Monday, 10 October 2016

Virtuosi, we have eight years to find this painting!

E.D.  Leahy drawn by JP Davis 1830.
In 1824 the Somerset House Gazette reviewed Edward Daniel Leahy's painting  "Catching the Expression", shown at the British Institution that year. Like most of the artists work it has, alas, slipped into obscurity.
We know not whether this admirable record of an artist's study, is that of young Edwin Landseer's, or young Edward Leahy's, as both their portraits are introduced; but, as this picture is well worthy of preservation, we can fancy some group of virtuosi, some two hundred years hence, peering through their glasses at these two old English masters. We delight to hold a morning gossip in tne confusionary of a painter, up to our knees in portfolios, broken casts, lay-figures, velvet cushioned chairs, without a chair to sit upon, amidst the arcana  of art. All these trophies of present study, however, will he regarded the more, anno domini two thousand and twenty-four, as they will  then savour of dry antiquity. Here we have another instance of the advantage resulting from careful finishing. This apparently playful effusion of the talent of Mr. Leahy, is a work taken up in earnest. It is an excellent effort of an aspiring young artist, and its merit is acknowledged. We are gratified to find, that a gentleman of taste has purchased this picture for the sum of one hundred guineas. Merit does not always remain unrewarded.
The New Annual Register, though less informed. had a few more details:
 "Catching the Expression," is, in parts, a clever and pleasing little work. It represents a young artist's study, probably that of the artist himself, E. D. Leahy, who is watching intently while another youth is setting a little dog at a cat, and "catching the expression" of the scene. The portraits are very cleverly executed, and include considerable individuality of character; and the colouring, though in an agreeable tone, is harmonious and consistent with itself; the animals are very indifferently expressed, and are quite inferior to the rest of the picture. 
Hopefully the virtuosi of  anno domini two thousand and twenty-four will nicer to cats.

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