GENERAL EXHIBITION OF WATER-COLOURS
DRAWING for wood-cuts tends to give a touch ill suited to water,- colour painting. What one has adopted another is inclined to. imitate, and thus Mr. W. Coleman is often compared to another popular artist who shall be nameless. The comparison is not with.. out ground, but it also shows that Mr. Coleman has qualities which. the other wants. And it will be found that he is best where he is most unlike his so-callel prototype. There is a leafiness and ten- der liveliness of colour in Mr. Coleman's "Near Medmenham " (451) which the other has never shown. Mr. C. E. Johnson's "Autumnal Afternoon" (303) among the Welsh hills is broad and effective, with good gradation of colour and shade, and with more of the truth of nature than is shown by many that are more labori- ously and pretentiously filled with detail. Mr. Pain's "Evening in the New Forest '? (275) is also a broadly-painted drawing, though it has a little too much scratching at individual leaves, especially in the water-reflections. Repose congenial to his subject is better preserved by Mr. Chattoek in his Stonehenge" (115), a very beautiful drawing. Few pictures exhibit more originality than Mr. J. H. Scott's "Evening in the Valley of Lauterbrunnen" (67). It were easy- to pick small holes in this picture'; but it is pleasanter, as well as more just, to dwell on its manly and un- affected Character, upon its solemn shadows and hurrying glacier- torrent, upon the sunset glow that fires the distant snow and the distinct feeling of awe inspired by those far-off peaks. Mr. C. P. K night took the bloom of novelty off his "Calm Evening at Sea" (54) by exhibiting the same subject at last year's Academy. But the repetition is not to be regretted, since besides the intrinsic beauty of the subject it brings with it greater fulness of colour and juster gradation of light and shade. The long ground-swell is again admirably expressed, but the boat in the foreground is trivial and unworthy of the rest. Mr. J. C. Robinson's" Sybil Head, Kerry" (78), if by a young artist is a very promising picture. Mr. G. Whittaker's drawing of waves is good ; and there is plenty of life and motion both in sea and sky in Mr. W. Beverley's skil- fully composed sea-pieces, especially in 154 and 212; and in Mr. Hall's "Great Orme's Head " (43). Mr. Melby is one of the best sea-painters of his time (196), but water-colours are apparently less under his command than oils.
There is good composition in Mr. W. Fenn's "Old Mill at Trefriew " (41), and a feeling for the picturesque which cannot but cause regret at the calamity which has cut short his career as an artist. Mr. W. Moore also is said to be half-blind. If he be so, his "Burn amongst the Heather" (94) shows that the inner feel- ing has more to do than the outward sense. Mr. G. Glennie's " Beachy Head" (359) is a well-considered picture, very true in colour and effect. The seagull's flight is unusually well painted,— not at all after ordinary receipts. Egypt is a never-failing source of inspiration. Mr. F. Dillon's "Mosque at Cairo" (15) and "Temple of Edfou " (232) are harmonious in colour and free in execution—the best works he exhibits. Mr. Pilleau, who by mistake is sometimes called an amateur, has two street views in Cairo (39 and 128) which, by the truth of their sun- light and the transparency of their shadows, as well as by the natural and life-like action of the people that throng the streets, bespeak him -a practised artist. There is a curious mix- ture of appavent industry and real carelessness in Mr. W. Mil- lais's "On the E. Lynn" (328). For instance, the lumpish foliage of the overhanging oak and the uncertain drawing of the water are equally untrue. Nforeover, the shaded side of green trees is not of a crude plum colour. For really conscientious labour, pro- ducing a beautiful combination of sober green and grey, look at Mr. E. J. Poynter's "Salmon Pool" (322), or the same artist's "Studies near Pau" (479 and 487). The completeness of these drawings is admirable, in spite of the awkwardness of the com- positions and a certain eclipse of sunlight. Some artists have a morbid fear of conventionalism, which makes them turn their backs on beauty of line. Some such fear has prevented Mr. J. W. North's "Au Oil Court, Somerset" (263), which is for the most part an accurate study of sunlight, from being thoroughly pleasing. Mr. E. J. Poynter paints figures as well as landscapes. But space is wanting to do more than refer to what he here exhi- bits of that kind (364 and 376). Something like Mr. Poynter's landscapes are those of Mr. H. Holiday (76 and 297), but brighter and more graceful in composition. The latter (297) is a beau- tifully leafy river scene. Nothing is more difficult than select- ing from nature's abundant stores what best suits the artist's purpose. Where all is so beautiful how shall he neglect any ? Art, however, has its limits,' and singleness of impression can scarcely be preserved but by a system of selection, conscious or unconscious. There are here many works showing great power and unflinching industry, but yet discovering less than due atten- tion to the old proverb, " ram isson, ecirros." There is no fear that Mr. C. Earle, Mr. Stannus, Mr. J. Nash, jun., or Miss Blunden can be deterred from hard work by any criticism, but there is as little doubt that they would paint more pleasing pictures by using their heads more and their hands less. There is a little drawing by Mr. Chisholm Gooden (194) which shows what may be done by management. Mr. F. Walton's sunny bits of English landscape• will be deservedly admired. His "Mill Pool, Gomshall" (461), has more gradation than the rest, and among many good is there- fore his best. A little more of this quality is needed to perfect Mr. Aston's free sketches of coast scenery. Among sketches as distinguished from finished drawings, Mr. C. Richardson's are especially praiseworthy. "Northam Tower, Rokeby " (268), is luminously full in colour ; so are his sketches at Greta Bridge (73). Mr. Brown comes little behind with " Llyn Idwal " (206) and "A Welsh Cottage" (242), while Mr. Brabazon in "A Street in Cairo" (264) reminds one strongly of W. Milller. There are a sparkling sketch of Venice by Mr. F. U. Simpkinson (116), a broadly-treated view near Rome (421) by Mr. Hugh Carter, a bright sketch by Miss Colkett of "St John's College Library, Cambridge" (327), and two very original and characteristic sketches by Mr. Andrews from the Philippine Islands (60 and 473).
