‘The Grosvenor Gallery’:
A Supplement to Review No. 1
in the Journalism volumes
of the OET Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
‘A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure.
It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied.’
Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. vi.
‘This edition has been long in the making.’ (viii) Thus the very first sentence in John Stokes and Mark W. Turner’s edition of Wilde’s journalistic writings, published under the general editorship of Ian Small by Oxford University Press in the Oxford English Texts series. ‘Long in the making’ is putting it even rather mildly, as the beginnings of the edition date back so many years that there are now probably only a handful of people around who will remember the exact terminus post quem.
There are three reasons, or so it seems to me, for this ‘slow process of [the edition’s] gestation’ (viii): first, the sheer mass of newspaper and magazine articles which had to be sifted and of which the 168 articles now collected form only a fraction; second, the diversity of the material which ranges from the classics to 19th century contemporary literature (both English and foreign), from play productions to fine art exhibitions, from dress reform to society events, and which demands from the editor the utmost of versatility; and third, the lack of significant annotated editions, if we except the ‘pioneering’ work of Carl Markgraf (1970) and of Anya Clayworth (2004), from which the present editors might have benefited (liii).
But all good things come to those who wait, as the proverb says; and when at last, in the summer of 2013, Stokes and Turner’s labour of love saw the light of day, it was instantly recognised as being of sterling qualities and was universally and unanimously highly acclaimed. Here are some snatches from the reviews which I have seen: ‘a landmark in Wilde studies and in the study of late Victorian journalism more broadly ... one of the most notable achievements of the Oxford Edition so far’ (Stefano Evangelista); ‘an excellent edition of Wilde’s journalism [which] should be a crucial resource for students and scholars for decades to come’ (John Peters); ‘scrupulous scholarship ... meticulous annotations ... an exemplary edition ... aiming for as comprehensive and accurate a version of the journalism as possible’ (Maureen Moran); ‘One thing ... is absolutely certain: future editors of Wilde’s journalism have a very hard act to follow. Stokes and Turner have edited Wilde’s newspaper pieces with extraordinary diligence and care. Their research has been extensive and intrepid, and they display a familiarity with Wilde’s writing and biography that can only be the result of years of study. As archaeologists of the micro-historical and publishing contexts of Wilde’s writings they are second to none’ (Thomas Wright).
The purpose of the present paper is to endorse these evaluations – not, however, by adding another overall comprehensive appraisal, but, taking the figure of speech pars pro toto for my motto, by subjecting one review of Wilde’s to an in-depth analysis. In this way I also hope to advance the state of the art of this particular article.
For the sake of simplicity, I have selected for this undertaking the item which stands at the head of Stokes and Turner’s opus magnum: the review of the inaugural Grosvenor Gallery exhibition, published under Wilde’s name in the Dublin University Magazine for July 1877 (pp. 118-126).
To begin with, I have painstakingly collated Review No. 1 as reproduced in Journalism with the article as originally published in the DUM. Considering that Stokes and Turner’s two volumes, on the one hand, are not a facsimile edition and that, on the other, human nature is what it is, the reproduction is textually as perfect as one can reasonably wish. I have noticed only a dozen odd slips which, given the extraordinary length of Review No. 1 (435 lines [ten and a half pages]), is minimal. Besides, most of the slips affect accidentals only (punctuation, spelling and capitalisation), and only four are really of any momentum: the omission of a word in one instance, the contraction of two separate words into one in another instance, and two changes of word order. – To enable the reader to see for himself, all slips are listed in detail below in the section entitled ‘Collation’ and in the following format: first the line number is given where the corpus delicti will be found. Then follows the expression / passage at issue, put in italics (or, where the original text is in italics, put in ordinary type), before, to conclude the note, the correct expression / passage is supplemented in square brackets and in the original type.
After the textual evaluation, there follows the scrutiny of Stokes and Turner’s Commentary, which is my major concern. This part, too, is superb, providing the reader with more than a hundred annotations. Still, I do have the feeling that, for reasons of space, the editors could not supply much more than the ‘basic information to clarify Wilde’s references’ (195), since this information alone takes up no less than thirteen and a half pages. But more could have been and should have been said – if need be at the expense of the long-winded bibliographical citations and at the expense of the numerous references to Lemprière’s Dictionary, which I find rather superfluous: some notes, for example, could have been more elaborate; the cross-references to Wilde’s other writings might have been more comprehensive so as to bring out more strongly the coherence of Wilde’s oeuvre; and, above all, the Commentary would have benefited greatly if it had also taken into account the reviews of the Grosvenor Exhibition which had been published in the Times and in the other periodicals (Athenaeum, Saturday Review, etc.).
Fortunately, I am not subject to such limitations, and I therefore do not hesitate to supplement the editors’ Commentary by a number of notes where appropriate. I do this all the more willingly as I am convinced that, while text editions will continue to be printed, their ‘scholarly apparatus’, as Ian Small has recently persuasively argued, will shortly be available online only where it ‘does not suffer from restrictions of space’ and where it ‘can be revised and augmented when necessary’ (35).
The format used in this section is the same as the one selected for the textual collation: first, to locate the point of reference, the line number of Wilde’s article is given; added to which is, in square brackets and where available, the page number of the editors’ Commentary. Then follow the passage under consideration (textually emended, if necessary) and my discussion. Each note ends with the citation of the relevant literature.
But enough said by way of introduction. Let the things now speak for themselves: here is my Supplement.
Ref.: John Stokes & Mark W. Turner, eds., Journalism, in: The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, (general editor Ian Small), vols. VI & VII, (Oxford: OUP, 2013). – Reviews: John Peters, Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation, vol. 8, no. 2, (autumn 2013), 169-171; Thomas Wright, The Wildean, No. 44, (January 2014), 115-137; Stefano Evangelista, Times Literary Supplement, No. 5801, (6 June 2014), 12; Maureen Moran, English Literature in Transition, vol. 58, no. 2 (Jan. 2015), 257-261. – Carl Markgraf, ed., Oscar Wilde’s anonymous criticism: An annotated edition, Ph.D. thesis University of California, Riverside, 1970, (microfilm Ann Arbor, Mich: Univ. Microfilms Int., 1971); Anya Clayworth, ed., Oscar Wilde. Selected Journalism, (Oxford: OUP, 2004). – Ian Small, ‘Editing Wilde and the OET Edition of the Complete Works’, The Wildean, No. 45, (July 2014), 33-42.
Collation. – 1: THE GROSVENOR GALLERY [GALLERY.] – 32-3: tables of gilded and inlaid marbles [gilded wood]. – 48: he reminds us of Æeschylus [Æschylus]. – 68-9: “God Dividing the Light from the Darkness” [dividing]. – 141-2: “Isabella Mourning over the Pot of Basil” [mourning]. – 162: a bank of violets, underneath the apple tree [a bank of violets underneath the apple-tree]. – 190-1: the painter who most shows the influence [shews]. – 258-9: the creation of the Sun, Moon and Stars [Sun, Moon, and Stars]. – 307: Mr. Leslie, unfortunately, is represented only [is only represented]. – 310-1: sucked in, as if it strove [sucked in as if it strove]. – 314: Hoskoteinos [Ho skoteinos]. – 328-9: One hand is thrust into his breast, and his legs [into his breast and his legs]. – 331: The figure is life-size, and, though apparently one-armed [and though]. – 349-50: Mr. Leighton is unfortunately represented only by two little heads [only represented]. – 425-6: the names of Dante Rossetti and of the Marchioness of Waterford [Dante Rossetti, and]. – 433: OSCAR WILDE [OSCAR WILDE.]. – 435: Oxford [Oxford.].
1 [and 197 n.]: THE GROSVENOR GALLERY.
After the marriage breakup of Sir Coutts Lindsay and his wife in 1882 – cf. my note to l. 396 below –, the Grosvenor Gallery gradually got financially into heavy waters. On 1 November 1887, when the situation had worsened and after disputes with Coutts, the painter Charles E. Hallé (1846-1919) and the art critic, editor and dramatist Joseph Comyns Carr (1849-1916), who together had effectively operated the business venture, resigned their posts and undertook to create the New Gallery (off Regent Street), which opened in May 1888. Still, it would not be correct to say that ‘the Grosvenor was taken over by the New Gallery in 1888’: rather, it continued to organize its annual exhibitions till the autumn of 1890 when, in a letter to the Times, Coutts Lindsay announced the closure of the Gallery. – Ref.: Christopher Newall, The Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions. Change and continuity in the Victorian art world, (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), 31-38; letters to the Times of 2 Nov. 1887, 9 (Hallé & Carr), and of 24 Oct. 1890, 6 (Coutts Lindsay), both titled ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’.
2-6 [and 197 n.]: those who were in London last May, and had in one week the opportunities of hearing Rubinstein play the Sonata Impassionata, of seeing Wagner conduct the Spinning Wheel Chorus from the Flying Dutchman [...].
