THE INSTITUTE OF PAINTERS IN WATER COLOUR-S.
IT is with a /certain mingling/of -regret and satisfaction that wehave to acknowledge that our -predictions 'with regard to the" Institute " and "Old ,Water-Colour -Society" 'have-at last came true, and that.the former 'has, by its more :generous:and enlightened rpolioy, wholly -distanced its rival. The contrast -between the two -exhibitions this year is pitiful -to -one -who:remembers, -as thepresent /writer remembers, the time "whenthe Old Society -was BO infinitely-superior to its-rivalcanclavIten it bad only to stretch ,out .its handeso to speak, andtake all thebest water-colour painters of the day within its shelter. Tor-it-must .be -remembered that,nutil a few years ago, the Old Society could -have had anybody ;it chose as a -member; all -water-colour -artists wished to belong to _it,: and it was not till each _had, practically speaking, been zefused,ithat hewent and sought-for electiontatthe institute. The :result was easily foreseen. The
adder :Society grew-to ta rixelynomposed for the most part' of telderly men settled in their 'old4artways, jealous of their •old terolnsive privileges; fearing tbeyond .everytbingito,adinitowithip their body any disturbinginfluenee, and so rejecting, almost necessarily all the stronger ofthe young-artists who-wishedto
join-them. The-Institute, owthe-other hand, greva■to.ba a very. mixed body of old and young; goal and bad artiste; butwith this great redeeming-quality,—that it eau:ea-growing, antlamt a declining-vitality, that it kept gettingthebeet newblood procurable, and as much of it as possible.
This was the case when, three years ago, the Institute-moved their exhibition to thelarge. new gallery. in, Pioaadilly, and announced that henceforward they wouldexhibitnot only their own works, but those of all comers. The natural result followed. Many new men joined for the sake of the large gallbries-and the importance of the exhibition. Many other artists, wha belonged to neither Water-Colour Society, and whose artistic position prevented them from contributing to minor galleries, sent here ; and when it was discovered that the rooms were large, perfectly lighted, and comfortable, and that outsiders' pictures were hung with fairness and liberality, success was established: So it has come to pass, within less than ten years; that the weaker Society has become thestronger, simply because the stronger has thrownaway its chances. The liberal policy has -conquered the conservative, as a liberal policy always must .conquer in any living body.
Still, one cannot help being a little sorry for the sake of the pleasant old Toom in Piccadilly, and of the old artists who made it beautiful for us. And the present writers memory, at least, turns back rather fondly to theremembrancaof the scarlet coats aud dappled-grey horses of Fred Taylor, theheavy summer foliage which Birket Foster hung over river and thatched cottage, the iridescence of Holland's Venetian sketches, the richness of George Fiipp's cornfields and rocky shores. Dodgson, and. Palmer, and Edward Duncan, and many. another of the .simple-minded landscape-painters, were all-here a few-years ago, all, doing, as far as their powerwent, good things faithfully. Here, too, amongst the figure-menwere Burton and Borne Jones, Pinwell and Walker. There was an atmosphere about this old gallbry which:there will never be about the new Institute, for the times have changed, and the men with them.; the simplicity and pleasant dogmatism of old Witter-Colour Art are gone for ever. We cannot have everything„and mustpay for increasing,science and knowledge of other nationa' art, and variety of aim-and restlessness of spirit. It is, perhaps, allowable to give a regret to the purely national landscape art of which the Old Society was the founder, and which, had not the Royal Academy neglected its -clearest-duty, would be living and thriving to this day.
But we must not stay to talk of this, for we have in this fast notice to say a word or two about some of the most important pictures here in the Institute, and first of all -to state broadly that the exhibition is, in our opinion, the best collection of contemporary Water-Colour Art which we have seen for many years. There are over a thousand drawings here, and the average merit is very high.
And first, for a pleasant introduction, look at Miss Jane Dealy's little_Dutch girl, nursing a rag doll with great complacency. If for nothing else, this drawing is noticeable for its artist's keen -delight in fresh colour, and the success with which she has managed it. The child is old-fashioned. and. quaint ; a little too red in the cheeks, perhaps, but natural and healthy, not belonging to the dressed-up babyspecies. Miss Dealy has a -somewhat similar picture, with two children in a,foreign street,. in the Academy ; may we whisper. to her that she shall in the -future give us some. grown-up folks ? Let her leave the portraiture of babies to the strong Academicians, whose province it has lately become. Notice, too, for, a. little bit of work of genuine character and merit, a very small sketch called "From a Window," by Charles Ifolroyd,—some -old cottages with a cabbage-garden in front, and a bit of seashore -behind. We do not know Mr. Holroyd in any way, but we venture to recommend any of our readers who want to get a -little bit of genuine work at a reasonable price to buy this. It is miserable to sea sucha. bright. and good little; picture priced modestly, and unbought.
To. pass to more important works, here is the "South_ Harting, Sussex," of Mr. Annionier, representing. some plough, ingthorses,. flat fields, and rising. downs behind—a. landscape -which litera/ly makesione's heart glacLto.look upon.. Weber's been admiring, an& writing in. praise of Mn Ammonia: fon years,. but never to our. recollection.. has. he done such, good. work asthis year, and especiallythis picture. As a rule, composition is not one of this artist's strongest points, nor; fait. very. remarkable_ iu. the present instance,. but everything:else-is...as -good, as can, be. Fresh. and sweet. smells the-earth just turned: up by. the plough, clear and bright and. soft is the-air and sunshine. aboveit ; the great, spews, of the landscape stretchaway imperfect simple relation ; the imprea. sion, of the.wholeis-to make the dweller. in towns remember antl longfor thepeace: and pleasure, of thecountry,—a. delightful picture, in which the artist has forgotten himself and onlythought of his subjeet; simple and bold-inits conception, and thoroughly successful in every way.
