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"The value and rank of every art is in proportion to the mental labour employed on it, or the raental pleasure produced by it."-REYNOLDS, iv. Discourse.

THESE words would seem to have been adopted for a motto by the compilers of the Academy catalogue, both as implied reproof and direct instruction reproof towards that well-known class of artists who have so long persisted in making their pictures a mere feat of physical endurance and drudgery; and instruction and encouragement to those right-minded men who have striven to render their works a record of sober thought and intellectual progress. It cannot be concealed that our English school, both for evil and for good, has been passing through a period of revolution. A hackneyed conventionalism, handed down from generation to generation, at length worn out, naturally provoked reaction and revolt. The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood arose, and for a time bade defiance to all established authority. The apostles of this new gospel, not wholly unlike the grand literary rebel, Thomas Carlyle, gloried in the most startling eccentricities. Their art was a Sartor Resartus, and their creed the doctrine that "pleasure" is ignoble, and that in "work" alone consists the end of life and the duty of man. The world stood aghast as, year by year, propriety of taste was subject ed to some fresh outrage. Could it be, after all, that to really gifted vision nature loved to show herself in guise grotesque and repulsive? Was it come to this, that in art as in the province of law, the paradox was indeed a principle-the greater the truth the greater the libel? But it might be asked, Was this really art, and was this indeed actual nature, or was it not possibly the clumsy work of nature's journeymen imitating humanity abominably?

After the utter confusion which came upon English art-for several years growing still more confounded it is some consolation

once again to revert to fundamental principles. Practices may vacillate, but essential laws remain unchanged; and in the canons of criticism at least, it may be safely asserted that there can come nothing new under the sun. On the 10th December 1771, Sir Joshua Reynolds addressed the students of the Royal Academy in these words. Our readers will find his remarks equally fitted to the month of August 1861. "Gentlemen," he said, "the value and rank of every art is in proportion to the mental labour employed on it, or the mental pleasure produced by it. As this principle is observed or neglected, our profession becomes either a liberal art, or a mechanical trade. In the hands of one man it makes the highest pretensions, as it is addressed to the noblest faculties; in those of another, it is reduced to a mere matter of ornament, and the painter has but the humble province of furnishing our apartments with elegance. This surely is a text upon which we might found our present analysis of London Exhibitions. We might show that elaborate canvasses, marvellous for manual industry and dexterity, are yet low in rank, wanting the elevation of "mental labour." We could take up other works, and show that pleasure, excited by mere novel eccentricity, is one of the most superficial means of attracting public attention. We could manifest, as a contrast to certain works of studied and grotesque ugliness, the essential and immutable worth of intellectual beauty, the pure joy with which she fills the mind, the heavenly aspect she gives to earthly pleasures. We could go through the galleries of the year, and, in no tone of censure, and yet with feelings not free from regret, review with faint praise whole catalogues of painters

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The province of furnishing our apartments with elegance" could not possibly be occupied with better taste than by the two WaterColour Societies. The art of watercolour painting is perhaps most successful when least ambitious. Our English school of pretty landscapes in smiling array of pleasing brightness, of simple peasants tending their flocks or standing at cottage door, of small historic or social incidents appealing to partial sympathies, finds, it would appear, its fitting field within the compass of a sheet of paper. Large canvasses wholly transcend the dainty sentiments of the boudoir. They are too extended, alike for the thoughts at the artist's command and of the space at the patron's disposal. The drawings in the present exhibition of the elder society in Pall Mallpure liquid gems, sparkling with light and colour-subjects taken from flood and field and fond domestic story-are just within those narrow unambitious limits, and precisely of that finished refinement and beauty which best conform to the propriety of English tastes and the proportions of English patronage. Our leading water-colour painters have long comfortably settled themselves into prescribed and well-known excellences, from which even self-interest forbids them widely to depart, and each has for years been in the possession of a well-considered style which has won in its praise all the superlatives of criticism. Works from these well-tried favourites come forth year by year with the fertility and the periodic profusion

of fruits and flowers true to their season; and thus the gallery in Pall Mall, not unlike the horticultural tents at Chiswick or Regent's Park, is ever gay, crowded, and fashionable-a show and a promenade of the brightest and the fairest.