Rubinstein’s piano concerts at the St James’s Hall and the Wagner Festival at the Royal Albert Hall were the talk of the town in May 1877. The former consisted of six recitals and ran from 30 April to 2 June, Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor op. 57 (the so-called Appassionata) being played in the afternoons of 9 May and 2 June respectively. The latter also had a run of six performances and lasted from 7 to 19 May, with two ‘extra concerts’ added ‘by special desire’ on 28-29 May and with selections from the Flying Dutchman played in the evening of 9 May. In view of these dates and considering that Wilde had returned to Dublin by the middle of May, it is as good as certain that he was speaking generally and not from first-hand experience when he referred to the Rubinstein and Wagner concerts. Alternatively, we would have to assume that he attended two concerts on 9 May: in the afternoon Rubinstein’s recital of Beethoven’s Appassionata, and in the evening Wagner’s selections from the Flying Dutchman. Besides, there is no evidence that the selections from Wagner’s opera actually included the Spinning Wheel Chorus, and it is hard to believe that someone who had listened to a recital of the Appassionata should have misspelt it as ‘Impassionata’. – Ref.: ‘Music’, Academy, 28 April 1877, 378; 12 May 1877, 426; 2 June 1877, 499; 9 June 1877, 523; Ebenezer Prout ([1835-1909] music critic of the Academy from 1874 to 1879), ‘The Programmes of the Wagner Concerts’, Academy, 21 April 1877, 354-356; idem, ‘The Wagner Festival at the Albert Hall’, Academy, 12 May 1877, 426; ‘Classified Advertising’, Times, 22 May 1877, 1; The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. Merlin Holland & Rupert Hart-Davis, (London: Fourth Estate, 2000), 46.
10-12: music is a matter of individual feeling, and the beauties and lessons that one draws from hearing lovely sounds are merely personal, and depend to a large extent on one’s own state of mind and culture.
In a long and highly ingenious passage of ‘The Critic as Artist’, Wilde would later elaborate this observation: ‘Sometimes, when I listen to the overture to Tannhäuser, I seem indeed to see that comely knight treading delicately on the flower-strewn grass, and to hear the voice of Venus calling to him from the caverned hill. But at other times it speaks to me of a thousand different things, of myself, it may be, and my own life, or of the lives of others whom one has loved and grown weary of loving, or of the passions that man has known, or of the passions that man has not known, and so has sought for. To-night it may fill one with that EPΩΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΔΥΝΑΤΩΝ, that Amour de l’Impossible, which falls like a madness on many who think they live securely and out of reach of harm, so that they sicken suddenly with the poison of unlimited desire, and, in the infinite pursuit of what they may not obtain, grow faint and swoon or stumble. Tomorrow, like the music of which Aristotle and Plato tell us, the noble Dorian music of the Greek, it may perform the office of a physician, and give us an anodyne against pain, and heal the spirit that is wounded, and “bring the soul into harmony with all right things.” [...]’ – Ref.: The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, vol. 4: Criticism, ed. Josephine M. Guy, (Oxford: OUP, 2007), 158.4-19, 481 f. n.; Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Centenary Edition, (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 1999), 1127; Horst Schroeder, ‘EPΩΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΔΥΝΑΤΩΝ – L’Amour de l’Impossible: A Graeco-French Collocation in “The Critic as Artist”’, Notes and Queries, vol. 40 N.S., no. 1, (March 1993), 52-53.
12-13 [and 197 n.]: So leaving Rubinstein and Wagner to be celebrated by Franz Huëffer [...].
Francis Huëffer was of German origin: born in Münster in northern Germany of German parents, his name at birth was Franz Hüffer. He studied French and English philology at several German universities; and it was only after the completion of his academic studies in 1869 (Ph.D. degree from the university of Göttingen) that he settled in England and was eventually naturalized. By his marriage in 1872 Huëffer became son-in-law of the English painter Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893). He was the father of the poet, novelist, critic and editor Joseph Leopold Ford Hermann Madox Hueffer (1873-1939), who, in 1919, changed his name to Ford Madox Ford. – Ref.: Hermann Hüffer, ‘Hüffer, Franz H.’, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 50, (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1905), 502-503; Max Saunders, ‘Ford, Ford Madox’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: OUP, 2004-15), online.
13-14 [and 198 n.]: [...] or Mr. Haweis, or any other of our picturesque writers on music.
As an overture to the Wagner Festival, as it were, Haweis published a 23-page long article on the composer in the May number of the Contemporary Review, beginning with the categorical statement ‘Wagner is the most powerful personality that has appeared in the world of music since Beethoven’, then describing in detail Wagner’s career from the hard times of its beginnings to its present splendour, and ending on the triumphant note: ‘Wagner himself is in our midst. He has at last become to the English people his own best interpreter; and now […] the clamours and sneers of malcontents and irreconcilables are drowned by the applause and recognition of a fairly representative English public […].’ – In 1867, ten years before the Wagner Festival, Haweis had married Mary Eliza Joy (1848-1898), who was to distinguish herself as a book illustrator and author, in particular on dress, decoration and housekeeping. One of her titles was The Art of Dress (1879), of which Wilde in 1882, when lecturing in America, was anxious to have a copy, as he wrote to his tour manager Colonel Morse. – Ref.: Hugh Reginald Haweis, ‘Wagner’, Contemporary Review, vol. 29, (May 1877), 981-1003; Bea Howe, Arbiter of elegance: a Victorian biography, (London: Harvill Press, 1967), passim; Complete Letters, 146.
24-25: one great master of painting, whose pictures had been kept from public exhibition by the jealousy and ignorance of rival artists.
An allusion to Edward Burne-Jones, who had shown virtually nothing since 1870 when the depiction of the male genitalia in his painting Phyllis and Demophoön had given offence at the exhibition of the Old Water-Colour Society. The Society’s President was deputed to call on the member artist to persuade him either to replace the controversial painting by some other work which was acceptable to all, or to make some slight alteration to it. Burne-Jones, however, showed little willingness to co-operate and in the end cancelled his membership. (Curiously enough, twelve years later, when he exhibited The Tree of Forgiveness, a manifestly straightforward revision of Phyllis and Demophoön, Burne-Jones did not to risk another row and concealed the corpus delicti by a wisp of drapery.) – Ref.: Stephen Wildman & John Christian, Edward Burne-Jones. Victorian Artist-Dreamer, (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), 136-138 and pl. 48, 256 and pl. 114; Georgina Burne-Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, (London: Macmillan, 1904), vol. 2, 11-12; John Lewis Roget, A History of the ‘Old Water-Colour’ Society, (London: Longmans, 1891), vol. 2, 117.
47-49: Watts’ power […] lies in his great originative and imaginative genius, and he reminds us of Æschylus or Michael Angelo in the startling vividness of his conceptions.
The bracketing of Watts with Aeschylus and Michael Angelo may serve as a peg on which to hang the larger issue of the Opinions of the Press about Wilde’s article, a point on which Stokes & Turner are unfortunately silent, though Wilde had been anxious about a large sale and had expressly written on this matter toward the end of June to Keningale Cook, the new proprietor and editor of the Dublin University Magazine, suggesting: ‘I think if you had a small notice printed of the contents of the magazine, you would, in Ireland at any rate, increase your sale very much. At present one sees the DUM on no bookseller’s counter as far as I see in Dublin (except of course your agents’), and how are people to order if they don’t know what they are to get? [...] In Ireland of course any article by my mother is eagerly bought up, but lots of people never hear of them till long after.’ (The reference to ‘any article by my mother’, incidentally, was not meant quite so generally as it looks, but was about something quite specific: Lady Wilde’s article ‘The Fairy Mythology of Ireland [Part I]’, which appeared in the same number as her son’s ‘Grosvenor Gallery’.) In his reply, which had been held over for a month and which is dated 21 July 1877, Cook did not comment on Wilde’s suggestion, but was generously informative about the Opinions of the Press, which brings us back to our starting-point: ‘The reception the July number met with at the hands of the Press was unexpectedly favourable. [...] The Court Circular (July 7) says your comparison of Watts with Michael Angelo is rather too much for the reader’s nerves; but The Nonconformist (July 4) speaks of your paper as the best one they have read; and The Stirling Journal (July 6) makes an amusing comparison between the views of The Fortnightly, Macmillan and your own. – Lady Wilde’s article inspires a more general interest, and receives very pleasant attention.’ – Ref.: Complete Letters, 55; The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. 1824-1900, vol. 4, ed. Walter E. Houghton et al., (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), 361; Stuart Mason [Christopher Sclater Millard], Bibliography of Oscar Wilde. With a Note by Robert Ross, (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1914), 67-68.
70-75 [and 199 n.]: Next to it are hung five pictures by Millais. Three of them are portraits of the three daughters of the Duke of Westminster, all in white dresses, with white hats and feathers [...]. These pictures do not possess any particular merit beyond that of being extremely good likenesses, especially the one of the Marchioness of Ormonde.
Wilde’s strictures were in line with general opinion (cf. the reviews of the Times, of the Saturday Review and of Sidney Colvin). William Michael Rossetti – brother of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti – was even quite sarcastic about the portraits: ‘The ladies are the Marchioness of Ormonde, the Countess Grosvenor, and the Lady Beatrice Grosvenor, all habited in white, with white light hats. The Marchioness’s face is certainly made a very “speaking” one by Mr. Millais: but, on the whole, these are not to be counted among his most gifted or most serious performances in portraiture. In future generations they will lend a grace to the family gallery, without exactly casting over their environments “the shadow of their own greatness.”’ – For the phrase ‘the shadow of their own greatness’, cf. Review No. 32 (ll. 31-32) and 285 n. For the Duke of Westminster, see also Wilde’s reference in Review No. 92 (ll. 124-127) and the editors’ Commentary (Vol. VII, 378 n.) – Ref.: ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Times, 1 May 1877, 10; ‘The Royal Academy. II’, Saturday Review, 12 May 1877, 580; William Michael Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery. (Second Notice)’, Academy, 26 May 1877, 467; Sidney Colvin, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 21, no. 126, (June 1877), 829.
75-77: Over them is hung a picture of a seamstress, pale and vacant-looking, with eyes red from tears and long watchings in the night, hemming a shirt.