Compare with.this a piature which hangs near to it, called "The Courtyard," by David Murray. Mr: Murray is another kind of landscape-painter than the, one-of whom we have been speaking. He loves, as-a rule, strauge effeets of light, and renders them very daringly. and very truly. He had.a, landscape of great merit. of this kind.iathe Grosvenor Gallery last year, showing some fen-land under a lurid sky: This courtyard picture is notablehereless for its merits. than its perfect contrast to the Aumonier. It is a queer, rather pre-Raphaelite drawing, without a single value in it, bat crammed withdelicacies of colour and minutedetails. of form. It is apparently scrubbed about, rather than painted, in half-a-doseu different ways, and seems to. have had. body-colour rubbed into it in the regular "quarter-wash, half-fresco madman." Suggestive, subtle, and airless, it stands ,at the very opposite pole of. character and tech, niquato, the. fresh. fields of the firstanentianed painter. For-. tunately, there aremore.roada than one.to.the Palace of Att..
Were it.not. so,.what should. we haveto sayof, Mr. GeorgeWilson's"TheLost Paradise," a, drawing,,by the way; which. the hanging committee might-have let ua-see a little closes? It ia,almost theonly very. seriaus study of the nude figu re.i a the. gallery, and.is.certainly the best piece of figure-drawing. It represents, Adam and.. Eve seeing. their "Lost Paradise" in. a. vh3icut,. a.,viaion, which, ia madeapparent to. thosewho look. at the picture.. The picture. is full of. good qualitieswasted,, or almost wasted, by. the incompletion of its concaption,. .As.we have said, the:drawing of the figures, especially that.of the heackand.toreo of. Adam, is very good,.and.portions ofithe.coloun desenve to be-called. exquisite: Look,. for instance of this, at_tha varied beauty' of: leaf,. and branch, and, ground. in.. tha front.of. thepicturo.. On the other, hand, thereare faults in.tha. composition.which.: a . child. might_ have avoided.; faults
which are apparently wilful, at.best, idle mistakes. Adam, who stands .to.the rig,ht.of Eve, has both his feet cut offiby. one of. hen outatretohed. legs; Eva is. presented.. sideways, to. the spectatorin a. kneeling. attitude, witheautstretched atm, which. makes.a singularly ungraceful series of lines ; Adam's beaAL is crushed up into a cornerof. the picture, and has to be looked at. more or, lees by itself; the composition. is divided. almost. diametrically dawn. thecentre by. a huge red battlement. repreeeuting: the walls of Paradise, which stretches right across one side of the drawing, and is altogether out of. tone with therest of the colour, and iu. our opinion.
destructive of the composition, All these mistakes, and.others. of. a similar. kind„Mr. Wilson might have avoided. As it. is, he has, produced.a.drawing, which,. in. its mingling of genius. and wilfulneae,,aiviavardnessand _beauty, is absolutely unique. Mr. Arthur Ditchfield's view, near Amalfi is noticeable, not
exactly as a work of. art„ but, as an honest and. not wholly
unsuccessful attempt. to render the brightness and colons. of Southern. Italy... A. strange. littlepicture, by George Clausen,. called. "A.. Summer Evening," hangs near thie, which represents a. woodland, scene under a most. extraordinary effect of light. Wedo. not. say: it is an. impossible effect; but. it is, one at least, in which we disbelieve, and it remindeus.moreef one of. the late.Mr. Dodgson's paintingethau anything in nature, George Clausen; indeed, has not improved of late yeare,,and.seema now-to aim moreaLbeing peouliar, than being beautiful.. Imitationof Baatien Lepage .ha.a not done him. good.. Antliu this.category, too„wemust put Mr. Ri Cornish-pictures,-.of which-there-are several here,—works which. should.not.be hungin,prominent poaitions at suehan.exhibitio.n.
Thasham. domestic„complioated by. the spuriously pathetic, is expressly-the -character-oh these:works ; and. we confess -that few pictures.with..which we areaoquaiuted have annoyed us so much asone,eflift..Csuiter's, entitled," Theelleturnof the Missing.Boat."
which:is .now to. be-seen in, engravingor chromo ail over London. Mr. Walter Cran&s." Paw Pipes" is a,better water,colont than_ wehave:seeefnam hialandion a-. laug_time„but spoilt: by the vulgarity of thegirls? figures. The shephend-who sits. play
ing to them is very happy in attitude and expression, and the whole drawing would make a good decorative panel for needlework. Of a very different character to Mr. Carter's Cornwall is that of Mr. Napier Hemy, shown here in a large picture which represents the " tucking " of the pilchard nets off that coast. It is a high, narrow composition, in which we look down from close-quarters into the boats, and the slip of sea between them from which the fish are being gathered. This has very nearly been a great success ; it is one of the finest pictures in the gallery, despite its imperfections. A subject of rapid instantaneous movement of boats, men, fish, and water, seen from a most difficult point of view, the obstacles to success must bare been nearly insuperable. Mr. Hemy has conquered them all but one. He has made a picture, and given us a good deal of the beauty of the subject; but he has not succeeded in interesting us. All the materials are there, but they have not been worked up sufficiently. The work is true, but it is cold, and perhaps a little awkward ; its human interest is somehow un-human ; there is action, but no individuality in the figures ; and though the grasp of the scene is strong and true, it has missed the beauty which we feel must have been there also.