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lie in the rise of any transcendent power, or in the display of creative originality by the artists themselves. The impetus to progression, on the contrary, comes, as we have seen, from without; the painter is merely the child of the age in which he lives, the mirror that reflects the form and fashion of his time and country. Thus it is that our English school is emphatically English, and that our annual Exhibitions serve as pictorial chronicles to the day and generation in which our lot is cast. This is, indeed, high commendation-yet, after all, not the highest; for there is an injunction which Schiller lays upon the artist that we would here repeat by way, if not of censure, at least of caution. "Live," says this poetphilosopher, "with your century, but be not its creature; bestow upon your contemporaries not what they praise, but what they need. Though you may regard them as they are if you are tempted to work for them, imagine them as they should be if you are to influence and raise them." Our Exhibitions, it must be admitted, show little indication that painters are striving for this command over the intellect of their age. Content to follow, few desire to lead. For the most part, they paint in order to win the wherewithal to live, and, thus living for the present, few, it may be feared, will survive the century which has witnessed the beginning and will see the close of their labours.
Armitage, Watts, and in some measure Leighton, have a right to rank among those disciples of high art who, fulfilling the behest of Schiller, work less for present times than for posterity. Forsaking forms positive and individual, they seek truths generic and absolute; they make the accident of nature submit to the proportions prescribed by æsthetic law; they require rude reality to bend to ideal beauty; and thus they ascend to the sphere of historic or philosophic art, a lofty region which only a few venturous spirits dare to tread. Edward
Armitage, in the picture of 'Ahab and Jezebel,' attains heroic proportion, and with size comes commensurate dignity. King Ahab, a figure seven and a half feet high, reclines on a couch his wife, the infamous Jezebel, stands at his head with the fury of a tigress and the appetite of a vulture, uttering the upbraiding words, "Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let thine heart be merry; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." But the king lies sad and sick, and the grapes and the wine are put aside untasted. Mr Armitage has sought, and not without success, to reconcile the broad generic treatment of the older historic style with the literal detail which is now dominant in our modern school. Rich regal robes and sumptuous palatial decorations are studiously transcribed from the works of Mr Layard, or taken direct from the Assyrian remains in the British Museum. It is also interesting to mark how the artist has given to his picture the manner of an ancient bas-relief, how he has brought the liberty allowed to the one art under subjection to the severity imposed by the other. What we mean will be better understood by an appeal to the designs on Greek vases, the purest and best examples of which illustrate the transformation through which sculpture emerged into painting; or, in other words, these monochrome pictures of the Greeks reveal sculpture as the elder and the parent art. Mr Armitage deserves praise for the courage required in the adoption of this self-denying manner, for experience proves that a facile pictorial treatment is in the present day the surest road to popular applause. We are sorry, however, to see that in one vital point he submits to a compromise. Repose and equanimity, Winckelmann tells us, the Greeks deemed inseparable from the noblest art; and our own Reynolds offers some apology, or at least explanation, for the violence of passion which the
sculptor has thrown into the agonised features of the Laocoon. Now we should be sorry to bind a paint er down to strict compliance with conditions which may prove a bondage even to the sculptor; but as Mr Armitage of his own free will puts himself under the law, we need have less scruple in saying that the ordinance imposed as a canon of high art-which is, after all, not artificial, but essential-he has transgressed, and that much to the loss of dignity and quiet power. The figure of Jezebel, especially in the passionate spasm of the hand, is melodramatic. Mr Watts, in his design, Time and Oblivion,' also challenges severe criticism. The very explanation which he gives of his intent, that this personification of Time and Oblivion' is "a design for sculpture,' ," "to be executed in divers materials after the manner of Phidias," alone suggests comparisons which it is difficult for any work to sustain. Yet may we at least accord to this perilous attempt somewhat of the largeness in masses and the grandeur of manner which are peculiar characteristics of the Phidian era. Only we must be permitted to object that the artist has essayed a Herculean labour considerably beyond his powers. The figures are not ill conceived, the idea is not inaptly expressed; but the drawing is certainly wanting in mastery, and the difficult passages in the composition appear slurred rather than solved.
