13 JUNE 1840, Page 19



'rill: exhibition of the works of the Great Masters at this gallery, al- wass the prime gratification of the season, is this year more choice than it has been of late ; though still too miscellaneous, and ill-assorted. The value of these annual displays. and their influence in cultivating the public taste and improving the talent of Englisll artists, can hardly be overrated :mil Ile, public have reason to be grateful to the possses- saws of such treasures fur time treat afforded them : the opportunity of seeing and studying the finest pictures at leisure, and under circum- stances tomb more favourable to a perception of their beauties than the hasty survey of a !urge collection under the auspices of an impatient honselteeper, is duly appreciated by students and amateurs. England cannot Li,a t of a Louvre or :L Pinaeothek, but the amount of know- ledge and delight that might be ditinsed by this gradual circulation of the collective wealth of art, would equal that afforded by the great Con- tinental galleries, ii' the means at the disposal attic Directors were em- ployed so as to give the fUllest effect to the benefits intended by this in-

mien : a better arrangement of the pictures, and a gratuitous exhi- Iiitien of' them :t few days, are the grand desiderata.

The ex pH:le:icy of a free exhibition of works of art is so generally admiesil, that to entiwee its advantegi s is needless: we will only of serve that the British Institution otight with must propriety and the greeter t facility lead the \I riy in adopting it ; especially as regards the old sientrO, which are freely placed at their disposal by their owners. We do not ask for an entirely free admission, but only that on one or two days in the week the public should be admitted gratis.

The neceseity for a 1110110dill'd selection of the pictures is apparent to all who study them ; but the disadvantages of the present chance- medley system are equally felt by others, though the cause is not equally :q ;,agent. To be convinced of the necessity of classification, let any one

fancy the pieteres in the Louvre jumbled, together: what a chaos! A group of Ogrt ox's boors cheek by jowl with one of 1.nomeaeno's doves...pal leseeles — a village merry-making by TENIEnS, with

its si:v, beside time Bacchus and Ariadne of TITIAN—one of I b es • • .'s ee: i perechtin faces as a pendant to a head by BEM-

BEA:, r Yet this is only en exaggerated view of the

Nitta in,leences that are ;lethally in operation, on a smaller scale, at our e bond Gallery and the bviuiseu Tfstitutian. At the British Insti- tinieu the principle of cb.ssilici,!-11 could readily be adopted. Each one cf the three rooms might be apss.priated to the works of some one Beat mater and his followers, or to the productions of a particular school : thus variety amid contrast wend be increased by the charac- teristics of the different schools or masters beieg more fully and strikingly (hydrated. while the senses would not be confused by the conflicting innatiennities of opposite attractions. As it is, the eye is teased and the mind distreeted by a different set of sensations being excited at every step : with the fancy excited by the glow of an Italian 'detests aid the feelings attuned to a work of int:an:whoa it is impossible tit appreciete the most exiatisitely finishe 1 Dutch picture.

c111:ct suet' en arrangement at the British Instionion, it would only be necessary to determine what masters or class of art should fbrm the subject of the next year's exhibition, and the possessors of pictures would vie with each other in contributing the rarest speci- mens in tilde collection. Let us exemplify these remarks by the present ilieplay. A large mud beautiful landscape by Csateon, Mment Parnassus, grett> the visitor on his ascent to the Gallery, and gives the tone to his feelings : it strikes the key-note. but no responsive chord swells the haritiony or prolongs the s:rain; the mind, attuned to the high pitch of poetic beauty, is let down the next moment to the prose level of Hon- MM A. Again, after being elevated by the exalted style of a Holy Family by SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO, the design of which is said to be by MICHAEL ANGELO, you drop down with a jerk to a coarse version of Susanna and the Elders by CARAVAGGIO, that hangs near it : and thus, with more or less violent transitions, the vibrations of the sensorium jar one against another, and all is discord and confusion. On entering the South Room, which is appropriated to the works of HILTON, the per- vading influence of one spirit is sensibly felt ; the mind recovers its tone, and the variations of manner in the different pictures give a gentle stimulus that keeps the attention alive. Here, then, let us rest awhile, and review the productions of one of the great masters of the English school. They are upwards of sixty in number, including sketches and studies; and though far from being a complete collection, are sufficient to convey an idea of the artist's powers. The character of HILTON'S invention was picturesque ; that is, he conceived a subject with reference to its capabilities for exhibiting the effects of contrast, either in form or light and shade, or for developing the external cha- racteristics of old age, childhood, and feminine grace. Hence his fondness for illustrating SPENSER. In attempting to embody ideal persons and historic scenes, he wanted the dramatic power of in- dividualizing character and emotion : he was content with expres- sing the general features of an incident ; in doing which he showed a true feeling of the sentiment. Sir Caltpine Rescuing Serena, (191,) is the best of the series; indeed, we took upon it as the most successful cart of Hii.Tox the pale form of the beautiful victim bound for the sacrifice, the onward rush of her knightly champion, and the rout of flying priests and attendants, overturning the altar in their haste to escape, present the scene with sufficient distinct- ness and poetic feeling, action doing the work of expression. The colouring, moreover, is finer than in any other ; the sober hue of the mass of figures bringing out the flesh tints of the figure of Serena, and the whole being harmonized to a deep, solemn tone. A subscription has been set on foot among the friends and admirers of Inmost, to purchase this picture for the purpose of presenting it to the National Gallery. So laudable a purpose deserves to be promoted ; though we think it discreditable to the country that native genius should sue in forma paieperis for a niche in its temple of fame. HILTON'S pictures are to be admired for the drawing and composition rather than the colouring and effect ; the crudeness in some instances degenerating into garishness, and the smoothness of texture into tea- board hardness. The graceful style and agreeable fancy of the painter do not always rescue the designs from the reproach of commonplace; but they prevent any thing like vulgarity or coarseness, and bespeak the elegant mind and amiable spirit of their author. In one parti- cular, indeed, HILTON is distinguished above his compeers,—namely, in his masterly drawing of the figure, which is graceful and powerful without affectation or obtrusiveness : his children, especially, are beau

tiful studies of the rounded forms of infancy, and may vie with those of NicoLo POUSSIN. Two or three studies of heads, full of character and

vigour, show how finely he could have painted portraits if he had pursued this branch of art ; and while we honour his devotion to the higher pursuit, we regret that he did not let portraiture share his attention : he might have chosen his sitters.