For the motif of the ‘pauper-seamstress’ (l. 79) in Wilde's work, cf. ‘The Happy Prince’: ‘“Far away,” continued the statue in a low musical voice, “far away in a little street there is a poor house. One of the windows is open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by the needle, for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering passion-flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen’s maids-of-honour to wear at the next Court-ball. […]”’ – Ref.: Complete Short Fiction, ed. Ian Small, (London: Penguin, 1994), 5; Centenary Edition, 272.
88-90 [and 200 n.]: Then come eight pictures by Alma Tadema, good examples of that accurate drawing of inanimate objects which makes his pictures so real from an antiquarian point of view.
With regard to the archaeological (‘antiquarian’) elements in his paintings, for which Alma Tadema was well known, see also the caricature, shown at Furniss’s Royal Academy Exhibition ‘An Artistic Joke’ as described by Wilde in Review No. 66 (ll. 26-29): ‘Here is all the archæological detail so dear to this industrious painter; all the cups of polished metal, the strangely-embroidered robes, and the richly-veined marbles, that exemplify so clearly the “rights of properties” in art.’
91-100: No. 32 represents some Roman girls bathing in a marble tank, and the colour of the limbs in the water is very perfect indeed; a dainty attendant is tripping down a flight of steps with a bundle of towels, and in the centre a great green sphynx in bronze throws forth a shower of sparkling water for a very pretty laughing girl, who stoops gleefully beneath it. There is a delightful sense of coolness about the picture, and one can almost imagine that one hears the splash of water, and the girls’ chatter. It is wonderful what a world of atmosphere and reality may be condensed into a very small space, for this picture is only about eleven by two and a half inches.
Wilde’s description is intriguingly similar to the one found in the Saturday Review: ‘A Bath (32) [...] is an exquisite piece of painting, representing Roman women bathing in a tank of the clearest and most liquid water, constantly supplied by a stream which falls on one of them from the mouth of a Sphinx in green marble. On the steps leading down to the water appears a waiting-maid bearing towels; and in a corner on the other side, beyond a marble column, one sees a group of women who have already bathed bending towards each other with so natural an air that one can almost hear their chatter. There is not a fault to be found in the execution of this delicately contrived picture, and the distance which the painter has succeeded in conveying on a very small canvas is astonishing. [...] [I]t is a marvel how Mr. Alma-Tadema within so small a frame has given us so much depth of space to look into.’ – The picture, painted in 1876, was the property of the merchant banker and art collector Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Schröder [later Sir John Henry William Schröder, bt.] (1825-1910), who bequeathed it at his death to the Kunsthalle Hamburg. It is now catalogued as An Antique Custom (Ein antiker Brauch). – For ‘No. 32’, incidentally, Ross, in the Miscellanies volume of his Collected Edition, substituted the indefinite expression ‘One [picture]’. – Ref.: ‘The Royal Academy. III.’, Saturday Review, 19 May 1877, 613; Vern G. Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, (London: Garton, 1990), 190, 371; Richard Roberts, ‘Schröder, Sir John Henry William’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: OUP 2004-14), online; Oscar Wilde, Miscellanies, ed. Robert Ross, (London: Methuen, 1908), 8.
101-102 [and 200 n.]: The most ambitious of these pictures is one of “Phidias showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends.”
Philip Gilbert Hamilton (1834-1894), the editor of the Portfolio, quipped memorably many years later: ‘These Athenian gentlefolk, like modern Londoners, have been invited or admitted to a “private view”.’ – Ref.: Philip G. Hamilton, ‘Phidias. From a Picture by L. Alma Tadema’, The Portfolio. An Artistic Periodical, [London: Seeley, 1890], 89.
113-115 [and 200 n.]: This painter is more at home in the Greco-Roman art of the Empire and later Republic than he is in the art of the Periklean age
A point also made by the Times: ‘the painter has hardly mastered the difficulty of distinguishing early Greeks from later Romans.’ – Ref.: Times, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, 1 May 1877, 10.
116-126 [and 201 n.]: The most remarkable of Mr. Richmond’s pictures exhibited here is his “Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon” – a very magnificent subject, which, however, is not done justice to. […] [C]learly this artist has not studied Æschylus’ play of the Chöephorœ, in which there is an elaborate and pathetic account of this scene.
Keningale Cook had apparently tried to tone down the harsh rebuke, as can be seen from the defiant letter, written between the middle of May and the middle of June, with which Wilde returned the proofs of his article: ‘I always say clearly what I know to be true, such as [...] that Mr Richmond has not read Aeschylus’s Choephoroe. To say “perhaps” spoils the remark.’ – Ref.: Complete Letters, 52.
127-130: Mr. Richmond has caught exactly that peculiar opal-blue of the sky which is so remarkable in Greece; the purple orchids too, and daffodil and narcissi that are in the foreground are all flowers which I have myself seen at Argos.
The use of the first person singular was also something that Wilde had to defend against the editor: ‘I always say I and not “we”. We belongs to the days of anonymous articles, not to signed articles like mine. To say “we have seen at Argos” either implies that I am a Royal Personage, or that the whole staff of the DUM visited Argos.’ – Ref.: Complete Letters, 52.
131-139 [and 201 n.]: Sir Coutts sends a life-size portrait of his wife, holding a violin […] and four other pictures, including an exquisitely simple and quaint little picture of the “Dower House at Balcarres,” and a “Daphne” with rather questionable flesh-painting, and in whom we miss the breathlessness of flight. ¶ “I saw the blush come o’er her like a rose; / The half-reluctant crimson comes and goes; / Her glowing limbs make pause, and she is stayed, / Wondering the issue of the words she prayed.”
There were in fact six other pictures: The Dower House at Balcarres and Daphne as mentioned by Wilde, as well as Sheep Returning from Pasture, My Companions, Ariadne (A Sketch), and Sketch near Rome, the latter two in the Water-Colour Gallery and probably overlooked by Wilde. – As to the four lines quoted at the end of the passage from Keningale Cook’s poem ‘Daphne – A Study for a Picture’, published in his collection Purpose and Passion: Being Pygmalion and Other Poems (1870), Stokes & Turner, apparently completely unconcerned at the identity of journal editor and poet, venture the guess that, though ‘the lines were not reproduced in the exhibition catalogue [...], they may well have been attached to the painting’. But this conjecture, far-fetched as it is anyway, can safely be ruled out: First, because it stands to reason that if the lines under consideration had actually been attached to Sir Coutts’s picture in the Gallery, one or the other of the reviewers would have quoted them, too. (Nobody had.) Secondly, and even more importantly, because the periodical’s review of the Grosvenor Exhibition of 1879, published anonymously by an unknown writer, is characterised by the same oddity in that a matter-of-fact discussion (in this case of Burne-Jones’s Pygmalion series [cf. Reviews, No. 4, ll. 9-31]) is likewise embellished by a few lines from a poem in Keningale Cook’s collection (here the poem ‘Pygmalion’): ‘Mr. Burne-Jones’s four pictures of Pygmalion tell the oft-told tale of the sculptor from the time of his heart’s first aspirings to the moment when – ¶ “She comes; the ivory marble of her eyes, / Softening to Psyche’s hidden ether-dews, / Reveals the influence of the unveiled soul, / And a full stream of living light strikes forth. / The lips half ope, disparting into pearls / Rose-girt – spring buds scarce blown but ripely hued / By contrast of the pearls in their caress. / Loosed from the stone’s embracery, her hair / Becomes instinct through shower of feather-gold / With light and shade the warm life ripples o’er.” ¶ The third of these four pictures, “The Godhead Fires,” is full of beauty. [...]’ The inference which we have to draw from the evidence cited above is clear, or so it seems to me: The quotation from Keningale Cook’s ‘Daphne’ is not of Wilde’s doing and has no authority except the prerogative of the editor. (The same applies to the insertion of the ten lines from Cook’s ‘Pygmalion’ in the unsigned review of 1879.) – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 98; ‘A Gossip on the Grosvenor Gallery’, Dublin University Magazine, [renamed University Magazine in Jan. 1878], vol. 94 O.S., [vol. 4 N.S.], July 1879, 69; Keningale Robert Cook, Purpose and Passion: Being Pymalion and Other Poems, London: Virtue and Co. 1870, 26; The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. 1824-1900, vol. 4, ed. Walter E. Houghton, Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press 1987, 208-211.
143-145: Four pictures of his [Holman Hunt] are shewn here; a little Italian child, painted with great love and sweetness, two street scenes in Cairo full of rich Oriental colouring, and a wonderful work called the “Afterglow in Egypt.”
As a matter of fact, Holman Hunt was represented by three pictures only: An Italian Child [Tuscan Girl Plaiting Straw], A Street Scene in Cairo: The Lantern-Maker’s Courtship, and The Afterglow in Egypt. It is true, there ought to have been a fourth picture according to the Exhibition Catalogue (No. 48), the landscape On the Plains of Esdraelon above Nazareth, but Hunt had not submitted it in time so that in the event the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition opened with No. 48 represented by an empty frame. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 90; Judith Bronkhurst, William Holman Hunt. A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1: Paintings, (New Haven: Yale UP, 2006), 231; Times, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, 1 May 1877, 10; William Michael Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery. (Second Notice)’, Academy, 26 May 1877, 467.
176-177 [and 202 n.]: another picture by the same artist [Spencer Stanhope], entitled “Love and the Maiden.”
The painting was purchased in December 2002 by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from a private collector and is located today in the Legion of Honor (formerly known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor). The history of its provenance is specified on the website of the FAMSF. – Ref.: Colin Gleadell, ‘Stanhope’s maiden tells a tale’, Daily Telegraph (London), 27 Jan. 2003, 18; website of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.
188 [and 202 n.]: as beautiful as the Charmides of Plato.
