WMR review of FG Stephens' vol. 2 of collected satire
|Topic||WMR review of FG Stephens' vol. 2 of collected satire|
|Notes||Vol 1 reviewed March 1871.|
74 March 21 Academy
Volume 2 of Catalogue of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum reviewed (Volume 1 was reviewed in 1871).
Rossetti, William M., "Fine Art." Academy (March 21, 1874): 225. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.
Under the heading "Fine Art," Rossetti reviews Catalogue of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Division I: Political and Personal Satires; Volume II, edited by longtime associate and pre-Raphaelite brother Frederic G. Stephens. Rossetti finds fault with the confusion and inconsistency in the collection created by the inclusion and exclusion of works based on what he sees as a flawed definition of the term "satire." Many of the illustrations Rossetti deems blunt and crude rather than highbrow and witty, and much of it Rossetti decides is simply poor form and base manners rather than satire. Although he finds "several citations of sharp things cleverly said," the present collection Rossetti finds to be no more definitively satirical than the first volume which he also found lacking.
Rossetti states that his job as critic is not to "follow Mr. Stephens where there is nothing to express save thanks for his pains, and acquiescence in his conclusions," but rather "to indicate some few points here and there where demur may be apposite, or rectification practicable."
Rossetti explains that in the collection, there are many specimens that do not truly fit the specification of "satire" and, further, satire itself has such a broad range that it may not be possible to catalogue and analyze such a wide-ranging field of possibility.
Rossetti also points out errors in translation of some German drawings as well as some date confusion in the collection, but he is careful to note that "Mr. Stephens is not personally responsible" for the errors. Nonetheless, Rossetti proposes a different theoretical translation for the term "Eastern sun," one based on the term Österreich rather than Stephens' "true eastern sun" concept.
Rossetti closes with a complimentary appraisal of Stephens' collection and commentary regarding Hogarth's work, stating that the collection of Hogarth material in this volume could stand alone as a definitive collection of the artist's satire.
Standards of Judgment:
". . . we cannot say that the tone of the satires is much more refined or subtle than in the previous volume. Bluntness, doggedness and spite, are the rule; light but cutting persiflage , the elegant handling of a deadly weapon, is the exception."