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and it is very gratifying to find so large a proportion of the pictures by artists whose names are not thus decorated. A charge of exclusiveness cannot this year, with any show of fairness, be preferred against the Council.
Mr. Richard Ansdell, R.A., is represented by five pictures, Nos. 186, 367, 520, 614 and 620; and Mr. Sidney Cooper, R.A., by four pictures, Nos. 209, 419, 474 and 713; there is nothing in these pictures to distinguish them from the previous performances of those well-known and favourite artists, who seem to have attained a position of that high respectability in English art that is not amenable to any criticism of mine.
I then come to Briton Riviere, a name undecorated by letters; it seems French, but I cannot state that its owner is so; he certainly rejoices in a very English address—16, Addison-road, Kensingtbn. Perhaps the announcement may induce some very English readers to regard him with unprejudiced eyes. Mr. Riviere has two pictures, Nos. 260 and 527. The first is called " Apollo," and it may be incidentally remarked that the painter is in general particularly happy in describing his pictures by a single word, as Circe, Daniel, Argus, Apollo. Apollo is introduced to us with this quotation, translated from Euripedes:—
'' Apollo's self,
The usual version of this story inherited by schoolboys, through the instrumentality of L'Empridre, may briefly be slated thus:— Jupiter slew ^Esculapius, a celebrated physician of those days, with a thunderbolt forged by Cyclops, a gentleman possessing but a single eye, and that situated in the middle of his forehead. Apollo was so angry at this that in turn he killed Cyclops, and for this was sent to tend the flocks of Admetus, king of Thessaly, and whilst thus employed played on his sistrum so skilfully, as a sort of solace in his banishment, that the wild beasts gathered round him to enjoy the delightful music. An idea will intrude itself that this great painter may have rather combined and confused two stories, that of the parent Apollo, who was unquestionably the god of music, and that of his son Orpheus by the muse Calliope, the chief and queen of all the muses. It may be recollected that mythological history represents Orpheus as playing on the lyre or sistrum, as I think it is called, and by his music taming wild beasts: he was, moreover, accompanied by a tamed lion, which, however, is rather injudiciously identified with Eurydice, although the name may be fairly translated a " tamed lion." All the accessories will agree with either fable. Mr. Riviere elects to make the father the principal actor, and has selected the time when the Carnivora have settled into their "reserved seats" to enjoy the music at their ease.
The very excellencies of this picture have, I think, operated to its disadvantage: they have induced the Council to hang it on a level with the eye, almost in a corner, so that every one has the opportunity of quietly admiring its beauties, but is compelled, as it were, to magnify its defects; there is scarcely a possibility of getting to that moderate distance which a picture requires to enable one to pass a fair judgment of its effect: if you approach too near you lose the painter's intention; if you withdraw but a couple of steps a crowd intervenes and you see nothing. We are compelled to take the former course, and then it is utterly impossible to conceal from oneself that sufficient time and pains have not been bestowed on the details: it is true that we neither expect nor wish to see the toes of a lioness worked out with that consummate skill and elaborate care which Mr. Leighton has bestowed on those of the human figure in No. 348, yet we do claim for the feet of the quadruped rather more "making out" than is perceptible at this near view. For the same reason, the goats are not quite satisfactory; they are streaky, and the touches of the brush are too obtrusively prominent: this defect may probably be removed by distance, but as I have already said this distance is difficult to obtain: the fallow deer are open to the objection of formality and stiffness; they are represented as emerging in sober, sedate, wondering phalanx, from their "pine-wood haunts;" and the very rabbits are drawn from their burrows altogether unable to resist the attraction: one has scarcely emerged from his burrow, another is sitting erect, as rabbits are wont to sit when listening to any sound to which they are unaccustomed and of which the meaning is for the time incomprehensible. The Carnivora are subdued but not cowed, tamed but not intimidated, for there is no exhibition of fear, no thought of retreat. The principal figures are a lion, two lionesses, three leopards, and a lynx, all huddled together, their soft jackets intermingled and amalgamated like those of kittens when cuddling to their mother; and nearer the front are the goats in various attitudes. There is an air of dignity about the lion that well becomes the king of beasts, but the lioness seems to be what the late Duke of Wellington called the Irish, "an imperfectly conquered people;" they are grumbling and glowering in spite of the the musical banquet provided for them: the painting of their eyes is absolutely marvellous; not being a painter, I cannot guess by what cunning device this magical effect of emitting light has been produced. It seems as though precious stones had been employed as the pigment instead of ordinary paint. There are two eyes possessing this remarkable property; the one to the left is the most brilliant and sparkling, that to the right, emitting blue-green light, the more miraculous.
