SOCIETY OF PAINTERS IN WATER COLOURS. SOCIETY OF PAINTERS IN
YEAR after year we visit this delightful exhibition, and each time see the same sort of subjects treated in the same manner and by the same artists ; yet, so far front being satiated with the oft.repeated pleasure, our en- joyment increases rather than lessens—" appetite grows with what it feeds on." We should as soon tire of the green fields and changeful skies, " and all the pomp and garniture of groves," as of COPLEY kIELDING'S downs and flying showers, or DEWINT'S sober corn-fields and verdant meadows, half hid by bosky hedgerows, or Cox's verdurous scenes, with dewy turf and Ineozy a-mosphere. ROBSON'S purple mountains and moors are lost to us ; but we have still Paocr'a pictu-
resque peeps of old cities, whose stately piles glow as if Time's touch mellowed while it crumbled to dust " their pride of carved stone ;" and HUNT'S rough draughts of rustic nature, homely in their truth, but not vulgar,—and long may they remain to uphold the simpli- city and healthful vigour of the old English school of water-colour painting. Here we are reminded less of the painter and more of the objects be imitates ; his mannerism does not obstruct our view of na- ture. In other pictures we may admire the skill and refinement of the art, but we fear to disturb the grouping of the scene : in these we dwell in time open face of nature, escaped from the mechanism of the painting- room, and roam abroad at will, as if there were country beyond the confines of the view. In aiming at brilliancy of effect and clearness of colour, there is a danger of exchanging the sobriety and solidity of the old style—warm in its freshness and (-baste in its noontide glow— for a bard, thin, and garish manner, in which the tone and texture are diaphonous. But of this anon.
First of the designs. Carrenstor.e, in his large picture, " Scene from the Life of Salvator Rosa " (1(i5), has introduced a broad man- tier of painting that is extraordinary in water colours, and admirable in any medium. Selvator, surrounded by a gang of rubbers, is sketching one of the women, who is giving herself airs on the occasion. The intentness of the painter is admirably expressed ; but the nobility and re- finement of character proper to the man is not sufficiently marked to dis- tinguish him from the brigands. They too are deficient in variety of character ; and the large and loose style of painting, as well as their loung- ing attitude, aids, perhaps, in giving to the picture a certain degree of heaviness. It is a grand work nevertheless; and shows that the ar- tist can realize as well as indicate. There are several masterly sketches of chive!' ic scenes, chaste in tone, free in execution, and picturesque in composition, the offspring of an inventive brain and a ready hand,
that only require animating by individual life to become finely dra- matic. Such are " The Armourer Relating the Story of the Sword" (272), " Scene from Woodstock" 04(i), " The Castle Defended" (3S8), which have all the outward semblance of reality. The " Mac- beth " (28S) is a failure. Jolts: Li.wts has treated a similar subject to that of CATTERHOLE'S large picture, with greater intensity of purpose and consequent strength of interest—" altirillo Painting the Virgin in the Fluticiscan Convent at Seville " (1-29). The picture looks as if the scene had been sketched at the time, and the eowled beads were portraits. The mute. curious, and respectful attention of the group of monks, with the abbot in his chair of state ; the conscious air of the pretty peasant 01 sitting for the Virgin, holding the infant who has dropped asleep, mid the listlessmiess of the wearied models in waiting—the abstracted look of the painter—and the effect of the dim light through the half- curtained window, slanting across the faces of the lookers-on and falling full on the model-virgin—complete the verisimilitude. A more Stirring scenic and of livelier interest is " The Pillage of a Convent in Spain by Guerilla Soldiers" (322). On one side, a couple of sol- diers are playing for their share of the spoil ; on the other, the prior on his mule, attended by two of the brotherhood, is making his way through it crowd of peasants, who, kneeling, implore his benediction, and lament his departure ; and in the centre, one of the superiors is thrust out by the mob of soldiery. The group surrounding the prior is a picture of itself; and made more beautiful by the sweet and ardent faces of the young girls peering through the throng of old