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which it has so long and justly borne throughout Europe.
If it be right that the Royal Academy, as an assembly Removal of of honour, should continue to be upheld, it is also right dependence that its needful expenses, as such, should be defrayed on exhibifrom funds provided by the State, and not from the profits of an exhibition. We shall presently have occasion to perceive that many direct evils result from the existing arrangement, as respects the exhibition itself. But the conclusion becomes irresistible, if it be shown that the united functions of an exhibition committee, and of an assembly of honour, are incompatible with the due discharge of either, and that it is to this combination of heterogeneous functions that the errors of the Academy, be they what they may, are mainly to be ascribed. I proceed to the consideration of the Royal Academy as a school of instruction.
It cannot be denied that academic schools have, Academies throughout Europe, too much superseded those older considered and better schools, wherein master and pupil were con- of instrucnected by almost family ties, and out of which arose some of the greatest artists that have adorned the modern world. To what extent we may ever be able, under the altered circumstances of present life, to revert to that old and healthy system, must be matter of uncertainty ; but not so the fact that academic schools of some kind (and under the best attainable management) must continue to afford the chief means of instruction to a very large number of our artists.
The advantages afforded to students in the Royal
Academy, are thus described by Mr. Howard, its secretary:
For the student in painting, “ there are the school of the antique, the school of the living model, and the school of painting, all of which are under the superintendence of the ablest masters in the country. The use of a good library of books on art, which is continually increasing by gifts and by purchase, a large collection of prints, and some copies of the most celebrated pictures, the lectures of the professors, annual premiums for the best copies made in the painting school, and a biennial premium for the best original historical painting. Although the privileges of a student generally continue for ten years only, on application to the council he may be re-admitted from year to year; but if he obtain any premium in the course of the ten years, he then becomes a student for life. Any student obtaining the gold medal at the biennial distribution of prizes, may become a candidate for a travelling studentship, which will further enable him to pursue his studies on the continent for three years, on a pension from the Academy. The student in sculpture has the benefit of the schools of design, of an admirable collection of casts; of the library, in which are engravings from all the galleries in Europe ; the lectures and premiums; and, in rotation, the contingent advantage of the travelling studentship. The advantages afforded to the student in architecture are the schools of design, the lectures; the library, containing all the valuable works on architecture which have been published here and on the continent; annual and biennial premiums, and the contingent advantage of the travelling studentship. The school is unfortunately deficient in architectural models, and merely because the Royal Academy has no room in which to place them [1836.] The Society, notwithstanding, purchased a fine collection of architectural casts (a few years since) which had belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence, and presented them to the British Museum, where they are arranged in an excellent light, and are available to all the artists of the country. The students in engraving are in no wise distinguished from the others;* the same advantages are open to all. An extensive collection of engravings from the earliest times, wbich is in the library, was purchased by the Academy at the price of
* This must be a mistake, as there are no lectures on engraving, nor any sort of provision for special instruction in that art, there being no professorship of engraving. Probably Mr. Howard means that all the other lectures, &c. are open to the students of engraving.
600 guineas, chiefly with a view to the information of this class of students," (2118.)
The number of students on the books is stated by Mr. Hilton, the keeper, at about 500, of whom 321 were admitted during the ten years between 1825 and 1835. The average attendance in the life-school varies from 15 to 20; that in the school of the antique, from 25 to 35, (2169-75.)
That the system of teachers in rotation in the life- Defects of school of the Royal Academy is injudicious, I believe the Royal to be now tacitly acknowledged by the Academy itself; as a school and it will doubtless be altered. But, with this exception, we have the valuable testimony of Mr. Haydon, a witness not likely to be biassed in favour of the Academy, to the general efficiency of the schools, at least in relation to the present means of the Institution.*
But these means are far from being adequate to that Suggested “extension of the schools of the Royal Academy,” which extension Mr. Haydon justly regards as necessary to make it the schools“great central school” of art. Those means must be B. R. Hayincreased, and we may then reasonably look for much don, Esq. greater regularity and efficiency in the lectures ;t for the 1084. foundation of a professorship of engraving, and for the Desidemaking effective the nominally existing professorships
• See Evidence, II. 1058. Mr. Haydon bas also borne his testimony to an important fact, in stating (ib. 1124) that, “in respect of lectures, academies have done good, and we are indebted to them.” Those of Reynolds, Opie, Fuseli, and Flaxman, in our own Academy, and of Coypel, and others, in France, are of the highest value.
