An adjoining gallery toward the east has a great number of excellent pictures to hold the attention of the visitor. To begin with the figure painters, the Desch portrait of a little girl in empire costume appeals by its genuinely original design. The carefully considered pattern effect of this canvas is most agreeable and well assisted by a very refined colour scheme. Although a trifle dry, the quality of painting in this canvas is the same as that which makes Whistler’s work so interesting. This painting is one of the great assets of the French section, and to my mind one of the great pictures of the entire exhibition. Balancing the Desch canvas, one finds another figural canvas of great beauty of design, by Georges Devoux. “Farewell,” while of a sentimental character, is strong in drawing and composition. It is very consistent throughout. Everything in the picture has been carefully considered to support the poetic, sentimental character of the painting, which is admirably delicate and convincing without being disagreeably weak.
Jacques-Emile Blanche is represented in this gallery by his well-known portrait of the dancer Nijinski. A certain Oriental splendor of colour is the keynote of this canvas, which is much more carelessly painted than most of Blanche’s very clever older portraits. On the opposite wall Caro-Delvaille shows his dexterity in the portrait of a lady. The lady is a rather unimportant adjunct to the painting and seems merely to have been used to support a magnificently painted gown. There is a peculiar contrast in the very naturalistically painted gown and the severe interpretation of the face of the sitter. Ernest Laurent’s portrait of Mlle. X is typically French in its loose and suggestive style of painting, and easily one of the many good portraits in the gallery.
Among the landscapes Andrè Dauchez’ “Concarneau,” Charles Milcendeau’s “Washerwomen,” on the opposite wall, and last but not least, Renè Mènard’s “Opal Sea” — a small picture of great beauty — deserve recognition. Pierre Roche has a statuette of Loïe Fuller in this gallery which is conspicuous by its daring composition and simple treatment.
Entering this gallery, the first canvas to attract one’s attention, by reason of its boldness of composition and colour, is a large Lucien Simon called “The Gondola.” The versatility of this artist is well brought out by another picture of a baby, about to be bathed, previously referred to, and by a third canvas, of “The Communicants,” near “The Gondola.” Simon seems to have no difficulty in using several mediums and styles of expression equally well, as a comparison between “The Gondola” and “The Communicants” will easily prove. This former picture is the more original of the two technically, in colour as well as in composition. It is in danger of losing one’s sympathy by a badly selected frame. Near it hangs a trifolium of virgins, of very anaemic colour. The drawing, however, is so very sensitive in this canvas that it makes good for the unconvincing anaemic colour scheme.