617


       THE EXHIBITION OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.

Since the first establishment of the Royal Academy, no one of
the annual exhibitions of that institution has, we think, ever been
opened on so important an occasion for the fame of British Art, as
this exhibition of the year 1851. Among the vast congregation
of foreigners assembling in London, by far the greater number
have now to learn for the first time what the English School of
Painting really is--have now to discover what our English artists
really can do. Under such circumstances as these, it must be felt
as a matter of the last importance, that the present exhibition in
Trafalgar Square should be the best, or at least one of the best, that
has ever been opened to the public. We feel sincere gratification
in being able to state, that this year's display on the walls of the
Academy is well worthy of the occasion. There may be some un-
fortunate instances of comparative failure, or total incapacity, among
the works exhibited; but our greatest painters have vindicated
their greatness nobly; and their younger brethren, the rising men
of the profession, have, with few exceptions, made a marked ad-
vance towards a higher degree of excellence than they have hitherto
reached. In a word, this eighty-third annual exhibition of the
Royal Academy contains an unusually large number of pictures, of
which as a nation we may fairly feel proud; and from which our
foreign visitors may well learn to appreciate the excellence, the
originality, and the cheering onward progress of English Art.

The number of works of painting, sculpture, and architecture
exhibited this year amounts to thirteen hundred and eighty-nine--
a formidable array even to look through, much more to criticise.
As the best method of performing the complicated task before us,
we will begin where the numbers begin in the East Room, taking
the figure subjects first, then the landscapes, then the portraits; and
concluding with a word or two on the sculpture. It must be
perfectly obvious to everybody that, within the limits of such a
notice as this, it will be impossible to review as much in detail us
we could desire many works of considerable merit. We must be
content with merely directing the reader's attention to several
pictures, which will amply repay his most careful consideration.

On entering the East Room, and going round it under the
guidance of the Catalogue, the first figure-picture which will attract
the spectator is Mr. Hart's "Benvenuto Cellini," instructing one of
his pupils. The design of this work is exceedingly simple; the
colour warm and mellow, perhaps rather too much so. Further on,
past some portraits and landscapes, appears Mr. Uwins's "Ulysses
in the Island of Calypso." The upper part of the picture displays
much of the painter's wonted grace and refinement; the lower part
is less felicitous--the attitude of Ulysses striking us, especially, as
being somewhat unnatural and constrained. Frankly let us own it,
we never feel so ready a sympathy with Mr. Uwins's genius as
when he gives us those brilliant and truthful illustrations of Italian
life, which first won him his reputation, and which perhaps preju-
dice us a little, in spite of ourselves, against even his best efforts in
other branches of art.
                                                                                         U U 2




618                         THE EXHIBITION OF

Passing on, we next observe a crowd of spectators gathered
before one picture, looking long and attentively at every part of it;
and with good reason; for this picture offers a subject which is
universal in its interest, and which is treated by one of the most
original and most graphic painters of the age. It is "Caxton's
Printing Office," represented by Maclise. The great and striking
characteristic of this noble work is its perfect verisimilitude--the
scene looks as if it must really have occurred exactly as we see it
painted. In the middle of the composition, Caxton is exhibiting
the first proof sheet taken from the first press ever set up in Eng-
land, to Edward the Fourth. The Queen and the young princes
stand near, looking on with eager curiosity. Each side of the
picture is occupied by the workmen in the printing-office. The
illuminator, the wood-engraver, the book-binder, the compositor,
the pressman, are all placed before us, each with the materials of
his craft scattered about him. The astonishing varieties of ex-
pression and character exhibited in the different groups must be
seen, and, let us add, studied also, to be properly appreciated. We
will merely direct attention here to the expression and attitude of
the printer's boy, who is holding up the proof-sheet before the
King; to the vacant, wondering countenance of one of the young
princes; to the calmness and elevation, the mental anxiety and
physical fatigue beautifully developed in the face of Caxton. In these,
and in many other instances which we have not space to particu-
larize, there are evidences of such masterly adherence to the truth
of Nature, combined with striking dramatic power, as Mr Maclise
has never surpassed, and we even think, not often equalled, in any
former work. In all its multifarious details, the picture is managed
with the most consummate skill; firmness and finish are carried to
their climax in the painting of the different objects in the printing-
office, and the general tone of the colour recals, we are glad to say,
much of the power and brilliancy of the best of the artist's earlier
works.

