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of Mr. Dobson, who may now be proud of a pupil who has outstripped his master. In 1855 he became a student of the Royal Academy, but he remained there only a very short time, for the same year he went to Paris to see the Universal Exhibition of pictures, and received so strong an impression from the work of Decamps and other eminent French painters that in the following spring he went to work in M. Gleyre's atelier, where he continued for nearly four years. In 1859 he set up an atelier of his own in Paris for a short time. From 1860 he has lived entirely in London.
A circumstance of some interest, in the present day when hereditary talent has become an object of study, is the fact that Ambrose Poynter, the father of the painter, was an architect. Although he never attained to any marked distinction, yet he selected his profession out of a true love and talent for art. He still lives to rejoice in his son's success, though no longer able to see the creations of his art, having become blind. The mother of the painter, herself an accomplished amateur artist, was the granddaughter of Thomas Banks, the sculptor and R. A., whom many critics have compared favourably with Chantrey. Thus on both sides an artistic tendency was hereditary. Mrs. Foster, too, Thomas Banks's daughter, who survived till her grandson was grown up, had mixed in the society of artists all her life, and besides being an extremely clever artist, up to the time of her death took an eager interest in all questions of art.
Mr. Poynter's first English employer was Mr. Burges, the architect, for whom he designed mediæval panels for cabinets and a series of lifesize figures, also treated medievally, for the ceiling of Waltham Cross Abbey. Messrs. Dalziel happened to see a small drawing he had made of two Egyptian girls with waterpots, and gave him a commission to make some drawings on wood for the Bible they were preparing. He illustrated the lives of Joseph and Moses for them, and also executed some of the etchings for Lady Eastlake's “ History of our Lord, as exemplified in Works of Art.” He also made designs for stained glass for Powell and others. The windows of the Town Hall at Dover are from his cartoons. It is understood that to Mr. Poynter, in conjunction with Mr. Leighton, has been intrusted the work of designing the mosaics with which-to the sorrow of critics who admire the effect of Thornhill's relics as they are—it is proposed to decorate the dome of St. Paul's. Mr. Poynter has not allowed tasks of this kind to interfere with his devotion to work which may be presumed to be more congenial. In 1859 he painted a small picture from Shelley's translation of Homer's “Hymn to Mercury,” and began another from Dante, “The Angel Crossing the Styx to the City of Dis,” which when completed was rejected by the British Institution and the Royal Academy. This was in 1860; but, nothing daunted, the young artist sent it again, and in
1862 it was hung at the Royal Academy at the top of the room. From this time onward Mr. Poynter is represented by one or more pictures every year in the catalogue of the Royal Academy exhibitions. In 1865 his subject was “Faithful unto Death," a small work, but one remarkable both for the subject and the execution. A sentinel stands calm and resolute at his post at one of the gates of Hercu. laneum, clad in plate armour that gleams in the lurid light of eruptive matter from the burning mountain. Frightened figures are fleeing from the city to escape the doom; others are already overtaken by it. This picture was afterwards sent to the Royal Institution, Manchester, where it formed one of the chief attractions of the exhibition. The president of that institution characterised it at the time as the work of a very promising young man, one not unlikely to be elected an Associate before long.
From 1863 to 1867 Mr. Poynter was engaged upon a larger and more ambitious work, which was completed and exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1867 under the title of “ Israel in Egypt.” A long train of Israelites, yoked together like beasts of burden, are dragging along a colossal carved figure of the Sphinx; task-masters, in chariots, are urging them on, lashing them with thongs. The varied attitudes and straining forms of the Israelite slaves showed how great a mastery Mr. Poynter had attained in drawing the human figure; and the Egyptian background bore evidence of careful study. Every detail was characteristic ; but there was no overloading with details. This picture attracted much attention. During this time he made studies for the frescoes of “Phidias” and of “Apelles," at South Kensington, and exhibited various smaller pictures at the Academy. The year following “Israel in Egypt,” “The Catapult” was exhibited. The subject of the latter picture illustrated Warfare, as the former one had represented Slavery. A group of Roman soldiers are shooting a red-hot bolt from an engine of war, constructed of great beams of wood, on which untanned hides are rudely fastened. The grouping of the soldiers was admirably done, and the painting is firm and strong throughout. It made a most striking picture, although not exactly an attractive one, and gained for its author the Associateship of the Royal Academy.
About this time he designed the fittings and tile decorations for the grill room, South Kensington. In 1868 he went to Italy to study mosaics, and on his return designed the mosaics of St. George for the central hall of the Houses of Parliament, of which the cartoons were in the Royal Academy in 1870. Also he designed a mosaic for the lecture room at South Kensington, not yet executed in the permanent material.
The frescoes of “St. Stephen before the Council” and “St. Stephen dragged forth to be Stoned” for St. Stephen's Church, Sydenham, were done in 1870-71. The year 1868 was a very busy one, for, in addition to
travelling and studying mosaics, he exhibited several pictures in the Dudley Gallery, then just opened, water-colour portraits and landscapes ; and the same year sent •three works to the Royal Academy, of which the little picture “ Proserpine" is one of the most pleasing efforts of his brush. The Queen ordered a replica of it. It was again exhibited in the Grosvenor Gallery last year. In 1871 he had two noteworthy pictures in the Academy—“ Feeding the Sacred Ibis in the Halls of Karnac" and “The Suppliant to Venus," a small work into which he infused more tender sentiment than is his wont. In 1872 and 1873 he exhibited a pair of large pictures, painted for Lord Wharncliffe“Perseus and Andromeda” and “ The Dragon of Wantley.” They were not equal in power to “ Israel in Egypt” and “The Catapult.” The dragon in each picture, a somewhat astonishing beast, excited considerable comment from students of comparative anatomy. The fact that his thought and time were now much occupied with professional work may probably account for the temporary deterioration in his painting. In 1874 he exhibited “Rhodope ;” in 1875 two beautiful decorative works, “The Festival” and “The Golden Age,” which are also in the possession of Lord Wharncliffe, and were exhibited at Philadelphia in 1876. In 1876 “ Atalanta's Race” was one of the great pictures of the year, and won for him the rank of Academician. Atalanta's airy flying figure, stooping, and scarcely pausing as she catches up the apple, is an exquisitely graceful conception. Milanion, her lover, is a well-drawn young athlete; but he might with advantage have looked more heroic. The line of spectators along the course is well arranged.
Last year, the first of his exercise of full academical privileges, Mr. Poynter contributed two works only—a portrait and “ The Fortuneteller.” The latter was deposited in the Royal Academy on his election as Academician; and this year he is represented only by the two small but high-class pictures described in the last number of the University. His wife's beautiful face, portrayed both by himself and by other painters, has several times graced the walls of picture exhibitions. Learning and fidelity are essential characteristics of Mr. Poynter's work. We have no more educated painter than he. No slurred or slovenly work is ever allowed to deface his canvasses. His drawing is true; his modelling solid; the composition well balanced. He is, perhaps, less a master of colour than of form. The scheme of colour in his paintings, though often pleasing and never inharmonious, yet does not attain to the glow and delightsomeness of the greatest colourists. Occasionally the flesh colour is a trifle heavy. Artists to whom colour is the dearest fact in the world, while coldly allowing that Mr. Poynter has extensive art scholarship, and is incomparable in figure drawing, say scornfully that his inspiration comes from architecture and sculpture, and that he has no genius as a painter. This is, of course, an extreme view ; but such