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tional merit. You will get in that way the opinion of persons certainly competent, because they have gone through all the study and all the detail, and must at once be struck with the successful solution of the
problem.” Competi It has been thought that not the least of the diffitions-open or select.
culties connected with the question of competitions, more especially for buildings, lies in determining whether or not they should be, strictly speaking, public at all: that is, whether they should be limited to a certain number of competitors invited for their known talents, or open to all the world: and it is not surprising that the opinions of many of the most eminent professors incline to the former course.
The architect who has just been quoted, says on this subject:*
“It is obvious you must induce the most eminent practitioners to enter into that [the competition), and they will not do so if they have not some regard paid to their experience. If all persons are invited of all ages, young and old, with and without experience, an old professor feels himself rather dishonoured by the company he finds himself in, and he will not accept the competition,.... you lose therefore the benefit of his opinion....... The regulations of your competition I apprehend should be, that the competitors should be in the first place known as eminent in their particular walks, that they should have practised a certain number of years, that they should have gone through a regular course of study,” &c.
But when asked if he would exclude from the competition all who had not practised for a certain time, and gone through a certain course of instruction; and as if perceiving the impolicy and injustice of such a restriction, Mr. Cockerell adds:
“I would not entirely limit it, because I conceive it may be possible that a very young practitioner may have ability sufficient to
Ev., l. 2193, et seq.
entitle him to enter into such a competition ; in that case I supposé he may have a right to challenge the committee who drew out the programme to admit his services; he may put forward his pretensions, and it is then for the committee to judge whether he is likely to be a proper competitor."
This has very much the appearance of trifling. If it be both unwise and unjust altogether to exclude the yeť unknown artist from the opportunity of displaying his talents, it is surely neither very wise nor very just to make such an opportunity contingent upon the chance of his satisfying a committee before-hand that he is a proper competitor. Nor is it easy to see where lies the detriment or dishonour to the established artist in a competition ever so open, provided it be honestly conducted. The objection seems to depend entirely upon some latent misgiving as to the fairness of the judges.
A committee appointed to enquire into this subject by the Institute of British Architects very fairly admit that “the arguments advanced in favour of (open) competition are sufficiently forcible. Emulation is said to be the soul of excellence in the arts and sciencesthe recognized talents of the elder professor are supposed to be maintained in activity and progressive improvement, and his employers to be protected from the routine manner, which security in public patronage and private practice are too apt to produce : -while an opportunity is afforded to the young aspirant to take that place in public estimation to which his talents may entitle him..... The motives by which the experienced and conscientious professor is impelled to enter into competition are undoubtedly of a mixed character. The love of his art, the pride of authorship, emulation, the hope of professional distinction, and the prospect of pecuniary advantage, all have their share in inducing
him to embark a certain venture of his time, talents, and labour upon an uncertain chance of a return."*
The true ground, I apprehend, on which the policy, in most cases, of open competitions is to be maintained, consists in their tendency to bring into the field the largest amount of talent which can be brought to bear upon the object in view. If the regulations be fair, and the judges well chosen, the already eminent architect, or sculptor, will never be likely to lose the legitimate advantages of his reputation and experience; -if he enjoy more than these, it is a mischief. Undoubtedly it will, in all cases, after the choice of designs, be the duty of the judges to obtain evidence of the executive ability of the artist, if theretofore it have been comparatively unknown.
In general, then, it would seem, from the evidence before us, that the points to be chiefly attended to in the regulation of artistic competitions, may be thus summed up: 1. The programme should be clear and definite as
to the objects to be attained, while giving considerable latitude to the artist as to the means of attaining them.
In drawing up this programme, the best professional opinions
that are within reach should be consulted.+ 2. Whatever instructions are ultimately resolved
upon should be rigorously adhered to; and no designs should be admitted to the competition
which are not in strict accordance with them. 3. There should be a public exhibition of all the
Report of the Committee appointed to consider the subject of public competitions for architectural designs, Jan. 24, 1839; pp. 5-9.
+ On this point see the same report, p. 12.
competing designs before as well as after the adjudication, and the utmost possible facilities should be given to the expression and pub
lication of opinions. 4. Wherever it is possible there should be a
secondary tribunal or committee of artists, composed either of those who have retired from the practice of their profession, or of those who, although continuing its practice, have, from whatever cause, refrained from entering into the competition in question. This committee should make a written and detailed report to the ultimate judges, on the merits of the several designs submitted, arranged under the respective heads into which the subject may naturally divide itself. With this report their duties should terminate. Experience seems to dictate that the names of this committee should be concealed until
their report shall have been made. 5. The final decision should rest with a very
small number of unprofessional judges, selected for their known acquaintance with the arts of design, and paid for their services. On them it would devolve as well to form their own opinions of the designs submitted by careful examination, as to receive and consider the report of the committee of artists; and this report, together with their own deliberate judgment, and the reasons for it,
should ultimately be given to the public. Whether such a board might not with advantage be a permanent one, * publicly appointed without reference
Quatremêre de Quincy seems to be opposed to this plan. In the general summary which he gives of the course of procedure, which seems to bim preferable for the regulation of competitions, I cannot wholly
to any particular competition, is deserving of serious consideration. It will become more especially so when justice shall have been done to the arts of painting and sculpture, by admitting them to their share of that liberal public employment which hitherto in Britain has been almost exclusively confined to architecture.
The almost utter exclusion of painting from any public encouragement whatever might indeed well excite indignant remonstrance. Even when immense sums have been expended (alas ! but too unsatisfactorily) upon palaces and public halls, to the enrichment of the architect and the plasterer, the historical painter has found no employment at all, and the sculptor but little, save in an inferior capacity.
I do not think this would have been the case, at least to the same extent, had there been an efficient CONTROL over the execution of our public buildings.
By an efficient control, I do not mean such a power of interference with the respective architects (extending even to a power of altering their very elevations after they have been positively approved, )* as Sir Edward
concur, but so much respect is due to his opinion that I append the passage. It is as follows:
“ Partout où il existe une arène ouverte à tous les artistes, dans une exposition publique et périodique de leurs ouvrages, on a les moyens naturels et suffisans de concours. Que des prix consistant en travaux se distribuent à la fin de chaque exposition à ceux qui auront mérité ces encouragemens; qu'on laisse l'opinion publique s'exercer de toutes les manières pendant un temps donné sur la préeminence relative des ouvrages ; qu'un ou trois juges, pris par le sort parmi ceux des artistes qui ne devroient point avoir part à cette distribution, prononcent par écrit et en motivant leur jugement sur ce qu'ils auront estimé être l'opinion publique; que ce jugement soit définitif, et l'on aura ce que la raison, la convenance et le justice peuvent faire de mieux dans cette ordre de choses."
* For example: speaking of the new houses of Parliament, Sir E. Cust says, “The north front of Westminster Hall, which it is very properly proposed to incorporate into the design, looks now so bald in the midst of the panelled and pinnacled' architecture that surrounds it, that it