Page images

Veronese, Correggio, and others, materials less varied and efficient than we possess, were made to rival every beauty that adorns the visible creation.

No. 110. Portrait of a Lady, by DURAND. This possesses gentility, grace, and even beauty ; qualities that do not abound in this show-room. The dress is tasteful and neat, and carefully painted; and the chiaro-'scuro of the picture is effective, yet unobtrusive. I think this the best picture I have seen of Mr. Durand's ; indeed, no portrait in the room appears more lady-like in character, or more pleasing in its general effect; and had I a hundred dollars to spare for such a purpose, I would Father give it for this than for all Mr. Ingham ever painted. But it grieves me to see that Mr. Durand's taste has suffered by exposure to the pestilent manner of Messrs. Ingham and Company. Even as an accomplished scholar, despite his habitual care to avoid them, will sometimes catch and repeat the vulgarisms of the rabble; or as very refined people in the last century could eud're and even admire powdered wigs; or as ancient Lombards were charmed to see heads shaven bebind, and ancient Britons to see themselves painted blue, and South-Sea islanders with tattooing, and so forth, and so forth; so this artist, and many others, and most of the public, have beheld this dry, feeble, insipid manner, until they can tolerate, and even like it. At the hazard of appearing vain, I advise him and them to go to Nature ; look at her in the morning, when the dew gives moisture and freshness to color; at doon, when her splendor is greatest; and in the vapory (wilight, when all things are idealized and mellowed by the shadowy gleam that soothed the eyes of Titian, Carracei, and Reynolds; Go! subject your eyes and feelings to these genial iufluences; and you will be cured of a corruption of taste, which, if allowed to keep its hold, will degrade you from artists to tradesmen; from amateurs to mere twaddlers for fashion's sake.

No. 40. Indian Captives,' by Weir. Something historical, and of course a treat. The female has good action, drapery, and light and shade ; the male has tolerable drapery, but is feeble in drawing, and somewhat statuesque, especially in the rigbt leg and foot. His color has a dry and dirty appearance, and somewhat hard, like a wooden figure. Of the expression, I had better not speak; as I have little sympathy with those who ascribe the virtues and lofty sentiments of civilization to these half stupid barbarians. The soldier is a very good one, but not remarkable for mellowness of color. His armor, weapons, and the log on which he sits, could hardly be painted with greater truth; but they should have been more subordinate. There is considerable tone, and unity of shade, which gives simplicity of general effect; but the coloring lacks richness, mellowness, and force; and the chiaroscuro is feeble, monotonons, and unsatisfactory to the eye. Mr. Weir bas seen too much of the present Italiuu school, and its flourishing branch in this city.

No. 42, Portrait by W. H. Powell, has a look severely disagreeable. There is no resemblance to the substance of flesh, and the hands are quite shocking to an anatomist. The coat and etceteras are not so bad; but they are not so difficult to paint. Mr. Powell is young, and has done quite as well as could have been expeciel; but I fear he is a spoiled-child, and in a way to miss the art altogether, and become a mere tradesman. He has been wofully deluded by the puffery of several very honorable and warm-hearted friends, who are by no means competent to judge of art, or his progress iu it; and the instruction under which he has suffered, has been of that most dangerous kind, respectably mediocre, with merit enough to win the confidence of the inexperienced, but not enough to be of any essential service to a truly ambitious student, who desires to feel aud pussess those excellencies by which the great masters bave won the admiration of ages. He has wasted his time under no instruction at all, or under that of men who were never well taught themselves, and who know of the art only so much as busy ingenuity could catch from inferior productions, and the casual hints of such as themselves; when he should have been in the schools of Europe, if possible, or under the instruction of Mr. Morse, who is the best educated artist in this city, and the most likely to make a young man sensible of the beauties of nature. Mr. Powell will not feel offended at the apparent severity of my remarks, or at my singling him out from among many who are ia the same predicament, and to whom my ceasures will apply with equal or greater force. I choose him, because he is one of the most promising; and it is not expedient to speak of each particularly.

No. 91, by J. T. HARRIS, is a portrait of a gentleman, who seems to think tnore of the utile than the dulce. Supposing the color to resemble the original, it is much better than the majority of portraits in the room, being less hard and dry.

No. 59, by W. Hamilton, is a portrait of a little girl, made of something like very fine unglazed crockery, and a little dog, made of a mixture of plaster and pipe-clay.

No. 49. Portrait by F. R. SPENCER. Very creditable to bim; although the flesh is too much like Sigoor Inghain's,

No. 47, hy J. WHITEHORNE, is a portrait of a lady. If this artist would take as much pains to get tolerable expression, as he takes to make his colors glaring, and his substances hard, he might be a respectable manufacturer of portraits. I fear he does not possess a very artist-like ambition. VOL. XIII.