essayed the most arduous of subjects, this artist has for some time attracted to his works a wondering gaze. It always becomes a curious question, as it long was and still is with a brother artist, the painter of 'The Vale of Rest,' and of 'St Agnes' Eve,' What astounding work Mr Leighton may do next? Will he show us a harem, will he introduce us to houris, will he conduct us to Hades, or will he bid us take a walk on Parnassus? Certain it is that whoever presumes to follow in the eccentric flight of this artist will do well to provide himself with wings. As for the ordinary faculties of humanity, plain sober eyesight, clear common-sense, and the like, they may be dispensed with altogether, and the adventurer through space or across the broad field of history need only take to himself a copious supply of transcendental reason and gaseous imagination. As in other aeronautic expeditions, the chief danger lies in the approach to, and the coming in contact with, mother earth. But whatever lawlessness may have marked Mr Leighton's past career, we are bound to concede that the courses on which he has now entered claim from the critic respectful homage. The powers which have hitherto been scattered are at length concentrated, so that in the latest of Mr Leighton's works, 'Dante in Exile,' the vapourings of genius now shine as true visions. The artist here reverts with maturer power to the country and the epoch chosen in his earliest and hitherto most successful picture, 'The Procession of Cimabue.' Italy of the middle ages, crowded with illustrious characters, poets, painters, patriots-a country whose very stones are eloquent in undying memories
aspirations of Mr Watts, as seen in the fresco executed in the dininghall of Lincoln's Inn, are ever lofty; but technical power, which would give to his noble ideas adequate pictorial development, seems lacking. A small head by this artist, called 'Choosing,' is altogether lovely, and especially to be com--such are the scenes congenial to mended for harmony of colour.
The genius of Mr Leighton has for years lain in chaos, or broken out only in rebellion. Possessed of more than ordinary erudition, impelled by an ambition which soared to the highest style, and
the genius of this painter. The theme he has here selected is arduous, the style to which he aspires ambitious. Imagination has invested Dante in no ordinary dignity; a historic halo shadows and yet shines upon that brow awful in
grandeur; and the artist who attempts to realise the image which every cultured mind has already painted in his fancy, does indeed essay a task of peculiar difficulty. Mr Leighton, we think, has come through this ordeal with honour. The moment chosen discovers Dante, an exile from his native city, in the palace of his patron, Can' Grande della Scala, Prince of Verona. This master of the Lombard republic reigned with a splendour which no other of the princes in Italy had equalled. At his court were congregated the poets, painters, and sculptors who cast upon the opening years of the fourteenth century unaccustomed lustre. But we are told that the pride of Dante could ill brook patronage; that his high spirit rebelled against gilded dependence; and so, by the roughness of his manner and the haughtiness of his bearing, he lost the favour of a friend who had given him an asylum. This story may be read word for word in the picture before us. The lines quoted declare, in terms not to be mistaken, the poet's mind :
"Thou shalt prove How salt the savour is of others' bread; How hard the passage to descend, and By others' stairs. But what shall gall
Will be the worthless and vile company With whom thou must be thrown while in these straits."