"Genius loci," No. 547, a sleeping lioness, is a single figure, very massive and powerful, in perfect harmony with its surroundings, and well called genius loci: such studies scarcely bring out a painter's highest capabilities; perhaps it is a false yearning, but we seem to require something more poetical, more imaginative, more difficult of execution, than a sleeping lioness such as we see every day at the Zoo; but still as the representation, and a powerful one, of a sleeping lioness, the picture is very effective.
Reverting to the exhibition of 1872, I may say that Mr. Riviere has nothing now so attractive as the " Circe;" the humour in that picture was delightful, and, as I think, thoroughly French. I fear that Mr. Riviere may in his picture this year have toned down his keen sense of humour, his marvellous appreciation of life, to meet the English taste for respectability: if so he has made a mistake. An Englishman rarely ventures to attempt at drollery; it does not become him; it reminds one of the uncouth gambols of an elephant; and the sooner English painter or elephant returns to the respectable, though somewhat weighty walk of ordinary life the better we like him. How often do we not hear the French paintings called "theatrical;" they have too much action, too much life, too much fun, too much colour. Mr. H. S. Marks seems to me almost the only Englishman who successfully attempts humour in his pictures, and with him the attempt is successful, because genuine, natural, quiet, inoffensive humour is always beaming from his canvass; he never descends to the broad grin of the clown or the uncouth posturings of the elephant. English painters painfully feel their shortcomings on this point as on many others; with them brilliant colouring is synonymous with scarlet, or more technically pink, hunting-coats, freedom of drawing with extent of canvass: all the English faults remain, though the picture be painfully overflowing with scarlet, and the canvass be measured by the acre instead of the foot.
Mr. Davis has three pictures, Nos. 270, 596 and 606. It is perhaps as unwise as it is truthful, when I say that I never prepare to look at a painting of cattle by Mr. Davis but I feel predisposed to be pleased. I have received such intense gratification from gazing on cattle painted by Rosa Bonheur and Mr. Davis that I cannot escape the conviction that I am going to receive another instalment of that pleasure, always accompanied by a corresponding amount of instruction, when I am about to gaze on another picture by either of these accomplished artists, and I have never been disappointed; therefore I suppose the same unfair partiality will continue to the end. No. 270, which is called "A French Lane," seems to me as English as the most respectable English mind could desire; it is a choice "landscape with figures," photographed in colours. I do not know what "French" attribute this lane may possess; certainly it seems as near perfection as a landscape with figures can be: the largest figure, a brown cow, or as it would be called in Herefordshire, a " red cow," is resting her nose on the back of a calf in the foreground, and both figures may well challenge comparison with anything Rosa has produced.
Mr. E. Douglas (a name with which I am sorry not to be familiar) has two pictures, Nos. 155 and 432, the first called "Old Mother Goose," seems to call for no particular comment: it is so hung as to prevent the visitor from seeing it with satisfaction, and it scarcely excites a wish to see it more distinctly; the other, "Mountain Shooting," No. 432, has the ring of true metal, and it is. impossible.not to be reminded of Sir Edwin: the dogs and game are equally good, but there is a softness of texture in the hair of the dogs that is more fitted for the drawing-room than the mountain side: this is a very venial fault, and will be sure to vanish hereafter.
Mr. Prinsep exhibits three pictures, Nos. 27, 274 and 943; the first and last of these contain one animal each. No. 27 is called "A Safe Confident," and represents a lady communicating her secrets to the softest and whitest of cats.
Mr. Leighton exhibits a treasury of pictures, Nos. 131, 303, 348 and 981; of these No. 131, "Moorish Garden: a Dream of Granada," comes strictly within my limits as zoological: a girl is leading two peacocks, one of them white, the other of the most resplendent hues; it is very beautiful, but this need scarcely be said of Mr. Leighton—his productions are always eminently beautiful.
Mr. Aster Corbould has been remarkably happy in selecting the finest subject for animal painting that the whole range of English poetry contains, Byron's "Mazeppa," No. 221, but I could not obtain a view of it sufficiently satisfactory to pronounce any opinion on its merits.
"A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
Came thickly thundering on,
He answered and then fell;
And reeking limbs immoveable,
They saw me strangely bound along
His back with many a bloody thong:
Without a single speck or hair