Jan Gordon's "fine little etchings" in the 1911 London Salon
"THE LONDON SALON (From Our Art Critic.)
The real Academy—l am writing to those who think the Academy representative of modem effort and therefore worthy of consideration —is the London Salon of the Allied Artists’ Association at the Albert Hall. Perhaps I should say it is the real Academy in germ rather than in achievement, for though Mr. Pryde’s ‘Souvenir of Costume Ball” is one of the most expressive works in the main gallery, many of our men who count equally with Mr. Pryde have not yet entered this company. But the Salon gets rid of the great curse of the Academy, rules and the dead hand of tradition. Any artist can show work he himself thinks worthy ; and to a serious artist liberty does not often interpret itself as licence to be foolish. Much of the work here is poor; most of it sincere; the Society’s motto is from Thomas a Kempis,
“Man’s own judgment is the proper rule and measure of his actions.” The best picture here is ‘‘Femme Nue” from the Brussels Salon, though it is closely followed the same painter's companion pieces and Charlotte Keinmann-Meltzer’s very different decorative compositions, “In the' Shadows" and ‘‘Maiden Silting." Absence of sentimentality the mark of this exhibition | in fact. I might, have headed this notice "An Unsentimental Academy"—and Wageman's treatment of the nude has the purity of frankness. Add to his absorption in his subjects (in other words, creative inspiration) his technical mastery and his restraining taste the quality of reverence, and you would get great work from Wagemans.
There is one very large picture which is typical of the Salon opposed to the Academy. is “The entry of Christ into Jerusalem" by Mr. Slade. It is, frankly, rather historical and topical than religious. Speaking with all reverence, the figure riding upon an ass is here a meek, aloof Eastern teacher, not a Divine figure. He has passed, too through the arches, not of some Holy City, but of an Eastern city as we might see it to-day. It is well painted, but I am, I think, on safe ground, when I say the Academy would not like it. Perhaps many of us would not like it for its insistence on reality amid the humanness of the central figure. That to say, Mr. Slade has not the inspiration to paint a religious subject religiously. But if, without this inspiration, he were to paint sentimentally, pretend to be religious, then his picture would have a much better chance at Burlington House. A man may be too limited be able to do a big thing, but most of us, instead of leaving well alone, corrupt the big thing, and make it of no avail by giving false substitute for it. Mr. Slade's picture is striking because is content to say just what it can say.
There are about a thousand pictures in this exhibition, and it would be small profit to the reader if I were to start cataloguing. Much of the best work is by unknown names, and much of it is influenced by the spirit, if not the technique of Post Impressionism. There are few examamples of Post-Impressionism itself, Mr. Phelan Gibb and two ladies, Miss Ann Estelle Rico and Ethel Wright, allowing their merit to come through much more clearly than the extremist Machkoff. Indeed, Miss Ethel Wright shows in her decorative panel that it is probably to panel work and such large decorative designs that the new method will be better suited than to the ordinary wall picture. Seeing what I wrote lately about Eastern pictures, I might say that there is original Eastern scene here called "The Fruit Bazaar, Quetta” by Edith Daniels. Mr. Alexander Jamieson is welcome in any gallery, and “The Poppy Field,” by Emily Vickers, is quite one of the most charming little pictures I have seen lately.
Other good, some better, things must crowded out. There not much sculpture of note, but Mr. T. W. Wilkinson's bronzes are admirably faithful and unforced. There is much good black and white, including some fine little etchings of Jan Gordon; some water-colour drawings of Paul Emile; also several miniatures and applied art. In the Albert Hall for the next month there will on view honest, clean art; as the Society itself says, untouched by favouritism and unrepressed by a selective jury."