THE continued succession of Exhibitions has for several weeks past demanded all the space we could possibly spare for subjects of Fine Art, under the present pressure of political matters ; and our arrear of Engravings is now getting so formidable, that we must snatch a corner for them while the gloss of novelty yet remains. We take the latest first,—and it deserves the distinction by its impor- tance and beauty,—J. H. 1VATTs's line engraving of LESLIE'S picture of May-day in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. This scene of May-day festivities in merry England in the days cf good Queen Bess, is a rural spot near some hamlet, indicated by the church-spire and the old manor-house in the distance. In the foreground, on the slope of a hill, are assembled the great folks, in their sumptuous and quaint cos- tumes, looking at the merry-making going forward below. The may- pole, bedecked with garlands, and the bower where sits enthroned the Queen of the May, are fenced round by a ring, within which the morris- dancers, with Friar Tuck and Maid Marian and the Hobby-horse and Dragon are footing it away to the pipe and tabor. The villagers old and young, even to the pedagogue—who, however, has brought his birch with him, to the terror of the boys—are assembled round ; except a few who linger at the feasting-board under the trees, and some groups
shooting at a target, and pursuing other old English sports.
The principal figure in the picture is a pretty young girl, who is handed out by a foolish old suitor, much to her discomfiture and the
annoyance of a young gallant, whose attentions are reluctantly engaged by a more matronly dame—her politic mamma, perhaps, who favours the rich fool. A stately dame, attired like Queen Bess herself, at-
tended by her jester and two retainers, is a conspicuous object in the picture. The fool is drawing a rude figure of an ass in a lion's skin on the buckler of one of them. At a little distance is another group of laughing dames, under the shade of the trees, whom a cavalier is amus- ing with his comments on the motley crowd below.
The gayety and sunny brightness of the scene contrast no less than the costumes with the chill and dreary May-day of our time—when even the chimney-sweepers, in whose sooty embraces the May Queen was fain to find refuge at last, have forsaken the garland, and taken to dining and the disguise of clean faces.
The engraving is elaborate, forcible, and brilliant : a little too steelly, as most modern engravings are, and somewhat deficient in keeping:
but this we can account for by the difficulty of distinctly defining the
group of merry-makers in the middle distance,—for they form the suyect of the picture, though the rich costumes are the chief pictorial
attractions. The flesh tints in the face of the girl are exquisite : the
texture of the different materials of the dresses is admirably discrimi- nated, and the execution of those parts nearest the eye is bold and powerful : the foliage is not so well indicated. On the whole, this is a masterly piece of engraving; and it has the essential merit of reflecting the spirit of the picture, both in the expression of the faces and the geneial cifect of animation. Among our Portraits, the most striking is a very forcible one of the late WILLIAM GODWIN, by -NORTIICOTE, in mezzotint by PAWS. It
represents him in his prime ; and, though almost a profile, it brings out the noble character of his forehead. The features are more massive and regular than we should have taken Gonwia's to be; but Norms-
COTE was not given to flatter. In breadth of style, and a grand sim- plicity, it reminds MS of REYNOLDS'S portrait of GOLDSMITII,—only so fir as the picture is concerned, of course. LAWRENCE'S portrait of Sir ROBERT PEEL, reengmved in mezzotint by TURNER, in order to give the face on a larger scale, looks like a clever, supercilious trickster, beside the weight and power of GODWIN'S countenance.
The publication of Sir THOMAS LawneNee'sWorks has commenced. COCSINS, TURNER, and all the best mezzotinters, are engaged on it.
The First l'art contains the whole-length of the Sailor King—who is not only made "genteel," but" six feet high ; " Donna MARIA, the young Queen of Portugal ; and the lovely group of Mr. CALMADY'S IWO children, known to the public by Doo's exquisite line of engraving
called " Nature." This is by CoesiNs ; and the fleshiness of the limbs and faces, and the richness of the effect, make it almost more pleasing than the large print. LAWRENCE'S portraits are agreeable pie- tures, though his courtly style often lessened the value of the likeness, and truth of character was sacrificed to artificial elegance.
