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PICTURE EXHIBITIONSNATIONAL GALLERY-BRITISH INSTITUTION.
One would think that, while private let us then prevail upon them to sell, gentlemen are enriching their galleries say the trustees, and we shall be sure with new purchases, and others, who to be right. Never mind what we never had collections, are making give; the sum given will stamp a them, there would be no great diffi- value-our taste cannot be called in culty in advantageously increasing our question-we are well backed : and National Gallery. There are trustees 80, with this lion's provider going befor the purpose; but we never hear of fore them, they make a few purchases, any competition between them and at prices so exorbitant as to strike private purchasers. What is the all the moderate and professional meaning of this? Cannot the na- dealers with instant envy, at the mere tion afford? Oh, yes !-when they cantile success of the great man who do buy, they give money enough. Are does but spare his treasures. Somethey afraid of the responsibility-of times, we believe, an ill grace is afhaving their knowledge and taste call. fected-a disinclination to spare, if the ed in question ? Then it would be a purchase to be for the National great virtue in them to retire ; and,
; Gallery ; and then a system of madismissing them, we would say, as the nouvring is set about, the consearchbishop said to Gil Blas, we wish quences of which are, that two or you "every success in the world, and three pictures are taken together, a little more taste.” Are the markets “ the cheese and the grindstones," and shut ? By no means; there are nu- both parties are wondrously pleased merous, and some most respectable with the transaction, and the taste of dealers, whose merchandise is pictures; the public astonished. Still the pubthere are auctions of pictures; and lic have the valuable information, in only a few weeks ago we saw a smart a catalogue, that the pictures came competition at one, and some good from the celebrated collection of Mr* pictures, though not in good condition, So-and-so. But suppose this lion's sold, when a beautiful Gaspar Poussin provider should, after all, be a person was knocked down for L.500. We of capricious taste, who so little knows speak of one of the many auctions at his own mind, that what pleases tomost there is something worth having; day must be discarded to-morrow; who but neither at auctions nor at the col. has alternately fits of his admiration lections of dealers are the grand trus- the grand of art to-day, and the mere tees for the National Gallery to be bijouterie and littlenesses of it to-morseen or heard of, by themselves or by row; extravagant in his whims, not deputy. We have lieard it said that reckoning cost; whose very parting they reject all overtures from profess-' with good things should make the ed dealers, most of whom now cease steadiness of histaste, and consequently to offer them a view of their galleries. its accuracy, questionable. Let him Of whom then, do they purchase be one who “ diruit, ædificat, mutat when they do purchase? We will quadrata rotundis ;" in such a case, it not attribute to them any jobbing—we is to be feared the trustees may some. will not suppose they wish to favour times exhibit the vagaries of that any one by kindly taking pictures of ambling light, and not find themselves doubtful character off their hands-we upon the most certain footing. will attribute to them nothing worse
There is another method of mathan a want of confidence in their own king a gallery, which might, under judgment, and that perhaps implies a restrictions, be well enough-" the
, deficiency in the judgment itself. We legacy system." On this we say, let say they have not taste to cater for the nation by all means accept good the public; and therefore they take things bequeathed, but let them also what they conceive to be the only safe have a power to reject, or they may way to themselves. There are certain be, and indeed still are, sadly burpersons to whom the world has given dened with refuse ; but to publish, as a very large share of reputation for they are doing by speeches in the their knowledge of pictures. They House of Commons, a beggarly petiare persons of acknowledged taste: tion of the kind, is utterly unworthy
the object and the character of a Na- tional” still re-echo the coroner's vertional Gallery
dict, “non est inventus.” The picture We quarrel with the trustees; for was very pure, in consequence of its they do little, and the little they do having been well preserved in a dry is with little judgment, and at extra- room, and carefully kept from the time vagant cost ; but mostly we complain it was received from Sir Joshua to the of what they do not do. It is not of dispersion of the corporation effects of very great consequence if we give Plympton. double or treble the value for what is It is universally acknowledged that excellent; but it is vexatious to see the building of the National Gallery continually admirable works, that is a national disgrace-an utter failure. might ornament the public collection, It has no beauty in itself, and it would either irretrievably going out of the be difficult to design rooms more uncountry, or being settled in private fit, both as to light and dimensions, for collections, to which the public can the exhibition of pictures. You have have no access. There is an anecdote perpetually to shift and manage the which exemplifies the little reliance blinds, and yet can scarcely get a light these persons, whom the nation has ap. for any picture ; nor do we think the pointed to purchase for the collection, attempt