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from the truth and dignity of art.” This, we repeat it, must ever be the case, where the uncultivated million are the patrons. The most refined education in every department of learning and science will not communicate a discriminative taste for painting. The perusal of the best rules and precepts only renders men obstinate in mistaking their way, when their eyes have not been educated in their youth by the view of grand examples of painting and sculpture. DR. JOHNSON, whose chief admiration of Reynolds’s pencil was its art of making £6,000. a year, is a proof, that without an educated eye in painting, learning and high intellectual powers are but blind guides. Dr. GOLDSMITH, with more elegant fancy and fine natural taste as a poet, is another instance of similar ignorance in the fine arts, arising from the circumstance that his mind was educated, while his eye remained in untaught darkness with respect to painting and sculpture.
Mr. Shee, whose pen and pencil have done him so much honour, agrees in opinion with Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Barry, and has enforced similar arguments in his
Rhymes on Art.” Barry presented his eloquent plea to the King and the British nation in 1774. He marked the cause of the evil, church exclusion ; he pointed out the remedy, church admission. Seven years later, Sir Joshua, in 1781, wrote his Tour in Flanders, and pointed out the evil, church exclusion, and advised the remedy, church admission. Twenty-five years after Reynolds's solemn counsel to the nation, Shee, with equal eloquence and manliness, sounded the alarm again; once more called the attention of the government and nation to the EVIL, CHURCH EXCLUSION, and again advised what Barry and Reynolds had advised so many years before, CHURCH AD
MISSION. That artist, in a noble strain of enthusiasm, roused the British students to redoubled exertions.
“Ye generous Youths ! by Nature's bounty graced;
THE STATE; !
In 1805, when this able and patriotic advocate for the highest department of painting thus proudly called on the genius of his country to emulate the glories of the ancients, and feelingly appealed to the government in its behalf, he was sensible that there then existed a flattering source of hope in the patronage afforded by George the Third to the public style, in the person of Mr. West, the president of the Royal Academy, and historical painter to the King. The ardent poet adverted to that important and exemplary source of encouragement, with strong expectations :“ However, as AN EXAMPLE has been set by the AUGUST HEAD OF THE CHURCH in HIS MAJESTY'S CHAPEL at Windsor Castle, and also in the chapel at Greenwich Hospital, without any apparent ill consequence, it is to be hoped that the remains of the conventicle spirit will soon be exhausted. Perhaps the
decorations of our religious temples 'may yet call forth the genius of a British Raphael or Michael Angelo." (Ibid. note, p. 101.)
The Poet's “ Remonstrance of a Painter" excited public attention, and contributed, with the labours and advice of West, and the noble example of Sir John Fleming Leicester, towards the formation of the British Institution for the promotion of the Fine Arts, or rather for the advancement of history painting. A number of students in the Royal Academy entered the historical field. We cannot bere take the liberty of mentioning those deserving artists by name, which is the less necessary, because their names will be found in the catalogues of the annual exhibitions. But after a few years of honourable exertion, they have, perhaps, with a single exception, been compelled to abandon historical painting, and to betake themselves to painting portraits or small fancy pictures, and making designs for booksellers, as a resource from public apathy and neglect. Of these, the two most persevering and distinguished were Hilton and HAYDON. Under the instructions, and after the enthusiastic example of WEST, they made rapid advances in the Royal Academy. Each devoted his powers to the study of the public style, upon a great scale ; each obtained several prizes from the British Institution ;-but how has their professional career ended? Hilton, with the amenity of Raphael, with a rich and graceful invention, an eye for colouring, and great vigour of execution, gave up his whole time and mind to his pencil: he painted several grand compositions from sacred history, which obtained him a high reputation, and one of those pictures was purchased by the patriotic body last mentioned. His merits placed bim, for a number of years,
in a conspicuous rank before the nation ; yet he never received a commission to paint an historical picture for any public edifice!
He was upwards of sixteen years painting history upon the precarious prospect of chance · purchasers, before he was favoured with a commission by any British nobleman or gentleman. The first commission which he had the good fortune to be honoured with, was in 1818, to paint the EUROPA for SIR JOHN FLEMING LEICESTER, a patron, whose name can never be mentioned but with esteem and gratitude by the British artists. At this moment, Hilton, with all his acknowledged powers, is still a dependent upon the occasional chance sale of his pictures, which are full of poetical graces and charms, and are painted upon a contracted scale, to suit the fashion of the time, for private collections.
HAYDON, with undaunted energies, and the lofty ambition of rivalling the great masters, painted a succession of grand historical pictures, chiefly upon an expanded scale. The depth and force of his colouring gave additional effect to his drawing and design; and his works would bave commanded success in any other country but his own. His earnest enthusiasm, his towering hopes, his immeasurable contempt for every department of painting but the public historical style, are fresh in the minds of amateurs and artists. His genius and his power of execution merited patronage and distinction. What has been the result of his intense devotion? After twenty years of successful study and practice of history painting, all the proud hopes of his aspiring nature bave terminated in difficulty, in want and debt, in arrest, imprisonment, and the absolute necessity of fleeing from historical painting, as FROM A ROCK OF RUIN, to take refuge in portrait painting,
which he had reviled as the strong hold of imbecility and meanness, and in which he is now compelled to paint for his daily bread!
Here then we have at our doors, the consequences of slighting the advice of BARRY, in 1774; of REYNOLDS, in 1781 ; and of Shee, in 1805: the young escape in debt, reproach, humiliation, and danger, from historical painting as from a fatal snare or quicksand! West, the venerable Founder and Father of British historical painting, dies, and leaves a sublime series of paintings from sacred and profane bistory, poetry, and original fancy, a great portion of the labours of his long and meritorious life, unsold, as the sole inheritance of his children!
In 1810, five years after the formation of the British Institution, this unfortunate declension of history painting was foreseen and foretold by the author of “ Cursory Thoughts on the present State of the Fine Arts, occasioned by the founding of the Liverpool Academy.” That writer stated, that-"Every city or town, which contains a townhall, exchange, or edifice for aggregate assemblies, possesses apartments sufficiently spacious for the arrangement of pictures on a large scale, and is, therefore, a theatre for the display of grand historical compositions. Our history is rich in subjects of elevation; ancient history, also, breathes the spirit of patriotism; and a few hundred or thousand pounds, annually, or occasionally, contributed by the town, the corporation, or the county, and paid to British artists, would not only reflect honour on the vicinity, but, if the practice became general, would provide something like a permanent employment for the historical artists; elevate the public taste, and ultimately effect every national object of the arts." (Cursory Thoughts, &c. p. 14.)
The same author, in the following passages, freely