Very different are the impressions we derive from the next pic-
ture we see, Mr. Dyce's "King Lear and the Fool in the Storm!"
Who that remembers this artist's exquisite "Jacob and Rebecca" of
last year--and once seen, could any one forget it?--who would
imagine such a failure to be possible as he now exhibits? The
Fool is represented to us as sprawling on his stomach, kicking up his
heels, and poking his little finger into one corner of his mouth. The
King sits swinging his arms about in true theatrical frenzy; his beard
is blown out stiff and straight in every hair; and his face is tattoed
with some of the most astonishing light brown wrinkles we ever
beheld, even on canvas. Did we dare imagine such a desecration
of Shakspeare, as a pantomime called "Harlequin King Lear," here
we should certainly have a correct representation of the manner in
which Clown and Pantaloon might be expected to perform the parts
of the Fool and the King.

Mr. Herbert exhibits a single figure of Daniel in his boyhood,
from a Scripture composition now in progress. The conception of
the character is noble, and it has been nobly worked out. Both in
the attitude of the figure and the expression of the features, the
same grandeur is preserved, without an approach to anything that
is meretricious or exaggerated; without any appearance of trickery




                              THE ROYAL ACADEMY.                      619

in colour, or artifice in arrangement, to detract from the simple,
solemn, scriptural beauty of the painter's idea. We earnestly hope,
for the sake of the public taste, now rapidly becoming vitiated by
the imbecile profanities exhibited in our shop windows as devo-
tional prints, that this picture will be engraved; and engraved at
such a price as may place it within the reach of the general pur-
chaser.

The contemplation of such a work of art as Mr. Herbert's unfits
us for any lengthened examination of Mr. Chalon's picture of the
"Seasons," which hangs near it. We observe that the allegorical
nymphs are gracefully and prettily painted, and pass on--after a
pleasant glance at two truthful little pictures by Mr. Webster--to
Mr. Charles Landseer's "Cromwell reading an intercepted Letter
of the Kings. The composition is carefully treated; the scene on
the battle-field of Naseby presents itself clearly in its different
aspects, and the portraits of Fairfax, Skippon, and Ireton are so
introduced as to increase legitimately the historical interest of the
subject.

The new President's "Ippolita Torelli," a female figure in a
partly reclining attitude, next presents itself. The picture displays
all Sir Charles Eastlake's well known delicacy of touch and finish of
execution; the refined features and gentle expression of "Ippolita,"
possessing at the same time that calm poetic beauty which this
painter has often before presented to us in his female heads, but
never more successfully than on the present occasion.

Mr. Leslie gives us this year the scene from "Henry the Fourth,"
in which Falstaff administers a mock rebuke to the Prince, in the
character of the King. Always admirable in displaying on canvas
that highest and truest humour which never degenerates into vul-
garity or exaggeration, the painter has equalled his best efforts in
impersonating the character of the Prince, to our thinking the most
successful figure in the picture. We have all the mischief and
recklessness of "Hal" developed in his countenance; and yet, rake as
he is, his birth and breeding are expressed or rather suggested, with
consummate ability, both in his features and bearing. We may
also mention the "hang-dog" look of' Bardolph; the hearty enjoy-
ment in the face of the Hostess; and the timid glance of astonish-
ment cast by the "drawer" at the Prince, as all in Mr. Leslie's best
manner, that manner which places him alone and unapproached
among the artists of his age. If we might hint an objection to any
part of the picture, it would be to the figure of Falstaff, which
strikes us as somewhat conventional. If Mr. Leslie had trusted as
thoroughly to his own genius here, as in other parts of his work,
might he not have made Falstaff as complete a creation of his own
on canvas as all the other figures in this delightful picture?

