working administration, all the peoples of India ; but the Maories of New Zealand have been exterminated, and the Blacks of Australia are undergoing a similar process of extinction. In Tropical Africa, however, there can be no talk of Europeans displacing the Negro: because colonisation by the White races is impossible, and the feeble forms of administration to be set up in the future must depend largely on the co-operation of the Negro.

Nature has, in short, marked off Tropical Africa as the abiding home of the Negro and indigenous tribes. The bulk of the continent is still untouched, though not untainted, by Western civilisation. I cannot therefore believe that Tropical Africa will ever be brought within the pale of Western progress. For, in order that Africa may progress, it is absolutely essential that it be developed along natural lines ; but as yet the inherent powers of native genius have neither been discovered, nor, in the absence of any cohesion among the indigenous tribes, and in view of European rapacity and political immorality, are they, even if discovered in the future, ever likely to be encouraged or fostered. No: Africa is a continent fated to be conquered and exploited by the heirs of civilisation, to whom it may pay a reluctant tribute, but never the homage of imitation.



The season of picture sales which has recently closed proved to be one of exceptional interest, although it included only three collections of great note, the James Price, the Lyne-Stephens, and the Clifden. Regarded as a whole, its most striking features were the exceedingly high prices which the best works of the early English masters continue to command, and the fanciful amounts at which portraits of beautiful women, by both French and English artists, are appraised. In only a very few instances were the pictures which come within these two categories entirely untouched by the restorer, who so often restores' works of art until there is little left save the canvas. With so many awful examples of his work before us, it is more than passing strange that the incompetent restorer should be still allowed to flourish in his iniquity.

Yet, in spite of the fact tbat some of the most noteworthy pictures of the recent season bave borne obvious traces of his heavy tread, the prices realised can only be described as enormous. That each country should favour' its own artists and schools of painting is, cæteris paribus, a very patriotic and a very proper thing; and a mere reference to the annals of picture sales will demonstrate the very remarkable growth of this species of patriotism in England during the past quarter of a century. In this country the Early English school is now first with collectors, and the rest very far behind.

The great picture of the season is undoubtedly the portrait of Lady Mulgrave,” which appeared in the James Price sale of the 15th of June, and then realised 10,000 guineas, the second highest price ever paid for a Gainsborough, and only 100 guineas less than the amount paid for the celebrated Duchess of Devonshire in 1876. The portrait of Lady Mulgrave is a small oval, only half the size of the Duchess, measuring 29 inches by 24 inches; in white dress, black mantle and

· With two exceptions, which are indicated, all the sales referred to in this article have taken place at Messrs. Christie, Manson, & Woods.

? There are two portraits of Lady Mulgrave by Gainsborough, and both were originally at Mulgrave Castle. The finer is that which occurred at the Price sale. The second and infinitely inferior example came up for sale on the 13th of Jaly, but was bought in at 3,500 guineas. The mystery which at first surrounded the second of these two portraits was cleared up by Lord Normanby's letter in the Times, July 19.

hair poudré. This perfect and charming example of Gainsborough at his best is well known through Waltner's engraving, but its superlative beauty does not seem to have been fully realised until it was shown at the Old Masters Exhibition five years ago. It was purchased for 1,070 guineas at Christie's in 1882; eight years after, Mr. Price was offered and refused 7,000 guineas for this masterpiece ; it now brought 10,000 guineas, and is, perhaps, one of the most satisfactory investments of its kind ever made. For nearly half a century after Gainsborough’s death his pictures realised ridiculously low amounts at auction, the first-and until 1867 the only-instance of an example of his work reaching four figures occurring in 1828, when “The Market Cart,' now in the National Gallery, brought 1,1821. 188. The three-quarter length portrait of Lady Clarges seated at a harp was another of Mr. Price's good investments, inasmuch as its value has increased in seventeen years from 350 guineas to 2,000 guineas. The excellent portrait of Viscount Mountmorres also brought a similar amount. The only other really great portrait by this consummate master was the three-quarter length of Madame Le Brun, in white dress trimmed with lace, which brought 2,150 guineas at the Duchess of Montrose's sale in May; it is curious to note that is picture was bought in twelve months previously for 3,100 guineasa fate which is the natural consequence of indiscreetly high reserves.

The finest example of Gainsborough other than a portrait sold during the year was the renowned chef d'æuvre known as “Repose,' presented as a marriage gift to his daughter by the artist. This beautiful and perfect work ranks with the finest conceptions of the best Dutch landscape-painters, and yet it has never been regarded as equal, in its particular line, to his portraits. In 1851 it sold for

ineas ; in 1863 for 8191. ; in 1872, at the Gillott sale, 900 guineas; and in June last it once more changed hands at the comparatively low figure of 1,400 guineas. When the prevailing fashion for portraits of beautiful women takes its common-sense level, perhaps the Gainsborough landscapes will take their deserved position with connoisseurs.

