Studio: international art — 2.1894

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The French Decorative Exhibition


RENCH DECORATIVE ART AT regard for the pocket of the masses. For a sight

THE GRAFTON GALLERIES. of. each y°u Pa>' a shilling, and so the parallel

might be pursued, and yet the fundamental diver-

For the moment it would seem as if gencies be left untouched; for underneath the

the decorative arts of France and Eng- similarity is a vital difference. The native habit and

land had become one, or at least that their crafts- mode of thought may touch each other in passing,

men were looking to the same ideal, and phrasing but the classic perception of selection which has

the same creed with the merely local difference of always distinguished France, is far removed from

accent. The " Arts and Crafts" interest the the romantic love of legend and history, which is

Parisians, the French decorative display at the surely the underlying principle in British art.

Grafton Galleries interests the artistic Londoner. Your true Briton prizes comfort before elegance,

No doubt each in his inmost heart feels that and provided each item satisfies his taste, will not

conscious superiority of parochial patriotism, which so much as think of the effect of a complete


is exhilarating, if ephemeral. The sunflower, faded scheme ; his ideal embraces an infinite succession

at the New Gallery, re-opens at the Grafton ; the of pleasing details. The true spirit of classic art is

worship of Japan, unknown at the former, is well to subordinate the items to the whole. Each may

to the fore at the latter, where a certain deft grace, be beautiful in itself, but only so far as it tends to

truly Parisian, replaces the " yearnestness " of the increase the beauty of the entire scheme ; and this

artful craftsman ; colour is perhaps better under- principle, now and again preached in England, has,

stood in the one, and consistency more prized in except for brief periods, remained the secret of its

the other. In costliness your French artist pro- apostles.

claims his luxury more openly. The absence of Conjure up a picture of the most commonplace

display, which is the artistic pride that apes Parisian salon, and though each item in it be un-

humility in at least one branch of the English pleasing to an insular taste, there is at least a

school, is to seek at the Grafton, where a sportive specious elegance in the ensemble. Recall a typical

delight in rare materials ungrudgingly employed is English room, and its interest will be found to lie in

the prevalent note. In each, novelty is sought the various objects that may harmonise well enough

rather in adaptation than in fresh invention, and in an eclectic compromise, but are distinctly an

both address the moneyed classes solely, without anthology rather than an ordered monograph.
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