Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

353. YORICK AND THE GRISETTE.

G. S. Newton, R.A. (1794-1835). Gilbert Stuart Newton was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, whither his parents had fled from Boston when the British were expelled by Washington. He came to England in 1818 and entered the Academy Schools. He was first known as a portrait painter, but afterwards took to genre subjects. He was a great favourite in society, and his friend Leslie complained that their intercourse was too often interrupted by Newton's social engagements. He was elected A.R. A. in 1828, and R.A. in 1832. He became insane and died three years later in an asylum at Chelsea. He was especially noted for his colouring. Newton," said Leslie, “is blessed with an exquisite eye for colour;" and Washington Irving, who, while in England was the friend of them both, wrote in 1834 : “ Newton has for some years past been one of the most popular painters in England in that branch of historical painting peculiarly devoted to scenes in familiar life. His colouring is almost unrivalled, and he has a liveliness of fancy and quickness of conception, and a facility and grace of execution, that spread a magic charm over his compositions."

From Sterne's Sentimental Journey. Mr. Yorick, the king's jester, has entered an open shop to ask the way to the Opera Comique : would the lady tell him ?“. Most willingly,' said she, laying her work down upon a chair next her. ...I will not suppose it was the woman's beauty, notwithstanding she was the handsomest grisette, I think, I ever saw, which had much to do with the sense I had of her courtesy.So sensible was he of it that he came back to ask the way again. The shop-boy was going in that direction with a parcel of gloves; he should show the way. “Apropos,' said I, I want a couple of pairs myself. The beautiful grisette rose up when I said this, and, going behind the counter, reached down a parcel, and untied it: I advanced to the side over against her : they were all too large. The beautiful grisette measured them one by one across my hand. It would not alter the dimensions." Notice the quiet humour in the pug beside the chair : he has a scent, it would seem, for the sentiment of gloves. 1039. ON THE SOMERSET DOWNS.

Thomas Barker (1769-1847). Thomas Barker, commonly known as “ Barker of Bath,” was the son of a painter who settled in that town. The son sound a valuable patron in Mr. Spackman, a coach-builder, who furnished him with means to go to Rome. He afterwards settled in Bath, where his

works are still principally to be seen, and where he found ample patronage. Some of his pictures of landscapes and rustic subjects -attained a wide popularity, and were copied on to pottery, cottons, and linens. He made a fortune, and his chief work is an historical fresco, which he painted in his house at Sion Hill, Bath.

SCREEN I

1210. “ECCE ANCILLA DOMINI.”

D. G. Rossetti (1828–1882). Dante Gabriel Rossetti—the head of the romantic movement in modern English poetry, and of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in English painting—was born in London, the son of Gabriel Rossetti, -an Italian patriot, and commentator upon Dante,—who was at the time Professor of Italian at King's College. Like all the members of his family, young Rossetti had innate taste and interest in art, but in the direction which his art took-Gothic instead of Classic he was the outcome of English influences. He never doubted, says his friend, Mr. Holman Hunt, of his call to exceptional effort in life ; and from the time when he was not more than nineteen or twenty he began to exercise a powerful influence on many of the foremost minds—in art and literature—of the time, such as Mr. W. Morris, Mr. Holman Hunt, Mr. Burne-Jones, Mr. Swinburne, and Mr. George Meredith. He was the leading spirit in the little band-comprising, beside himself, his brother W. M. Rossetti, Millais, Woolner, J. Collinson, and F. G. Stephens - who associated themselves under the name of the “ Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” To the general public, however, he was little known as a poet until 1870, when his Poems and Ballads were published, -or as a painter till the year after his death, when a collection of his works were exhibited at Burlington House--for he lived almost as a recluse, and seldom exhibited any pictures. From eight to fifteen he was at King's College School. He then studied art successively at Mr. Cary's studio in Bloomsbury, at the Academy, and in the studio of Mr. F. Madox Brown. In 1849 he exhibited his first oil picture, “ The Girlhood of the Virgin," and in the following year he painted the present picture. In 1860 he married his model, Miss Elizabeth Siddall, who died two years later, and in whose coffin he buried the manuscript of his poems. In the later years of his life he suffered from insomnia and depression of spirits : he yielded too much to chloral, and died at Birchington-onSea at the age of fifty-four.

This picture is admirably illustrative-in its sincerity and simplicity—of the aims of the Pre-Raphaelite school, whilst at the same time it is wholly free from the affectations peculiar to Rossetti which characterise his later works. Mr. Ruskin,

who was the earliest literary advocate of the Pre-Raphaelites, defined their leading principle as the resolve “to paint things as they probably did look and happen, and not, as by rules of art developed under Raphael (hence the name "pre, or before Raphaelite'), they might be supposed gracefully, deliciously, or sublimely to have happened.” To understand the meaning of the change, compare, for instance, the Virgin in this picture waking from her sleep on a pallet bed, in a plain room, startled by sudden words and ghostly presence which she does not comprehend, and casting in her mind what manner of salutation this should be, with the Madonnas of the old masters “ dressed in scrupulously folded and exquisitely falling robes of blue, with edges embroidered in gold (see III. 666, p. 52), kneeling under arcades of exquisite architecture, and receiving the angel's message with their hands folded on their breasts in the most graceful positions, and the missals they had been previously studying laid open on their knees” (see VIII. 739, p. 184). The angel Gabriel is appearing to the Virgin to announce unto her the birth of a son, Jesus. The Virgin rises to meet him — “Ecce Ancilla Domini," “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” “Rossetti's 'Annunciation' differs,” says Mr. Ruskin, “from every previous conception of the scene known to me,? in representing the angel as

1 In a preface to an Annotated Catalogue of the Millais exhibition (by Mr. A. Gordon Crawford), Mr. Ruskin wrote (January 22, 1886) as follows : “I must in the outset broadly efface any impression that may be given by it of my criticisms having been of any service to the PreRaphaelite School, except in protecting it against vulgar outcry. The painters themselves rightly resented the idea of misjudging friends that I was either their precursor or their guide : they were entirely original in their thoughts, and independent in their practice. Rossetti, I fear, even exaggerated his colour because I told him it was too violent; and, to this very day, my love of Turner dims Mr. Burne-Jones's pleasure in my praise."

