Imatges de pàgina

T113 ROYAL Society or PAmrnRs IN WArnR COLOURS

63. Lady Flora. E. . Sullivan.

88. Stop Thief! A. ackham.

111. Moonlit Silence, Pompeii. A. Goodwin. 114. Music by the Water. R. Anning Bell.


49. The Last Load. F. G. Cotman. 390. Chateau Gaillard. Cecil A. Hunt.


'45. Progress. G. F. Watts.

‘50. Prometheus. G. F. Watts.

68. Lord Rayleigh. Sir G. Reid.

106. Beaulieu Marsh. Oliver Hall.

112. Beauty and the Beast. I. D. Batten. '132. Endymion. G. F. Watts.

147. A Thunder Cloud. ames S. Hill.

150. Giles Hunt, Esq. . R. Mileham.

r68. jack. ]. J. Shannon. '193. A Fugue. G. F. Watts.

201. The Irish Primate. H. Harris Brown. 225. Miss 1. La Primaudaye. George Henry. 239. Mrs. Hugh Smith. John S. Sargent. 278. Baron A. Caccamisi. Antonio Mancini. 283. Near Falmouth. A. D. Peppercorn. 295. The Dogana, Venice. Reginald Barratt. 422. Miss]. V. Gaskin. Arthur]. Gaskin.


us that we should inaugurate a department for ad— vising collectors of modern ,A', 6 works of art. Such an institution would be, of course, as impossible in practice as it is desirable in theory. We have previOusly referred to the chaotic condition of affairs in which the modern artist and the modern patron have to meet, and to the contraricties of the criticism which, instead of being a help, is often an added source of confusion. We are not, therefore, greatly surprised when collectors in despair take to buying snuff boxes, or colour prints, or third-rate works by old masters, whose place in art and commerce, though modest, is at least assured, or when the Chantrey Trustees, with the rcmonstranccs of Mr. MacColl and a large section of the press sounding in their ears, fail to improve upon their previous record.

The trustees have, indeed, some excuse in our national system of purchase. To avoid the risk of relying upon the judgement of a single man, the English have

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


acquired a habit, which is fast becoming a custom,of supporting their buyers by amore or less expert committee. Now, though admirable in theory, the custom has proved an utter failure in practice, and the cause is not hard to discover. A committee cannot always meet at a moment’s notice, and so opportunities are lost. Each member has his own preferences in art, and if they are not consulted is apt to oppose those of his fellows. The result is delay, compromise, and the purchase of unemphatic and second-rate things which excite neither opposition nor interest. Under the circumstances we can only regret that the trustees should not have refrained from purchasing until they could agree upon the acquisition of some notable work which would to some extent atone for the mistakes Of past years and their deplorable silence.

If we have lost our traditional pluck the committee system is the only one possible. If not, the sooner we do away with it the better. Our great collections were not made by committees, but by single men who had the courage of their convictions. Most, if not all, made mistakes, but they more than atoned for them by their successes. It is to individuals that the arts must continue to look for support, and to make their task as easy as possible is the first duty of all honest critics.

Modern exhibitions are so large that even the actual form of newspaper criticism tends to make any notice of mixed exhibitions into a solidly printed string of names and epithets difficult to read, and still more difficult to remember. We therefore think it may be of some use to our readers to have a record of notable pictures in the current exhibitions in a shape which can be

Some Dififealties of Collecting

understood at a glance. In making it we have tried to recognize only serious artistic purpose and well-directed effort, on whatever tradition they are based, whether old or modern. Special attention is given to signs of promise in little-known artists, because they best deserve the encouragement of collectors and of the public. We hope soon to deal on a more extended scale with the possibility of a sensible canon of criticism. It is, perhaps, the most important question to be settled between the modern artist and the modern collector, and therefore, in spite of its delicacy and difficulty, it is one which we are bound to face.


NYONE who is compelled to examine the vast mass Of pictures annually ‘ produced in England must from time to time be over, come by a feeling of disappointment which, if he is in earnest, will amount almost to despair. Where such mountains of effort are obviously in travail, it seems incredible that the result should be so ridiculously small. Were it not indeed that most artists have to gain some sort of a living by their work, it would be excusable to wonder if most Of their efforts were serious. The average painter, of course, has to concentrate his mind on technical questions. It would therefore be perhaps too much to expect that he should possess a reasonable knowledge of general literature and history. As a rule, however, he does not appear to be capable of taking a wide and intelligent view even of his own business, or to be acquainted with the pictures and books of other men which could help him to learn to paint. He is content to accept the mode in fashion with his fellow students, and sticks to it through thick and thin, however ill it may suit his particular talent.


The student has undoubtedly some excuse for this narrowness. Nowadays the great tradition of painting is confused by many widely diverse aims and methods, so that the best method for training any individual talent may not easily be found. None the less from this chaos some excellent artists have emerged during the last fifty years, so that the failure of the rest must not be attributed to the character of the age in which they have lived, but to some defect of character or training. They fail simply because they have lost their way.

