New York

G.P.A. Healy

Florence Lewison Gallery

Florence Lewison has performed a useful service in showing ten paintings by G.P.A. Healy (1813–94) of the artist’s family. Healy’s usual style is characteristic of the generation that followed Sully: where there is a linear rhythm it is apt to be fluid, like Sully, but the touch and in fact the vision are terribly hard and dry—shiny more than painterly, in those passages where painterliness might seem to have been called for. Ingham is typical of this style, which is not a sympathetic one. While the two earliest paintings in the present show are more or less in this manner, the others are very different; in them the drawing may be bad and the color incoherent, but one sees that at least the artist was trying to do something, to come to grips with some pictorial or emotional experience which in his commissioned work he preferred to avoid. Sometimes one thinks of Tissot (as in First Steps)—the comparison is just to give some idea of what the work looks like; but even Tissot was a bit too advanced for Healy, and by far the best painting in this show is one that is more timid and quiet; it is very close to Fantin, even in its low-keyed luminosity and discreet but very real feeling for the sensuous possibilities of observed and of painted surfaces. A single personality might be capable of all sorts of things, if only it would try!

Jerrold Lanes