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As to the class of associates,* I cannot find that any adequate reason has been assigned for its existence. Nor does it seem very easy to imagine any: but the evil effects which have already attended it are far more obvious.
Without adopting the whole of Mr. Foggo's opinion on this subject, as given in his evidence (1380), there is but too much reason to fear that there are some influences connected with this probationary class, which tend to “debase the young artist to a state of feigned humility inimical to the aspirings of high art.” The hope of station and the dread of power may too often"
cause the aspirants in the profession to forget and neglect every other motive, whilst in the others, permanent possession of that power” may often make “even men of genius forget themselves.” And Mr. Clint, who speaks from experience, and whose opinion also deserves much respect, characterizes the present connexion between the two classes of academicians and associates as “having a most powerful tendency to demoralize each other.” (Evid. 989.)
A petition was, in 1836, presented to the House of Commons, to which were attached the distinguished names of Doo, Pye, Burnet, Fox, Goodall, Finden, Robinson, Watt, and Raimbach, showing “that, notwithstanding the high estimation in which the art of engraving, as practised in England, is held by surrounding nations, yet neither the art itself, nor its most distinguished professors, have ever derived from the institutions of the country that consideration, encouragement, or respect, which it is presumed so useful
* “ These associates shall not be admitted into any offices of the society, nor have any vote in their assemblies.”—Abstract of the instrument of institution of the Royal Academy of Arts, 24.
the art of
a branch of art may fairly lay claim to.” This petition Evidence was referred to the select committee on Arts and Manu- relating to factures, and evidence was adduced in support of it, in engraving, the course of which it was stated, by Mr. John Burnet, John Pye, that
“What the general body of engravers find fault with is that the honours attached to their profession are only half conferred; that is, the Academy allow all the engravers to be elected associates, but it is impossible they can ever go a step higher: consequently, if I were to put down my name, I might be elected an associate engraver of the Academy, perhaps, but then I would be more degraded than now, for I should rank inferior to a royal academician. Consequently, perhaps with one or two exceptions, no engravers of eminence will insert their names. The great founders of the art, Strange, Woollett, and Sharpe never put their names down. Inferior artists have put their names down, and so it has produced an injurious effect. ... The Royal Academy know it is no honour, and yet they will not alter any law by which we might endeavour to become members, considering it an honour. ... I am not quite sure, I have not looked over the names, but I think there is no eminent line engraver of the present day, if I except Mr. Bromley, who is an excellent artist.” (924-6.)
And Mr. Pye, in reply to the question—“Does the
Ibid, Royal Academy of Arts in London extend protection or pp. 18, 19, encouragement to the art of engraving?”-says:
“It appears that the laws of the Royal Academy of Arts admit to academic honours, historical painters, landscape painters, portrait painters, flower painters, sculptors, architects, die-engravers, watchchasers, and enamel painters; professors of each of these branches of art having been academicians, as the catalogues of the Royal Academy testify. But all classes of engravers, excepting dieengravers, are excluded from academic honours; nor can I learn that engraving has ever derived any protection or advantages from the Royal Academy: on the contrary, the constitution of that establishment, instead of excluding engravers altogether, as may be presumed it ought to have done, if engraving were deemed, by those who made its laws, unworthy to rank with the many other branches of art just mentioned, has not merely deprived engraving of that rank in England which is assigned to it by all the academies of art on the continent of Europe; but it has attached to that profession a
mark of degradation that does not attach to any other branch of fine art, however low its claims may be. ...
“What rank do engravers hold on the continent of Europe, in relation to the professors of the other branches of the fine arts? -The academies of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice assign to engravers the same rank that is given to the other branches of fine art. Each Academy has a professor of engraving residing on the establishment to give lectures, &c. At Paris, also, engravers bold rank in common with other members of the Institute....
“What is the peculiar position in which engravers are placed by the Royal Academy? you have stated they are neither admitted nor altogether excluded from that institution.—Engravers are not suspended between honour and disgrace by the laws of the Royal Academy; but six engravers are eligible as ASSOCIATES ONLY: the profession is, consequently, held up to the gaze of the world, as being beneath every other branch of fine art; and its professors are thereby marked as persons of inferior capacities. Sir Robert Strange, in his work on the rise and establishment of the Royal Academy, says, “care was taken that the mode of admission should effectually exclude every engraver who had any of that conscious pride wbich the better artists always possess;' and the line engravers
of the present day so fully respond to that fact, that they carefully Pye, Evid. abstain from all connexion with the Royal Academy on such terms pp. 25, 26. of degradation.” (1308-1310.)
