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picture of the “Release.” The story her husband : at first sight it seems to is this : A wife, with her child in her go through him ; it does not look as if arms, comes to the prison with a war- it went round him. There is not much rant for the release of her condemned to say of the child; but the cognos. husband. There is a dog and a jailer- centi in pre-Raphaelitism are taken the one playing the only really senti- wonderfully with its legs, which are mental part in the picture, and the other life-like enough at a little distance; the hard and unsentimental. Now, but the laborious stipple execution in what would you imagine the woman's them is painful. So is the work upon feelings to be on such an occasion, and the dog, who is rather an awkward how would she show them? Were animal, and strangely sticks upright you to order the subject, what direc- upon the canvass, like a blue-bottle tions, if you chose a painter that re- perpendicular upon a window. If he quired any, would you give? You was more substantial, you might exwould say, Let her face be pale, as of pect him to fall back. Then there is one who had been long watching in the husband : It appears that he has weary sadness—let the joy even be been wounded-a Scot-probably a tearful in the eye and quivering in the rebel-not the worse subject for a picmouth. Let the thought of the jailer ture on that account now. He leans be altogether out of her mind; let her his head upon his wife's bosom, and have a look of sadness habitual, and unfortunately shows only the most transport and joy breaking into it; unheroic portion of the human faceand let her be lovely, tender, and such the jaw; as does also the jailer, and a one as would make the release to with him it is not amiss. But it is the man a happiness indeed. I am wrong so to exhibit the released man. sorry to tell you, that if you had given The painter should have considered such directions to Mr Millais, and this that he should be shown worthy a repicture bad been the result, you would prieve-that he was, after all, a fine woefully have wasted your breath and manly fellow. As it is, you have your sentiment. Her face, instead of little sympathy for him or with him. being lovely, is plain to a degree; and And a friend of ours said aloud, “I if it be true that he had a certain model, would rather remain in prison all my this is really inexcusable, and is a life, or even be hanged, than go out proof that Mr Millais has no percep- of prison to live with that woman; tion of beauty whatever. Indeed, Mr and for aught I know, the man thinks Ruskin in one passage inconsistently so, for you do not know that he thinks enough allows this, and yet makes the anything else; and that is a defect beauty of nature to be the field of his in his portraiture.” The best paintlabours. The face, far from pale, is ing is the soldier-jailer. There is a a blotched with red, and the shadows natural look about him, and that instippled in with bilious brownish different air which might have been a green. Instead of the eye dimmed foil to sentiment, if there bad been even with a tear, it looks defiance, as any elsewhere. There is one characif she had contested at some pre- teristic in these pre-Raphaelite picvious time the matter with the jailer, tures that people talk a great deal and looks a triumph, as much as to about, and it should seem because in say, “I've won, and so pay me." oil-painting it is a novelty-the stipple Instead of tenderness, she is the hard- miniature execution. To my eye it est looking creature you can imagine. is perfectly disagreeable. It is called Her under lip-and both are as red as high finish—and miscalled. Neither peonies—is thrust out to a very dis- Raphaelites nor pre-Raphaelites so agreeable expression. You would painted. You would doubt, in lookdoubt before you would accept a cer- ing into the work, if it be oil-painting tificate of her belonging to a temper- at all. It looks like streaky, stipply, ance society. As to grace in her gum-painting. There is no vigour of figure, you may not know that it is execution, no power in it—ali weak feminine, it is so huddled up in her and laboured. clothes, and shapeless. The hand and This artist has no proper conception arm which presents the warrant, of of a story. There is the other picture, course is meant to be on the other side of the "Cavalier," in the hollow of a tree
