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Studio: international art — 10.1897

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Studio- Talk

having the blocks cut and the proofs printed by
the same hand.

Mr. Fletcher has also discarded the clumsy
contrivance of frame wedges and pin points by
which the register of the first proofs was obtained.
He finds the Japanese method of adjusting the
edge of the paper to a notch and line cut on the
margin of the block more trustworthy and much
more expeditious.

Although in all technical matters it seems to be
wisest to follow fairly closely the methods of the
Japanese, yet as regards the intricate problems of
design to which the possibilities of this craft give
rise, I am convinced that it would be fatal to
accept and adopt as our own the beautiful and
consistent scheme that the Japanese have evolved,
and I believe that if this art is ever to take root
in the West it will be necessary for us to weigh
for ourselves each problem and to work out our
own solution of the appropriate use of colour, and
tone, and shadow, and line.

I am, yours faithfully,

John D. Batten.

STUDIO-TALK.

(From our own Correspondents.)

LONDON.—The exhibition at Burlington
House of the work of Lord Leighton has
a somewhat unfortunate air of attempt-
ing to prove too much. It is too large,
too comprehensive; and it includes a
great many more of his pictures than are at all
necessary to show the extent of his capacity. Quite
half the canvases which have been brought together
reveal a little too obviously that the artist, great as
he was on occasions, had many moments when he
scarcely succeeded in doing full justice to his powers.
Certainly no useful purpose is served by the presence,
in such a memorial exhibition, of anything which
is not really representative of him at his best. It
is by the few excellent achievements of any art-
worker that we would wish to remember him, rather
than by the general average of the productions of
his whole .life, for, after all, his claim to immor-
tality depends chiefly upon the evidences he has
given of his ability to rise above the level of his
contemporaries. That Lord Leighton was a com-
manding figure in the art world the Academy show
proves clearly enough, but the cogency of this
proof is by no means increased by the bulk of the
collection. The fact is, indeed, apparent rather in
spite of the industry of the Council in gathering

52

together as many as possible of his pictures and
sketches than because in doing so they have done
justice to his reputation. A careful search through
the three hundred and twenty-four examples of his
work will reveal enough of what is admirable to
establish the reality of his position, but during the
process of selection much that is calculated to make
the judicious grieve will be encountered. Cimabue's
Madonna carried through Florence, The Daphnc-
phoria, The Summer Moo?i, Flaming Jt/ne, and the
portrait of Sir Richard Burton, are pictures for the
existence of which we owe him a debt of gratitude ;
but he was very often out of the humour in which
these greater canvases were painted. Perhaps the
most interesting parts of the whole show are the
sections devoted to his black-and-white drawings
and oil sketches ; and there is much to admire in
his digressions into sculpture.

A more valuable, because more consistent, one-
man show is that of Mr. G. F. Watts's pictures at
the New Gallery. He has the merit of being an
artist whose whole life has been devoted to the
continuous working out of an idea full of great
possibilities, and he is remarkable because he has
never allowed either the dictates of fashion or the
temptations of success to lead him out of the
course which he marked out early in his career.
Therefore his work bears well the severe test of
collected exhibition, and the record of many years
of labour tells in his case no tales of concessions
that have made his intention less pure or his
achievement less earnest. He has never failed to
regard the pursuit of his ideal as more important
than the effort to gain popularity, and his position
among modern artists, and the recognition which
he has gained from the public, have come to him
as consequences of his sincere indifference about
them. Few men have existed so consistently for
the sake of art alone; and few men can show so
small a number of failures to reach the higher level
of technical practice. Both in subject and treat-
ment his pictures are apart from almost everything
else which is characteristic of the modern school.
Their first great quality is that of imagination.
They are, to quote his own term, " symbols " ex-
pressive of intellectual ideas, illustrations of mental
views about various problems of existence ; and,
being symbolical in this way, they depend but little
upon realism of manner. They deal, it is true,
with human forms, or with details of landscape;
but the way in which the material of them is em-
ployed is altogether individual. There is no sug-
gestion of simple copying of modern humanity in
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