« НазадПродовжити »
becomes an evil directly they are made indispensable conditions to the notice and favours of the public.
The object of an exhibition is to afford every candidate for the favour of the public an opportunity of obtaining it, irrespective of any particular distinction or mark of honour whatsoever; and it is at once the means of judging of the propriety of such distinctions in the cases wherein they have been conferred, and the court of final appeal against real or supposed error or injustice in the cases wherein they have been refused. But to unite the control of honours and of public exhibitions in the same hands, is to place not alone the professional distinction but also the very means of subsistence of the rising artist at the absolute disposal of a body of men who are at once his competitors and his judges. It is to vest in one fallible court the enormous powers of primary judgment
and of final appeal. Incompati. And again: the object of a school of instruction is to bility of the functions
upon the student all that knowledge of his art, of exhibi- both in theory and in practice, which is possessed by its tion with those of ablest existing professors. It is to raise him (so far as the schools.
may be done by instruction) up to the level of the artistical knowledge of his day.
The object of an exhibition (so far as respects the exhibitor) is to call forth the native and original powers of the artist, by the force of emulation. It is to throw him upon his own resources and raise him above the level of his day.
But to unite the absolute control and management of the schools with the absolute control and management of the exhibition, is to offer a premium for servile imitation, and to prevent, as far as is possible, all progressive improvement.
For it is to be remembered that with the great body of the public, the exhibition of the Royal Academy (held too in a public edifice) is the exhibition par excellence ; it
is that which is to be followed and looked up to. And it is further to be remembered that absolute rejection of his works is by no means necessary to the ruin of an artist's hopes; his fate depends upon their place.
To make the same body of men teachers and conferrers of diplomas would be in itself objectionable, could it be obviated without risk of a greater evil,* but to add to this the absolute control over an exhibition, which is the artist's only remaining means of attaining success in his profession, is to provide with perfect certainty for the utter failure of the institution in each and every of these dissimilar and heterogeneous objects. Let us proceed to enquire whether or not this result has been actually attained, or at least approximated to, in practice. And first, as to the exhibition:
“I may state," says Mr. George Rennie, “ with regard to the Evidence grievances complained of by artists regarding the exhibition, that as to ex.
hibition. the academicians reserve to themselves all the best places; and also, by regulation No. 8, in the printed rules, that three days or more, according to the convenience of the arrangement, at the discretion of the council, shall be allowed to all members of the Royal Academy, to finish or paint up their pictures in the places which have been allotted to them, previous to the day appointed for the annual dinner in the exbibition room. Now, I believe, there is no rule or regulation of the Royal Academy that is more complained of by artists.
The academician has the sole privilege of admittance to the exhibition rooms, where he may retouch and finish his pictures and clean them ; in fact, he may put them in the very best condition to be seen; whereas an artist who is not an academician, submits his pictures to the public view dusty, dirty, and in whatever situation they may remain after the dust and bustle of preparing the exhibition is over.--(II. 676-7.)
“Have you ever heard it made an object of remark by foreign artists, or in foreign professional works, the immense proportion the
• But this objection is greatly obviated in the case of the Royal Academy, by the number of academicians, and by its including professors of various distinct branches of art, having equal votes in every case.
number of portraits in the Exhibition at Somerset House bears to other paintings?-It is a very common and a very just remark. The number of portraits may be referred to the great wealth of the country, and the want of acquaintance with the arts generally among our population ; another reason is,—the Royal Academy existing by the profits of exhibition, there is no class of art that brings more money to the doors than the portraits."—(Ib. 683.)
The preponderance of portraits in the annual exhibition is indeed enormous. From a return, in classes, of the number of works exhibited during the ten years ending with 1833, it appears that the number of historical and poetical works, together, was 1,398; while the number of portraits was 5,093, or nearly 4 to 1.*
The evidence continues. The next witness is Mr. Hurlstone, President of the Society of British Artists:
“The Royal Academy compel artists to exhibit there, by declaring that, unless they do, they shall be debarred from all the honours and the highest patronage of the profession, and at the same time they alone have unlimited control of the proceeds arising from the exhibition of those artists' works. In referring to their returns, I find that, during three years, the proportion of members of the Academy, and other exhibitors, was, in 1833, 45 members of the Royal Academy (including associates), and 608 non-members. In 1832, 48 members exhibited, and 638 non-members. In 1831 the exhibition consisted of the works of 45 members, and 655 nonmembers."—(Ib. 743.) “The funds of the Royal Academy are raised from the exhibition of all the artists' works, and it seems hardly reconcilable with justice that there should be 600 artists (exhibiting] who have no control over the funds, no positive claim on them, and that 40 should have an absolute control, besides pensions appropriated to themselves."—(Ib. 778.)
