THE BRITISH INSTITUTION.
Relatively, this deserves to be called a good exhibition. The number of successful, fair, and promising pictures, is very decidedly above the average; being, indeed, sufficient to keep alive in the visitor's mind a tone of pleasurable alertness in exchange for the wearisome and deadened dejection with which ho has been wont, in past years, to turn from platitude No. 1 to platitude Nos. 2, 3, 4, and so on, with scarcely a gap or two. If all the good works had been properly bung, we might even have been inclined, spite of many shortcomings, to pronounce the show satisfactory ; and none the less so for owing little or nothing to Royal Academicians or other " legitimate" objects of homage.
Mr. Glass has by this time identified his name with moonlight cava- liers. Such addiction to a limited and peculiar range of subjects, tending as it clearly does to manner and mechanism, most be regretted in the ab- stract; but, bearing this caution in mind, we can thoroughly enjoy Mr. Glass's " Border Spear," as one of his most masterly productions, and a very complete work of its class. It has plenty of strength, and, what is better, reserved strength. The forward motion in the horse is remark- able ; and the expression of set determination in the trooper, who goes about his night-raid like a man of business, resolute and prepared, is the very thing for the subject,—a determination which seems to have com- municated itself to the animal as well. The effect is that of a dark night invaded by partial glimpses of the moon, which gleams on a sheet of water in the background, but is held captive overhead by slaty-coloured clouds. " Elena," the heroine of the second part of Taylor's Philip van Arterelde, is a bead broad and deep in colour,--too juvenile, but not un- successfully characterized. " The Mid-day Meal," a cart with horses by the side of a half-excavated sandbank, is one of those unembellished but well-managed studies not infrequent from Mr. Glass's hand. The tawny hue of the bank is a disadvantage pictorially ; but the sky with surging white cloud seeming to the eye immediately behind that bank is particularly good. A noticeable picture is the " Death of St. Os- wald, Archbishop of York, A. n. 992," by Mr. Burchett—whose name will be recollected by some persons from a not dissimilar subject which he exhibited a few years ago, the Death of the Venerable Bede. There is considerable advance in the present work, although not of such a kind as proves a natural vocation in the painter. Marked and equal care is evident upon every part of it ; upon the subordinate monks as well as the saint, the poor men whose feet he has been charitably washing, and the other members of the main group, and upon the rude paintings of appropriate subjects on the wall. Each figure is an individual; not ne- cessarily a successful one, for some of the expressions are too obvious or too sentimental ; still, the painter has in each intended some point of character or action, whose variation and careful presentment show him to be conscientious and in earnest. The orderly manner in which refection
proceeds in the background indicates the unexpectedness of the saint's death. On the colour and manipulation of the picture, no less than on the telling of the story, every care has been bestowed, with a good result of vividness and force, though a tendency exists to too much blackness in the shadows. The feeling partakes, as it should, of the monkish, with- out grimace or pretence. Altogether the work is a creditable one ; whose good qualities—dependent as they are on the artist's diligent self-respect —cannot fail of receiving an accession of strength with every renewed effort.
