London, Volume 3

Knight, Charles


LXV.-The Royal Academy. No. II.

LXV.-The Royal Academy. No. II.




The death of Reynolds was followed by the election of West to the Presidential chair; and, no doubt, the enthusiastic painter beheld in the honour only another evidence of the truth of the supernatural influences which he conceived had shaped out his career. And there was much in that career to excuse such notions. His birth had been prematurely brought on during a field-preaching scene in Springfield, Philadelphia; he began to draw, and to exhibit indications of talent in his productions, without having seen painters, or paintings, or even prints; he had received his lesson in the art of preparing his colours from some wandering Red Indians; above all, for him and him alone had the society to which he belonged, the quoteuakers--a society not remarkable for the ease with which they can be induced to give up any of the tenets of their belief-been induced to make a great relaxation, we might almost say renunciation, of of their cherished principles. There are few things more interesting in the history of Art than the memorable meeting of the Society to consider what should be determined upon respecting the boyish artist whose praises were in every 's mouth. Deeply, we may be sure, had the matter been pondered over before the meeting. Whether rightly or wrongly, they believed the future greatness of the subject of their thoughts was in their hands; yet that greatness could only be developed in a shape hostile to all their previous notions of man's duty. However, they met, and John Williamson (the proceedings of that day have made it an honoured name) spoke.

To John West and Sarah Pearson,

said he,

a man-child hath been born, on whom God hath conferred some remarkable gifts of mind; and you have all heard that, by something amounting to inspiration, the youth hath been induced to study the art of painting. It is true that our tenets refuse to own the utility of that art to mankind; but it seemeth to me that we have considered the matter too nicely. God has bestowed on this youth a genius for art,--shall we question his wisdom? Can we believe that he gives such rare gifts

but for a wise and good purpose? I see the Divine hand in this. We shall do well to sanction the art and, encourage this youth.

The voice of nature, thus eloquently expressed, found a response in every heart. Young West was called in; and with his father on side, his mother on the other, and the whole community around, Williamson again spoke:--

Painting has been hitherto employed to embellish life, to preserve voluptuous images, and add to the sensual gratifications of man. For this we classed it among vain and merely ornamental things, and excluded it from amongst us. But this is not the principle, but the misemployment, of painting. In wise and in pure hands it rises in the scale of moral excellence, and displays a loftiness of sentiment and a devout dignity worthy of the contemplation of Christians. I think genius is given by God for some high purpose. What the purpose is let us not inquire--it will be manifest in his own good time and way. He hath in this remote wilderness endowed with the rich gifts of a superior spirit this youth, who has now our consent to cultivate his talents for art. May it be demonstrated in his life and works that the gifts of God have not been bestowed in vain; nor the motives of the beneficent inspiration, which induces us to suspend the operation of our tenets, prove barren of religious or moral effect!

Excellent John Williamson! surely thou wert born to be a painter, nay, the president of an academy Sir Joshua himself never laid down a nobler principle than is here inculcated as to the true value and uses of the art. At the close of this address, the women rose and kissed young West, and the men successively laid their: hands on his head. It is true that, on reading the account of this scene, instinctively seems to regret that the whole does not belong to a page of the life of a Raphael or a Michael Angelo; yet, whilst it will hardly be denied that the painter of the

Death of Wolfe,


Death on the Pale Horse,

was a great man, still less is it questionable that West was a very good man: his life was simplicity and purity itself. At the time of his elevation to the chair of the Academy there was but man who might have successfully entered the field as a competitor-Barry, then Professor of Painting, and who had but lately completed his extraordinary works in the rooms of the Society of Arts in the . But Barry had never found the art of mingling among his brothers of the Academy with due temper and discretion--the stuff of which the outer man at least of presidents must be made: from Reynolds downwards he was ever engaged in broils with some of them. These, as we shall hereafter see, were to bring his connection with the Academy to an unhappy conclusion. In addition to his personal requisites, his high talent, and his general devotion to the interest of the art, West had established a new claim to respect and admiration. In the

Death of Wolfe

he had committed a daring innovation. In our previous historical pictures, Englishmen, absurdly enough, never appeared as Englishmen, but as Greeks and Romans, for the costume of those countries alone was admissible according to the existing canons of criticism. West's own account of this innovation, as related in Galt's


is a pleasant and instructive passage, and exhibits his predecessor, Reynolds, in a new light.

When it was understood,

says West,

that I intended to paint the characters as they had actually appeared on the scene, the Archbishop of York called on Reynolds, and asked his opinion: they both came to my house to dissuade me from running so great a risk. Reynolds began a very ingenious and eloquent dissertation on the state of

the public taste in this country, and the danger which every innovation incurred of contempt and ridicule, and concluded by urging me earnestly to adopt the costume of antiquity, as more becoming the greatness of my subject than the modern garb of European warriors. I answered that the event to be commemorated happened in the year


, in a region of the world unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and at a period when no warriors who wore such costume existed. The subject I have to represent is a great battle fought and won; and the same truth which gives law to the historian should rule the painter. If, instead of the facts of the action, I introduce fiction, how shall I be understood by posterity? The classic dress is certainly picturesque, but by using it I shall lose in sentiment what I gain in external grace. I want to mark the place, the time, and the people; and to do this I must abide by truth. They went away then, and returned again when I had the painting finished. Reynolds seated himself before the picture, examined it with deep and minute attention for half an hour; then, rising, said to Drummond,

West has conquered--he has treated his subject as it ought to be treated: I retract my objections. I foresee that this picture will not only become one of the most popular, but will occasion a revolution in art.