? Upon the originality of thought displayed in this picture Mr. Holman Hunt has expressed himself as follows: "We will not presume in concert to lay down the law about his merits, but I think there is no reason why I should not state my own view about one of his paintings which I saw at the National Gallery a few weeks since. It was a copying day. I had gone in mainly to see the new Raphael, and I had seen it, and had enjoyed the contemplation of many more of our precious possessions, those naturally which were new most arresting my attention. In turning about to see that I was in nobody's way, the picture of The Annunciation, by Rossetti, seemed to speak to me long-forgotten words. I approached ; it

waking the Virgin from sleep to give her his message. The Messenger himself also differs from angels as they are commonly represented, in not depending, for recognition of his supernatural character, on the insertion of bird's wings at his shoulders. If we are to know him for an angel at all, it must be by his face, which is that simply of youthful, but grave, manhood. He is neither transparent in body, luminous in presence, nor auriferous in apparel ;-wears a plain, long, white robe ;-casts a natural and undiminished shadow,—and although there are flames beneath his feet, which upbear him, so that he does not touch the earth, these are unseen by the Virgin. She herself is an English, not a Jewish girl, of about sixteen or seventeen, of such pale and thoughtful beauty as Rossetti could best imagine for her. She has risen half up, not started up, in being awakened ; and is not looking at the angel, but only thinking, with eyes cast down, as if supposing herself in a strange dream. The morning light fills the room, and shows at the foot of her little pallet-bed, her embroidery work, left off the evening before,—an upright lily. Upright, and very accurately upright, as also the edges of the piece of cloth in its frame,-as also the gliding form of the angel,-as also, in severe foreshortening, that of the Virgin herself. It has been studied, so far as it has been studied at all, from a very thin model ; and the disturbed coverlid is thrown into confused angular folds, which admit no suggestion whatever of ordinary girlish grace. So that, to any spectator little inclined towards the praise of barren 'uprightness,' and accustomed on the contrary to expect radiance in archangels, and grace in Madonnas, the first effect of the design must be extremely displeasing. ... But the reader will, if careful in reflection, discover in all the Pre-Raphaelite pictures, however distinct was being copied by two ladies, and I felt at once that they had made a wise selection. The living merit of the work made it stand out as among the most genuine creations in the gallery, and I distinctly concluded that there was no painting there, done by hands so young as Rossetti's were when he did that, which could be compared to it. He was twenty-one at the time. Raphael was twenty-four when he painted the Ansidei Madonna. Raphael's picture, although of course more complex, and having special value as containing evidence of the steps by which he reached his final excellence, is not to be compared to it for the difficulty of the attempt, or for the artistic discrimination of form, and there is no hint of the power of expression which Rossetti's work gives." (Address on the occasion of the unveiling of the Rossetti Memorial Fountain, printed in the Pall Mall Budget, July 21, 1887.)

otherwise in aim and execution, an effort to represent things as they are, or were, or may be, instead of, according to the practice of their instructors and the wishes of their public, things as they are not, never were, and never can be : this effort being founded deeply on a conviction that it is at first better, and finally more pleasing, for human minds to contemplate things as they are, than as they are not. Thus, Mr. Rossetti, in this and subsequent works of the kind, thought it better for himself and his public to make some effort towards a real notion of what actually did happen in the carpenter's cottage at Nazareth, giving rise to the subsequent traditions delivered in the Gospels, than merely to produce a variety in the pattern of Virgin, pattern of Virgin's gown, and pattern of Virgin's house, which had been set by the jewellers of the fifteenth century(The Three Colours of Pre-Raphaelitism, in 0. O. R., i. 312-318 ; see also The Art of Englana, Lecture i.)

SCREEN II

379. LANDSCAPE WITH LYCIAN PEASANTS.

W. J. Müller (1812–1845). See under 1040, p. 519. A view taken, no doubt, on one of the artist's Eastern journeys. In the distance is Mount Massicytus.

563. JERUSALEM AND THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHA

PHAT.

Thomas Seddon (1821-1857). Seddon, born in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, was the son of the eminent cabinet-maker, and was brought up to his father's business, devoting himself more particularly to the designing of furniture. He subsequently adopted painting as his profession, and was a devotee of the strictest sect of the Pre-Raphaelites, of which Mr. Holman Hunt was, and is, the most illustrious member. In 1849, when he went on his first sketching tour to Bettws-y-Coed, we see the spirit in which he approached his art. He was in the company of several artists, and was much surprised at their thinking a day enough for a sketch, for which to him weeks seemed all too few. He applauded too, says his biographer, “the heroic resolution of an amateur who declared he would give himself three weeks' hard labour to endeavour to draw one single branch of a tree properly, and would only go on drawing if he found he succeeded in that attempt." In 1853 he accompanied Mr. Holman Hunt to the East, whence he returned in 1854 with two

« ZurückWeiter »