+ The delivery of lectures bas bitherto been exceedingly irregular. The laws provide for the delivery of six lectures, at the least, in each year, on each of the following subjects, viz. anatomy, perspective, architecture, sculpture, and painting. But on a computation of ten years, one hundred and eleven lectures have been omitted (out of three hundred.) Those on architecture were suspended for seven years, and none whatever have been delivered on perspective for the last ten years.
In both instances the professorships were nominally continued, and the names of the professors announced, as usual, in the yearly catalogues. These are instances of neglect wbich the friends of the Academy deeply lament.
of archæology, and of the history and literature of art; for the general improvement of the library and other collections ;* and, above all, for the discontinuance of a practice which is alike disgraceful to the Academy and to the country—the closing of all the schools of instruction during the whole period of the annual exhibition.
This needful increase of resources has been often called for, from the time of Barryť downwards, but the claim has been hitherto disregarded. Without it little improvement can be expected.
No reasons have yet been assigned why the functions of management, as respects these schools, should be separated from those of the assembly of honour. But when the schools are placed on a more satisfactory footing, as to maintenance, it will be indispensable to
* It is highly honorable to the Academy, that when Sir Thomas Lawrence's admirable collection of drawings by ancient masters was offered for sale, that body, impelled by a desire to see the collection preserved entire, as for the honour of the country it ought to have been, voted, on the motion of Mr. Phillips, then professor of painting, the sum of £1000 towards a subscription for its purchase, on condition that it should be placed in the British Museum, and rendered available for the general study of artists, and the improvement of the public taste. But the Academy was unable, single handed, to accomplish its excellent purpose.
+ See Barry's Account of a Series of Pictures, &c. (8vo. Lond. 1783,) p. 103, et seq., and Sir M. A. Shee's Elements of Art, p. 306, &c. It is to be regretted that the opponents of academies, in toto, are not more careful in their selection of authorities. It is not, for example, uncommon to find them claim both the writers now referred to, and apply portions of their writings in a sense they were never intended to bear. Barry (though a thorough reformer of their abuses) was one of the staunchest supporters of academies. The same may be said of Sir Martin Shee, whose oftenquoted opinions, in the Elements of Art, apply to the Academy, considered simply as an exhibition of the works of the day.
that of an
provide for their regular inspection, and for the publication of periodical reports. These ensured, it is not easy to perceive any necessary incompatibility of function, so far as schools and assembly of honour are concerned. But very different is the case when we come to Academy
considered consider the Academy as a means for the public exhi
as a public bition of the works of the day.
To give to an assembly of honour, by which alone Incompatithe highest claims of every artist in the country are to bility of be adjudged, an uncontrolled power over the exhibition tion with or non-exhibition of the works on which those claims
assembly are founded, and by which they are to be justified, is at of honour. once to give temptation to an abuse of power; and having thereby induced that abuse, (the best constituted bodies being fallible,) further to take away all appeal from its injustice.
The object of an honorary distinction, such as R.A., is to stamp a man's pretensions as an artist with the sanction of those who are best qualified to judge of them. To the individual it is a most gratifying honour; to the public a most valuable indication.* But as no imaginable association for conferring such distinctions can be made to work with unerring certainty, so the existence of them
• It must surely be attributable to the hurried and imperfect consideration which is sometimes all that a protracted viva voce examination allows of, that so well-informed a man and accomplished an artist as Mr. Hurlstone should have thus expressed himself on this subject before the Arts' Committee, (in Qu. 793, vol. ii.): “A diploma is not necessary in art ; the public at large, the higher classes in particular, are those who decide on the success of an artist, and they can well appreciate talent in art immediately that it appears." Let the reader contrast this with the opinion of Sir M. A. Shee (Qu. 2005, ib.) and decide for bimself:-“ it is because the public are ignorant, to an extraordinary degree, on the subject of the arts; it is because even those who are considered as the enlightened class of society, who are even considered competent to legislate on all other points, are incompetent judges of the arts, that it is necessary it should be reserved for artists to decide as to who are entitled to academic honours."