11 JUNE 1853, Page 17


The section of Animals (or as a friend from Guy's insists on our calling it, The Inferior Animals) is the one best represented in the exhibi- tion—that in which works of the highest class in their kind bear the largest proportion to the whole number. Sir Edwin Landseer is in extraordinary force. " Night" and " Morning" form a pair, whose sub- ject is the desperate fight between two stags, and their mutually-inflicted death. These are certainly painful incidents, and of dubious appeal to the sympathies. With the first, however bold in action and decided in moonlight effects, we would not unwillingly dispense ; the beauties of execution not being so commanding as to inspire us with interest or pleasure in the subject as a whole. In the second, where a fox prowls cautiously towards the dead combatants, and a kite, conscious of prey, wings his way from afar, exceeding force and richness of soft colour, and masterly design, redeem the repulsiveness of matter into positive beauty. The greenish-blue dawn-tinge in the sky, and the auroral red which catches the hill-tops, and the mist rising between these and the water, have that charm of soothing purity so peculiar to the time represented. Of all Sir Edwin Landseer's recent works, this is the most remarkable for power. More singular, however, though not greater, is the merit of " Children of the Mist,"—a group of deer looming through a dense foggy haze ; the effect of which is equally noticeable for perfect truth and ease of render- ing, and for the perception of the exact point up to which such rendering can be carried. The slight whitening of the sky at the spot behind which the sun lurks constitutes a point of admirable reality. Sir Edwin's fourth work is a large picture named "Twins,"—somewhat too large perhaps for its materials ; which consist of a Scotch ewe with her double progeny, and of a couple of Newfoundland dogs, in whose delineation the repose of confident watchful strength is excellently expressed. The background is very pleasing, the colour fresh, clear, and day-looking ; but the manipulation is too washy. In starting, we characterized Mr. Hunt's sheep-picture, " Our English Coasts, 1852," as the most perfect in the exhibition ; and such we con- tinue to hold it for sentiment of the highest order belonging to its subject, for absolute truth, and for beauty and finish of execution. The first and most important quality, the sentiment, is indeed developed to such a point as to raise the work into the rank of poetic and even of abstract treat- ments; so intense is the expression of the general subject resulting from the individual expressions of the strayed flock, one of whose members has slipped neck-deep into a tangled net of briery foliage, and so directly sug- gestive of its moral analogies. We may say without exaggeration that this picture, barren of a single human figure, and confining itself to strictly ovine expression, contains as deep a human interest as any in the gallery. Then what variety and character are there in the actions of the sheep ; what a brilliant glow of colour in the foreground grasses and wild-flowers; what studious fidelity both of design and general aspect in the green hill- side which forms the middle distance ; and what a sunny warmth over all from the reflections on the foremost sheep to the just visible track of vapour drawn along the sky by the remote steamer ! We look in vain for a blemish or a shortcoming. Such a picture of such a subject is a new experience in art. We rate it as the most triumphant vindication yet seen of the Preraphaelite principle; showing how much of the new,

the beautiful, and the significant, may be educed from the simplest ma- terials by the determination to represent everything faithfully and tho- roughly. That always delightful painter Mr. Wolf is peculiarly delightful this year. The quaint accuracy and subtilty of expression in The Happy Mother "—a woodcock nestling with her brood in leafy shelterL- could not be carried further. It is the perfection of snug ornithologic domesticity. This feeling is exchanged in "The Mourner" for a touch of pathos; a dove being here presented mourning with piteous eyes and ruffled breast over her broken eggs. The "Proud Bird of the Mountain " possesses grandeur of a very high class, admirably realizing the vigorous lines quoted from Grahame : " Firm on her perch, Her ancient and accustomed rock, she sits With wing-couch'd head, and, to the morning light, Appears a frost-rent fragment coped with snow."

We know nothing finer in its way than this eagle enduring immoveable the driving snow-storm. Mr. Wolf's power of hand seems to have risen with his subject. Here we discern no weakness of execution ; while in the other subjects, as is usual with the artist, a certain flatness and in- effectiveness attach to the care of the object-painting. Mr. Ansdell does not shine ; though he has a dramatic if somewhat repulsive inci- dent in " The Sick Lamb." Other four artists, who make a promising show, are almost new to us, the third entirely so. Mr. Roe's " Tired Stag" is painted with great clearness and delicacy, and is remarkable for a thorough reliance upon truth in the drawing of the animal. There is not the least attempt to modify or shirk the ungainly look of lankiness which the dripping hide and stretched neck confer. The points of light are capitally touched, and the whole arrangement has a tone of original- ity. " The Highland Loch-Scene " is also good. Mr. Webb throws himself unreservedly into Preraphaelitism. In his picture of " Spring " the lambs are excessively hard—with a character corresponding by analo- gy to the acrid flavour of unripe fruit ; but the poultry and the land- scape are worked with a great deal of minuteness, nicety, and feeling. " The Sheep-Dog," by Mr. Bottomley, has a skilful warm management of light and shade, a good sky, and considerable motion in the canine hero of the piece. The style is something between Mr. Ansdell's and Mr. Underhill's, but keeping clear of the latter's sloppy coarseness. Mr. Huggins displays telling colour and much practice of brush in " The Rivals" and "A Brown Study." The Architecture is conspicuously unconspicuous : a state of things

