Between them the exhibition of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, at 5A, Pall Mall East, and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, at 195, Piccadilly, should fairly divide the public for this form of art and provide something for every taste except the most modern. To prevent misunderstanding the word “modern”, here, denotes neither praise nor blame but is used only to describe the kind of water-colour in which, whatever the style or degree of representation, the emphasis is upon the construction of the picture.
It is really remarkable how faithfully these two societies keep to their own traditions - with a certain amount of overlapping, of course. The Society’s exhibition will appeal more particularly to those who are interested in water-colour as a medium with characteristic qualities of its own, and it includes both the “drawing” and the “painting,” as they may be conveniently described. This being the 200th exhibition of the Society since its foundation in 1804, the occasion is marked by a retrospective group of works. The earliest are two admirable landscapes, rather like J. R. Cozens in style, by John “Warwick” Smith, who was president in 1814 and 1817. There are two Cotmans, a splendid “Mont St. Michel,” with his characteristic breadth and simplicity, and “Abbot’s House, St. Ouen, Rouen,” which, though it is a beautiful piece of architectural drawing and is lively in colour, seems to lack the special qualities that we call “Cotmanesque”. By Samuel Palmer there is a mossy roofed “Barn, Shoreham,” of his best and most intense period - the ancestor of several barns by his living disciples - and Cox and De Wint are represented by fine examples. Through Sir John Gilbert, Leighton, Pinwell and Melville the tale is brought down to recent years with examples of Sargent, McEvoy, and Sims.
‘The Times’ 28.3.'33