Posterity and the intervening two hundred years have determined which of the painters of the Regency are now considered great artists. But the opinions of the time are fascinating, and no less pointed than are today's critical remarks.
|The Summer View - Royal Academy - 1800|
- on West's Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple "Why must he [West] adopt the nonsensical, traditionary colours of Christ's dress; always red and blue?"
- on West's Death of Lord Nelson "We should also have recommended a more careful portrait of his Lordship's person. He will now be thought by posterity a taller man than he really was."
|Benjamin West 'Death of Lord Nelson'|
|Henry Fuseli - Allegory of Vanity|
|The British Institution|
- "Hilton's Entombing of Christ, has the fault of resembling the compositions of the old Italian masters: his Christ also, is rather fifty than thirty years of age..."
- "Hall's Haemon and Antigone, is a good attempt...but why dabble the lights about, like scattered grapes..."
The Society of Painters in Water Colours held their exhibition at Spring Gardens in 1811, and our critic was there also. He says "we passed our time so pleasant in this assemblage, as to forget the hour of the day and the calls of appetite". Nevertheless he is trenchant when necessary:
Left is Lord Palmerston (1802) by Thomas Heaphy
One of his better subjects?
"If any proof were necessary of the difficulty of managing figures, especially naked, and classical or poetical figures, in water colours, we should appeal to the judgment of any practised eye on performances in this exhibition..."The art critic from The Literary Panorama had, it seems, a wonderful July in 1811. He left a fascinating legacy in his column in the journal; I wish we knew his name...
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'Til next time,