Another commendable artist is Mr. Gale ; whose " Incursion of the Danes—Saxon Women watching the Conflict," unites to his usual mi- nuteness of handling a something, in the figure of the young mother whose poor heart sinks within her, of more dramatic ability than he had before attained. The Danes and Saxons exerting themselves down in the plain are too much like puppets ; and that gloriously beau- tiful aspect of the sea when purple shadows lie along the clear green depths has been attempted not with great success. "St. Agnes," without reaching high in expression, is above the foolish conventional make-believe of religious sentiment. The hands are especially well painted ; and so indeed is the whole thing, although the blue of the star-lit sky is not the right tint, nor the light on the figure properly accounted for. The sort of screen of gold and crimson brocade which bisects the background is imitated without any particular meaning from pictures of the early schools. In "Hamlet and Ophelia,—a sketch," Mr. Egley shows a certain independence. There may not be much suggested by it, nevertheless it transcends the mere hack- neyed stage notion of the subject ; even the long yellow Danish hair of Hamlet indicates a certain effort beyond the mental power of many a bepraised painter of the day. Nice interiors with figures are contributed by Mr. Earl and Mr. Deane. The "Interior of a Cottage near Stratford-on-Avon," by the former, is lighted with great skill through the bright window with its strip of green curtain, and pleasantly peopled with a comely girl and a dog. t' The Hot Breakfast" is one of those ca- nine studies at which Mr. Earl is an adept ; his other two are poor- " The Dream of the Shepherd's Dog" even asinine. Mr. Deane de- velopes his genuine picturesque gift in his subject from " Anne Hatha- way's House, Shottery "; and also, though in a leas degree, in "The Angel's Whisper." Pity that he sticks at picturesqueness, innocent of thought or meaning. Cruikshank's "Run-away Knock"—which has called to the house-door a footman monstrously unwieldy, and a pack of eight pet dogs, and to the window two or three human faces and a scream- ing parrot—is irresistibly laughable, the dogs a cure for a hypochondriac : but it is scarcely a picture. In single heads or figures, the public knows the styles of Mr. Buckner, Mr. Inskipp, Mr. Wyburd, Mr. Sant, and his imitator Mr. J. E. Collins, all more or less tinctured with mawkishness, which culminates in Mr. Barraud's coining of Bible-subjects into a basest of base money that still passes current with wilful dupes, and Mr. De- sanges's theatrical prurience. Besides these, we have a " Mariana in the Minded Grange" from Mr. Wilson Dyer, who shows the capacity of a broad and disciplined colourist, but has left the face hard and common, if tolerably free from affectation or other positively bad qualities.
"High art" and the upper walks of genre have some damaging cava- lieri-serventi in this gallery. Mr. Joy's " Interview between Queen Eli- zabeth and the Countess of Nottingham" is an imbecility with which Mr. Selous pairs off in " Gil Blas relating his Adventure of Camilla and the Ring to the Licentiate Sedillo," and "The Decision of the Caskets " from The Merchant of Venice. Mr. Hopley, crushing censor of naughty Preraphaelites, gives them another revenge by exhibiting " Vicissitudes of Science, Second Subject—Michael Angelo in the Gardens of the Medici." Marvellous is the Michaelangelism of Mr. Rowan ; it is General Tom Thumb over again in Napoleon's regimentals. As for Mr. Naish, he is a man of some cleverness—which his fairy- -- piece here, as well as previous productions, will show ; but the in- fatuation of "the grand style" has made him stultify himself sadly in "The Swoon of Eudymion,"—a miscellany of limbs, backs, and fronts, of impossible semi-draped Nereids, all of a single hot flesh tint. The "Death of Beverley the Gamester," by Mr. Chester Wilson, is the last scene of a stage play, not a picture ; yet the dying man is not badly ex- pressed. An ordinary, which means a very foolish and worthless, Good- all heads the domestic pictures. Mr. Hemsley, in " Children and But- terfly," shows rather more sense of what is agreeable than he does in such affairs as his other performance. "Secrets at the Lodge," by Mr. Wehnert, possesses the interest of being an oil-picture by one who can be a good water-colour painter, but has nothing else of value : Mr. W. Underhill is as vapid as ever, though " Mountain Solitude" is not one of his worst. Mr. J. D. Watson, in " The Village Cobbler," and Mr. Nalder in" Le Chapeau de Paulo," display truth of the literal order ; the first especially, which is very competently done, promises better things. Mr. Smart's "Rejected Picture "—a sentimental version of the story how a daub of a Saracen's head is brought back from en obdurate banging committee to a neatly- bearded and dejected artist in his domestic circle—is quite as comic as it is sentimental. This picture of a rejected picture ought by rights to have been a rejected picture itself. But the decree might seem "hard- hearted" in the face of so pathetic an appeal ad misericordiani. Mr. Stirling, who distinguished himself at the Academy last year, has selected in "The Lesson" a thoughtful and suggestive subject—an old country- woman teaching a child its letters from a tomb-stone ; but the little pic- ture is hung at such a height as to make it quite impossible to form any judgment upon its particular deservings.
We reserve until next week some remarks on the landscapes.