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As is the case with other public bodies, feuds have happened among our painters, and the secession of many artists has unfortunately taken place. To trace this effect to the cause, we do not hold to be difficult; and nine hundred suns have now gone down," since we ventured to give counsel on this very subject..
AMONG the number of wonderful
This schism, we believe to have taken place, chiefly in consequence of the system now adopted, of converting the whole of the funds collected, to the immediate emolument and private advantage of the artists, without recognising any view to their own improvement and the extension of the The wish of all the more liberal friends and cultivators of painting we know to be, that some part at least events which this year has wit- should be set aside, first, for procuring nessed, we have now to record the a commodious and permanent exhibiEdinburgh Exhibition of Paintings, 'tion-room, and next for forming a by Artists in Scotland, for 1815.- collection of specimens of art, casts, Considering the defalcation that has prints, drawings, works on painting, taken place in point of numbers, we and other means subservient to their laud the great exertions of those few improvement. We have access also who have for the present submitted to know, that there are persons here their works for the gratification and of taste and opulence, who, if they instruction of the inhabitants. De- saw such a spirited design really set voted, as we confess ourselves to be, on foot, would come forward and conto the study of this fascinating branch tribute liberally. Nay, we have no of the fine arts, we feel anxious to ex- doubt, that a plan similar to the Bricite in the minds of others a correstish Institution in London would ponding taste. It affords an inex- meet with general patronage and suphaustible fund of entertainment and port. In this case, of course, the reflection; nay, we will go so far as contributing Amateurs would be ento say, that there will hardly be dis- titled to a vote in the arrangements; cerned among mankind a single in- and this, for reasons which we do not stance, where moral improvement is state, for the first time would, we are not heightened by an intimate acquain- persuaded, be of the greatest benefit tance with the arts. This, however, to artists and to the art. Were it is not to be acquired by idly gazing only to prevent the disputes which on the works of others; or to use a necessarily arise from jarring interests, vulgar phrase, by pinning our opin- particularly in regard to the admission ions on their sleeves. To discover and hanging of the pictures, and the beauties of a picture, and the ta- which have brought the Exhibition lents of the artist, one must both feel to its present reduced state, this surely and think for himself; and to know. would be doing the greatest possible merit perfectly, an acquaintance even good. But we apprehend, that it with the mechanique of the art we will also secure a much more judicious hold to be absolutely indispensible. and impartial system of management.
gow will still go to Grangemouth, the Union Canal only taking the goods, which, from their value, small bulk, and the necessity of regular arrival, are transported at present by land. If, however, the shore-dues were really affected, this would be a legitimate objection against the canal. For after a sum of half a million has been laid out on the harbour, on the faith of a certain return, the public having secured this benefit, are not to snatch away the revenue for other undertakings. N.
Remarks on the Exhibition of Paintings by Scottish Artists in 1815.
las. In this example of Mr Douglas's pencil, and indeed of the whole he has exhibited, there is much to admire, both in handling and colouring; and, in so far as our acquaintance extends, the likenesses are faithful and striking.
When the disposition is to be made by a committee of Artists, it is perfectly impossible that the individuals composing it should not feel some partiality in their own favour. Indeed, we do not conceive artists so well qualified to judge even of the comparative merits of their own productions, as others of sound taste, who are free from every prejudice. Although Edinburgh is not, perhaps, very eminently distinguished for taste in painting, it yet contains a competent number of respectable individuals, every way qualified for such a task as we have now suggested, and whose love of the object would make them consider its toils as light. We take a deeper interest than ever in the success of this proposal, because we are convinced that it is now the only possible mode of ever placing art on a respectable footing, as well as of reviving and diffusing a taste for so bewitching a study among the enlightened population of this metropolis.
We shall now, however, proceed to make our observations upon some of the principal works exhibited on the present occasion.
No. 1. "Portrait of Dr Monro, "W. H. Lizars. A drawing, in black lead, of this venerable and celebrated physician; well drawn, and delicately finished, much in the style of the late John Brown. Having seen the Doctor recently, we can vouch for the accuracy of the likeness, It is, however, much injured by the injudicious proportions of the ponderous frame in which it is placed.
No. 2. "Fishermen going out, Morning." J. S. Good. This bit is tanto buon, che val niente.
No. 3. "Crocuses, from. Nature." Miss C. Schetky. The first look of this drawing conveys strongly the truth of the assertion marked in the catalogue. The thing is but a trifle, but then, as far as it goes, it is truth itself.
No. 5. "Full-length drawing of a young gentleman and dog." W.Doug
No. 112, appears in character, by no means perfect; for, to us, the two figures have more the air of a mother and daughter, than of two young sisters, as we are informed.
The general impression made by his works on us, amounts to a want of sentiment in them, which rather produces an air of stiffness; neither do we altogether admire his mode of finishing merely the head in colours. Upon the whole, however, a very striking improvement has, we think, taken place in the performances of this artist.
