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region of paste-board and footlights. Let the reader look at these pictures beside Mr. Hook's, turning also for a moment to No. 74, where a parcel of strutting play-actors stand for idealizations of Barons of Eng. land, and he will not only perceive what we mean by the terms healthful and sickly in application to Art, but may learn to appreciate in soine degree, spite of Academical reviewers, and innumerable croakers of less degree, what Mr. Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites have done to purify and invigorate the Art of Great Britain. The leprosy of false idealism has been almost cast out. English Art, having washed in the river of nature, has the freshness and ruddy vigour of health on the cheek, and if the full power of manhood is still to be attained, displays, at least, the simple beauty and the blooming promise of the child.
Mr. Hook's other works of the year are not quite equal in excellence to that we have named, but all he exhibits is worth observation. We have seen the boat touching the shore ; at No. 22, we have her out at sea. The fisherman and his son, “Whose bread is on the waters," are on the deep, one or two mottled sea-birds their sole companions, with the shining levels of ocean around, and the net coming in to their haul over the side of the boat, gently heeling with its weight. The sky has a general tone of grey, with the faintest suffusion of warmer colour towards the horizon, and darker though by no means threatening films of rain-cloud above. One other subject has been furnished to Mr. Hook by the life of the Cornish fisherman, but in this third instance his power is unequal to the task he has attempted. He has chosen that stanza in Tennyson's marvellous lyric, “ Break, break, break,” in which the sailor-lad is represented singing in his boat on the bay, and has attempted to set before us this incident, along with the general scene of the poem. He has succeeded as far as any painter is likely to succeed. The beetling cliffs of dark green guard the bay, veiled faintly by floating, equally diffused, impalpable haze, delicately suggesting the tender melancholy and the solemn grace of “a day that is dead.” The spray rises thin and ghostly in one distant wreath, as the languid sea “ breaks, breaks, breaks" on its cold grey stones. The boy sits with his sister in the boat-his face, it must be said, not very songful or joyful—while the girl laves her arm in the water. The boat dips gently on the near-side, where the girl sits ; and that strange, bright, translucent green—the crystal of the deep sea coloured by the piercing sunbeam-which all who love boating know, gleams underneath. The white-sailed ship is seen near the horizon, stealing on to “the haven under the hill.” The haze of summer light and heat, with the sober grandeur which that aspect imparts to Nature, floods the whole prospect. Beautiful and felicitous! The green of the sea, under the boat, is proof of the keenest observation of Nature. Two incidents of the poem--the fisherman's boy shouting with his sister at play, and the sailor-lad singing in his boat on the baywhich could not have been separately represented by the painter without sacrifice of breadth, are happily conjoined by Mr. Hook; the sister being given to the sailor-lad, and placed beside him in the
boat. But if we are asked whether the painter has fully realized the conception of the poet, or even whether, working with his own materials, he has achieved an effect equal to that of Mr. Tennyson, we must answer in the negative. The suggestiveness of the poem is such as compels us to use the word “infinite ;" it mingles lights of sadness and joy, of bridal robe and funeral pall, with subtle and aërial changefulness, such as the brush and the pencil can never attain. The language of painting—form and colour-is clear, definite, precise, and, therefore, limited; poetry-using the more plastic medium of words -can, by a thousand nameless hints, evoke the imagination which stimulates, suggests, and weaves together webs of varied association. Tennyson's words have very often an exact expressiveness comparable to that of line and colour ; but the lyric, " Break, break, break,” is a magnificent illustration of the suggestive and stimulating energy of imagination.