It becomes in the present year more than usually difficult to designate an Exhibition which, in the absence of conspicuous works, is chiefly noticeable for its even and unbroken average. As critics, we seem doomed, on this occasion, to the repetition of all that has been said a thousand times before. Mr Jenkins in his "Watteau," hung at the post of honour, paints a Boccaccio terraced garden, with youths and maidens given to sketching and the romance of song; a work which, like others proceeding from the same elegant hand, seems as if expressly composed for a popular engraving. Other artists, as we have said, are likewise seen in their usual manner. Mr Gilbert, in his "Roman Bagpiper," blots in vigorous Rembrandt effects; and, in "The Return of the Expedition," gives us a pen-and-ink medley with the scratchy hand of an etcher. Α small composition, “The Arrest of Hastings," in subtle relations of broken tertiary colour, for pointed character and precision of drawing, is a consummate artistic study, showing the rare power which Mr Gilbert commands when he chooses to put his genius fairly forth. Mr Alfred Fripp exhibits, in a pleasing subject," Passing the Cross at Ave Maria," his habitual refinement of sentiment and his subtle delicacy in colour. Mr George Fripp, in the "Pass of Nant Frangon," a careful drawing, is once more on his favourite sketching-ground in North Wales. Mr Carl Haag, in the "Acropolis of Athens" and other admirable works, gives a sequel to his Eastern reminiscences. Mr Joseph Nash, in a series of small compositions set in one large frame, has succeeded in illustrating the Pilgrim's Progress with a circumstantial detail which at any rate


provokes curiosity. Mr Burton, by Moses and the burning bush! in "Old Ironside, a highly-fin- He is now, at any rate, fairly landed ished study, shows his unrivalled in the region of miracle, where some power of drawing. Mr Jackson at least of the laws pertaining to humpaints, with his usual refinement bler nature are for a time suspended and more than accustomed de- in his favour. His visions of earth, tail, scenes from the open ocean, we must confess, are very agreeable with sheltered craft on our wave- to gaze on; and rhapsody in these bound coast; and Mr Branwhite plain days is certainly not a sin to still gives with unrelenting hand which too many of our artists are the rigour of our snow-white win- addicted. In short, Mr Palmer's ter. The two Callows, likewise, one "Sunset on the Mountains," we are upon the sea and the other with prepared to receive as a poem. his foot upon the land, have, in Moonlights, we have said, are falltheir respective domains of earth ing out of fashion, but a few still and water, reached their prescribed survive, casting fitfully their silvery pitch of excellence. Mr Riviere yet somewhat sicklied sentiment still makes himself at home in Irish across the walls of our Exhibitions. cabins; while Mr Oakley struggles Their monotone necessarily becomes to raise his art from humble life— a little monotonous. The chaste lines from Shelley serving him for Diana could not indeed be more inspiration, and "The Student" devoid of passion. Yet, after the sitting as a subject. Of Mr Fre- fevered heat of day, cool fountains derick Taylor and Mr Topham, glistening in the soft eye of the much need not be said. Mr David- queen of night, and ruined temples, son in his landscapes is always stately porticoes, and broken colstudiously dotty. Mr Gastineau, umns standing against the dim dison the contrary, is washy, precisely tant horizon, at the hour when nato the same praiseworthy excess; ture is hushed in quiet sleep-this while Mr Harding, unsurpassed in is a peaceful poetry in which we are cleverness of hand, makes nature glad to find some men still venture herself complacently submit to the to indulge. Mr Finche's small drawobvious fitness of his pictorial ar- ings in this key, by their Clauderangements. like classicality, their symmetry of well-balanced composition, come as a strange protest against the spirit of the times. Mr Smallfield's lovelorn maiden in night-dress rising to read a letter at the open casement, is, we cannot but think, sentiment pushed beyond the sober limits of common-sense. The girl would seem to be stricken with the worst symptoms of moon-madnessa love-bewildered intellect. Judging from appearances, we cannot but fear that artists themselves are in some danger of falling into the same sad condition, should they continue to expose themselves to "moonlights" with this singleness of devotion.

