16 MAY 1840, Page 19




NEITHER in landscape nor in portraiture is the English school progres- sing: if not actually retrograding, it remains at best in statu quo, never rising above the dead level of mediocrity. Yet this is the country of countries for the landscape-painter ; and if we cannot boast such pic- turesque heads as our neighbours, the lack of that quality is made up by the abundant demand for liinnings. There are no such excuses for the painters as those they repeat ad nauseam for their want of power in imaginative subjects,—namely, lack of patronage, and scarcity of models : the fault is all their own ; and it is partly owing to the defi- ciency of original genius, partly to the love of pelf being stronger than the love of art. The mass of artists are striving to gain a reputation, and the few who have acquired one are content to make money on the strength of it : at any rate, they do not advance in excellence ; if they move at all, it is mostly crab-fashion. Instead of studying nature more, they regard her less, being content with their adopted method of imi- tation ; and thus facility tends only to confirm mannerism, and tempts to exaggeration. EDWIN LANDSEER'S wonderful power of painting ani- mals is degenerating into a dexterous knack of hitting off their external characteristics : he now , paints superficially ; his imitation of nature is only skin-deep: we do not always see the form beneath the fur that in- vites the touch ; and where a head is introduced the rest of the ana- tomy has to be inferred from very slight and insufficient indications. Trimmes is a case of mannerism run mad ; but in STANFIELD'S landscapes and BRIGGS'S portraits, as well as LANDSEER'S animals, the trick of hand which applies one recipe to all subjects is too palpably manifest : it is moreover evident in the absence of the distinguishing characteristics of the scenes and objects themselves. The mechanism by which STANFIELD imitates rocks and buildings, Barnes flesh, and LANDSEER fur, is as plainly visible as the strange means that TURNER takes to represent his diseased views of nature ; and in every case does this peculiarity interfere more or less with the truth of the representa- tion. We do not accuse EDWIN LANDSEER of employing the same touch to paint a wire-haired terrier, a silken-haired spaniel, and a woolly poodle; his is only an incipient mannerism, resulting from too hasty dexterity. Mums has but one mode of painting flesh, whether it he the fair complexion of a lovely young girl, the wrinkled face of a venerable old man, or the soft, chubby cheeks of childhood: the same vapoury surface, with gunpowder gray shadows, prevails in all—see his portraits, passim. STANFIELD has given the same lurid tone to the clouds, the same leathery hue and surface to the mountains, and the same texture to the buildings, in his three principal views. These are not the only instances of the besetting sin of mannerism, nor perhaps the most striking: we point to the defect as exhibited in the three lead- ing painters in their respective walks of art, not with any invidious feeling assuredly, but because the most clever and successful may best afford to be told of their faults, and are better able to remedy them. It is easy to ridicule TURNER-he is become a butt for every shaft : he beats CONSTABLE hollow at the argumentum ad absurdum: no painter living could caricature him so successfully as he does his own absurdi- ties. The vulgar see only beauties till defects have become so glaring as to eclipse the lustre of genius, and then they see only faults : it does not occur to them how small a deviation from nature makes a monster. TURNER has been long afflicted with the scarlet fever, and is now in a high state of delirium ; but there is yet method in his madness ; he raves to some purpose. The gorgeous explosion of light-literally a sun-burst-that TURNER calls Bacchus and Ariudne, (27)-the decom- position of a weltering sea, with the fishes in a state of insurgence, en- titled Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying, (203)-and the two views of Venice, (55 and 71,) where sundry patches of white and nankeen, with a bundle of gayer colours, are intended to represent buildings and vessels-are mere freaks of ehromomania ; but the beach-scene which is christened The New Moon, (243,) with a group of fantoccini in the foreground, has a semblance to nature when viewed from the middle of the room : the sun setting in a rack of clouds, the crescent moon, the surf of the waves and the smoke of the steamers, are then visible ; and an effect of space, twilight, and atmosphere, is conveyed to the mind. After these rhapsodies of TURNER'S insane pencil, the calm, clear, plain sense of STANFIELD, is welcome, though it does not rise above commonplace : we exchange the vague and formless shadows of a vision for substantial entities. In STANFIELD'S large view of Citara, in the Guff of Salerno, (13,) every object, from the huge tower and the rock-built houses to the boats on the beach and the fragments of columns in the foreground, is defined with distinctness and solidity ; the eye travels from one group of figures to another, till the distant mountains bar its progress : yet with all this semblance of reality the scene wants life- the clouds and people seem motionless as the stones, and not a breath of air is stirring ; we appear to be gazing on a model, where all things are fixed, and made of similar materials. The same may be said of his other large view of Avignon, on the Rhone, (3430 which looks like a city of the dead, so still and inanimate is every feature, and so uniform the tone and surface of every building. The smaller view of Sorrento, Bay of Naples, (155,) is a miniature copy of Citara in point of local colour and general effect ; the clouds, mountains, and building, are alike, though the tone is lower. The little sketch of Ancona, on the Adriatic, (148,) is bright and sparkling, and gives a sense of fresh atmosphere. ROBERTS'S Egyptian pictures have a similar monotony of tone and texture ; but the plains of sand and the arid atmosphere of the desert make this excusable if not inevitable. His interior of The Greek Church of the Holy Nativity at Bethlehem, taken during the Festival of Easter, (190,) is almost illusory in its look of reality : the Greek co- lumns and architraves, the Gothic inscription in colours on the walls, and the Oriental lanterns and paraphernalia, with the various costumes of the pilgrims, produce a strange admixture. Of his two Egyptian scenes, The Dromos, or the Outer Court of the Great Temple at Edlim, (292,) is the most novel, from the effect of the colours in the decorations of the building: the immense magnitude of the parts, though the whole is so buried in sand that little beyond the capitals • and architraves are visible, is evident ; but neither in this nor the Statues of the Vocal Memnon on the Plains qf Thebes-Sunrise, (501,) is the vastness and suggestiVe grandeur of his sketches realized. The poetic feeling which the magic of effect can alone convey in a picture, is wanting : the Memnons look any thing but "vocal ;" nor do we feel that the first rays of the sun are gilding their granite forms. A German painter, W. MILLER, has attempted to represent the poetry of the Egyptian re- mains, iu the Rains ut Gornou, (Octagon Room, No. 8); but the effort is more apparent iu the glare of colour than in the impression on the mind.

