« AnteriorContinuar »
grave to gay, claiming a tear for pity, and winning a smile from the face of joy.
Two Academicians we mourn over as dead: other Academicians, who shall be nameless, we lament over as living. Melancholy is it that men whose brains are out, should go on, year after year, painting pictures which proclaim little else than an enfeebled and incoherent intellect. Professions there are of mere mechanical routine, which, so long as the wheels of life manage to rotate, however slowly, can be carried on even to the very last without serious detriment to the public weal. But the practice of the artist's calling is not of this lower nature. A picture is the very life-blood of genius; and when the flood of manhood's prime stagnates, the image cast upon the canvass shows itself decrepid. We shall not, for reasons which good taste dictates, direct individual attention to works which it is mercy to pass unnoticed: but in general terms we may denounce one of the worst abuses known to creep into institutions that after a time, it may be feared, are sustained, not so much to promote the best interests of art, as for the protection of individual members unable to stand without adventitious support. The outcry raised against the Academy for its persistent maintenance of vested private rights, whatever public wrongs be thereby inflicted, grows every year louder as each succeeding £ić. comes round. It is certainly a grievance past toleration, that hundreds and tens of * of pictures should be reJee
ted altogether for want of space,
and that other paintings of first-rate merit, even when admitted, should be thrust out of sight, simply because Academicians and Associates have the privilege of inundating the rooms with works of boundless mediocrity. How greatly the quality of the present Exhibition is deteriorated by this flagrant injustice, inflicted upon the outsiders in the profession, a glance round the walls
will at once indicate. There are, in fact, pictures placed in positions of . command, which, wholly beneath criticism, call aloud for the reform of an * which, strange to say, is not ashamed thus to proclaim its incapacity and corruption. We must now, in rapid survey, again turn to individual works which ought not to escape commendation. The public has usually to thank Mr. Millais for some startling pictorial prodigy. This year, however, he relies for his effects upon the force of literal facts, and, like some of the greatest painters, his predecessors of old, finds the means of making a simple portrait a consummate piece of art. "Leaving several such works, we at once go to the charming little picture, in praise of which every tongue is loud. “My Second Sermon” had been a homily, were it not a satire. A little girl, who last year listened, all attention, in this same place, to her “first sermon,” has now under the infliction of a “second,” gone fast asleep; and never was slumber more profound in its depths, or more ceful on its placid surface, unruffled by breath of conscious thought or care. For technical qualities of colour and handling the picture can scarcely be surpassed. The works contributed by Mr. Millais may be taken in illustration and in extension of the foregoing remarks upon schools of portraiture. Other and widely difserent productions, which we nowproceed to mention, exemplify the various phases of that school which we have ventured to designate the Anglo or Scottish Dutch. One of the very choicest examples of this popular style is T. Webster's seriocomic little picture, “A Penny Peepshow of the Battle of Waterloo." Other works of a like class demand no stinted praise, such as ‘Evening,” by G. Hardy; 'Try dese Pair, by F. D. Hardy; “The Banquet Scene, Macbeth,” by C. Hunt; ‘Interior near Penmachno,' by A. Provis; and “Among the Old Masters,' by E, Nicol. The two brothers, Mr. Thomas Faed and Mr. John Faed.
