This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Shortly before the death of Mr. Joseph his collection of miniatures was offered at Christie's, and knocked down for 10,000 to Messrs. Agnew, who, it was understood, bought for Mr. Frank Woodroffe. That gentleman, it appears, however, did not complete the purchase, and the miniatures were returned to Messrs. Agnew, through whom most of them have long since found their way to various noted cabinets at home and abroad. There are some of these "Joseph" miniatures it would be very pleasant to see again. We have specially in mind a very pretty portrait of George IV. while Prince Regent, and one of that unfortunate actress Mrs. Robinson, whom he used so ill. Both pictures were painted for the royal scapegrace at the time when the artist stood high in his favour. The one of George himself was flattered into the beauty of a Prince Florizel by every device afforded by the exquisite surface of the material and the glowing palette of the artist. His complexion is ivory, with cheeks of rose-pink, his eyes are sparkling, his locks snowy, and his air insouciant and jaunty as that of a prince of fairyland. As for poor "Perdita," such a ravishingly delicate yet healthful face was never seen except on Cosway's ivories. Her hair is piled high and powdered into the fleecy lightness of muslin or lace, her eyes are like liquid gems, and the filmy drapery of her bust shows the rare taste with which
Portrait by Cosway.
Portrait of a Gentleman.
Miniature by Cosway.
Cosway always arranged his subjects, and for which he was renowned. In this collection, it was seen that he seldom varied his background, save by a slight difference in clouding or mingling blue and white. No matter what the style of the sitter's beauty, the backgrounds were always of this same white-infused blue, softening into blue-infused white. Sometimes the sitter's head was relieved against the white, sometimes against the blue, but rarely otherwise. This was practicable at a time when everybody with any pretensions to fashion, and thus to being painted by Cosway, was as blonde as powder and rouge could make them. Everybody must have been beautiful, too, with that certain expression of mixed pertness and sentimentality which we always recognise as of the eighteenth century.
Portrait of a Lady. By Cosway.
Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire.
Cosway lived to be eighty years old. In the Parish Church of Marylebone, where his remains are buried, one may read the following deliriously extravagant epitaph:-
Of course, Cosway's dimpled, sugary, unthinking faces are interesting to us simply as reflecting the shallow prettiness and grace of another time than our own; but they have no soul in them, and without soul how could artist or subject be immortal?
Among much other interesting personal gossip about Cosway that Dr. Williamson narrates in his biography of him is that his colours were obtained from Newman, from whom Turner, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and De Wint obtained their colours. "Unfortunately," he says, "the earlier books of the firm have not been as carefully preserved as could be wished, and records of Cosway's purchases are not forthcoming. A peculiar clear, keen, blue, resembling Antwerp blue, is very distinctive of the master's work. It appears almost invariably on the miniature, and is generally to be seen in the background. Newman's consider it a delicate tint of pure ultramarine. It is clear from one pencilled memorandum of Cosway's, in which he reminds himself to order 'from old Newman another lot of my blue,' that the colour was specially prepared for him, and the books and traditions of the house testify to the frequent preparations of different forms of this costly colour for special customers. Venetian red, vermilion, and Indian red Cosway also ordered of Newman."
Only the suggestion of the model is one able to give in rapid sketching. There is only time to catch the action in outline, or at best an impression of the shadows massed; but, no matter how rapid the sketch, it must never be done negligently. Aim to draw rapidly and at the same time correctly. During a short pose, too much deliberation results in seeing the model descend from the platform almost before the proportions are decided upon. Anyone intending serious study should remember that draughtsmanship is very much weakened by a striving for "chic" - that often-sought-for quality in illustration - as it prevents one ever obtaining a correct portrait of a model; and a portrait which embodies the individuality of the original is what should be sought for, as that individuality was the thing which first attracted attention to the model. On the Continent the appellation of "chic" to a drawing is the most condemnatory criticism a professor can make.
Elizabeth and Georgiana, Duchesses of Devonshire.
Miniature by Horace Hone.
Lectures at the Royal Academy.
MR. Gilbert, R.A., ON "Sculpture."
IN his third address at Burlington House, Mr. Gilbert reminded the students that the sculptor and the painter must regard equally the work of the other. We heard, he said, a great deal to-day of the modern revivalism in British art, although there was no such thing as British art or German art or French art. It was all one thing - one great calling. For our leading in plastic art we looked to France, but there was a quid pro quo in the influence that Constable, Turner, and others had had upon the work of French painters. Plastic art in England had never been dead, but only hibernating, and its revival had come about chiefly through the great educational advance in the country, and the possibilities of study that had come with it.