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REPORT OF THE COMMONS' COMMITTEE ON ARTS AND MANU
FACTURES-PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE STATE OF ART AND PATRONAGE IN ENGLAND.
The relations of the arts of design, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture with the State, as instruments of National Education, and as means of public enjoyment and magnificence, open up a wide field of enquiry which has been less explored in England than, perhaps, in any other civilized country of the ancient or modern world.
But of late there have been several indications of an aroused attention to this subject. Associations have been formed for the attainment of objects more or less closely connected with it. Repeated allusions have been made to it in parliamentary discussions, and committees have been appointed to enquire into the state of the arts and of artistic institutions amongst us. A central School of Design has been established by the Government, and facilities have been afforded for more free public access to our national monuments and public buildings.
And, in truth, every step which has been taken any one of these several proceedings, has supplie) ample evidence to show how necessary it was that the public interest in the progress of Art, and most of all in the duties of Government in relation thereto, should be aroused ; and has shown also how very much remains to be done before the rank of England, in this respect, will be worthy of the proud position which, in so many others, she holds among the nations.
This rank is truly determined, not so much by the possession of distinguished professors in one or more of their branches, as by that far better criterion—the degree in which the humanising influence of the arts is seen to prevade the population at large, aiding in the development of their best feelings, in the cultivation of their minds, and in the nurture of their public as well as private virtues. History has proofs enough, that where less than this is the general aim and purpose to which the plastic arts are usually applied, there may be indeed be-gilded and be-titled artisans, greatly applauded by those whom they amuse, but there can be no ARTists able, through successive ages, to assert their places among the wisest and worthiest of the teachers of mankind.
The Committee appointed “to inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the Arts, and of the principles of design among the people (especially the manufacturing population) of the country; and also to inquire into the constitution, management, and effects
of institutions connected with the Arts,” commence Session their Report by acknowledging, as an “inference they
1836. Parl. Paper are obliged to draw from the testimony they have No. 568,
received; that, from the highest branches of poetical design down to the lowest connexion between design and manufactures, the Arts have received little encouragement in this country;" and again, that "in many
spotic countries far more development has been given
genius, and greater encouragement to industry, by a nore liberal diffusion of the enlightening influence of the Arts."
With particular reference to manufacturing industry, the Committee further state that the witnesses “ frequently, if not uniformly, felt themselves compelled to Ibid. p. iv draw a comparison more favorable (in the matter of design) to our foreign rivals, and especially to the French, than could have been desired either by themselves or by the Committee.”
After expressing their anxiety “ to investigate the pervading cause which seemed to justify this conclusion,” the Committee proceed : “ It appears that the great advantage which foreign manufacturing-artists possess over those of Great Britain, consists in the greater extension of art throughout the mass of society abroad. Art is comparatively dear in England. In France it is cheap, because it is generally diffused. In England a wealthy manufacturer has no difficulty in procuring superior designs. Our affluent silversmiths have called to their aid the genius of Flaxman and of Stothard; but the manufacturer of cheap plate and of inferior jewellery cannot procure designs equal to those of France, without incurring expense disproportioned
to the value of the article on which his labour is the employed.”
In following the Committee into the more important of the details here given, with the view of exhibiting the general results of their enquiries, it will be expedient, for the sake of brevity and clearness, to depart some
what from the arrangement adopted in their Report. are
I think the subjects treated of may be naturally
arranged under these three principal heads :
First, the means of elementary instruction in the
manufacturing population. Under this head will
art with ORDINARY EDUCATION. ☺
4. Elementary Books ON ART.
principles of taste in relation to them, with
and higher schools.
- of Art.
Fine Arts. .
All these subjects receive more or less illustration in the Report we are considering. I proceed to state its substance, under each head, before making any comment on the specific measures recommended by the Committee.
1. Of ele- . “The want of instruction,” proceeds the Report, struction in “experienced by our workmen in the Arts is strongly the princi- adverted to by many witnesses. This deficiency is said ples of Design; -its to be particularly manifest in that branch of our industry, -
Which is commonly called the fancy trade; more espe- connexion
with ordinlly in the silk trade; and most of all, probably, in the nury educaribbon manufacture. ........
“This scanty supply of instruction is the more to be lamented, because it appears that there exists among the enterprising and laborious classes of our country an earnest desire for information in the Arts. To this fact, Mr. Howell, one of the factory inspectors, has borne ample testimony. Mr. Morrison, a member of the House of Commons, has given evidence to the same effect. . “It appears to the Committee most desirable, with a Instruction view to extend a love and knowledge of art among the in the
mentary people, that the principles of design should form a principles
of Design portion of any permanent system of NATIONAL EDUCAtion. Such elementary instruction should be based part of any on an extension of the knowledge of form, by the system of adoption of a bold style of geometrical and outline- national drawing, such as is practised in the national schools of Bavaria.
“Much importance has justly been attributed to the Schools of Schools of Design so generally diffused throughout Design in France. These schools (in number about 80) are superintended by the Government.......
“ According to the evidence of a distinguished foreigner, Dr. Waagen, the intelligent administration of Prussia has felt the necessity of paying great attention to the instruction of the Prussian manufacturers in art. ...... In Bavaria there are thirty-three schools of design. Outline-drawing, to a considerable extent, forms an element in the system of national education.
“His Majesty's Government has this year, for the England. first time, proposed a vote in the Estimates for the establishment of a Normal School of design.
“It appears to the Committee that, in the formation of such an institution, not mere theoretical instruction