No. 34. D. Dickinson. “Hylas and Nymphs.' One of the chief vices of our artists, is a propensity to that species of theft, which consists in purloining the materials of their pictures from priots, paintings, or any thing else, and palmiog them on the public, without stating whether they are or are not original, in order to wiu praise from incautious journalists. But as such deception, whether it result from mean dishonesty, or from ignorance of its impropriety, cannot but excite doubts respecting the originality of worka of artists whu would scorn to receive credit that was not their due, it is proper that all who are concerned io such matters should be admonished, and the imposture exposed. This picture is copied chiefly from one by Henry Howard, Royal Academician, which was engraved for Charles Heath's annual, the Keepsake; but there are several figures added, whether original or not, I cannot say, and some heads and limbs put in different and worse positioris. Our artist's other picture, of.Oberon and Titania,'is much in the manner of Mr. Howard, and I must suspect it to be taken from him, although the coloring and execution are so wretched, that one should be slow to think they could bave come, even so indirectly, from that clever artist. According to the published rules of this academy, copies are not admissible; therefore, the public have a right to presume that whatever appears in it, is original, or believed to be so, by the committee. I wish to be distinctly understond, that I do not impugn the motives of Mr. Dickinson or the committee. I am bound in courtesy to presume that such free use of intellectual property is con sidered by him, as it is hy the public at large, perfectly excusable. The committee, however, were not sufficiently gwarded.

No. 73. E. Mooney. This portrait has tolerably good imitation of form, substance, and color, excepting in the flesh, with an approach to unity and purity of shade ; but the composition is faulty; the red curtain is too conspicuo's, and in general, the material not subordinate to the mental. You see too distinctly, and feel but vaguely ; and although portraiture gives but slight opportunity for the manifestation of the vital principles of art, still almost every respectable person has moments of activity of spirit, which the painter should watch for, and the expression of which be should catch, and adapt to it the whole composition of his picture, in order that there may be no incongruity, and that the vehicle, form, color, etc., may not draw to itself the attention that is due to the subject, mind.

No. 202. Landscape. E. LIVINGSTON. The lower part very agreeably colored; the water trans parent and well managed; the sky rather too flat and upbroken.

No. 200 and 223. Portraits by J. B. Flagg. The first is very bad ; the other has considerable inerit, but is too pinky in color, and somewhat defective in substaoce, especially the nose, wbich is • woodeny.' Mr. Flagg is very young, considerably less than twenty ; and his performances are highly ereditable to him.

No. 22. T. P. Rossiter. This is a very clever sketcb; the chiaro-'scuro and color very agreeable to the eye. If, as I am informed, Mr. Rossiter is quite a young man, it njay be hoped that be will become an excellent artist, if he will but study; for he certainly bas a good eye for color and effect, and some perception of beauty in forma ; but I see by another picture of his, that he seeds to be severely drilled in drawing. If he can muster two hundred dollars a year, for five years, he had better go to London, and study in the Royal Academy, which is the best school in the world, and the only safe one.

No. 64. H. Inman. If this resembles the substance and color of flesh, and the shape and construction of a lady's shoulders and neck, the resemblance is not sufficient to deserve such elaborate praise as this artist is accustomed to receive. The dress, however, is better paioted; as well it may be, for it is easier executed. Mr. Gray, a mere lad, without doing a very extraordinary feat, has painted a head, No. 71, quite as good as this, and a hand considerably better. Mr. Inman's picture of children, No. 185, is much more artist-like, at least in the composition and general effect, which are very elever, and far better than most things bere. But the children are not very childlike in expression, nor very well proportioned. The arms and bands, particularly, are too small, and would become a toy-shop better than a • National Academy;' a vame, let me add, so pompous, as to reinind me of one I saw over a dingy hole in Paris, 'Café de l'Univers!" But the coloring of the drapery, the carpet, the cushion, the basket, and ribbon, is very good; vay, quite deligbtful to the eye, after looking at the brainless, boneless, fleshless libels on human substauce and mind, on either side, by Ingham. But why did he paint the necks of these little folks so dirty? Why did he not first wash them, and wipe them moderately, which would have made the skin more transparent, and given a freshness of color, which is sadly needed.