now become chronic, which points to the need that it should find a solu- tion somehow. Sir Charles Barry exhibits a "Block Plan and Model illustrative of the design of the new Crystal Palace," and others of sug- gestions offered by himself "for modifications of the design," which we hesitate to think improvements. Mr. Falkener has various drawings from Pompeian house-architecture, showing a style of airiness and simple grace to which our own forms a strong contrast ; and Mr. Wyatt gives a sketch of what will be " the arrangement of the Interior of the Pom- peian House now constructing in the Crystal Palace." Specimens appear also of Mr. Pickett's iron architecture ; and of " an improved system of street architecture " projected by Mr. C. Henman, wherein the ground-floor is laid out in shops, while along the first story would run a

sheltered colonnade, connected by bridges, and forming a promenade for ladies and others, and the upper stories are to supply dwellings for "the industrious classes." Among the designs for works already produced or im- mediately producible, none pleased us better than the appropriately simple but not mean "Interiors of the Dining-hall and Chapel of the new Work- house for the Parish of St. George, Hanover Square," by Mr. T. Harris.

Sculpture is in a feebler minority than usual. The piece de resistance consists of a " Truth unveiling herself," by Monti, of Crystal Palace popularity : but we fear that truth in the art of sculpture has not yet un- veiled herself to an artist who, with unquestioned executive capacity, de- lights in little tricks and prettinesses, elaborating the veil of a goddess whose languid no-meaning nothing can conceal. The colour in the dra- pery and the tint of the flesh we object to also, whatever may have been the practice of the ancient Greeks, as detracting from the abstract quality of sculpture, and tending to bring it within conditions of art which it is its nature to eschew : but this we think much less objectionable than such West-end matter as the veil. The French "Bacchante" of Mr. H.-Bandel, with its cleverly-done rampant leopard, affords another ex- ample of the dekrmination to misapply sculpture. Mr. Macdowell's " Day Dream" is a common affair, standing weakly, and not unmindful of the Venus. Mr. Bell has evidently made hay while the sun of Uncle Tom shines, in selecting for his subject a fettered half-caste girl, whom he names "A Daughter of Eve—a Scene on the Shore of the Atlantic." It was a gross blunder to represent her weeping tears of stone; but the figure has some superior modelling. Another mistake is exemplified in "The Maid of Saragoasa,"—a rigid heroine, relative to whose proceedings the Catalogue calls upon you to imagine a number of details which there is not, and could not properly be, anything to indicate. "Eve contemplating Death"—in the formof a deceased pigeon—is a fine imaginative subject, and Mr. Stephens has by no means failed in bringing out some of its suggestive- ness. The feeling of wonder in the face belongs to a higher appreciation of the theme than would any approach to a violent awe or horror. The form is rather childlike. "Pandora" is a sufficiently graceful and chaste speci- men of the art which Mr. Marshall is apt to lower into artifice: but the stoop appears to us excessive. In a model for a frieze of " The Seasons " Mr. Munro pushes sculpture to its extreme limit of pictorial effect. The freedom and small dimensions of a first design, however, induce and ac- count for some luxuriance of accessory, which we think the artist will do well to regulate in the completed work. The incidents selected, as well as their treatment, are full of a fresh enjoying sentiment of a very charm- ing kind. For Spring, we have three children with a lamb ; the swallows are darting, and the early trees sprouting. For Summer, two young boys crowning a girl with the spoils of the rose-bower which overarches them: the downward faces and the positions generally are here very graceful. For Autumn, four children in the vintage; the back of one particu- larly fleshy and characteristic, and the light falling most agreeably. For Winter, a little girl mounted on a goat and pulling her scarf about her shoulders, while her attendant boys make head against the wind which the bare branches tremble in. The tout-ensemble of these four compositions is very lively and harmonious. A portrait group—" The Children of Herbert Ingram, Esq."—displays the same acquaintance and sympathy with child-

ish expression, and shows a remarkably skilful management of lines, whatever may be the point of view taken. But there is a want of select- ness and simplicity in the treatment of the vegetable forms introduced. Mr. Munro's medallion of "Lady Constance Grosvenor" has a true per- ception of refined loveliness and dignity. Mr. Hancock's medallion of " Undine " is also a beautiful face.

A "Monumental Group of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wool- stoncroft Shelley, to be executed in marble and erected in the Priory Church, Christchurch, Hants," gives Mr. Weekes an opportunity to ex- ercise his exquisite power of modelling, of which the dead poet's shoulder and chest arc fine specimens. We fail, however, to trace any likeness; and assuredly either the person who has commissioned the monument or the artist is responsible for a distressing want of taste in selecting so painful a thing to treat as the corpse of drowned Shelley in his widow', arms. An accident that might as well have happened to Gifford or Lord Chancellor Eldon is chosen as the monumental record of one of our most wonderful and individual poets. M. Cordier exhibits a " Bust of Made- moiselle Nathan," marvellously fleshy, finished, and marked in character. Scarcely less excellent than this is Mr. Park's of "Sir John Watson Gordon,"—a thoughtful face furrowed with deep lines, and most impres- sively rendered. Others, too, by the same artist, are of high merit. In "Mrs. John Scott, of Edinburgh," the face is very pure in design; but the hair, exaggerating the general tendency of Mr. Park's execution, re- sembles basket-work. Mr. Baily's "Bust of Douglas Jerrold" is ad- mirable both as a likeness and as a work of sculpture ; and Messrs. But- ler, Earle, and Edwards, are to be mentioned with praise.