-in a most unheroic position-in a should make him step out with the terrible fright-receiving a loaf of dignity of a man, and say, "Here I am, bread, as I suppose it to be--and with do your worst," than the portrayed such a hand! A woman is giving cowardice of a two-legged vermin in him this relief-in appearance a Puri- a hole? Ajax, in the Iliad, would not tan. The accessories are said to be endure a cloud between him and death. wondrously painted. I expected, there- _“Ev de pael kal oleoooy.” “Kill fore, to see true substantial drawing. me, but let it be in the face of day." The fern, I hear, has put some people Raphaelites and pre-Raphaelites never into ecstasies; but I, who have really forgot that men were men, and should studied fern, did not know what it was. be represented with proper manly There is certainly a light sunshine in actions, and not creeping, through fear, this part of the picture, but it is given like reptiles, into holes. The sentiat a sacrifice of other more important ment of this picture is vile. It is so truth-the truth of drawing, and the ultra-peaceable, that it ought to make proper substance of the things meant the Peace Society ashamed, and take - and is most disagreeably gummy up the cudgels against it. Even Broadand gambougy. As to the tree and brim, though a . Quaker," would adthe ground under it, there is work mit that there are circumstances under enough there; but whether it repre- which “A man's a man for a' that." sents bark of a tree, stones, dried If the Fine Arts will set up their sticks and leaves, or copper chips, I, “ Chamber of Horrors,” for the credit for one, cannot tell. These things of humanity I would have this picwould be of minor importance if they ture exposed, in terrorem, to all fuhad not the pretence of superlative ture painters of such patches of histruth. The best part of the painting tory. is the woman's gown, because it is Mr Ruskin not only admires, nay broad, and has more solid fair paint lauds to the skies, to his " cirri” of on it. Nor should I quarrel with her the skies, and far above them, these expression of countenance; but it pre-Raphaelite gentlemen, for their would have been as well if she had * singular success in certain characused a face-lotion, to have got rid of ters (a little ambiguous) and finish of those yellow and brown little stipples, detail,” but also for their“ brilliancy that some bilious people have in rea- of colour.” People have such differlity, and that the pre-Raphaelites love ent notions of brilliancy in colour, that to perpetuate in pictures. That the it would not be surprising if Mr Rusman in the hollow of the tree should kin should write a book to direct ocuhave them, and pretty strongly marked, lists how to reform, or somehow to is quite agreeable to his position, and sophisticate people's eyes, after the the sad terror he is in ; but I do pro. model of his own. An admirer of this test, in the name of the lovers of his school, and of the Graduate's writings, torical truth, against giving the good and who dabbles in art, said to me old cavaliers any such frightened cha. the other day, “Do come and look at racter. That they knew what is the my picture, and see if I haven't put better part of valour, was consistent light into it. I shall put more yet." with their sense and their cause; but A few days after, I met him, and asked if any one did bide in the hollow of a him if he had succeeded in putting tree, I am quite sure he never looked more light into it. “That I have, like that man. Even O'Brien very said he;" come and look at it; it will properly protested against being re quite put your eyes out with the light presented as hid behind a cabbage. in it now." Having po fancy for the A hero, with out-staring eyes, and operation, I waited for a very dull day. like a rat in a hole, is sadly unheroised. I think the Graduate would have been The fellow looks as if he should rather delighted with it, for it out-faced the be hunted out by terriers, than by a sun, and took the shine out of the troop even of Puritan soldiers. Who “rainbow” which Mr Ruskin saw would not, if he saw the terriers on upon Mr Turner's head, when he was the spot, bid 'em in, and turn out the pleased to fancy him to be the “ Angel caitiff ? 'Would you not rather see the of the Apocalypse." You, and I, with too great hardiness of a man, that our foolish post-Raphaelite prejudices,
like best that brilliancy of colour to set up, or persist in trying to estawhich is not all in a blaze-such a blish this their false, and, as I think, sober brilliancy as Titian loved. You presuming school, are men of ability, would rather look at a precious stone and have perceptions of many truths in the shade, than with the hot sun of nature, I think it no unkindness, but, directly upon it, to take away both on the contrary, a true kindness, to its wondrous depth and its colour. I show them, even by censure- -wbich am certain you will not apply to the they may not like at the time—that Graduate, as the sole and patent ven- they are making sad mistakes; that dor of " Turner's cerate," or salve, to they mistell a story; that they are have your eyes rubbed therewith. wrong in discarding beauty, and too You and I have walked over breezy often, in so doing, do not reach sentidowns with such eyes in our heads as ment. That they may engage in the nature gave us, and as she kindly gives end a more safe public regard, I do to most people; but we never yet not doubt; and therefore I strongly saw prismatic sheep, with blue-shaded warn them, and remind them, that faces