of hanging them forward, for can have, or indeed ought to have, upon the purpose, at all successful. The their own judgment. Plympton, the pictures, indeed, excepting some few native town of Sir Joshua, wishing to which are improved by varnishing pay honour to so great a man, and alone, looked infinitely better in the proud, at the same time, to benefit old rooms in Pall-Mall. Nothing can themselves by the honour meant to be be more absurd than the practice of conferred, elected Sir Joshua Reynolds suiting pictures to rooms. Surely, if as mayor of the town, hinting, at the it be of moment to the nation to give same time, that, if his personal attend thousands for a picture, it ought to be ance was inconvenient, he should send worth while to have it seen to the best his substitute. The great painter did advantage; and this is generally speakso, and, in time for their feast-day, ing, impossible, where many are tosent them his own portrait, an admir- gether, and in evil and incongruous able picture ; we believe Sir William juxtaposition in a large room. How Elford, no bad judge, received it on lovely would the Claudes be—and proits arrival, and it was of course hon- bably they are the finest in the world ourably welcomed as the substitute. were they each in a room with a single Then “ the arts” were “ liberal,” and and most appropriate light; or, if this bestowed a treasure ; but, in process may not be practicable, let there be no of time, the town became “liberal," more than three or four in one apartand, under the “ liberal municipal ment. We were surprised, knowing law," preferred Joseph's arithmetic to well their real beauties, to see them Sir Joshua's fame and picture, and look so very ill: we will not give their their own honour accruing from the effect epithets, because the fault is not possession. The municipal sacrificed in the works. It is lamentable to see the munificent. The gift went to such wonders of art sacrificed. The auction with the liberal corporation's fact is, long galleries, and large galother effects. Lord Valletort was the leries, and high galleries, are all abpurchaser; and, thinking it a great gain surd things. There is an architecfor the National Gallery, offered it to tural difficulty to be overcome, withthe trustees. They met, not knowing out doubt; but architectural genius probably the story of the picture, and should overcome that. We would see instantly, as became connoisseurs, they pictures and not rooms; and therefore had their misgivings. A nobleman would have a great number and a great of great influence decided on its be- variety of apartments. Leave"showing a copy, and a copy it was ; and rooms” to milliners and upholsterersthus they held their inquest over Sir and such show-rooms! There is no Joshua's person, and delivered in their end to mounting the “Gradus ad Parverdict, “non est inventus.” When nassum,” where the Muses are lodged the originality was ascertained, and as in an hospital of invalids. And why the whole liistory known, they made should Mr Wilkins allow fifty years ample amends by more ample offers, for filling these rooms ? Fifty years! in vain ; and the walls of the “ Nas Why, one single collection might be
purchased at once, and so might the velop, that the eye is not at all aware building be filled without delay. Such at first view of the intricacy of the a calculation is most absurd. The parts—the one whole is so admirably whole will, however, doubtless be preserved. It would be unfair to the given up to the Academy, in spite of genius of Salvator Rosa to consider
Hum and Fum;" and then, as Sir this fine picture by Gaspar as a comRobert Peel proposed, a proper gallery panion to the “ Mercury and the Woodmight be built, and in a proper place.
The more we see of this picWhen such a scheme is entertained, ture (Salvator's,) the less are we satiswe sincerely hope a few plain hints will fied with it. We know how highly belaid before the architect-as, to have it has been valued, and that the trusvariety of rooms of all heights and di- tees gave a large sum for it. But it mensions—that no picture may be in a is so dingy, so devoid of real colour, bad light-nor hung too high. They and so opaque, that beyond the design, should be rather below than above the and that which would be conveyed by eye; for not only so are they badly a print, it gives us very little pleasure. seen, but they are uncomfortably seen.. We suppose, we take it for granted, The eye, and the mind through the the originality is undoubted. If so, eye, is offended by the upward posi.. then it has been wofully treated. Had tion, and by losing the shelter from we seen the picture elsewhere, knowglare, which the eyelash and brow ing nothing of its history, we should afford, when pictures are seen below have said that, independently of the
If there be difficulties in lack of colour, the distance is in exemaking required arrangements, and cution so weak, and that there is such at the same time in preserving the an affected firmness in other parts that beauty of an architectural plan, let at would have led to some doubt. Here least the pictures be the first consi. is a sweet little picture by Mola, from deration ; do not let them be sacrificed Lord Farnborough's bequest, “ The to external show. Indeed, such a build- Repose”—and delightful repose it is. ing should avoid, as much as may be, What richness, and at the same time any precise plan for its ultimate effect, what sobriety of colour! The vividbecause it should be constructed to ness, freshness, and life of the figures admit of the most numerous and lar- rather makes for the repose of the landgest additions.
scape than lessens it.
