viernes, 10 de junio de 2011

1089. STONEBREAKER.(1) (John Brett.)

The Royal Academy Exhibition 1858

This, after John Lewis's, is simply the most perfect piece of painting with respect to touch in the Academy this year; in some points of precision it goes beyond anything the Pre-Raphaelites have done yet. I know no such thistledown, no such chalk hills, and elm-trees, no such natural pieces of far-away cloud, in any of their works. The composition is palpably crude and wrong in many ways, especially in the awkward white cloud at the top; and the tone of the whole a little too much as if some of the chalk of the flints had been mixed with all the colours. For all that, it is a marvellous picture, and may be examined inch by inch with delight; though nearly the last stone I should ever have thought of any one's sitting down to paint would have been a chalk flint. If he can make so much of that, what will Mr. Brett not make of mica slate and gneiss! If he can paint so lovely a distance from the Surrey downs and railway-traversed vales, what would he not make of the chestnut groves of the Val d'Aosta! I heartily wish him good-speed and long exile.(2)

(1)[This picture, now in the possession of James Barrow, Esq., is reproduced in Mr. P. H. Bate's English Pre-Raphaelite Painters. It was bought during the exhibition. "I am exceedingly glad," wrote Ruskin to his father (Bellinzona, June 22, 1858), " Brett has sold his picture, for he is a fine fellow as well as a good painter. I hope he will do some beautiful things at Sallenches." John Brett (1832-1902), who first made his mark, by the pictures noticed here and below (p. 234), as a painter of landscape on Pre-Raphaelite principles (see below, p. 434), afterwards became better known as a sea-painter. His "Britannia's Realm" is in the Tate Gallery (No. 1617). To a catalogue of an exhibition of works by him in 1886 he prefixed some account of his methods and of his careful "finish." He was elected A.R.A. in 1881. Ruskin refers to him as "one of my keenest-minded friends" in Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vii. 24. See also The Art of England, 8.]

(2)[Brett went to the Val d'Aosta in the summer of this year (1858). Ruskin was at Turin at the time, and discussed with the painter the picture he was engaged upon (see below, p. 238 n.). Ruskin's visit has a memorial in his description of the Alps from Turin ("Inaugural Lecture at Cambridge," Oct. 1858, reprinted in Vol. XVI. The result of Brett's visit was exhibited in the next year's Academy.]

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