« НазадПродовжити »
“ Ob, 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, tbrough 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,
and means of quiet and continuous exertion, free from all fear of interruption arising from the caprices of an individual employer. Nor can it be hoped that there will ever be any large number of private patrons sufficiently high and comprehensive in their tastes, and at the same time wealthy enough in their means, to afford any considerable amount of such employment as is here contemplated.
And as all experience proves that every subordinate branch of art thrives in proportion to the express cultivation of those higher branches, whence it derives its nourishment and strength, so it is evidently the best policy, even in a narrow and merely commercial sense, for the government of every nation, mainly dependant upon commerce, to give the greatest possible encouragement to historical and poetical art. The highest commercial interestof England, therefore, demands the liberal employment of the arts for public and national purposes ;
And as experience also proves that nothing is more dangerous to the whole social polity of any community than the excessive growth of personal and individual magnificence and luxury amongst the highest classes, so long as it is unaccompanied by the progressive and visible amelioration of the lower classes,—especially in a community, the great mass of which is barely able to command the means of mere subsistence,-it is surely not too much to expect that a wise and prudent government will exert its powers to provide some means of public and general magnificence in which those lower classes shall feel they have their due and rightful share, as some counterpoise to that luxury of individuals which has heretofore brought nations, mighty as England, down to the very
dust. But should it be that the means which offer themselves as the readiest and most powerful, to enable all to gratify, in some degree, that love of the Beautiful and the Magnificent, which is natural to all
men, are also the means most powerful to dispel that very ignorance of the many, which, when opposed to the isolated splendour of the few, has heretofore given to envy and discontent all their destructive strength,what must we then think of the government which should refuse to employ them, at the very time when the sad forebodings of a renewed combination between discontent and ignorance are already rife in our land ? Surely, then, the highest political interest of England demands the employment of the arts for public and national purposes;
And to what end do we found academies and schools, and store our galleries with the productions of the illustrious dead, thereby doing all we can to stimulate the ambition of the student, and incite him to devote all his energies to the severest toils of his art; if, when he is just ready to run the race, hoping that he may reach the goal, the prize is to be removed from his sight? Is the artist whom we have taught to emulate the glory of a Raffaelle, to be compelled either to sink into utter despair, or to drivel away all his powers in labouring to become the fashionable portrait-painter of his day? Public faith, then, demands the employment of the arts for public and national purposes;
And, above all, if it be true that the Fine Arts may be made powerful adjuncts in teaching the lessons of our holy religion; if it be true that they are capable of eminently subserving the progress of morality, of peace, and of good will, surely then those interests, which of all interests are the highest, concur in demanding the employment of the arts for purposes so truly public and national, as are those which relate to us, not as Britons merely, but as Christians and as men.
The Plastic Arts may be thus employed, chiefly in these three ways: First, by national commissions, to courage