Here we have Guérin in all the glory of his rich colour harmonies, which have made the Exposition famous. Painstaking and conscientious as his art is, it is always full of power of suggestion. Every square inch of his most agreeably framed decorations is well considered, with nothing left to accidental effect. Still, they are full of freedom, very loose in handling, and always convincing. To choose the best among his eight is very difficult, although his “Cemetery on the Golden Horn” on longer study does not seem to be free from a certain artificiality of colour, in the reddish hue of the reflected sunlight on the cypresses. The “Blue Mosque at Cairo” is wonderfully poetic, and his “Temple of Sunium” has all the tragic feeling of the classic ruins of Asia Minor. Opposite Guérin Mr. and Mrs. Hale display unusual refinement and grace of form in a unit wall of drawings and pastels. Mrs. Hale’s drawings are the quintessence of delicacy, without possessing any of the sugary disagreeable sweetness of so many of our popular illustrators. Mr. Hale’s pastels are no less enchanting in his outdoor compositions in many soft greens — a difficult colour to deal with. The many other things in this gallery are all worth studying in their conservatism and radicalism.
Miniatures abound here and endless sighs are heard of entranced ladies who have succumbed to the sentimental insipidness of these misplaced artistic efforts. Miniature painting holds no charm for me. Most of them are technical stunts and concessions to a faddism which has never had anything to do with the real problem of painting. Practically all of the miniatures in the cases are very well done, but when I think of the physical discomfort of adjusting one’s eyes to this pigmy world, then I cannot help feeling that, considering the low cost of canvas, a great effort deal of fine effort has been wasted. Looking at miniatures, I am always reminded of the man who spent several years of his useless life in writing the Old Testament on the back of a postage stamp.
McLure Hamilton has a fascinating group of anatomical sketches in this small gallery. They are all charming fragments of a lady one would like to know more about. As drawings they are spirited and full of rhythmic linework. Their fragrant rococo style brings one back into that original atmosphere the destinies of which were so largely controlled by similar attractions. The apotheosis in his collection is furnished by a drawing of a recently abandoned or to-be-occupied nest, presented in a most suggestive manner. In the cases plaques and medallions abound, the interest of which is largely attributable to Fraser’s excellent work.
This room continues to hold one’s interest, with some small pieces of plastic art, all of great merit.