This is what The catalogue now contains only modern painters call a dark picture; 172 pictures. We believe that, with but where shall we seek repose out of due exertions, the trustees might shade? Would that our landscape in a few months double the num- painters, few though they be, would ber; before doing which, there should condescend to study two such pictures be the preliminary step of weed- as these of Lord Farnborough's! Nor ing the collection. The new rooms would those painters who fancy they contain some additions. The be. can exclusively paint sunshine, doamiss quest of Lord Farnborough is a great to test their principles by the side of thing. He had not one bad picture. thé “ Sunset” of Rubens, No. 157, He has enriched the gallery in land from the same collection. They scape, which was wanted. The Gas- would find beautiful, mellow sunpar Poussin, 161, is one of the very shine, and as unlike their own atbest of the master. It is wonderfully tempts as it is possible to imagine. free, and has a very grand simplicity. From the same collection is 156, AnIt is what some may call slightly paint thony Vandyke, “ a Study of Horses," ed, for there is no elaborate finish, but a highly poetical picture. Storm and there is that which is much better- thunder seem calling to them as of kin. execution. It is painted off at once, With what freedom of pencil are the with great purity and freshness of creatures dashed in !-without laboricolour. It is a lovely pastoral sub- ous finish, which would be destructive ject : a small town among the moun- of the poetic feeling, there is no netains, with which distance and fore- glect. Whether it be that the light ground are in a masterly manner con- is unfavourable, or that some damage nected. There is a great variety of has been done to the Murillo, “ The lines; but they so assist each other by Holy Family," may be a question ; his peculiar art of composition, which but certainly the upper part of the we have elsewhere endeavoured to de- picture is sadly out of harmony with
the lower the pink-red cloud catches for its history, may find amusement in the eye. How much above most of collecting such pictures ; those who Murillo's pictures is this of the Holy love art for the sake of its higher purFamily—and how much is it below its poses, will turn from them with painful subject ! Murillo was never equal to feeling. We know there is a strong sacred subjects. We must not go out inclination to collect pictures historiof Italy for holy families : and of the cally, and according to dates ; and Italian, Raphael was alone “ Divine.” (for we always too inconsiderately conCoreggio was indeed all sweetness, sult foreigners upon such subjects, and all purified affection—but human affec- pay too great a deference to their tion. Raphael alone was above human judgments) the examination before the affection. In his female saints, and Committee of the House, already al. Madonnas, and holy Virgins, all human luded to, includes such a recommendasense and intellect had passed into the tion. Sorry indeed shall we be if celestial. They are not of an earthly the trustees give it a moment's consihome. But those of the Spaniard are deration; it would create a bias difalways peasants, never of a high castficult to bend to any good purpose, of feeling, and sometimes vulgar and to prefer bad things to complete What, then, shall we say of the new schools, to good things, when others Raphael—the “St Catharine of Alexan of the same master are already in the dria ?"—that it has less of this divine collection. Let us have no curiositycast of the great painter than is usual rubbish, but the genuine works of acwith his valuable pictures: yet it is very complished genius, whether great or beautiful. We desire to see more of small, whether the value be hundreds the face, and more certainly to ascer- or thousands. tain the expression. Little as we re- The two large Guidos, No. 87 and gret that any price should be paid for 90, if they were once genuinc, have à Raphael, we cannot but think seven been so sadly damaged, that it is dif. thousand pounds for the three pictures ficult to ascertain the original paint. of Raphael, Mazzolino de Ferrara, and ing. They are cracked all over: they Garofalo, of which say five for the had probably, before they came into Raphael, quite monstrous-at the ut possession of the King, been thorough. most but the work of two or three ly painted over in varnish, which in a days! Such prices tend to keep up few years must have separated, leaving the perpetual jobbing in pictures, and large gaps on the surface. The picgreatly to stand in the way of any fu- tures appear newly done up, and it is ture reasonable purchases. As to the · very likely with the same vehicle with Mazzolino and Garofalo, the public which they had been before restored; might beneficially dispense with the and so in a few years will require a possession of either. They have nei. third restoration. If these pictures ther of them any beauty; though, for cracked in this manner in their original the age in which they were painted, paint, they are not by the hand of there is much merit : but it is merit Guido. The “ Perseus rescuing Anof a kind rather to gratify curiosity dromeda” is finely coloured, especialthan taste. The Mazzolino de Ferra. ly the sea and distance, which are deep ra would be well disposed of in the and solemn. Sir Joshua Reynolds, panel of some old cloister door, with West, and Sir Thomas Lawrence