17 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 30

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In this dull season of art matters, one sees with a certain compla- cency, at No. 121 Pall Mall the announcement that the " Winter Exhi- bition of Pictures, Water-colours, and Engravings, of the English School," is open, "including a complete set of engravings, lithographs, and etch- ngs, after and by Sir Edwin Landseer "; and one looks round the walls with a certain pleasure. It is true that the Landseers are with occa- sional exceptions, already more than familiar to the eye, and the pictures, to speak tenderly, a meagre sample of the "English school": but this is not the moment for being fastidious. However familiar, the Landseers are, at any time, a collection of the highest quality and importance ; and we have heard that, barring one or two things withheld for private reasons, the entire series of all works by the painter produced in any form of engraving are hanging in the Pall Mall gallery. The total number is 278. On the great majority of them, or even on the artist's genius as represented by their sum, it were idle to dilate; so well known is the first, and so liberally appreciated the second. The man who painted the "Random Shot " and " Peace "—to go no fur- ther—needs not printed praise. As regards the relation of the painter to his engravers, the chief point to be noted is his good fortune in command- ing, in so many momentous instances, the skilful, powerful, and sympa- thetic hand of his brother Thomas Landseer—an engraver unrivalled in certain characteristic qualities of texture and light and shade, highly necessary for the faithful rendering of the subjects, and himself no mean original designer of brute life. In some of the early specimens by this engraver—such as the " Two Dogs," " Dog's Head," and " Ram's Head," (Nos. 16, 17, and 18,) one may remark that quality of unadorned and almost stem execution, which, unattractive in itself, is an earnest of the best future results. If we compare these with the two preceding examples, "Deer in Repose" and "The Surprise," engraved by Mr. C. G. Lewis, we shall see but too clearly the difference between well-prepared, strength and unmeaning laxity. One series, numbering seventeen examples, is etched by Sir Edwin himsel4 with a sharpness and vivacity skilful but somewhat wiry. Then there is a Begging Dog, etched also by Sir Edwin, at Buok- ingham Palace, in half an hour, and bitten in by Thomas Landseer in ten minutes ! But the greatest surprises of all are the juvenile studies of animals designed and etched by the now world-famous man at the ages of ten, nine, and even eight years ; one of them being the very first etching to which he set his fingers. The excellence of these is something quite surprising—as extraordinary an instance of artistic precocity as we are aware of. None are without the germs of truly fine character, drawing, and perception ; some exhibit these germs developed in a most flourishing degree. A Donkey, belonging to the age of nine, stooping round to lick his fore-leg, is, in the best essentials, as beautiful a study as Landseer could produce at the present day. It may, indeed, be prudent to remem- ber, with reference to these "infant phenomena," that the small Edwin's father was an engraver, and paternity may have been more willing to touch up the filial etchings than eager to detract from the wonder of them by recording the assistance; but, with whatever allowance, the wonder remains a wonder still.

Save for these Landseer engravings, the Winter Exhibition is a feature- less one enough. Mr. Arthur Hughes sends the beat figure subject, and Messrs. J. T. and W. Linnell, who distinguished themselves greatly here last year, the beat landscapes. Mr. Hughes's figure is simply a little boy, some four years old, in flannel night-gown, standing with a diminutive naked foot peeping out; but it is rather affectedly named

" A closer link Betwixt us and the coming age." (" Crowning race," Tennyson wrote; but that is of no consequence to.the catalogue-compiler.) The abstract feeling for childhood combined with portrait-like exactness, and the rich simplicity of the colour, are the chief sources of the very engaging and even touching impression which this picture produces. The little fellow is as near an angel as he ought to be compatibly with being tucked into bed in a flannel gown. The general treatment and execution display that delicate sensibility—that exquisite- ness, as it may be termed—which is for Mr. Hughes "the calling mark- ing him a man apart" : the hands, and perhaps the foot, appear, however, to be impossibly small. Mr. J. T. Linnell is, as before, full of detail, country feeling, and industrious study, in his "Evening" ; into which he gets an additional point of interest by a slight but natural incident,—a country man and woman, with rake and other rustic implements, crossing a stile into the dim copse-path, while their dog pauses with a start to bark at a wood-pigeon which is flying out of the thicket. The burning sunset and thin young crescent moon, opposed to the darkling foreground, make up a stronger effect than we remember to have before seen from the art- ist; in whom, however, a certain juvenility of style has not yet yielded to his many excellent gifts, though it may die a natural death in the long run. The same praise and the same caveat are due to Mr. William Linnell. His "Cattle Pond" is,an extremely sweet piece of truth; the branching of its foreground tree admirably studied, and the middle meadow-slope, with sheep and copse, a very charming passage. A " Scene in Brittany," by Mr. Goodall, is among his most agreeable performances. There is the same cloying warmth of colour as ever, and the same fallacious make-believe at finish : but we find something less of the stage-manager in the girl peeling a turnip and the child taking a drink of milk from the kindly hand of an elderly peasant. Mr. Stone also, with all his delinquencies, shows the feeling of an artist., simple without bareness, in the Oriental-costumed (not visaged) female figure whom he christens "The East." His other two contributions are par- ticularly valueless. The like condemnation applies to Mr. Frith ; and indeed we can call the theatrical inanity of his " Scene from Woodstock," and the silly smartness and bagman feeling of his " Did you ring, Sir ? " nothing less than offensive. Mr. A. Cooper junior's "Bird's Nest," though thinly painted, is nice and careful in its detail. With these we may name agreeable specimens of Messrs. Harding, Hulme, and Oakes ; fair spe- cimens of Messrs. Anadell, Creswick, Philip, and Prowls ; poor speci- mens of Messrs. Sidney Cooper, Sant, and Stanfield; and a most base specimen of Mr. Solomon,—" The Sailor Boy's Return." The name of Danby appears in initiallers dignity in the catalogue against two trifling affairs ; but we fancy the missing Christian name is not eminent Francis, but plain John. One of Hunt's fruit pieces, and one of Miss Fanny Steers's landscape scraps, adorn the water-colour section ; the latter, we may be sure, no dead map of a locality, but a real view of it as seen through a living pair of human eyes. Two architectural subjects by Mr. Hayllar, though deficient in colour, exhibit a good manner in design. The single contributor of what the catalogue calls " Marbles " (in plaster) is Mr. Munro. The grace and inventive feeling of life in his frieze of "The Seasons" are already known. A lovely serene face, in a pure style of portrait treatment, is neither improved nor disguised by figuring as "Dante's Beatrice." The sculptor's impulsive grace, and faculty for subjects of children, appear again in two varyingly modified groups of " Brother and Sister" and in the " Evening Star " ; but the latter is over-crammed with the accessory matter such as the wreath of bindweed,—and indeed bindweed has no buiness with star and wings.