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Rogers, Ridley Colborne, and Spring Rice. Do they ever call you to Seguier, account?-I am not aware of it.
With whom does the Arts’ Evid.
II. 1434, management of the National Gallery rest ?— With the trustees, I should conceive. To whom do they report an account of their proceedings; to whom are they responsible ?--I should conceive to the treasury. You conceive, but you do not know ?-No, I do not know." “Have the trustees proposed any plan for the collection of the
Ib. 1483, best specimens of the old masters, and taken any steps towards the
1515,1528. attainment of this object, by reporting to government the results of their consideration of the subject ?-Not that I am aware of. What are the means taken by the National Gallery to get a knowledge of the sales that take place of Italian pictures on the continent ?—I do aot know that they have any particular communication; the greater part of them are persons so much interested in the arts, that I believe they know of everything offered for sale, whether in this country or abroad. Have any of the pictures of Marshal Soult been proposed to be purchased by the National Gallery ?—That I cannot speak to; I do believe that there has been some proposition made, but I am not competent to speak to that.”
Mr. Woodburn, when questioned as to the best plan in his opinion for the management of a National Gallery, insists upon the importance of adding professional knowledge to unprofessional judgment, and says:
“I consider the regulation of the French very good; they have Ib. 1697-8. what they call a custode; the chief man or person of honour is the Count Forbin: he is at the head of the Museum, and under him he has a certain number of subordinate officers, and they have four or five of what are called experts, who are judges of pictures (considered the best judges in Paris) who have to recommend...... All offers are submitted to them for their opinion, but the decision rests with Count Forbin.”
The point of arrangement appears to have been scarcely attended to in this enquiry, * but a visit to the New Gallery will render all further evidence in support of my assertion that it is utterly wanting, quite needless.
• The only mention made of it will be noticed in speaking of the capacity of the new building.
Disadvantages at. tending its erection,
Before adducing evidence as to the capabilities of the new building in Trafalgar Square for its intended purposes, I wish to call attention to certain disadvantageous circumstances under which its architect laboured, often rather unfairly, as it seems to me, kept out of view.
The site chosen, is in respect of its locality, probably as good a one as could readily be found, even were a large expenditure incurred for the purpose. But when first pointed out, it had several serious disadvantages, which however were perfectly removable at the pleasure and by the exertions of the government.
Of these the most important were the close vicinity of certain large buildings, consisting partly of military barracks, and partly of a workhouse for the parish of Saint Martin, and an old claim to a right of way almost through the centre of the site, on the part of the inhabitants of a street or two immediately contiguous. Without the removal of these, by making provision for them elsewhere, the proper size of the proposed building must necessarily be diminished; its light obstructed; its plan destroyed by minute subdivision, and the architectural effect of its façade greatly injured.
But, so far from these serious disadvantages being removed, they were gratuitously increased. Not only were the beauty and the fitness of the National Gallery of England sacrificed to the government barracks and the parish workhouse, but certain cognoscenti, having discovered that only half of Saint Martin's portico (remarkable chiefly for its bigness, and for two improvements on the ancient examples—the introduction of windows beneath its pediment, and of iron railings between its columns) could be seen from both sides of the street, after the erection of the proposed building, wisely called upon the government to “set it back," and it was set back accordingly fifty feet, so as to bring it into immeing, the
diate contact-wall against wall—with the barracks, and within a very few feet of the workhouse. *
But not all the blame of this most unwise proceeding belongs to the government; the outcry was, doubtless, somewhat formidable, and the assailants having proceeded to such lengths as actually to get up a parish meet
government was naturally compelled to yield.+ These are circumstances not to be lost sight of, in considering the undeniable and very serious defects which so unfortunately characterize the present erection. I proceed to the selection of evidence on this point.
When questioned respecting the arrangement of our Evid. ut national pictures, Mr.Seguier expressed his opinion,“that 1597-9. they could not be better arranged than those are at the Louvre," but doubted if our new gallery would afford room for such an arrangement. When asked,
“Has there been no provision in the plan of the National Gallery for the historical arrangement of pictures according to schools, and for making a distinction between the great schools of Italy and the different national schools?" he replies: “I should doubt whether there is room for that. But has there been no arrangement with that view? --Certainly not.”
