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pripts, and books of art, was cast into the King's Bench, and has taken to portrait painting to get his bread.” There is no friend of genius or of the British School, but must feel allicted at this additional effect of the great national obstacle, the exclusion of pictures from churches, The powers of this eminent artist were peculiarly calculated for the public style, and his intense devotion and high practical abilities, and professional ambition, were deserving of public patronage. A “ Memoir of Mr. Haydon," published in the European Magazine for Nov. 1824, contains the following passage, which shows that HAYDON has been forced by the great national obstacle, church exclusion, to quit historical painting conditionally, and now owes tranquillity and ease to portrait painting, that line “ which he once held in such contempt. He will NEVER UNDERTAKE ANOTHER HISTORICAL WORK unless employed to do so, for with history he has scarcely any other association but BITTERNESS, DEGRADATION, and SORROW. Flashes of hope brightening only to be obscured, anticipation of success, generated only to be disappointed.” (p. 87.) Here then have closed the splendid prospects, which this eminent artist justly indulged in on his professional outset! For ourselves, in the hour of his failure and calamity, we have no memory for any thing relative to him, but our remembrance of the ardent spirit with which he encountered the difficulties of the high department to which he devoted his genius. We have no recollection but of his enthusiastic efforts, bis fine performances, his honourable ambition, and his commendable endeavour to become the head of an historical school. England is indebted to him for his pupil, Bewick, a student in historical painting, of refined and elegant invention; for CHRISTMASS, another historical student of distinction
and for LANDSBER, a painter of animals, with a genius for every style and class of subject, a youth who has been equalled only by a very few of the most celebrated Flemish painters, but, in his present practice, has never been excelled in any age or nation. We may deceive ourselves into a notion of our advances in taste for the highest style of art; but the nation must suffer by our errors. What is the difference between the fate of John Bossam, “ that most rare English drawer of STORY WORKS,” who was compelled to flee from his pencil into the church to escape starvation, in the reign of Edward VI; and the fate of Mr. Haydon, at the end of two hundred and fifty years, in 1823? Each has been necessitated to abandon historical painting (Haydon, only until commissioned), by the same national cause, the dislike or indifference to that style, produced by the exclusion of pictures from churches, an obstacle which must continue to operate for five hundred years to come, unless the government will be pleased, in its wisdom, to take efficacious measures for its counteraction.'
The late president, WEST, in a discourse delivered on the anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Academy, remarked, “ that the encouragement extended to the genius of a single living artist in the higher classes of art, though it may produce but one original work, adds more to the celebrity of a people than all the collectors of accumu- . lated foreign productions." Without any comment on the latitude of this excellent remark, which was made in a season of extreme discouragement, we venture to say, that any pobleman, gentleman, or corporate body, who now has, or may bave, the public spirit and taste to give a commission to paint an historical picture, upon a grand scale, to Mr. Haydon, will do more towards the preservation of British historical painting, than by the introduction of twenty collections of
Italian or Flemish pictures into this country. When'a town is besieged, all the citizens ought to unite in its defence. When British bistorical painting is threatened with extinction, every true friend of the British School is bound to sacrifice personal feelings and differences to publio principles. We must never forget, that, although Rey. nolds, in the prime of bis life, and full flow of 6 or £7000. a year, did not venture, from 1746 to 1773, to make a stand against church exclusion, the anti-historical spirit of the age, Haydon bas heroically sacrificed the prime of his days in a gallant attempt to establish the public style, in opposition to the apathy of the times, and with the fatal examples of Hussey, Barry, and Procter before him. We reason this on public grounds alone, having no personal intimacy nor communication whatever with this eminent artist. But, as a public duty, we are warranted in the impartial assertion, that no other painter, with the exceptions of Barry and West, ever, so far as he bas gone, has made a more strenuous and enthusiastic effort to establish the public style of historical painting in this country, than BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.
We are aware, that there are some individuals who conceive that their personal dignity and character for consistency are concerned, in retaining an offended sense ever after they have once taken an offence and manifested an angry feeling: we will not pretend to guide these gentlemen; but, for the interest of the arts, we earnestly implore them to lay aside all personal considerations in the present tottering, or rather sinking, state of historical painting ; not through the want of British genius, but solely through the want of public patronage. We must confess, that we cannot boast of that sort of dignified consistency which nurses a difference for years, whether it be well or ill
founded; we think it more just and more consistent with a good disposition, to bear anger like the flint, to flame out upon collision, and straight be cold again. In the hour of fair open battle we could cry out, with the keen appetite of Macbeth,
“ Lay on, MACDUFF! “ And damn'd be he who first cries, Hold! Enough!" But; after the fight, we could no more retain an angry feeling than we could retain our hunger after a feast. We have 'never mentioned Mr. Haydon's professional powers but with due respect; we feel a pride in having done so: we sincerely wish success to his present endeavours, and only lament that it does not rest with our single voice to give him a commission to paint a sacred subject on a grand scale for the metropolitan cathedral. If we had that power, he should have the commission before the sun goes down, and we have a confident reliance that his pencil would do honour to himself and to his country. .
There bas been much well-meant murmuring against the State; and the charge of illiberal parsimony and inattention to the interests of the British School, has been, we conceive, unseasonably urged against more than one administration. The following facts will show the accusation is so far groundless, that, although all remains to be done, to open a field for the public style, we may safely assert, no government in Europe has expended, within the last twenty years, so much money to promote the cultivation of the fine arts as the British Government..
In 1805, his late Majesty's government purchased the TOWNLEY Marbles for £20,000. In 1814, the Administration, under his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, paid £19,000, including the expenses of landing them in England, for the Phygalian Marbles. In 1816, the adini
nistration, under His Royal Highness, paid £36,000.. for the Elgin Marbles; and in 1824, his Majesty's ministers purchased the Angerstein collection of paintings, by the oldmasters, for the sum of £65,000. Here, during the last and present reign, are ample proofs of a paternal desire in the royal breast to obtain for the public the means of acquiring the grand style in painting and sculpture. The nobility and gentry in the two Houses of Parliament, partook of this commendable anxiety to promote the fine arts. From May 1805, to June 1823, in the short space, of eighteen years, a sum of one hundred and forty thousand pounds has been wisely expended by the legislature, at the instance of the crown, on a principle of enlightened policy, for the avowed purpose of adding to the other glories of this great empire, the glory of competing with the ancients in the great style. No reasonable person can for a moment suppose that these treasures of ancient genius were necessary to form a school of landscape painters, or to enable the British artists to vie with the Dutch and Flemish Schools in painting cattle and rustic nature. In genteel conversations, dramatic scenes, subjects from romances and novels, landscapes, cattle, and rustic nature, the British artists are far superior to all contemporary art, and, in good taste, unequalled by the best Dutch and Flemish masters. The ancient sculpture and pictures, so liberally collected by the British government during the last twenty years, will no doubt prove an advantage to every department of the arts; but they were purchased more especially to promote the study of the great historical style, the only style by which this country can ever hope to equal the ancients, or to employ painting and sculpture as moral instruments of public improvement and national glory.