"Fine-Art Gossip." Athenaeum 7 Dec. 1850, 1286.


FINE-ART Gossip.

The soi-disant Pre-Raphaelite ignores the principles of Art, and affects to despise all the approaches hitherto made towards the establishment of fixed ideas on the subject of beauty and taste. Ignoring, also, the advantages which these studies may be supposed to have wrought out in giving a true direction to the imagination, he sits down before some model in the selection of which he has taken no further account than as it may answer his desire to imitate the ugliness of some early master, and searching out its perhaps disgusting details with microscopic eye, thinks that he has achieved all by a successful imitation, and hopes by this process to work out a patent way to the true and the beautiful. The photographist, with no such overweening pretension, and without the loss of so much ill-applied labour, does the thing much better, and has, already–with something yet remaining that is disagreeable in exaggerated hardness of effect and "tinniness" of execution, produced more than these worshippers of the merely old. These remarks have been called forth by our having been startled at the sight of a photographic production by Mr. Mayall, in which, by delicacy of manipulation by judiciously tempering the lights without stealing from the force of the shadows, together with a very pictorial choice and arrangement of his materials, he bids fair to outstrip the Pre-Raphaelite even in that limited race to which they are both confined. The work in question does Mr. Mayall great credit. It is a devotional subject, where the head of an old man is produced with a charm in the blending softness of the tones to which we had hitherto thought the art unequal, whilst the execution is so broad as to be quite inoffensive. We have, as yet, seen nothing equal to it in photographic art.

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Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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