« ZurückWeiter »
and danger of the beach to the sedgy bank and stealthy barge of the lowland river. Thenceforward his work which introduces shipping is divided into two classes ; one embodying the poetry of silence and calmness, the other of turbulence and wrath” (Harbours of England, p. 24).
496. BLIGH SAND, NEAR SHEERNESS.
Painted in 1809, but not exhibited till 1815, when Turner refused to sell it to his old detractor, Sir George Beaumont. “It is a fine picture of its class ; and has more glow in its light, and more true gloom in its dark, than the great sea-pieces we have already seen (XXII. 472 and 476, pp. 595, 597). But the subject is wholly devoid of interest: the fishing-boats are too far off to show their picturesque details; the sea is too low to be sublime, and too dark to be beautiful ; and the shore is as dull as sand can be ” (Notes on the Turner Gallery, p. 30).
538. RAIN, STEAM, AND SPEED.
Exhibited at the Academy in 1844. A picture of great interest, as being not only (what Mr. Monkhouse calls it) “the boldest attempt to represent abstract ideas in landscape that ever was made,” but also the first and greatest attempt to elicit beauty out of a railway-train.1 “The Great Western Railway" was Turner's sub-title, and the bridge is perhaps a recollection of Maidenhead. Notice the devices which the artist employs to aid his representation of speedthe puffs of steam gradually diminishing as they recede, and the little hare running at full speed before the engine. The “driving" rain contributes too, to the effect-as also does the contrast with the little boat on the river. By way of letting us into "the very pulse of the machine," Turner makes his engine open in front-which is certainly an eccentric proceeding in a train going at full speed. Six years before this picture was painted, a train had beaten record by making the journey from Birmingham to London at an average speed of twenty miles an hour ; but the train here represented is a goods train.
1 Mr. Frith (i. 120) thus describes the Duke of Wellington before this picture : “Unperceived, I watched the duke's puzzled expression as he read the quotation from the Fallacies of Hope.' He then looked steadily at the picture, and with a muttered 'Ah! poetry!' walked on." But there was no quotation from the “ Fallacies of Hope," so that the poetry the duke saw with puzzled disgust was all in the picture.
484. ST. MAWES, FALMOUTH HARBOUR.
Painted about 1809. 489. COTTAGE DESTROYED BY AN AVALANCHE.
“If the reader will look back for a moment to the 'Abingdon' (485, p. 643), with its respectable country house, safe and slow carrier's waggon, decent church spire, and nearly motionless river, and then return to this avalanche, he will see the range of Turner's sympathy, from the quietest to the wildest of subjects. We saw how he sympathised with the anger and energy of waves : here we have him in sympathy with anger and energy of stones. No one ever before had conceived a stone in flight, and this, as far as I am aware, is the first effort of painting to give inhabitants of the lowlands any idea of the terrific forces to which Alpine scenery owes a great part of its character, and most of its forms. Such things happen oftener and in quieter places than travellers suppose. The last time I walked up the Gorge de Gotteron, near Fribourg, I found a cottage which I had left safe two years before, reduced to just such a heap of splinters as this, by some two or three tons of sandstone which had fallen on it from the cliff. There is nothing exaggerated in the picture; its only fault, indeed, is that the avalanche is not vaporous enough. In reality, the smoke of snow rises before an avalanche of any size, towards the lower part of its fall, like the smoke from a broadside of a ship of the line" (Notes on the Turner Gallery, p. 29). 560. CHICHESTER CANAL.
Painted in 1829 and unfinished ; similar to one of the pictures painted by Turner for the Carved Room at Petworth. “Full of light, and yet solemn, calm, and almost plaintive. There is even gentle movement in it, for the smooth waters glide along and carry us with them into the picture. We all know that the sun does not go out like a candle, yet the old way of painting it was nearly this. But here the sun, though partly sunk behind the hill in the distance, seems by its intensity to be in front of it, and to burn a fiery gap and hollow in it. I daresay you have often noticed this effect in nature. ... Nothing could be simpler than the composition : a river in perspective, a long horizon, and an old ship; yes, that old ship fills it with human interest; now no longer buffeted by the waves, this perilous adventurer, this hero of many battles with the winds, rests for a while by a green bank that is fringed with summer trees and long rushes ; its little pennant droops listlessly from its tall masts, that rise into the gentle breath of evening, and sink down reflected roots in the living waters ” (G, A, Storey, A.R.A., in Thornbury, ii, 12).
463. ÆNEAS WITH THE SIBYL: LAKE AVERNUS.