These statements are so clear, and the arguments founded upon them so irresistible, that I shall not attempt to add to them, save by remarking that this exclusion of engravers took its origin in one of those very unfavorable circumstances which attended the foundation of the Royal Academy, and which have never since ceased to produce discord in that institution. A brief review of those circumstances will throw light, as well upon the question of limited number, as upon this other question of exclusion of engravers.
In the contemporary work of Sir Robert Strange, which has been already mentioned, the circumstances which attended the first establishment of the Royal Academy are thus related:
“Mr. Dalton, librarian to his Majesty (George III.), had been
treasurer to the Society, (the Chartered Society of Artists,) and a leading man in the direction. He had lately devised a plan of establishing what he called a print warehouse. With that view he purchased the property which belonged to Mr. Lamb, the auctioneer in Pall Mall. There he expended a considerable sum in building and making necessary alterations for his new project. But being conducted without judgment and without taste, it soon proved abortive. Finding, therefore, the ridiculous appearance his undertaking made, and anxious to relieve himself of the great expense in which it had involved him, Mr. Dalton, in conjunction with some of his friends, formed a scheme to engage the king to establish an academy in these rooms ; but this was kept a profound secret from the Society till they obtained the royal consent.
“ No person ever played a more successful game. Mr. Dalton, my information says, was perpetually about the person of the king,
Strange's and availing himself of a proper opportunity, succeeded. majesty clearly saw the folly into which his librarian had precipitated &c. 8vo.
Lond. himself; and therefore, from bis natural humanity, as well as from desire of promoting the fine arts, which he loved, adopted the pro- 71-74. posed plan. . The label on the door containing the PRINT WAREHOUSE was erased, and another substituted in its place, viz. THE ROYAL ACADEMY." To this royal institution every student was to pay one guinea a year. This was in 1767.
In the following year, the dissension in the Society of Artists having reached its height, and the remnant of the old directors, whose attempts to obtain an arbitrary and irresponsible power had occasioned the dissension, having by a vigorous effort on the part of the general body of members, become a minority, now, with the help of Mr. Dalton, betook themselves to the king, and proposed an enlargement of the plan of the Royal Academy, so that it might only serve their views of triumph over the society from which they had seceded.
“No sooner,” continues Sir Robert Strange, “had these artists fortified themselves under the banner of royalty, than it appeared that their sole view was to retain the power which they had usurped. They were about twenty-four in number. They deemed it neces- Ib. 1775, sary to secure themselves a perpetual majority in their assemblies. p. 101. They circumscribed, therefore, the number of the members of this Academy to forty. By this means the same twenty-four men were sure to be of consequence, and to be capable of carrying any measure in a Society of forty members. . ...
In modelling the plan of this Academy, I had the bonour, as I
was informed, to be particularly remembered by them.• At length, the more effectually to prevent every chance that I might have of
partaking the honours they were sharing, it was proposed that Strange's nothing less than a total exclusion of engravers should take place. Inquiry,
Amazing, that men who pretended to promote the fine arts, and Lond. reflect honour upon the king, could have the effrontery to present pp. 112-3. the public with a regulation equally contradictory and unjust.”+
The importance of an immediateľ remedy for this long-continued evil is enhanced by the consideration that, owing to its too frequent subjection to the dictates of trade, and the consequent multiplication of inferior works, the art of engraving, as practised in England, is in danger of losing somewhat of that high character
• Strange had rendered bimself very obnoxions to Mr. Dalton, by baving, wben they were both in Italy, interfered with certain schemes to obtain copies of celebrated pictures, on false pretensions of commission from the king; and he had been in consequence so misrepresented to his majesty, that it was not until many years after the period now in question, that he recovered the king's favour.See his Letter to Lord Bute, prefixed to the Inquiry.
+ The author adds, that Benjamin West " warmly opposed the motion : be entered into the merits of the profession in its various consequences; he showed the advantages which painting reaps from it, as well as the benefits which might result from it to this country as a commercial nation. But his endeavours were to no purpose, and the measure was carried against him.” Sir Robert thus concludes his work : “ Let others appreciate my talents as an engraver; but, without either vanity or presumption, I may be allowed to say, I have been a constant and zealous promoter of the arts, and have with indefatigable application endeavoured to do credit to my own profession. It is to rescue it in some measure from that indignity which it bas unjustly suffered on my account, rather than from personal resentment against the royal academicians, that I have been thus obliged to take up my pen in its defence." ..
| More than thirty years ago a most able memorial was addressed to the Academy by Mr. John Landseer, then an associate-engraver, praying their recognition of the just claims of engraving, as well to academic cultivation as to academic honours. A portion of this memorial has been reprinted in the Evidence on Arts, &c., and the whole of it is given in Mr. Pye's pamphlet on the subject.