The transition to CnEswicit's verdurous sunny spots of English rural scenery, and Does cool green foliage, is refreshing to the eye :

here we feel at home, and the painters seem so too. LEE'S most pleas- ing landscape is a secluded scene of a river fringed with trees, and a

fisherman Taking up Trimmer-lines, (424): the pale yellow liiht of morning shines through a break in the verdant perspective, and the still water reflects the white clouds above and the green masses on either

side : the freshness and quiet of the scene are delicious ; the water, how- ever, is not translucent enough, and the reflections are too solid. His bit of Park Scenery, (374,) with a beech in the foreground, whose silver trunk is messed with age and its leaves tinged with the golden touch of autumn, and an effect of cold, cloudy weather, is indicated with congenial truth : the fern, grass, and turf in the foreground, too, are nicely painted. Char- coal-burning, (185,) is a pretty wood-scene, but not equal to the other two, though better placed : the view of Northwick Park, (360,) is some-

what slight and hard ; however the effect of rain clouds driving be-

fore the wind, and the appearance of a herd of deer crossing the stream, are capitally imitated. CRESWICK'S most charming picture is The By- road, (273)-one of those unfrequented green lanes, through woods

where the wheel-track is bordered with turf, and bounded by trees : the sunlight flickers on the grass and moss-grown ; and by a runnel of water across the road sits a girl with a pitcher. A Saw-pit, (215,) is any thing but the image of bare logs that the name suggests ; the shed and planks being shaded by a graceful group of trees that screen the cottage, while a brook foams and sparkles beneath. The Fort, (No. 7 in the Octagon Room,) is another sweet scene of rural beauty, with barefooted children crossing a stream in which is reflected the sun- light shining through the foliage on its banks.

In this closet is a beautiful example, by 0. I. Moony,, of an Italian garden, The Avenue, (15)-stretching its verdant perspective of shade

by the side of a palace, from which you descend to it by a long flight of steps : the union of stateliness and natural beauty is happily conveyed, and the execution is equal to the design. An admirable cattle-piece,

(33,) by SIDNEY COOPER, with Cuyp-like effect of evening sun, deserves a better place ; here it is hardly visible : and another elaborate picture of A Galloway Farm, (25,) by R. ANSDELL, cannot be seen at all. Going to Plough, (32,) by J. F. HERRING, is admirable for its effect of bright sun-rise.

. In depicting such simple, homely transcripts as these, English artists

excel : the ideal is beyond their reach. LINNELL, however, gives as epic grandeur and solemnity to his scriptural scenes ; of which P114 Baptizing the Eunuch, (403,) is an example : the rich embrowned tone is in accordance with the wild scene, and with the sentiment of the Raj, ject. A small picture near it, close to the flovr, View at Avitella,(46) by A. MARTIN, has the same deep, mellow tone.