Before some few of the pictures in the Water-Colour Society we have made more detailed notes. Mr Hunt's studies of fruit, birds, and heads, always repay analysis. He is a great, we might add a scientific

Moonlights, we think, have had their day, except perhaps upon the stage, where a translucent round hole cut into lath and plaster, with a lantern hung behind, is too cheap a popularity wholly to be abandoned. But in that pictorial world of exhibitions, where transparencies have not yet been ventured on, the direct blaze of open noonday is certainly preferable. Since the glories of Turner blinded the eye by excess of light, many a picture, indeed, has been taught, as it were, to explode with the fury of a firework finale. Mr Samuel Palmer is one among the many artists who has become quite illustrious in this pyrotechnic school. For several consecutive years he seemed to have been studiously qualifying himself, through successive stages, for some great masterwork, suggested, one might imagine,

colourist, for he apportions and balances colour upon a definite system. His greens, yellows, and reds are set one against the other, with cool greys as delicate transitions. Sometimes, indeed, he works directly with the three pure primary colours, stippling and hatching each over the other, securing blended harmony through immediate juxtaposition, and attaining brilliancy by keeping each tint in pristine purity. The contrast in texture of different substances is managed with equal skill. Take as an example the "Wood-Pigeon," and mark the softness of its plumage, as set against the rude material of the earthy background. In the dead "Chick" commissioned by Mr Ruskin for presentation to the Bradford School of Art, we see force obtained by the judicious use of "body colour," standing in absolute relief as stucco, painted in sometimes at once solid, in other parts glazed over with transparent tints. We direct attention to these technical excellences: they cannot be better studied than through the works of Mr Hunt. The drawings of Mr Birket Foster, marvels of the last few seasons, dexterous in handling, and skilled in treatment, will also repay minute examination. They are after the manner of vignettes-small episodes in nature, just cut out from the wider sweep of landscape, and rounded into the symmetry and cadence as of a sonnet. They bear the same relation to the world at large which a word or a line from Milton holds to his larger poem. There is nothing more pretty than these tiny peeps into nature's nooks and dells -the cottage by the wood, with curling smoke among the trees, the ducks toddling to the water, and the neatly-dressed children running down the flowery mead. The artist, too, seems to trip along playfully as he works; the aspen leaf falling from his pencil trembles in the breeze; a ripple plays upon the surface of the water; and the teardrop sparkles in the eye of the

opening flower. But the poetry of Mr Foster, miniature in proportion, is best presented to the public in the form of small pocket duodecimos-a large quarto edition requires more breadth of thought and a bolder handling. His "Wark's Burn, Northumberland," is frittered away in dotted detail; and his drawings, as a whole, are wanting in richness of colour; grey greens, oft repeated, become at length deadly monotonous. His works, in general deficient in profound purpose, are pretty, after the manner of fancy decoration. These are Mr Foster's defects; we need scarcely say that the excellences, upon which we have already insisted, are in their special line wholly unsurpassed.

