gladiators,' and ‘Phryne;’ and a masterpiece by Edouard Frere — small, of course, but choice. To the Scandinavian Gallery, at a moment when the sympathies of our countrymen are directed towards the sufferings and heroism of a brave nation, peculiar interest attaches. Denmark, in literature, science, and the arts, can boast of illustrious antecedents. Thorwaldsen the sculptor, Oersted the man of science, Worsaae the antiquary, and Hans Christian Andersen the writer of romance, have given to this comparatively small kingdom no inconsiderable renown in the realms of intellect. And walking into this Scandinavian Gallery, it is satisfactory to obtain ocular proof that genius has not abandoned her favourite shores, washed by the storm-lashed wave. A review of the London Art-Season were incomplete did it not contain some notice of the great mural paintings executed in the Palace of Westminster. Two years since we spoke in terms of more than common admiration of the power and, mastery displayed in a vast waterglass painting, twelve feet high by forty-five feet wide, “The Meeting. of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of Waterloo,” then recently completed in the Royal Gallery by Mr. Maclise. The companion picture, “Trafalgar—the Death of Nelson,' has engaged the untiring labour of the same artist during the past year, and is now in a forward state. Within the last few months have been put up, in the Peers' and

figures, to mark the anatomy of spects for the future. We had every limb, and in the faces to thought that the Report of the work out delicate traits of expres- Royal Commission, recommending sion. Speaking generally of the bold reforms in the Academy, would style, we should say it is more have been followed by immediate naturalistic than academic or ideal. and salutary results. But from the Yet at the same time the work notorious incapacity of the present maintains a naturalism which, by Government in the department of its nobility, is delivered from the public works, and from the feeling degradation which Horace Vernet now strong in the House that every and others of the French school plan propounded by the Ministry brought upon sacred art. The fres- demanding supplies for the erection coes of Mr. Dyce we have desig. or purchase of public buildings nated as pertaining to the style must be nothing else than a weak academic. The treatment adopted compromise and a job, the wellby Mr. Herbert is in great degree grounded hope that the Academy free from any such traditional re- and the National Gallery were straint. Thus his picture becomes, about to be put in a position as we have said, in the best sense worthy of a great nation has been of the word, naturalistic that is, once more frustrated. Melancholy it seeks after forms realistic, yet at is it thus to see the arts in this the same time noble, truthful, and country ever made the sport of facbeauteous; and herein art and na- tion, the victims of ignorance and ture are, in the end, shown to be incapacity. By a capricious and one and indivisible. In fine, taken ill-considered vote of the House for all in all, Moses bringing of Commons the well-considered down the Tables of the Law is scheme of the Royal Commissioners the grandest and most satisfactory is rendered, at least for an indemural painting yet revealed in this finite period, absolutely nugatory. country. We have here, indeed, a And thereby the Academy is now signal example of high historic artagain under a premium to maintain in the best and truest sense of the existing abuses in fullest force, in terms.

order to raise still higher the price We had hoped to have concluded to be paid by the nation as the conthis article with brightening pro- sideration for imperative reforms.

after Mr. Dyce's accustomed manner, academic. The fault, perhaps, may be found that these compositions went vigour and vitality, —deficiencies which usually afflict sehools given to careful compilation. ..

It remains that we should notice the great water-glass picture by Mr. Herbert, which has been received, as it deserves, with a favour waxing to furor. Some ten years ago Mr. Herbert' accepted a commission to prepare designs for a series of paintings to be executed on the walls of the Peers' RobingRoom. The theme committed to his charge was Justice on Earth, and its development in Law and Judgment, subjects commencing with “Moses bringing down the Tables of the Law,' proceeding by intermediate steps to ‘The Judgment of Solomon,’ ‘The Visit of the Queen of Sheba,’ and ending with *The Vision of Daniel." Other events are included in the series, which, if ever completed, will consist of no less than nine compositions. The first of these only is finished, “Moses bringing down the Tables of the Law.” We read in the 34th chapter of Exodus, that “it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the testimony, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with the Lord. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh unto him.” This is the moment selected by Mr. Herbert. It will be remembered that, for the sake of dramatic action, Leonardo, in the composition of his ‘Last Supper,' chose the time when Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me.” For a like reason—that is, for the purpose of attaining variety in action and intensity of expression—Mr. Herbert has seized the situation indicated in the text, when Moses, having been with the Lord forty days and forty nights, his countenance radiant with light and glory, fills at his

