"The Winter Exhibition, at 120, Pall Mall." Art-Journal 20 (1 Nov. 1858), 354-355.

excerpts

After an interlapse we have again a "Winter Exhibition;" but although constituted of a great proportion of "cabinet pictures," it does not, as a prominent feature, contain an assemblage of those quaint sketches which characterized the early estalishment of the winter exhibition, which at first aspired to nothing beyond a collection of sketches–running mementoes of what was to be done, improved with loose copies of what had been done–among which were even found the dark and faded browns and blues of the harmonic scales of those historic personages, the old masters. But the aspect of the thing is changed,–everywhere is instanced an intensity of manipulation ascending to the utmost subtlety of the art called "Pre-Raffaellite," with certain pithy instances of the art which the "new school" declares shall be extinct. . . .

Nos. 67 and 68 are ‘St. Agnes’ Eve,’ and ‘Ophelia,’ in the manner called Pre-Raffaellite, though differing materially from each other in feeling, inasmuch as the latter is palpable–substantive, but the former is visionary to a degree. In ‘Ophelia,’ we find the essence of the new-school principle; everything–the herbs, the flowers, the water itself (for she is at the brink of the brook)–seems to have been created for the nonce; and Ophelia–poor Ophelia–is a pale wax figure, modelled with particular attention to the nursing of such repugnant features as present themselves in the full bloom of Pre-Raffaellite art; and yet there are passages of the work unsurpassable in their mimicry of nature, and in these the principle is the beautiful,–and wherefore should not also the beautiful prevail in the humanity of the picture? The head of the figure is large and vulgar in character, and the gaunt arm and coarse hand in no wise justify the infatuation of Hamlet. . . .

No. 112, ‘Tip-Cat,’ Charles Rossiter; a small picture, in which we find three boys eagerly engaged in that game, which is now expelled from the streets of London: their playground is a green lane, of which the incidental circumstances are admirably rendered. . . .

By W. Holman Hunt there is a small picture, No. 71, entitled, ‘Fairlight Downs–Sunlight on the Sea,’ said to be an essay in "Pre-Raffaellite art,’ although the men who lived before Raffaelle never contemplated anything like this. It presents simply a portion of high-land in shade, harshly opposed to the said sunlight. Nothing in nature was ever so hard as are those ridges, so arbitrarily thrown up against the distant sea. So subservient here is nature to execution, that we feel only the insolence of manner.


This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

Return to the list of reviews