George III. seems to have never faltered in his approbation of West but in this instance, where it was both deserved and desirable: he allowed the picture to be sold to Lord Grosvenor, to his great vexation when he discovered its value.

We may be sure that West's evil genius, Peter Pindar, did not remain silent under such a state of things as the painter's accession to the presidency; but in , or only years after that event, a new satirist entered the field, who seems even to have made a greater sensation than Peter himself. This was Williams, better known by his assumed appellation of Antony Pasquin, who, in what he called

A Liberal Critique on the Exhibition for



poured out the vials of his wrath on sundry of the Academicians. Of Opie, who, he acknowledges,

is certainly distinguished from the daubing herd by some genius,

he says,

an indifferent spectator would be led to imagine that he was concerned in a coarse-woollen manufactory, as he seizes all possible occasions to array his personages in that species of apparel, from an emperor to a mendicant.

Amongst other attacks upon West, he says,

The identity of Mr. West's figures is so continually apparent, that I believe he has a few favourite domestics who are the saints and demons of his necessities.


Exposing of Moses,

it seems, is an exposure of the artist. Sir Francis Bourgeois's discovery, that is the primary tint in colours, receives due notice; and Westall's

Portrait of a Young Gentleman


as puerile as the subject.

The latter artist's more ambitious picture of

Minerva, painted for the Council Chamber of the City of London,

comes in for especial ridicule and reprobation. The divinity, it appears,

is all legs and thighs, like the late Sir Thomas Robinson.

Lawrence, then very young, but at the same time an Academician (who had been forced upon the Academy by the King, in defiance of their laws, before the proper age, and made a kind of supplementary associate), and the Court portrait-painter, receives a severe castigation. Lawrence's

Portrait of a Gentleman,

which filled Antony with the idea of an irascible pedagogue explaining Euclid to--a dunce, forms the text for the following remarks:--

Mr. Lawrence began his professional career

upon a false and delusive principle. His portraits were delicate, but not true; and attractive, but not admirable; and because he met the approbation of a few fashionable spinsters (which, it must be admitted, is a sort of inducement very intoxicating to a young mind), vainly imagined that his labours were perfect.

As Wolcot could appreciate the dawning genius of Wilkie, whom he calls an honour to his nation, and of Turner, so does his rival, Williams, show his admiration for Stothard, and other young artists, whom the voice of posterity has signalized as truly excellent.

The West dynasty proved in many respects a troubled . The Academicians quarrelled among themselves, and occasionally with their President. In the Rev. Mr. published the volume of

A History of the Fine Arts ;

and, on the motion of the President, the Academy subscribed for a copy. On reading the volume, the Academicians found various works by Reynolds and Fuseli noticed with reprobation; and, on the other hand, unqualified praise was bestowed on West's paintings. This might have passed unnoticed, but for the circumstance that this very Mr. had, as was well known, assisted West in the preparation of his lectures. A not unnatural suspicion now entered their minds that West was in some degree cognisant of these attacks, which in the case of Fuseli, who was living, were deemed worse than ill-judged. Fuseli criticised the book generally in a journal of the day, and so completely convicted the author of unfitness for his task, that the Academicians determined not to receive the volume, which, however, was never published. Fuseli, indeed, was not the safest man in the world to attack. Many a stinging sarcasm of his yet lives in connexion with the memory of men who had offended him. Northcote seems to have been the only man in the Academy who could cope with the.Swiss painter and Lavater's early friend; and numerous are the records of their intellectual fences. When the former exhibited his

Judgment of Solomon,

Fuseli came to look at it.

How do you like it?

said Northcote.


was the reply.

The action suits the word: Solomon holds out his fingers like a pair of open scissors at the child, and says,

Cut it.

I like it much.

Some time after, Fuseli had occasion to put a similar query to Northcote respecting his picture of

Hercules drawing his arrow at Pluto.

How do you like it?

said Fuseli.


was the ready answer.

It is clever, very clever, but he'll never hit him.

Fuseli appears to have felt the truth of the criticism; for he ran off for his brush, muttering,

Hit him!-by Jupiter, but he shall hit him!

Northcote, as well as Opie, had been aided by Fuseli in obtaining admission into the Academy; and. when the latter desired some office, he anticipated their assistance in return. They voted against him, and went the next morning to apologise. He saw them coming, ran to meet them, and hastily cried out,

Come in, come in, for the love of heaven come in, else you will ruin me entirely.

How so?

inquired Opie.

Marry thus: my neighbours over the way will see you, and say,

Fuseli's done; for there's a bum-bailiff (here he looked at Opie) going to seize his person, and a little Jew broker (glancing at Northcote) going to take his furniture.

