17 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 18


A sale which took place on Thursday of some pictures from the col- lection of Mr. Birch, of Westfield House, near Birmingham, is chiefly memorable for having included a most noble Turner, "The Lock," en- graved in the Liber Studiorum. No date is assigned to it in the cata- logue; but we infer it, from the evidence of style, to belong to some twenty years ago, and to the period of the painter's practice immediately preceding its final and most extraordinary development. This is one of the works which justify all that has been said of Turner in the utmost stretch of enthusiasm. The red and golden .sky of sunset-time, the brooding repose of the landscape, the perfectly harmonized sentiment of every part of the picture, and its infinite detail and simplicity of effect, are such as Turner alone could give. The price at which it went-600 guineas—appears to us very small in relation to the sums usually realized for good Turners. A picture by Constable, also called " The Lock,"—a fine one certainly, but far from competing with the Turner,— obtained the highest price of the whole sale-860 guineas. We cannot suppose that this result represents a deliberate preference on the part of the picture-buying public. Next in immediate interest was one of the two Ettys —the "Fleur de Lys"—in that same peculiar frame which the painter himself provided, having "a piece of white marble at each corner, on which colour and gold, carrying through the richness of the picture's colour to the very edge," appear ; and whereof Mr. Gilchrist relates that, "at the Adelphi Exhibition, a friend, ignorant of its origin, casually inquired of the painter who could have put the picture into that outrageous frame ? " The work was among the com- pletest examples of Etty's latest style, and held in marked predilection by himself. It brought 700 guineas on the present occasion ; in 1852 it had fetched 1000. After these may be specified Wilkie's "First Ear- ring " ; Delaroche's head of Christ, well known by an engraving to which the original is certainly not superior ; Landseees "Waiting for the Deer to rise" ; and Maclise's "Alfred in the tent of Guthrum."

The same catalogue included some pictures from another collection; one of the principal of which was Egg's "Quarrel between Doll Tear- sheet and Pistol,"—an apparently juvenile work of unformed style, which must have risen upon the painter like the spectre of an old sin. We observe that another Turner will shortly be in the market, at a sale to be "held by Messrs. Christie and Manson on the 21th of this month; where also Mr. Holman Hunt's "Scene from the Two Gentlemen of Verona" will come to the hammer.