10 FEBRUARY 1866, Page 16

Some ten years ago (more or less) there was exhibited

at the Royal Academy a series of pencil drawings by Mr. Maclise, in- tended to illustrate the Norman Conquest. It was extremely difficult at that time to understand why the task had been under- taken ; for there was no particular inventiveness, novelty, or skill displayed in the compositions, nor nobility or force of character in the actors, nothing in short that indicated any sympathy or enthusiasm in the artist for his subject. The Art Union of London has had these drawings engraved and published book- wise, but a careful consideration of the prints has not in the least degree helped to explain the original puzzle. The drawings still, as heretofore, seem flat and unprofitable. Moreover, now they are rather stale.

The half-dozen illustrations to as many of Burns' songs, pub- lished by the Scottish Fine Arts Assobiation, are far more inter- esting. Among others there are the "Lass and her Brew Wooer at the Tryst of Dalgarnock," where " o'er her left shoulther she gi'ed him a blink," illustrated by Mr. E. Nicoll with broad, but not coarse humour. The " Sea-rig, at Gloamin' Gray," treated naturally and simply, by Mr. Archer ; and "Logan Braes," in which Mr. A. Burr's children are extremely good, the wife, however, looking more like one in physical than in mental pain. The engraving of this last, by Mr. Lumb Stocks, is very good.