Biographical material and criticism
THE artistic work of one who is almost the youngest of the Associates of tlie Academy is noticeable and delightful not only because Mr. Gregory differs from so many of his brethren by the extent of his achievements, but also because he is peculiarly free from the preoccupations which are wont to limit the efforts and harass the imaginations of cultivated people. I am told, and can well believe, that Mr. Gregory is among the best read men in London — among the most widely read — but if he has read much,. . . he has not been overpowered. Neither through literature nor society has he submitted himself unduly to influences which are seductive and gentle, but which often end by debilitating. In the last quarter of the Nine- teenth Century he has had the extreme courage to see the world with his own eyes. The Art and Letters of the past have given him a cultivation that he has been strong enough to bear. They have not destroyed his individuality: they have hardly affected it. His forerunners have, indeed, taught him. Now in Italy and now in Holland, he has seen their work with the admiration which no fairly observant person can withhold from the art of Titian or that of Jan Steen. But the poetic realism of the Venetian has left him as free as has the more prosaic fidelity of the Dutchman. Feebler, for I will not say more sensitive, personalities have discovered in Botticelli or Pollajuolo qualities to which they have been obliged to submit. The pupil has declared himself when he has recognised the master. Mr. Gregory, it would seem, is nobody's pupil.
The circumstances of Mr. Gregory's early days, his early training, and the nature of his literary education, his first artistic pursuits — all have had the tendency to send or to keep him among modern things, to engage him chiefly in translating into more or less beautiful colour and line an every-day experience and no remote vision. The son of an engineer, and born in a modern seaport town — Southampton; his literary culture gained chiefly for himself; owing nothing to universities, and little to Academic men — the delusion has never been encouraged within him that the age in which he exists is an age whose influences it is necessary to avoid, and accordingly when another generation than his own takes note of his art and estimates it, it will be found to contain an extraordinarily ample share of the accurate yet really pictorial record of the "very form and pressure" of the time in which it was produced. In it will be the signs of the keen vision — in it is the precise yet beautiful rendering — of much even of what is trivial and accidental in the life of the moment. In so far as it belongs to genre, it belongs to that which is concerned with the things which its creator has actually known. — Frederick Wedmore
Works with images on this site
Wedmore, Frederick. “E. J. Gregory, A.R.A.” Magazine of Art. 7 (1883-84): 350-59.
Created 31 December 2014