in manner different the one from the other, call for more express notice. The authors which these artists, in the present Academy, illustrate — Thomas quoting lines from Ballantine, a poet after the Burns type, and John choosing a passage from Scott's ‘Abbot'— will indicate the diverse paths in which the two brothers severally walk. Mr. Thomas Faed's picture, indicated by the homely quotation, “He was faither and mither and a things tae me,” is humble in scene. The tenants or visitors in this honest shoemaker's shop are children of the poor rustics of a village, and all the accessories such as Wilkie might have hit upon in his happiest moments, or Teniers and Ostade painted when in their best manner. The brother, Mr. John Faed, we have said, as a contrast somewhat, in his pleasing and polished picture, ‘Catherine Seyton,' aims at a more lofty mark. We surely have never seen this artist to better advantage than in ‘Catherine' in the act of “glancing her deep-blue eyes a little towards Roland Graeme.” The pictures of Mr. Horsley, especially “The Bashful Swain,’ are agreeable through a like polish of exterior, which is indeed more than external, reaching beneath the surface down to the underlying sentiment—a sentiment not only refined and smooth, but bright with laughter and sparkling in wit. Landseer, whose hions for Trafal: Square have been so long looked , presents to the Academy polar bears and squirrels. It is not for some years that this consummate painter of animal life has been so much himself. As of old, he here not only gives smoothness of coat and texture of hair, but seems at the same time, by an art too subtle for analysis, to portray the inner rature and mute consciousness of the brute creation, making the silent actors in the scenes he delineates move the spectator to terror; or, on the other hand, by beauty and pathos awaken to sympathy. Mr. Cooper, also, we may congratu
late as having reverted to his hap. piest manner. These two leading masters of animal painting are, however, as unlike the one to the other as if their studios and easels were
lanted in opposite hemispheres.
andseer romances with his subject; Cooper is as literal, though not so hard, as Paul Potter. Yet Cooper, too, has his moods of poetry, as when he makes his herds repose in peaceful meadows, lying beside still , waters — a landscape which, for flooding daylight, Cuyp would have loved to look on.
Furthermore, the present Aca
demy is fortunate in the possession of masterpieces by four of its foremost members, Stanfield, Roberts, Creswick, and Cooke. Stanfield's two contrasted yet companion pictures, “Peace’ and “War,’ show the genius of this honoured and veteran artist great and grand as ever in intent; only the hand which once dashed so boldly among the stormy elements, shows now more timorous solicitude. David Roberts has seldom concentrated so much material, or in one picture so fully deployed his various powers and resources, as in ‘The Mausoleum of Augustus,' which is indeed little short of an epitome of the entire . city of Rome. This picture displays the artist's habitual largeness of manner; it triumphs in a certain broad histrionic treatment, the reverse of that penny-a-lining which some painters, having in their eye no fine frenzy, believe to be the signmanual of genius. T. Creswick's ‘Beck in the North Country' is a giant among landscapes, yet quiet in manner and unobtrusive as English pastorals are wont to be, especially when this Wordsworth of painters, with truth-loving pencil, follows after nature in beauty unadorned. Lastly, among the few memorable pictures of the year which lapse of time from the mind will not efface, must rank pre-eminent “The Ruins of a Roman Bridge, Tangier,' by E. W. Cooke. This artist seems in no ordinary degree to unite an imagination of fine intuition with a G
reward, and with reward snares and like are the garments, and so innopenalties.
cent of action is every limb. We This Society, which was never in believe that Mr. Jones has been so strong a position as at the present worshipped by a select brotherhood moment, has admitted within the as a designer for painted glass ; last year several new Associates, and a certain blurred quality of some of whom will render the execution would seem to suggest gallery more attractive through close connection with worsted-work merit, others more notorious by also. A range of willow-pattern eccentricity. Of the former class plates, again, as a background to we must rank as pre-eminent F. poor 'Cinderella,' might indicate an Walker, whose two drawings,'Spring' alliance with the ceramic arts, and and “The Church-Pew,' have become point to a long pedigree stretching prime favourites with all visitors. far away towards the Great Wall of The first of these subjects consists China. Certain it is that we shall of a little girl, who, gathering have to go far enough off before primroses on the confines of a wood, we can meet with the prototypes has become entangled in a bush, of these singular works. It is, howthe interlacing branches of which ever, just possible that in the