bordered by pink, and the rain when the world is pleased with novelbow yellows, and the tops of their ties and eccentricities, those who probacks whitened with hair-powder. vide for such tastes are in the most We never did, and I hope we never danger of being discarded, and then shall; for if ever it should happen, it are apt to meet with the treatment would be best to apply to an oculist, so_well described by Lucian in his for there must be something wrong. “Private Tutor ;” and as criticism These sheep in Mr Hunt's picture in of this kind has been ascribed to mathe Exhibition must be the sheep lice, let them not scorn what is here which "little Bo-Peep” lost; and are said upon any suspicion of the kind represented just in that condition in for I assure them that I know nothing which it “made her heart bleed to find whatever of them but through their 'em.” The colour in this picture is works; but I grieve to see power misdisagreeable throughout; it has no directed, and in danger of being ruined atmosphere. The grouping is unplea- by a gross and ignorant flattery. sant. The sheep's legs must have My dear post-Raphaelite friend, it been drawn from the wire-legged does not fall in with the answers models which are carried about the you require to your questions, that I streets covered with real wool, and should in detail criticise the Exhibisold as playthings for children. And tion. You would rather know somethis is a specimen of pre-Raphaelite thing about the state of art and the truth. If the price spoken of by every- public taste in this annus mirabilis. body was really given for this, never But I would say generally, that the were sheep sold in a better market. Exhibition is not quite so good as There is, however, a cholera-blue usual. And I do protest seriously about them which indicates very bad against such pictures as Landseer mutton. The best of these pre-Ra delights to paint. Mostly subjects of phaelite performances, in spite of some cruelty, what man that loves, as we vulgarity in the character of Claudio, all ought to love, all creatures that is the scene taken from “Measure for are not noxious, can take delight in Measure,” between Claudio and Isa- such pictures as Landseer's Night bella. The intensity of thought in and Morning scenes? In the first, Claudio is well expressed; and there two stags are fighting by moonlight, is some dignity in Isabella, but her their horns interlocked ; in the other, countenance suffers by being placed the morning breaks upon them, lying so near to the light. This picture dead; and to render the scene more makes the faults of the other appear disagreeable, a fox and an eagle scent wilful, and done in perverse defiance them. I suppose the pictures are unof the common truth of nature. finished, for it is difficult to say if the
If any think these critical remarks ground be sod or sponge; besides, exupon the pre-Raphaelite school too cepting in the fox, there is a manifest severe, let them first consider if they want of finish. If the pictures are to be unjust. For, not doubting that the be painted on, I think it would be young men who have been instigated as well if Landseer should consider whether morning is ever of a greenish ers. There is the refined, the edublue, or the summits of the mountains cated taste, and the over-refined taste; pink. It may be true of evening (and and the people's privilege of being vulthen, if true, the colours do not agree- gar must not be overlooked. There are not pleasant); but I cannot think are persons who will have a low, bad it true of morning.
taste, if only to exercise that priviI know not why, but there seems lege, and to defy the better. Such to be an academical enmity towards are not contented with the Fine Arts Sir C. Eastlake. Some criticisms —they will have them extra fine. upon his picture of Ruth at the feet There is a class of collectors who of Boaz are most unjust. It is con- love pictures by their genealogies. ceived with that artist's usual pro- The works they seek must have a hispriety, excepting the figure of Ruth. tory attached to them, and a mere I could wish he would alter her accident will bring in a fashion for a position. Her face is of a beautiful school. There has been a demand of innocence, but there is in it a little late years for Spanish pictures. Mutoo much of the modern school-girl. rillos must be had at any price. I The fixed look of Boaz, as of one re- attended the auction of Louis Phiceiving into his mind an intuition of lippe's Spanish pictures, and I confess a history to come, is very admirable ; to you that I was perfectly astonished and this character is well sustained at the sums given for very dingy by the grandeur in the simplicity and performances professing to be relilargeness of the background, and the gious, without any religious sentiment. poetic colouring which envelopes it in Saints, whom not a purchaser would a dream-like mystery, so suitable to ever pray to, and saintesses, whom it the intention of the subject.