Nollekens' avarice formed a favourite subject for Fuseli's wit. They were once dining with Mr. Coutts, the banker, when Mrs. Coutts, dressed like Morgiana (in the Thieves), came dancing in, and presented her dagger at each person in succession. As she stood before Nollekens, Fuseli cried out,


Strike, strike, there's no fear: Nolly was never known to bleed!

When Fuseli got too much roused, and it was scarcely prudent to give vent to all he had to say, he relieved himself in some language unknown to his brother Academicians.

It is a pleasant thing, and advantageous,

said he, during of the Academy squabbles,

to be learned. I can speak Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Danish, Dutch, and Spanish; and so let my folly or my fury get vent through


different avenues.

But all the quarrels that ever disturbed the Academy were light to that in which Barry was the chief actor.

This painter, whom Mr. Cunningham calls

the greatest enthusiast in art which this country ever produced,

was an Irishman, and his important work was exhibited at Dublin, when he was only a very young man.--It was a picture alike noticeable for the novelty of the conception and the excellence with which it had been developed. The subject was a tradition of the Irish Church, running something to the following effect:--St. Patrick, it appears, by of his discourses, succeeded in converting the barbarian King of Cashel, who demanded immediate baptism. Hastening with pious zeal to perform the act, St. Patrick struck his iron-shod crozier into the ground, and in so doing unwittingly struck it through the King's foot. So rapt, however, was the King in his new faith, that believing it to be a part of the ceremony, he bore the torture without the slightest manifestation of uneasiness, and was thus baptized. No sooner was the picture looked on than it was admired.

Who was the painter?

asked every . Barry, a countryman, young, friendless, and not too well clad, came forward with feelings of the deepest emotion to declare himself, when, to his astonishment, no would believe him, and he hurried out of the room to conceal the sudden revulsion of his feelings. But Burke was there--the man who seems never to have beheld genius in any shape struggling without taking it at once to his heart, his purse, his home:--Burke, who saved Crabbe from the depths of a despair that we shudder to contemplate, now followed the young artist, commended his work, advised with him as to his future studies, and ultimately sent him to Rome, paying the entire expenses of the expedition. From that time! his rise was rapid, though no doubt partially. checked by the infirmity of temper to which through life he was a victim. At Rome he was constantly quarrelling with his brother artists, or with the connoisseurs of the place, or with picture-dealers. After years' absence he returned to Britain, and produced his'

Venus rising from the Sea,

an exquisite picture, but that failed to arouse any warm admiration in the public mind. It is probable there was a re-action at this period against the classicalities which Verrio and La Guerre had spread along every wall, and hung upon every roof. Other pictures of a similar kind followed, and, as far as the million were concerned, with a like result. But Barry had devoted his life to what he esteemed the loftiest school of painting, and, single-handed, hoped gradually to paint the nation into his own views; and, not content with that influence, endeavoured also to sway it by his writings. His

Inquiry into the Real and Imaginary Obstruction to the Progress of Art in England,

is at once a monument ,of his extensive knowledge and lofty enthusiasm, and of his contempt for many of his contemporaries and academic associates. Such direct attacks added new enemies to those whom his personal. manners had alienated. His life, indeed, may be said to have been in a great


measure passed between antagonist principles--the ever carrying his thoughts upward into the serenest atmosphere of art, making him endure every kind of personal privation for the glorious privilege, as he esteemed it, of being independent--he other, chaining him down to the pettiest broils and jealousies that ever degraded or made miserable a fine nature. Even Burke became in a measure estranged, partially perhaps on account of Barry's inexcusable attacks on Reynolds. Yet there was too much nobility in Barry's soul for Burke to break off their long and intimate connexion. And, occasionally forgetting everything but the true friend and generous patron before him, and the art they both loved, Barry's conduct would give fresh cause of regret at the injury done to his genius by his unhappy disposition. A delightful story is told of of these meetings. Burke had heard of Barry's eccentric domestic habits: he kept no servant; and when some had once advised him to take a better house, dress more neatly, hire a domestic, and altogether improve the appearance and conduct of his establishment, he answered,

he pride of honesty protests against such a rash speculation.

The statesman day, desiring to see Barry's domestic arrangements, asked himself to dinner. A man less proud would have avoided the exposure, or at least have hesitated. Barry said, cheerfully,

Sir, you know I live alone-but if you will come and help me to eat a steak, I shall have it tender and hot, and from the most classic market in London--that of Oxford.

At No. , , on the day and hour named, Burke accordingly appeared, and was received by his host, who conducted him into the carpenter's shop which he had transformed into his painting-room. Along the walls hung the sketches of his great paintings at the . Old straining-frames, sketches, a printing-press, with which he printed with his own hand the plates engraved from the pictures just mentioned, formed the other chief contents of the place. The windows were mostly broken or cracked, and the tiled roof showed the sky through many a crevice. There were old chairs and a single deal table. The fire, however, was bright, and Barry cordial. Presently a pair of tongs are put into Burke's hands, with the remark,

Be useful, my dear friend, and look to the steaks till I fetch the porter.

The statesman got on admirably with his task, and by the time Barry returned the steak was done to a turn.

