THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF PAINTERS IN WATERCOLOURS.
hr the article which precedes this upon the Institute of Painters in Water-colours, we have given some account of the difference between the two Galleries, and of the causes for the elder Society's decline; we have here only to notice one or two of the most interesting works in the Gallery of the latter Society. The exhibition is, as usual, a small one, numbering only three hundred pictures, many of which, moreover, are of very minute size, and it is composed almost exclusively of landscapes. The two or three figure-subjects which are of any importance may just be briefly noticed. The largest is a single figure of a lady in a yellow and white dress, with a very large brown velvet hat, standing in a wood, with her eyes widely open, and a collie dog by her side. This is by Henry Hensh all, and is, in some ways, a noticeable piece of water-colour painting, if only from the peculiarity of its method, the texture of the picture being gained chiefly by a very skilful use of rubbing out the colour. Look, for instance of this, at the coat of the dog, and the manner in which the lighter portions of its fur are indicated. For the rest, it is equally strong and unsatisfactory. A dull yellow-brown hue, as of faded velvet, overspreads the whole of the work; the foliage is scrubby and uninteresting, and the young lady herself has little, if any, character. Turn from this to Mr. Wainwright's lovers in medimval costume in an orchard : the lady sitting on the forked branch of a tree ; the man, in red doublet and hose, putting aside the boughs to make his way towards her. This is as French as the heart can desire ; the trees and grass dullest greyest green ; the values most carefully preserved ; the composition and conception clever and bizarre. Abed flavour, intellectually speaking, is given by this work ; it represents an orchard of the Eden Theatre, with the actors of an opera-bouffe. Both the woman and the man are very evidently dressed-up models, and the natural scenery is more dressed up still. It literally reeks with ability, and of no picture would it be more impossible to say, that it was bad painting or good art. Mr. Wainwright, as we ventured to tell him a year or two ago, has forgotten the end in seeking the means; his pictures are scientific and approach perfection in their treatment, but the result thereof is unlovely. Of all galleries in the world, perhaps this style of art is least at home in the one of which we are speaking. Turn from this to a little picture by Mrs. Allingham, of a servant in grey stuff gown bringing in the clothes-basket to the house through an old-fashioned garden. All honour to this clever artist, who has made so simple a theme beautiful. Speaking roughly, since Fred Walker died no one has painted English homes so well as Mrs. Allingliam ; and of all her sweet " garden-closes " this is, perhaps, the sweetest. Not only is it purely beautiful in its result and in the spirit of its conception, but technically it is as skilful as one could wish, the end being attained by the simplest and most direct means. The sight of it, after Mr. Wainwright's lovers, is like the taste of strawberries after a dose of medicine —it pleases the taste and cleans the palate at the same time.
The honours of the exhibition are to be divided between two men—Mr. Henry Moore and Mr. E. F. Brewtnall—of whom we will first mention the latter. Mr. Brewtnall is that painter, chiefly known by his costume figure-subjects, of whose landscape powers we have on several occasions spoken highly. It has always seemed to us that this artist had a distinct gift for landscape of an imaginative kind, and would find himself better repaid by adhering to that style of art than the one he usually practises. We are glad to see that his most important work this year is of this character, and that it is, upon the whole, the finest thing in the exhibition. The subject is taken from the old ballad of "The Three Ravens," in illustration of the concluding verse :— "Now God send every gentleman
Such hound, such hawk, and such a leman, With a down, derry, derry down."
We look in the picture across a great tree, bare of foliage, whose twisted branches stretch across the sky, and on one of its lowerboughs sit the three ravens consulting together. In the distance a wood with a trace of sunset shining through its treetrunks ; and between the tree and the wood is a dull green meadow on which the dead knight lies, with his hound and his lady by his side. The work is quite strangely powerful, and would make a, fine etching; it is well drawn and well conceived ; it is dramatic without being theatrical, strong without being insolent, and pathetic without being morbid. It shows real qualities of imaginative design, and is thoroughly carried out in all its minor details. We congratulate Mr. Brewtnall upon a decided achievement. The other picture is of some Dutch pinks hauled up on the sea-shore.We have had such frequent cause to speak of Mr. Mpore's work that we shall only say of this that it is one of his finest watercolours, that its composition is very happy, and that the drawing of these unwieldy boats, with their great bulging sterns and painted rudders, is such as no Englishman living could rival. The late E. W. Cooke could have drawn them as well; but as a colourist he was not to be compared to Mr. Moore, nor had he any sense of the poetry and magic of the sea, such as the lastmentioned painter possesses keenly. There is very little else in the Gallery worthy of notice, except the landscapes of Mr. Albert Goodwin, which are not an echo of its painter's. earlier and better work. And of Mr. Goodwin's landscapeswe have spoken so much in former articles that we shall only say of these that they are of his usual quality—not his very best work—for none of the subjects are exactly those which suit him exactly. The most attractive to us is the slight drawing of Ilfracombe, showing the Lantern Hill and Hillsborough—a. picture this, literally made out of nothing by a daring expedient of colour in the foreground,—a bright red carpet and a great scarlet and crimson net hung up to dry occupy the whole foreground. His largest picture here—in illustration of a passage from. "The Pilgrim's Progress "—shows great power of dealing with a very difficult subject, and is admirable, though not altogether pleasant. Of the rest of the drawings there is little to say, save in general terms, though a word of praise should be given tothe sturdy labourer of Mr. A. Marsh, who is shovelling cabbages out of a cart to the sheep on a bleak hillside. It is a strong, and in some respects a fine drawing; but its gloom and semitragedy seem overstrained and unnecessary. The Boyces are better than they have been of late. There is a very bad though laboured Holman Hunt — the worst drawing by that painter we have ever seen. Mr. Marks sends a single figure, not in his happiest vein. The two prettiest pictures in the exhibition, using the word in its strict sense, are the calves being fed, by Mr. Tom Lloyd, and the study of fishermen's cottages at Cadgwith, Cornwall, by Mr. Ernest Waterlow. Neither are, perhaps, quite natural, but both are as pretty as skill, and pleasant colour, and good drawing can make them. There is a very hard large single figure by Du Maurier of a lady with a violin, which makes us regret that he should have left the medium in which he is a master, to exhibit in one in which he shows to disadvantage.