is next to impossible to worship, are Every one is admiring a picture by surprisingly up in the market. I was Mr Sant, but no one can find it by its really like one in a dream. Can it be . title—" The Child Samuel.” It is a possible, I said to myself, that I have very sweet picture of a child awake been all these years studying art, and and rising from his bed, but it is not believing I knew something of its at all of that historical character such principles; and here I am, and would a subject should require. I will say not give five shillings for that canvass no more about the Exhibition, but which they say is from Murillo's easel? that I could wish the Hanging Com- but to my eye is a dingy brown-andmittee would consider the cruelty of grey, half-rubbed-out picture, without hanging small pictures out of sight. one touch of tenderness or of any senIf they are not worthy to be seen, timent, and which represents vulgarreject them; but it is really cruel to ity; and if I saw it at a broker's shop, sacrifice either artists or amateurs to would not dream of purchasing at any display, and to the merely furnishing price : and yet, making some such rethe walls with gilt frames. I hope to mark as this to one who knew the live to see galleries built, in which market, I was quietly told, “ All you pictures will be considered more than say may be very true, but that picrooms. Fashion injures artists enough ture will fetch six or seven hundred by throwing all its extravagance of pounds." The information was corpatronage into a few hands; and I do rect. Many I saw sold at very high not think the fine arts are at all ad- prices, which I would not have acvanced by the outrageous sums given cepted as a gift. Now, I wish you to tell for really unimportant and mediocre me, my post-Raphaelite friend, what works, provided they be by certain is the meaning of this? Whence this painters; but this contemptuous hang- wondrous diversity of opinion ?-nay, ing system is adding insult to injury, of feeling? Am I dead to merits? Or and deteriorates the character of the docs fashion, fancy, or absurdity, inAcademy Exhibition.
vent merits which the painter never I have said enough to show you the conceived ? Do not think I am indifficulty of the task you impose upon sincere when I tell you that I doubted me, to tell you wbat the public taste myself; I was in a condition to be is.' Lovers and patrons of art fall shocked either at my own or other into classes, and all must have cater- people's ignorance, and I had not yet graduated in impudence. It is true I get it? The foundation of taste lies did recover myself, after much ques- deep, but, if dug for, it may be found. tioning. I do think I know something I doubt not it lies in that truth, visible about the matter; and there let it rest or less visible according to human probetween myself and purchasers. gress towards perfection; and from
It so happened, that after quitting whence arise in their proper beauty this public auction, I visited a collec- poetry, arts, and all the virtues—the tion of quite another character; it was morals of life. They all have common like stepping out of the cloister into principles. To discover and to apply that which is supposed to be the anti- them is the difficulty, and will ever podes to a cloister. Far from the be the difficulty ; for however we dinginess I had left, all was bright, may advance towards, we never shall nay, gaudy. The pictures were of the reach perfection in this world. modern school, and of that meretri- Well, then, something may be ascercious character that has been, I think, tained-some grain of a great truthtoo much in vogue of late years. If in these forbidden discussions about I objected to any, the ready answer taste. Be not alarmed-you dread was, they are allegorical; they were, this unlimited field, far too wide for in fact, academy figures allegorised, present working in of a weary laby way of excuse for indecencies. Not bourer. that I am puritanising away the admi- There is to be a general, a national ration — nay, love of beauty-or I patronage of the Fine Arts, and of should publicly condemn the finest sta- every art. I hope the fostering will tues in the world ; but I cannot bear to be judicious, and that no Academy see beauty-especially female beauty, will be Ruskinised into pre-Raphaelwhich ought to be pure and sacred- itism. There is no lack of ability, degraded, and set up, under the false but let Artists be encouraged to have name of an allegory, or under any a little higher aim than they have other pretence, as a mark for ribald been allowed to bave, with a hope of words, or for the indulgence of ribald success. Dogs and horses, deer, foxes, thoughts.
and cattle, and cocks and hens, are They say the Fine Arts are now to very well in their way; but let them be the national care. It should seem not run away with the capital prize that there are many bundles of taste of Art, especially if the painter can which it will be as well to burn. But do better things, and I wish from my who are to form the burning and heart that cruelty in painting, as in who the preserving committees ? The life, could legally come under the cogworld goes on admiring and hating, nisance of the society established for rejecting and purchasing, after a very its suppression ;-and the society for contradictory fashion. As if to return the suppression of vice, as I have to the point whence I set out, there shown, might have a little wholesome ought to be no disputing about taste. exercise of their calling. And is there, then, really no standard Well, my post-Raphaelite friend, I of taste in nature? It would be strange have said my say, and, possibly, not indeed if there were not. What if it in too flattering a humour. Do you should resolve itself into the question, solve my difficulty. Am I“ IgnoraIs there a standard in morals? How mus," or must another wear the fool's comes there to be such diversity of cap? There are many, possibly, who opinions ?-how is it that reasonable can look farther into a millstone than creatures do not think alike? speak you or I; but a man may exist, of alike? nay, feel alike? Are all moral, such wonderful gift of sight and intelgood, and virtuous alike? Hinc la- lect, as to see so very far into a stone chrymæ rerum. He whoʻcorrupted the as to lose sight of it altogether, and moral nature, with it corrupted the never come out of the depth of its judgment, the reason. There must be darkness. a standard of taste; but how are we to