What a misfortune,

exclaimed Barry, as he entered;

the wind carried away the fine foaming top as I crossed Titchfield Street.

The friends then sat down to the feast-anecdote and criticism flowed freely; the stars were propitious, no cloud ruffled the painter's mind, and, altogether, Burke used to say he had never spent a happier evening.

It was in this house that Barry was robbed of , to the astonishment of everybody, who did not think the painter had been so rich. But the most extraordinary part of this affair was Barry's notion of the thieves. In a formal placard, he attributed his loss direct, and without any circumlocution, to his own brother Academicians! The memory of this insult was no doubt cherished by the Academy, to be signally punished at a more favourable opportunity. This was soon afforded. Plunging once more into literary controversy, Barry issued his memorable

Letter to the Dilettanti Society,

in which he attacked the Academy in no measured terms. He spoke of its private combinations and jealousies--of the misuse of its funds-and advised that in all cases of appeal to


the body, the honesty of every individual member's vote should be tested by oath. This letter was read at the Academy by of the member--Farington; others-Dance and Daniell-then enlightened the meeting on the subject of Barry's personal conduct; and the result was, a determination to draw up a series of charges for the judgment of the Council. Barry was accordingly accused of abusive digressions in his lectures; of teaching the students habits of insubordination, and countenancing them in licentious and disorderly conduct; of accusing the Academy of having voted in pensions among themselves, which should have been expended for the benefit of the students; lastly, of having spoken improperly of the President (West). Many may think these matters deserving serious notice on the part of the Academy; but no , we think, can defend the way in which they did notice them. They sent no copy of the charges to Barry; they called for no explanation or defence, but, determining the accusations to be just, at once expelled him. Barry received a pittance of some a-year from the Academy as professor; and to the man who for the whole of the great works of a lifetime received probably less than a modern fashionable portrait-painter will make in a single year, even this trifle was of importance: of course he lost it with his seat. A subscription was now commenced by various friends, and raised to purchase an annuity. But he died before it could be of any service; and in a manner that seems to tell but too plainly of mental suffering. During an attack of fever he locked himself in for hours without medical assistance; and after that nothing could save him. He died on the .

The President, West, some years before this period, had lost his royal patron, not by death, but by the illness that darkened so many of the later years of the monarch's life. The Government would not allow him to finish the works he had in hand, and having, whilst thus out of favour, gone over to France, he fancied on his return that the admiration he had expressed for Napoleon had made the countenances of the great men about court chillier than ever. But, worse than all, the Academy was unmanageable. Where the blame rests it is impossible to say, as the particulars of these matters are never fully made public; but all at once West imitated Reynolds, and resigned. He then made another journey to Paris, where, as before, he was received with great distinction, and certainly the amiable painter's head was a little turned at the honour paid him. To no other cause can we attribute that most exquisite piece of simple conceit he has recorded of himself in connexion with that visit. He says,

Wherever I went men looked at me, and ministers and people of influence in the state were constantly in my company. I was


day at the Louvre-all eyes were upon me; and I could not help observing to

Charles Fox, who happened to be walking with me

, how strong was the love of art, and admiration of its professors, in France.

The Academy, in the mean time, had put Wyatt, the court architect, in the chair; but West soon heard that he was to be once more a prophet in his own country--that the Academicians had grown tired of the new rule-albeit their own choice-and consequently they had displaced him, and restored West by a vote that was unanimous, with a single exception. The exception was certainly a bitter drop in the cup of sweetness. member-it is supposed Fuseli, and it was like him-put in the name of Mrs. Mary Moser


for the Presidency (she was a member); thereby intimating apparently that an old lady was not an unfit competitor with the late President. From this time little occurred to disturb the even tenor of his way. He died in .

The history of the connexion of the new President, Lawrence, with the Academy, which we have before incidentally noticed, is curious, and deserves a few words of remark, were it only from the circumstance that Wolcot appears among the historians. When Lawrence appeared in the Academy it was as a student. He was then about eighteen years old. Mr. Howard, the Secretary of the Academy, states that his

proficiency in drawing, even at that time, was such as to leave all his competitors in the antique school far behind him. His personal attractions were as remarkable as his talent: altogether he excited a great sensation, and seemed to the admiring students as nothing less than a young Raphael suddenly dropped down among them. He was very handsome; and his chestnut locks flowing on his shoulders gave him a romantic appearance.

Although he thus entered the Academy under the most favourable auspices, the Academicians were hardly prepared to allow him to take his seat among themselves within years afterwards; so, when, in accordance with the desire of the King, he was proposed as a supplementary Associate (Associate he could not be by the rules till he was ), they rejected him by a vote of to , though Reynolds and West were among the minority. Peter Pindar, in a note, says he



reason to imagine that a part of the academic rebellion was meant to attack the President

--Reynolds. This was glorious fun for Peter, who, in a fervour of loyal indignation, bursts out thus:--

Am I awake, or dreaming, O ye gods?

Alas, in waking's favour lie the odds.

The devil it is! Ah, me, 'tis really so!