approach the rulers and the congregation of the people with wonder and dismay. The figure of Moses, the personation of a law given amid thunder and lightnings, stands the centre of the composition. Around him, some retreating back through awe, others drawing near by fellowship in office, are grouped the Levites and princes of the people, Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, Joshua, his father Nun, and Eleazar, Caleb the guide of the camp, and Miriam, the singer and prophetess, kneeling, her timbrel lying on the ground. Above rise the heights of Sinai, beneath stretches the valley in which the tribes of Israel are seen encamped. Such is the subject of this grand composition, occupying the entire end of the room, a space upwards of twenty feet in length by ten in height. As a work of art, various excellencies are worthy of note. The composition is symmetric and equally balanced. Moses, crowned by a nimbus traversed with radiant horns, is made the centre or culminating point, and all subordinate or accessory figures encircle or radiate from him, the hero of the scene. The colour is varied, but not decorative; serious, as befits the subject, without being austere. The light is luminous to the last degree—more radiant, indeed, than in any fresco we can recall; qualities, no doubt, in great measure dependent on the painter having covered the wall as a preliminary with a coating of white paint. For detail, also, we must concede that this work, executed in water-glass — a process which admits of retouching and endless elaboration—goes far beyond the comparatively broad sketchy manner which usually contents the rival method of fresco. This power of expressing the minutest of facts has by the painter been turned to good account: not only does he reproduce the Oriental turban in its richness and variety of colour, but he is enabled at the same time, in his figures, to mark the anatomy of every limb, and in the faces to work out delicate traits of expression. Speaking generally of the style, we should say it is more naturalistic than academic or ideal. Yet at the same time the work maintains a naturalism which, by its nobility, is delivered from the degradation which Horace Wernet and others of the French school brought upon sacred art. The frescoes of Mr. Dyce we have designated as pertaining to the style academic. The treatment adopted by Mr. Herbert is in great degree free from any such traditional restraint. Thus his picture becomes, as we have said, in the best sense of the word, naturalistic—that is, 'it seeks after forms realistic, yet at the same time noble, truthful, and beauteous; and herein art and nature are, in the end, shown to be one and indivisible. In fine, taken for all in all, “Moses bringing down the Tables of the Law' is the grandest and most satisfactory mural painting yet revealed in this country. We have here, indeed, a signal example of high historic art, in the best and truest sense of the terms, We had hoped to have concluded this article with brightening pro

spects for the future. We had thought that the Report of the Royal Commission, recommending bold reforms in the Academy, would have been followed by immediate and salutary results. But from the notorious incapacity of the present Government in the department of public works, and from the feeling now strong in the House that every plan propounded by the Ministry demanding supplies for the erection or purchase of public buildings must be nothing else than a weak compromise and a job, the wellgrounded hope that the Academy and the National Gallery were about to be put in a position worthy of a great nation has been once more frustrated. Melancholy is it thus to see the arts in this country ever made the sport of faction, the victims of ignorance and incapacity. By a capricious and ill-considered vote of the House of Commons the well-considered scheme of the Royal Commissioners is rendered, at least for an indefinite period, absolutely nugatory. And thereby the Academy is now again under a premium to maintain existing abuses in fullest force, in order to raise still higher the price to be paid by the nation as the consideration for imperative reforms.

1864.]

Padre Bandelli Proses to the Duke Ludovico Sforza, dc.

105

PADRE BANDELLI PROSES TO THE DUKE LUDOVICO SFORZA ABOUT

LEONARDO DA VINCI.

Two steps, your Highness let me go before,
And let some light down this dark corridor
Ser Leonardo keeps the only key
To the main entrance here so jealously,
That we must creep in at this secret door
If we his great Cenacolo would see.

The work shows talent-that I must confess;
The heads, too, are expressive, every one;
But, with his idling and fastidiousness,
I fear his picture never will be done.

I pray your Highness' pardon for my zeal-
Were it for sake of us poor Frati here,
Despite the inconvenience we must feel,
Kept out from our refectory now a year
And eight long months (though that, of course, for us
Whose lives to mortify the flesh are vowed,
Even to mention seems ridiculous)
Were it for us alone, we all had bowed;
But when we see your Highness set at nought,
Who ordered this great picture to be wrought,
We cannot rest content, for well we know
What duty to our gracious prince we owe.
And I, the unworthy prior here-(God knows
How much I feel my own unworthiness,
But He hath power the meanest hand to bless;
And if our convent prospereth in aught,
Not mine, but His, the praise, who all bestows)
But being the prior and the head, and so
Charged to your interest and theirs, I thought
My duty-an unpleasant one, in sooth-
Was simply to acquaint you with the truth,
And pray your Highness with your eyes to see
How things go on in our refectory;
And then your Highnesss only has to say
Unto this painter—"Sir, no more delay I"
And all is done, for you he must obey.

'Tis twenty months since first upon the wall
This Leonardo smoothed his plaster-then
He spent two months ere he began to scrawl
His figures, which were scarcely outlined, when
Some new fit seized him, and he spoilt them all.
As he began the first month that he came,
So he went on, month after month the same.
At times, when he had worked from morn to night
For weeks and weeks on some apostle's head,
In one hour, as it were from sudden spite,
He'd wipe it out. When I remonstrated,
Saying, “Ser Leonardo, you erase

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