Never do we remember to have seen Sir Edwin Landseer to such
advantage as we see him this year, in his Scene from the "Mid-
summer Night's Dream." It is hardly too much to say of this
picture, that it is in the very spirit of Shakspeare himself. The
delicacy and loveliness of Titania; the dense, asinine stupidity of
the transformed Bottom, we might have expected to find what we
find them here; but in his manner of embodying the Fairies, we
must confess that the painter has taken us by surprize, high as our
estimate has always been of his abilities. The exquisite fancy, the




620                         THE EXHIBITION OF

mixture of quaint humour and poetic beauty exhibited in the
impersonation of Peas-blossom, Cobweb, Moth, &c., cannot be
too highly praised, as the completest realization of the Fairies of
Shakspeare ever displayed on canvas. Even in the more mechani-
cal qualities of "surface" and "execution," this picture is one of
the very best the artist has produced; witness the painting of the
two white rabbits in the right-hand foreground, which in our
opinion carries the power of illusion as far as illusion will go.

Stopping for a moment, to admire Mr.Uwins's charming little
picture of "The Parasol," we arrive opposite Mr.E. M. Ward's
"Royal Family of France in the Prison of the Temple." There is
real pathos, of the simplest and most impressive order, in this fine
picture. We look at the beautifully-conceived sleeping figure of
Louis the Sixteenth; at the expression of the Queen, who is mend-
ing his coat while he slumbers; at the Dauphiness watering the
lily already drooping in the glass; at the Dauphin mending his
shuttle-cock, the last plaything left to him; and we acknowledge
that the scene is presented to us with a touching truth to Nature,
and a graphic eloquence of expression, which move our sympathies
even more than our admiration. In displaying, as a contrast to the
mournfulness and resignation of the royal prisoners, the group of
revolutionary ruffians just seen behind them smoking and playing
cards in an outer room, Mr. Ward has shown how admirably he
understands the dramatic connection between the pathetic and the
terrible; while, in grappling with the technical difficulties of his
art, he has advanced this year to a degree of excellence, which
even his heartiest admirers of former seasons can hardly have been
prepared to see.

In "Hogarth brought before the Governor of Calais as a spy,"
Mr. Frith gives us another of those character-pictures by which he
has honestly won a high reputation. He is still as excellent as
ever in the more refined subtleties of expression. In the face of
Hogarth, we have all the characteristic coarseness and wit of the
great painter, capitally combined with his look of reckless uncon-
cern, and his malicious enjoyment of the perplexities of his military
judge. The rest of the personages in the picture are not less happily
hit off--the dirty, scare-crow French soldiery of the day, and the
courteous but rigid commanding officer seated bolt upright in his
arm-chair, being especially remarkable as excellent and careful
representations of national character. The more initiated among
the visitors to the exhibition, will not fail to recognise in the "paint-
ing" of this picture a remarkable purity and truth--a bold and
most successful attempt to treat a simple daylight effect in all its
simplicity, without the slightest adventitious aid from artificially
bright lights or dark shadows, in any part of the canvas.

With this work, we take our leave of the figure subjects in the
East Room--Mr. Redgrave's "Flight into Egypt" (the only remain-
ing Picture), being one of those commonplace attempts to be solemn
by dint of dingy blue, yellow, and brown, worked into a high state
of polish all over sky, earth, and figures, which proclaims its own
mediocrity too palpably to need any remark whatever on our parts.

Beginning, in the Middle Room, with Mr.Poole's "Goths in
Italy" (No.344), we are forcibly impressed by a certain air of
barbaric grandeur and simplicity--a striking wildness and mystery




                              THE ROYAL ACADEMY.                      621

--spread over the whole picture, which is admirably in keeping
with the subject. Whatever he may paint, Mr. Poole always works
powerfully and originally--always produces, as in this instance, an
effect which is peculiarly and distinctively his own on the mind of
the spectator. Far different is the case with Mr.Hook, who has
attempted the well-worn subject of the "Brides of Venice." Here
we see nothing but several pretty girls clothed in pretty dresses,
disposed in pretty attitudes, and assuming pretty expressions--not
the Brides of Venice, but modern young ladies personating their
characters in a drawing-room "Tableau."