How, Sirs? on Majesty's proud corns to tread,

Messieurs Academicians, when you're dead,

Where can your Impudences hope to go?

And then follows a series of Odes full of all the peculiar characteristics of the writer. Lawrence's friends were not, however, deterred, but at the next vacancy again proposed him, and succeeded in having him as it were stuck to the


Academy for a time, in a position that no before or since has occupied: in the Academicians elected him supplemental Associate. The year after he was appointed to the office of painter in ordinary to the King, on the death of Reynolds, being then but in his year. It was well for Lawrence that his abilities were equal to the demand thus prematurely made upon them; for there is a very natural jealousy against those who receive such marked favours, almost at the commencement of their career, as are more usually bestowed at a period nearer their termination. Lawrence had also formidable competitors in men like Opie, Beechey, and Hoppner; with the last in particular he may be said to have kept up a continual struggle of generous emulation, which was only ended by Hoppner's death. As during Reynolds's lifetime there had been a Reynolds faction and a Romney faction, and men like Lord Erskine made a boast of belonging to the latter, who was never connected with the Academy, so with him who was destined to occupy Sir Joshua Reynolds's chair, and Hoppner: each had his respective faction, and, as in the great political divisions of the day, the King was at the head of the , and the Prince of Wales (George IV.) the other. On the death of Hoppner, the Regent gradually transferred his favours to Lawrence; and it was on his return from the continent, where he had been to execute a magnificent commission received from the Regent, to paint the portraits of the great personages assembled at the congress of sovereigns at Aix-la Chapelle, subsequently to the l of Napoleon, that he received simultaneously news of the death of West, aid his own election as President. In the period of his rule there is nothing, we believe, requiring particular notice: he died in , and was succeeded by Sir Martin Archer Shee, the present head of the Academy.

Sir Godfrey Kneller, day explaining the cause of his preference for


as Barry contemptuously called it, observed,

Painters of history make the dead live, and do not begin to live themselves till they are dead. I paint the living, and they make me live.

The painters of the present day seem very much of Kneller's opinion, if we may judge from the Exhibition now before us, as, passing through the great portico of the , we ascend the staircase into the chief rooms of the Academy. Of the and odd works contained in the Exhibition of the present year, a single glance will show the immense proportion portraits and busts bear to all other subjects. And in walking through the crowded place, is forcibly struck with the eloquent complaint of Opie, in connexion with the same point :--

So habituated,

says he,

are the people of this country to the sight of portraiture only, that they can scarcely as yet consider painting in any other light: they will hardly admire a landscape that is not a view of a particular place, nor a history unless composed of likenesses of the persons represented, and are apt to be staggered, confounded, and wholly unprepared to follow such vigorous flights of imagination as would-

as will-be

felt and applauded with enthusiasm in a more advanced and liberal stage of criticism. In our exhibitions, which often display extraordinary powers wasted on worthless subjects,


's ear is pained,


's very soul is rent, with hearing crowd after crowd sweeping round, and, instead of discussing the merits

of the different works on view, as to conception, composition, and execution, all reiterating the same dull and tasteless questions-

Who is that? And is it like


[n.234.1]  The evil, it is to be hoped, will ultimately work its own cure. When thoroughly weary of the eternal rows of faces of others, we may begin to think a little less of the exhibition of our own.

The use of the original apartments of the Academy in was granted, as we have seen, by George III.: it may be useful to add a few words here on its present position in . On the death of George III., his son and successor continued the royal patronage of the institution, as did also William IV. In a proposal was made to the latter monarch to transfer the Academy from to , where it was intended to erect a building large enough for a and the Academy under the same roof. The change was agreed to; and consequently the Academy enjoys its present accommodations by the same right, whatever that might be, which they had in their locality, . Their expectations of increased facilities for the business of the institution are said to have been hardly fulfilled: certain it is that serious disadvantages arise from the want of larger space. The sculpture-room will occur to every ; but that is not the kind of evil we are here referring to, but the shutting up of the principal schools during the whole period of the exhibition. The school for drawing from the antique is held in that sculpture-room, and the school for painting in the West room, the chief of the rooms appropriated for exhibition; so that the school for drawing from the living model is the only of the Academic schools not interrupted yearly for a considerable time. As the chief feature and the great value of the Royal Academy is the schools, we must notice them somewhat at length.

The admission arrangements are on the broadest principle: any person may become a student, whether he intend to pursue the study as his profession, or merely for his occasional enjoyment. On applying for admission he receives a printed form to be filled up, which explains the only qualifications required-that he be of good character, and that he can send a drawing of some talent, with vouchers of it being entirely his own production. If he be a draughtsman, the specimen he sends must be a chalk drawing of an entire naked figure from the antique; if a sculptor, a model of a similar description; and if an architect, he must send a plan, elevation, and section of an original design for some building, and an individual ornament for details. The council, which consists of members, including the president, and is the executive of the Society, examine this specimen, and, if they approve of it, the applicant is admitted for months as a probationer. During that time he must produce fresh works before the eyes of the officers; and if these exhibit a decided improvement, he is then enrolled among the list of students, and for years enjoys all the privileges the Academy can give him-tuition in the different schools, the use of the library, attendance on the lectures, &c. Numerous prizes are also given: as several of silver annually, and of gold for each school biennially. It is somewhat curious that of all the living members of the Academy there are not perhaps above or who have obtained the gold medal: nor is the number very numerous, we believe, of those who can claim the honours of the silver . A still more solid


