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There is yet one other point, on which I shall quote the opinion of Sir Martin Shee, the President of the Royal Academy, expressed in his recent Letter to Lord John Russell, &c., on the Exhibition of the Royal Academy :*
“The French populace are, I regret to be obliged to of the hum- confess it, more sensible to the works of Art,-more bler classes qualified to enjoy the pleasure which such works afford, fluence of and less disposed to injure them, than are the humbler works of classes of this country.” Art.-Let., &c. p. 23.
If these things be true, it is high time to cease railing, and begin considering how they are to be amended,
For my own part, I confess, I do not think it will be by Act of Parliament, I have no love for the forcing system, either in knowledge or in commerce; nor do I expect that Government patronage will of itself suffice to create a new Revival.
But, inasmuch as I believe that our inferiority in the application of design to manufacture, as well as our apathy to the more spiritual creations of Art, are alike to be traced to the one radical defect,—namely, that with us the Fine Arts have not as yet been trained to take firm hold as indigenous and hardy creatures of the soil, and a necessary part of its common culture, but have, on the contrary, been nursed as exotic luxuries; so I think, that in this very preparatory training, there is something which it is the natural office of THE STATE to do, and which it alone can do well. Some such lesson the history of the great Revival will teach us, if it be thoughtfully considered.
There is so much that is dazzling in the constellated lustre of the age of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo,—we
• Not, I believe, printed for Sale.
are so accustomed to hear of the results of the patronage of Julius and of Leo the Tenth, and to gaze upon the wonders of the Vatican, as if they had been raised by the magic of some mighty spell, that we are tempted almost to forget what had been already achieved in the age which preceded, and upon how high a vantage ground those illustrious men had been placed by the efforts and the discoveries of the many earnest, and patient, and successful artists who had them.
It were well indeed if some who talk much about patronage, were now and then to refresh their memories, by referring at least to the instructive and accessible pages of Lanzi or of Tiraboschi, upon the early history of the revival of Art in Italy.
It would then be seen that it was not by the fortuitous appearance of a galaxy of munificent and heavendescended patrons, creating a new excellence in Art, by forming the desire to flatter their personal vanity in a way more refined than formerly;-that it was not by this, or by any similar means, that the heralds of the Revival prepared the way for their country's greatness and their own immortality, but by entering heart and soul into the prevalent feeling—the onward aspirationwhich characterized their time; by appealing from the lower passions to the loftier; by addressing themselves directly to the emotions which were struggling and burning within the bosoms of the noblest of their countrymen, and translating these into the most universal of all languages—that of Plastic Art in its highest and purest manifestations.
The builders, for instance, of that early time, disdaining to continue the mere imitators of a corrupted style, seem to have said to one another: Let us build temples to the Eternal, of which the eye shall with difficulty penetrate the depth or estimate the height; whose columns,
without pedestal or capital, like the tall and ancient trees of the forest, shall insensibly lose themselves in the vaulted roofs; the gigantic arcades of which shall be crowned with long galleries, fit to be filled on solemn days with countless crowds ;-temples, whose sculptured towers shall raise aloft the august signs of our redemption, announcing to the traveller from afar, that he is indeed entering a Christian city.
Yes, it was in temples such as these that our fathers worshipped, and to their erection and adornment, that they loved to dedicate of their worldly substance as God had prospered them. Rich and poor, the great and the lowly, alike contributed.*
These things, indeed, may have been turned to abuse--as what may not be?-yet were it well if we, their descendants, more frequently imitated those who thus honoured religion in its outward forms, remembering, with Sir Thomas Browne, that we have reformed from them, not against them.
These cathedrals, which seem intended almost for eternity, were erected beneath the influence of a growing ecclesiastical authority; they were the exponents of a new element in the onward march of civilization, and their builders went forth in all the strength of men, whose lives were devoted to one great object, and whose minds could grasp everything that tended to its attainments. Everywhere the same ideas are impressed upon the visible forms of Art,—religious feeling.t-resist
Compare, for example, in the history of the Abbey of Saint Denis, (Paris MSS.), the account of its decoration with Arabesque painting on glass, &c.; when “the devotion was so great, on the part both of rich and poor, that money flowed into the treasury in such abundance as to enable the Directors to pay the workmen regularly from week to week."-See also Alexander Lenoir, Peintures sur Verre. It must be confessed, our modern churches are generally built on a different principle.
† Mr. Bulwer bas well' observed, that even in our time, the most striking and powerful painter we possess, owes bis inspiration to a deep
ance to the oppressions of a decaying feudalism, have their types and emblems in the simple habitation of the citizen,* as well as in the cathedral and the public hall. The amazing exuberance of fancy displayed did not exhaust the invention of these artists, for the very reason that they were addressing themselves to feelings which all shared, and were not merely ministering to the capricious luxury of opulence or rank. Nor was this spirit confined to the architect and the sculptor.
Nothing but this and the intense emulation it excited in the different States, raised Italy to its proud preeminence in Art. The quarrels of the Guelfs and the
and fervid sense of the religious.—"And the dark and solemn shadow of the Hebrew God rests over the towers of Babylon, the vallies of Eden, and the awful desolation of the universal deluge."-England and the English. 2d edit. 1833 ; vol. ii. p. 208.
I believe the genius of Martin has never been so well characterized before, because never with so deep a sympathy. Though it will still be but a fragment, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting a small portion more. “In him,” continues Mr. Bulwer, “there is the presence of a spirit which is not of this world--the divine intoxication of a great soul, lapped in majestic and unearthly dreams. He has taken a range, if not wholly new, at least rarely traversed, in the vast air of religious contemplation; he has gone back into the drear antique; he has made the Old Testament, with its stern traditionary grandeur-its solemn shadows and ancestral terrors—his own element and appanage. He has looked upon the ebon throne of Eld,' and imbued a mind, destined to reproduce what it surveyed, with
“A mighty darkness,
* An excellent work, illustrative of the domestic architecture of this period, is now in course of publication, entitled, “ Die Holzarchitectur des Mittelalters, &c.—von C. Boetticher, Architect. (The Architecture in Wood, of the Middle Ages, by C. Boetticher.) This work abounds with beautiful examples.
Ghibelines were continued with as much animosity during the thirteenth as during the preceding century; yet the Fine Arts continued to progress in the midst of civil strife, and the very same ambition which excited one city to attempt the subjection of another, led it to justify the usurpation by its superiority in the Arts, and by the number and magnificence of its public works. And when, towards the close of this century, many of the communities intrusted civil or military chieftains with large powers of government, these new rulers continued and increased the impulse which had been given; which also received fresh accessions from the institution of new religious orders. The spirit of devotion, and the spirit of political party, alike nourished the love of Art,—the thirst for a new and more satisfying embodyment of the longings of the ardent and just emancipated mind. Strife, indeed, was everywhere; but mental energy was also everywhere; and it was to similar divisions into separate territories, and to similar enthusiastic emulation, that Greece of old owed her crown of immortality.
Here then we perceive the presence of two important conditions: the one, that the pervading spirit of the nation, and of the age, was at once the spur and the goal of artistic effort; the other, that the product and progress of Art were felt to be of universal interest, greater or less in degree, indeed, but without distinction of rank or of class.
The history of the comparative progress of the Fine Arts in Greece and in ancient Rome, has afforded an excellent illustration of the character of really efficient “patronage.” The comparison has been summed up in the pithy sentence, that, in Greece, Art was treated as