Mr. Brown's large and elaborate picture of "Chaucer reading the
Legend of Custance to Edward the Third
," deserves to be mentioned
by us with that respect which hard work honestly persevered in
throughout, should always command. It must be confessed, how-
ever, that we looked with regret at the whole composition, as a
work in which the confusion of the figures, and the absence of any
attention to harmony, had seriously damaged the effect of many
detached parts that were individually excellent. We hope to see
Mr. Brown doing more justice to his own industry and intelligence
on a future occasion.

Mr. Cope's picture (in three compartments) of "Laurence Saun-
ders, the second of the Protestant Martyrs in the time of Mary,"
takes rank among the noblest productions of modern art. In the
first division, the wife of the martyr, with her infant child in her
arms, is seen ringing at the prison door, to ask a last interview with
her husband. The attitude of the figure is simple, the expression of
the features free from even an approach to exaggeration; and yet
what unutterable woe there is in those calm, piteous eyes! what
meek piety, what solemn resignation in that sad, pure face! The
second compartment shows us the interior of the prison. The wife
has been refused admission, but the gaoler has brought in the infant
to receive its father's farewell. The yearning fondness, mingling
with saintly patience and firmness, in the martyr's countenance--the
attitude of the child stretching out its little face and arms towards
its father--must be seen, and pondered over; not described--no
mere words could do it justice. In the third division, we behold
the martyr going out to the pile on which he is to be burnt--his
courage undiminished; his trust unshaken--an impressive conclusion
to the story of an impressive picture. If this work appealed less
eloquently to the best and purest feelings of the spectator, we might
take some exception to the manner in which it is painted--in the
sense of workmanship. But, seeing it what it is, we feel that slight
technical objections would be petty and misplaced, applied to such
a picture as this--a picture of "High Art," in the most elevated and
comprehensive meaning of the term.

In "Rinaldo destroying the myrtle," Mr. F. R. Pickersgill has
not got beyond respectable mediocrity. Not even by accident does
he appear to have hit on anything original, in characterising, com-
posing, or colouring any one of the numerous figures in his picture.
We turn with pleasure from this work, and from the execrable
vulgarity of Mr. Brodie's "May and December," to Mr. Frost's
"Wood-Nymphs. The painter's refined feeling for form appears
here to as much advantage as ever; the faces of his nymphs are still
exquisite in their pure, ideal loveliness--would we could add that




622                         THE EXHIBITION OF

the glow and richness of colour, hitherto undeveloped in his works,
were apparent on the present occasion. This is all that Mr. Frost
wants; and to accomplish this, he need only learn to feel clue confi-
dence in the resources of his own genius.

If "Nell Gwynne" could return to life with such a face as Mr.
Egg gives her in his picture of this year, could the man be found,
who would not be just as anxious to kiss her, as "Mr. Pepys" him-
self? The present is, in many respects, the best work the painter
has produced. The greedy anxiety of Pepys to make the utmost of
the kiss he is allowed to snatch from "Poor Nelly," is a capital
piece of expression; full of comedy, yet free from coarseness.
Equally good is the jaded, rouged face, and arch, vagabond look of
the "player-woman" who is having her shoe put on. All the other
figures in the picture are simply and naturally introduced--there is
nothing that looks artificial in any part of the arrangement. The
painting, too, is admirably firm and forcible; and the colour-
saving a little tendency to yellowness, in parts--displays a truth and
richness well deserving of especial notice and praise.