reward may follow the attainment of the gold medal. Every years the council sends a student of this rank to Rome, paying all the expenses of the journey both ways, and allowing an annuity of The expense hitherto seems to have been more than proportionate to the good produced. The students are young, and when they reach Rome they are left to shape out their own plans; the consequence too often is that false styles of art come to be admired and imitated, and the young man returns, to all valuable purposes, worse, because more sophisticated, than he went. It is true that he must send at the end of the year a specimen of his progress; but that can only show the evil when existing, not act as a preventive. names only of any eminence recur to us in connection with these Italian visits from the Academy, Rossi and Banks. The latter received the gold medal in ; and in the following year exhibited his group of Mercury, Argus, and , when the council unanimously voted that he should be sent to Rome. He was the student of the Academy whom Reynolds took any pride in, or, in other words, who came up to the painter's lofty standard. He said Banks's

mind was ever dwelling on subjects worthy of an ancient Greek.

The school for drawing from the life model is held in the interior of th. dome of the edifice, a curious, unornamented, dingy-looking place, lighted by a single window in the side wall, which throws a tolerably strong light upon a raised platform with a high back, covered with crimson, on which the person who acts as the model is placed. A double row of plain seats form an oval round the platform, on which about students find accommodation. A few casts scattered about the walls complete the furniture of the room.

The general management of the schools is vested in the Keeper, who, however, personally attends only to the antique school; the others being directed by visitors, who are certain of the Academicians annually chosen. Among the past Keepers of the Academy, Fuseli's is a memorable name. Numerous are the jokes and sarcasms of the eminent Swiss yet current among the students: the story of the formidable nail he used to cherish expressly for the work of pointing out how bad was that outline, or how easily this might be remedied, and which seldom failed to impress the lesson on the memory in the shape of a drawing cut through in the most remorseless fashion, yet lives to delight the new-comer, even whilst he is shuddering at the thought of the bare possibility of his becoming himself a similar victim. day, during Fuseli's absence, the students were more than usually riotous, and the noise reached him in a distant part of the building. He asked of the porters what was the matter.

It is only those fellows, the students, sir,

was the answer.


exclaimed Fuseli;

I would have you to know, sir, that those fellows may


day become Academicians!

The noise increasing, he suddenly burst in upon them and told them with an oath they were a set of wild beasts. A student of the name of Munro bowed, and remarked,

And Fuseli is our Keeper.

There was no resisting this. Fuseli retired smiling, and muttering to himself,

The fellows are growing witty.

A student on some occasion as he was passing held up his drawing to Fuseli for admiration, remarking,

Here, sir, I have finished it without using a crumb of bread.

All the worse for your drawing,

was' the answer:

buy a twopenny loaf and rub it out.

Some painter, not approving of the progress of the pupils under Fuseli, and who had himself studied under Keeper Wilton, said to him,


students, sir, don't draw so well now as they did under Joe Wilton.

Very true,

was the reply and explanation;

anybody may draw here, let them draw ever so bad-you may draw here if you please.

A sculptor, and we presume a student, day working away at the old emblem of eternity, a serpent with its tail in its mouth, Fuseli told him it would not do:

You must have something new,

said he.

How shall I find something new?

demanded the sculptor.

Oh, nothing so easy; I'll help you to it. When I went away to Rome I left


fat men cutting fat bacon in

St. Martin's Lane

: in


years time I returned, and found the


fat men cutting fat bacon still:


years more have passed, and there the


fat fellows cut the fat flitches the same as ever. Carve them! If they look not like an image of eternity, I wot not what does.

Descending from the dome, we pass into the Hall of Casts, now unusually full, from the circumstance of those which are usually in the Antique school (sculpture-room) being placed here during the Exhibition. Many of these beautiful works are a portion of the gift of George IV., who, having procured from Rome, through the intervention of Canova, a highly valuable collection of casts from the finest known antiques, gave the whole to the Academy. All those beautiful or sublime forms of antiquity, which have ever haunted the dreams of the young painter or sculptor, or made him, awaking, sigh to think of their unapproachable excellence, are here, and in the great entrance hall of the building, congregated together--the exact prototypes of their respective originals. The different figures composing the wonderful group of the Niobe and her daughters; the graceful Mercury of the Vatican; Fauns with their cymbals; Apollos and Venuses, in which the genius of different artists and periods have embodied their ideal of the human form; the Egyptian Jupiter, and the Olympian; Apollo, and all the Muses; the Laocoon; the Fighting and Dying Warrior, or gladiator, as commonly but incorrectly called, &c. &c., are all here, the concentrated genius of the most wonderful people the world has ever seen. Here, too, is that maimed and mutilated remnant of a statue, Theseus, which caused so much discussion before a committee of the in (on the value of the Elgin Marbles), which Lawrence and other distinguished artists did not hesitate to place in rank even before the Apollo Belvidere; and, considering the character of some of the committees of the House that had sat upon such questions, it required a little determination to speak thus of a fragment which some of the members probably, of their own unassisted judgment, would have thought a mere misshapen piece of stone. The committee of , for instance, made an especial point of noticing that the Townley Marbles were in excellent condition, with the surface perfect; and, where in red, they were generally well-restored, and perfectly adapted for the decoration, and for the ornamental furniture, of a private house. On reading this we may observe, with Mr. Williams, from whom we have borrowed the passage,

Let no man after this discredit the Royal saying,

I always buy Mr. —'s paintings, they are so beautifully shiny, and look as smooth as glass.

