29 JUNE 1889, Page 15




THE sculpture in the present Academy reaches, but does not surpass, the usual average. The only thing we have in the way of monumental sculpture is Mr. Armstead's gigantic statue of Lieutenant Waghorn, pioneer of the overland route. The Academy has, in fact, no place for showing such work, the effect of which can only be properly judged in the open air, and in a situation allowing the spectator a proper distance to take in the whole at once, and from different points in succession. A building like the Crystal Palace is far better fitted for exhibiting sculpture than the crowded lecture-room at Burlington House. The French understand this fact thoroughly, and consequently show their Salon sculpture downstairs in the gigantic inner hall, not in the rooms upstairs nor in the galleries.

Mr. George Cowell cannot be congratulated on his " Bottom and Titania" (2,030); but Mr. C. Christie, in "A Note of Triumph " (2,035), has contrived, without departing from truth, to form a dignified group with his lion and dead antelope. We lay stress on the sculptor's having kept strictly to Nature in this lion, as it has generally been the custom amongst sculptors to sacrifice a great deal of the mane, that characteristic appendage, to an exhibition of anatomy and form which are more conspicuous in the lioness and the rest of the felines. Mr. Christie has given us a realistic lion for a change ; in fact, with regard to the slope of the hind-quarters, he has been a little too faithful to the anatomical defects produced by captivity.

Sir Edgar Boehm contributes two of the statues at the base of the much discussed Wellington Monument. Whatever may be thought about the principal figure, there can hardly be a doubt that these supporters, though unimpressive indi- vidually, overpower it ; if reduced to the statuette size, they might be considered clever ; they are certainly not heroic, but rather an example of misapplied realism. The chivalrous bronze figures round the tomb of Maximilian at Innspriick will unavoidably recur to the mind of the spectator, and cer- tainly to the disadvantage of modern art. Though coatee and spatterdash do not lend themselves as suggestively as corslet and greave to the sculptor's hand, yet we could desire something leas prosaic to recall the gallant men who fought at Waterloo.

On entering the lecture-room, where the collection of un-

interesting busts always so irresistibly:recalls a cast-shop, or something worse, we cannot avoid encountering Mr. W. B. Richmond's gigantic and very Arcadian shepherd (2,187), whose treatment, whatever the shortcomings of it may be, is not of the over-realistic or brutal character we have just noticed, but rather errs on the side of worn-out classicism. Mr. Onslow Ford's "Egyptian Singer" (2,195) shows the accomplished modelling and anatomical research to be found in the work of this artist, who makes a speciality of the im- mature female figure ; but there is something strained and un- graceful in the action, and the supporting column and accessories seem a little tricky, and somewhat detract from the figure. Amongst the busts, Mr. Bruce Joy's admirable portrait of General Sir Frederick Roberts (2,082) calls for especial notice. It arrests the spectator by its vivid expression of life and grasp of character ; this is specially noticeable in the eyes, always a difficult and generally a weak point in sculpture. Another good bust is Mr. Gilbert's "Mr. Watts, R.A." (2,153), and certainly he has had the advantage in a very picturesque subject both as to head and costume. In the sculpture of animals, Mr. Swan has admirably caught the feline character in his little bronze of a young Himalayan tiger (2,061) ; the greatest compliment we can pay it is that it recalls, in its wealth of close anatomical observation, the work of Barye, the great French " animalist."

It cannot be admitted that water-colour art receives its due recognition at the hands of the Royal Academy by the mere setting apart of rooms for works in water-colour so long as Academic honours are denied to water-colour painters. Their exclusion is one of the many traces in the constitution and practice of the Academy of a condition of things at the date of its foundation, which has long since passed away. There were, in fact, no water-colour painters worthy of the name when the founders of the Royal Academy seceded from the Incorporated Society of British Artists. No wonder there was no question of their admission. One among many results of that recognition of altered circumstances which has been so long coming, but which must sooner or later modify very materially the constitution of the Academy, will be the admission to its honours of the most distinguished artists in other branches of the art besides oil-painting. The time must come when the Academy shall include representa- tives not only of water-colour painting, but art in many forms of black-and-white to which it deigns no recognition. It is not enough for the Academy to recognise architects and steel engravers ; till it admits representatives of water- colour and black-and-white, to say nothing of etchers and wood-engravers, into the Academic fold, it cannot fairly claim to be representative; and till it frankly accepts the responsi- bilities of a public and representative body, and ceases to be administered as a club, it cannot effectually serve the pur- poses which belong to its position, opportunities, and claims. However unreasonable expectations like these may seem to the older or more stubbornly and stagnantly conservative among the Academicians, there must be many among the younger and more active members of the body by whom they will be recognised as not unwelcome possibilities of the future.

The water-colour room at the Academy seems as full as ever, and it contains not a little good work, though, naturally enough, work not up to the high level of technical excellence to which we are accustomed in exhibitions devoted exclusively to that branch. A striking piece of work is Mr. Reginald Barber's " Siesta " (1,279). We do not remember ever to have seen a water-colour head of this size and force. The fair sleeper's body is not quite as well expressed as it might be, but the face itself is a perfect tour de force of patient labour, well drawn and excellently modelled.

In "Dorchester, Oxon," (1,335), Mr. F. Corbyn Price has succeeded in expressing the quiet charm of a remote country village, in a way pleasantly recalling the work of the early Dutch landscape-painters like Van der Heyden, from possessing the same merits of unobtrusive fidelity and harmonious colour. A clever landscape is " Sixty Miles to London, Joe !" (1,464), a tramp addressing his dog, who meekly looks up. The artist has been successful with that most difficult of subjects, the country in its full midsummer garb, when all is green alike. We have no space left to particularise, but the work of Miss Butler (1,367) and Messrs. Becher (1,356), Cooper (1,386), Townsend (1,396), Fraser (1,412), and a version, not the Lyceum treat- ment, of Macbeth's Banquet (1441), as well as Mr. Dawson's

clever effect of steam-trawlers taking refuge in Scarborough. (1,466), all in different ways repay examination.

The miniatures, an almost extinct art crowded out by photo- graphy, are not very strong ; we prefer those by Messrs. Edward Tayler and Turrell. Last, but not least, in interest,. is the black-and-white room, where we find some of the results. of Mr. Macbeth's sojourn in Spain in his engravings from Velasquez, of which we prefer the " Portrait of a Sculptor" (1712). The excellent photograph gives us a grander idea of the " Surrender of Breda " than the work here, good as it is. The most curious thing is that so much strong powerful black-and-white work should not have had a stronger effect in the direction of simplicity in the artist's painting of this year. Mr. Mortimer Mempes' " Banquet of the Archers " (1,717) is very disagreeable and scratchy ; as a dry-point it may be a tour de force, but as a work of art it seems to us unsuccessful. Nothing in the original line here is cleverer than the pencil sketches by Mr. Pegram (1,765) taken of the Parnell Com- mission; they more approach in merit the Maclise drawings of celebrities at South Kensington than anything else we have seen. A very excellent piece of engraving is Mr. Lamotte's, after Dalou's magnificent high-relief of the sitting of the. States-General at Versailles (1,806).