Wilde would introduce the figure of Charmides twice again in his writings. First, in The Portrait of Mr W.H., Pt. II (original periodical version) / Pt. IV (enlarged book version): ‘The ivory body of the Bithynian slave rots in the green ooze of the Nile, and on the yellow hills of the Cerameicus is strewn the dust of the young Athenian; but Antinous lives in sculpture, and Charmides in philosophy.’ And second, in ‘The Critic as Artist’: ‘On the curved side [of the vase] he [the ancient potter] would write the name of his friend. ΚΑΛΟΣ ΑΛΚΙΒΙΑΔΗΣ or ΚΑΛΟΣ ΧΑΡΜΙΔΗΣ tells us the story of his days.’ – Ref.: Complete Short Fiction, 74; Criticism, 134.8-10 and 462 n.; Centenary Edition, 342, 1113.
199-203 [and 203 n.]: Mr. Frederick Burton, of whom all Irishmen are so justly proud, is represented by a fine water-colour portrait of Mrs. George Smith; one would almost believe it to be in oils, so great is the lustre on this lady’s raven-black hair, and so rich and broad and vigorous is the painting of a Japanese scarf she is wearing.
In his article on Burton in the Dictionary of National Biography, the solicitor, translator and biographer Sir Theodore Martin (1816-1909) was later to characterize the water-colour portrait ‘as powerful in effect as though painted in oil’, which is curiously reminiscent of Wilde’s description and may indeed have been inspired by it, as both Sir Theodore and his wife, the erstwhile actress Helen Faucit (1817-1898), had shown an active interest in Wilde’s affairs and had sponsored his mother’s applications for a grant from the Royal Literary Fund in 1888 and for a Civil List Pension in 1890. Wilde, for his part, in Review no. 91 (Jan. 1888), had complimented Lady Martin on her ‘charming volume on the Shakespearian heroines’ (l. 5) [On Some of Shakespeare’s Female Characters (1885)], and, in the expanded Portrait of Mr W.H. (Pt. III), had called her ‘one of the most brilliant and intellectual actresses of this century’, though he had then gone on to dispute her ‘strictures on the conditions of the Elizabethan stage’. – Ref.: Theodore Martin, ‘Burton, Frederic William’, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 22 [Suppl. I], (1901), 347; Jenifer Glynn, Prince of Publishers: A Biography of George Smith, (London: Allison & Busby, 1986), 77-85; Complete Letters, 364 f. n.; Centenary Edition, 329-330; Horst Schroeder, Annotations to Oscar Wilde, “The Portrait of Mr W.H.”, (Braunschweig: privately printed, 1986), 37-38.
204-205 [and 198 n., 203 n.]: the “Beguiling of Merlin”.
In addition to the allusion to the picture in ‘The Garden of Eros’, ll. 202-3 (‘He too loves thee [the “Spirit of Beauty”] well, / Who saw old Merlin lured in Vivien’s snare’), there is a reference to it in ‘The Decay of Lying’: ‘whenever one goes to a private view or to an artistic salon one sees […] the thin hands and lithe beauty of the Vivien in “Merlin’s Dream”’. – Ref.: Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, vol. 1, ed. Bobby Fong & Karl Beckson, Poems and Poems in Prose, (Oxford: OUP, 2000), 133; Criticism, 91.2-8 and 392 n.; Centenary Edition, 849, 1082 f.
205-207 [and 203 n.]: The version of the legend of “Merlin’s Beguiling” that Mr. Burne-Jones has followed differs from Mr Tennyson’s.
Following in the footsteps of Richard Ellmann, the editors remark with regard to Tennyson that Wilde ‘made the acquaintance of the great man very early on’. However, there is nothing in Ellmann’s assumption, as I pointed out years ago. – Ref.: Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987), 102, 148; Horst Schroeder, Additions and Corrections to Richard Ellmann’s “Oscar Wilde”, 2nd ed., revised and enlarged, (Braunschweig: privately printed, 2002), 42 f.
210-219 [and 204 n.]: “It fell on a day that they went through the forest of Breceliande, and found a bush that was fair and high, of white hawthorn, full of flowers, and there they sat in the shadow. And Merlin fell on sleep; and when she felt that he was on sleep she arose softly, and began her enchantments, such as Merlin had taught her, and made the ring nine times, and nine times the enchantments. ***** And then he looked about him, and him seemed he was in the fairest tower of the world, and the most strong; neither of iron was it fashioned, nor steel, nor timber, nor of stone, but of the air, without any other thing; and in sooth so strong it is that it may never be undone while the world endureth.”
The passage, as Stokes & Turner inform the reader, is taken verbatim from the Exhibition Catalogue. Wilde may therefore be excused for misplacing the asterisks: they should have come a sentence later, after the words “and the most strong”, when the author of the source-text, the ‘prose romance’ Merlin or The Early History of King Arthur, brings the story of Merlin and Vivien to an end for the time being, saying: ‘But now moste we reste a-while of Merlin and his love, and speke of the kynge Arthur.’ Accordingly, on the following twelve pages, he enlarges on the adventures which befall the Knights of the Round Table who are sent out by King Arthur in quest of Merlin, until Gawain, riding through the forest of Broceliande, is all of a sudden addressed by a voice, the speaker himself remaining invisible. It is the voice of Merlin who tells Gawain his woeful tale: ‘“My lorde sir Gawein,” quod Merlin, “[...] in all the worlde is not so stronge a clos as is this where-as I am, and it is nother of Iren, ne stiell, ne tymbir, ne of ston, but it is of the aire withoute eny othir thinge be enchauntemente so stronge, that it may neuer be vn-don while the worlde endureth.”’ The change of the narrative from past tense to present tense at the end of the text passage selected by Wilde is due, I think, to the use of direct speech in the ‘prose romance’. – Incidentally, Henry Benjamin Wheatley (1838-1917), the editor of Merlin or The Early History of King Arthur: A Prose Romance, was the same man who wrote the three-volume London Past and Present (1891), which Stokes & Turner, like their OET predecessors, have made good use of in all things concerning London. – Ref.: Merlin or The Early History of King Arthur: A Prose Romance, ed. Henry B. Wheatley, Part III, (Early English Text Society, London: Trübner & Co, 1869), ch. 33, 681-693; J. D. Lee, ‘Wheatley, Henry Benjamin (1838-1917)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: OUP, 2004-15), online.
220-221 [and 204 n.]: the “Archimage of the esoteric unreal”.
The epithet ‘Archimage’ has literary connotations: it is the name of the great evil enchanter (arch-magician) in Spenser’s Fairie Queene, mostly spelt ‘Archimago’. – Ref.: Oxford English Dictionary, (Oxford: OUP, 2015), online.
223-225 [and 204 n.]: as Mr. Tennyson has described him [Merlin], with the “vast and shaggy mantle of a beard,” which youth gone out had left in ashes.
The words at the end of the sentence, though not marked as a quotation, are also from Tennyson’s poem: ‘a beard as youth gone out / Had left in ashes’. – Ref.: Tennyson, Idylls of the King, ‘Merlin and Vivien’, ll. 243-4.
226: time has not seared him with wrinkles or the signs of age.
The expression foreshadows Dorian Gray (1891), ch. 11: ‘He [Dorian] would examine with minute care […] the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead [of his portrait] or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, the signs of sin or the signs of age.’ – Ref.: Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, vol. 3, The Picture of Dorian Gray, ed. Joseph Bristow, (Oxford: OUP, 2005), 277. 9-13; Centenary Edition, 98.
249-251 [and 204 n.]: and even the hawthorn blossoms have lost their wonted brightness, and are more like the pale moonlight to which Shelley compares them.
The allusion to Shelley’s The Question was probably inspired by Sidney Colvin who had commented in his review: ‘the hawthorn in flower spreads a tempered whiteness, and gives us in painting the very counterpart of Shelley’s magic epithet of the “moonlight-coloured may”.’ – Ref.: Sidney Colvin, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 21, no. 126, (June 1877), 827.
273-282: The scene of the third picture is laid in a long green valley by the sea; eight girls, handmaidens of the Goddess of Love, are collected by the margin of a long pool of clear water […]. Some of them bend over the pool in laughing wonder at their own beauty [...], and one girl is standing straight up.
The Mirror of Love shows ten women in all, to be precise; but Wilde excepted, reviewers did not bother about the exact number, contenting themselves with speaking of a ‘group of nymphs’, ‘a numerous group of nymphs’, ‘a group of girls’, or ‘a number of beautiful women’. – William Michael Rossetti and Sidney Colvin believed that the girl ‘standing straight up’ was meant to represent the goddess of love. – Ref.: Times, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, 1 May 1877, 10; Athenaeum, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition’, 5 May 1877, 583; Saturday Review, ‘The Royal Academy. II’, 12 May 1877, 580; W. M. Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery. (Second Notice)’, Academy, 26 May 1877, 467; Sidney Colvin, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 21, no. 126, (June 1877), 827, 831.
279-280: In this “Mirror of Venus” each girl is reflected as in a mirror of polished steel.
With regard to the imagery, cf.The Portrait of Mr. W. H.(expanded version), Pt. I – ‘The swans were lying asleep on the smooth surface of the polished lake, like white feathers fallen upon a mirror of black steel’ – and ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’: ‘Like a targe of polished metal the round sea lay at his feet.’ – Ref.: Centenary Edition, 313, 241; Complete Short Fiction, 123.
281: weary of shadows.
Cf. Sibyl Vane’s cry in Dorian Gray (1891), ch. 7: ‘I have grown sick of shadows.’ – Ref.: The Picture of Dorian Gray, ed. Bristow, 242. 24-25 and 387 n.; Centenary Edition, 71.
