[Rossetti, William Michael]. "Fine Arts: Exhibition of the National Institution." Spectator 24.1190 (19 Apr. 1851), 377-378.

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Mr. Deverell might derive a profitable lesson from Mr. Collinson’s "Incident in the Life Of St. Elizabeth of Hungary" (177). This incident belongs to high mass on the feast of the Assumption; when it is told of St. Elizabeth, that, kneeling before the crucifix, she took the coronet from her head, and the Landgravine of Thuringia reproved her for behaving like boys and old women. St. Elizabeth, resting her cheek on the feet of the effigy, is absorbed in holy musings; the Landgravine touches her, and points towards an old woman worshiping prostrate, near whom is a youth praying before the Virgin’s image: beside the princess are her maids of honour; one of whom, of the royal house, rises in surprise and displeasure. Louis, the betrothed husband of Elizabeth, advances from the right, accompanied by his brothers Conrad and Henry, whose after persecution of the saint is foreshadowed in his evil look. There is a very refined sentiment in many of the accessory groups; as of the girl lifting a young child to the holy water, of the two lovers singing, and the two children similarly engaged as if under a sense of grave responsibility. The figure of Louis is fine, and some of the ladies’ expressions are very sweet. The fundamental excellence of the work is its general propriety of arrangement, including the truthfulness with which those engaged in the offices of the church are disposed, and of all relating to the church itself: the laborious accuracy of the mosaic floor deserves special mention. But the picture is worthy to have its faults also stated, and will bear the detail. Foremost of these is a general coldness; the figures are sometimes weak in drawing, and rather flat, suggesting timidity on the artist’s part; and the picture loses much in interest, and indeed in the first requisites of expression, by the use of the same model for so many of the ladies, including even Elizabeth herself. The Landgravine is rigid and unfinished; and the figure of Prince Henry should be reconsidered: his action is common, uncalled for, and much too obvious, and his head poorly painted. Indeed, the work might be carried further in various respects; but it is not the less for that one of singularly delicate and chaste feeling, well invented and composed, and conscientiously executed. A little more well-directed labour would remove many objections. The appearance here of "The Reply" (93) hung but not exhibited last year at the Royal Academy, reminds us too that the present is Mr. Collinson’s first attempt in a new and arduous style: assuredly he will not need to fall back on the "domestic" repository through inability to transcend it.


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Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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