We would fain delay over Mr E. M. Ward's "John Gilpin;" but
our narrowing space obliges us to leave it with a passing word of
commendation, as worthy in its spirit and humour of the immortal
ballad which it illustrates. Going on, round the remaining figure-
pictures in the room, we do not find much to delay us. Mr. Faed's
"Cottage Piety" is nothing but a mechanical imitation of the manner
of Wilkie, which we need not stop to criticise. Nor do the "Dover
Hovellers," by Mr. Hollins, incline us to make any long pause--three
more intensely uninteresting men than these same "Hovellers," we
never saw on canvas. Mr. Elmore's "Hotspur and the Fop
demands, and has, our best attention. The picture is finely drawn
and composed, and in many places, very well painted. The "Fop"
is the conventional fop--a gentleman whom we are heartily tired of
seeing represented; but the group carrying the dead body, and the
expression and position of Hotspur, are full of dramatic energy.
Mr. C. Collins's "Convent-Thoughts" we intend to notice further
on, with the works exhibited in the West and North Rooms, by
Messrs. Hunt and Millais--the novel and strongly-marked style
which these three artists have adopted alike, warranting us in
reserving their pictures for special and separate remark.

Not forgetting to admire, as we go, Mr. Frith's pretty "Gleaner,"
we now pass into the West Room. Here are two Scripture-subjects,
by Messrs. Dobson and O'Neil; some "Arcadians" by Mr. Patten;
and a "Defeat of Shylock" by Mr. Hook, all of very ordinary merit.
Mr. Goodall's "Raising the May Pole" is a great improvement on
his latter works. It is clever in design and arrangement, and pre-
sents some excellent effects of colour. Mr. Kennedy, in his "Theo-
dore and Honoria," works in so blotchy and patchy a style, that his
canvas looks as if it had broken out into an eruption of paint--while
Mr. Horsley, in "L'Allegro and Il Penseroso" goes to the opposite
extreme, and produces a surface as smooth and cleanly as a new
coach panel. Mr. Stone's "Scene from the Merchant of Venice"
is, we think, destined to please very generally. The female figures
are elegantly and beautifully conceived--the men are the best Mr.
Stone has ever painted, showing far more of masculine character and
energy than we remember in any of his former works. Mr.John-




                              THE ROYAL ACADEMY.                      623

ston's "Family Worship" gives us the old story--the family party
are all trying to look pious; and the effect of colour is of the usual
"dim, religious" treacle-brown hue, which seems to be a staple
commodity of all domestic-devotional pictures of this class. Mr.
Armitage's "Samson," is a work of great power and imagination--
bold and original enough in conception to give goodly promise for
this artist's future career, provided he guards himself rigidly against
even a tendency to extravagance and display. We have rarely seen
a larger canvas covered to smaller purpose, than by Mr. Barker;
whose "Incident in the life of William Rufus" would have been
more fitly exhibited on the side of a caravan, than on the walls of
the Academy. Mr. J. H. G. Mann--a name new to us--has painted
a very nice little picture of a "Mother and Child." Of Mr. Le
Jeune's "Sermon on the Mount," we can only say that the artist will
best show his reverence for sacred things, by never again attempting
a Scripture subject.

The North Room has been made a new room this year, by hanging
pictures in it, instead of architectural drawings; which have been
removed to the Octagon Room. By this excellent arrangement,
extra and well-lighted space has been gained for the young painters
especially; who, with not more than one or two exceptions, have
been treated on the present occasion with perfect justice--nay, with
extreme liberality in some cases. For example, Mr. Rankley's
"Pharisee and Publican," and Mr. Solomon's "Oliver Goldsmith"
--the first of which strikes us as a display of sentimental mock piety;
and the second, as a clumsy caricature--are so hung as to appear
under every possible advantage of position to any spectator who may
be able to discover the merit in them, which we cannot discern. In
truth, the chief attractions to us, in the North Room, are the land-
scapes, which we have yet to notice. We remember nothing which
it is necessary to particularise, but two clever animal pictures by
Mr. Ansdell, and the "Woodman's Daughter," by Mr. Millais.
The mention of this last work reminds us that it is now time to offer
our promised remarks on, what is called the "new," or "Pre-
Raphael" style.

The characteristics of this style, in the eyes of the general spec-
tator, may, we think, be pretty correctly described as follows:--an
almost painful minuteness of finish and detail; a disregard of the
ordinary rules of composition and colour; and an evident intention
of not appealing to any popular predilections on the subject of grace
or beauty. The most prominent representatives of this new school
are Messrs. Millais, Collins, and Hunt; whose pictures we are now
about to notice.