285-286 [and 204 n.]: Above these three pictures [The Beguiling of Merlin, The Days of Creation, The Mirror of Venus] are hung five allegorical studies of figures by the same artist [Burne-Jones].
With regard to the picture of Spes (Hope), one of the five allegorical studies, there is a charming little story to it, as we learn from a letter which Wilde sent to Marian Willets (1853-1916), the girl-friend and future wife of Oscar’s fellow-student Bertram Hunt (1856-1895): ‘I have much pleasure in sending you the photograph of Hope, which you were kind enough to accept yesterday. I am particularly pleased at your admiring it so much, as I myself think it the most entirely beautiful out of all my collection. It seems to me to be full of infinite pathos and love, and to be a vision of what that hope is which comes “to those that sit in darkness”. In so many of Burne-Jones’s pictures we have merely the pagan worship of beauty: but in this one I seem to see more humanity and sympathy than in all the others. […]’ – Ref.: Complete Letters, 67 n. 2, 68 and n. 1-2.
287-291 [and 204 f. n.]: Mr. Walter Crane [...] sends an ambitious work called “The Renaissance of Venus,” which in the dull colour of its “sunless dawn”, and in its general want of all the glow and beauty and passion that one associates with this scene reminds one of Botticelli’s picture of the same subject.
The quotation is from Pater’s essay on Botticelli, in which Pater said of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus: ‘The light is indeed cold – mere sunless dawn.’ Wilde had quoted from this essay at ll. 45-47 and had come back to the quotation at ll. 246-247, so that I cannot help wondering whether Pater’s words of appreciation on receipt of Wilde’s article were not to a large extent due to the homage his devoted disciple had paid to him in ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’. – Ref.: Walter Pater, The Renaissance, ed. Donald L. Hill, (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1980), 46; Complete Letters, 58 f. and n.; Letters of Walter Pater, ed. Lawrence Evans, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 24-25.
303 [and 205 n.]: His [Alphonse Legros’s] portrait of Mr. Carlyle is unsatisfactory.
Wilde’s dictum reflected common opinion. See, e.g., Sidney Colvin: ‘The portrait of Carlyle errs certainly by a distressing weakness in the character of the eyes and brows.’ Or take the review in the Times which worked itself even into a rage about Legros’s ‘portrayal of so remarkable a personage as Thomas Carlyle’: ‘We want something of that ideal quality in such a portrait, which is only to be attained by an artistic sympathy of painter with painted, hardly possible in the case of a Frenchman painting a man so profoundly stamped with the Norland die as Thomas Carlyle.’ – Ref.: Sidney Colvin, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 21, no. 126, (June 1877), 830; ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Times, 1 May 1877, 10.
307-308 [and 205 n.]: Mr. Leslie, unfortunately, is only represented by one small work, called “Palm-blossom.” It is a picture of a perfectly lovely child.
Leslie was a member of the so-called St. John’s Wood Clique, a very successful group of genre painters. None more so than George Dunlop Leslie who liked to depict scenes taken from childhood and girlhood or, as he put it, ‘from the sunny side of English domestic life’. – Of Palm-Blossom we know next to nothing, but it will probably have been similar in character to the painting, entitled Cowslips, which Leslie exhibited, concurrently with the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition, at the Royal Academy and which the Athenaeum described in the words: ‘Mr. Leslie’s Cowslips [...] shows one of those sweet damsels, or rather the very girl herself, in painting whom the artist takes so much delight, seated on a stile. A curly-haired little brother and young sister bring to her plenty of yellow flowers. The boy stands on the step of the stile, and holds his contribution of blossoms; the seated girl is as pretty and graceful as usual, and the colour of the picture, though not very strong or deep, even for the peculiar effect due to the locality and the nature of the illumination, is agreeable. The local colour of the foliage behind the figures is to be accepted as conventional rather than realistic, and this seems to give a key to many other elements in the work.’ Or, to quote the Saturday Review, which put the issue in a nutshell: ‘the pretty group of figures has the artist’s usual charm of sweetness and also usual want of strength.’ (The present location of this picture, too, is unknown, but reproductions of it are afloat on the internet.) – The slip, incidentally, concerning the word order of the sentence under consideration (see Section ‘Collation’ above) is also to be found in Ross’s Collected Edition. – Ref.: Mary Cowling, Victorian Figurative Painting. Domestic Life and the Contemporary Social Scene, (London: Andreas Papadakis, 2000), 51-52; ‘The Royal Academy (Second Notice)’, Athenaeum, 12 May 1877, 615; ‘The Royal Academy. III’, Saturday Review, 19 May 1877, 613-614; Oscar Wilde, Miscellanies, ed. Robert Ross, 17.
313-315 [and 206 n.]: […] who deserves the name of Ho skoteinos, as much as Herakleitos ever did.
The epithet is to be found in pseudo-Aristotle’s On the Cosmos (De Mundo) and in Cicero’s On the Chief Good and Evil: ‘παρὰ τῷ σκοτεινῷ[...] Ἡρακλείτῳ’[‘according to Heracleitus the Obscure’]; ‘Heraclitus, “cognomento qui σκοτεινός perhibetur”’ [‘Heraclit, “who is called by the cognomen the Obscure”’]. – It may be noted in passing that Ross, curiously enough, decided to ‘emend’ the original text by rendering the Greek epithet in Greek characters. – Ref.: ‘Aristotle’,Περὶ Κόσμου (On the Cosmos), ch. 5, 396 b 20; Cicero, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Chief Good and Evil), Bk. II, v; Oscar Wilde, Miscellanies, ed. Robert Ross, 18.
315-320 [and 206 n.]: No. 4 is called “Nocturne in Black and Gold” [... It] represents a rocket of golden rain, with green and red fires bursting in a perfectly black sky; two large black smudges on the picture standing, I believe, for a tower which is in “Cremorne Gardens,” and for a crowd of lookers on.
As this ‘colour symphony’ (l. 313) triggered off the famous trial in which Whistler sued Ruskin for libel, it is advisable to quote Ruskin’s savage criticism verbatim from beginning to end: ‘For Mr. Whistler’s own sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached the aspect of wilful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.’ No particular title then had been named, but the asking price mentioned (‘two hundred guineas’) left no doubt about Ruskin’s point of reference: it was exactly the sum for which Whistler had put Nocturne in Black and Gold on the market. Besides, it was the only one of his paintings which was for sale, since the others were either works in progress or had already been sold and were on loan. (Behind the scenes, it is true, Whistler also tried, unsuccessfully though, to sell his portrait of Carlyle [see ll. 344-348 below], but this venture was not put on record and became known only later). – For Wilde’s use of the word ‘smudges’, see my note to ll. 324-333 below. – Ref.: John Ruskin, The Works, ed. E. T. Cook & Alexander Wedderburn, Library Edition, vol. 29, (London: George Allen, 1907), 160;Andrew McLaren Young et al., The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, (New Haven / London: Yale UP, 1980), vol. 1, 82-84, 97-99; Linda Merrill, A Pot of Paint. Aesthetics on Trial in “Whistler v Ruskin”, (Washington / London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992), 35-36, 143, 147, 152;Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 18.
316-321 [and 206 n.]: No. 6A., “Nocturne in Blue and Silver” [...] is rather prettier; a rocket is breaking in a pale blue sky, over a large dark blue bridge, and a blue and silver river.
There were two ‘nocturnes’ of this title at the Exhibition, catalogued as No. 5 and No. 6a respectively. The ‘nocturne’ to which Wilde referred (No. 6a) was renamed by Whistler in 1892 Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge and was presented to the National Gallery / Tate Gallery in 1905. No. 5, with which Stokes & Turner have confused the painting, while still retaining its original title, is a markedly different picture, showing the Battersea shore from the Chelsea side of the river with the slag heap of the plumbago works and the spire of Battersea Church. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 135; Young, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, vol. 1: 69-70, 85-87, vol. 2: plates 107, 109; Merrill, A Pot of Paint, 36-37, plates 3-4.
324-333 [and 206 n.]: No. 7 is called “Arrangement in Black No. 3,” apparently some pseudonym for our greatest actor, for out of black smudgy clouds comes looming the gaunt figure of Mr. Henry Irving, with the yellow hair and pointed beard, the ruff, short cloak, and tight hose in which he appeared as Philip II. in Tennyson’s play of Queen Mary. One hand is thrust into his breast and his legs are stuck wide apart, in a queer stiff position that Mr. Irving often adopts preparatory to one of his long wolf-like strides across the stage. The figure is life-size, and though apparently one-armed, is so ridiculously like the original that one cannot help almost laughing when one sees it.
The adjective ‘smudgy’ recalls the review of the Saturday which had lumped together Whistler’s paintings exhibited in the West Gallery under the heading “Harmonies in Smudge” and which had said of this particular ‘Arrangement’: ‘We are asked to accept as a representation – it is not called a portrait – of Mr. Irving as Philip II. a long, smudgy, black figure, standing on nothing, with indistinctly shadowed hands, above which appears a ghostly head peering painfully through the surrounding gloom.’ – When shown in 1877 at the Grosvenor Gallery, Arrangement in Black No. 3 was still unfinished: the sitter did not yet wear a chain round his neck, had no garter or shoes, and the cloak hung loosely from his shoulders and was not yet thrown forward over the right shoulder. The finished state of the painting dates from the summer of 1885. – Ref.: Saturday Review, ‘The Royal Academy. II’, 12 May 1877, 580-581; Young, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, vol. 1: 109-110, vol. 2: plates 128, 407-408; Merrill, A Pot of Paint, 38, 40, 143, plate 6.
340-343 [and 207 n.]: No. 8 and 9 are life-size portraits of two young ladies, evidently caught in a black London fog; they look like sisters but are not related probably, as one is a “Harmony in Amber and Black,” the other only an “Arrangement in Brown.”