* It was much regretted at the time that a brother architect of considerable distinction was induced to lend himself to this outcry against Mr. Wilkins' original plan. He went so far (and so much beyond the matter at issue) as to print bis “doubt whether anything half so good as the front of the King's Mews,” (erected by Kent, and then on the site of the proposed gallery,) “were likely to occupy its place.” And this was said, by anticipation, of the work of one who had sufficiently proved himself, at least not the inferior of his opponent, whether we regard the attainments of the scholar, the taste of the travelled artist, or the successful labours of the architect. I mention this as one indication of the unfair treatment to wbich Mr. Wilkins was then exposed.
† And the famous portico of Saint Martin's is, after all, seen to less advantage than it would bave been bad the former arrangement been adbered to.
Want of communication between keeper and arcbitect.
When examined touching the magnificent pictures by Rubens at Whitehall, Mr. Seguier says: "where they are they are thrown away; nothing can be so absurd as to have those in a chapel: they would be desirable works indeed for a National Gallery." The examination continues :
“And if they should come into the possession of the National Gallery, do you think you would be able to dispose of them ?"Mr. Seguier after stating the dimensions of the centre picture (40 feet by 30), replies (1654), “it would be quite impossible to place them in the National Gallery." When further asked, “if the public should ever obtain possession of any of the larger specimens of the Venetian school, do you think you would be able to dispose of them in the National Gallery?”--the reply is, “I do not think in the present building there would be room." And Mr. Wilkins adds: “Certainly not, for pictures of these dimensions. These galleries are planned more with reference to our present collection than to any larger pictures." (1657.)
Mr. Seguier states (No. 1659), that (although principal keeper of the National Gallery) he was “not consulted as to the formation of the present building." Among the minor bad consequences of the want of a communication, so obviously essential, may be mentioned the absence of any copying-room, in which pictures might be copied without obstructing the public access to those not in use for that purpose. Mr. Seguier assuming it to be desirable that the public should be afforded such access (instead of having four days in the week only as at present), replies to the question:
“ You think it advisable that there should be a room expressly for copying attached to the National Gallery –Most decidedly. What advantage do you think it would be productive of ?-It would interfere with the public completely if copying were allowed in the other rooms; and, on the other hand, the public would interfere with the artists. . . . I am aware it has been already adopted in some countries, and I think it a very good plan.” (1677-80.)
While Mr. Wilkins, in reply to the question, “ have you had a room expressly for copying in view, in the
Want of a copyingroom.
construction of the National Gallery?” replies, tainly not, because any one room is equally well adapted, I consider, for copying.” Before leaving this subject of construction, and with Construc
tion of the reference to the same point of communication between Munich architect and keeper, I quote, from the examination of PinacoMr. Seguier, respecting the Pinacotheca of Munich : Evid. ut
sup. 1590, “Are you aware that there are three peculiarities in that gallery;
et seq. See the first that there is a long corridor from which you can branch off Evidence
also the into any school, without going through the intermediate schools, by of Baron which the eye of the visitor may at once take in a first impression,
its archiwithout being disturbed by seeing any other school? I think that a tect, Ib. very desirable arrangement. What do you think in the second place of 2881-2. this; for the separate schools there are large rooms formed, and appropriated to the largest and most magnificent pictures, and attached to these are smaller rooms for the mere cabinet pictures ?-I think that an erceedingly good plan.” (The third point relates to the copying-room, which has been already mentioned.)
But Mr. Wilkins, on the same subject, replies to the Ib. Mr.
1216-20. - When
you say have bad no reference to foreign galleries, did you ever consider whether the gallery at Munich, the Pinacotheca, is one worthy of imitation ?-As architectural rooms it may be, not as rooms for exhibition. Have you been in it?-—I know it by designs; I have not been in it: in a room for the exhibition of pictures, I conceive that what is wanted is plenty of wall and plenty of light. Do you know how the Pinacotheca is lighted ?-No, I do not. In our galleries there is abundance of light, it is so much more easy to modify light than to add it, and I was determined they should have enough, and in fact there will be too much light, a great deal. Are you aware that in the Munich gallery, a corridor runs the whole length from which you can get to any one school, without going through the others ?-Yes. Is not that an advantage?—I do not conceive it to be so. I think our distribution of the galleries will be found infinitely more convenient.”
In order to put this singular diversity of opinion between architect and keeper on an important feature of the plan into juxtaposition, I have made the fore