Sir Joshua Reynolds's portraits, so far at all events as the present season is concerned, show a uniformity which is perhaps better than noteworthy fluctuations. The President's great picture of the year was the Duchess of Montrose's portrait of Lady Smyth and her children, a three-quarter length, painted in 1787, and engraved by Bartolozzi. Reynolds never painted a finer or more successful portrait; but unfortunately the face of the lady has been repainted: notwithstanding this most serious drawback, it brought 4,800 guineas; perhaps half of what it would have fetched had it been perfect. It is interesting to note that this portrait sold in 1878 for 1,250 guineas, and is understood to have cost the Duchess of Montrose about 5,000 guineas. The James Price sale contained seven Sir Joshuas,


perhaps the ugliest lot, from a decorative point of view, which happened together during the season. The half-length oval of Lady Melbourne, painted in 1770, brought 2,300 guineas, and the three-quarter length of the Hon. Mrs. Seymour Damer, painted in the following year, realised just one hundred guineas less. Both these ladies are historical celebrities, and this fact doubtless accounts for something at a sale. They were the pretty fellows' who, at a bal masqué at the Pantheon in April 1772, 'appeared as masculine as many of the delicate macaroni things we everywhere—the “Billy Whiffles ” of the present age.' The latter lady was a distinguished and able amateur sculptor, and a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1785 to 1818. The unattractive portrait of the Countess of Rothes who married Bennett Langton is interesting from the fact that it was painted in 1764 at about the time that the famous Literary Club was founded by Dr. Johnson. As regards the portrait of Kitty Fischer, which brought 1,300 guineas at the Price sale, Sir Joshua himself painted this celebrated wit and beauty about seven times. Early in the present century excellent copies of works by Reynolds by artists of the names of Rising and Patterson occurred at auctions, and as these cannot now be traced it is very certain that some of them have been accepted as originais. The Kitty Fischer portraits were among these copies, and are almost as common in the saleroom and elsewhere as “The Snake in the Grass. They vary in value from fifteen and a half guineas up to 1,300 guineas—the highest yet recorded-paid for the Price example. When this example appeared at the Munro sale in 1878—it then realised 700 guineas-its authenticity was seriously questioned, some attributing it to Coles and others to Cosway. It is probably genuine, but by no means an inspired work of Sir Joshua. The picture in the Montrose sale catalogued as Reynolds's portrait of Lady Anne Fitzpatrick as 'Sylvia' in white dress with blue skirt and sash, is a good but obvious copy of the picture which is or was in the possession of Lord Lyveden: it realised 1,550 guineas.

There have been no Romney surprises' this season; but the several second-rate examples of this artist which have occurred for sale have fetched highly satisfactory prices. The Romney 'cult’ is of quite recent growth; for about three-quarters of a century the finest portraits by this great painter were grouped with the banalities of men who could no more paint a passable picture than they could eat the moon. Romney now commands prices which are almost enough to make his great rival and enemy, Sir Joshua, turn in his grave. The three pictures by him in the Price sale were not even third-rate examples, but the sketchy bust of Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton, reached 2,030 guineas; a three-quarter-length of Lady Urith Shaw, 1,800 guineas, and a half-length of Miss Harriet Shaw, 1,860 guineas. Romney's portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Beresford, one of the ladies painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the celebrated picture of The Graces' (now in the National Gallery), brought 1,650 guineas at the last important sale of the season. This beautiful example of Romney came into the sale-room direct from the family for whom it was painted. A very dirty but perfectly genuine portrait occurred in a 'lumber' auction-room in Chancery Lane, towards the end of July. It formed part of the estate of the Rev. W. T. Kevill Davies, of Croft Castle, Kingsland, Herefordshire, and was the portrait of Mrs. Davies, the wife of Somerset Davies. The appearance of the portrait in so unexpected a quarter quickly became known to the dealers, and it eventually realised 1,290 guineas, much to the evident surprise of the auctioneer! Had it occurred at Christie's it would probably have brought twice that amount. As a

As a curious illustration of the value of a picture with and without a pedigree may be mentioned the Romney portrait of Lady Reade, the wife of Sir John Reade, which Messrs. Christie sold for 1,050 guineas on the 15th of July. About two years ago this picture was offered at Christie's simply as a Romney portrait of ' A Lady in a White Dress,' and was then bought in for 500 guineas. Romney's highest price for a halflength was from 30 guineas to 40 guineas, and in no instance did he receive over 50 guineas for either of the pictures to which we have referred. For some time after his death his pictures fetched about as many shillings as he had been paid pounds. The finer of his works are now practically unprocurable at any price, and very second-rate specimens invariably run to four figures. In one of his best years he earned a total of 3,6351. In 1895, three pictures—perhaps not more than a week's work-in one sale, brought over 5,0001.

Turner's pictures well maintain their hold on the public, or at least that part of it which can afford to pay high prices. In one or two instances a slight falling-off has been experienced, notably in the case of the well-known drawing of Carew Castle,' which, at the Heugh sale in 1874, brought 1,100 guineas, and declined from 710 guineas in 1886 to 700 guineas in May last. On the other hand, the interesting little view of Oxford, engraved by Goodall in 1841, was done for a Mr. Ryman, of Oxford, in 1839, and Turner received 100 guineas for it; its value has now increased to close on 500 guineas. A pair of little drawings—11} inches by 18 inches—from Mr. Ruskin's collection, a view of the lake and town of Zug, and one of Arona, brought 1,100 guineas and 700 guineas respectively. The principal Turners of the season occurred in the James Price sale; and of these the chief work of this master was 'Helvoetsluys,' which realised in the Bicknell sale of 1863 what was then regarded as the very high amount of 1,600 guineas; in thirty-two years it has advanced to 6,400 guineas. The 'Val d'Aosta,' which realised 910 guineas at the Munro sale in 1878, has gone up to 4,000 guineas, and has turned out to be an even better investment than the 'Helvoetsluys. A

« ElőzőTovább »