Mr. Collins's picture, in the Middle Room, is entitled Convent
Thoughts
and represents a novice standing in a convent garden,
with a passion-flower, which she is contemplating, in one hand, and
an illuminated missal, open at the crucifixion, in the other. The
various flowers and the water-plants in the foreground are painted
with the most astonishing minuteness and fidelity to Nature--we
have all the fibres in a leaf, all the faintest varieties of bloom in a
flower, followed through every gradation. The sentiment conveyed
by the figure of the novice is hinted at, rather than developed, with
deep poetic feeling--she is pure, thoughtful, and subdued, almost to
severity. Briefly, this picture is one which appeals, in its purpose




624                         THE EXHIBITION OF

and conception, only to the more refined order of minds--the general
spectator will probably discover little more in it, than dexterity
of manipulation. Mr. Millais aims less high, and will therefore be
more readily understood. He exhibits three pictures. The first
represents a girl standing in an attitude of extreme weariness, in the
chamber of an ancient mansion. The dress of the figure, the stained
glass on the windows, the stool from which she has risen, all display
the most dazzling and lustrous richness of colour, combined with
high finish of execution. In the second picture, "The return of
the Dove to the Ark," we have only the wives of two of Noah's
sons; one holding the dove, the other caressing it. Here, every
stalk of the straw on which the figures are standing, is separately
painted; the draperies are studied and arranged, with great skill and
power; and the flesh-tints are forcible in an extraordinary degree.
The third picture, "The Woodman's Daughter," is more remarkable
for the landscape than the figures. The woody background of the
scene is really marvellous in its truthfulness and elaboration. Mr.
Hunt exhibits one work --" Valentine receiving Silvia from Proteus;"
and exceeds, in some respects, even Mr. Collins and Mr. Millais in
the intricacies of high finish, and in minute imitation of the minutest
objects in nature. "Silvia" is kneeling upon some dry leaves, treated
with an elaboration beyond which art cannot go. The drapery, too,
of this figure is painted with the most masterly firmness, brilliancy,
and power; every inequality of the wooded background is represented
with admirable fidelity to nature; and the patches of sunlight falling
upon shady places through gaps in the trees above, shine with a
dazzling brightness which never once reminds us of the trickeries
of the palette--which is the evident result of the most intelligent
and the most unflinching study.

Such are some of the most prominent peculiarities of these pic-
tures which come within the limits of so brief a notice as this. If
we were to characterise, and distinguish between, the three artists
who have produced them, in a few words, we should say that Mr.
Collins was the superior in refinement, Mr.Millais in brilliancy,
and Mr. Hunt in dramatic power. The faults of these painters are
common to all three. Their strict attention to detail precludes, at
present, any attainment of harmony and singleness of effect. They
must be admired bit by bit, as we have reviewed them, or not
admired at all. Again, they appear to us to be wanting in one great
desideratum of all art--judgment in selection. For instance, all the
lines and shapes in Mr. Collins's convent garden are as straight and
formal as possible; but why should he have selected such a garden
for representation? Would he have painted less truly and carefully,
if he had painted a garden in which some of the accidental sinu-
osities of nature were left untouched by the gardener's spade and
shears? Why should not Mr. Millais have sought, as a model for
his "Woodman's Daughter," a child with some of the bloom, the
freshness, the roundness of childhood, instead of the sharp-featured
little workhouse-drudge whom we see on his canvas? Would his
colour have been less forcible, his drawing less true, if he had con-
ceded thus much to public taste? We offer these observations in
no hostile spirit : we believe that Messrs. Millais, Collins, and Hunt,
have in them the material of painters of first rate ability: we admire
sincerely their earnestness of purpose, their originality of thought,




                              THE ROYAL ACADEMY.                      625

their close and reverent study of nature. But we cannot, at the
same time, fail to perceive that they are as yet only emerging from
the darkness to the true light; that they are at the critical turning
point of their career; and that, on the course they are now to take;
on their renunciation of certain false principles in their present
practice, depends our chance of gladly welcoming them, one day, as
masters of their art--as worthy successors of the greatest among
their predecessors in the English school.

