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« Δύο εικόνας ειργάσατο Πολύκλειτος κατά το αυτό, την μεν τοίς όχλοις χαριζόμενος, την δε κατά του νόμον της τέχνης. 'Έχαρίζετο δε τους πολλούς του τρόπον τέτον καθ' έκαστον των εισιόντων μετετίθει τι, και μεταμόρφέ, πειθόμενος τη εκάστε υφηγήσει. Προύθηκεν εν αμφοτέρας και η μεν υπό πάντων έθαυμάζετο, ή δέ ετέρα εγελάτο. Υπολα βών εν έφη ο Πολόκλειτος, αλλά ταύτην μεν, ήν ψέγετε, υμείς εποιήσατε, ταύτην δε, ήν θαυμάζετε, εγώ'.” ELIANI Varia Historia...curavit C. G. Kuehn, lib. 14, c. 8.-Τom. ii.
p. 274. Lips. 1780.
That neither artists nor the public have much confidence in the mode in which our public competitions are usually managed, has been strikingly evinced on several recent occasions, and especially in connexion with Architecture. In the case of the new Houses of Parliament, nearly two years were suffered to elapse Houses of between the selection of the best design and its final Parliaapproval, during which period repeated attempts were made to re-open the whole question, several divisions took place in the House of Commons on the subject, and a paper war was commenced, which has scarcely ended yet ;--and this, notwithstanding an extraordinary unanimity of opinion respecting the great merit of the selected design. Even now there appears to be considerable uncertainty as to the extent to which Mr. Barry is really responsible for the actual execution of his plans.
In the more recent, and still unsettled, case of the Royal designs for the new Royal Exchange, the result of the Exchange. competition has been wholly unsatisfactory.
The number of designs sent in was large, and included many of great merit. The consideration of them was
referred by the Gresham committee to three distinguished architects, none of whom had competedindeed, two of them were notoriously averse to public competitions altogether. These gentlemen reported that a certain design was the best, and that certain others were the second and third best; they added, however, that none of the three was free from serious defects in respect of construction, or could be executed for the sum to which the competing architects had been limited. They consequently proceeded to select other three designs, inferior to those in architectural beauty, but, in their estimation, coming within the prescribed limit in respect of cost; in these, however, as in the former, they found considerable defects in point of construction. On the whole, they reported that there was no design which they could recommend the committee to adopt for execution.
Accordingly, on the reception of this report, the Gresham committee awarded the premiums offered for the best designs to the second class of those selected; those, namely—though not the best—the cost of which was stated by the adjudicators to come within the prescribed amount. The other designs were returned to their respective authors.
Naturally enough, the architects whose designs had been placed in the first class as to merit protested strongly against this decision; and they requested to be allowed to adduce evidence in proof of the practicability of their several designs as to construction, and of the possibility of executing them within the limits laid down in the programme. This very reasonable application was not acceded to, and the committee requested the adjudicators themselves jointly to prepare designs --a request with which, after some delay, they declined to comply.
Thus far nothing had been gained on the one hand,
while, on the other, the various competitors had suffered severe losses, both in time and expenditure. A second reference of all the selected designs led to no better result; and it now appears that a new and limited competition is to be entered into, and that this is to include an architect not concerned in the former competition, but who was one of the committee's referees on the second occasion. This proceeding has greatly increased the dissatisfaction which already existed.
In both these cases the programme, or code of instructions for the guidance of the competitors, was loose and unsatisfactory; the composition of the tribunal (though very different in each) was, in the outset, far from being calculated to inspire confidence; and no sufficient means were taken to attract the public attention, and to induce the formation and expression of critical opinion on the merits of the various designs submitted. Instead of public exhibition before the adjudication of the premiums, such exhibition followed the adjudication in the former case, and in the latter there was no public exhibition at all. These are obviously points of the first importance.
monuments in Saint
The case has not been better with respect to our Sculpture. public competitions for works of Sculpture: and here we may usefully carry the retrospect a little further back.
Surprise has often been expressed that the opportu- The public nities afforded to our sculptors by the parliamentary votes of statues to many of our countrymen who dis- Paul's catinguished themselves during the late war, were so little thedral,&c. improved as to produce scarcely a work calculated to do lasting honour to the country. Yet among the sculptors employed were Bacon, Chantrey, Rossi, and Flaxman. To what cause are we to ascribe the disappointment? It will be found, I think, in the subjection of the taste and judgment of the artist to the capricious
pleasure of a committee of superintendence, in the composition of which not the slightest pains had been taken to ensure even a sound elementary knowledge of the matter in hand.
“A superintendence of the public monuments of sculpture seems to have been considered necessary,” says Mr. Prince Hoare,* “to guide the less informed minds of the sculptors; and for that purpose a commission was formed, composed of such persons as were most conspicuous for a liberal regard for the arts; gentlemen of high repute for classical learning and refinement, (some of them members of the House of Commons) candid in their opinions and amiable in every concern of life. In conjunction with these was nominated the President of the Royal Academy." After stating that this superintendence gradually fell altogether into the hands of the unprofessional judges, “to the total exclusion, or with the total desertion, of artists of whatever description,” Mr. Hoare thus proceeds:t
“To the committee of taste thus formed exclusively of unprofessional judges, not only an absolute preliminary power is intrusted of deciding what designs shall be accepted and preferred for execution, as well as to what sculptor a preference shall be given, in consequence of his design having met their approbation; but they exercise also a discretionary power of directing whether a part, or the whole, of any of the models so approved by them shall be executed; whether parts of one design shall be transferred to another, so as perhaps to compound one out of two ; and, finally, whether a sculptor shall execute his own design or that of another competitor.” Well may the writer conclude by saying,
* In his Epochs of the Arts, London, 1813, p. 229, et seg. + Ib. p. 233.