A Young Painter’s First Works by Marcus Stone. Engraved by H. Bourne. Exhibited Royal Academy 1862. Source: The Art-Journal (1869. Note that periodical critic devotes much of his commentary (found below) to explaining how the arrangement and decorations found in eighteenth-century homes of the wealthy make unlikely and perhaps impossible this supposely accurate reconstruction of an imagined event: rooms in which bed linens were stored would not, he explains, have had pictures on the walls. Note, too, although that this is the kind of commentary we might next expect of a modern art historians, it does furnish information they would be unlikely to know. — George P. Landow. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Text and formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Michigan and the Hathi Trust Digital Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]

Art-Journal Commentary

Of Mr. Stone (see page 33 ante) we made brief mention of this picture, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1862. The subject might possibly be a reminiscence of an incident in his own juvenile days, when essaying an early attempt at Art; but which, in relation to the costumes, he has thrown back a century at least—to the days of knee-breeches, deep-lapelled coats, and tied hair. Young Reynolds or Gainsborough might have stood for the “model” of the little fellow who has decorated the walls of the apartment with his early “ sketches in chalk,” the first indications, perhaps, of a genius to which in after years the world may be called upon to pay homage; the great and the noble of the land, the young and the beautiful, flocking to his studio for a “sitting.” Judging, however, from this primary effort, the boy may turn out to be of the Hogarthian type, for so far as we can decipher his hieroglyphic lines, they would seem to represent a couple of sedan chairmen, conveying, perhaps, a lady to a ball, and preceded by a footman.

Who can tell what ideas of the sublime and the beautiful pass through the mind of an embryo painter, till he sees them taking form and expression in some manner not altogether within the canons and legitimate practice of Art? But beside the sketch which stands out so prominently above the chair-back, is the fragment of another original design somewhat higher up. To reach this altitude the “ young painter” must have piled the books we see on the seat of the chair; and the probability is that he was engaged on this fresh subject, when hearing the footsteps of his father, he dismounted from his elevated position, chalk in hand, and waited for the dénouement.

Now it certainly is not wise to attempt to crush genius in the bud; but it is not agreeable to find it, when taking the form of Art, developing itself prematurely on thewalls of one’s house, whether internally or externally. And, by the way, we are somewhat at a loss to comprehend to what use the room is applied into which Mr. Stone has introduced his characters, unless it be a kind of lumber-room; but then those framed pictures would scarcely be hung there. The large wardrobe, one half of whose contents is scattered on the floor, is suggestive of a bed-chamber, but there is nothing else visible to support such assumption, fand the two senior gentlemen would scarcely have retired to an apartment of this kind to partake of the refreshment with which the prim and pretty domestic follows them into the room.

Setting aside, however, this to us inexphcable stage of action, let us look at the characters which appear on it. Capital is the attitude, and solemnly ludicrous the expression of the little fellow, as the father charges him with his misdoings; the latter can scarcely restrain a smile, though lookmg angrily, while he accuses the culprit; and his friend, evidently delighted with the sketch, lays his hand gently on the father’s arm to deprecate his censure. The story 1s pointedly and humorously told; but we would venture a wager that the ‘Young Painter’s First Works’ will not be the last, notwithstanding the lecture he gets, though he will probably find other sketching-ground hereafter. . .


“Selected Pictures “’A Young Painter’s First Works.’ Art-Journal. (1862). Hathi Trust Digital Library digitized from a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 6 April 2014.

Last modified 6 April 2014