people. It is really an affecting incident; and makes one feel for the monkish outcasts, lazy, 1u:unions, and bigoted though they be. The paintings are as highly wrought as if in oils, and almost wholly with body.colouts : thus solidity is gained at the expense of the transparent brilliancy that is the great charm and advantage of water colours. They might as well be painted in oils amid on canvas, indeed, for aught that they owe to the watery medium,—nay, better, because they would be more enduring. Not that water-colour pictures are so fugacious and perishable as is ge- nendly supposed, but they do fade by exposure to the sun. Lewte's rigid and angular manlier is still too apparent ; but the merit of the pictures would reconcile its to even greater defects. LAKE PRICE has greatly increased in power and refinement of execu- tion ; and he exhibits numerous Gothic interiors enriched with appro.. prime accessories and figures, that give a living interest to the pictu- resque architecture. His groups are, however, chiefly valuable for the costumes : and in treating them he assumes a dashing manner—a mere affectation of style—that becomes ludicrous in a tragical subject. This makes " The De owed" (216)—a maiden begging the life of her father from an old Doge—seem a caricature of easel trickery: and in the " Scene at Lochleven " (83), where Lindsay compels Mary to sign the deed of abdication, the Queen of Scots looks like one of CHALON'S fashionable "sitters." Such treatment of history is only superior to the effetninate pageantry of STEPHANOFF, (vide, for instance, " The Brides of Venice "-239)—in having more vigour : in both the eye is addressed at the expense of the understanding. Miss E. SHARPE and her sister, Mrs. SEYFIARTH, are as brilliant in their colouring as ever ; but scriptural and historical subjects are beyond their scope. Even the group of fair and anxious faces in" The 1 our- nay" (99), are too modern and miniature-like for such a scene. In inci- dents of domestic interest, such as " l'he New Page " (152), they excel. CinstioLm is a painstaking designer, but " The Death of Leonardo daVinci" (91) is above his powers. Neither JOSEPH NASH, STONE, nor JOHN WRIGHT, contribute any designs. J. M. WRIGHT has one or two of his vague slight sketches, looking like imitations of SMISILE old STOTHARD ; and RICHTER one of his highly-wrought comiealities A scene from Pickwick—the Fat BUS, discovering Mr. Tupumn and the Spinster Aunt in the Bower" (438); besides a few portraits with intense eyes. Apropos of portraiture : we bad nigh overlooked one of the sweetest delineations of womanhood, painted in a broad and pure style, with a sunny glow of colour—" The Gypsy Hat " (249), by JOHN Willem:: the charming face, beaming with health said good- nature, greets you on entering the room, as if with a smile of welcome. liuter's studies of rustic character are exquisite, both for drollery and pathos : there is a quiet humour in the parody of " Cymon and 1phigenia" (182), where a ploughboy leaning on a pitchfork gazes with a lickerish look on a little lass lying asleep in one corner of a bay-loft; and the boy on the road-aide counting the
hour by " The Village Chimes " (280), listens so attentively, that we may fancy we hear them too. In the power of depicting an act or a sensation, HUNT is equal to WILKIE : whether it be an urchin blowing bubbles, or cutting a turnip, or eating porridge, or drawing on a elate, or blowing a fire ; or a girl Weep, or reading, (and all these subjects be has treated this year,) the whole being is absorbed in the doing of the thing. Irresistibly droll is the nauseating grimace of the sea-sick boy, in " A Marine Effect" (49). There he sits with dangling legs, in a state of ludicrous wretchedness, indifferent alike to the orange that sticks out of his pocket and the new white bat in which he gloried ; while the motherly concern of mamma for her darling boy, and her utter unconsciousness of his ridiculous figure, heighten the comic scene. HUNT iS no less forcible in depicting serious suffering: " The Forlorn Sailor-boy" (192), is a touching picture of patient misery : the poor lad has an air of simple grace and a look of resignation such as MURILLO might have given to a Saint Sebastian.
F. TAYLER'S slight and muddy, yet bright and sunny sketches of soldiers and sportsmen, where the men are only inferior to the horses and dogs—as in " Halt of Cavalry" (77), and " The Young Chief- tain's First Ride " (293)—bring us by a natural transition to the woods and mountains.
