A ROYAL ACADEMY ALBUM.*
UNronTUNATELY the contents of this handsome drawing-room volume hardly support the assurance given us by the preface, that it is " notably interesting as a thoroughly representative col- lection." Representative in one sense it certainly is, for good work is as much or more in a minority on the walls of Burlington House as it is in these pages, and therefore the proportion is per- haps fairly represented. But still that can hardly be called a thoroughly representative collection from which the really highest efforts of this year are excluded, and in looking over the list of names, those of Leighton, Watts, Poynter, Albert Moore, and Mil- lais are conspicuous by their absence ; we have not even the popular favourites, Long's "Egyptian Feast " and Dicksee's "Harmony." It is to be hoped no " intelligent foreigner" will judge of our principal Exhibition, poor as it is, by this still poorer repro- duction. Of course, ,g this effect defective comes by cause," and it would be bard to blame Mr. Jennings for not giving us what he would probably have been only too delighted to be able to give, if he could ; and there may be many reasons which rendered photo- graphs of the works of these artists unattainable.
Having made our chief complaint against the book-e-namely, that some of the best works are not in it, while a good many common-place ones are, we can proceed with a free mind to con- sider the collection as such, apart from its claim to represent the Academy. Looked at in this light, it is not so bad, the land- scapes especially being well chosen, and for the most part rendered very faithfully by the photographer. The frontispiece is Mr. Alma Tadema's " Betwixt Hope and Fear," solid in model- ling and well rendered in tone, except that the red of the walls comes out dark, as red always will. Mr. Ogre's " Line-fishing" stands next, somewhat dark in the foreground, or rather fore- Wafer, but making a very charming photograph. After some of Mr. Cooper's well-known cows, follows " The Source of a River," by;Mr. MacWhirter ; and then we are taken to Egypt by Mr.
Royal ---- The _ope—eadetny Album. Edited by Samuel Jennings,P.L.S. London: damn. Goodall's " Water-carriers," the warmth and glow of which can hardly be rendered in monochrome. Next follow " The World Forgetting," the least painful of Mr. Horsley's two productions ; a scene near Chamounix, by Sir Robert Collier ; Mr. Leader's " Lucerne," where the moonlight effect is well suited to the powers of photography, and the dim giant Pilatus rises in excel- lent tone behind the old bridge and towers. In Mr. Eyre Crowe'e "Sanctuary," the lights thrown on the column by the painted windows become unmeaning dabs and patches, but in other re- spects the picture gains by being deprived of colour. "Golden Autumn," by Mr. Johnson, is most successful ; but the same cannot be said for "The Plough," by Mr. Robertson, which has lost solidity with the absence of colour, especially in the furrows which form the foreground. The horse and plough have alone preserved their original force. Mr. Topham's "Dinner. time " and Mr. Pettie's "Sword-and-Dagger Fight " reproduce very nearly the effects of the pictures, which are themselves almost entirely the one dark upon light, the other light upon dark. "Der Bittgang," by Mr. Herkomer, comes out rather scratchy and spotty, but these defects are, to a certain extent, observable in the picture ; while breadth is given to Mr. Yeames's very melo- dramatic " Amy Robsart." " Mist and Sunshine " seems to have lost some of the solidity and crispness of Mr. Moore's work, and Mr. Linnell's cherry-blossoms gains in these respects. "Tempt- ing Waters," by Mr. Fahey, and " Licensing the Beggars," by Mr. Burgess, are followed by Mr. Woolner's fine statue of Edwin Field. After Mr. Hennessy's "Notre Dame des Plots," Mr. Pettie's " Hunted Down," Mr. Wynfield's " Gold," and Mr. Dobson's " Fern-gatherer," comes " The Spider and the Fly," by Mr. Marks, whose many excellencies of tone, modelling and character are very well rendered, and prove that on his own ground Mr. Marks is Mr. Tadema's equal in these qualities, of which photography is a wonderful test, and one which none of the examples 'in the book stand so satisfactory as these two. One of the best of the landscapes, or rather land-and-seascapes, is Mr. Colin Hunter's " Daily Bread," which is followed by Mr. Pott's meaningless and theatrical "Waiting* for the King's Favourite," and Mr. Cope's flimsy " Spring-tiEle," the hest ex- ample of washy unsubstantiality in the book. Mr. Peter Graham's " Gently-heaving Tide " is all the better for being deprived of some of its superfluous woolly mistiness, and the wash of the water, so good in the original, is very truthfully reproduced. Mr. Goodall's " Glencoe " is quite changed in effect, as the red cattle have come out quite dark. The volume closes with Mr. Storey's "New Pump-room, Bath," which is quite as uninterest- ing as the original, and Mr. Hay's " Dutch Pinks Returning to Katwyke."
Nothing demonstrates the difference between good and bad painting so forcibly as photography. Colour apart, good work will always fell, and tricky or flimsy painting, deprived of all sup- port from mere effective juxtaposition of tints not based on truth of tone, will be exhibited by the photograph in all its natural feebleness. It is true that a picture which depends for some of its effect on the relations of masses of colour may lose in a photo- graph, which often, when dealing with positive colour, will turn light into dark, or cause a rod and a blue of nearly the same tone to appear the one quite dark, the other light, thus destroying the balance of the picture ; but if the modelling and tone are true in themselves, the solidity of the work will re- main unaltered, though the harmony of the whole may be injured. Other things being equal, the colourist par excellence suffers, or is more in danger of suffering, from this mode of reproduction, than the painter who depends solely on effects of tone and form rendered by delicately blended harmonies of light, and not positive, tinting. Nothing in painting could photo- graph better than Mr. Albert Moore's marvellously subtle arrange- ments of simplicity, and it is a pity that the Academy Album does not contain one,—or rather, it would be, were they not well known already. It would have been instructive to have been able to compare Mr. Leighton's wonderful and almost over-soft studies of tender tones and light modelling with Mr. Tadema's somewhat severe solidity, in the common light of a photograph. It might be that, deprived of the charm of colour, Mr. Leighton would lose by the comparison, but we hardly think so. Mr. Millais's landscape would probably photograph like nature itself, and might perhaps acquire a softened unity of effect in the pro- cess ; and the same might be said of Mr. Brett's " Mount's Bay." It is very doubtful whether Mr. Long's " Egyptian Feast " would be any more likely to stand well beside the works of Mr. Tadeina and Mr. Poynter, with which, in a certain sense, it challenges comparison ; its weaknesses would probably come out in the photograph. The Academy Album at least suggests, both by its merits and deficiencies, that a really good collection of the kind would not be unprofitable or unacceptable. If every year the few good pictures in the Academy were selected to be photo- graphed and preserved, we should be able to judge by comparison, better than by memory, how far we had really advanced, or per- haps receded, from year to year. The selection might be a matter of some difficulty, but after all, the best pictures of a year are generally acknowledged on all bands,—that is, by all who are competent to judge ; and at all events, the selectors would not be oppressed by quantity.