There has been considerable confusion over the identity of these two portraits ever since the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition. For three reasons: first, the numbers attached to the two works on the Gallery wall may by accident have been inverted in the exhibition catalogue, as W. M. Rossetti suggested in his review; second, by the time of the Ruskin trial (Nov. 1878), Whistler had, as he stated in court, considerably ‘painted over’ Harmony in Amber and Black, probably using a different model; and third, there is Whistler’s notorious habit of forever and “capriciously” (Pennell) changing the titles of his works. Small wonder then that while the catalogue raisonné of Whistler’s paintings identifies Harmony in Amber and Black with what today goes by the title Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts), the authoritative study of Whistler’s libel suit should recognize in it the origin of today’s Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (Portland Museum of Art, Maine). Nor can it be any surprise that while the catalogue raisonné is not very communicative with regard to the Arrangement in Brown exhibited in 1877, the latter volume boldly – and bewilderingly – declares it to be nothing less than Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 43, 135; William Michael Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery (Second Notice)’, Academy, 26 May 1877, 467; Elizabeth Robins Pennell & Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, (Philadelphia / London: Lippincott / Heinemann, 1908), vol. 1: xxvi; Young, Paintings of Whistler, vol. 1: 66-67, 105-107, vol. 2: plates 73, 124; Merrill, A Pot of Paint, 40-42, 146-147, plates 7-8.
344-348 [and 207 n.]: Mr. Whistler, however, sends one really good picture to this exhibition, a portrait of Mr. Carlyle, which is hung in the entrance hall; the expression on the old man’s face, the texture and colour of his grey hair, and the general sympathetic treatment, shew Mr. Whistler to be an artist of very great power when he likes.
Wilde’s postscript to his section on Whistler echoes somewhat the review in Macmillan’s Magazine, which had expressed strongly felt reservations about Whistler’s Arrangements and had put his Nocturnes ‘in the debatable land’ but which was nevertheless convinced that Whistler had ‘other props [...] for his artistic fame, and a long career, let us hope, in which to embody the suggestions of his genius in less fleeting and insubstantial forms. That he can do so is amply proved by his admirable painting of Mr. Carlyle which hangs in the vestibule, and which may be called one of the most strongly characteristic of contemporary portraits.’ – Ref.: H. Heathcote Statham, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Macmillan’s Magazine, vol. 36, (June 1877), 115.
349-353 [and 207 n.]: Mr. Leighton is unfortunately only represented by two little heads, one of an Italian girl, the other called “A Study”. There is some delicate flesh painting of red and brown in these works that reminds one of a russet apple.
As Stokes and Turner note, Leighton was also represented by a portrait of Henry Evans Gordon (1842-1909), son-in-law of Adelaide Sartoris, a former opera singer and Leighton’s close friend and patroness. William Michael Rossetti dismissed all three contributions as ‘comparatively speaking, unimportant’, qualifying his verdict, though, by saying that ‘the Study of a brown-faced slim Venetian girl has natural and life-breathing grace of a very attractive kind.’ – As before, Stokes & Turner’s slip on the word order of the passage quoted (see Section ‘Collation’ above) was anticipated by Ross. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 96; W. M. Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery. [First Notice]’, Academy, 5 May 1877, 396-397; Oscar Wilde, Miscellanies, ed. Robert Ross, 19.
358-362 [and 207 n.]: The other [portrait] is a head of the Duchess of Westminster, by Mr. Forbes-Robertson […]. He has succeeded very well in reproducing the calm beautiful profile, and lustrous golden hair, but the shoulders are ungraceful, and very unlike the original.
There is a lithograph of the head of the Duchess of Westminster at the National Portrait Gallery (London), the work of a certain George B. Black (fl. 1844-1880). Dated 1878, it was perhaps based on Forbes-Robertson’s portrait. – Wilde, incidentally, had met the Duchess a short time before he went on his Greek tour with Mahaffy, as he told William Ward in a letter of ca. 14 March 1877: ‘Had afternoon tea with Frank Miles to meet Ronald Gower and his sister the Duchess of Westminster, who is the most fascinating, Circe-like, brilliant woman I have ever met in England: something too charming.’ – Ref.: National Portrait Gallery, online (D37830); Complete Letters, 42.
362-366 [and 207 n.]: The figure of a girl leaning against a wonderful screen, looking terribly “misunderstood,” and surrounded by any amount of artistic china and furniture, by Mrs. Louise Jopling, is worth looking at too. It is called “It might have been,” and the girl is quite fit to be the heroine of any sentimental novel.
The word ‘misunderstood’, put in quotation marks, is perhaps meant as a subtle allusion to the immensely popular sentimental children’s book Misunderstood (first published 1869; 20th edition 1886) by Florence Montgomery (1843-1923). Cf. Review No. 112 (Jan. 1889) where Wilde lists among the books which he would recommend as Christmas presents for young girls ‘The Fisherman’s Daughter [...] by Florence Montgomery, the author of Misunderstood’. (The book had also been advertised in this way.) – In March 1878 incidentally, seven months after the Grosvenor Exhibition, Louise Jopling contributed a small replica of It Might Have Been to the fourteenth general Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings at the Dudley Gallery, which the Magazine of Art singled out for a full-page reproduction (see below), saying: ‘Foremost amongst the figure pieces we must place the subject of our illustration, “It might have been,” by Mrs. Louise Jopling. The colour is charming in the strong black, white, red, and greens, that tell against the golden background. There is tenderness and thought in every touch of this exquisite work, from the pale, pretty face, with half-parted lips, that leans wearily against the Japanese cabinet, the gift, perhaps, of him whose letters remain as the sole relics of “what might have been.” Has he gone down to the sea in ships? The accessories of quaint Eastern jars and screen would say, “Yes.” Will he return, will the sea give up its dead? The mourning-dress would say, “No.”’ – Ref.: Journalism, vol. 2, 147 (ll. 393-4) and 462 f. n.; H.W.S. [unidentified], ‘The Dudley Gallery’, The Magazine of Art. Illustrated, vol. 1 (1878), 11-14, reproduction facing p. 12, caption: ‘It Might Have Been. Drawn on Wood by Louise Jopling, from her Picture in the Dudley Gallery, 1878.’
386 [and 208 n.]: the photographic style of Frith.
The editors’ cross-reference to the satire of Frith in ‘The Critic as Artist’ is most welcome, as is their reference to the annotation of the satire in the OET edition of Wilde’s Criticism. With respect to the latter, I would have appreciated, however, if Stokes & Turner had also drawn attention to my review of the Criticism volume in which I had enlarged on the annotation. – The expression ‘photographic style’, incidentally, had negative connotations for the avant-garde of Victorian art critics. The ancestor of this attitude was Baudelaire, and the locus classicus Baudelaire’s review series ‘The Salon of 1859’, Pt. II: ‘The Modern Public and Photography’ [‘Le Salon de 1859’, Pt. II: ‘Le public moderne et la photographie’]: ‘In this country, the natural painter, like the natural poet, is almost a monster. Our exclusive taste for the true (so noble a taste when limited to its proper purposes) oppresses and smothers the taste for the beautiful. Where only the beautiful should be looked for – shall we say in a beautiful painting, and anyone can easily guess the sort I have in mind – our people look only for the true. They are not artistic, naturally artistic; philosophers, perhaps, or moralists, engineers, lovers of instructive anecdotes, anything you like, but never spontaneously artistic. [...] – – I was referring just now to the artists who seek to astonish the public. The desire to astonish or to be astonished is perfectly legitimate. “It is a happiness to wonder”: but also “It is a happiness to dream”. If you insist on my giving you the title of artist or art-lover, the whole question is by what means you intend to create or to feel this impact of wonder? Because beauty always contains an element of wonder, it would be absurd to assume that what is wonderful is always beautiful. Now the French public, which, in the manner of mean little souls, is singularly incapable of feeling the joy of dreaming or of admiration, wants to have the thrill of surprise by means that are alien to art, and its obedient artists bow to the public’s taste; they aim to draw its attention, its surprise, stupefy it, by unworthy stratagems, because they know the public is incapable of deriving ecstasy from the natural means of true art. – – In these deplorable times, a new industry has developed, which has helped in no small way to confirm fools in their faith, and to ruin what vestige of the divine might still have remained in the French mind. Naturally, this idolatrous multitude was calling for an ideal worthy of itself and in keeping with its own nature. In the domain of painting and statuary, the present-day credo of the worldly wise, especially in France, [...] is this: “I believe in nature, and I believe only in nature. [...] I believe that art is, and can only be, the exact reproduction of nature. [...] Thus if an industrial process could give us a result identical to nature, that would be absolute art.” An avenging God has heard the prayers of this multitude; Daguerre was his messiah. And then they said to themselves: “Since photography provides us with every desirable guarantee of exactitude” (they believe that, poor madmen!), “art is photography.” [...] – – As the photographic industry became the refuge of all failed painters with too little talent, or too lazy to complete their studies, this universal craze not only assumed the air of blind and imbecile infatuation, but took on the aspect of revenge. I do not believe, or at least I cannot bring myself to believe, that any such stupid conspiracy, in which, as in every other, wicked men and dupes are to be found, could ever achieve a total victory; but I am convinced that the badly applied advances of photography, like all purely material progress for that matter, have greatly contributed to the impoverishment of French artistic genius, rare enough in all conscience. Modern fatuity may roar to its heart’s content, eruct all the borborygmi of its pot-bellied person, vomit all the indigestible sophistries stuffed down its greedy gullet by recent philosophy; it is simple common-sense that, when industry erupts into the sphere of art, it becomes the latter’s mortal enemy, and in the resulting confusion of functions none is well carried out. Poetry and progress are two ambitious men that hate each other, with an instinctive hatred, and when they meet along a pathway one or other must give way. If photography is allowed to deputize for art in some of art’s activities, it will not be long before it has supplanted or corrupted art altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the masses, its natural ally. Photography must, therefore, return to its true duty, which is that of handmaid of the arts and sciences, but their very humble handmaid, like printing and shorthand, which have neither created nor supplemented literature. Let photography quickly enrich the traveller’s album, and restore to his eyes the precision his memory may lack; let it adorn the library of the naturalist, magnify microscopic insects, even strengthen, with a few facts, the hypotheses of the astronomer; let it, in short, be the secretary and record-keeper of whomsoever needs absolute material accuracy for professional reasons. So far so good. Let it save crumbling ruins from oblivion, books, engravings, and manuscripts, the prey of time, all those precious things, vowed to dissolution, which crave a place in the archives of our memories; in all these things, photography will deserve our thanks and applause. But if once it be allowed to impinge on the sphere of the intangible and the imaginary, on anything that has value solely because man adds something to it from his soul, then woe betide us! – – [...] It is an indisputable and irresistible law that the artist acts upon the public, that the public reacts on the artist; besides, the facts, those damning witnesses, are easy to study; we can measure the full extent of the disaster. More and more, as each day goes by, art is losing in self-respect, is prostrating itself before external reality, and the painter is becoming more and more inclined to paint, not what he dreams, but what he sees. And yet it is a happiness to dream, and it used to be an honour to express what one dreamed; but can one believe that the painter still knows that happiness? – – Will the honest observer declare that the invasion of photography and the great industrial madness of today are wholly innocent of this deplorable result? Can it legitimately be supposed that a people whose eyes get used to accepting the results of a material science as products of the beautiful will not, within a given time, have singularly diminished its capacity for judging and feeling those things that are most ethereal and immaterial?’ – Ref.: Centenary Edition, 1108, 1110; Criticism, 124, 127-128, 449, 455-456; Horst Schroeder, ‘Volume IV of the OET edition of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. – V. “The Critic as Artist. Part I”’, The Wildean, No. 38, (January 2011), 62-64; Charles Baudelaire, Selected Writings on Art and Literature, transl. P. E. Charvet, (London: Penguin, 2006 [1st ed. 1972]), 294-298; id., Oeuvres complètes, ed. Claude Pichois, vol. 2, (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), 616-619.
