28 MAY 1948, Page 14


QurrE the most important exhibition of painting in London at the moment is that at the Tate, with which the Trustees have very properly attempted to commemorate the prodigious generosity of the late Samuel Courtauld, who died last December. Gathered here together for the first time, principally from the three sources of his private collection, the Courtauld Institute and the Tate purchases from the Courtauld Fund, is that astonishing and overwhelming selection of masterpieces from the great century of Frenchi painting which, in his zeal, he secured for this country. There are pictures enough to fill three galleries in all, and amongst them twelve splendid Cezanne oils, as many Seurats, seven Renoirs, six Van Goghs; five Manets. They are nearly all old acquaintances, most of them old friends by now known intimately. There will be novelties for most people as well, however, and one may well be the realisation of the magnitude of Courtauld's wise philanthropy. That we owe so much to one man must, as such gestures become ever more difficult, provoke thoughts political as well as aesthetic. A great responsibility now rests upon State patronage. As a footnote to the eleven Toulouse-Lautrec lithographs in this exhibition may be mentioned the drawings by the same mist which are to be seen at the Marl- borough Gallery in Bond Street. * * * * Messrs. Roland, Browse and Delbanco -are echoing Paris with a Fuseli exhibition, which no one interested in the renegade Swiss priest turned Academician can afford to miss. Fuseli is a fascinating and baffling phenomenon, an eccentric from an age of eccentrics. How so acute an intelligence could fail to apply to the leathery alarums of the Sir Joshua-influenced oils its own aphorism that "Tameness lies on this side of expression ; grimace overleaps it," it is hard to understand. Yet how really terrible are some of the famous drawings of women in which nothing at all is happening, or at most some small domestic task!

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Other exhibitions for your list should include Mr. Slatter's Dutch masters, Messrs. Hears four Ulster artists and the London Group at the Academy Hall in Oxford Street. This seems to me the most successful of the Group's shows for some time. It is immensely varied, but thanks to an intelligent marshalling of the work accord- ing to its manner and convention, an arrangement has been reached which is orderly and seemly. I fear I cannot mention the thirty nine artists whose contributions I have marked in my catalogue as having given me special pleasure, but I cannot at the same time resist calling attention to the Group's abstract poster, and two small oils in the abstract section' by—Victor Passmore I Who would have prophesied that a decade ago ? The Euston Road thread, running through the teachers and pupils at the original school to the students of today at Canterwell, may be seen in an excellent and interesting exhibition arranged by the Wakefield City Art Gallery. Nice to find provincial galleries with enough enter- prise not to rely upon the Arts Council entirely I The Council itself, incidentally, has several shows of interest doing the circuits— a selection of Contemporary Art Society purchases, a personal selec- tion by Sir Robert Witt of British drawings from his collection and one of modern Hungarian painting. M. H. MIDDLETON.