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public. It is also quite proper and desirable that this English carnival should be painted ; and of the entirely popular manner of painting, which, however, we must remember, is necessarily, because popular, stooping and restricted, I have never seen an abler example. The drawing of the distant figures seems to me especially dexterous and admirable ; but it is very difficult to characterise the picture in accurate general terms. It is a kind of cross between John Leech and Wilkie, with a dash of daguerreotype here and there, and some pretty seasoning with Dickens's sentiment” (Academy Notes, 1858, p. 20).
A scene on the race-course at Epsom in May 1856—Blink Bonnie's year, in days when gambling-tents and thimble-rigging, prick-in-the-garter and the three-card trick had not been stopped by the police. “The picture shows us,” says a fellow-academician, “as Hogarth did, what the life of our great metropolis is like. The races on Epsom Downs, the great saturnalia of British sport, bring to the surface all that is most characteristic of London life. In this picture we can discern its elements, its luxury, its wealth, its beauty and refinement, its respectability and its boredom, its hopeless, unspeakable misery. All its sad tales are told, from that of the jaded Traviata seated in her carriage to the thimble-rigger's accomplice, luring a silly countryman to lose his money, and the hungry young acrobat, who forgets all about his somersault in the cravings of his poor empty little stomach. Though Mr. Frith does not intentionally pose as a moralist in this picture, its truth and its wealth of incident answer the same purpose. We are surrounded by evils, many of them past cure, and not of our own making. It must needs be that offences come, and not only woe but utter discomfort and ennui must come to those by whom they come ; so it is written, and so it fares with this mad worldand here is the sign of it!" (J. E. Hodgson : Fifty Years of British Art, p. 23). Of the origin, production, and reception of the picture, Mr. Frith gives a very interesting account in his Autobiography. He came back from Epsom in 1856, convinced that the scene offered “ abundant material for the line of art to which I felt obliged, in the absence of higher gifts, to devote myself; and the more I considered the kaleidoscopic aspect of the crowd on Epsom Downs, the more firm became my resolve to attempt to reproduce it.” Mr. Frith began to transfer his mental notes to canvas, and after making numbers of studies from models for all the principal figures, prepared a small sketch of the whole composition. Mr. Jacob Bell saw
it, and at once commissioned the artist to paint a large picture from it. The price was to be £ 1500 ; while for the copyright for the engraving Mr. Frith obtained another £1500. The sum was large; but the picture involved an immense amount of labour, and a very large number of models. For the main incident, that of the acrobat and his hungry little boy, the artist found what was wanted in the Drury Lane pantomime ; but the young gentleman's idea of sitting being to throw somersaults, Mr. Frith acquired their dresses and put them on professional models. His friends and children were also put largely under contribution. The lady in a riding-habit in the left-hand corner is that witty, charming creature, Miss Gilbert," who also figures in Landseer's “Pretty Horse Breaker.” With regard to the racing element, “my determination to keep the horses as much in the background as possible did not arise,” says Mr. Frith, “from the fact of my not being able to paint them properly, so much as from my desire that the human being should be paramount; still it was impossible to avoid the steeds and their riders altogether. There I found my friend Tattersall of great service. He procured an excellent type of the jockey class-a delightful little fellow, who rode a wooden horse in my studio, and surprised me by his endurance of a painful attitude, that of raising him. self in his stirrups and leaning forward in the manner of his tribe.” When at last, “after fifteen months' incessant labour," the picture was ready for the Academy of 1858, Mr. Frith tells us how Maclise spoke of the “gem-like bits of the beautiful mosaic you have so skilfully put together," and how, when the exhibition was opened (then in Trafalgar Square), the Queen “instead of, as she invariably did, looking at the pictures in their order according to the Catalogue, went at once to mine; and after a little while sent for me and complimented me in the kindest manner. ... It was on this occasion that the Prince Consort surprised me exceedingly by his intimate knowledge of what I may call the conduct of a picture. He told me why I had done certain things, and how, if a certain change had been made, my object would have been assisted, I put many of the Prince's suggestions to the proof after the close of the exhibition, and I improved my picture in every instance." The verdict of the Queen was endorsed by her people. So great was the crowd round - The Derby Day" that a rail had to be fixed up to protect it—an attention that had
been paid to no picture since Wilkie's “Chelsea Pensioners” in 1822. “People three or four deep before the picture," reported the owner to the artist, « those in front with their faces within three or four inches of the canvas. The nature of the picture requires a close inspection to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it; and from what I have seen, I think it not unlikely that some of the readers will leave their mark upon it, unless means be taken to keep them at a respectful distance." The critics and some of the painter's academic brethren were not equally enthusiastic. “There is no hope for art in this country,” said one of them, “ when the people are so besotted as to crowd round such a thing as that,” “That thing of yours," said another, “is very popular; but I intend next year to exhibit Monday Morning at Newgate,—the hanging morning, you know. I shall have a man hanging, and the crowd about him ; great variety of character, you know. I wonder you never thought of it.”
