16 JANUARY 1948, Page 13


WHAT a splendid Victorian playbill the Leicester Galleries could concoct for one of their mixed shows! Their new exhibition is ohe of the mosl varied they have given us, and one of the most success- ful. Among the stars there are names like Pissarro, Modigliani, Frances Hodgkins, Maillol, and the chorus is more talented than usual. It is interesting to study the Berman trompe l'oeil of ten years ago—a typical bridge-product of the period between his wonderful early work and the toiling absurdities of his most recent— in relation to the two Prydes, one very big and one very small, since Berman appropriated most of the older painter's props for use in Paris. Pryde himself was for ever on the brink of rather " ham " theatricality, but when he did not overplay his part, he achieved fine work which is today underestimated. These two pictures are both good ones. Among many other excellent paintings look out for the impressive Burra, Edward Bawden's Gower (looking much like Bawden's Abyssinia), work by Kenneth Rowntree, including the rich Palmer-dark Autumn Cathedral, and things by Guy Burn, Bateson Mason, Derek Hill, Robert MacBryde and Keith Vaughan.

At the Redfern may be seen the Rouault aquatints for Miserere and Guerre, some of which were shown in the Tate exhibition of two years ago. In bulk the effect is overwhelming. In one sense, twenty Rouaults may tell us no more than one (though some are certainly better than others). At the same time, the struggle is of such heroic proportions that in the presence of some scores of Rouaults one can scarcely fail to hear the reverberations echoing from the mountain tops. His massive and dramatic symbols of tragic and absurd humanity are retrieved from caricature by vast reservoirs of power, by compassion underlying the satire, by Godli- ness shining through the ugliness. "The dream,". he once wrote, " we. dreamed in our youth of faithfulness to a rigid ideal, an ideal a little too lofty and a little too great for our gifts—who can say he has wholeheartedly pursued it? " Surely we can answer. M. H. MIDDLETON.