Date 1875-06-12
Publication Academy
Topic Goupil's "gallery"
AP display
RA display
Subject art
Keywords Goupil
  ↳ "fashionable art;" low-merit art
Standards PRB aesthetic standards
Notes Debunk "paid" exhibit
  ↳ def. "fashionable" works .

Annotation details

75 June 12 Academy


Goupil's Gallery.


Rossetti, William M. "Messrs. Goupil's Gallery." Academy (June 12, 1875): 162. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


Rossetti notes with a clear sense of reluctance that this exhibition is a "paying exhibition" of the fashion of the day. He carefully points out his recurring concern about foreign art flooding the British market and thereby having a negative effect on British art as buyers who are uninformed often value paintings that aren't artistically sound or properly motivated at the expense of those that are truly good works of art. He warns viewers that while it is a "gallery" by definition, they should keep in mind that the work is "dealer's stock" rather than artwork of high-level painters. He notes that he "can't thank" Goupil for bringing in a few strong and worthy art pieces, plus a majority of "fashionable," but lower quality art pieces, to this admission-required "gallery."

Rossetti spells out what is qualitatively wrong with most of the work: "they are fashionable works . . . "lacking 'distinction, elevation, breadth, and, above all, repose." He mentions two higher-class works that are on display, but is adamant that they alone do not elevate the exhibition to the level of serious, worthy art.

This review explains Rossetti's notion of "fashionable" artwork that has less merit than traditionally valued art. The former he sees in the growing trend in continental art embodied in the groundbreaking style of Fortuny:

"The works of this class are executively ingenious and dexterous to the last degree, and display a quick observation and ready command of nature, without prepossession in favour of any one element of subject-matter design, or presentiment, rather than another. What they lack is distinction and elevation, breadth, and above all, repose. They are full of variety, vivacity, and sparkle; brightness of colour, without much harmony; common nature in the personage, without either comeliness or immediate expression; impulse, without passion; reality, without significance; sumptuousness, without refinement. They are, in the fullest sense of the word, fashionable works."

Rossetti is careful to dissociate his criticism of the movement from the talent and ability of its primary executants, Fortuny, whom Rossetti describes as "one of the most singularly gifted executants of recent, or indeed of any, time."

A work by Gerome is considered at length, but the bulk of the exhibition Rossetti simply lists by name without comment.




Goupil's Gallery, "fashionable" art; foreign, low-merit art

Standards of Judgment:

Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic standards

Rhetoric and tone:

evaluative, definitive, polemic


Goupil, Gerome, Fortuny