Last year in the school competitions for free studentships and school medals, five girls were successful and seven men. Three silver medals - the highest school award - were won by girls, while nearly all the bronze medals went to men.
In the day classes two-thirds of the students are women, but in the evening classes there is usually a small preponderance of men. The majority of evening students are already earning their own living. Many exhibit at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.
The Polytechnic trains students for the entrance scholarships and exhibitions of the Royal College of Art, and three Royal Exhibitions, tenable there with good maintenance allowances, have been won by Polytechnic students during the last five years. Students who wish it are also prepared for the Royal Academy Schools, and in recent years no fewer than seventeen have been admitted.
The life class meets on Monday, Wednes day, and Friday, for painting from the costume model; and on Tuesday and Thursday the students draw from the figure model. The life master, Mr. Harry Watson, is well known as a painter both of figure work and landscape, and his students are keenly appreciative of his teaching, both the men's and women's life classes being crowded with students.
The day class model poses for nine sittings, enabling the students to make a finished picture, but at the evening classes the model takes a new pose every evening, for quick sketches to be made.
Memory training - which is a highly important feature of the teaching in every department of the school, and one upon which Mr. Gaskell specially insists - is also practised on at least one night a week in the life class, the model taking an action pose.
A fine studio is devoted to still-life painting, which is an important feature of each painting student's work, since every painting student begins with it before being promoted to painting from the living model.
The cast room at the Polytechnic boasts a specially fine collection of antiques, Renaissance, and modern casts. There students draw and paint in monochrome from casts, and do quick studies from the antique, as a preliminary to drawing from the life.
The modelling classes at the Polytechnic are flourishing apace under the vigorous and progressive tuition of Mr. J. A. Stevenson, the brilliant young sculptor whose statue of Justice," erected at the Law Courts, called forth such laudatory comments from the Press.
Gifted with energy and enthusiasm, and the knack of imparting knowledge to others - a characteristic of those who have had the privilege of working under Professor Lanteri - his pupils are producing admirable work.
Though beginners must perforce devote much time to learning the rudiments of modelling by working from the cast, the more advanced members of the class are encouraged to work almost entirely from the living model.
On one occasion the writer found the students at the evening class clustered around a soldier in uniform, engaged in modelling their sitter's head, and making portraits full of life and vigour, admirable in technique, and characteristic likenesses into the bargain.
On another occasion the students of the day class chanced to be engaged in modelling full-length statuettes, half life size, of the identical little lad who posed for Mr. Frampton's statue of Peter Pan, which adorns Kensington Gardens.
Every student at the modelling classes learns to cast his or her work in plaster, a very interesting feature of the work.
Classes in modelling from the life are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings from 7 to 9.30 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
New students wishing to enter the life classes for either drawing, painting, or modelling are required to furnish satisfactory evidence of their capacity.
Here students, after having reached a certain standard of general attainment, may specialise in book illustration, in water-colours, pen and ink, and wash; in the designing of schemes of interior decoration, or in the designing of wallpapers, cretonnes, rugs, and carpets, or in furniture designing.
On the occasion of the writer's visit, one student was working out a beautiful design for printed cotton, founded on the arbutus plant; another was finishing a charming design for a fan; and a third was making a design for the top of an old-fashioned tea caddy. Some were busy designing wallpapers; others, again, making the original illustrations to favourite fairy tales.
A number of students in the class were engaged in special design work to meet the requirements of the Board of Education for the art masters and art mistresses' teaching certificates.
A weekly lecture on designing is given by Mr. Theaker, and an exercise is set for home work on the subject of the lecture. At one time the subject chosen may be designing for some special material, at another some kind of historic ornament. A lecture on Egyptian style drew forth some most elaborate and beautiful work whose authors had evidently spent much time in fruitful study at the British Museum.
The rapid composition class is held on one or two evenings a week by Mr. Theaker, who is not only a clever artist, teacher, and lecturer, but almost a witty though kindly critic. This class is highly popular.
A set of three or four problems, each one specially designed to emphasise some broad general rule in composition, is given out,
Figure composition is one of the most important features of the school instruction, and most of the gold medals won by students have been awarded for this subject - one for a painted frieze, two for the mirror-frames already mentioned, and three for book illustrations.
On Monday afternoons Mr. Gaskell himself holds a class for figure composition, giving out a subject to be done at home during the week and brought for criticism by him on the following Monday. This class every student in the upper school is privileged to attend.
Sometimes the subject set is chosen from the classics or from Shakespeare, sometimes from a book of Dickens, or some other well-known author, and sometimes students may invent their own themes.
Students can work in any kind of medium they please, and the composition submitted for criticism may take any suitable form, from that of a book illustration to a scheme for mural decoration.
Special stress is laid by Mr. Gaskell on the necessity of catching the spirit of the author who provides the theme, as well as making a good decorative composition.
The sketches, which are fastened up round the room for criticism, are all anonymous unless the work calls for praise; then the sketch is taken down and a glance given to see the name of the artist written upon the back!
The work of the more advanced students of the school is, as a rule, very varied, and the greater number of those studying fine art divide their time between the various classes, many of them taking drawing, painting, and modelling, from the life, and figure composition.
The book illustrators are expected to learn their art with the utmost thoroughness. Their work ranges from drawing and painting from the life to a detailed study of the various methods of process reproduction.
The photographic school, under Mr. Howard Farmer, is situated just below the art school in the Polytechnic buildings, and between it and the art school much friendly intercourse exists. Every student of book illustration is sent down there to learn exactly what happens in the making of "zinco" line blocks, ordinary half-tone blocks, and the three-colour process of reproduction, and to learn exactly what will reproduce well and what will not. Thus the pupil Can modify his or her methods to meet the mechanical requirements of the special printing process to be employed.
Students modelling under the direction of Mr. J. A. Stevenson. The more advanced members work direct from the living model
A comfortable and beautiful hall sitting-room. The fitments are not costly yet they are in absolute accord with good taste and modern requirements. The suggestion can be adapted to the structural possibilities of a modest sized house. ("The Comforts of a Hall Sitting-room." See page 4796.)