The painter is literal to the poet's text. Dante, careworn and painstricken, descends the palace-stairs. The motley crew of courtiers, the paid jester, and ladies who, by enticing beauty, might have charmed the melancholy heart stricken with the love of Beatrice,—all fall back at the approach of the prophet-poet, who as an avenging god walks the earth. Mr Leighton, we have said, has accomplished the task here set more than creditably. The knowledge he brings, the academic training he displays, no one can question. His learning, in fact, is almost in excess; his artistic tact and contrivance, indeed, usurp the place
which unsophisticated nature might with advantage occupy. By his finedrawn subtleties he delights and cheats the senses which in surfeit would gladly turn to a repast more simply dressed and decked. The taint which often mars the creations. of this artist, eats, in another of his works, as a cancer into the fair forms of Eurydice and Orpheus,' - a picture, nevertheless, which contains passages which no criticism can rob of their beauty-giving charm. The transcendentalism, however, into which this painter is betrayed, is not only excessive in degree, but wrong in kind. Michael Angelo, Raphael, and all truly great painters, indeed, have reached loftiest heights, and yet they walked, even when on the topmost summits, hand in hand with nature. Sibyls, apostles, prophets, muses, they painted; yet was humanity, however glorified, never made to wander from paths of simplicity, or permitted to wanton in debilitating luxury. Let Mr Leighton remember, then, that the best nature and the truest art preserve a stamina vigorous and healthful.
Our English school, while comparatively barren in products of high, heroic, or sacred art, is prolific in works which lie on the frontiers of history. Our native painters seldom narrate the annals of their country on a large folio scale; they are content, for the most part, to put their facts within the limits of an octavo or duodecimo edition, and thus they seldom addict themselves to the grand march of nations, but choose rather the by-ways of a people's progress, and delight in the episodes wherewith families or individuals have rendered a province or a generation memorable. The artists who each year betake themselves to this pleasing and prolific style are not only increasing in numbers, but advancing in proficiency. Calderon, Crowe, Yeames, Pettie, Storey, Hayllar, and Mrs Ward, have one and all enriched the Academy with works which deserve explicit commendation. Mrs
Ward's 'Princes in the Tower' is a picture of tender pathos, painted with rare skill and care, and admirable for an even moderation, which bespeaks calm strength and balanced judgment. J. Hayllar's 'Queen's Highway in the Sixteenth Century,' a road then deemed marvellously good, but which we should now hold as villanously bad, the Queen's coach being by the country "hinds and folk of a base sort lifted" with poles out of the mire, is a clever composition, spiced with satire. In the same room, not far distant, is G. Storey's' Meeting of William Seymour and the Lady Arabella Stuart at the Court of James I.' We are told that "the nearness of the Lady Arabella to the English throne seems to have inspired James with an unworthy jealousy, and to have caused him to form the resolution of keeping her single." However, here at the Court she meets with a friend of her childhood, Mr William Seymour; they converse, they fall in love, they are secretly married, then separated and imprisoned, and five years after the Lady Arabella dies in the Tower a pitiable lunatic! Mr Storey has told the incident of the meeting at the Court with point and perspicuity, but the execution of the painting is so sketchy as barely to escape being slovenly. J. Pettie's picture of George Fox refusing to take the Oath at Houlker Hall' belongs to that class of works in which biography widens into history, wherein an act in the life of an individual is made to stand for a principle, and to operate as a public protest. This picture, like the last, would have been better for more elaborate detail: canvasses on this moderate scale have no right to indulge in a large dashing hand. Ranging as they do between the wide region of history and the narrow confines of domestic incident, they ought to reconcile a certain largeness of manner with somewhat of the finish which was bestowed on a Dutch interior. W. F. Yeames is another of our artists who, with
well-considered intent, can put together an episode just as it might have happened in the side-scenes of our national drama. 'La Reine Malheureuse' represents the devoted queen of Charles I. a victim to the Parliament wars. She had just returned from Holland, whither she had been seeking supplies, and was scarcely landed when five ships entered Burlington Bay and commenced an active cannonade. The Queen and her companions take shelter in a ditch, yet in this humiliation is no safety: "the cannon bullets," writes Henrietta Maria in a letter to the King, “fell thick about us, and a servant was killed within seventy paces of me." Mr Yeames contributed a noteworthy picture to the Academy of last year; his present work evinces steady advance: we shall expect of this artist good fruit in coming seasons. E. Crowe has also been quietly winning his way to renown, and must now rank among the expectants upon whom the Academy will at no distant period confer well-won honour. His chief picture of the year, 'Luther posting his Theses on the Church-door of Wittenberg,' is conscientious and literal even to the portraits well known in the land of the Reformation. Mr Crowe is a little hard in his execution, and rather forbidding and unalluring in his treatment, as specially seen in a smaller composition, 'Dean Swift looking at a Lock of Stella's Hair,' a picture callous and devoid of emotion as the Dean of St Patrick's himself. Lastly, among our rising artists who give themselves to the pages of history, we must mention P. H. Calderon, this year represented by a powerful and impressive work The Burial of John Hampden.' The sun The sun has gone down among the hills and woods of the Chilterns just as the bier which carries the patriot's corpse is borne by his devoted followers to its last resting-place. His comrades in arms, sturdy fellows of bold hands and brave hearts, are bowed down in sorrow. Their heads are un
covered, their drums muffled, their ensigns furled, and as they march, the ninetieth psalm is chanted: the colour, which sinks into sombre, has been kept in consonance with the solemnity of the scene.
