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--- --- --- - - - - - Mr. Marshall of Leeds, and an engraving of the same subject is given in Finden's “Gallery of Modern British Art.” Such pictures of cottage life, or those of the life of the sea-beach, with its young “Shrimpers” and fisher-boys, with their thick-set forms and ruddy faces—all delineate the best features of the great Anglo-Saxon race, to which it is an honour to belong. Never was the sea-side or the country-life of England better painted than by William Collins; it is a pleasure to look upon his pictures in the foggy winter days of a London December, and dream of visiting some such pleasant spot, and chat with its villagers when June comes round again, in crossing the fields with them on “Sunday Morning” on our way to church.
It is a noble thing to have wealth to spare—but only so when it is put to noble uses. The men who spend their superfluity on fine pictures lay up a pleasure for all time-a refining “joy for ever” to all who look on them. It has but one drawback-its exclusiveness; for fine works are sometimes little seen but by their possessors, and often are buried in galleries all but unvisited. But when men who love art, and buy wisely, make a free gift of their tasteful gatherings for the good of their fellow-countrymen, ennobling the humblest by teaching them to contemplate works kings might covet, how great a debt of gratitude do we owe to them! All honour then to the names of Vernon and Sheepshanks-names of those who must ever be regarded as national benefactors; they have aided in enlightening, through the medium of the Arts, a large body of their countrymen, and the good work will be continued long after their contemporaries
have passed away. If the British people have reason to be grateful for such gifts, the British artists owe a deeper debt of gratitude to these two gentlemen.
Some of Collins's best cabinet pictures, through these noble gifts, are now national property-pictures redolent of happy country life, or of the breezy glowing sea-beach. Collins never painted “storms in harvest,” or “stornis at sea,”—his nature was essentially happy. As you feel the calm sunny influence of his pictures on the mind, you are impressed with the certainty of the pleasure he must have felt in painting them. Had he been an author instead of an artist, you feel he would never depict village life after the fashion of Crabbe, but rather rival Miss Mitford.
There is a pleasant life of Collins, written by his gifted son, the author of “The Dead Secret” and “The Woman in White," and to that memoir we refer for fuller details of the artist's life. It is a well-told narrative of an honourable career, a true picture of the early struggles and ultimate triumphs of an artist of whom England may well be proud. It must have been an agreeable task for such a son to write of such a father.
Collins was born in London, September 18th, 1787. It is somewhat remarkable that our best delineators of country boys, Collins and Hunt, were both born not far asunder, and in localities not apparently propitious; the first in Great Tichfield Street, the second in Bolton Street (now called Endell Street), Long Acre. Collins is an example of the mixed marriages which produce “true-born Englishmen.” His father was an Irishman, a native of Wicklow, his niother a Scottish lady from the vicinity of Edin