On The 8Th Of July, 1843, Washington Allston Died. Twenty-One Years Have
Since Gone By; And Already His Name Has A Fine Flavor Of The Past Added
To Its Own Proper Aroma.
In Twenty-One Years Art Has Made Large Advances, But Not In the
Direction Of Imagination. In that Rare And Precious Quality The Works Of
Allston Remain Preëminent As Before.
It Is Now So Long Ago As 1827 That The First Exhibition Of Pictures At
The Boston Athenæum Took Place; And Then And There Did Allston First
Become Known To His American Public. Returned from Europe After A Long
Absence, He Had For Some Years Been Living a Retired, Even A Recluse
Life, Was Personally Known To A Few Friends, And By Name Only To The
Public. The Exhibition Of Some Of His Pictures On This Occasion Made
Known His Genius To His Fellow-Citizens; And Who, Having once Felt The
Strange Charm Of That Genius, But Recalls With Joyful Interest The Happy
Hour When He Was First Brought Under Its Influence? I Well Remember,
Even At This Distance In time, The Mystic, Charmed presence That Hung
About The "Jeremiah Dictating his Prophecy To Baruch The Scribe,"
"Beatrice," "The Flight Of Florimel," "The Triumphal Song Of Miriam On
The Destruction Of Pharaoh And His Host In the Red sea," And "The
Valentine." I Was Then Young, And Had Yet To Learn That The Quality That
So Attracted me In these Pictures Is, Indeed, The Rarest Virtue In any
Work Of Art,--That, Although Pictures Without Imagination Are Without
Savor, Yet That The Larger Number Of Those That Are Painted are
Destitute Of That Grace,--And That, When, In later Years, I Should Visit
The Principal Galleries Of Europe, And See The Masterpieces Of Each
Master, I Still Should Return To The Memory Of Allston'S Works As To
Something most Precious And Unique In art. I Have Also, Since That Time,
Come To Believe, That, While Every Sensitive Beholder Must Feel The
Charm Of Allston'S Style, Its Intellectual Ripeness Can Be Fully
Appreciated only By The Aid Of A Foreign Culture.