Mr. Hook exhibits a single landscape, (301), entitled, “The Valley on the Moor.” A moor is supposed to be naturally somewhat dreary and chill; and these qualities would, we dare say, be present in still greater degree in a valley on a moor. But surely there would have been some touch of bright colour, some golden furze, or wild-rose dashed with dew, or pool to which a stray sunbeam made its way through the clouds, to relieve its desolation. In Mr. Hook's valley, the chilly fields slope towards a chilly hollow, in which creeps a chilly stream, spanned by a rustic bridge. We shiver as we look upon the scene. A herd-boy sits on the bridge, contemplating a very small hill cow and her calf, lazily standing in the stream. Perhaps we ought to thank Mr. Hook, in these days of railways and factories, for setting before us a landscape so remote, silent, and primeval. Originality in choice of subject is always a high merit. But we confess that this moorland valley is too dank and downcast for our sensibilities; the herdboy, at least, might turn round, and give us a smile, instead of presenting to us his back, and devoting all his attention to the cattle, Mr. A. W. Hunt's “Flood and Wind at the Head of a Welsh Pass,” (505), is one of the most imaginative and powerful landscapes of the year. The Academical authorities have put it on the floor in the north room, entailing on the beholder the painful necessity of stooping, and the no less painful sense of unseemliness and impossibility in looking down upon tops of mountains. Flood, we have here, and wind in all their grandeur ; the cloudrack rending about the massy hills, and the sun seizing the opportunity of a rift in the shadowy curtain to fling a broad burst of red light on the brow and summit of one of the mountains. A sorry reward, gentlemen Academicians, for watching Nature at the heads of Welsh passes amid storms like this, and for bringing an effect seen perhaps once in a lifetime upon the canvas, to have your picture thrust out of sight in a corner. But Mr. Hunt did not paint such a picture without having his reward. We venture to say that Mr. Creswick's picture on the line, “A Relic of Old Times,” (262), did not cost him so much effort as Mr. Hunt's Flood and Wind, nor would we prize it so highly as Mr. Hunt's work. It is, however, a fine picture, not unworthy of a name which will always be honoured by lovers of modern landscape-painting. On the left is a wooded river-bank, crowned by a ruin, about which rooks are flying, and over which is the faint effulgence of yellow sunset. The river flows in front, and some cattle have come down the bank to drink. The feeling of the picture is true, and the foliage, touched partly with the brown of autumn, but, in general, merely the deep green of late summer is pleasing to the eye. Mr. Creswick has not pushed on to the vigorous realization of the young school, and there is a sense in which his picture is a relic of old days, on which it might not be gracious to insist. Mr. Brett's “Hedger,” (360), is modern enough, but is illustrative of the defects as well as the merits of pre-Raphaelite landscape. The hyacinths droop, indeed, in the dim recesses of the hedge, and breadths of very actual primroses light the air. The red-faced hedger is a specimen of his class, about whom Mr. Barnes might give us one of his “ whomely lays," and his small daughter, carrying his still smaller infant, and coming with father's dinner from the cottage, is very rustic and very natural. But the foliage around can with difficulty be accepted for the foliage of early spring : it is too stiff. The pre-Raphaelites must remember that the character of foliage is airiness and grace, wayward freedom and infinite joyous picturesqueness, and that, if their sternness of finish is incompatible with this, they are, in one respect at least-and that, for the landscape painter, a most important respect-untrue to nature. Having seen Mr. Brett's “Val d'Aosta” of last year, we can hardly assert that he is unable to render foliage in its utmost freedom ; and it may be that there are a few days in spring, the trees just struggling into leaf, when they look as stiff and uncomfortable as those in his present picture. But this fact, while vindicating Mr. Brett's execution, would not vindicate his choice of subject, except simply with a view to practice ; and we cannot help warning the pre-Raphaelites against the danger of losing, in their laborious exactness of execution, the grace, freedom, and gaiety which must mark all correct rendering of Nature's foliage. We can notice but one other landscape, although there are several which will repay a careful examination. In “Pegwell Bay, Kent: a Recollection of October 5th, 1858," (141)-Mr. Dyce has satisfied all his own requirements of delicate feeling, exquisite finish, and pure and tender colour. The time is summer evening; the sun is beneath the horizon, but his last smile still rests, in soft glow of purple and crimson light, upon the slumbering ocean and the tranquil shore. I the foreground are two or three ladies engaged, as was to be expected in these days, in completing their conchological collections. On the right is a ridge of chalk cliffs, their glare subdued in the fading light; on the left, the placid levels of the sea stretch away to the horizon. In the middle distance, between sea and shore, are low, weeded rock, over which the tide rises daily, and which are now encompassed by the still shallows of the ebb, into which the sunset falls. They
show like darker gems set in a plane of rubied light. This passage, rich and subtle in its beauty, is the finest in the picture. On the whole, this is a noble work, painted in love, the production of a fine mind and a tender imagination. But there is, we at first hardly know how, a drawback. We admire, we even wonder, yet we cannot help feeling that the impression made is not powerful. Is it that the cliffs lack majesty and strength, and have a niggled, shelfy look ? It may be so in part. But principally, we have no doubt, the effect is interfered with by the conchological ladies. They are too prominent not to be particularly observed, and it is impossible to rescue them or their occupation from triviality. It is fashionable to be scientific at the coast ; that we feel to be the whole account of their science. Their pursuit, therefore, is a mere pastime; and this impression is not in unison with the mellowed splendour of that sunset, with the solemn beauty of that ocean. The breadth, the unity, necessary to powerful and lasting impression, are wanting; the picture cannot be felt as a whole ; it has the fatal defect of not being an imaginative harmony.
