3 AUGUST 1850, Page 12


In the exhibition of oil-paintings at Westminster Hall was the Reconci- liation of Oberon and Titania, by Noel Paton, a young Scotch artist of great promise : the companion-picture—the Quarrel about the changeling —is now exhibited by Messrs. Graves and Co. in Pall Mall ; we presume, with an eye to an engraving. As in the companion, the main incident is told in a central group, and the rest of the picture is thronged by elves at their sports ; like that companion, the present picture is characterized by grace, animation, a highly playful and fanciful power of invention, clear composition and ingenious weaving of groups, much beauty, and a painstaking finish. Upon the whole, it is not quite so light, fanciful, and beautiful as the first; but we know of no other painter who could throw such a profusion of poetical verisimilitude into such a throng of incidents. Richard Doyle has the invention and animation, but he has not yet dis- played the luxurious sense of beauty. Paton's sense of the voluptuous, indeed, carries him to the verge of what modern "decorum" will tolerate, never beyond it,—and not at all beyond what the freedom of art, whether in poetry or painting, may ar- rogate to itself. Art is always somewhat vagabond and lawless because its essential laws must follow the elementary laws of human nature, and not those of custom or Parliament ; and all true artists will show some- thkig of the wild estate. We regard such pictures as Paton's among those best calculated to pro- mote art in this country : their animation and force of story-telling will attract and excite the popular taste ; their beauty and genial sentiment will open the" spring of love" for art. It would be well if other paint- ers, and even sculptors, could cooperate in this needful preliminary to a still higher cultivation of taste ; a higher cultivation, too, which Paton seems as capable of promoting as any of his contemporaries.