THE SUFFOLK STREET EXHIBITION.
Tun Society of Bad Artists opened their annual show of spoiled canvass-to the public on Easter Monday; doubtless with an eye to the edification of' the holyday folks. Such consideration is characteristic of a set of painters who take upon themselves to provide a gaudy-coloured horn-book of British art for the Metropolitan charity children to learn their first lesson in taste, and who assiduously court the patronage of rustic prizeholders in the Art.. Union. Certainly the Suffolk Street show is a suitable preparation for Greenwich fair; the maw of pictures bearing about the same relation to pe art of painting that the performances in theatrical booths do to the art of acting. The display of last year seemed to have arrived at the lowest pitch of inferiority; but the Bad Artists have found "even in the lowest depth a lower still "; and such is their " alacrity in sinking," that it is not' impossible they may reach a yet lower level. The Suffolk Street Galleiy, before it fell into the hands of its present holders, was nicknamed by artists "the Refuge for the Destitute." If the sobriquet were then appro- priate, it should now be called the "Hospital of Incurables," or the " Art- Union Workhouse." The recent choice of new members shows the So- ' ciety to be aware that their strength lies in their badness; and the Ma- jority of the members appear resolved to do their utmost to maintain thie" character by their successful efforts to paint worse and worse every year. ' Two or three painters are among them, however, who, taking their stand upon certain principles of art, obstinately persist in maintaining the position they held when they first joined the Bad Society. To rise in such company is impracticable, but they will not pursue the downward course knowingly; though there is no telling by what insensible degrees they may slide into the slough in which their fellow members lie floundering. These delinquents should be got rid of: they are not fit associates for the. Bad artists. Their pictures are of the wrong sort, and injure the keeping of the exhibition. Their names are J. Holland, J. B. Pyne, and Alfred Clint; whose chief misdeeds are conspicuously placed at the two ends of the great room; and by their works ye shall know them in other places.
The Vale of Neath, Glamorganshire, (125,) -by J. B. Pyne, is a fine pie.- tare of a beautiful scene, only requiring a few more touches and some naP dification of the foreground to make it complete. The view is taken from a height whence the eye looks down upon the river winding along the vale, with cliffs towering above it on one side, and the other showing an an-. dulating expanse of open country; the horizon being bounded by distant hills. It is full of atmosphere, and the eye travels over the intervening. space between the middle and extreme distance with a sense of its extent. The tone of colour is subdued to that of nature under its ordinary aspect. The sunlight strikes on the nhalk cliffs and on the road in the foreground; but a more sunny warmth and brightness on the near objects would, we think, be an advantage. That part of the perpendicular distance just below the eye also requires more finish; but beyond this the picture ia scarcely susceptible of improvement. Mr. Pyne's lesser landscapes are not equally good; his loose handling not suiting so well pictures on a small scale, that must be seen nearer. Besides he produces too many pictures to paint them all well. It may suit such painters as Messrs. Allen, Bodding- ton, Childe, Lancaster, Montague, Shayer, Tennant, Wilson, Woolmer, and Zeitter, who work by recipe, to spawn pictures by the score with- out a thought beyond the trick of hand that serves to reproduce the old materials in another but scarcely different shape; but an artist him Mr. Pyne, who works upon principle, and has some higher aim than that of purveying for the unenlightened holders of Art-Union prizes, would more advance his reputation by attempting fewer pictures and studying them more carefully. A view in Venice, by J. Holland—The Monument of Bartolommeo Col- keni, a celebrated General af the Venetian Republic: the Scene where the Con- spirators in Byron's Tragedy of "Marino Faleiro" met the Doge, (263)- glows with a rich harmony of local colours. The scene itself is not re- markable for picturesqueness: a heavy building on one side of an open PAM, and a long perspective of white houses on the other, with the statue in the centre, are not very rich materials for the painter to work upon; hat-the deep sea-green waters of the canal in the foreground, with a black gondola and figures in orange and crimson reflected in the emerald flood, concentrate the bright hues that are scattered through the rest of the picture, enlivening the scene. The mass of white on the dome which is meant for sunlight, but wants luminousness, brings it forward before the statue; nor is there any atmosphere between the pedestal and the building it partly hides: but with these exceptions the picture is masterly. In his smaller and slighter productions, the opacity of which we have so often com- plained in Mr. Holland's painting mars the effect; but in all there is a harmony of tone and beauty of colouring, combined with attention to form and local character, which distinguish the hastiest sketches of this fasci- nating painter. If Mr. Holland would but do justice to his talents, he would be the English Canaletti.
:Next to this Venetian scene is one thoroughly English-A Summer Evening on the Beach at Hastings: Low Water, (252,) by A. Clint. The setting sun in the centre of the picture pours a flood of light through the cloudless sky, which is reflected in the rocky pools, and, glancing on the edges of the cliffs and rocks, casts into the shade the Lilting-boats on the beach. The effect is beautiful: the golden radiance, mellowed by the evening atmosphere, tints the shadows with its warmth; and that sense of repose and splendour combined which characterizes a calm and brilliant sunset is conveyed by the scene. The peculiar method of painting adopted by Mr. Clint is objectionable: it is thin and superficial. In daylight scenes with clouds, the masses in the sky appear more substantial than rocks and foreground; and his buildings have a toy-like aspect Yet in all there is that look of actual nature atlich proves that the artist has felt and conveys truly the characteristics of the scene depicted.
Besides these exceptions, there are two portrait-painters, Messrs. J. J. Hill and C. Baxter, who appear incapable of that disregard of the rules of art and the appearances of nature which characterize the manufactures of their associates.
-The two newly-elected members, Messrs. H. M. Anthony and H. Haw- kins, are such prodigies, the one of incapability, the other of vicious man- nerism' that their productions are curiosities in their way. Sheep-washing, (2400 by Mr. Hawkins, is a rare specimen of ploughboy painting; but his portraits of Twin Daughters the Hunrurable Granville Ryder, M.P., (286,) are indescribably ludicrous. Mr. Anthony's large painting of May-day in the Last Century, (500,) exemplifies all the peculiarities of his eccentric manner in full perfection. Hard, flat, flimsy, and gaudy, his forms have neither substance nor coherence: the trees seem actually dropping to pieces; and his favourite colours are the toyman's delights-brick-red and fender-green.
'Messrs. Prentis and Bidding are more coarse and vulgar in their choice and treatment of subjects than ever; and the sentiment and humour of their pictures more mean and maudlin.
Messrs. Hurlstone and Stevens devote themselves to Italian boys, as usual; the former deviling them dirtily and -flimsily, the latter milking them as clean and hard as porcelain. Mr. Hering divides the quadrupeds with Mr. Joel; but neither go more than skin-deep in their imitation of nature. Mr. Hering is so successful in pleasing the sporting world by his portraits of race-horses, that he need not damage his reputation by showing that his pictures are no better than the coloured prints with which he delights the jockies. As well might Henry Aiken have turned painter.
It is but just to add, that the worst performances of the Society of Bad Artists-even the landscapes of Mr. E. Childe-are rivalled by other con- tributors. But it is only against the egregious presumption of inferior painters-who parade their ridiculous pretensions in the best places of a public gallery, and drive a profitable trade by passing off their paltry pro- ductions on the uninitiated-that we wage war. The system cif " touting " Art-Union prizeholders, carried on in this gallery, is disgracefuL