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have hitherto been might be inferred, even had no other reasons been adduced, from the significant fact that, in other pursuits closely allied (though not identical) with those comprised within the Royal Academy, institutions are now in course of formation, having the same twofold object of bestowing marks of distinction on those who follow such pursuits, and of affording increased facilities for their study.
These are the legitimate objects of academic institutions, and it is in respect of these that in past times academies have been of the greatest utility. To expect that such institutions should of themselves suffice“ to create great masters,”* or to quarrel with them for not doing so, is idle, inasmuch as this is not their purpose. Under favorable circumstances, and in connexion with an enlightened public patronage of the highest efforts of art, great masters have been trained in them. Under less favorable circumstances, they have been able to do little more than prepare the soil, and to sow the seed, which happier influences may yet ripen into an abundant harvest.
“L'esprit général,” says an able writert on academic institutions, “qui doit guider une société est le développement, l'encouragement, la notoriété des talens. Son esprit doit être edifiant et organizateur; et doit s'éloigner de tout ce qui tient aux agitations des états.”
* “ Les académies ne font pas les grand maîtres."-J. B. Say, Economie Politique. But he elsewhere says most justly: Les académies et les sociétés savantes, .. où non-seulement on conserve le dépôt des connaissances et les bonnes méthodes d'enseignement, mais où l'on étende
cesse le domaine des sciences, sont donc regardées comme une dépense bien entendue en tout pays où l'on sait apprécier les avantages attachés au développement des facultés humaines.-16. liv. iii. ch. 6, (vol. ii. p. 267, 2d edit.)
+ J. F. Sobry, Sur les Sociétés Littéraires.
Jan. 2, 1769.
“Every seminary of learning,” said Sir Joshua Reynolds in his first discourse on opening the Royal Academy,
may be said to be surrounded with an atmosphere of floating knowledge, where every mind may gather somewhat congenial to its own original conceptions. Knowledge thus obtained has always somewhat more popular and useful than that which is forced upon the mind by private precept or solitary meditation.”
Believing that the Royal Academy, when invested with the powers, privileges, and responsibilities of a national institution, will be found to discharge its important functions worthily and zealously, I cannot but earnestly hope that no suggestions, either of a false pride or of a false economy, will be suffered to impede the progress of such reforms as are indispensably necessary to the maintenance of that high character.
“Oh, better sun!
“In a country in wbich the Arts are not yet become a subject of study as profound as general, Historical Painting will never flourish to any considerable extent, through the patronage of mere individuals taken singly. It can only thrive THROUGH THE NATION IN A BODY, or through the liberality of the Sovereign.”
Thomas Hope-Costume of the Ancients.
ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE
OF THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF HISTORICAL PAINTING AND
OF SCULPTURE BY THE STATE.
The History of the Arts of Design is one continued proof that their employment for public and national purposes is absolutely indispensable to the attainment of the highest excellence in them. In a nation, laborious and commercial, the power of those arts greatly to enhance the value of many important articles of commerce will suffice to ensure their culture, by individuals, as the useful accessories of manufacture. And in a nation, rich and luxurious, their power of ministering to the splendours of ostentation, and to the gratification of the senses, will equally suffice to ensure their cultivation up to a very high point of that subserviency, but, save in rare and exceptive instances, no further. And it is equally certain that their highest powers, even in these merely subordinate relations, have never yet been fully developed, except in countries, and during periods of time, in which those other and grander powers which they possess, of directly assisting moral and intellectual progression, have also received their share of express and independent cultivation.
The loftiest capabilities of the art, like the largest powers of the artist, require for their display a subject in which the sensibilities of a whole people are interested,