Now, though the number of books on art has increased enormously during the last few years, their quality has not increased in a like ratio. We have had elaborate studies of single schools and single artists, but not one book which takes a clear and unbiassed view of painting as a whole. That omission has suddenly been remedied. Two books have just appeared which should be of incalculable use both to students and to fully-fledged painters who have not yet quite forgotten how to think. The elaborate volume by Mr. Charles Ricketts ‘ is reviewed elsewhere. The more modest and

I 'The Prado and Its Masterpieces.’ By C. S. Ricketts. Constable. {5 5s. net.

elementary work of Mr. George Clausen,2 however, does not need such detailed discussion.

Among Academicians, Reynolds, Eastlake, and C. R. Leslie have a lasting place in the literature of the fine arts, and it is hardly claiming too much for Mr. Clausen’s book to say that it will survive in their company. Being adapted to the need of the moment and to an audience of students, his book is of necessity limited in its scope; within those limitations it fulfils its purpose admirably. F or a painter to be fair alike to the Italian primitives, to Michelangelo, to Rembrandt, and to Monet is an astonishing feat, but Mr. Clausen’s judgements throughout are so sound and just that an over-estimation of Bastien Lepage is the worst crime of which he can be accused. The only other words in the book we would alter would be the name of Ambrogio dc Predis on page 92, which seems to be a slip. We are glad that the Royal Academy should in some degree be associated with a work so invaluable, not only to students, but also (if they could but realize it) to most professional painters, for during the last few years the teaching of Academicians, judged by results, has not been successful. With such a well-informed and catholic guide to help them, their students should now do much better.

We wish the President and Council could accept their own professor’s estimate of Alfred Stevens, Whistler, Burne-Jones, and Madox Brown, and, as we have suggested in a previous article, do them the justice which the Chantrey’s trustees have once more denied to them. Sir Edward Poynter’s recent public tribute to Whistler’s genius indicated that so far as he is concerned there is no insuperable obstacle.

This, however, is but a side issue ; the

main fact about Mr. Clausen’s lectures is

a 'Six Lectures on Painting.‘ By George Clausen. Elliot Stock. 55. net.

that they represent a serious and sensible effort to deal with the muddle of conflicting theories which makes the task of art students even more difficult than it was in simpler ages. In insisting upon the essential unity of all the traditions which have produced good painting, Mr. Clausen has performed a service to the fine arts and to the British nation of which they have long stood in sore need.

The best confirmation of the soundness of his conclusions is their coincidence on all essentials with those of Mr. Ricketts, who sets out from a very different point of view, and with an entirely different purpose. Neither one nor the other will convince the considerable body of those who are too obstinate to listen or too stupid to understand. We are sure, however, that there is a small minority, which includes all talents worth the saving, who are neither obstinate nor stupid, but are only puzzled. To them we heartily recommend these two admirable books. Mr. Rickctts (unfortunately he has no occasion to deal in detail with Michelangelo and Rembrandt) should teach them how and why the great masters of painting are great masters. Mr. Clausen can point out to them that the principles on which those great masters worked are not dead and antiquated, but are the backbone of all that is best in the art of to-day.

No amount of school teaching, no addition to government estimates, no system of scholarships and grants and prizes, can make up for the lack of systematic thought which makes the average of our painting so poor. It is because these two books are vigorous and stimulating to the mind that we think they are likely to stop to some extent the waste of ill-directed talent which is the saddest feature of the art of our age and country. We wish them therefore the success they deserve.

[blocks in formation]

HIS title is perhaps not quite accurate as a description of the picture which it is desired now to introduce to the readers ofTua BURLINGTON MAGAZINE and to the public.1 In my monograph on Antoine Watteau, published in June 1895, as No. 18 in the Portfolio series,I referred to it shortly as follows: ‘A Féte Champétre,belonging to the same class as the foregoing series of works (i.e., that of the Accorde’e de Village, the Signature du Contrat, and the Marie'e de Village), and consisting, like these pictures, of groups of small figures, gem—like in colouring, partly overshadowed by the dark masses of noble trees, is in the collection of Colonel Edward Browell, R.A., at Woolwich. This painting appears to have hitherto escaped the engraver and the cataloguer; yet, in the opinion of the writer, who has seen and examined it carefully, it is beyond reasonable doubt genuine.’ The F étc Champétre in question remained undisturbed in Colonel Browell’s collection, save that it was removed to his country residence, Guise House, Aspley Guise, in Bedfordshire. It should be mentioned that it can be traced back to the collection of his great-grandfather, and that it has thus been without interruption in the possession of his family for at least a hundred and thirt years. The short description included in my monograph does not appear to have attracted the attention of any other student of the master, and the picture dropped out of view again until some few months ago it was brought up to London by the owner to undergo a careful process of cleaning and revarnishing. I then had the canvas in my possession for a considerable time, and was absolutely confirmed in my estimate of it as a genuine Watteau of the earlier but not the earliest time, and a work charac1 See page 230 (frontispiece)