387-389 [and 208 n.]: “The Banquet of the Civic Guard,” in Holland, with its beautiful grouping of noble-looking men, its exquisite Venetian glass a-glow with light and wine.
Stokes & Turner conjecturally identify the painting referred to as Frans Hals’s The Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard Company (1616), which no doubt makes sense. Still, a more likely candidate to me seems to be Bartholomeus van der Helst’s Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648), which is similar in character to Frans Hals’s group portrait, but in which the ‘exquisite Venetian glass a-glow with light and wine’ is shown more clearly. Besides, it was this painting which sent Sir Joshua Reynolds into raptures after his tour of the Low Countries in 1781: ‘This is perhaps the first picture of portraits in the world, comprehending more of those qualities which make a perfect portrait, than any other I have ever seen: they are correctly drawn, both head and figures, and well coloured; and have great variety of action, characters, and countenances, and those so lively and truly expressing what they are about, that the spectator has nothing to wish for. Of this picture I had before heard great commendations; but it as far exceeded my expectation, as that of Rembrandt [The Night Watch] fell below it.’ – Ref.: Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Journey to Flanders and Holland, ed. Harry Mount, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996), 91; Rijksmuseum Amsterdam online catalogue; The Oxford Companion to Art, ed. Harold Osborne, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 523 f., 528 f.
390-391 [and 208 n.]: Mr. Tissot’s [...] ugly, painfully accurate representation of modern soda-water bottles!
The reference is to a small detail in Holyday (The Picnic), which is easily overlooked and which, with the exception of Wilde, only the Saturday Review apparently troubled itself to comment upon: ‘It is something, no doubt, to be able to give on canvas a representation of a soda-water bottle which shall resemble reality; but a soda-water bottle is nevertheless not in itself a very beautiful object, and the introduction of ill-painted soda-water bottles into an important part of a picture must be regarded as unhappy.’ Present-day commentators no longer make an issue of the motif; rather, as Christopher Wood has said: ‘These bottles, lying on their side, are to the twentieth-century viewer a picturesque curiosity.’ – Ref.: Saturday Review, ‘The Royal Academy. VI’, 23 June 1877, 766; Christopher Wood, Tissot. The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot. 1836-1902, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986), 100.
392-394 [and 208 n.]: Mr. Tissot’s “Widower,” however, shines in qualities which his other pictures lack; it is full of depth and suggestiveness; the grasses and wild, luxuriant growth of the foreground are a revel of natural life.
The painting was generally well received, both for the pathetic sentiment which it expressed and for its artistic qualities. See, for instance, the Times, which selected the work for particular praise: ‘Of his [Tissot’s] power to touch deeper sensibilities, we have an example in The Widower [...], who carries his child on his lonely field walk, where the rich summer vegetation is rife, with thoughts of the summers that once brought blossoms of life and joy to him.’ Or take Sidney Colvin, who excepted The Widower – to which he added ‘the portrait of a girl among chrysanthemums’ (Chrysanthemums) – from his overall unsympathetic criticism of Tissot’s pictures, calling it ‘without fault or disagreeableness’. – The painting is housed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. – Ref.: Times, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, 1 May 1877, 10; Sidney Colvin, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 21, no. 126, (June 1877), 830; Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 129; website of the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Nancy Rose Marshall & Malcolm Warner, James Tissot. Victorian Life / Modern Love, (New Haven & London: Yale UP, 1999), 112-113, pl. 46.
396 [and 208 n.]: Lady Lindsay.
Lady Lindsay was a granddaughter of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836), who at an early age, like three of his four brothers, left his home in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt am Main and went abroad and who, in 1799, settled in Manchester as a cotton broker. In 1806 he moved to London, married Hannah Barent Cohen (1783-1850), a daughter of a wealthy London merchant, and founded the bank N M Rothschild & Sons, which is still in existence. The couple had seven children, four sons and three daughters, of whom the second was named after her mother. In 1839 Hannah junior (1815-1864) married Henry FitzRoy (1807-1859), a future Lord of the Admiralty, Under Secretary for the Home Office and an MP. She also converted to the Christian faith, the religion of her husband. There were two children to this marriage: a son, born in 1842 and named Arthur, and our protagonist, born in 1844 and named Caroline Blanche Elizabeth. Arthur died in 1858 as a result of a riding accident, thus leaving his sister sole prospective inheritor of their parents’ fortune and making her a highly priced object in the marriage market. And sure enough, her marriage was not a long time in coming: in 1864 Caroline Blanche Elizabeth became the wife of Sir Coutts Lindsay, who was twenty years her senior. But the marriage was ill-fated from the beginning, as Coutts Lindsay was an inveterate womaniser, had fathered two illegitimate children before his marriage, and resumed treading the primrose path of dalliance – if he had ever given it up – when his wife gave birth to two girls (1865 and 1868) but failed to satisfy his deep-set craving for a male heir. In the end, in November 1882, Lady Lindsay decided not to put up with the situation any longer and separated from her husband. Besides, she withdrew her parental inheritance from the business, thereby virtually sounding, as C. E. Hallé put it, ‘the death-knell of the Grosvenor Gallery’. Though she continued painting, having contributed a total of more than forty pictures to the Grosvenor exhibitions from 1877 to 1882, Lady Lindsay now turned her attention more to the writing of poetry and fiction. In the latter genre and from a Wildean point of view, mention should be made of her first novel, titled Caroline (1888), which Wilde reviewed in the Woman’s World of January 1889 (Review No. 112), and of her little sentimental story ‘From Her’, which he published in the same periodical in March 1888. Lady Lindsay died on 4 August 1912, and Sir Coutts was now free to marry the mother of his third illegitimate son (born 1869), which he did within a week after Lady Lindsay’s death. The new marital bliss was not to last long, however: Coutts Lindsay died on 7 May 1913. His widow (born 1850) survived until 1937. – Oscar, incidentally, seems to have known the first Lady Lindsay since the summer of 1878 when apparently he was introduced to her by Tom Taylor (1817-1880), the art critic of the Times and author of many popular plays (among them An Unequal Match, discussed in Review No. 7): see Lady Lindsay’s son-in-law Robert Henrey (b. 1901) who, in his family chronicle A Century Between, relates: ‘How well Blanche remembered the day when Mr Tom Taylor, at one of her parties in the Grosvenor Gallery, brought a friend to her, saying: “This young fellow has just won the Newdigate prize: I venture to introduce him to you.” That was Oscar Wilde!’ Last but not least, Wilde’s gracefully worded letter to ‘dear Lady Lindsay’ about an invitation to tea should also be noted. – Ref.: Virginia Surtees, Coutts Lindsay 1824-1913, (Norwich: Michael Russell, 1993), passim; Hallé, Notes from a Painter’s Life, 152; Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 97 f.; Lady Lindsay, ‘From Her’, Woman’s World, vol. 1, no. 5, (March 1888), 225-229; Robert Henrey, A Century Between, (London: Heinemann, 1937), 238; Complete Letters, 543.
398-399 [and 208 n.]: a pretty terra-cotta figure of a young sailor, by Count Gleichen, entitled “Cheeky.”