No. 10. "Cottage in North Wales." J. F. Williams. We are chiefly induced to notice the specimens of this author, in consequence of having observed some demonstrations of improvement in his calling. His progress, it is true, is slow, as his feeling for art is not apparently very sensible; but while there is really something to praise in his attempts, he has yet much to learn ere he reaches to very great eminence as an artist.
No. 19. "Four designs :" (per l'incisore, as the redoubtable Mr Skirving would have said,) A. Carse.From the many opportunities of improvement this artist must have had since he went to town, we confess to have felt disappointment in viewing the works he has now exhibited. No. 34. "The witches late-wake," from an unpublished poem by Mr Carse! is a very vulgar bit. If the picture bears any analogy to the character of the poem, we doubt if either the author, or his publisher, will much enrich themselves by the performance. No. 51. "The hot argument," is another instance of the parseness of the mind of this unfortunate gentle man, who truly appears to us to have made lately no advancement what
der part of the glove on his hand is absolutely black-a perfect anomaly in the open air, and in the day time. Hamlet's excellent rule in his advice to the players, to be moderate, even when they are to express the most energetic passion, ought also to be attended to by painters; taking care, "to use all gently, and not to o'erstep the modesty of Nature," which never, in morn, noon-day, or sun-set, and indeed in.very few of her appearances, exhibits that excessive blackness which is the vain effort of inferior genius to force out an impressive effect. The legs of the figure, too, appear of unequal length:-but not knowing the original, this passage may perhaps be perfectly correct, and true to nature. No. 50. "Portrait of the Right Hon. Justice Clerk." Except that the person of this much-respected judge appears under-sized, we conceive the rest of this graceful picture to be excellent. The figure stands elegantly and firmly on the ground, and the under part of his dress in particular, is absolutely a deception in art.
The great merit of Mr RAEBURN occurs to us to consist in the feeling of manliness and genteelity which he conveys in all his portraits of gentlemen, and of the delicacy and tenderness he so powerfully expresses in his pictures of the other sex. He paints with a vigorous and determined pencil-expresses well the substances he has to depict; and the glossy sides and character of the warhorse has long been confessed in the number of his happiest efforts.
No. 31. "Breaking up of the camp." J. Howe. On looking over the whole of this artist's works this season, we think them, in general, superior to most of those put forth in former exhibitions. In this picture there is considerable merit as to its composition, and the colouring is pretty good; but it is conducted in the same šlovenly stile as the rest of his works,
ever in art.
It is slovenly treated, black as Erebus, and lacks the originality both of Scots costume and character. His great deficiency appears to us always to have arisen from a want of knowledge in drawing the figure, and of perspective; and to the study of those important steps, in the first place, he should, by all means, sedulously to apply, if ever he expects to immortalize himself.
No. 23. "Portrait of a Lady."H. Raeburn. This celebrated artist's works have been so often described, that our notice of them, at present, shall be both brief, and general. We have frequently taken occasion to remark the impropriety and want of truth in his shadows, which are generally too dark, and often quite purple. The fine specimens of Raffaelle, or Guido, afford no example of this; their shadows being always produced by the incidental colour. Neither are the works of Mr Raeburn, in all cases, accurately drawn:-the off-fore-leg, for instance, (to use a Jockey phrase) of the horse, in the fine manly picture of Sir D. Baird, appears as if distorted and twisted under his counter; and perhaps the other fore-leg is bent too much inwards. By the comparative anatomy of the foot of a man and of ahorse, the latter moves on tip-toe; and for this reason we doubt (except in some anomalous case,) the possibility of any horse exhibiting so constrained, and so great a concave curve at the fetlock joint. No. 30. " Portrait, full length," (J.J. Hope-Weir of Craigie Hall, Esq.) This, in our opinion, is not one of Mr Raeburn's happiest efforts. The harmony of colouring in the dress of the figure is chilling and cold. The blue coat and black pantaloons go indifferently well; but this passage might perhaps be improved, by a knot of scarlet ribbon for a watch-chain, which would give point to the picture, and introduce a warm colour among those of coldest hue. The shadow on the unMay 1815.
No. 54. "Cossacks seizing a French Eagle," is borrowed, in its character, from Leonardo do Vinci's beautiful and spirited composition of the Battle of the Standard:-but with this fact we have no great quarrel. Touching the drawing, we wish to have been equally passive:-but really the marking and twist of the chesnut horse's neck baffles us to reduce it to any thing approaching to reason. Were length of neck the measure of excellence in a horse, such a specimen of perfection was never before produced. But our difficulties do not cease here, for we are puzzled to find out the body of the horse, to which this goose-neck belongs. Great want of perspective is also evinced in the wheels of the gun carriage,-the one in the distance being far too small.
No. 92. "Hawking, at Barrochan." There is more good in this picture than in any of the others. The black dog clipped into the figure of a lion may be a correct portrait, but it is a most unpicturesque object. The left hand of the leering gamekeeper appears to have been painted from a model of the Apollo, whilom at Rhodes: the hawk appears also too large, and the landscape is much in want of aerial perspective. As it appears that a print is to be engraved from this picture, considerable alterations ought to be made throughout the whole; and some attention may be given to these hints, should they, by any chance, meet the artist's eye, or be deemed worthy of his attention.