Leaving the Hall, we cross the eastern passage or thoroughfares to the Library and Council-Room. In the former the centre of the ceiling is divided into compartments, occupied by paintings from the hand of the lady Academician,


Angelica Kauffman. Figures typical of the arts form the subjects, which were no doubt painted at the time of the removal of the Academy from to , when Sir Joshua and the chief Academicians aided in the adornment of their new abode. The books are in wainscot cases, closely covered in. with crimson silk, which gives the apartment a warm, rich aspect. The Library now comprises all the best works on art, a considerable number of prints, and a collection, of considerable value, of engravings of the Italian school from the earliest period, purchased from George Cumberland, who formed it. Busts ornament the top of the shelves, and over the fireplace is a cast of a Holy Family by Michael Angelo. We must not omit to add, before we leave the Library, that Wilson was saved perhaps from actual destitution, during some of the later years of his life, by the office of Librarian, which was given to him by the Academy.

Let us now step from the Library into the Council-Room. This is an apartment small in size for such a body as the Academy, but rich in its works of art, which are chiefly the diploma pictures and statuary: that is, the works given by the Academicians on their admission, each person being expected to present work from his own hand. The ceiling is very elegantly arranged in compartments, filled with paintings by West, the centre representing the Graces unveiling Nature, and the surrounding pictures figures typical of the elements. in size, in splendour, and in value, along the walls, we behold Sir Joshua's full-length portrait of George III., seated on the throne, and wearing his kingly robes. The author of the


Fuseli, has left here of his most favourite works-

Thor battering the serpent of Midgard in the boat of Hymer the giant

--a subject borrowed from the Scandinavian mythology, which had so many attractions for Fuseli's imaginative, romantic, and most daring genius. His love for the terrific was pleasantly satirised by his brother Academicians, who called him

Painter in ordinary to the Devil!

But the Academy has had few greater men-few men more generally great-than Fuseli. His lectures are admirable, enforcing in pregnant language the most pregnant truths. As with Reynolds, Michael Angelo is the great god of his idolatry; and he used often to tell his friends how he had been accustomed to lie on his back on the pavement of the Sistine Chapel for hours together, day after day, and week after week, intently wrapped in the grandeur of that matchless ceiling; and it is not difficult to trace in Fuseli's productions something more than a spark of the sublime genius of the Florentine. His paintings for the Shakspere Gallery, formed under the patronage of the enlightened and generous Boydell, and the series for the Milton Gallery, which was entirely his own production, testify a mind of the very highest order, though not perhaps always under the best regulation. Mr. Cunningham says of him, very happily,

Out of the


exhibited paintings on which he reposed his hope of fame, not


can be called commonplace: they are all poetical in their nature, and as poetically treated. Some


of these alarm, startle, and displease;


more may come within the limits of common comprehension; the



are such as few men could produce; while the remaining


are equal in conception to anything that genius has hitherto produced, and


only in their execution to the true and recognized masterpieces of


[n.238.1]  England may be proud of having fostered, and made, in every essential respect, her own, such a man as Fuseli. Passing over a variety of works, all of greater or less interest and importance, such as

A Rustic Girl

by Lawrence,

The Tribute Money

by Copley,

A Shepherd Boy

by Westall,


by Stothard,

Jael and Sisera

by Northcote,

The Falling Giant

by Banks (a work of wonderful power of expression), we pause a moment before the productions of the greatest of British sculptors, the

Apollo and Marpessa,

and a cast of the shield of Achilles, by Flaxman.

If ever Purity visited the earth, she resided with John Flaxman,

said who knew him intimately; and it is impossible to gaze on his works without feeling some such truth, breathed, as it were, from out the marble. Sir Joshua's judgment was for once found tripping in Flaxman's case. As a student, he contended for the gold medal, which, however, was given to Englehart--a man now only remembered from that circumstance. Flaxman married early; and day, shortly after, met Sir Joshua.

So, Flaxman, I am told you are married: if so, sir, you are ruined for an artist.