Count Gleichen (Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg) was connected with the British throne, his mother being a half-sister of Queen Victoria. His life as a sculptor was subsequent to that of a naval officer which he had to give up in 1866 for reasons of health. Count Gleichen contributed to all the fourteen exhibitions of the Grosvenor Gallery. In addition to the terra-cotta figure of a young sailor (Cheeky) mentioned by Wilde, he was represented at the inaugural exhibition by a statuette of a girl (Shy) and by a small model for his colossal statue of King Alfred the Great which was unveiled by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 14 July 1877 in the market-place of Wantage in Oxfordshire, King Alfred’s birthplace, where it still stands today. – Ref.: L. H. Cust, ‘Victor, prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg’, rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: OUP, 2004), online; Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 77; ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Times, 1 May 1877, 10; ‘King Alfred’s Statue at Wantage’, Times, 14 July 1877, 12.
402-404 [and 208 n.]: Mr. Leighton’s “Man Struggling with a Snake,” which may be thought worthy of being looked on side by side with the Laocoon of the Vatican.
The sculpture met with universal acclaim at the Royal Academy Exhibition, W. M. Rossetti going even so far as to call it ‘the work which will chiefly, in whatever branch of art, distinguish to after-times the Academy Exhibition of 1877’. And, though he did not set forth his view quite so strongly, H. Heathcote Statham (1839-1924) in the Fortnightly Review showed the same focussing: ‘They will have sought in vain who in this year’s Royal Academy Exhibition have sought for anything which can be called a great painting. [...] If, however, there is, as has been observed, no great picture at this year’s Academy, the exhibition is not without its acknowledged central point. “Where is Mr. Leighton's statue?” has probably been the first thought of a large proportion of those who come to Burlington House with anything like a serious interest in the progress and accomplishment of modern art.’ – The sculpture was straightaway bought for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest and is now at the Tate Gallery. – Ref.: ‘The Chantrey Bequest’, Academy, 5 May 1877, 398; ‘The Royal Academy (First Notice)’, Athenaeum, 5 May 1877, 580-581; William Michael Rossetti, ‘The Royal Academy Exhibition (Fourth and Concluding Notice)’, Academy, 16 June 1877, 539; H. Heathcote Statham, ‘At the Royal Academy’, Fortnightly Review, vol. 22 N.S., no. 127, (July 1877), 69-71; Christopher Newall, The Art of Lord Leighton, (Oxford: Phaidon, 1990), 92.
404-405 [and 209 n.]: Lord Ronald Gower’s two statues, one of a dying French Guardsman at the Battle of Waterloo [...].
The statue of the dying French Guardsman shows a member of the Old Guard (Vieille Garde) – the elite of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard – lying, to quote Rossetti again, ‘on the trampled corn, grasping his bayoneted musket with his left hand, and propping himself on his right, with a spirited turn of the head and body.’ The statue is placed on a rectangular plinth on the side of which are engraved the words ‘La garde meurt et ne se rend pas’ [‘The guard dies but does not surrender’]. (The words are said to have been spoken by Pierre Cambronne [1770-1842], a major of the Imperial Guard  and general, who was seriously wounded at the Battle of Waterloo before he was taken prisoner by the British.) The statue was presented by Gower to the Queen in 1890 and was first placed in the Orangery at Windsor Castle before it was moved to the East Terrace in 1906. The genesis of the work is told by Gower in his Reminiscences. – Ref.: W. M. Rossettti, ‘The Royal Academy Exhibition. (Fourth and Concluding Notice)’, Academy, 16 June 1877, 540; Lord Ronald Gower, Old Diaries, 1881-1901, (London: Murray, 1902), 136; id., My Reminiscences, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 3rd ed., 1884 [1st ed. 1883]), 340 f., 343, 353; Whitney Davis, ‘Lord Ronald Gower and “the offending Adam”’, in: David J. Getsy, ed., Sculpture and the Pursuit of the Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880-1930, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 63-104; Royal Collection (online).
405-406: [...] the other of Marie Antoinette being led to execution with bound hands, Queen-like and noble to the last.
For a more detailed description of the statue, William Michael Rossetti’s review is again helpful: ‘Marie Antoinette leaving the Prison of the Conciergerie on the Day of her Execution [:] Her hands are bound behind her; the head tosses to the left, with an intense expression of disdain – the disdain at once of an outraged woman and of an unbending aristocrat [...].’ – Marie Antoinette was an ‘all-absorbing subject’, as Gower tells us in his Reminiscences, which had fascinated him from early youth. In fact, at one time he even contemplated writing ‘the whole story’ of the Queen’s life. This project, however, did not materialize, and Gower contented himself in the end with publishing a mere ‘historical sketch’, titled Last Days of Marie Antoinette. In the field of arts, Gower gave first expression to his preoccupation in the statuette Marie Antoinette, when Dauphiness, hunting at Fontainebleau, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876, before he engaged on the more famous statue of Marie Antoinette being Led to Execution, shown the following year. Details of how the work came into being and how it was received can again be found in Gower’s memoirs. – Ref.: W. M. Rossetti, ‘The Royal Academy Exhibition. (Fourth and Concluding Notice)’, Academy, 16 June 1877, 540; Lord Ronald Gower, My Reminiscences, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 3rd ed., 1884 [1st ed. 1883]), 334 f., 338, 342 f., 346, 358; id., Last Days of Marie Antoinette. An Historical Sketch, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1885), v.
407-409: a good effect of Mr. Poynter’s, the east wind seen from a high cliff sweeping down on the sea like the black wings of some god.
Wilde tripped up on the direction of the wind which was supposed to be blowing from the west in Poynter’s picture. The slip, of course, does not in the least affect the characteristic feature of his remark, which is its bold imagery. Read against it, W. M. Rossetti’s review pales considerably: ‘The West Wind, by Mr. Poynter – a steamer in a bay, with rainy drift, and dreamlike yet perfectly true atmospheric effects, is exceptionally fine – the greatest effort which this painter has made in landscape art.’ And the Times’s passing reference to ‘a study of sea rippled by west wind, by Poynter’ vanishes even into nothingness by comparison. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 114; William Michael Rossetti, ‘The Grosvenor Gallery. (Second Notice)’, Academy, 26 May 1877, 468; ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’, Times, 1 May 1877, 10.
409-411 [and 209 n.]: some charming pictures of “Fairy Land” by Mr. Richard Doyle, which would make good illustrations for one of Mr. Allingham’s “Fairy Poems”.
Though Doyle was born in London and lived in London all his life, I would not call him an ‘English’ artist because of his Irish descent and upbringing. Not surprisingly, in Review No. 4, Wilde discussed Doyle’s work under the heading ‘the Irish genius in the field of art’ (l. 110). – Richard Doyle, incidentally, was an uncle of Arthur Conan Doyle. – Ref.: Rodney Engen, Richard Doyle, (Stroud, Glos.: Catalpa Press, 1983).
419: those of us who are yet boys.
To show his deep respect, Wilde emphasized his young age several times in letters written at this period to authorities in public life: ‘I am little more than a boy’ (to W. E. Gladstone); ‘a boyish poem’ (to Lord Houghton); ‘I am only a boy’ (to William Michael Rossetti); ‘a stray sheet from a boy’s diary’ (to Harry Buxton Forman). – Ref.: Complete Letters, 46, 49, 55, 56.
424-426 [and 209 n.]: the name of that strange genius who wrote the “Vision of Love revealed in Sleep,” and the names of Dante Rossetti and of the Marchioness of Waterford, cannot be found in the catalogue.
While there were many reviewers who deplored the absence of the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti from the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition, Wilde was the only one who put in a plea for the works of Simeon Solomon and of the Marchioness of Waterford. The plea for the poet-painter went unheard, but the Marchioness of Waterford was indeed invited to the Grosvenor Gallery in the following years, contributing a total of fifteen works to the Exhibitions from 1878 to 1882. – Ref.: Newall, Grosvenor Gallery Exhibitions, 133; Myles Campbell, ‘In a class of her own: Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford’, in: Éimear O’Connor, ed., Irish Women Artists, 1800-2009: Familiar but Unknown, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010), 62; Review No. 4, ll. 107-8.
429-432: [...] that revival of culture and love of beauty which in great part owes its birth to Mr. Ruskin, and which Mr. Swinburne, and Mr. Pater, and Mr. Symonds, and Mr. Morris, and many others, are fostering and keeping alive, each in his peculiar fashion.
In its original form the conclusion of ‘The Grosvenor Gallery’ article was probably quite unreserved about the influence exercised by Ruskin and did not yet contain the qualifying phrase ‘in great part’. On the other hand, it certainly contained another quotation from Pater. See, once again, Wilde's first letter to Keningale Cook, from which we have already quoted: ‘I always say clearly what I know to be true, such as that the revival of culture is due to Mr. Ruskin [...]. I am sorry you left out my quotation from Pater at the end.’ – Ref.: Complete Letters, 52.
438-440: I was surprised lately at Ravenna to come across a mosaic ceiling done in the keynote of a peacock’s tail, blue, green, purple, and gold, and with four peacocks in the four spandrils.
Wilde would come back to the reference in ‘The Critic as Artist’: ‘the vaulted ceiling of the wondrous chapel of Ravenna is made gorgeous by the gold and green and sapphire of the peacock’s tail, though the birds of Juno fly not across it.’ – Ref.: Criticism, 161.15-17 and 483 n.; Centenary Edition, 1129.
‘But see, it is dawn already. Draw back the curtains and open the windows wide. How cool the morning air is! Piccadilly lies at our feet like a long riband of silver. A faint purple mist hangs over the Park, and the shadows of the white houses are purple. It is too late to sleep. Let us go down to Covent Garden and look at the roses. Come! I am tired of thought.’
Gilbert at the end of ‘The Critic as Artist’.
July 2015 / February 2016