14 FEBRUARY 1920, Page 14


the Forliibition of the Modern Society of Portrait Painters a few good pictures are sandwiched between canvases which illustrate two opposite poles of badness. On one side are those in which the sitters are depicted much as if they were the entries on a show bench. Strong, silent, and beautifully washed men alternate with prosperous, highly varnished ladies or clean children in impeccable suits and frocks. On the other side is a collection of almost comically bad modernist " pictures. They seem little better than hastily executed efforts to astonish and annoy, and among the saner exhibits they make the sort of impression that a gramophone would produce if it were sub- stituted for the 'cello in a string quartet. These are the sort of travesties that will surely make the most patient of publics despair of the new promise. Who are these painters ? None of them seems of sufficient renown to warrant the hanging of their pictures for past merit, and intrinsically their exhibits are without a single good quality.

However, between the two extremes, bad modernist pictures and bad traditional pictures, there are about twenty canvases of real merit. Among some of the most attractive are Mr. W. G. Lambert's (Nos. 47 and 49), Mr. Glyn Philpot's portrait of Mr. Robert Nichols the poet (No. 11), Mr. Shepherd's (No. 37), Mrs. Filson Young's (No. '7), and Mr. Oswald Birley's (No. 27). Fortunately in the region of aesthetics the good is not diluted by the proximity of the bad, and the twenty righteous may easily atone for a hundred bad pictures. G. P.