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are beautiful and true. The study of storm subsiding as the waves beat up inshore, though vigorous and faithful, is in parts somewhat heavy ; but the jostling breakers muster and fight and fall with all the grace and force of nature.
In these stray notes I had meant to set down nothing in dispraise of this picture or that, but merely to say of such as I found good the best I had to say ; passing by of necessity many well worthy of praise or blame, and many more not wholly worthy of either. Of these indeed the main part of an exhibition must usually be made up; of mediocrities and ingenuities which art must on the whole ignore and put aside without rebuke, though they may not call aloud for fire to consume them. But a word may here be said of M. Édouard Frère ; a name that carries weight with it. He has been likened to Wordsworth; it must be a Wordsworth shorn of his beams. In the large field of the poet there are barren and weedy places enough; he may at times, with relaxed hand and bedimmed eye, drop from the hills to the quagmires, and croak there to children, instead of singing to men; but the qualities which at such times a great poet may have in common with a small painter are not the qualities which make him great. When we find in M. Frère the majesty and music of thought, the stately strength and high-toned harmonies, the deep sure touch and keenedged pathos of the poet, then only we may grant the kinship. To the rags and tatters, the stubble and sweepings of Wordsworth, he meantime is more than welcome. What is there in this year's picture well conceived, well composed, well painted? what of effect, of harmony, of variety in these crude monotonous figures ? A great artist in verse or in colour may assuredly make some great thing out of the commonest unwashed group of dull faces; but the workman must first be great ; and this workman, without force of hand or delicacy, without depth or grace of painting, would pass off on us, in lieu of these, such mere trickeries of coarse and easy sentiment as are fit only to “milk the maudlin eyes” of M. Prudhomme and his wife. Turn from his work to that of M. Legros, and compare the emasculate with the masculine side of French art.
Among the drawings here are two studies by Mr. Sandys, both worthy of the high place held by the artist. One is a portrait full of force and distinction, drawn as perhaps no other man among us can draw; the other, a woman's face, is one of his most solid and splendid designs; a woman of rich, ripe, angry beauty, she draws one warm long lock of curling hair through her full and moulded lips, biting it with bared bright teeth, which add something of a tiger's charm to the sleepy and couching passion of her fair face. But of that which is not here I have also something to say. Exclusion and suppression of certain things in the range of art are not really possible to any academy upon earth, be it pictorial or literary. It is natural for academies to try, when any rare or new good thing comes before them in either kind; witness much of academic history in England as in France; but the record of their ill-will has always been the record of their impotence. Mr. Sandys' picture of “Medea” is well enough known by this time, wherever there is any serious knowledge of art, to claim here some word of comment, not less seasonable than if it were now put forward to grace the great show of the year. Like Coriolanus, the painter might say if he would that it is his to banish the judges, his to reject the "common cry” of academics. For this, beyond all doubt, is as yet his masterpiece. Pale as from poison, with the blood drawn back from her very lips, agonized in face and limbs with the labour and the fierce contention of old love with new, of a daughter's love with a bride's, the fatal figure of Medea pauses a little on the funereal verge of the wood of death, in act to pour a blood-like liquid into the soft opal-coloured hollow of a shell. The future is hard upon her, as a cup of bitter poison set close to her mouth; the furies of Absyrtus, the furies of her children, rise up against her from the unrisen years ; her eyes are hungry and helpless, full of a fierce and raging sorrow. Hard by her, henbane and aconite and nightshade thrive and grow full of fruit and death ; before her fair feet the bright-eyed toads engender after their kind. Upon the golden ground behind is wrought in allegoric decoration the likeness of the ship Argo, with other emblems of the tragic things of her life. The picture is grand alike for wealth of symbol and solemnity of beauty.
The present year has other pictures to be proud of, not submitted to the loose and slippery judgment of an academy. Of one or two such I am here permitted to make mention. The great picture which Mr. Whistler has now in hand is not yet finished enough for any critical detail to be possible ; it shows already promise of a more majestic and excellent beauty of form than his earlier studies, and of the old delicacy and melody of ineffable colour. Of three slighter works lately painted I may set down a few rapid notes ; but no task is harder than this of translation from colour into speech, when the speech must be so hoarse and feeble, when the colour is so subtle and sublime. Music or verse might strike some string accordant in sound to such painting, but a mere version such as this is as a psalm of Tate's to a psalm of David's. In all of these the main strings touched are certain varying chords of blue and white, not without interludes of the bright and tender tones of floral purple or red. In two of the studies the keynote is an effect of sea; in one, a sketch for the great picture, the soft brilliant floor-work and wall-work of a garden balcony serve in its stead to set forth the Aowers and figures of flowerlike women. In a second, we have again a gathering of women in a balcony ; from the unseen flower-land below tall almond-trees shoot up their topmost crowns of tender blossom ; beyond and far out to west and south the warm and solemn sea spreads wide and soft without wrinkle of wind. The dim floor-work in front, delicate as a summer cloud in colour, is anti phonal to the wealth of water beyond : and between these the fair clusters of almond-blossom make divine division. Again the symphony or (if you will) the antiphony is sustained by the fervid or the fainter colours of the women's raiment as they lean out one against another, looking far oversea in that quiet depth of pleasure without words when spirit and sense are filled full of beautiful things, till it seems that at a mere breath the charmed vessels of pleasure would break or overflow, the brimming chalices of the senses would spill this wine of their delight. In the third of these studies the sea is fresher, lightly kindling under a low clear wind ; at the end of a pier a boat is moored, and women in the delicate bright robes of eastern fashion and colour so dear to the painter are about to enter it; one is already midway the steps of the pier; she pauses, half unsure of her balance, with an exquisite fluttered grace of action. Her comrades above are also somewhat troubled, their robes lightly blown about by the sea-wind, but not too much for light laughter and a quivering pleasure. Between the dark wet stair-steps and piles of the pier the sweet bright sea shows foamless here and blue. This study has more of the delight of life than the others; which among three such may be most beautiful I neither care to guess nor can. They all have the immediate beauty, they all give the direct delight of natural things; they seem to have grown as a flower grows, not in any forcing-house of ingenious and laborious cunning. This indeed is in my eyes a special quality of Mr. Whistler's genius; a freshness and fullness of the loveliest life of things, with a high clear power upon them which seems to educe a picture as the sun does a blossom or a fruit.
It is well known that the painter of whom I now propose to speak has never suffered exclusion or acceptance at the hand of any academy. To such acceptance or such rejection all other men of any note have been and may be liablc. It is not less well known that his work must always hold its place as second in significance and value to no work done by any painter of his time. Among the many great works of Mr. D. G. Rossetti, I know of none greater than his two latest. These are