MR. HUNT'S picture of Hamlet, recently shown in Boston with perhaps twenty others by the same artist, was apparently meant for Mr. Booth as Hamlet, or — to adopt the popular witticism—Hamlet as Mr. Booth. It is not a portrait, but neither is it an ideal interpretation of Shakespeare’s character; so that one is obliged to fall back upon its merits as a study in slate hues. But even in this aspect it fails to please: the nocturnal effect is an overdose of black lead, the battlements and towers are more insignificant than stage scenery, and Hamlet is merely an unappalling blackness in the midst of an unpicturesque darkness. From this one turned promptly to the landscapes and portraits, where Mr. Hunt could be found at his best. There was no pastoral scene among the landscapes which equaled The Ploughers of a year ago; but there was much that gave pleasure, as the two large studies of sylvan penetralia, with their consociation of swarthy boles and impleached stretches of green overhead, filtering the sunlight into tender tints, or that other instance of an immense, involuted cloud-pile steeped in a hyacinthine atmosphere and seeming about to roll down upon and smother the quiet green landscape in the foreground. Some bathers in a river yellow-green with late sunset light made a singular and rather inviting picture, though it was vexatious to have the plane of the river tipped decidedly downward toward the inner line of its curve. Another canvas was devoted to a naked boy mounted on the shoulders of a second who stood arm-pit deep in a quiet bit of water. This acrobatic bather was bodied forth with a lithe, palpitant grace that fairly captivated the eye; the whole affair was beautiful in its rich and noble simplicity; it was summer and youth and the joy of young life; the Yankee country lad (if you will) was in his beauty and unconscious nudity and sensuous delight as Greek as anything that ever lived. Altogether the most charming head was that of a little ragged Italian boy, which illustrated Mr. Hunt’s best mood of a kind of ideal languor united with a keen realistic verve. The half-length of a lady, higher on the wall, draped in a shawl chiefly orange in color, surpassed this boy in energy of tone ; and in fact each one of the human subjects had its especial merit. We wish we had not to add, as we usually must in Mr. Hunt’s case, that they also, with two or three exceptions, had their marked individual Short - comings. As exceptions we may name a broad portrait of a large, stalwart gentleman with gray side-whiskers, the commanding vigor and entire consummation of which were very acceptable and masterly; also the shrewdly characterized likeness of (we believe) Oakes Ames, and the portrait of a lady and her son. The last-mentioned, which gave the feminine figure at length and introduced the boy in the background, was particularly noticeable for the unforced relief into which the forms were brought. It was an exceptional 'example of verisimilitude which escaped being imitation. Altogether, the collection made a praiseworthy year’s work, and served to remind us of how good a thing it is to have two or three artists among a hundred who can keep so dose to their inspiration as Mr. Hunt does, and serve it so assiduously, albeit with something of the haste and impatience of the cis-Atlantic temperament,
— A correspondent sends the following account of a simpler method of cleaning pictures than that described in The Atlantic for September, 1876 : —
Spread out upon a cleanly swept bare floor a sheet of canton flannel the exact size of the canvas to be treated, and sprinkle it with alcohol, wetting it evenly all over. Turn the painting in its frame face downwards over this. Of course it is requisite that the canvas should not bag, and that the frame shall be deep enough to keep it about two inches from the flannel. Cover the whole with a thick doubled quilt or shawl which will overlap the frame some inches on every side. This method is superior in many obvious respects besides its simplicity to that of inverting the alcohol above the painting. It is unnecessary that the “ box” should be air-tight, but it must merely be close enough to prevent too rapid an evaporation of the alcohol. For unframed canvas a box may be improvised from four slips of common inch deal, three inches wide, which may be drawn together to the exact size of .anypainting, and will be found sufficiently close at the corners without fastening. To cover a large surface with alcohol quickly enough, a very small watering pot is convenient. About three to four ounces of alcohol are enough for an ordinary portrait. The whole operation is extremely simple and the result is amazing. Of course the painting must undergo a careful surface cleansing before being treated by the alcohol; and if there is dirt between layers of old varnish, only the practiced hand of an expert can get it out. Experience will teach the proper length of exposure to the alcohol, and there is no danger to the painting in any stage of the process.