teristically imaginative in treatment and of singular beauty. It has during its 'vi/légiature of nearly a century and a half suffered considerably from the ‘irreparable outrages of time,’ and something too from the hand of those who have sacrilegiously sought to repair and conceal these irreparable inroads. Still, pictures by the ‘ prince of court painters,’ as Walter Pater, aptly in one way, but in another most inappropriately, styled the short-lived and ill-fated master of Valenciennes, are not to be found in every country house, or in every gallery. We may well treasure this one, shorn though it is of its full beauty, and deem it an important addition to the authentic works which make up his oeuvre—crowded, all of it that survives and lives, into a few short years. Its condition might be styled excellent by comparison with that of the ruined but still beautiful Accordée de Village in the Soane Collection, or the Mariée de Village, which, even as a wreck, is reckoned one of the chief ornaments of the palace of Sans-Souci at Potsdam. It is far better than that of many Watteaus exhibited, and very properly exhibited, in the La Caze section of the Louvre ; better than that of Le Faux Pas, or L’Automne, or Le Jugement de Paris ; as good, on the whole, as that of the beautiful Promenade dans un Parc. Colonel Browell’s Féte Champétre—or more accurately Wedding Festivities—has not, so far as I have been able to ascertain, been engraved, whether in M. de Julienne’s colossal recueil, ‘ L’CEuvre d’Antoine Watteau, Peintre du Roy en son Acade'mie Royale,’ published in 1734., thirteen years after his death, or elsewhere. But this need not in the least prejudice the student and lover ofWatteau’s art against it. The great majority of pieces due to the brush of this most exquisite of all ‘small masters’ were no doubt so engraved, and included in the magnificent recuei/ of Julienne. Still, a great number of canvases, and among them some of the most famous, are not so included. Watteau’s masterpiece, the Embarquement pour Cythere, of the Louvre, being only the sketch or preparation for the far more highly elaborated Embarquement now in the German Emperor’s private apartments in the Berlin Schloss, is not engraved. The great Gilles of the La Caze collection in the Louvre, though it stood alone in the painter’s life-work, occupied no burin or point of the eighteenth century. N 0 contemporary or slightly posterior print exists of La Toilette du Matin at H ertford House, of Le Jugement de Paris or L’Automne in the La Caze collection of the Louvre, or, so far as I can ascertain, of the Jupiter et Antiope in the same section of the Paris museum. Les Fiangailles, in the Prado gallery at Madrid—a work of precisely the period which we are now discussing—like our picture found no engraver in its own century.


Colonel Browell’s Wedding Festivities, probably the first in order of date of Watteau’s quasi-pastoral fantasies of the F éte Champétre order, belongs to the special group of pictures which includes the above-mentioned Les F iancailles and L’Accordée de Village, of which last-named composition, besides the engraved picture in the Soane Museum, there exist original variations which are, or were, respectively in the Alfred de Rothschild collection, in the now dispersed collection of Mrs. Broad— wood, and in that of a Parisian amateur who contributed his possession to the recent exhibition of eighteenth-century art held at Brussels.2 To this same group belong the ruined Mariée de Village, of Potsdam, just now mentioned, and—most elaborate work of all in this peculiar earlymiddle style of Watteau’s—the picture (engraved by Ant. Cardin) now in the collection Of the due d’Arenberg, which Edmond de Goncourt in his ‘Catalogue

5 See BURLINGTON MAGAZINE,NO. XII, Vol. IV, p. 219. This version has not been seen by the writer.

Raisonné’ designates as ‘ La Signature du Contrat de la Noce de Village.’ This group, in my opinion, comes midway between the early military pieces, with their strong, brown-grey, almost monochromatic tonality, the pieces more or less in the style of David Teniers the younger and the Dutchmen—as, for example, La Vraie Gaieté,3 now in the collection of Sir Charles Tennant, in Grosvenor Square, and La Cuisini‘ere,not long ago added to the gallery of Strassburg —and the final efHorescence of the style,as it shows itselfin the full-dress pastorals, in the Commedia dell’ Arte pieces, the dainty modish Conversation: ga/anm, and those quaint fantasies in which the stage-picture and the dreamland of poesy imperceptibly merge the one into the Other—as in the lost Fétes au Dieu Pan and the incomparable Embarquement pour Cythere of the Louvre. In the group of works which now engages our attention the influence of the Venetians —0fGiorgione and the pastoral painters on the one hand, of Paolo Veronese on the other—has not yet made itself felt to any great extent, if at all. The masters chiefly studied and assimilated have been Rubens, for colour and for the illumination and dis— position Of landscape; Teniers, and, it may be, Adriaen van Ostade, for the placing and moving of large groups of small figures. The local colour flashes in certain passages pure, deep-glowing, and gem-like ; the general tonality is deep and rich, full of luminosity and vibration. The painting is curiously unequal: of wonderful dexterity, finish, and accent in some passages, but, irrespective of injury, hasty, a} pen pm, and imperfect in others. The beautiful landscape, with its improbable castles and its trees issuing from nowhere, is manifestly in a great measure painted (18 chic. The delightfully na'i've little groups of figures, often so true and rhythmic in gesture and movement, may not at other times be defended with entire success against the 3 Reproduced on p. 239.

« AnteriorContinua »