Sir Edwin Landseer's “ Flood in the Highlands,”' (106), occupies the post of honcur in this Exhibition, and no one will grudge the distinction to our vigorous and thoroughly English painter. Sir Edwin's right hand has not lost its cunning. Three of the dogs in this picture are worthy of his prime. We suppose it is hardly necessary to inform the reader that the dogs in question form part of a somewhat motley crew of refugees, the inmates or dependents of Alick Gordon's cottage in the Highlands, who, when the flood came roaring down from the hills, sought safety on the roof. There are the blind, old grandfather, the young wife and child, and two growing boys. The sheep have been dragged up, and the three collies have not been left behind. One of these last is squatted almost on the ridge of the roof high above the flood, and has a look of selfish doggedness, with little of keen alarm ; another sits gazing on her puppy, held by one of the boys, and has evidently made up her mind to sit by it to the last ; a third is in a state of total and cowering dismay, unable to lie down from agitation, and yet forced to stand still, from not knowing whither to turn. Each of these dogs is a separate and felicitous study. The human figures are sufficiently well-managed. The old man is stunned and stupified with dismay, and the expression of one of the boys is that of mere sheepish terror. But the other boy and the young mother gaze with frantic intentness into the valley, their eyes evidently fixed on some object struggling in the water. The name of Alick Gordon is conspicuous on the signboard of his cottage, and we cannot but miss him from the roof. Do his wife and son look with that maniacal eagerness, because they see him battling with the flood to reach them ? An ox and goat are seen making helpless efforts to reach the roof, the eye of the ox bloodshot, his nostril red, his tongue protruded. In a back-water beside the lintel of the cottage, several ducks float calmly, the painter having brought his most tender skill to perfect their soft bright colours, and to show their happy unconsciousness of danger. The background of
the picture, if background it can be said to have, is the thick darkness of mist, and rain, and tempest, through which on the left the flooded torrent is seen rushing headlong from its mountain gorge, masses of loosened rock groaning and thundering in its bed, and the dim light of its tawny foam breaking from the gloom. This picture is not without its faults ; certain of its incidents are ill-chosen, much in its perspective seems incomprehensible ; but it is a notable and powerful work
We can do no more than mention several works, which it would be pleasant, and not uninstructive, to describe at length. Mr. Goodall's “Early Morning in the Wilderness of Shur," (295), the Arab encampment just breaking up for the day's march, shows that bright and cheerful moment in Arab existence, ere the dawn's rosy light has yet glowed into the flaming rays of noon, when the music breaks from Memnon's statue. The picture is alive with animated gesture and brilliant colour—the steel-pointed spear; the picturesque firelock; the stately camel, holding its head high to sniff the breath of morning; the turbaned, bright-robed Arab ; the dark Ethiopian slave; the deep blue of the sea behind ; and, on its farther shore, a range of noble hills suffused with the blush of sunrise. From an opening in this range of hills tradition affirms the children of Israel to have emerged, in order to pass between the cleft surges of the Red Sea ; and the painter represents that sea as no rippling tide-course, which can be traversed at ebb, but a deep and heavy mass of waters.
Mr. Cooke, who loved to paint the flapping sail and the smooth sea, or who, at best, ventured to show the big boat of Venice bounding beneath Italian light, has this year surprised us with a picture of “H.M.S. Terror, in the Iceof Frozen Strait, April, 1837,” (248). The vigour and originality of this choice deserve the highest applause; and Mr. Cooke has spared no toil in making his work true to nature. The vessel, hemmed in by the ice-floes, which are dashed and wedged together in huge angular masses, rests beneath the leaden sky of northern winter, while a dim suffusion of red light, from a sun below the horizon, glimmers overhead on the right. Ghastly stillness, and horror of infinite cold, the blue shadows of the ice-crevices flitting like spectres about the windingsheet of nature, seem to pervade the dusky atmosphere. Such is the scene of which the pursuit of truth, or the mission of love, have taught brave hearts, time after time, to front the terrors.
Mind and eye turn gladly from this pallid and deathly prospect to Mr. Phillip's “Marriage of the Princess Royal,” (58). Here all is sweet play of variegated light, on silken robe, and stately plume, and blushing cheek. The daughter of England kneels before the altar, beautiful maidens wreathing out like a rose-garland behind. Her Majesty, queenly in dignity, motherly in grace and tenderness, is the foremost figure in the proud company; while the glistening eyes of the Prince of Wales, of Prince Alfred, and of the Princess Alice, show that, in looking on the bride, they think more of the sister than of the Princess. One of the most felicitous pictures of its class that was ever painted !