As usual, the figure pieces yield in number and quality to the landscapes. But they at least have the merit of not being hack- neyed in subject. Mr. S. Solomon may more justly be thought to have run into the opposite extreme with his " Antinous Diony- siacus " (239), in which a youth crowned with vine and draped with a nebris pours sacrificial wine from a golden goblet before the effigy of Dionysus. A languid sensuality of mien indicates that he has himself drunk freely from the same cup. The draw- ing, especially of the right leg, is open to animadversion ; but scarcely so the colour, which is rich, yet subdued—a quality pos- sessed by all this artist's drawings (175, 369, 455). The picture will probably gain much admiration for the excellence of its paint- ing, particularly the leopard's skin, but its motives are too far- fetched to excite much sympathy. In one sense Mr. J. Burr's "Old Castilian" (252), a capital sketch, claims by the sottish red- ness of his face to be also surnamed " Dionysiacus." In " Hypatia" (221) Miss R. Solomon has also chosen the "classical" name and cos- tume for a picture which might otherwise have stood for a portrait of one of Tennyson's learned women. Miss Solomon's colouring bears a strong affinity to her brother's ; it has in it nothing feminine (in a disparaging sense). Miss Russell is another lady whose picture of " Desdemona" (58) attracts notice at once by the beauty of its colour, rich though less severe than Miss Solo- mon's. But this is not its only merit. The expression is also very touching. Exception might be taken to the painting of the dress, which is wanting' in half-tones. In this respect there is more to admire in Mr. Kilburne's " Lullaby " (119), which is carefully painted throughout, but the heads, notwithstanding much nice feeling, are feeble. There is more vigour in Mr. R. Tucker's severe yet brightly painted " Esther " (176) and in the peasant girl's head of which Miss C. M. Beresford has made a study (197). One of the best studies of character is Mr. J. Pelham's "Old Woman's Oecupation " (178). The drawing and modelling of this figure are exceedingly good, but the colour a little dry,—a fault not so apparent in this versatile artist's picture of apples (500). Mr. Jopling's Academy studies are clever, but dependent for their interest chiefly on the costumes. In Mr. G. Thomas's "Girl and Butterfly" (210), the mingled glee and anxiety of the child as she chases the butterfly- trippingly from bush to brier are most charm- ingly given. Mr. Thomas's power of expression must be set very high, but it might be worth his while to paint the child's legs afresh. Two other good sketches of children may here be noticed, —Miss L. Barker's little boy over his animal-book (354) and Mr. E. Dalziel's study of a child (340). "Old Books" (294) is a fine bit of quiet colour by another (E. G.) Dalziel. The most remarkable of the very few drawings which represent the action of many persons is contributed by a Spanish artist, Jose Tapiro (32). " Venit Hesperus" is its name, which serves also as the signal for a number of Italian peasants who halt on their way from work to resume their homeward way. There is great spirit in the picture, and an agreeable though unusual tone of colour, combining freshness and depth. Mr. Pimwell's scene from The Vicar of Wakefield (225), let it at once be remarked, is in no way borrowed from the school of Messrs. Frith and Co. The event chosen is the vicar's runaway son playing and paying his way home by help of his violin. There is some want of action as well as of solidity in the figures, but the picture is nevertheless one of much promise. Want of action is no fault of Mr. Pasquier's " Escort " (87), but it misses its due effect through too much red and want of half-tones. Two cottage interiors by Mr. J. Richard- son (48 and 83), with a characteristic Highlander in each, a beau- tifully coloured head by Mr. J. Linton (344), a true study of reflected odour in Mr. C. J. Lewis's "111. le Cure" (226) walk- ing under a green umbrella, and some unaffected sketches of peasant boys by Mr. W. Coleman (384 and 394) must close the list. Not even W. Hunt painted flowers, fruit, and birds more exquisitely than Miss Coleman. His colour may have been more brilliant, but hers is equally true, and for delicacy has never been surpassed ; she has the good sense to go her own way. Look only at (429 and 439). Mr. Bottomley understands a dog well, and therefore paints him well. The glistening eye and expectant attitude of the water-spaniel (59) are perfect. Finally, it is refreshing to find a man to paint sheep not after this or that popular artist, but after his own notions of the real quadruped. Mr. Q. Hancock is