3 MAY 1930, Page 11


, Trim ROYAL- Ac,tromtv : FIRST bITRESSIONSJ THIS: year's- Exhibition is rather a memorable occasion. It,is,niany years sinee the general level of excellence has been so high at Burlington House. There are two great paintings— the portrait of Miss Tallulah Bintkh,ead, by Mr. Augustus John, RA., and Mrs. Sivinnerton'a-study Of Dame Millicent Fawcett, w1u'A;surprismgly etiaugh, was painted about twenty 3,-ears ago. Mr. John's portrait quite extraordinarily &Minutes the whole wall, and appears unconscious of the pictures that elbow it on either side. Somehow it reminded me of an exquisite pink El Greco. Three other John's are outstanding, Sir Gerald du Maurier, a magnificent portrait, Earl Spencer, and a brilliant still-life Magnolias. Mrs. Swinnerton's remarkable portrait of Dame Millicent will inevitably attract a great deal of attention by its Rembrantesque qualities. This picture and Mr. John's Miss Talltdah Bankhead take all the laurels in the first room, and distract attention too successfully from a number of .first-rate paintings.

Curiously enough, Sir William Orpen, R.A., also exhibits an early and yery beautiful composition, Mother and Child, also painted about twenty years ago. This year's Academy is enlivened and distinguished by several memorable Orpen portraits, notably those of Mr. Guy Amber, A.R.A., Mr. William Tennant, and Miss White, the Principal of the Alex- ander College, Dublin. The . study. of Mr. Guy Dawber, surrounded by architectural drawings, is one of the best things in the exhibition. That born painter Mr. Philip Connard, R.A., shows up well, as might be expected, with his portrait of Sir Herbert Morgan, and his bird composition, Pelican Ponds.

One of the pictures which will charm visitors to Burlington House most of all this year is the quiet interior scene by Sir John Lavery, R.A., The Chess Players. On the floor of a sunny room two little girls are seated, contemplating a chess board with serious and puzzled expressions. The soft colours of the Persian rugs, the dresses of the children, and the subdued tones of the room are emphasised by the splash of sunlight pouring in from the garden window and the brilliant petunia pinks of the chair in the left corner of the picture. To the best of my knowledge, Sir John Lavery has never painted anything which has quite the same delightful qualities as this silent "Conversation Piece." His forceful psychological study of Lord Mitchell, and the lightning sketch of M. Alain Gerbaull, the famous French yachtsman, should come in for a good deal of considered attention.

Dame Laura Knight, A.R.A., shows several of the " circus" pictures with which we are now so familiar, but her best painting is Ballet Girl and Dressmaker. Mrs. Dod Proctor's Baby in long clothes and The Shy Child, a pictorial snapshot of a self-conscious little boy in a staring red jacket and blue knickers, who is posed, obviously unwillingly, against the background of formal terraced steps, should be noticed. The first of these pictures is treated with a " primitive " lack of emotion which is extraordinarily impressive. Mr. Richard Sickert, A.R.A., unhappily, sends only one oil painting, a brilliant Impressionist portrait of Dr. Cobbledick. Mr. Alfred Munnings, R.A., contributes rather a surprising landscape From my Bedroom Window, which has qualities and imagina- tion which surpass the almost too finished excellence of his more familiar pictures. His landscape portrait of H.R.H. Princess Mary and the Earl of Harewood with the Brantham Moor is typical of his ordinary accomplished technique. Miss Joan Manning-Sanders produces no surprises. She is, how- ever, consistent with The Chinner Family, a procession of children trailing along a cliff path, silhouetted against the in- credible colours of the Cornish sea, but her David is weak and disappointing. Mr. David Jaggers' portrait of H.M. the Queen will quite justifiably arouse a great deal of admiration : of its kind—the State portrait—it is extraordinarily well done, dig- nified and pictorial. There are naturally a large number of big business and society portraits notably the series sent by Sir William Llewellyn, P.R.A.

I said that this exhibition was memorable, and it is so in that the standard of painting by a very great number of artists, many of them well-known, others comparatively un- familiar to the general public—few of whom it,is true, are ever likely to set the Thames on fire—maintains such a consistent level of honest work and thoroughly sound technique. No doubt it is a very good thing, but the "allegorical picture," which has given so much unholy delight to those interested in serious painting in past exhibitions of Burlington House, has almost disappeared. There is, however, one superb example which will make the unrighteous rejoice. Centred in a cataclysm of apparently exploding mountain peaks, an athletic lady is depicted, clutching a perturbed baby in her muscular hands. She is failing backwards from a great height on to a large patch of prickly pear. It Ls; of (xi' utse, allegories!. DAVID Ft...roam.