Painting, when it passed, some two centuries ago, from the sacred to the secular sphere, ran the danger of becoming coarse or commonplace, as witness the schools of Caravaggio in Italy and of Teniers in Holland. An escape from the lower world of everyday life was for a season sought in the regions of Greek and Roman mythology. But of late years gods and goddesses have fallen to a discount, and so the painter is once again brought down to the level and reality of earth. To soar upwards, however, is the instinct of imagination, to spurn the ground is the impulse of winged genius; and accordingly our painters essay pretty poetic flights, just as fledglings venturing from their mother's nest may be seen with a hop and a chirp to launch into air. A Royal Academician, however, or even an Associate, is generally a bird of full growth, and so when he flies let no ignoble groundling croak. Mr Richmond, a venerable name, indulges in a light fantastic round" from Comus '
“Break off, break off! I feel the different
Of some chaste footing near about this ground:
Run to your shrouds, within these brakes
and trees; Our numbers may affright; some virgin
-Benighted in these woods!"
Another of our Associates, Mr Patten, who, we think, might by this time have known better, attempts semi-nudity—a sansculottism which obtained more favour with the gods of Greece than in our modern eyes. 'The Youthful Apollo,' by Jove, what a genius! Look at him, and love him if you can, as he prepares to show his power in a musical contest with Paris"! Some pictures, nevertheless, there are, which, instinct with noble aspiration, merit
respect. Thus, Mr Elmore's 'Excelsior' is altogether a different sort of thing from what we have been accustomed to see done on music-covers. This, indeed, is a figure which redeems once more to our admiration lines which have been sadly massacred and mouthed. A youth bears,
""Mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior! 99
The spectral glaciers shine, and dark the tempest lowers, yet onward, by an upward impulse borne, towers the brave head, and climbs the firm foot to the mountain-height around which the eagle floats. Mr Elmore has eschewed all grandiloquence of manner, and by an unadorned simplicity escapes the dangers of a subject fatal to a hand less firm. Contemplation,' by C. W. Cope, is another figure which calls for commendation-less vigorous, indeed, than the brave mountaineer we have just left; for Contemplation is of the valley, serene and lovely, her eyes gazing heavenwards in rapt devotion, her bodily frame and the gentleness of her spirit not fitted to wrestle in the warfare of the world. This is a head which might have been painted by Carlo Dolce, who loved a liquid eye, tearful, and yet beaming as with pensive starlight.
Undoubtedly the picture of the year pre-eminent for power and display is 'La Gloria, a Spanish Wake,' painted by J. Phillip, who seldom indeed has been seen in such force. The subject is well chosen, and the scene skilfully laid. The shadow of death on the one hand is thrown in contrast to the sunshine of the dance on the other. Woe has bowed down the head of a bereaved mother, couched nigh to her little child, lying ready for the burial. But the eye passes by this group, given to mourning, to feast on the beauty and delight in the joy which fills to overflowing the remainder of the canvass. Here does the painter exult in the revelry of the Spanish dance, mad