remote cover the figure as by a network. depths of the darkest of medieval The first effect produced on the centuries, innocent of anatomy, spectator is that of surprise, and perspective, and other carnal knowthen -- as in certain works of sculp- ledge, something like these nonture, wherein, for example, a man natural figures might be found. struggles to extricate himself from And so, after all, Mr. Jones may the meshes in which he is entrapped turn out not quite as original as -it is discovered that the artistic he would at first sight seem, by difficulty overcome is of easy mas- these forms so studiously grotesque, tery. In the present instance the by his contempt for beauty, and figure, of course, is drawn first, his persistent pursuit of unmitigated and then, when finished, the inter- ugliness. Yet on the whole, as vening branches are pencilled in witness the 'Knight,' and The front. The other topic treated by Kissing Crucifix,' also The AnnunMr. Walker - a family seated in a ciation,' we incline to the judgment church-pew is praiseworthy for that Mr. Jones has surpassed all quiet, unostentatious qualities, rely- that ever went before him. We ing on accuracy of drawing and are told that these compositions a treatment which, to its minutest should be approached with reverence, detail, is governed by intention, and we think so; especially the
We have "reserved the extraordi- angel Gabriel, who seems as simple nary productions of a new Asso- and unadorned as any maid-of-allciate, E. B. Jones, for strong protest. work. This servant, up in the In the name of nightmare, con- morning betimes, was sweeping vulsions, delirium, and apoplexy, one of the outer courts of heaven we would demand to what order of when requested to hook on a pair created beings do these monstrosities of wings and descend to earth with belong? Ought these figures to an errand. We beg to observe that be allowed to walk the earth, or if holy things are here brought to shall they, as lunatics, be put in ridicule, the fault is with the painter, strait-waistcoats and thrust into an not in us. asylum? We are not quite sure, With this egregious exception, however, whether the considerate and with the addition of a few soliartist has not already provided tary examples scattered through against the possibility of harm to other galleries, the much-vaunted quiet neighbours, by binding his Preraphaelite school of figure and incipient maniacs hand and foot, landscape painting may be said to so mighty stiff are they, so shroud- be extinct. The pictures and draw. ings of Mr. Hamerton certainly, in- graphic fidelity. We regret that deed, show --- as did a book, The space does not enable us to survey Painter's Camp in the Highlands,' in detail two other Exhibitions, to of which Mr. Hamerton was the which, since the close of the Interauthor decided Preraphaelite and national Galleries at Kensington, Ruskinite proclivities. These pic- the English public have been intorial efforts, kindly submitted to debted for the knowledge of recent public view under the care of the productions of Continental schools, man "Thursday," must be admitted The French and Flemish Exhibias every way creditable to an amateur. tion of the present year is chiefly to They, however, by no means induce be remembered by two noble works us to alter the opinion we have of the Belgian Gallait; à cabinet long entertained of the impractica- picture, great, nevertheless, in gen. bilities of this thankless school a jus, by Gerome, the painter of school which makes of its disciples "The Duel,' The Gladiators,' and slaves, and reduces art to drudgery. "Phryne;' and a masterpiece by These penalties, attaching to the Edouard ' Frere - small, of course, carrying out of certain plausible but choice. To the Scandinavian but essentially false principles, seem Gallery, at a moment when the to have disgusted the leaders of a sympathies of our countrymen are schism which at one time threatened directed towards the sufferings and in its consequences to grow serious, heroism of a brave nation, peculiar if not fatal. However, as we have interest attaches. Denmark, in said, this eccentric school is now literature, science, and the arts, all but extinct. The pictures of can boast of illustrious antecedents. Mr. Millais, and even of Mr. Holman Thorwaldsen the sculptor, Oersted Hunt, are naturalistic, and nothing the man of science, Worsaae the more. The landscape this year antiquary, and Hans Christian exhibited in the Academy by Mr. Andersen the writer of romance, Brett, an artist hitherto identified have given to this comparatively with the most ultra of dogmas, is small kingdom no inconsiderable wholly free from extravagance, and renown in the realms of intellect. may be commended for a beauty And walking into this Scandinavian which, in the Bay of Naples,' Gallery, it is satisfactory to obtain no Prerapbaelite spectacles were ocular proof that genius has not needed to discover. These and abandoned her favourite shores, other vigorous men, it is to be washed by the storm-lashed wave. hoped, bave at length thrown off