With these observations, we take our leave of the figure pictures,
and proceed to the landscapes.

Mr. Stanfield's most important picture this year, is the "Battle of
Roveredo." We remember no work by the great landscape painter
which better displays his powers than this. The moment taken, is
when the troops of the French Republic were crossing the Adige.
The stir and confusion of the scene are represented in the most
masterly manner. The picturesque buildings in the middle distance,
the hills beyond, and the snowy Alps, towering over all, are painted
with that remarkable facility in rendering space, distance, and effect,
for which Mr. Stanfield is unrivalled. The power of this picture is,
indeed, extraordinary--its variety of objects, its brilliant colour and
free forcible execution, "tell" upon the eye at almost any distance.
There is a Dutch View (No.48), by the same painter, which is
especially remarkable for the beautiful modelling of the sky--and a
sea-piece (No. 743), which is one of the freshest and finest works of
this kind that lie has ever produced.

Mr.Roberts, in the "Interior of the Church of St.Ann, at
Bruges," triumphs as successfully as usual over all architectural com-
plications, without ever confusing, or wearying the eye. We notice
particularly the painting of the wood-carving running along the
wall of the church, as a specimen of that perfect execution which
exactly hits the medium between extreme finish and extreme freedom
of handling. The "Surprise of the Caravan" (in the Middle Room)
by the same artist, is a gorgeous eastern scene, bold and powerful
in treatment, and strikingly brilliant in effect.

Mr. Creswick's pictures this year would amply justify his elec-
tion as an Academician--were any such justification wanted. His
best work is "The Evening Hour" (No. 147). The effect of fading
light on the foliage and water is beautifully conveyed--the whole
picture looks, indeed, as if it must have been painted in the open
air, so admirable is it us a study of the light, shade, and colour of
nature.

Mr. Danby has a "Winter Sunset" (in the Middle Room), in
which the frosty stillness of the atmosphere, the solemnity of the
clear darkening sky, and the last fiery reflections from the setting
sun, are depicted with a grandeur of feeling and a vigour of treat-
ment deserving of the highest praise we can accord. Equal to the
works of the best Dutch masters in truthfulness, this picture
possesses, in our opinion, a poetry and beauty of effect which, with
the single exception of Rembrandt, the old painters have never
rivalled.

Mr. Lee's landscapes are too patchy in execution, and too meagre
in colour, to please us, this year. "The Market Cart" (No.55) is
the best of his productions. Mr. Witherington studies carefully
from nature; but his colouring is raw, and he is sadly wanting in




626      THE EXHIBITION OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.

sharpness and firmness of touch. Mr. E. W. Cooke has made a
great advance on the present occasion. His "Views of Venice
(Nos. 539 and 732), are by far the best things he has ever done.
They are clear without hardness--brilliant and forcible, without
exaggeration of colour--and (we speak from experience) excellent as
truthful representations of the scenes they depict. Mr. Linnell is too
uniformly yellow and brown, in his "Woodlands "--we infinitely
prefer his smaller picture (in the North Room), which has great
breadth and beauty of effect, especially in the sky. Mr. Redgrave's
"Woody Dell" (No. 443), proves to us that he ought, for the future,
to confine himself entirely to landscape. As a study of foliage, this
picture is the truest and the best in the present exhibition.

Want of space prevents us from doing more than indicating the
following landscapes, as well deserving of attention:--In the East
Room, Mr. J. D. Harding's "Bonneville," Mr. Jutsum's "Devon-
shire Coast," Mr. E. Lear's "Town in North Albania," Mr. Creswick's
"Valley Mill," and Mr. Middleton's "Clovelly." In the Middle
Room, Mr. Creswick's "Over the Sands." Mr. R. C. Leslie's "Hermi-
tage Rock," and Mr. Stark's "Forest Farm." In the West Room,
Mr. G. Stanfield's "East Tarbet," Mr. Gudin's "North East Coast
of Scotland," Mr. Danby's "Ship on Fire," Mr. Back's " Caerhyh
Church," Mr. Danby's Summer Sunset, and Mr. Raven's "Scene
in Eridge Park." In the North Room, Mr. Middleton's" Fair day
in February," Mr. A. J. Lewis's "Lane Scene," Mr. J. Danby's
"Blackrock Castle," Mr. De Groot's "Anxious Moment," and Mr.
G. A. Williams's" Evening of a stormy day."

