This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The number of pictures refused by the Academy this year is said to be greater than ever before. But let the unsuccessful candidates take heart. " Rejected, but not dejected" should be their motto. Of course, rejection at Burlington House does not necessarily imply lack of merit, and, except for its possible inconvenience to the artist from the business point of view, might fairly be regarded by him with equanimity. To name the men of distinction, native and foreign, who have experienced this rebuff would be to give a roll of honour too long for this page. It may interest and possibly comfort some of this year's rejected ones to know, however, that the greatest sculptor of modern times once sent one of his works to the Academy and recived in return the identical circular with which they have been made familiar. Here it is in (reduced) facsimile: -
The President and Council regret that they have been unable to accept for Exhibition and request that removed as soon as possible. Should any other Works have been sent in, a further communication will be forwarded. Fred. A. Eaton. Sec.
N.B. - The Works named above will only be delivered up on the presentation of the order for delivery attached to this card, signed by the Artist.
Please deliver to Bearer my Work No.
(Signature of Artist) Received the above work (Signature of Bearer)
Rodin, who did not understand a word of English, supposed that his bust had been accepted and that this notice was an invitation to the Royal Academy Banquet. He showed it gleefully to his friend and compatriot, Edouard Lanteri, who had to undeceive him in the matter.
A similar honour of rejection by the Academy was conferred on Dalou, a French sculptor hardly less famous than Rodin. He had sent in a charming bust of a boy - for which, by the way, he afterwards received a medal at the Paris Salon. Not only was Dalou's work rejected, but the jury, in their inscrutable wisdom, accepted an indifferent rendering, by a student, of the same model.
Dalou was a Communist, like Courbet and other distinguished French artists. After the fall of the Commune he came to London and taught modelling at the Royal College of Art until the amnesty, when he returned to Paris, and later was succeeded at South Kensington by his friend, Edouard Lanteri. In 1872, at Dalou's suggestion, Lanteri came over on a six months' engagement to assist
Sir Edgar Boehm. It had been a dream of his youth to visit the British Museum to see the Elgin marbles, and he eagerly welcomed the chance. Instead of staving six months, however, he has been here ever since, and all who know what he has done for art in England hope sincerely that he may be spared to us for many years to come.
Although he was Dalou's junior by ten years, the two were at the "Beaux Arts" at the same time, with Delaplanche, Benjamin Constant and Henri Regnault as contemporaries. On the outbreak of the Franco - Prussian war, Regnault, fresh from academical triumphs at Rome, offered as .a volunteer, and Lan eri did the same. It will be remembered that the career of poor Regnault, so full of promise, was ended by a Prussian bullet. Speaking to me of the matter the other day, Professor Lanteri was reminded of the tragic details. He was on the march with his battalion on that fatal morning, and the old schoolfellows hailed each other in passing. Regnault was in the ranks with Clairin, both having just come out of action, unscathed. But the former discovered that he had another cartridge, and insisted on going back to use it. He did so, but never returned. the average buyer of old paintings has certain peculiarities by which the dealer is not slow to profit. For instance, he will rather have his picture in a brand new "composition" frame than in the original old carved one in which often an old picture is offered for sale. The original frame with the garishhess of the gilding mellowed by time would naturally be preferred by a buyer of better taste, because more in keeping withi the picture. The harsh effect of new gilding againsi an old canvas should, indeed, be obvious to anyone able to own a line painting. But it is curious how insistent the average buyer will be about the style of the brand new frame that is to beincluded in his purchase. Above all, it must be wide, and elaborate in design. It is said, by the way, that Sir Thomas Lawrence was responsible for the introduction of the unnecessary width of frame which is still fashionable.
Another weakness of the average picture buyer is his love for the plush-lined shadow-box. The dealer is glad to humour him in this, too; for it hides many a defect in the painting. The new gilding, the polished mahogany, and the maroon or crimson lining, indeed, combine to make a brave show of many a poor picture. The glitter of the glass especially may be depended on to hide blemishes which would stand revealed even to the untrained eye should the intending purchaser insist on his right to examine the canvas or panel denuded of this adventitious setting. It is true that the dampness of our climate and the bituminous nature of our coal are apt to affect unfavourably the condition of a fine painting not so protected; but whatever may be done in the matter of glazing a picture when one gets it home, one should never buy an oil painting under glass. As a rule, no dealer would dream of doing so.
I recall an exception to the rule, and in this instance the paintings were distinctly benefited by being shown under glass. They were of the Impressionist kind - they were a group of Monets I saw at a famous dealer's in Paris. The glazing seemed to bring them more into harmony with pictures of other schools in the same show room than I would have believed to have been possible. The effect was to make them appear lower in tone than any other Monets I had ever seen. I remarked this to the salesman. He thought it was only a coincide, and invited me to look at a Hobbema. It was a splendid picture. It seemed a pity, though, that it was such a "dark" one, and I said so. Like the Monets, it was under glass, which was remarkable, tor in France one seldom sees an oil painting so treated. But the explanation was simple: the whole lot of pictures had been bought out of an English collection, and had only just arrived. Judging from the way the Hobbema was screwed down, the arrangement evidently was meant to be permanent; but, in satisfaction of my curiosity, the result was destined to be otherwise. The effect of the glass over the Monets made me desirous to see what, if any, would be the effect of removing the glass from the Hobbema. This was done for me. The transformation was amazing: some of the most subtle passages of the painting for the first time were now revealed in their full beauty, and the whole landscape seemed several tones lighter than before. The salesman at once admitted this to be so, and declared that the removal of the glass had undoubtedly greatly enhanced the market value of the painting.