Studio: international art — 34.1905

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The International Exhibition


The International Exhibition is always interest-
ing because it is international; but it is more
interesting still because, under one roof, we find
the representation of so many phases of thought
and of artistic experience—the representation of
various temperaments all striving for the central
principles of art, yet conflicting every step of the
way with each other. Only one phase of artistic
thought is not represented here—viz. that which
does not take itself seriously, and receives its
welcome elsewhere. Under one roof are painters
painting in a matter-of-fact way what they conceive
to be nature, what they regard as interesting to
paint in life: side by side with these exhibit
painters treating the same things romantically ; and
beside these, again, are those in whose work
there is always an atmosphere of the studio—whose
pictorial effects are always pre-arranged and never
found in the accident of nature or evolved from
inner consciousness.

It is life that gives Lavery his inspiration; life
gives it to Blanche, to Zorn and to von Bartels ;
it is the romance of life that gives inspiration
to Oliver Hall, William Nicholson and M. A. J.
Bauer; and the romance of art that inspires
C. H. Shannon, Charles Ricketts, Charles Conder
and James Pryde. With Strang life and the tradi-
tions of romantic art are at war with each other.
One could have separated all the painters ex-
hibiting, and put them under one or other of these
headings ; outdoor nature was a romantic thing in
Oliver Hall's Aftermath, where the blue figure and
the horses, imaginatively suggested, moved under
the trees into the picture's own atmosphere —
into their own world. Nature was romantic in
Alfred Withers' Honfleur, in W. L. Bruckman's
The Heart of the South Downs, in Mrs. Dods-
Withers' Stirling Castle, in W. Russell's Avenue,
.accidentally, it may be, in the latter; our own
emotion perhaps escaped to the figures in the
avenue. And if out-door nature was romantic
with these* painters, they were a minority amongst
painters who paint a matter-of-fact impression and
never " set the scene."

In the West Room we were interested chiefly by
James Pryde's Guildhall, with its atmosphere as of
an old print; James Henry's Hayle, with its
atmosphere of the open air ; and Montague
Smythe's The House on the Marsh. It seemed
.that William Strang's attempt to give a but partly


felt reminiscence of the old masters to his colour
scheme, and to be reminiscent of Mr. Watts, was at
the expense of what really belongs to himself and
gives character to his art. Mr. Bertram Priestman
succeeded in making the difficulties of his subject
look quite easy by a successful technique that some-
how had not kept with itself quite so much evi-
dence of true sympathy with nature as we have
seen in other work of his.

The many fine qualities of Austen Brown's Weed
Burfiing suffered in leaving an impression of the
figures being posed. In the girlish figure so rest-
lessly sitting on the arm of the chair in Blanche's
Summer Girl, beautiful was the colour of the
shadow that fell upon her lilac sleeve, her own
faint shadow just reached and breathed upon
the wall in the background, an impression of her
lithe form was contained in the painting of her
dress until it frilled out over her inturned ankles
to catch fresh colours from the light. Its com-
panion was Mr. Shannon's Gipsy Family, with its
richer, fuller mood of colour, passing into a colour
tradition which ceases to be a tradition in this
painter's art.

There were two paintings by Charles Cottet. In
i\\eFemmes au Crepuscule, Bretagne, the fishing-boats
quietly rounded the pier and came into the quiet-
ness of Cottet's art. In his art there is the peace
of evening, though sometimes his painting is so
dark it seems to plunge his subject into night;
a fire burning in the second picture gave to it a
little light.

Near to the Cottet was a Conder; a sketch ot
Sivanage, in which the artist gave back to the sea
some of the beauty he has so often borrowed from
it for his fans. Grosvenor Thomas' landscape
Cluden Waters was painted with the same skill
and delicacy and with the same studied regard for
composition which he has accustomed us to look
for in his paintings. Amazing was the dexterity
displayed in Stuart Park's Roses, but though so
clever, we are afraid that not in any one of the
petals so flippantly treated was the fragile beauty of
a petal felt. With A. D. Peppercorn's The Pool, we
came back to sympathetic painting. In C. Rickett's
Descent from the Cross, a certain beauty of
colour was wedded with shapelessness, and this
from a master of form ; it seemed as if its dramatic
power was strangled by pedantry. John Lavery's
vivacious Polynesia, with its one red note and the
folds of the black dress, was characteristic, but did
not bring out the artist's strong qualities so well as
his Portrait of Miss Welsh, which gave dignity to
the whole exhibition.
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