a A review of the London Art-Seabondage which became intolerable son were incomplete did it not conto bear. Still it is to be feared tain some notice of the great mural that others of the weaker sort have paintings executed in the Palace of foundered in deep and troublous Westminster. Two years since we waters, and will remain for ever spoke in terms of more than comlost. Thus -- less fatally, on the mon admiration of the power and whole, than might at one time have mastery displayed in a vast waterbeen expected-ends a drama which glass painting, twelve feet high by was put upon the stage with more forty-five feet wide, The Meeting than ordinary pomp and flourish of of Wellington and Blacher after the advertisement
Battle of Waterloo,' then recently We have been much pleased with completed in the Royal Gallery by a brilliant series of drawings exe Mr. Maclise. The companion piccuted by Mr. William Simpson dur- ture, Trafalgar -- the Death of Neling a tour of three years through son,' has engaged the untiring lathe most renowned portions of our bour of the same artist during the Indian empiro. They are remark. past year, and is now in a forward able alike for their artistic beauty, state. Within the last few months their historic truth, and their topo- have been put up, in the Peers' and
reward, and with reward snares and penalties. This Society, which was never in so strong a position as at the present moment, has admitted within the last year several new Associates, some of whom will render the gallery more attractive through merit, others more notorious by eccentricity. Of the former class we must rank as pre-eminent F. Walker, whose two drawings," Spring' and “The Church-Pew,' have become prime favourites with all visitors. The first of these subjects consists of a little girl, who, gathering primroses on the confines of a wood, has become entangled in a bush, the interlacing branches of which cover, the figure as by a network. The first effect produced on the spectator is that of surprise, and then—as in certain works of sculpture, wherein, for example, a man struggles to extricate himself from the meshes in which he is entrapped —it is discovered that the artistic difficulty overcome is of easy mastery. In the present instance the figure, of course, is drawn first, and then, when finished, the intervening branches are pencilled in front. The other topic treated by Mr. Walker—a family seated in a church-pew—is praiseworthy for quiet, unostentatious qualities, relying on accuracy of drawing and a treatment which, to its minutest detail, is governed by intention. We have reserved the extraordinary productions of a new Associate, E. B. Jones, for strong protest. In the name of nightmare, convulsions, delirium, and apoplexy, we would demand to what order of created beings do these monstrosities belong? Ought these figures to be allowed to walk the earth, or shall they, as lunatics, be put in strait-waistcoats and thrust into an asylum ? We are not quite sure, however, whether the considerate artist has not already provided against the possibility of harm to quiet neighbours, by binding his incipient maniacs hand and foot, so mighty stiff are they, so shroud
like are the garments, and so inno-T cent of action is every limb. We believe that Mr. Jones has been worshipped by a select brotherhood as a designer for painted glass; and a certain blurred quality of execution would seem to suggest close connection with worsted-work also. A range of willow-pattern plates, again, as a background to poor ‘Cinderella,’ might indicate an alliance with the ceramic arts, and point to a long pedigree stretching far away towards the Great Wall of China. Certain it is that we shall have to go far enough off before we can meet with the prototypes of these singular works. It is, however, just possible that in the remote depths of the darkest of medieval centuries, innocent of anatomy, perspective, and other carnal knowledge, something like these nonnatural figures might be found. And so, after all, Mr. Jones may turn out not quite as original as he would at first sight seem, by these forms so studiously grotesque, by his contempt. for beauty, and his persistent pursuit of unmitigated ugliness. Yet on the whole, as witness the ‘Knight,’ and “The Kissing Crucifix," also “The Annunciation,' we incline to the judgment that Mr. Jones has surpassed all that ever went before him. We are told that these compositions should be approached with reverence, and we think so; especially the angel Gabriel, who seems as simple and unadorned as any maid-of-allwork. This servant, up in the morning betimes, was sweeping one of the outer courts of heaven when requested to hook on a pair of wings and descend to earth with an errand. We beg to observe that if holy things are here brought to ridicule, the fault is with the painter, not in us. With this egregious exception, and with the addition of a few solitary examples scattered through other galleries, the much-vaunted Preraphaelite school of figure and landscape painting may be said to be extinct. The pictures and draw