815. DUTCH BOATS AT FLUSHING..
P. J. Clays (Belgian : born 1819 ; still living). Pierre Jean Clays is a native of Bruges. He studied art in Paris under Gudin, and afterwards settled at Brussels, where in 1851 he received a gold medal. He has frequently exhibited at the French Salon, and is a chevalier of the Legion of Honour as well as of the Order of Leopold. For a long time, says a French critic, “the sea, or rather the water, has had no interpreter more exact than Clays : he knows its clearness, and he knows how to render the little noisy waves, all bathed in light.” “He does not paint the sea,” says another, “but the Scheldt where it widens, and those gray and light waters that bear you on a steamer from Moerdyk to Rotterdam. With a profound feeling for these things he expresses the humidity of the skies of Western Flanders, the sleep of the calmed waters, or the caressing, and sometimes menacing, of the breeze which makes the little uneasy waves stride around the barges loaded to the brim.” Some of his pictures have fetched very large prices—one having sold in New York for £3550 (Miss Clements and Lawrence Hutton : Artists of the Nineteenth Century).
1205. LAKE COMO: VARENNA.
Frederick Lee Bridell (1831-1863). This talented painter, who died of consumption, was a native of Southampton, and at first self-taught. His genius was detected by a local picture-dealer, who gave him commissions which enabled him to go abroad for purposes of study. He exhibited at the Academy in 1859, and went to the Italian Lakes — a visit which resulted (besides other pictures) in this one. It was presented to the Gallery in 1886 by his widow. Many of his pictures were commissions from Mr. Wolff of Southampton, who formed a Bridell Gallery there.
The scene is the slope, with woods of sweet chestnut, above Varenna—"a tangled mass of woods, of light and shade." Below is “the green blue of the waters, clear as glass, opaque through depth.” To the left, in the extreme distance, is the crest of Monte Rosa, “flushed and phantom-fair." It was from an opposite spot on the lake that Longfellow, looking over to Varenna, wrote the lines
I ask myself is this a dream ?
And all the beauty of the lake. 447. DUTCH BOATS IN A CALM.
E. W. Cooke, R.A. (1811-1880). One of the very numerous sea - pieces of the same kind which Edward W. Cooke, who was of Dutch descent and who visited Holland fifteen times, was constantly producing. His father was well known as an engraver of Turner's pictures, and he himself was at first largely employed in similar work. He also studied botany, geology, and architecture, and became a fellow of several learned societies. He was elected A.R.A. in 1851, and R. A. in 1864. His pictures are very numerous; and amongst other “ quarries across the foam" hunted by him are Venice, Spain, and Egypt.
448. THE BOAT HOUSE.
E. W. Cooke, R.A. (1811-1880). 241. THE PARISH BEADLE.
Sir D. Wilkie, R.A. (1785-1841). See under 99, p. 490.
“And an officer giveth sufficient notice what he is, when he saith to the party, 'I arrest you in the king's name'; and in such case the party, at their peril, ought to obey him” (Burns's Justice of the Peace). Such was the quotation in the Academy Catalogue when the picture was exhibited in 1823. There is no doubt that the officer has given due notice to the party of Savoyards of his importance as a minister of the king ; but the
black-eyed woman with the hurdy-gurdy seems half inclined to resist him. It is characteristic of Mr. Bumble (who was a fat and choleric man) that he should have seized the small boy for his especial charge. The picture is interesting technically, as being the first which Wilkie painted in the larger and bolder manner which characterised his later works. Wilkie's usual dog is impressed into the service of the strolling minstrels ; the monkey was painted, Wilkie tells us in his Diary, from one at Exeter Change (then a large menagerie, on the site of the present Exeter Hall). 342. COWS GRAZING: EARLY MORNING.
Sir A. W. Callcott, R.A. (1779-1844).
See under XVIII. 343, p. 464. 331. NEWSMONGERS.
Sir D. Wilkie, R.A. (1785-1841). See under 99, p. 490.
“ Wilkie is one of those happy natures, neither gloomy nor dreamy nor enthusiastic, who have the good sense to think that everything is arranged for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Public calamity does not affect him ; he lives in the midst of a little group of persons who do not suffer by the fall of empires, and who often hear nothing about national catastrophes until everything is once more in order. The newspaper may be read in those parts, but it is that of last year, and one cannot get very sad or cry long over ancient history” (Chesneau : The English School, p. 89). 183. SIR DAVID WILKIE.
Thomas Phillips, R.A. (1770-1845). Phillips was originally a glass painter, and afterwards a painter of historical subjects; but from 1796 his pictures were almost entirely portraits, of which he exhibited 339 in the Academy. He was elected A. R. A. in 1804, and R. A. in 1808 ; whilst from 1825 to 1832 he was Professor of Painting. He was a friend of Wilkie (one of whose last letters was to him), and upon Wilkie's death he presented this portrait to the National Gallery.
Painted in 1829, when Wilkie was forty-four, and was already broken in health. He had just returned from his three years' residence abroad, but he looked, says Haydon, “ thinner and seemed more nervous than ever ; his keen and bushy brow looked irritable, eager, nervous, and full of genius. He looked gaunt and feeble. God knows what to make of Wilkie's health.” One sees something of Wilkie's nervous