1 JULY 1882, Page 15



[LAST NOTICE.] IN this concluding notice of the Royal Academy for 1882, we propose to cast off all the responsibilities of a critic, and to walk at ease through the galleries, looking simply for "what we like." That oldest and wisest of all tests, the pleasure given to the eye and mind, is not likely to lead any one very far wrong, if only it be followed sincerely ; and for once, it will be pleasant, and perhaps profitable, to express the pleasure we feel, without giving reasons for "the faith that is in us." We have in previous notices dealt with many of the more remarkable pictures, and shall therefore chiefly speak to day of the lesser- known artists.

Mr. David Carr's " Violets " (327) shows a brown-skinned maiden standing at the windy corner of an old wall, her hair and her flowers being blown about in all directions. This is a singularly original and even poetic rendering of a .common-place subject, and has a fresh, quaint beauty of its

• own that strikes the eye at once. A nod of approval to Mr. Van Haanen's little pioture of " The Cobbler's Shop," and to a good landscape by Mr. Bryan Hook of water and moor at sunset, brings us to M. H. Fautia's " Peonies " (352), in which we can regret nothing but the stibject,—in fact, peonies are not interesting flowers ; there is, so to speak, no "atmo- sphere" about them. They are to flowers what the cabbage is to vegetables. These, however, are beautifully painted, with delicate attention to the light and shade which fall upon -them, and yet freely and swiftly, as if a trained eye and capable hand had wrought pleasantly together. What can we think of Mr. Milllais's little damsel (353), who is leaving off her knitting, to look mischievously in the spectator's face? Only that it is one of the pleasantest of his child-portraits, none the less interesting because it represents a princess. Indeed, if we may judge from the remarks we hear echoing round the pic- ture, that is its chief merit in the eyes of most of the visitors to the. Academy. And another picture of children hangs near which is worth attention. This is Miss Gow's " Something Interesting," two little girls sitting on the floor, one showing the other a picture. book. 'tie not great, but thoroughly honest, healthy, and pleasant painting, prettily true to pleasant facts of youth and innocence. A little iketch-picture of "Schoolboys Bathing" (357), by Mr.

E. G. Parker, effects at least the purpose of recalling to us vividly similar scenes, and has all the freshness of early morn- ing. We find a different kind of pleasure,—one of the satiric, indoor kind,—in the work of M. de Blame, representing a perform- ance of Punchinello before an audience of girls and children at a Venetian convent, in the eighteenth century. This is one of the most elaborately-painted and composed pictures in the ex- hibition, and is of a similar class to the work of Van Haanen. Its expression of various kinds of laughter, from the mildly deprecating to the hysterically uncontrollable, is very complete', and the composition and actual technique full of merit. Some- how, it does not leave altogether a pleasant taste in the mouth. We should hardly care to live with these white-robed, chubby little girls. Let them laugh their fill, and pass on. We wonder whether a good picture was ever executed iu which laughter held the first place, and why it is that all representa- tions of mirth so inevitably fall into the second or even third rank of paintings P - Near here, and. rather 'high up, and therefore apt to escape notice, we find Mr. Noble's "Toilers of the Road" (378), some horses and a donkey drinking from a rough, wooden trough. This is one of those pictures which represent a great deal of knowledge, without pos.sessing any very great interest. It is strongly and, clearly painted, and the animals' heads are characteristic and expressive. "Hosea Biglovv," in his habit as he lived, or rather his creator, Russell Lowell, hangs near here, pictured by Mrs. Merritt ; and next door is Mr. Goodall's "Arrival at the Well," both pleasant examples of their painters' work ; and another portrait of interest to many is that of Mr. O'Donovan, in the Turcoman costume in which he penetrated to Merv. Mr. Dixon's picture of " Bereaved : Seaham Colliery, 1880" (410), is, as its name imports, of tragical motive. It touches the outside of its mournful subject gently, and with true feeling ; but its cotn- parative success only makes as more certain that nothing but the greatest genius is competent to deal with such a scene, and perhaps even then it were better that it should find other themes. Mr. A. HI. Marsh's " Homeless " (411) is probably the most pathetic picture in the exhibition, and the one which is least likely to receive popular applause. If our words go for anything with our readers, we would beg them to look at this little picture in the corner of the fourth gallery, though it only represents a very old woman toiling along in the sunset.

There is not much in the fifth room that we have not spoken of before. The "Antigone" of Sir Frederick Leighton is the least attractive of his contributions ; the " Esther " of Mr. Herbert, and "The Vega of Granada," by Mr. Ansdell, though both important pictures, are works which the admirers of these painters will be the first to regret ; and the "Portrait of Mrs. Budgett," by Mr. Millais, is probably the most vulgar piece of painting which that most accomplished artist has ever executed. The picture by Mr. Walter Shaw, very unfairly bung, of rough sea, is the best work in this room, and is full, of windy weather, tumbling waves, wet sand, and stormy sky. This work is, we believe, wrongly named, Mr. Shaw having sent in two pictures, of which the Academy, with its curious inconsistency, rejected the best, and called the accepted work by the name of the rejected one. At least, such is the report, and the name of "The Great Orme's Head, North Wales, during the Gale of October 14th, 1881," certainly does not fit this picture, in which there is no "gale" and no " Orme's 'Head."

