Mathews and McComas.
Mathews and McComas do not exactly make good company. While closely related in the decorative quality of their work, they are not alike in any other way. Mathews’ art is emotional. It tells something beyond mere colour, form, and composition, while McComas’ art is mostly technical, in the clever manipulation of a very difficult medium. His sense of construction and feeling for effect is very acute. He is becoming so expert, however, in the handling of watercolour that one sometimes wishes to see a little more of that accidental charm of surface that his older work possesses.
Having reached far into the heart of the modern American section by way of the one-man galleries, a chronological pursuit of our study is no more necessary nor possible. Almost all of the pictures in the modern American section have been produced since 1904, the year of the last international exhibition, at St. Louis, and they reflect in a very surprising way the tremendous advancement of native art to a point where comparison with the art of the older nations need not be feared. In all the fields of painting, including all subjects, portraits and figures generally, landscapes, marines, and still-life, we can turn proudly to a great number of painters who interpret candidly and vigorously the world in which we live.
The gallery nearest to the one just visited gives a good idea of the mastery of a variety of subjects in the art of painting, and to continue our investigations from this point is just as logical as from any other part of the modern American section. In this gallery, easily located by two large parvenu portraits of dubious merit, are some others which are really vital expressions of modern art. Beginning on wall A, going to the right, Luis Mora’s “Fortune Teller” and Meakin’s landscapes should be singled out. On the west wall Frederic Clay Bartlett’s painting of an interior and Norwood McGilvary’s nocturne charm in different ways, while on the adjoining wall Ritschel’s marine and Rosen’s winter scenes display excellent quality of design, with fine outdoor feeling. Miss Fortune’s Mission interior deserves its distinction of having been bought by William M. Chase. Robert Nisbet contributes a rare green tree design, and Hayley Lever’s harbor pictures are all performances of superior merit,
This gallery is given over entirely to portraits, most of which are so devoid of any real merit that it is relatively very easy to single out the good ones. Flagg’s portrait of the sculptor Bartlett, a portrait by Robert David Gauley over the door, the lady with the fur on the second line on wall B, with her neighbor, Lazar Raditz, by himself, are better than the many others, which are all well done but do not interest one enough, for one reason or another. The one picture in this gallery that comes very near being of supreme beauty is the young lady reclining on a chaise lounge, the work of E. K. Wetherill. Very few pictures in this gallery come up to the placid beauty of this distinguished canvas, which is somewhat handicapped in its aesthetic appeal by some unnecessarily tawdry bits of furniture and bric-à-brac used in its make-up.