The Cotman Collection | 8

Cotmania. Vol. VII. 1931-2

Archive: SDK Sydney Decimus Kitson Archive
Reference Number: SDK/1/2/1/7
Page: 3 recto

  • Description

    Cuttings from the Times Literary Supplement, 2 July 1931, and The Times, 3 July 1931
    Catalogue entries

    Review (anonymous) of books by Laurence Binyon and Vaughan Cornish
    Notice of watercolour exhibition
    Artworks by John Sell Cotman at The Cotman Gallery, Birmingham, June 1931

    Date: 1931

  • Transcription

    Mr. Binyon's book reproduces six lectures delivered in the Imperial University of Tokyo. In composing the lectures he has set out to narrow the broad and sometimes complicated history of English landscape painting into one or a few threads, and to place beside that the history of English landscape in poetry narrowed in the same way. The task, so far as one knows, has not been attempted before, owing probably to the rarity of those scholars who know both art and poetry. And Mr. Binyon's task, already alarmingly difficult, was made still more difficult by the accident of his audience. He acknowledges this difficulty in his preface, and although he says that he increased it through a misunderstanding, one feels that a little more or a little less could not have made much difference. He writes : —
    'In preparing (the lectures] I was somewhat embarrassed by not knowing to what extent the students, who formed the bulk of my audience, would be familiar with the history of English culture. I have since gathered that it was more familiar to them than I had sometimes thought it safe to assume. . . .'
    Nothing could be more subtle than the feelings of poets and the effects of their words when they are set down, unless it be the feelings of painters and the effect of their paint. In attempting to put these feelings and effects informatively into prose, the writer is comparatively lucky if he can draw out what already exists mutely in the mind of his audience, as Mr. Binyon could have done if his lectures had been read in England. But in Japan he had to create the very rudiments of knowledge before he could begin to make criticism on it. How lowly his task was sometimes is shown by such passages as the following : —
    '.... Calvert came from Devonshire in the West of England. There it is the custom to make the drink from apples called cider, which is drunk instead of beer. . . . The Cider Feast was designed before Calvert met Blake. . . .'
    From this very privation, however, Mr. Binyon manages to distil a virtue, making the enforced simplicity "resent matter not at all commonplace, as, for example, when speaking of Blake or of Turner's sea pieces. The quality of the book is that it remains at this simplicity even when the material is complex or subtle. Mr. Binyon, for example, writes of Cotm9an's "Greta Bridge": —
    '. . . Everything has been transformed in the mind of the artist, with its instinctive search for rhythmical relations. And yet there is no forcing or distortion of nature. Painters of to-day in their desire to build up a structure of rhythmical relations will often sacrifice everything else to secure it. But here there is perfect balance between natural form and preconceived design. The colour too is not the colour that the ordinary eye would have seen, but with all its lovely harmony of glowing tones it is not an artificial scheme. The effect of the freshened colour in the colder light after rain if beautifully given. . . .'

    [Note in pencil] Times Lit: Sup[plemen]t July 2 1931.

    At the same galleries is being held the twenty-seventh annual exhibition of early English water-colours. This is distinctly an educational opportunity, Mr. Augustus Walker's long and close pursuit of the school enabling him to collect examples of artists who to most of us are only names, and sometimes quite unknown. Such an artist was W. Williams, of Norwich, working between 1758 and 1795. whose "Peasants and Donkey Entering a Wood" and "Loading a Pack-Donkey" suggest in the figures the influence of Gravelot—Gainsborough's first master. Gainsborough himself is represented by two rich drawings in water-colour and chalk. "View at Lansdown" and "Wick Rocks," evidently done when he was living at Bath; there is one of Turner's earliest drawings, "Dover Castle," and there is a sepia study by John Sell Cotman; but the point of the exhibition is its wide reach among the smaller men. By T. Hearne there is a delightful illustration to "Joseph Andrews," a piece of elegance appropriately mounted in oval, and there are some very lively Spanish subjects by E. S. Lundgren. Another lover of Spain, J. F. Lewis, R.A., is represented by an elaborate , colour composition, " A Spanish Fête," from Ruskin's collection. By F. Nash (1782-1850) there is a sober " Glastonbury Tor—Showery Day," recalling De Wlnt, and there are good examples of Rowlandson, Bonington, Prout, Callow, and Holland. The collection, of nearlv 200 drawings, has great variety, and it is full of interesting sidelights upon manners, customs, and topographical changes.
    [Note in pencil] The Times, July 3, 1931.

    Arthur E. Keeley G. Douglas Thomson

    22 Mountainous Landscape.
    Pencil and Wash.

    63 Harlech Castle.

    64 Classical Landscape.

Cuttings from the *Times Literary Supplement*, 2 July 1931, and *The Times*, 3 July 1931
Catalogue entries