An early work, painted about 1800, in imitation of Wilson (see XVII, 304, p. 432). The cave in which the Sibyl dwelt is in a subterranean passage, near the Lake Avernus, and close to the shores of the Bay of Baiæ. She was Æneas's guide to the lower world, and bade him pluck the golden bough from the tree sacred to Proserpine
Go, search the grove, and raise your longing eyes
RING's Æneid, bk. vi.
544. VENICE. MORNING: RETURNING FROM
THE BALL. Exhibited in 1846, and now much injured, but still capable of fascinating those who have patience to watch the apparent chaos gradually clear into dream-like palaces rising “as from the stroke of the enchanter's wand." “Dream-like and dim, but glorious, the unnumbered palaces lift their shafts out of the hollow sea-pale ranks of motionless flames—their mighty towers sent up to heaven like tongues of more eager firetheir gray domes looming vast and dark, like eclipsed worlds
—their sculptured arabesques and purple marble fading farther and fainter, league beyond league, lost in the light of distance. Detail after detail, thought beyond thought, you find and feel them through the radiant mystery, inexhaustible as indistinct, beautiful, but never all revealed ; secret in fulness, confused in symmetry, as nature herself is to the bewildered and foiled glance, giving out of that indistinctness, and through that confusion, the perpetual newness of the infinite and the beauti. ful” (Modern Painters, first edition, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. $ 10). This ghost-like Venice, as Turner's later pictures thus show it, is exactly the Venice described by Byron
In Venice, Tasso's echoes are no more,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
Childe Harold, iv. 3.
IT From this room a staircase leads to the exit from the Gallery.
On this staircase, and on a corresponding one opposite, there are the following pictures :
WEST STAIRCASE 688. LANDSCAPE WITH CATTLE. James Ward, R.A.(1769-1859). See under XVIII. 1158, p.487.
This picture, which is usually accounted the artist's masterpiece, was painted in 1820-1822 at the suggestion (as he himself informs us) of West, in emulation of Paul Potter's famous picture of a Bull at the Hague. It was through a connection with the Royal Agricultural Society that Ward was led to take to animal painting, and it was somewhat from the Agricultural Show point of view that he seems to have painted all his animals. The fine Alderney cattle here were the property of one of his chief patrons, Mr. John Allnutt, of Clapham.
MISCELLANEOUS PICTURES 1043. GORDALE SCAR, YORKSHIRE. James Ward, R.A.(1769-1859). See under XVIII.1158, p. 487.
A chasm in the limestone cliffs, about a mile from Malham. " I saw it,” says Gray, “not without shuddering ;” and Wordsworth described it as
Gordale chasm, terrific as the lair
Where the young lions crouch. Here the artist introduces cattle and deer, to bring out the height of the scar that towers above them.
BUST OF MANTEGNA.
After Sperandio. This is a plaster cast from a bust of Mantegna, in the Mantegna Chapel, Basilica of St. Andrew, at Mantua. It was presented in 1883 by Mr. H. Vaughan.
811. TOBIAS AND THE ANGEL.
Salvator Roså (Neapolitan : 1615–1673).
See under XIII. 1206, p. 317. A "wild rocky landscape" (for the subject of Tobias, who is in the water holding the fish, see 1.781, p. 17), hardly discernible in its present place for anything beyond the general sense of savage power which Salvator's works always convey. Salvator, says Mr. Ruskin, is “a good instance of vicious execution, dependent on too great fondness for sensations of power, vicious because intrusive and attractive in itself, instead of being subordinate to the results and forgotten in them” (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. i. sec. ii. ch. ii. $ 9).
391. THE BATTLE OF THE BORODINO.
(September 8, 1812.) G. Jones, R.A. (1786-1869). See under XX. 389, p. 513.
The battle after which Napoleon entered Moscow, only to have to retreat. To the right is Napoleon, dismounted, watching the result of an attack made on the great redoubt of the Russians. “A column of French infantry is ascending the eminence, supported by light cavalry on its left; and on its right cuirassiers are led by Caulaincourt, who forced the redoubt, but was slain in the struggle against the persevering courage of the Russians. On the left Murat is advancing and encouraging the troops" (Official Catalogue).
SCULPTURES AND MARBLES
On the staircases, in the Entrance Hall, and elsewhere, are the following sculptures and marbles :Sir David Wilkie, R.A. Statue, in marble, by Samuel Joseph.
Presented to the National Gallery by an association of gentlemen in 1844.