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competing designs before as well as after the adjudication, and the utmost possible facilities should be given to the expression and pub
lication of opinions. 4. Wherever it is possible there should be a
secondary tribunal or committee of artists, composed either of those who have retired from the practice of their profession, or of those who, although continuing its practice, have, from whatever cause, refrained from entering into the competition in question. This committee should make a written and detailed report to the ultimate judges, on the merits of the several designs submitted, arranged under the respective heads into which the subject may naturally divide itself. With this report their duties should terminate. Experience seems to dictate that the names of this committee should be concealed until
their report shall have been made. 5. The final decision should rest with a very
small number of unprofessional judges, selected for their known acquaintance with the arts of design, and paid for their services. On them it would devolve as well to form their own opinions of the designs submitted by careful examination, as to receive and consider the report of the committee of artists ; and this report, together with their own deliberate judgment, and the reasons for it,
should ultimately be given to the public. Whether such a board might not with advantage be a permanent one,* publicly appointed without reference
* Quatremêre de Quincy seems to be opposed to this plan. In the general summary which he gives of the course of procedure, which seems to bim preferable for the regulation of competitions, I cannot wholly concur, but so much respect is due to his opinion that I append the passage. It is as follows :
to any particular competition, is deserving of serious consideration. It will become more especially so when justice shall have been done to the arts of painting and sculpture, by admitting them to their share of that liberal public employment which hitherto in Britain has been almost exclusively confined to architecture.
The almost utter exclusion of painting from any public encouragement whatever might indeed well excite indignant remonstrance. Even when immense sums have been expended (alas! but too unsatisfactorily) upon palaces and public halls, to the enrichment of the architect and the plasterer, the historical painter has found no employment at all, and the sculptor but little, save in an inferior capacity.
I do not think this would have been the case, at least to the same extent, had there been an efficient CONTROL over the execution of our public buildings.
By an efficient control, I do not mean such a power of interference with the respective architects (extending even to a power of altering their very elevations after they have been positively approved,)* as Sir Edward
“ Partout où il existe une arène ouverte à tous les artistes, dans une exposition publique et périodique de leurs ouvrages, on a les moyens naturels et suffisans de concours. Que des prix consistant en travaux se distribuent à la fin de chaque exposition à ceux qui auront mérité ces encouragemens; qu'on laisse l'opinion publique s'exercer de toutes les manières pendant un temps donné sur la préeminence relative des ouvrages ; qu'un ou trois juges, pris par le sort parmi ceux des artistes qui ne devroient point avoir part à cette distribution, prononcent par écrit et en motivant leur jugement sur ce qu'ils auront estimé être l'opinion publique; que ce jugement soit définitif, et l'on aura ce que la raison, la convenance et le justice peuvent faire de mieux dans cette ordre de choses."
* For example: speaking of the new houses of Parliament, Sir E. Cust says, “The north front of Westminster Hall, which it is very properly proposed to incorporate into the design, looks now so bald in the midst of the panelled and pinnacled architecture that surrounds it, that it would be my advice rather to lower the tone (if I may borrow such an expression from a sister art) of the new building, to suit the old, than be exposed to the necessity hereafter of colouring up the old to make it accord with the new. I have that high opinion of Mr. Barry's abilities, that I am convinced he has only to be required to do this, or in any other way to exert his taste and discretion in an alteration demanding both those qualities, in order to make any designs of his admirable ; but who is to require this at his hands ?" etc. [The italics are in the orig.] The plan proposed by Sir Edward is “the re-establishment of the office of surveyor-general of public buildings, and the placing it in commission; the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to be ex-officio members, and a certain number of persons wbose judgment in affairs of taste can be confided in, to be named by the crown to complete the commission; the first commissioner of woods and forests to be the chairman of the new board, and to have the power of calling it into existence by his summons, whenever he may deem it necessary for the public service to do so.” - Thoughts, &c., p. 15. • 8vo, London, 1837, published by Weale.
Cust has recommended in his Thoughts on the expedience of a better system of control and supervision over buildings erected at the public expense,* but merely such a general superintendence as should, on the one hand, watch over the execution of the approved designs in their full integrity, and leave the responsibility of the architect untouched; and on the other, see that the fullest and fairest use is made of all opportunities which our public buildings may afford for the employment of the highest genius in painting and in sculpture which the country possesses, but in perfect subserviency and unity with their design and object.
I cannot but think that some such power as this, within judicious limitations, might be advantageously intrusted to the very persons who shall be found best fitted to adjudicate, in the last resort, upon public competitions. At all events it is pleasing to reflect that the difficulties which connect themselves with both branches of the subject will be found to diminish precisely in proportion as the great æsthetic principles of the arts of design, and their enlightened cultivation, are made to form indispensable parts of an enlarged and liberal education.
Emulation amongst our artists, if it is to produce its best results, must be freed from the trammels which petty intrigues, miserable jealousies, and want of confidence in the knowledge and honesty of critics and of judges, have too long thrown around it. It is not enough (it cannot be too often repeated) that works of art should address themselves to the taste and judg. ment of the few. The artist of to-day, gifted with earnest and enduring aspirations, and toiling on, it may be, in retirement and neglect, must be brought face to face with his countrymen at largemmust find sympathy and appreciation in them, if he is to produce anything which shall rival the works of the mighty dead.