HARDING has this yiar left the town for the open country; and never was there a more bright and golden harvest-field in nature than this which forms the foreground of a " Scene in the Valley of the Coln, between Watford and St. Alban's" (84), with the house and grounds of Munden, the seat of the late G. Hilbert, Esq., in the distance. The v rdure of the park, the yellow harvest-field, with reapers re. galing, and the clear blue sky with light shifting clouds overhead, make up a characteristic picture of English landscape, where the breezy atmosphere tempers the glowing heat of the sun. The surface of the corn looks rather solid, and the distant trees are too like bushes ; but the sky and sunlight are pure elements. His other large picture, " Berncastle, on the Moselle " (143), with passing clouds mitigating the flood of light that streams over the picturesque old buildings, the distant hills, and the placid river, is no less aerial and brilliant. The transparency in both verges on the glassy clearness that we have alluded to ; but the objects are not insubstantial. FROUT'S large picture, " Piazetta del Molo, Venice" (101), is one of his finest works : there is less hardness of outline and richer tone of colour in one or two of his smaller views of Venice—" Ducal Palace" (188), and " The Rialto " (222) ; but all are admirable for breadth and force : who would suppose them to be the production of a valetudina- (188), and " The Rialto " (222) ; but all are admirable for breadth and force : who would suppose them to be the production of a valetudina- rian? May his power never be less ! An architectural view by Jo- seen NASH, " Abbaye St. Amend, Rouen" (17), for freedom and breadth of style, and cool clear tone, is admirable.
Coney Fiewirso's views on the South Downs, with summer rain- clouds bursting over them, and the misty spray of the silver showers rising from the smooth turf, (ride 54, 59, and I19,) are the most fresh ' and charming portion of his numerous views on sea and land, of moor and mountain, in sunlight and storm. Cox's sweet glimpses of nature
are scattered about like dewdrops : we prefer the little strip of sedge on the lea in " Noon—Boys Angling" (302), to his more ambitious compositions : in giving the effect of breezy skies and moist grass, he is unrivalled. Ile exhibits some very pretty views of Powis Castle ; of which 296 pleased us most. DEWINT is growing more slight, coarse, and heavy in his touch, than ever ; yet he preserves in all his drawings that sobriety and depth of t me—the effect of a cloudy sky over a verdant landscape—in which they are inimitable. It strikes us that he is carrying out a theory too far, rather than lapsing into a mannerism : but be this as it may, It is impossible to admire the style of painting in " Early Morning, with Haymaking," (13), though the tone of colour is nature itself. In DEWINT'S landscapes the ground appears solid and teeming, the foliage is heaped up and massy, the buildings have substance, and the spongy clouds seem charged with moisture : the genial warmth of summer is united with the vernal freshness of spring. The corn-fields in 38 and 276, the distant city in the view of " Beverley " (111), and the cool embowered shade in the two views on the River Lowther (91 and 98), breathe the spirit of English pastoral. But to produce these charming effects, loose, scrubby, slobbery handling is not essential. EVANS has acquired increased strength, and preserves a clear chaste tone in his large views of Haddon (71 and 348), Windsor (186), and Eton (205): but his style is getting too rigid—his trees look as if the leaves were wood as well as the boughs. CALLOW, one of the new members, gives promise of future eminence in several Continental views elegantly composed, and with an air of calm repose indicating a chas- tened feeling for the beauty of nature : " The Town of Avignon, on the Rhone" (208), struck us as the most meritorious. GLENNIE,
a 'other neophyte, justifies his position by a sweetly-coloured " View in the Campagna Romana" (241). BARRETT is very negligent in execution, and muddy in colouring this year; and GASTINEAU has riot acquired new strength. SCOTT, VARLLY, and W. TURNER are incur- able mannerists : but the force and boldness of their drawings make us admire the truth of the resemblance in spite of the artificial style. FINCH, F. Nssit, MACKENZIE, and Winciteso also exhibit some very creditable drawings.
The two marine painters, CHAMBERS and BENTLEY, appear to great advantage : CHAMBERS has improved in brightness of colour and clearness of tone. In " Fishing-smacks getting their Anchors" (254)—the
bustle and shifting motion of the scene, the fluent water, and the buoyant vessels, are represented to the life. BENTLEY, in two nautical scenes from the Red Rover (196), and from Tom Cringk's Log (198), conveys the imaginative feeling of the descriptions : the blood-red sunset in the last is awfully gorgeous, but the lurid reflection on the b 'dies of the drowning slaves is too like splotches of red sealing-wax: a painter cannot be hyperbolical with impunity, like a novelist. COT- atmes marine sketch (223), looks like the abortive effort of a tyro in fhe scene-painting room.
we teener uu better than close this notice with a mention of 4 'Flowers and Birds," by BARTHOLOMEW. Though first in theCatalogue,
is is sure to be the last looked upon; for being placed over the door, everybody on leaving the gallery casts an admiring glance at the superb blosrom of the night-blowing cereus.