No. 231. Portrait by F. ALEXANDER, of Boston. As this artist happens to paiot in a deep tone, with some attention to mellowness and harmony of coloring, it has been considered necessary to incline his picture a little more than tho one next il — a very little; which diminishes the light from the proper direction; and to place around it a plenty of bright frames, and staring colors,

[ocr errors]

which makes the flesh appear too dark. Beeide, owing to the inclination, the light from the floor makes a very slight but very mischievous glistening over the surface of the varnish, producing great disturbance and irregularity of effect. But this picture is very well composed, and executed ; yet the desh seems to want that dewy freshness, which you see when the atmosphere is moderately humid, and the perspiration unchecked. If it were hung in any tolerable light, it would probably appear sufficiently bright in the flesh; but it is not painted in the New-York manner, and therefore has not found favor with the comiittee.

No. 254. Portrait, by W. PAGE. This is the best colored of his pictures, and is as good as any in the room, so far as hue is concerned. The face, below the forehead, is well drawn, and has very much the substance and color of flesh; but the forehead is too indiscriminately rounded, as if it were turned in a lathe, and is not entirely free from objection on the score of hardness. The hands are carefully painted, with tolerable color; but a little overwrought and bard, and the right one not anatomically correct, nor drawn with much skill. His other pictures are inferior to this, particularly in substance and color. No. 117 is decidedly hard and dry.

No. 74. Landscape, by T. DOUGHTY. This is a very pleasing picture, and one of the best, if not the very best, that I have seen from this artist. The general effect of color and chiaro-'scuro is agreeable ; the trees, and other objects, well grouped; the imitation good, and the coloring of individual objects has much truth.

Nos. 31 and 32. Landscapes, by A. RICHARDSON. This artist has several very clever little pictures here. He composes with facility, and has a good feeling for chiaro-'scuro and color. Owing to their small size, they do not appear so well here as they would if hung on walls with reasonable spaces between them.

No. 20. The Great Adirondack Pess. Painted on the spot, by C. Ingham, N. A. If there be any persons of taste, who are not already convinced of the justice of my remarks upon this person's labors, they need but look at this daub. In the description which he quotes, it is said: “The shaduws of night are veiling the awful precipice, which forms the back ground of the picture.' With the spirit of mere mechanical deliveation, destitute of all poetic feeling, he has fuiled to profit by the hint of the writer, to give the obscurity of evening shade, and the glow of an evening sky, wbich might have imparted magnitude and effect to this precipice,' which he has made more abominable thau' awful.' Such lilliputiuu miuutiæ, such tame monotony, such absence of all true substance, color, space, and atmosphere, I never saw, to my remembrance.

No. 97. Portrait of ADMIRAL WALTON, R. N., by J. FrothINGHAM. I suppose this hero looked as surly as he could, for the sake of his own dignity, wheu he sat for his picture ; but tbat is his concern. At a moderate distance, this flesh appears very dry, like a mixture of chalk and brickdust; but ou coming near it, the dryness alluost disappears, and you perceive a very curious patching, or pencilling, or whatever else it may be called, which is probably designed to contribute some desirable quality, but which seems quite unnecessary; as Mr. F. has done much better without it, than I have seen him do with it. I think this picture unskilfully composed, spotiy in light and color, and somewhat fantastically false in the hues of the hack-ground.

of the miniatures, I can only say, from a hasty glance, that Mr. Hite's seem the best, although Mr. Fanshaw has a very pretty one. Tbis first-named gentleman deserves great credit, pot less for his talents, than for bis perseverance to ultimate success, against the most adverse circunstances. His first miniature, I have heard, was painted from colors that he gathered and preserved on his thumb-pail, in 'trying the quality' of a box of paints, which, trifling as was its price, he was unable to purchase.

There are several other works, some of which deserve commendation, and many that demand severe censure, which the limits of this article will not permit ine to notice.

The condition of painting, in this country, is low, and sculpture has as yet scarcely a being. The causes of this may be, the general diffusion of wealth; the moderate circumstances of the many; the very limited numbes of those who can afford to pay a stimulating price for the best productions; the consequent demand for quantily, and toleration of inferior quality, from which necessarily result a retrogressiou of taste, and farther toleration, farther superficial dispatch, farther action and reaction of taste on production, and production on taste, which will continue, untilconmou sense is startled from its dreanı, by the hideousness of the objects imposed on it. What I desire to impress on the public mind is, that taste, our sole guide to the beautiful, is inodified by every object we contemplate, corrupted by every error we imbibe, and should, therefore, be vigilantly guarded by reason, and subjected to whatever test reason may decide to be the true one. This test, probably, is nature, if the united and unanimous voice of all painters, sculptors, and poets, that have survived the cri. ticism of ages, is to be relied ou, as a rational ground of probability, in opposition to a temporary fashion, a popular opinion, even though that opinion should coincide with one's own. J. K. I.

