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Studio: international art — 28.1903

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Studio- Talk


(From 0217' own Correspondents.)

LONDON.—In the evening of December
roth, 1902, Sir Edward Poynter, P.R.A.,
distributed the prizes to the successful
students of the Royal Academy Schools.
On this occasion he did not deliver a studied
speech, nor did he point out the very obvious
defects of the academic training. His remarks
were cheery and hopeful, as though he did not
wish to be quite in keeping with the Exhibition of
the student's work. The President said that the
examiners desired him to draw attention to a very
great advance in three competitions — i.e. in
paintings from the life, in the sets of six drawings
from the life, and also in the four models from the
life, in all of which there was a much higher
average of merit " than had been remarked for the
past two or three years." The old students must
feel hurt by this criticism ; and, perhaps, they may
ask themselves in what respects the life-studies of
three years ago differed from those which were
made by the new students in 1902. It would be
hard indeed to give an answer to this question, for
the general quality of the work remains precisely
what it was during the last years of the nineteenth

century. The drawings from the life are still
obsequious in their regard for shading, and the
major part of them are careless and weak-handed
in other things of much greater importance. It is
hard to find among them a single life-drawing that
is admirably constructed, simply because the mis-
placed deference paid to the shadows, to the
half-tints, to the reflected lights, hinders a student
from representing his model in a large, intelligent
manner, for the sake of the general movement and
character. He thinks so much of each small
fragment of his study that he forgets to consider
each part in relation to the whole. This is why a
life-drawing by a student of the Royal Academy
has usually the effect of a thing laboriously pieced
together; it lacks that feeling for construction
which is encouraged in the best schools on the
Continent of Europe.

Last year the paintings from the life were more
interesting than the life-drawings, but most of them
were thin and shallow in the quality and substance
of their technique. They did not exemplify the
truth that the first business of a painter is to paint
—to show joy and courage and vigour in a free
handling of his pigments. The students are not to


(Creswick Prize, Royal Academy Competitions)

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