No. 35. "View at Culross." W. J. Thomson. Whilst we highly applaud the efforts of this very respectable artist, in a department of art so different from his staple commodity; and while we allow that this View of Culross, together with No. 90, and some other of his compositions, possess considerable merit, we have much doubt of their being altogether fit for the walls of this exhibition room, or even if these bits will have any great
tendency to raise his talents in the estimation of the public. No. 149. "Shipwreck," is a very incondite, illcomposed specimen. The water wants its character; and indeed we think it a complete failure,-with the exception, perhaps, of the figure lying prostrate on the sand. The heathen world, we are told, had so little idea that perfection was to be expected amongst men, that with them one quality or endowment, in an heroic degree, made a god. These quaint persons took no exception to the beauty of Minerva,the wisdom of Venus,--or to the wit of Hercules; but immortalized any one who possessed a single serviceable gift, and overlooked all his imperfections. No. 67. "Cottage girl and "Child," is more in Mr Thomson's way and here we think he has treated his subject with much address, and been fortunate. In his miniature painting, we have only to repeat a story that has been often told,—that he is at the head of his profession here. His portraits are richly coloured, and in general well drawn, but they still. have a smack of stiffness: they want that freedom and smartness of touch which are requisite to complete excellence. Mr Thomson's portraits in oil, are, in our opinion, subject to the same remarks. The likeness in two of them, (all we know,) is pretty faithful, and these are handled in such a stile as to give token of improvement. The difference of the vehicle used in oil-painting is great, and will embarrass any artist in his first essay. Mr Thomson's motive for cultivating this branch of art, we have been told, is, that in the event of his sight failing in the fatigue of miniature painting, he may have a resource in oil. We think this commendable in the artist, and wish him all manner of success.
No. 39. Composition, " Evening." P. Gibson. We do not think there is any artist in this place, who has made such decided improvement, or who treads the path to excellence, in land
discovered in a servile adherence to nature! In this picture we think there is a want of chiaro scuro, which produces rather an appearance of monotony; and the tone of the sky is certainly too blue, and very cold,neither can we discover any legitimate cause for thus treating it. There is also a meretricious passage in leading a water-fall between the forked hills on the right, which, by the way, is higher placed than the probable source of the spring. The figures are introduced with great judgment, and the whole specimen, in our opinion, does great credit to the artist, and confers an honour upon the city in which he resides. We have been assured, on respectable authority, that in the British Institution, this season, there was not to be found many pictures superior to this effort of Mr Gibson's genius. This artist has some other pictures in the room of great merit, but our limits preclude us from going farther than offering general commendation.
No. 41. "Portrait of a Lady." W. Nicholson. This artist, we understand, is much a favourite with the public, and we are of opinion that, in this instance, they have placed their attachment correctly. His touch is bold, and given with a full pencil, and he appears to have a good knowledge of colouring. The chief defect in his pictures arises from his squeezing more subject into his canvas than it is capable of containing, which produces a painful sensation in the spectator. No. 79, " Portrait of Sir Brook Boothby;" No. 110, of "R. P. Gillies, Esq. ;" and No. 106, of" the Ettrick Shepherd," all afford illustrations of this opinion. Sir Brook's portrait is a good likeness of the Baronet; so also is Mr Gillies; although rather childish and jejune in character, and rather less in size than he appears to be. Mr Hogg's is in too theatrical an attitude, and it does not convey a very strong likeness of this respectable poet.
landscape painting, with more apparent prospects of success, than Mr Gibson. His pictures are chiefly of a grave and classical character. One of them, (No. 77,) we hold to be poetry itself. In the specimen we have first alluded to, there is great knowledge displayed of his art; and his skill in conducting his foregrounds is very imposing. In its composition, however, there appears too much art, in the columns introduced on the left, and the sky is too much in impasto; but these defects are to be overlooked in the general good. We admire the placing, and the point produced by the colouring of the figures; but we are certain the whole might still be improved, by giving some aërial perspective to the distance. No. 45.
Composition,-Moonlight," is a beautiful picture; freely handled, and the force of moonlight is well understood. Were the means frequently employed by that learned person, Sir John Sinclair, to be used with this specimen, viz. a pair of scissars; and were this useful instrument applied to pare off six or eight inches from the murky left side of the picture, which would then make it an upright, and also, were the power of the moon itself kept down, we are of opinion it would be very much improved, and rendered a more desirable picture.
No. 77, "Landscape.-Composition," is really a grand example of of art. Common nature is no more fit for a picture of this class, than plain narration is for a poem, A painter must raise his ideas beyond what he sees, and form a model of perfection in his own mind; which altho' not to be found in reality, at the same time, ought to be probable and rational. We have been induced to state this opinion, on account of the notions very frequently to be found amongst those who have not betaken themselves to acquire a knowledge of art, and who think that the chief excellence in landscape painting is to be