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The British School

The Art Of Painting - The British School - 6, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
CROWE
Crowe had a singularly broad outlook. His "Mousehold Heath " and " Slate Quarries " claim consideration. The " Quarries" is done on a rough canvas similar to those on which Paolo Veronese worked, and in touch recalls the great Venetian. Such is the effect of surface on style.
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, PORTRAIT OF MRS. SIDDONS. National Gallery
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE
PORTRAIT OF MRS. SIDDONS
National Gallery


The half-length of " Miss Fry " is well painted, if small in treatment. Larger in manner is " Mrs. Siddons," whose eyes, partly shaded by the overhanging fringe, are a fine study. The liquid play on the white draperies considerably enhances the attractions of this portrait, one of Lawrence's chef-d'oeuvres.
The unfinished " Portrait of the Princess Lieven" shows clearly his direct method.
HOPPNER
This artist is not seen to advantage in " The Countess of Oxford." The cast shadow is inevitable in his silvery portraits. The whiteness in this is exaggerated ; one longs for a little more warmth.
RAEBURN
The lady in a white dress by Raeburn is undersized. The question of scale is a perennial subject of controversy.
Portraits should not exceed, and be rather under life size, but only slightly so.
There is a loss of dignity and a certain meanness in a portrait that is too large to be considered halflife size and is plainly intended to be full in scale. An irreverent friend calls it "monkey size."
A really big head in nature suffers by much reduction in the portrait. Everything depends on the space around. An 81-inch man's head would be quite big enough for a small canvas, and may perhaps swim in a large area.
JAMES WARD
Some cattle by Ward in a picture entitled
Regent's Park in 1807," at which most Londoners will be surprised, are treated vigorously with a full brush in the lights.
LANDSEER
His facility is extraordinary—quite a conjurer with his materials ; but for all its ease, the work is superficial rather than great.
TURNER
J. M. W. TURNER, CALAIS PIER. National Gallery. Both this and the Shipwreck are great and dramatic compositions.The weight and the whirl of the water are superb.
J. M. W. TURNER
CALAIS PIER
National Gallery
Both this and the Shipwreck are great and dramatic compositions.
The weight and the whirl of the water are superb.

Now let us turn to the work of one of the greatest men of genius England has produceded perhaps the strongest landscape painter of any age. He may be equalled in some of his themes, but he has so many that his versatility appears truly phenomenal.
Who ever painted the sea with all the depth and heaviness of its volumes, as in " The Calais Pier " and " The Shipwreck " ?—to say nothing of the dramatic intensity, of the whirl and boil of the waters, and of their light and shade. Mark, too, the juiciness of colour in his active life-giving little figures. Then think of his ingeniously constructive invention in the " Garden of Hesperides," with its mass of rock and its fearful dragon, and of the piecing together of innumerable studies into a homogeneous whole in the " Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Italy," " The Bay of Baiae," and many others. For technical soundness, which is not Turner's forte—for he often fights the impossible with impossible agents—note the freshness of one of the finest of all his productions, " Crossing the Brook." This, like his other " inventions," required careful thought in its preparation and, unlike his more impetuous efforts, remains fine in surface and colour. We shall see that the foliage in the middle distance has under it a substratum of solid white pigment, and we may surmise that the light passages throughout are done over a solid under-painting. The velvety tree against the sky is thick in its darks, and thinly drawn over the sky, and so its softness and roundness are felt. Look around and appreciate how varied are his resources and his ability to command his material in a hundred ways, to fit in with his mood and his wishes




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