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in what is, most injudiciously, claimed for the
picture in the catalogue.

Not content with the high imaginative effort
of reviving the people and events of a past
time; not content with representing character
and action, feeling and beauty, Mrs. Benham
Hay invites us to discover abstruse symbolical
meanings in the principal figures of her picture.
In plainer words, she aspires to express abstract
qualities, by the purely concrete means of
brushes and paint. To take an instance. We
are charmed by one of her figuresa girl
dressed in blue, playing on a musical instrument.
What Art can do (within Art's limits)
is shown in this figure. It is full of the charm
of innocence and youth and beauty; there is
true feeling in the face, and true grace in the
attitude. These all-attractive qualities having
produced their full effect upon us in the picture,
we happen to look into the catalogue next, and
findwhat no human being, without the
catalogue, could possibly discoverthat our charming
girl in blue represents "a servant of the
Ideal" (whatever that may be), "absorbed in
the meaning of the music she is playing." In
other words, here is something which the
picture, confessedly, cannot express for itself, and
which the catalogue is obliged to express for it.
The general spectator looks up again at the
figure, sees no more in it than he saw before:
arrives inevitably (prompted by the catalogue)
at the false conclusion that there must be some
defect in expression which he ought to have
noticed before; and underrates the work which
he would have appreciated at its proper value
if the picture had been left to exercise its
legitimate influence over him. The cultivated
spectator takes a shorter way. He simply closes
the catalogue; knowing perfectly well that it is
claiming for the art of painting something
which that art is, by the nature of it,
absolutely incapable of accomplishing. In both
cases, the picture suffers from being
perversely weighted with a meaning which words
alone can convey, and which no picture
whatever can carry. Mrs. Benham Hay may rest
assured that the worst obstacle her work will
have to encounter on its way to success, is the
cloudy symbolism which puffs out upon it from
the catalogue.

Turning next to the merits of this remarkable
picture, the first quality in it which strikes us, is
the masterly vigour and variety of the composition.
The difficulties here must have been enormous.
The persons of the procession and the
spectators of the procession are all arranged as
nearly as possible on one plane. No common
fancy, and no common knowledge of the
resources of Art, were needed to make the action
of the scene, thus treated, graceful and various,
without the sacrifice of truth to Nature.
Excepting the two figures already noticed of the
reveller and the citizen, the difficulty here has
been met, and vanquished, in a manner which
deserves the heartiest recognition that we can
bestow. Looking closer at the work, the eye is
at once riveted by the admirable individuality of
some of the headsby the subtle knowledge of
character, and the singularly clear and intelligent
rendering of that knowledge to the eye.
The heads of the two citizens (at the right-hand
side of the picture) who stand nearest to the
spectator; the head of the monk who is assisting
to carry the picture; and the heads of some
of the children (in which last, beauty and
expression are admirably combined)—all prove
this lady to be a genuine artist, in the best
sense of the word. The colour again, so far as
we could judgelooking at it under no very
favourable atmospheric conditionspossesses
the excellent qualities of vigour and harmony,
and tells well at a distance, with no
counterbalancing defect of harshness or glare on a
nearer view.

Upon the whole, the claim of this picture on
the public attention appears to us to be an
unusually strong one. It is in many important
respects a really rare work. One of the most
exacting and elaborate efforts in Art that has
been made by a woman in our time, it is also an
effort in the imaginative direction; appearing
at a period when painting in England is fast
sinking into lower and lower materialism, and
fast becoming more and more of a mere trade-
commodity manufactured for a mere market-
purpose. One of the objects of this journal, as
our readers know, is to help the cause of fancy
and imagination. The artist who has painted
the Florentine Procession receives no special
indulgence hereshe has fairly earned the
welcome which we offer to her in these pages.


WHEN the British banker established at
Galatz, and the Irish gentleman about to
commence business at the neighbouring port of
Ibraïla, as described in our last number,
are once fairly in the clutches of my prince
upon his own estate, the rest is easy. By
an adroit system of management, very well
understood among Russian landlords, he is sure
either to extract an advance from them upon
the standing crops in hard cash, or to induce
them to sign an agreement to purchase a stated
quantity of wheat upon delivery. These agreements
are always negotiable with a little trouble,
for as one copy of every contract must be
drawn in the Russian language, it is easy,
by ambiguous expressions, to open the door to
serious frauds. A sharp landlord, no more
unscrupulous than many others of his order,
may thus contrive, and often does contrive, to
sell his wheat three or four times over. Of course
this cannot be done in the same place, where
all the local merchants are perfectly well
acquainted with each other, and where the individual
character of every landlord within a thousand
versts is well known for all business purposes
on the Exchange. The spring and summer
occupation, thereforewhich many of the Russian
boyards have found extremely profitableis to
travel about on bamboozling expeditions. They