To Represent England's Artists
By JOAN MORRIS, editor of Modern Sacred Art and Art Notes The exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts has got itself a strange reputation lately. We have grown to expect a dull show—but not the degree of this year's display. It has broken all records. The coronation pictures are largely responsible for this. I should not have believed it credible if I had not seen it with my own eyes, that work of the worst twopenny, coloured postcard style, could be accepted as serious by a Society that pretends to a real standard in art.
Having finished the round one is thoroughly tired. Would that it were worth
the effort! Leaning back in, a sofa 1 thought how John was well out of it indeed, as to the portrait by Wyndham Lewis it would have lodked absurd.
There was a time when I hoped that by gradual absorption of new blood into the Royal Academy, that it would change. I have no hope left now. The Royal Academy is a private society and has a right, I suppose, to continue on these lines.
The trouble is that the Academy is taken as representative of England. If this were true England would be in a most sorry plight. But it is not so. there are many good artists hi England today.
There is only one way out of the dilemma, and that is to start an Autumn Show on a scale equal to the Burlington Galleries with, I hope, Augustus John as President.
It requires no extremist to make these remarks, a catalogue of contents is convincing.
Gallery 1 is terribly depressing, one picture after the other in desolate grey, it is
not worth stopping here. tvallery 2 is nearly as bad, but a picture by Laura Knight makes it a little more bearable. Gallery 3 is the worst room, with corona tion pictures taking up all the space, encircled by poor portraits of eminent society people. I feel thoroughly ashamed of England, I hope few foreigners will come here.
There is one good portrait by Meridith Frampton of Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, 0.M., F.R.S. It is highly polished and finished like a miniature in the habitual style of Frampton. It especially suits the portrait of a scientist pursuing his researches with mathematical precision.
Gallery 4. There is a large-sized picture entitled " The Open Window," which intellectually does let in a little fresh air! Gallery 5 must be passed over. Gallery 6 has two pictures that can be mentioned, " Homework," by Marjory Bruford, and a portrait, " Margaret," by Henry Hoyland. Gallery 7 contains another terrible Royal portrait. A little picture entitled "Yes we have no hot water affords comic relief by a painting of an old broken-down kitchen stove. Gallery 8 is just a little better, there are two paintings by the late Glyn Philpot, R.A.—one time also the president of the Guild of Catholic Artists—he always obtains pleasing fresco tints, but in form, one realises he was held back by his academic training, from which he was making great efforts to get away, but never really succeeded.
Nothing from the Audacious With a feeling of relaxation one walks into the Black and White Room; there are always some good works allowed in here. We can, mention " The Rehearsal at the Old Vic," a lithograph by Stella Schmolle, and "Drying Sales," a wood engraving by Ian Macnab.
The last two rooms, X and XI, are generally given over to the more audacious; some years there has been really pond work shown, but alas! this year even here we
are disappointed. Dod Proctor, A.R.A., has two pictures, the little one of the "Year Old Baby " is delightful; the bigger one of "Summer," of a child, nude, in the garden, reflecting light green grass and foliage, is also beautiful, though one is getting tired of the repetition of too much the same kind of thing. There are several others that could be mentioned in these two rooms, such as James Flitton, Mary Aiken, and Alfred Thomson, A.R.A.
In the sculpture room we have one really good statue by Eric Gill entitled the " Annunciation." It is a figure of Our Lady inclined forward with head uplifted, cut severely and yet caressingly in Gill's usual perfect style.
The bronze doors for the Norwich city offices are interesting; the large figures entitled " Legislation," also executed for the same offices, are unfortunately starkly ugly and boring.
It Looks the Same The water colour room, which technically holds a higher standard as a rule to the oils, looks exactly the same as every other year, you might not know they had bothered to change the pictures. The tempera room generally permits a few surprises and it is a relief to find something worth looking at; there are two pictures by Jan Gordon, and two by Harry Allen.
The small and insignifice.nt little architectural room might well be left out, though there are some good works, it really gives no chance to anyone. The most interesting building to me is the church of St. Wilfrid's, Testwood, by N. F. CachemailleDay. The stained glass window designs arewleanranvetableleft.
out the small central hall
in which there are four large decorative panels. They are rather crude in the attempt to be "decorative " but they contain some competent academic drawing.