International studio — 41.1910

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Lady Alma-Tadema's Pictures

Mr. Tuke could have
tackled the subject with
equal dexterity and acumen.

This long preamble is
necessary to bring us to a
just appreciation of the
special niche held by the
subject of this article,
Lady Alma-Tadema. For
if any art ever breathed
an exclusively feminine
spirit it a-suredly issues
from the emanations of this
delicate and supremely
gifted lady. To approach
her, indeed, we must needs
shake off the dust of a
turbulent, mechanically

-Venice, moonlight" (sketch) {See precedmg article) by f, ziem controlled modern world.

The artist dwells apart and

LADY ALM A-T ADEM A'S PIC- in so cool and sequestered an interior, that we
TURES. BY MARION HEP- seemed to catch our breaths on entering into at
WORTH DIXON once so radiant and fragrant an atmosphere. For it

is always summer that we find imprisoned within
It must have been close on twenty years ago Lady Tadema's four walls. With pain, with dis-
in criticising the work of Marie Bashkirtseff that tress, she has neither part nor lot. In her funds
Mr. George Moore startled the newspaper public the fairest of young mothers clasp the chubbiest of
by asserting that "woman had contributed nothing babies t j their breasts. The tenderest of maidens
original to the Fine Arts." Much water has sigh at their mullioned casements (though be sure
flowed under the bridges since then. Yet startling their lovers are not far distant), and the most
as is the novelists' dictum, it is conceivable that a demure of tiny ladies lift their brocaded skirts as
brief might be held for his views. For I take it they trip to the music of viol and virginals,
that in complaining of the lack of originality in Not that superlatives in any way express or ex-
women, the author of " Esther Waters " meant to plain an art so dignified, so chastened, so simple
imply that the sex had contributed nothing ex- as is that of Lady Alma Tadema's. For with all
clusively feminine to the artistic output of the the tender sensibility, the almost ecstatic abandon
world. And pace the femininists, it is undeniably with which she depicts child life, theie is a curious
true that as an artist the female aspirant has restraint in her methods which comes of long
hitherto chosen to masquerade in male attire, schooling. A student to the tnd of her too short
'lake the case of Mme. de Stael and George Eliot. life, the painter's love and reverence of nature
As far as their works go, might not either of these seems to make her handle her pigments as a nun
exalted ladies have been born a man and without might count her rosary. Thus a piece of boggled
the alteration of a comma in their writing ? And work was anathema to her. If things went wrong
as it is in literature, so it is in painting. Rosa the artist (like Mr. Francis James, who at times
Bonheur and Lady Butler are both exponents makes fierce bonfires of his water-colours) would
of themes exclusively masculine. Miss Kemp- simply take a fresh canvas and begin her labours
Welch is in the same case. A wholly modern again from the very beginning,
example, that of Mrs Laura Knight, as seen in her Such methods hardly tend to a large output,
exhibit in the present Royal Academy Exhibition, The only cause for wonder is that the painter
again emphasises the argument. For amazingly accomplished as much as she did in a life which,
clever as is Mrs. Knight's big plcin-air etiort of some yeari before the close, was broken and dis-
boys bathing, and full as it is of grip and under- traded by illness. Yet it was towards the close
standing, it is impossible to study the canvas and in the midst of protracted suffering that the
for long without coming to the conclusion that artist's genius shone the brightest. A wonderful
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