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Studio: international art — 23.1901

Seite: 174
DOI Heft: DOI Artikel: DOI Seite: Zitierlink: i
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1901b/0200
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Religious Art

RELIGIOUS ART AT THE
HOLLAND FINE ART GAL-
LERY.

It would be difficult to praise too highly the
artistic spirit by which the Illustrated Bible Society
has been influenced in its preparation of the great
work which it has now ready for publication.
Illustrated Bibles have been produced often
enough, and artists of repute have on many
previous occasions interested themselves in such
undertakings, but it may fairly be questioned
whether any of these issues have approached in
importance this one for which the Society is
responsible. Certainly none have been so com-
prehensive in scope or so ambitious in intention ;
and rarely has a great ideal been so adequately
realised. The work, altogether, can be described
as monumental, and it is likely to remain for a
very long time the standard against which similar
productions must be measured.

A very good idea of the character of the
publication can be obtained from the exhibition
arranged at the Holland Fine Art Gallery in
Grafton Street. Here have been brought together
a large number of the original drawings, executed as
illustrations for the Bible by"the chief artists of
Europe and America. The collection has qualities
of a very remarkable kind, and abounds with
admirable examples of masterly accomplishment.
It is agreeably free from uniformity, as each
contributor has been allowed to exercise his
discretion in the treatment of the subjects assigned
to him, and to work in whatever medium suited him
best. Some have drawn in pen-and-ink or chalk,
some in wash, others have painted in oil mono-
chrome, and a few have expressed themselves in
colour. There is ample variety, too, in the technical
character of the illustrations, for some are minute
in handling and elaborate in statement of detail,
and others are expressive sketches, slight in
manner, but full of masterly suggestion and
thought.

How great this variety is can be well appreciated
by a comparison of such works as M. J. L. Gerome's
Rizpah or Mr, F. Dicksee's Judgment of Solomon,
with their careful finish, and Mr. E. A. Abbey's
Deborah, M. Benjamin-Constant's Christ raiseth
Lazarus, and Puvis de Chavannes'y^m Scourged,
with their wonderful freedom of method and breadth
of touch. Again, the earnestness and severity of
Segantini's Miriam contrasts effectively with the
daintiness and decorative charm of Signor Morelli's
Jesus in Galilee, or with the dramatic force of

174

Signor Michetti's Saul on the Way to Damascus.
There are contrasts even more striking between
the works of artists like Sir Edward Burne-Jones,
Sir L. Alma-Tadema, Mr. J. M. Swan, M. Josef
Israels, M. Rochegrosse, M. Repin, and Herr
von Uhde, all of them men inspired by strong
convictions and endowed with a very definite sense
of style. The impression that the whole series
creates is that every contributor has been induced by
a clear perception of the greatness of the occasion
to attempt the clearest assertion of his capacities,
and to do all possible justice to himself without
any idea of appealing for popular approval by
suppressing his artistic individuality. No one has
feared to give full play to his personal preferences,
and plainly each artist has determined to stand or
fall by whatever power he may have to think out
a great subject and to realise it with dignity and
right perception.

As a consequence this exhibition is not only one
ot the most impressive displays of religious art
which has ever been held in this country, but it is
as well one of the best summaries of the capacity
of our modern masters in art which could possibly
be devised. The cosmopolitan character of the
collection is not the least of its merits. Practically
all the schools of painting which flourish in the
Old and New Worlds have sent contributions, and
nearly every civilised country is represented. From
England come Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir L.
Alma-Tadema, Messrs. Walter Crane, Frank
Dicksee, Briton Riviere, and J. M. Swan ; from
America, Mr. E. A. Abbey ; from France, MM.
Benjamin-Constant, J. L. Gerome, J. P. Laurens,
Puvis de Chavannes, Rochegrosse, and J. J. Tissot;
from Italy, MM. Morelli, Michetti, and Giovanni
Segantini; from Germany, MM. A. Kampf, S.
Schneider, Max Liebermann, and F. von Uhde ;
from Russia, M. Ilja Repin; from Hungary, M. V.
de Brozik; from Sweden, M. Albert Edenfelt; from
the Netherlands, M. Josef Israels ; from Belgium
M. Juliaan de Vriendt; and from Spain, M. Jose
Villegas. Many of these artists are not in the
ordinary sense illustrators, so that their participa-
tion in the work is interesting as in some measure
a departure from their usual practice. Indeed,
from every point of view the appearance of this
Bible must be considered a momentous event in
art history. It has given to many men a rare
opportunity of achieving great things in the way
of imaginative effort, and it has produced an
almost unprecedented series of religious master-
pieces.

A. L. B.
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