At the first glance of the Portraits in the Great Room, one seems to have seen them all before ; so like is the appearance of the mass to

what the walls exhibited last year and the preceding. PIIILLIPq PICKERSDILL, SEIEE, and (alas!) Babes, have each a certain set nide of making-up their pictures, to which they adhere mechanically. Last

year, Sir MARTIN astonished us by imitating nature in a portrait of

Lord Aberdeen : but he has returned to his " Lord Fanny " airs of pert sniggering complacency ; and has transformed the massive head of

Lord Denman into a little ball stuck on the top of a great red robe, like

the worsted tuft on the turban-cap of the Black cymbal-player: the manly features and dignified gravity of the Chief Justice are not trace- able in the petty insignificant face which he calls a Portrait of Lord Denman, (75.) One can put no faith in the most like-seeming limning of a systematic falsifier of character : therefore we will turn to PRIV, LIPS'S perlbrmances ; of which Chiqf Justice Tindall, (168,) is the best, as a likeness and as a picture. The Vice-Chatted/or, (80,) may be re: cognized, but it, not truly charactetistie ; and the Duke ry' Susses' (67,) is scarcely u resemblance. His whole-length of a Lancer, The lute Captain Pulteney, (49,) is provokingly commonplace : there is a look of individuality in his Portrait qf a Lady, (296); but it is very deceptive to assume a likeness from some peculiarity of character in a picture, without knowing the original.

1NR:cis's likenesses of Baron Gurney, (36,) and Lord Civilly, (184,) are characteristic ; but the latter is tamely and feebly painted-good

enough for Canada, perhaps, but not for the artist's reputation. His group of the Grandchildren qf Ike late Lord Chancellor Eldon, 0020 with a dog painted by LaxnsEEn, is a pretty picture of infancy ; but the effect is too sombre. The fair-haired girl on a pony, one of the Children of Baron Alderson, (18,) is a charming young creature. His portrait of Mrs. Francis Dawkins, (420,) looks a likeness, and is 'in a broad, un- akcted style. The head of E. F. Hatton, Esq., (-189,) is a noble study of a venerable man. Pity that such admirable draughts of character should not be painted with more solidity and discrimination of tone and surface. PICKERSGILL, in his Portrait qf Henry l'rnvnall, Esq., (449,) has given an appearance of flesh and an air of life rarely seen ; and his Duke qf Baccleuch, (57,) has a very characteristic-seeming aspect ; but the .Marquis of Douglas, (150,) looks like Lord Byron acting Hamlet. REINAGLE rejoices in family groups-smug old ladies, and sleek, punchy gentlemen : The Letter, or the lust Family News, (3270 to which he has superfluously added the word " portraits," reminds one of a nest of young birds, in a lively state of expectation, papa like the old cock bringing food to his mate surrounded by her brood. ParrEs's whole- length of Prince Albert in the Robes VIM Order of the Garter, (173,) is a splendid dress on a lay figure, with a poor effigy- of the Prince at the top. IV. Farwell, Esq., (3920 is a good matter-of-fact likeness, we dare say, and a very respectable painting. And this dapper little gentleman in an unexceptionable suit, tram- Cope, Esq., (486,) looks as content as he ought to be with such a well-furnished canvass : face, waistcoat, and table-cover, are alike capital. Apsley House-the Duke rf Wellington oplaining to Colonel Gum-wood, the Editor tge his Despatches., the date of that describing the. Battle of Waterloo, (4630 is interesting, from its being an accurate representation of the Duke's study, as well as his dress and person : the profile of Wellington is too strongly marked not to be recognized, and this is a characteristic likeness : that of Colonel Garwood is faithful also. Just below it is Charles Dickens in his study, by (462,)-who has furnished the snuggery of " Boz" more splendidly than that of the hero of Waterloo : the resemblance is better than in the print engraved from it, the features being vigorous and masculine ; bust beyond the frank, open look, it is not characteristic in expression. Not far from this is MsemsE himself, (456,)-or rather a disagreeable version of his phy- siognomy-by BEWICK ; who has given hint the aspect of a fashionable roit, with the heavy, apathetic air of a man addicts d to gross sensuality: the dirty colouring also aids this impression., As the production of a young artist, II. PATTERSON'S whole-length of Nip .Edward Codrinyion, (442,) is deserving of great praise ; though the tender sensitive ex- pression is by no means characteristic of the firm, commanding air of the hero of Navariuo : the painting is thin, but the colouring is bermo- ui Lucas's Earl Clare, (451,) is a capital likeness, But of all the male portraits, LINNELL'S small one of the Martinis of Lansdowne, (199,) is the most strongly and delicately marked with traits of individual character, and the momentary expression that constitutes what is termed " a speaking likeness:" we see the whole man, not a mere mask of features.