[blocks in formation]

PARK THEATRE. The public's old favorite is again lifting up its energies from their late temporary depressivn, and the consequence is, a return of old faces, and large receipts. Miss Tree is soon expected, to fulfil her last engagement in this country, when the inany thousand acquaintances whom her delicate and effective personations of character have warmed into friends, will crowd the house, to be charmed once more with the eloquence of her art. We shall all regret the final departure of Miss Ellen Tree. She is the last, and we had almost said, the best, of that trio of female talent, consisting of FANNY KEMBLE, the Phillips, and herself, with which we have, within a few years, been favored. When she is gone, her place cannot be filled.

Miss Clifton has lately been fulfilling a short engagement at this house, but has confined herself to the personation of the character of Anna Boleyn,' as it is drawn for her, in the new play of that name. It is well for Miss CLIFTON, that she is really a beautiful woman ; otherwise, we fear the critics would be less amiable in the display of their tender inercies toward her. Ladies' eyes have wondrous power, even upon the obdurate hearts of the most stubborn of theatrical reporters. Growing ourself gray, and — (we may say it with complaceney.) venerabile in our batchelorhood, we confess to a calm, general indifference to the witching charms of that sex which inspired our juvenility ; yet are there glances from starry eyes, shot across the pit, which, even in our retired snuggery, we can feel to be laden with the full force of woman's strong artillery. Miss CLIFTON, as she treads the stage with the grace and look of an empress, scatters far and wide these resistless beams. Her admirers, in glorious bewilderment, feel the warmth, and see the brightness, of the sun, but take no cognizance of the spots upon its surface. The glare of the beauty dazzles them, and the defects of the actress are unnoticed, if not unknown. Not so with your sexagenarian. Juno might smile her sweetest, and glance her brightest, and Jupiter might stay his thunderbolts to ap. plaud, but your cool, well-tempered, honest critic of sixty, would take snuff, and quietly wait for the flash that tells of the spirit within. Laying aside our gallantry, which is more natural to us than our wig, we must proceed to declaro, that Miss Clifton has, in her fine person, but one of the attributes of a good actress. She has neither the genius por talent, which are necessary, in the opinion of many, to the constitution of a great tragedian. She wants the faculty of identifying herself, in the smallest degree, with the personage she would represent. She seems never to enter into the feelings of the character, and being herself unpossessed of the passion to be displayed, it is not strange that her audiences are unmoved by it. It is not enough for an actor merely to give utterance to the high-sounding words of passion, in a voice tempered to the subject, but there should be an expression more powerful than words depicted in the countenance and action of the perforiner; as if language could not alone declare the mighty workings of the spirit. Miss Clifton's art does not reach so high. On the contrary, there is an affected prettiness in all her efforts at expression ; as if to portray hate, anger, revenge, or any other unamiable feeling, would destroy the beautiful in her face, and distort those lineaments which enrapture the souls of her admirers. But if she really has talent, the public, more than herself, is to blaine, that it has not displayed itself before. The indiscreet and fulsome Batteries which the press has lavished upon her, have been enough to tura the brain of any pretty woman, and induce her to rest satisfied with the attractions which pature bas lavished upon her person, as if they would endure for ever, without seeking lo bring forward those richer charms of the mind, which do not pass away with the roses of the cheek, but bloom the brighter the longer they are permitted to ripen, under the culture of study and experience.

Mons, and M'd'lle Paul 'TAGLIONI made their first appearance, during the month, in the ballet of *La Sylphide.' Expectation was on tip-toe, and great anticipations were entertained of the superior skill of the brother of the 'T'aglioni, and favorable hopes of the lady. A house crowded to the dome, bringing back remembrances of the prosperous days of the old time, restified, by the most cheering applause, their unqualified approbation of the new artists. Until we saw Mr. Paul TAGLIONI, we had not supposed that one of the masculine gender could dance,' in the incaning applied to the graceful movements and bewitching gyrations of the ballet. But he has settled that question ; and if his sister is worthy the title of the greatest danseuse that Europe ever saw, he may justly claim for himself the distinction of the first honors in the mule line,' of tbat department of art in America, if not in the world. His performances are not only as graceful as nature and study can make them, but they are really wonderful, in their dexterous agility. Upon Madame Taglions we have almost the same unqualified praise to bestow. She did moro, far more, than the most sanguine expected of her. Her grace is equal to her husband's, and her style of dancing quite original to American audiences; and we venture nothing in affirming, superior to any that they have ever before bebeld. The picturesque and lovely 'tabizaur vivants' of the pair, can never be forgotten. They were studies for the sculptor; as effective and classic as the schools of any country can afford. But it is the ease aud perfect freedom from apparent effort, with which the most difficult feats are accomplishud, that makes their achievements so wonderful. The style of these dancers is in many respects different from that of any of the celebrated artists who have heretofore appeared in this country; and some idea of the spirituelle which has been said to constitute the great charm of M'lle TAGLIONI, may be gathered from the performances of her brother and his wife. Miss and Master Wells deserve a word of commendation, for they really did wonders. They were perfect in their share of the ballet, and seemed to make extra efforts to merit the hearty approbation which was awarded them.