"The Grey of the Morning" (506) is as pleasant a picture as Mr. Brett ever painted, though not as brilliant a tow de force as some of his earlier work,—it tells us all those little details of sand and rock, and wave, and, shore, which transport us back to days by the sea-side, when we wanted nothing but the fresh air and the Sunshine. Child-like in some ways are these works of Mr. Brett, coming to us with almost unequalled sim- plicity of appeal, and as it were saying, " See, here is a nice, fine beach and. bright sea. Let us stroll along the sands, and let us think of nothing at all."

Very different is Mr. Moore in the next gallery, in his great picture of "Winter and Rough Weather," which, by the way, is carefully hung where it cannot be easily seen,—a picture, this, which pleases mainly because it impresses the spectator with the cold, white fury of the sea, and makes him congratu- late himself on being a " land-lutober."

Mr. Woodville's picture of " Maiwand," in this gallery (576), will have the effect of finally establishing his reputation. We cannot stay to criticise it, but it is, in plain truth, the only battle picture of the Academy which is worthy of the name ; pity that it should record a defeat rather than a victory ! Messrs. Linton and Seymour Lucas are again in rivalry, with large, semi- historical, subject pictures. The balance of merit inclines to the former, but both lack more in interest than they make up in skill ; and this is saying a good deal, for both have great technical ability. .

Three landscape pictures in the seventh gallery, by Messrs. Halswelle, Parton, and Waterlow, are all good in their several ways, and in their artists' wonted manners. Mr. Waterlow, perhaps, is a little less glowing in colour than usual. Mr. A. S. Coke sends a nude figure, entitled. "Orpheus ;" and Mr. E. F. Brewtnall "The Side-Glance ;" and Mr. Arthur Stocks' picture of "A. Window Garden" is a valiant attempt to put poetry and meaning into a very common- place subject, Which we are sorry to say he does not quite succeed in doing. The flowers and. accessories of the " window garden" are well painted, but the navvy who is "doing gar- dener," and his wife and child, are, somehow, out of key with the rest of the picture.

The eighth gallery is remarkable for possessing some of the least estimable Academic works in the exhibition. We shall not stay to do more than enumerate them :—" The Defence of London," by Mr. Eyre Crowe, A. One of Raffaelle's models, by Mr. Armitage, R.A. "Cooper's Shorthorns" and "A Sunny Evening," by Mr. Sidney Cooper, R.A. "A Rainy Day, Venice," by Mr. MacWhirter, A. This last picture is, without exception, the worst picture of Venice which we have ever seen, and it is as unlike the place, as poor a composition and as wretched a painting as we have ever seen in a first-class exhibition. Speaking in all moderation, we cannot see what possible reason there can be for such work being accepted. as fine art, or being upon the Academic walls. A great contrast to this is the " Jephthah's Vow," by Mr. T. M. Rooke, —one of those pictures in several compartments of which this artist is so fond. It will please many, from its delicate manipulation and accuracy of detail; but it bears strong evidence of the weakening effect of continually painting very small figures. The actors in these five little dramas of Jephthah have no strength, freedom, or manhood about them ; they totter rather than stand, they simper rather than smile. They are more like indifferently-constructed puppets than human beings, and the amount of reality they possess is about equal to that of the saints in a Byzantine MS.

On the ninth gallery (of Water-colours) and the tenth, of Architectural Drawings, &c., we shall not speak, nor have we much to say about the eleventh.

Mr. Britain Riviere's " Una " is a bad example of his art, as are all his contributions this year. He has done such good work in former years, that it is but just to pass over these failures in silence, and hope for better things next time. Mr. John O'Connor's " Vicenza" is an accurate and careful study of Palla- dian architecture, interesting from its associations, and laborious in its drawing, but it is not quite a picture. Mr. Davis' "Broken Weather in the Highlands" is a smaller picture of the same quality as the large one we have spoken of in a previous notice. Mr. H. Stock's " Good. and Evil Spirits Fighting for a Man's Soul" (1,460) is not a cheerful subject, and Dot cheerf ally treated, but has a good deal of thought and ability, and a certain pleasing depth of colour. Mr. Peter Graham's diploma work, called "Homewards," is a good example of his usual manner; and Mr. W. L. Wyllie's "The Port of London" is one of the finest Thames piettires we have ever seen,—f all of beanty and truth, and dim, smoky poetry, such as befits the name. Mrs. John Collier's "Corning Tragedian" is probably the best woman's picture in the exhibition, stupidly hung in a corner, after having been rejected altogether by last year's Hanging Committee. It shows a girl in a garret, trying on a Greek dress before a look- ing-glass, with a heap of other rejedted costumes at her feet. It is laboriously painted, and the drapery is well drawn and very well disposed, all but the part which drapes the upper portion of the figure, which is both ugly and impossible. In many ways, this is a very fine picture, its chief fault being that it represents a lady playing at being an actress,