are whose quaint carvings it would be of together, and may be considered coma piece. The colour, which is its great petitors for a prize. The works of merit, is of that peculiar character, each are important: if West does not ancient character ; and brings to mind overpower by excellence, by stretch old stamped, painted, and gilt leather, of canvass he will certainly bear down which is not unfrequently seen in the all before him. Nos. 131 and 132, panels of old carved doors. The dra- “ Christ healing the Sick in the Temperies in this picture are very curious, ple," and " The Last Supper.” Mr quite embossed round the figures, par- West was the oddest of painters of ticularly noticeable in the drapery of human flesh ; his contrasts are ridithe figure playing upon an instru- culous, from the whiteness of leprosy ment. The Garofalo certainly has to all the copper Indian--chalk and more pretensions to beauty; but they brick-dust. It is astonishing that the are both what may be termed eccen- former of these pictures should ever tric pictures. Those who pursue art have attained any celebrity, even by
the most ardent puffing. It must the painting ; in these latter respects have been by the extraordinary ef- West is beat out of the field. The forts of Unitarians, who must have trustees would do well to present been delighted to see the Redeemer this to the Lying in, or Foundling totally deprived of all Divinity, and Hospital, where they clothe naked reduced to the weakest of human children-or the Poor-Law Commisbeings — and this from the hands sioners may take delight in “ Reliof the President of the Royal Aca-, gion,” an allegory, fatherless children, demy. It is hard to say in which of and distressed mothers. the two pictures -- the chalk or the The two landscapes of Wilson, brick-dust-the degradation is most View of Mæcenas' Villa,” and the complete. The two pictures by Sir “ Story of Niobe,” though in many Thomas Lawrence are very unlike respects beautiful pictures, are not each other the Portrait of Mrs such specimens of the great English Robinson, presented by her husband landscape-painter as the nation ought (proh pudor !)--and the « Hamlet
“ Mæcenas' Villa" is very Apostrophizing the Skull.” The lat- dark. The best Gainsborough land. ter is in a great degree finely colour scape, by far, is the “Watering-Place," ed, and appropriately to the senti- which is very much improved by var. ment. We are sorry to notice the nish. It does not now look dingy, cracking that is taking place --- tlfe but is rich and transparent. It is not effect of painting with varnish. Per- very elevated in subject, if the scene haps the smallness of the head in so be considered as the subject if evenlarge a space of canvass is objection- ing gloom, it is happy, and with that able as a composition; and as to the view poetical. It is worth ten of the sentiment, it might be said that the “ Market-Cart," a detestable piece of conception of the poet was that of vulgarity, purchased at large cost by Thought overpowering Space--in the the British Institution, and presented picture it is the reverse. Of the other to the nation. The Gallery ought to picture we would say nothing, if we have some of Gainsborough's portraits; could abstain. It is vilissima rerum. he was far better in that walk than in By all means let it be returned to Mr landscape. It was not an injudicious Robinson, with the nation's compli- remark of Richard Wilson's, when ments.
Sir Joshua praised Gainsborough as No. 143, 66 Portrait of Lord the best English landscape-painter, Ligonier.” Admirable! Sir Joshua “ Yes,” says Wilson, and the best has the prize. How complete the pic- portrait-painter too." We should reture is in itself--the sky a little too joice to see Ralphe Schomberg back light, perhaps, about the head. The again. That is an admirable portrait, execution is as it should be, repre- full of character--the individual man. senting an old soldier, bold and free. Sir Joshua delighted to represent the There is the very spirit of action, thinking man-Gainsborough the liveven to the distance, in the well ing, the acting. His portraits are hisdashed in subordinate figures in the tories—the growth of man out of daily background. If Sir Joshua has the circumstances and transactions--the prize, here is another antagonist to character formed by the outer world, West-a lady very unlike an Ama- not that which is abstracted from and zonian, though she faces the President independent of it. without fear-Angelica Kauffman. We have mostly noticed such picWe are not sorry to see one of her tures as are either new to the public, progeny, though somewhat too big or that had not come under observa. for a niche in the national temple of tion in former remarks. We purfame. Angelica, too, has a sacred posely abstain from going over old subject, and, alas! allegorical—“Reli- ground, and shall therefore conclude gion attended by the Virtues.” The this part of our notice, earnestly presspoor weak Virtues have not, and they ing upon the attention of the public ought not to have, any thing to boast the cause of the National Galleryof, but naked children with little that it should not be allowed to be heads. They are sentimentally rosy. stationary. The honour and benefit However, there is really considerable of the country are both at daily risk skill in the general grouping, and of suffering. Pictures, valuable picdexterity of handling and colour in tures, may be purchased, if proper