Studio: international art — 20.1900

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John W. Alexander

AN AMERICAN PAINTER IN all else he loves the effects of a dim, softened
PARIS: JOHN W.ALEXANDER, light, with something rare and mysterious in it;
BY GABRIEL MOUREY indeed, were it not for his sure judgment and

his splendid executive skill, he would at times
A very special sense of feminine grace, at once run the risk—such is his horror of the coarse
most decorative and intensely modern, characterises and the commonplace—of becoming lost in a
the art of Mr. John White Alexander, and invests cloud of quintessential abstractions. There was
his works with a charm which proves irresistible a time, some years back, when Mr. Alexander's
even to those who are incapable of recognising his best friends had reason to feel some little un-
other merits. There springs from his drawing, from easiness in this respect, for he was on the point
his colour, from his method of composition, and, — on the point only — of lapsing into eccen-
to my mind, above all, from his genius for restraint, tricity. Happily, the crisis was brief ; he soon
a sort of magical fascination. At once the eye is regained his self-command, and now he has only
flattered and caressed, so that one
feels a gentle delight which intoxi-
cates the vision on seeing these lines
and these tints of his. The sensation
experienced in presence of some of
his portraits of women, some of his
fantaisies, is near akin to that pro-
duced by certain poems whose music
enchants one quite apart from the
significance of the words of which
they are composed; and therein
often lies the secret of the apparent
superiority of verse over prose. A
mere congregation of harmonious
syllables, poor as they may be in
actual meaning, will serve to inspire
the masses ; whereas if one goes to the
root of it the nothingness will be
revealed. It would be altogether
unjust to level a reproach of this
sort against Mr. Alexander's art, and
my only reason for employing this
comparison is that I may the better
define the attraction his canvases
have for a certain section of the
public, content with a superficial im-
pression of things. Many an artist
would be well satisfied with that
degree of success, even that alone;
but the strange thing is that Mr.
Alexander, while triumphing in this
manner, remains, without making any
sort of concession to popular taste,
the subtle and sincere artist of refine-
ment and delicacy we know him to be.
There is nothing loud or extravagant
in his vision of things, nothing exces-
sive or violent in his execution. He
delights in nothing but the most deli-
cate and complex harmonies, all his
tones being as it were veiled. Beyond "the mirror"

XX. No. 88.-July, 1900. by j' w' alexander

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