Again was the President deceived: never was marriage more happy in all its consequences. We wish we could pause over some of the delightful domestic scenes recorded of this simple-hearted and lofty-minded pair. Again we must hurry quickly by Baily's bust of Flaxman, that of West by the recently-deceased sculptor Chantrey, the

Cupid and Psyche

by Nollekens,

Christ blessing Children

by West, &c. Many other paintings are at present in the Exhibition Room, hidden behind the modern works. Among these are a portrait of Hoppner by himself, Wilkie's picture of (now invested with a more melancholy interest from the recent death of the great painter), Opie's

Infancy and Age,


Boy and Rabbits,

&c. &c. There, too, is a portrait of that most delightful and most English of landscape-painters--that somewhat wayward, and occasionally gross, but ever humorous, witty, and delightful member of society--that enthusiastic artist and half-mad musician-Gainsborough. He appears to have painted portraits for the same reason that everybody else doesmoney; landscapes because he loved them, but he was a musician because he could not help it. Musicians and their instruments, of every kind and in every degree, he worshipped them all. His friend Jackson says,

He happened on a time to see a theorbo in a picture of Vandyke's; and concluded, because perhaps it was finely painted, that the theorbo must be a fine instrument. He recollected to have heard of a German professor; and, ascending to his garret, found him dining on roasted apples, and smoking his pipe, with his theorbo beside him. I am come to buy your lute: name your price, and here's your money.

I cannot sell my lute.

No, not for a guinea or


; but you must sell it, I tell you.

My lute is worth much money: it is worth



Ay! that it is-see, here's the money.

So saying, he took up the instrument, laid down the price, went half-way down the stairs, and returned.

I have done but half my errand. What is your lute worth if I have not your book?

What book, Master Gainsborough?

Why, the book of airs you have composed for the lute.

Ah, Sir, I can never part with my book!

Poh! you can make another at any time: this is the book I mean there's ten guineas for it-so, once more, good day.

He went down a few steps, and returned again.

What use is your book to me if I don't understand it? And your lute: you may take it again if you won't teach me to play on it. Come home with me, and give me the first lesson.

I will come to-morrow.

You must come now.

I must dress myself.

For what? You are the best figure I have seen to-day.

I must shave, sir.

I honour your beard!

I must, however, put on my wig.

D-n your wig! Your cap and beard become you. Do you think, if Vandyke was to paint you, he'd let you be shaved?

And so the poor German professor was hurried off. Smith, the writer of the

Life of Nollekens,

day found Gainsborough listening in speechless admiration, and with tears on his cheeks, to the playing of a -rate violin-player-Colonel Hamilton. Suddenly the painter called out,

Go on, and I will give you the picture of the

Boy and the Stile,

which you have so often wished to purchase of me.

He was as good as his word: the Colonel took away the picture with him in a coach.

With a brief account of the constitution of the Academy we conclude. It consists of Academicians-painters, sculptors, and architects--and Associates, from whom the Academicians are elected by the Academicians. There are also Associate Engravers, who, however, must remain Associates--a feature in which, it is said, we know not with what truth, this Academy stands alone in Europe. With the body of Academicians rests all the business of the Society, the Associates having no voice in any of its proceedings. The Associates are chosen by the Academicians from the great body of artists who exhibit. The chief officers of the Academy are the President, the Keeper (who has the general care of the Institution), the Treasurer, Librarian, and Secretary. There are Professors, who lecture respectively on painting, sculpture, architecture, and perspective, who are Academicians, and a Professor of Anatomy, who is not always a member. The honorary members are a Professor of Ancient Literature, Professor of Ancient History, a Chaplain, of high rank in the Church (the Lord Bishop of London at present), and a Secretary for Foreign Correspondence. These offices have been held by Gibbon, Dr. Burney, Walter Scott, and other eminent men, in addition to those before mentioned-Johnson and Goldsmith. All elections require the Sovereign's signature to make them valid. The most onerous, in every sense, of the duties of the Academy is the choice of the works for the Annual Exhibition. Large as the number of pictures admitted always is, a great many are annually rejected; and sometimes not from want of merit on the part of the artist, but for want of space on the part of the Academy. The process of selection, as it has been described to us, forms a noticeable scene. Here sit the members of the Council behind a large table; whilst there porters, &c., are hurrying to and fro, passing every single work in review before them. Is it sufficiently good? --it is so marked, and placed in a certain part of the building. Is it only middling?-it goes, with a suitable mark, to another place, to take the chance of being included in the Exhibition, if the good ones should leave any room. Is it decidedly bad?--it is at once ordered to be returned to the artist. Where some or artists are chosen, as in the present Exhibition, we may judge of the character of a great part of the rejected. Fuseli used to express, in his own satirical way, the anti-genial effect upon him of the greater part of


the works that came pouring in. Standing day at the receipt of pictures, he called out,

What pictures are come?

Many-very many, Sir,

was the reply.

I know that, but whose are they?

There are


landscapes, Sir, by Mr.-

Oh! don't name him: I know whom you mean. Bring me my coat and umbrella, and I'll go and see them.

Our space will not admit of our doing more than merely referring to the splendid dinner given annually by the Academicians, to which the most distinguished personages of our country-nobles, warriors, statesmen, poets, literary and professional men, &c., &c.-are alone invited. A brilliant assemblage! and not unworthy of them the Institution-whatever its defects--they have met to do honour to.


[] Williams's Life of Lawrence, vol. i. p. 99.

[n.234.1] From Opie's first lecture to the Academy.

[] Life of Lawrence.

[n.238.1] British Painters, vol. ii. p. 346.