We are glad to see a series of engravings from NEWTON'S pictures is commenced, in a similar shape to the works of LAWRENCE and Liviaiseece. When will STOTHARD'S be announced?
The Tories have enlisted the fine arts into their service, and have commenced a series of portraits of" Eminent Conservative Statesmen" —this sounds better than "Tory Politicians:" the LONDONDERRIES and KENYONS will of course be included—it's a harmless joke to call them statesmen. The First Number contains the "Dear Duke LAWRENCE'S full face of him, which is the best likeness of WELLING. TON ; Lord LYNDHURST, crafty, cunning, and sneering, and as comely as CHALON could make a Mephistopheles; and Lord WHARNCLIFFE, after Bnrees—looking "solemn as lead." The engravings are by RYALL, whose speculation it is. The biographical notices which ac- company the portraits, the reader is told are not flattering, though they may seem so.
SALAVERT has himself lithographed one of his bold and characteristic sketches, in a free and forcible style : it is the best likeness of RIMINI off the stage, that we have seen.
A German lithograph of BEETHOVEN attempts to convey the ex- pression of the great composer, but is only partially successful : it is more intelligible, however, than Mr. BSI:MITE'S poetical tribute, written below it.
An English artist named SELOUS has imitated RETZSCH'S style and manner so completely in a series of Outlines to SHAKSPEARE'S Tempest, that, had it not been for the addition of his name, we should have sup- posed that RETZSCH had been repeating his Faust and Margaret in Prospero and Miranda. Costumes, faces, figures, and attitudes, are appropriated. Calif= is not original either : the figure of Arid is the best—it is airy and elegant.
The widow of the late CHARLES WILD, the architectural draughts.. man, has published a second series of twelve Outlines from her hus- band's Sketches, principally of the cathedrals and churches of France and Belgium. It is quite equal in interest and neatness of execution to the first.
We had hoped the "fancy head" mania had worn itself out : but the adventurous CHARLES HEATH has commenced a Shakspeare lery of Female Characters. The portraits are three-quarter lengths— we doubt if the work itself will go its whole length. The faces and costumes are pretty and picturesque, and they are delicately engraved. Mr. Slime, whose works of Ancient Decorations we have often had occasion to speak of, has commenced an Encyclopwdia of Ornament, of all styles and all ages-the Greek excepted, we presume, as it is .not mentioned ; but perhaps it is considered that the ,modern adaptations of Greek include that style. Sybil Leaves is the title to a tastefully-covered book of some thirty old-fashioned silhouette groups of figures, flowers, and ornaoaents,, fiat paper-cutting. QUAIN'S Anatomical Plates-the First Division, containing the Muscles-is now completed, by the publication of two supplementary fasciculi. This is a useful work for artists as well as surgeons.
A republication of StdoLLETT's translation of Gil Bias has com- menced in parts, with the attraction of a set of six hundred spirited and characteristic designs, by Gicoux, engraved on wood, with extra- ordinary force and freedom. The text is inlaid with them ; and if the humour and gusto are occasionally in excess, these are at least better than tameness and insipidity. The Dream of the Bottle is the title of a German ballad, which has been illustrated by an artist of the country, named SCHROEDER, with the wild and fantastic humour and in the florid kind of invention for which some modern German artists are famous. Another illustration of a kindred subject-a song of GOETIIE, translated and set to the air it is sung to-by NEUREUTHER, makes an appropriate companion print, and both together exemplify this new style of art. They are both copied in lithography by an English draughtsman, HENRY ABBOTT, with admirable spirit and skill: but the Magic Bottle is the best both in design and execution. The laughable records of the Pickwick Club, by "Boz," since poor SEYMOUR'S death, are illustrated by Buss, the best broad comic artist of the day. The "Fat Boy" and the "Fat Cricketers" are capital. Boz and Buss are well paired.