We have lately had Mrs. Gibbs and Mr. Sinclair in what is called, by courtesy, 'English opera,' but which, (if the composition entitled the 'Lord of the Isles' is meant to be included in the designation,) would be as easily recognised by almost any other name. When Mr. SINCLAIR utters his own native melodies, no bird sings sweeter. He is then at home, and he warbles con amore. But in the stiff jacket of an opera singer, he is uneasy and uncomfortable, and so are his audiences. Mrs. Glees always acquits herself to the satisfaction of her friends, when she attempts only a hat nature and art have intended her to produce. She is a pleasing singer, but she can never be a great one. A Mr. Freer, from the London theatres, played Richard, for this lady's benefit, and very creditably he did it. We have seen such awful massacres made of the noble Gloster, that we have come to regard his highness as doubly entitled to the appellation of the misshapen duke.' Mr. Freer showed that at least he bad seen the character well played, and was content to tread, as nearly as possible, in the steps of his illustrious predecessors.' He was, however, somewhat prozy, in scenes where quick action and utterance are allowable. There was a propriety in his costume, throughout, which is too often forgotten by our modern Roscii. His dress of sables, in the second scene of the second act, was appropriate, and in good taste. Froin his exits and entrances, and other evidences of stage practice, we take it for granted that Mr. Freer is old to the sock and buskin. He wou'd be an acquisition to the regular company, and might do a considerable favor to the public, by bearing a part of the heavy burden at present attempted to be supported by Mr. Hield. By the way, either the ambition of this last-named gentleman overleaps itself, or he is hardly used in the multitudinous variety of characters thrust upon him. Tragedy, comedy, and farce, we have seen liim enact on the saine evening ; and it would give us pleasure to add, that he merited praise in them all. But the truth must out; and after having studied Mr. Hield in all the different varieties of his art, we have come to the conclusion, that he is not particularly well fitted for either. There is an overweening affectation in his playing, which is as contrary to nature as is cold to heat. He has no passion, but what is manufactured for the nonce; no soul, save such an artificial, far-fetched show of one, that he seems no better, at times, thau an improved specimen of automaton, which to its machinery of motion has superadded the engine of speech. His want of true feeling is so badly concealed by an affectation of the sentiment, that the text would be more powerful in its effect, if left to fall evenly from his tongue, without an effort at point or emphasis. Uis “Duke of Buckingham' bad no character in it. He delivered the dialogue, from beginning to end, as a school-boy would his weekly recitation; with an equal degree of emphasis in passages where emphasis was required, and in those where it was not. Thus, in relating to Gloster his reception by the citizens, he used the same vehemence in his narration that he did in the affected expression of houest indignation at the disappointment caused by Gloster's hypocritical refusal of the crown. An actor with the pretensions of Mr. HIELD, who can pay so little respect to the common proprieties of the scene, can hardly be expected to be very particular ip rendering the true text of the author. At the close of this same act, when, in reply to Gloster's assent to be crowned 'to-inorruw,' he should simply say:

• To-morrow, then, we will attend your grace ;'

Mr. HIELD, more poetical, rendered it thus :

"To-morrow, orders shall be taken,

In preparation
For your coronation !

A fantastic pronunciation is added to the list of Mr. Hield's peculiarities. Thus, for Alice, • A-ha-lice;' canvass, “can-puss ;' shon,' for shone; and for betrayer, “be.ter-ay-er;' and so on, multiplýing syllables to the utter destruction of sound and sense. Did not Mr. HIELD claim for himself the first rank in tragedy, at the first theatre in the Union, we had let him rest under the honors of his self-woven laurels; but Patience herself would leave her ‘monument,' to rap the knuckles of such a vain pretender to the first honors of the drama.


The National. We have but little of novelty to chronicle of this establishment. Opera, with the ever attractive performances of Miss ShireFF, and Messrs. Wilson and Seguin, has been the reigning feature, varied by the laughter-moving personations of Browne, who has recently returned from the south, where his irresistible comicalities won all suffrages.

« PreviousContinue »