The ladies arc very poorly represented this year : one of their own sox, Mrs. W. CARPENTER, is the only artist who has done full justice° their charms ; and her best portrait-the best in the exhibition indeed- is thrust into the hole called time Octagon Room, (4): it is a very Land- sonic countenance, with finely-Thrilled features, and an expression of feminine sweetness and delicacy, eminently characteristic of an un- affected English lady ; the flesh tints are pure, the form is well rounded, and the shadows are tender and transparent-in a word, it is the per- fection of simple portraiture. EASTLAKE, in limning Miss Brow, (228,) has emulated the breadth, transparent tone, and subdued glow of colour,

of the Italian masters ; but its breadth is flat and meagre, and the tender- ness feeble the expression is earnest, sweet, and delicate, and a refined sentiment pervades the picture. HoLuss's half-length of Lady Harriet

Baring, (244,) is admirable for a chaste and cheerful tone of colour; it is fresh and bright without crudity or garishness c the lady-like gentleness and immodesty of look and air have a winning grace that Is

quite fascinating ; yet the cheek is of too pinky a hue, and the flesh too smooth. His miniature whole-length of a lady, in the Great Room, (135,) is a beautiful piece of colouring; and the face and figure are

life-like. GEDDES'S Spanish Girl, (369)-the eloquent blood suffusing her countenance as she looks from under the shade of the curtained window-is a fervid, glowing image of the sunny South; and contrasted with his equally characteristic representation of the domestic English. *WORM, Mrs. Greatorex, (458,) shows that the artist knows how to adapt his style to his subject-a rare excellence. GRANT'S ladies are the most engaging of any ; and they look like real persons. Lady Anne 1Trulsh and Child, (191,) seem to be sitting before us ; the mother's gale fixed on yours, and the child's black eyes averted with an ex- pression of impatience : there is a dangerous fascination in the dark, lustrous eyes of mrs. Bateman, (508); and in both the indefinable air of good breeding, without assumption : the painting of the dress is arti- ficially low in tone, but that is better than the ostentatious display of millinery that disfigures so many pictures. Mrs. Shelley, by ROTHWELL, (459,) appears to be a faithful likeness : its earnest and spiritual ex- pression bespeak the thoughtful and sensitive woman. EMILY &MUCK gives a robust, masculine look, to leer female sitters : there is a some- what formidable, but not vulgar air, in the vigorous young lady, (341,)


who looks so directly at one ; and the painting is correspondingly powerful. Emns's style is rather cold as well as chaste ; but it suits well with the pale, placid grief of The Widowed Mother, (477.) The widow whom WATSON GORDON has portrayed, (448,) has strongly- marked character, though not wearing the most attractive aspect of sorrow. With a glance at the " buxom, blithe, and debonair " Mrs. Ro- bert Shute, by F. STONE, (1980 we must conclude our review of the portraits in oils ; having only room to add that there are others of merit by llowArtn, HEALY, FAULKNER, J. KNIGHT, J. WOOD, S. J. ROCHARD, S. DRUMMOND, S. LAN DER, and T. MOGFORD. Among the Drawings and Miniatures, the most remarkable is a large group of ?'ht' Children of Colonel Lindsay, (547,) by G. Ilicumos ; in which the union of individual character and ideal grace is admira- ble. There are also some admirable crayon heads by C. Baocav and W. Earns ; a vigorous pencil sketch of Charles Kemble as Don Felix, by LANE. CHALON'S fashionable women and children are, as usual, pro- fusely decked out with the bravery of ribands and laces ; and you see less of the person and more of the millinery than ever. The water-colour portraits of Miss F. Coml., x, Miss A. COLE, and Miss ADAMS, are also noticeable features. The best miniatures on ivory are those by TIIORBURN, for richness of colour, vigour of character, and force of effect. Next in power and finish are those of COLLEN, NEWTON, and Miss GILLIES. Ross is not in full strength this year. Of the rest, the miniatures by BOOTH, DURHAM, ROBERTSON, Rocunan, TIDEY, WALSH, and WAINEWRIGIIT, attract most attention ; but their merits are too minute and dependent on resemblance for us to review them in detail.