A beautiful distance, neither blue nor green

Annual Exibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy have been held in the spring of each year since 1827. Works were for sale. The 1875 Exhibition opened on 13 February; it was reviewed by Frederick Wedmore in the Academy of 27 February.

The picture by Jacob van Ruysdael is ‘The Banks of a River’, now in the National Gallery of Scotland.

Appleton was the editor of the Academy, Grove of Macmillan’s Magazine.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 365].

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, p. 108]

[Edinburgh, mid-February 1875.]

I say, we have a splendid picture here in Edinburgh. A Ruysdael of which one can never tire: I think it is one of the best landscapes in the world; a grey still day, a grey still river, a rough oak wood on one shore, on the other chalky banks with very complicated footpaths, oak woods, a field where a man stands reaping, church towers relieved against the sky and a beautiful distance, neither blue nor green. It is so still, the light is so cool and temperate, the river woos you to bathe in it. O I like it!

Jacob van Ruysdael, ‘The Banks of a River’, 1649, now in the NGS [http://www.pubhist.com/]

I say, I wonder if our Scottish Academy’s exhibition is going to be done at all for Appleton or whether he does not care for it. It might amuse me, although I am not fit for it.

Why and O why doesn’t Grove publish me? – Ever yours,

R.L. Stevenson


This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A beautiful distance, neither blue nor green

  1. rdury says:

    Lovely to be able to see the painting and read the letter!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.