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Collections and Critiques

New Fogg Water-Color Exhibit Shows Varied Execution, Color Treatment


Turner, Girtin, Cotman, and Ruskin--these are the personalities which pervade the first floor galleries at Fogg this month in an exhibition of English water colors, which follows a similar show of American colorists held during February.

These works by 19th century English artists do not posses the vividness and general appeal of Sargent or Winslow Homer, but nevertheless the meticulous and almost classical methods of portraiture employed, coupled with some fascinating variations of form and color, make this collection one of great charm.

Ruskin Predominates

Perhaps the most interesting of all are the pictures by John Ruskin, who is more famous for his art criticism, notably the volume entitled "Modern Painters", than for his actual creative work. Ruskin is better represented in the exhibition than any of the others, and one is given a chance to observe, through the many examples of his work which are available, that Ruskin could write about art better than he could execute it.

For the most part his work gives the impression of crudeness of execution, notably "Falls at Scheffelhausen", which might almost be called modernistic in its conception; its harsh dynamic lines suggest symbolism or impressionism. "Pass of Faido" seems dark, stark, and dreary, and is painted in dull grey and browns. "Looking down from Florence toward Lucca" is Ruskin's sole really vivid contribution; done with sweeping dabs of blue and green, it is startling and very effective.

Turner, Cotman Pleasing

Turner, as always, contributes delicately chiseled foregrounds with darkly dramatic backdrops; "Davenport" is typical of this type of work. He shows us another phase, however, in "Fish" and "Death of the Whale"; here he is full of motion and light, with very little emphasis on form.

Perhaps most arresting of all is John Sell Cotman's "Sheer Hulks in the Midway", a marine masterfully done in dark, sinister tones; one can almost smell the fitful gasps of fresh sea air puffing up before the approaching storm.

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