The well-known scenic pictures of Mr Collingwood Smith come with marked contrast to the minute mosaics of Mr Foster. The bold hand of Mr Smith takes a broad sweep over lake, mountain, and meadow, scarcely halting in its impetuous career till it has covered an area of some dozen square miles. On whatever country or climate this versatile artist may alight, his cosmopolitan genius finds itself equally at home. His art is evidently specially acclimatised to Italy, and he paints the land of poetry as one to the manner born. "Lago d'Orta," a paradise let down from heaven upon the earth, is truly a scene in which any painter might love to revel-blue skies and tranquil reflecting waters, and blue mountains with broad shoulders, round which the mists of morning still are fondly clinging as if loth to sever, and the eternal snows of winter crowning Monte Rosa's heights

and then upon the lake beneath, the little sail wending its silent way to Pella's shore, while every tree and leaf in the noonday heat reposes, and nature, hushed in dreamy sleep, sinks into the arms of beauty. Mr Richardson's "Castle of Ischia and Sea of Naples" is painted up to the same high pitch of Italian romance. Mr Newton still further swells the large number of

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southern landscapes by his remarkable drawings taken from Mentone. Last year he painted the Pass of Glencoe, standing knee-deep in a snow foreground. His present pictures on the shores of the Mediterranean, treated somewhat in the stern manner of the north, secure, by a certain severe hardness, an originality which in Italian subjects, now so mercilessly hackneyed, was scarcely to be hoped for. Mr Newton is one of the most uncompromising and unconventional of artists: he strikes at truth boldly, he studies nature closely and thoughtfully, and his works-no repetition of used-up ideas-are generally the records of mental enterprise and progress. We cannot but admire the boldness with which he attacks things yet unattempted in the prose or the poetry of pictorial art. In his "Winter Foliage, in the Garden of the Prince of Monaco," he essays to give us the tented canopy of the broad stone pine, the prickly pear with its fantastic fingers, the orange in fruit and flower, spring and autumn meeting hand in hand, the grey cobweb of the feathery olive, with the deep blue of the Mediterranean seen beneath. In another drawing, where twilight on the ocean depths and sunlight upon the mountain summits intermingle, we mark a bold effect of which, in these regions, we have long been fond -the silvery flickering of lines of light flashing out from the deep darkness of the purple sea. Our artists have too servilely trodden the same beaten path; we therefore rejoice when a bold man comes forward determined to take a new career. The old drawing-master routine of tree-touch, one suited for oak, another for elm, and a third for chestnut, has now fortunately grown obsolete. Snowdon and the districts of North Wales are known stone for stone by every painter and patron in the kingdom; it is now time that our landscape aspirants should seek out new territories, if not fresh zones and

hemispheres. The enterprising Humboldt, whose comprehensive mind embraced every region open to science or to art, has eloquently descanted on the exuberant pictorial resources of the tropics. And the day will come when the jungle of India and the lakes of Central Africa shall hang on the walls of London Exhibitions, and the poetry of the whole earth, like the commerce of the entire world, find its centre in the metropolis of Britain.

The New Water-Colour Society, also taking its residence in Pall Mall, shares not unworthily the honours with its elder sister. We have, on previous occasions, remarked that this younger association still rejoices in that state of mental juvenility which indulges in dreamy romance and vague sentimentality pertaining to poetasters in the art of painting. Mr Tidey, in such works as the gigantic composition from Ossian, is visionary as the poem he essays to illustrate. His large, ambitious scale is in no way justified by any corresponding largeness of manner; and unless he betake himself to severer study of actual nature, he must infallibly fall into the ranks of those selfcrowned poets who complaisantly adore a certain impossible idea, dwelling somewhere in the limbo of their own fevered imagination. A man endowed with Mr Tidey's refined sense of beauty deserves a better fate. Mr Corbould has this year found fortunate subjects for three drawings, high in execution and not devoid of thought, in the two most popular publications of a previous season --- Adam Bede, and Idylls of the King. "Dinah,' and "Hetty and Captain Donnithorne in Mrs Poyser's Dairy," painted by command of Her Majesty the Queen; and "Elaine, the Lily Maid of Astolat," laid on a coverlit all cloth-of-gold, palled in blackest samite, though wanting in individual character, have certainly all the charm which smooth execution and elaborate finish can bestow.

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