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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 3. 1962.

Lord Cobham's Paintings

Lord Cobham's Paintings

It is with considerable delight that one can review one of the finest small collections of old masters to be seen in Wellington for some time, the Exhibition of paintings lent to the National Art Gallery by the Viscount Cobham.

Comprising eight canvases in all and valued at over £10,000, the maturity and mastery of the various painters stands in sharp contrast to the juvenile dabblings and shallow sophistry of many of the Pacific painters. The most exquisite work to my mind is The Young Christ by the 17th century artist Louis De Boullonge. Radiant and innocent, the Young Christ is pictured in red and blue tunic, his fine brown hair falling over his shoulders. But the skin texture! Very seldom does one see such magic and beauty as this. Exactly the same mastery is found in Van Dyck's "Descent from the Cross" which is a smaller version of the great Antwerp Gallery picture. How very different the Renaissance-like beauty of these canvases is to "the poisoned fruit of one of the worst of spiritual decays", as the great contemporary Annigoni puts it "of the works of the avant-garde fashionable today".

"Lady in Blue" another of Van Dyck's works is masterly handled. There is a lovely still life by Rachel Ruysch entitled "Flower Piece"; two wholly delightful landscapes, one by Italian Francesco Zuccarelli in which great competence is shown with the handling of the foreground; the other "Villa Madama Rome" by Richard Wilson is very reminiscent of Corot. Sir Joshua Reynolds is represented by a portrait of "William Henry Lord Lyttelton" and a 15th century Dutch painter Michael Miereveldt is represented by a portrait.

The skill and loving care and attention to form and detail lavished by all these artists on their works is something New Zealand painters could well strive to emulate. After seeing the recent National Council of Adult Education collection opening the Centre Gallery's 1962 session which was far more representative of contemporary New Zealand Art than the Pacific showing, one is even more convinced of that Evelyn Page's still life, Jack Laird's "Adolescence"; Helen Stewart's "Saturday" and Roy Cowan's "Fishing Village" were all of some merit.