Mr. Martin, referring to the old apartments of the Academy, admits that
“ The academicians have had a great deal to contend with; they
* But it is only justice to the members of the Academy to observe, that of the former number 349, or one fourth, were contributed by them, but of the portraits only 685, or little more than one eighth.
have so few good situations, that they constantly differ even amongst themselves. Have you had reason to complain that your
historical paintings have been jostled out of an appropriate place for them by the intrusion of some petty portraits ?-Yes, that is generally the case; every artist must have that to complain of, particularly those who have given a great deal of time and study to their works. It is a shame that a portrait, which is already paid for before it is sent to the place, and a thing of little or no study, should occupy the place of an historical picture."—(Ib. 829-830.)
Mr. Haydon also states, that “ The Academy is benefited by the works of some of the most eminent men in the world, and they deny them the right of preparing pictures for the public, on which their existence depends, after they are hung up. Mr. Martin gave an extraordinary instance of their hanging a picture of his: some of the academicians dropped a quantity of varnish and ruined the picture,* and he suffered a whole season by this unreasonable oppression. May and June are the very existence of an artist who is working for bread, and who depends on the effects his works have in these months, for the existence of a whole
afterwards. It was infamous to injure an eminent man's work, and deny him a just remedy. In fact the Academy is a House of Lords without King or Commons for appeal. The artists are at the mercy of a despotism, whose unlimited power tends to destroy all feeling for right or justice; forty men do as they please without appeal.”—(Ib. 1063.)
Speaking of his own case, Mr. Haydon continues : “ My first picture was painted in 1806, and exhibited in 1807; it was well hung, and purchased by Thomas Hope. Then I began a much greater picture, “Deatatus,' well known in the art, and in Germany, and which was for Lord Mulgrave, my employer. He begged me to keep it for the British Institution. I told him I was a student of the Academy, and wished to support it, as I derived the greater part of my knowledge studying there. I then sent • Dentatus' to the Royal Academy (in 1809.).. This picture was hung in the great room, in the same place as the other; and after two days it was taken down and put in the dark, on the assertion that I
• I have not quoted this at length, because the incident occurred a long time ago, and was doubtless accidental. The important point about it is that it illustrates the badness of the regulation which precluded remedy in such a case.
occupied the place of an academician; when, instead of an academician's picture, a little girl in a pink sash was put there to fill the place. Not the picture of an academician ?-Certainly; and in the ante-room there was no window at that time; therefore it was destruction to an artist of any reputation to have a picture of that class, which cost him two years painting, * put in that position. ... The consequences were so dreadful that I lost all employment; a handsome commission was taken from me, and I never had another commission for sixteen years. ... I then tried to found a school, and produced Eastlake, the Landseers, Harvey, Lance, Chatfield; but here the Academy opposed me, and destroyed my school by calumny."—(Ib. 1066-7,) &c. &c.
The defensive and explanatory statements of the Academy in relation to these various charges are contained in the evidence of the president and secretary, from which I quote the following. Sir Martin Shee, speaking of the arrangement of the exhibition, says:
“In my experience, which I am sorry to say now extends to thirty-six years, I never knew a more disagreeable duty; I have known several persons refuse it, and nothing but the strongest representations could induce them to submit to the drudgery of hanging the pictures. Upon a very recent occasion, one of the persons appointed to hang the pictures remonstrated in the strongest manner, and actually declined to fulfil the office; and nothing but the representation of the council that it was his duty, could induce bim to undertake it ... The exhibition is arranged in this way: members not of the council, for the time being, are not admitted to the rooms during the process. It might be supposed that the members of the Academy generally would have the power of dictating where their own pictures should be placed, and of coming in and disapproving of the situations allotted to them. This is not the case ; and no member of the council is allowed to utter a word to any artist ont of the Academy as to the situation in which his pictures are placed. Is it not usual for members of the hangingcommittee to place their own pictures in the best situations ?-By no
• It is right to add, that this picture afterwards obtained the first premium from the British Institution. Amongst the pictures in competition with it on that occasion was one an academician wbo was on the “ banging-committee” of 1809.