Of the portraits this year, taken generally, it would be most
charitable to say as little as possible. They are the worst part of
the exhibition. The portrait-art of England seems to be declining
lower and lower--we look in vain for the simple arrangement and
grand colour of the works of our early school. Both are gone;
and, in their stead, we have feebly-painted ladies and gentlemen,
grinning and attitudinising like so many mountebanks. For in-
instance, Mr. Knight paints a portrait of Mr. Barry (No. 85); and,
because he happens to be a celebrated architect, thinks it necessary
to make him flourish a pair of compasses, with a smile of unutterable
triumph. Mr. E. Williams paints a huge portrait--of Moritz Retzch
--who, by the way, if this is a good likeness, must be one of the
dirtiest of men--and figures him forth, fiercely drawing attention to
himself with two of his fingers, as if he was saying :-"Come! look
at me! see how my hair wants brushing, how my face wants washing,
how my shirt-collars want ironing!--see what a sublimely slovenly
man of genius I am!" If this be portrait painting, how preferable
are the daguerreotypes in the shop-windows!--they show us, at least,
what the dignity and simplicity of nature really are.

Among the exceptions to the mass of mediocre portraits exhibited
this year, we may especially mention Mr. Herbert's two children
(No.33), a work admirable for truth, simplicity, and power, in
spite of a little hardness and quaintness. Again, Mr.Maclise's
portrait of Macready in the character of "Werner," is a noble
reminiscence of the great actor in one of his greatest parts. Mr.
Grant, too, has a portrait of Mrs. Livesay (No. 190) full of grace
and beauty; but marred by carelessness in drawing and execution.
Sir J. Watson Gordon comes nearer to the good old style than any




                           SONG FROM THE GAELIC.                      627

of his contemporaries. His portrait of Sir John Pakenham displays
great simplicity and power; but he must beware of a tendency to
dinginess and blackness which we observe in some of his other
works. Beyond the productions we have now noticed, we remember
no mentionable portraits above mediocrity. Beneath mediocrity--
far beneath it--there are many more that we could particularize;
but it would be to no purpose to comment on them here. Most of
these pictures are evidently the result of a natural incapacity which
no advice could ameliorate, and on which it is therefore unnecessary
to dwell. Let us, rather, go down at once to the Sculpture Room--
here, at least, the eye will not be repelled by crudities of colour--
here it is sure to find refinement and repose.

The best statue this year, is Mr. MacDowell's "Psyche"--a very
beautiful idea, beautifully developed--pure, simple, and poetical, like
all the sculptor's works. In Mr. Legrew's "Rachel," the forms have
been well studied; the dead child hanging over the mother's knee
is finely imagined--at once impressive and true to nature. Mr. Hun-
cock's "Youth and Joy," and Mr. Marshall's "Hebe Rejected" are
both works of great merit--the latter especially pleased us, by its
refinement and simplicity. The remaining statues--there are com-
paratively few in the room, on this occasion--do not appear to
possess more than ordinary interest, or to display more than ordinary
ability. As for the busts, we must confess that our recollection of
them is very confused. We have a general remembrance of heads
of ladies with poetical features, and classically-dressed hair, and
heads of gentlemen with muscular noses and mouths, and majestic
necks and shoulders; but to mention any individual heads among
the collection, is beyond our power. We leave the task of criticism
here--and in the South Room, where miniatures by hundreds be-
wildered us even more than the busts--to our readers; and take our
leave of the Royal Academy, our last visit confirming the impression
derived from our first, viz.--that, with the single exception of the
portraits, this is one of the best exhibitions that has been opened to
the public for many years back.




First published anonymously in Bentley's Miscellany XXIX No. 174, June 1851, pp617-627.

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