21 NOVEMBER 1891, Page 31



AT the Fine Art Society's Gallery are exhibited some seventy small pictures by Mr. W. Logsdail illustrating the scenery of

the Riviera. Mr. Logsdail attracted a good deal of attention some years ago at the Academy with a picture of St. Mark's Place, in Venice. It had merits of technique less familiar among us then than they are now, in its great dexterity of drawing and brush-work, and it showed remarkable skill in the management of a crowded stage. There was besides, in this and some pictures that followed, plenty of observation of character in the individual faces represented ; in a word, the pictures had all the interest that large and cleverly timed photographs of contemporary life possess. Mr. Logsdail afterwards treated London life as he had treated Venetian, and gave us the street and hansom for the canal and gondola. Now, the amount of skill and energy and patience implied in all this work, no one who knows anything of painting will be likely to underrate; but the pictorial quality of it was not so great as its technical ability, and in particular the colour was at best of a negative character. It belonged, in fact, to the order of black-and-white disguised, an order to which by far the larger number of painted canvases belong ; and the last example of Mr. Logsdail at the Academy, the large Lord Mayor's Show of two years ago, was only a more crying instance of insensibility than others, because it so happened that some unusually flagrant flunkies fell to be depicted. From what has been said, it will appear that Mr. Logsdail was not likely to succeed very well with the colour of the Riviera, and an inspection of the pictures justifies the surmise. Mr. Huish, it is true, introduces us to the catalogue with the satisfaction of one who has supplied a " felt want." " It is not surprising," he says, " that amongst the exhibitions of special localities which have been projected and presented to the London public, there have been several dealing with the Riviera : the wonder rather is that where

much of the charm of a picture lies in the association which it conjures up, so few artists of repute have essayed to provide an almost clamouring clientele with renderings of the subject, and that hitherto its portrayal has been almost entirely left to the army of amateurs, who simply engage in its delinea- tion pour passer le temps." Now, it would be impertinent to suppose that Mr. Logsdail had worked with a view to satisfying this " almost clamouring clientele," but it must be admitted that there is reason to fear that he will succeed in satisfying them. What the clientele that winters in a "special locality" desires, as a rule, in a " rendering of the subject," is a picture that will compete with a photograph in exact definition and relentless inclusion, something that will "conjure up associa- tions " of where the hotel lay in the town, or of the views starred in the guide-book. Now, there are few of Mr. Logs- dail's pictures in which there is not plenty of picturesque material, just as there would be in photographs of the places ; but there is very little of the elimination and selection and disposition and emphasis that make the difference between photographer and artist ; and the effects chosen are rather those in which the subjects are seen clearly than seen pictorially. The Riviera, like other places, is a magazine of objects half of which should be suppressed in painting : it offers, for instance, lovely and dignified arrangements of olives and cypresses, but along with these a dozen kinds of trivial and superfluous vegetables ; and a stray palm that were well enough in its own time and place, will upset a whole grove of olives. So will a crude blue parasol and a foreground of "rustic" seat testify to a too indiscriminate regard for facts on the part of a painter. It may be added, in qualification of the general impression of garishness that the exhibition produces, that No. 51, Up the Vallone, and No. 58, Narcissus, Oranges, and Lemons, are noticeably more single in motive and pleasant in colour than the rest.

At the British Artists' Winter Exhibition, among more than six hundred pictures, there is some good work to be picked out which may be mentioned in the order of the cata- logue. In the first room are two studies at Tangier by Mr. Alexander Mann, which are good in their feeling for breadth and colour; a finer still is No. 424, in a later room, an evening effect of sand and water and distant town. Then there is Mr. A. M. Rossi's Impression of a little girl seated in the stern of a boat (36), and Mr. A. Holland's The Harbour (49), where the general tone and the colour of the foreground are good, but the sky a trifle heavy, and wanting in play of colour. Mr. Dudley Hardy has so great a turn for parody, that it is diffi- cult as yet to define his talent, which is undeniable ; but No. 84, On the Dunes, Staples, is a pretty colour-fantasia. A girl is stripping herself of the last of her multi-coloured clothing, against a background of sand, bent-grass, and sea, with a merrily tinted post for companion. The random, pretty touches of colour are fairly admissible in a subject like this, for no one can challenge the possibilities either of wardrobe or post ; in some other examples of the same artist, they appear in places where they look too like an easy substitute for observation, and are a dangerous symptom so early in a career. Then there is a Sundown, (115) by Mr. Nelson Dawson, which is bettered by the water-colour marine later on in a scheme of blues (303). Two sketches by Miss Meg Wright—A Sandy Hollow and The Hillside (125 and 130)—are noticeable as being large in little. Mr. Bert Ellis—An Old Garden, Corn- wall (195) and The Flowing Tide (413)—lays on his paint with the freshness and brightness and the violence of Mr. J. R. Reid. The method has its advantages, for freshness of paint suggests freshness of weather ; but it demands great certainty of vision. Mr. Edwin Ellis has tried for extreme bright- ness and freshness of effect in his huge Kingdoms of the Sun (363), but this time has been badly worsted in the attempt. This picture is in the large room, where there is a mixture of oil-paintings and water-colours. One water-colour of Mr. Nelson Dawson's has been mentioned already ; there are two or three others here, and several by Mr. Nisbet ; besides these may be mentioned the Walberswick (268) of Mr. T. Simpson. Mr. Cayley Robinson has worked for a decorative effect in his Ferry (343) ; a boat containing a girl and some goats, passing behind a range of tall lilies. The girl's figure is the weakest part of the design, but the picture shows a promising feeling for decorative arrangement and colour. The same is true of Mr. Birkenruth's Amrei's Garden (373), with its cleverly posed and balanced figure, and broad arrangement of colour. In the

next room, Mr. Cleminshaw's Grey Sea (435) and Mr. Detmold's Mount's Bay (454) may be noted ; but the most interesting thing in the room is Mr. James Clark's Dolly's Andante (514). The sense of tone and keeping this picture shows is a very rare quality on these walls ; and the observation of childish character and action is delightful. In the last room there is an interesting pastoral by Mr. J. E. Christie,—Moonrise (563).

At the Royal Institute of Painters in Oil-Colours, there is not a great deal that calls for notice. In the first room there is a little picture so nearly concealed in a corner, that it runs the risk of being passed over,—the Grey Weather of Miss Aileen M`Lachlan. It has great charm of arrangement in its trees and banks and water, and is pleasing in its quiet scheme of colour. Mr. J. R. Reid's two pictures, and Mr. Alexander Harrison's Moonrise (166), are experimentally interesting. In the next room, Mr. Julius Olsson's Wet Harvest, stooks of corn, carts and grey sky, is another case of a good picture cornered. But in the next room there is a still better picture skied, a ludicrous thing in view of the space at the command of the hangers, and the quality of the pictures they have hung. The picture in question is Mr. Mouat Loudon's Iva (566), a portrait of a little girl. Mr. Loudon has from time to time shown some pretty patterns of babies at the New English Art Club, and his work at last year's Academy and Portrait-Painters' Exhibition was singled out for praise in these columns. At the Institute, its pictorial quality conies out very strikingly in the general absence of anything of the kind. To. see a pattern as well as a person in one's sitter is what makes a portrait a picture, and Mr. Loudon's bias is, if anything, to the side of the pattern.