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Studio: international art — 37.1906

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The Royal Academy Exhibition, igo6. Preliminary Notice

It was by the merest chance that I found myself
lodged here for a week. Imperfect as were the
means between us of communicating ideas, the
magnetism that exists between artistic temperaments
brought us en rapport almost as completely as if
we had spoken the same language. With a sort
of whimsical perversity the massive timber posts
of the building served to support exquisite little
etchings astonishingly vigorous in their small dimen-
sions. After the manner of their kind, these two
artists spread themselves everywhere, so that the
whole house was a studio. An atmosphere of re-
fined content pervaded everything, their work dis-
playing a sense of restfulness uninfluenced by the
fever of competition.

The studio mill marks the lower end of the
valley. At the upper end the river is spanned
by a remarkable stone bridge constructed of a
double tier of arches and carrying the roadway a
considerable height above the bed of the stream.
To follow the river margin by the pathways, under
willows or poplars, reveals a series of aspects of
the town in which the charm of mystery and un-
expectedness predominates. The walls and towers
and roofs along the high skyline only hint at the
town behind them. Sometimes only one or two
towers are in sight when a sudden bend in the
river reveals a chain of them. As no two of thi.se
towers are alike, and both they and the houses are
roofed with red tiles, there is not an hour in the
day without striking effects. Yet there is a cul-
minating moment when the evening shadows have
filled the valley, and the many towers and red roofs
blaze with every hue of rose and crimson in the
last rays of sunset, fringing the ridge of the hill as
with a coronet of flame. Where the river lies in
still dark pools the shining roofs and towers are
reflected and inverted. But it is a fleeting effect
one has hardly time to dwell upon. For while one
watches, the shadows creep slowly along the length
of the wall, and one by one the gleaming points of
the towers go out, like extinguished candles on
some great altar. And as the last rosy tints of the
overhanging clouds turn ashen grey, the valley
becomes steeped in silence.

Chas. E. Eldred.


The exigency of going to press early does not
admit of our giving in this issue anything more
than a preliminary notice of some of the principal

pictures exhibited in the Royal Academy this year.
The wider and more open policy which has charac-
terised the Royal Academy in its recent elections is
perceptible to some extent also in the character of
thisyear'sexhibition. And yet, thoughnewinfluences
are to be felt, change is not yet apparent unless it is
carefully looked for. There is much reason for
believing that the Academy will become more and
more catholic in its judgment of contemporary art
as time goes on and fresh influences arise to balance
the still arbitrary and uncompromising preferences
of some of its members of the older and more
conventional school. For the present, however,
part of the annual exhibition is still given over to
artistic trifling, and numbers of pictures exhibited
contain in themselves nothing beyond the prac-
tice of certain well-understood mechanical methods
of picture-making. The presence of such works does
not serve even the doubtfully useful purpose of
enhancing the excellences of more serious paintings
sandwiched between them; on the contrary, they
are merely significant of that patronage of chosen
mediocrity from which well-wishers, both inside
and outside of its membership, are so anxious to
absolve the Royal Academy.

Portraits are more than ever to the fore this year,
presumably as the one of the few forms of painting
that pay. With the exception, however, of the
work of certain eminent portrait painters, and one
or two interesting examples by rising men, this
prevalence or portraiture does not add to the
interest of the annual exhibitions. A very welcome
attempt has been made by a certain section of the
Academy to give greater importance to the black-
and-white room than has been attached to it ot
late. During recent years it has not seemed to
represent the black-and-white work done in
England during the year at all adequately.
Interesting work by original etchers is shown every
season in various private galleries; there is no
reason why their work should not meet in com-
petition at the Academy every year. There are
prominent names which are never read in the
Academy catalogue. Hitherto the Academy
have displayed so little interest in black-and-white
that the black-and-white room year after year has
shown only a half-hearted collection, to which some
of the best men have not been tempted to send.
The election of the new Associate Engravers marks
a fitting point at which this state of things may be
altered, and we sincerely hope that the black-and-
white exhibition at the Academy will become in
time an exhibition conferring the prestige which it
should upon those who exhibit.

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