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their performances, of forming their stand. The very perversion of that taste on the most approved models of taste, by drawing a line of distinction antiquity. If we except the Greeks, between the initiated and the unini. whose extraordinary and inventive ge- tiated, tends to perpetuate the vanity nius seems to form an exception to and artifice from which it arose,-the every thing else that we observe in admirers of painting become distinhuman history, all the nations who guished by a peculiar language, hardhave risen to any celebrity in the fine ly intelligible to the rest of the world, arts have had their taste formed on and this great and noble art, which the models of antiquity. It was a was clestined to address itself to the midst the ruins of Rome, and with general sympathies of the human their minds chastened and elevated by heart, and to speak a language which the sight of the Pantheon and the Co- should be intelligible to all mankind, lyseum, that Raphael, and Michael sinks into the expression of a pecuAngelo, and Dominichino, arose ; and liar dialect, and becomes intelligible it is on the same spot, and from the only to a limited and despicable class influence of the same cause, that the of society. art of sculpture has been revived in The influence of the general sentimodern times, and that Canova and ments of mankind is the great correcThorwaldson have taught the age in tive to this unfortunate propensity. which we live, that the Venus and It is not less essential to the advancea the Apollo may yet be rivalled in mo ment of art and purification of nadern art.
tional taste, than to the progress of It is not from the force of a blind true philosophy, or the establishment imitation of the monuments of an- of civil liberty. It lets in the feelings cient genius, that the vicinity of such of the great body of the people to inproductions contributes in so striking fluence and determine the direction of a manner to the advancement of art. art, and, like the fly-wheel in mechaMuch, no doubt, is to be ascribed to nics, prevents the other parts of the the influence which the study of such machine from becoming too powerful, models has in improving the taste and or running into eccentricities which enlarging the conceptions of the art- might be fatal to itself. ist; but much more is to be traced to But it is not at once that the gencthe influence which it has on the pub- rality of mankind, even among the lic mind, and the degree in which it higher classes of society, become eipurifies and exalts the public taste. ther alive to the beauties of art, or It is altogether impossible that artists capable of judging of its excellencies. can arrive at any degree of perfection The formation of an elevated and till the popular voice assumes a des- simple public taste is the work of potic sway over their productions, and many years, and can be promoted ontill that voice is exerted only in be- ly by the attentive study of the mohalf of works of real genius. Where dels of ancient genius which have been the knowledge of art is confined to produced in situations more favourmere artists, just as where the know- able to the perfection of art. Noledge of philosophy is confined to thing is more certain, than that an schoolmen and professors, the efforts individual, whatever may be his naof genius become cramped, and an tive taste or genius, is incapable, at artificial taste is created, than which first, of appreciating the merit or unnothing differs more widely from ge- derstanding the design of the greatest nuine beauty. The vanity of the art- paintings which the world has produist becomes predominant over the ge- ced. The exact imitation of nature nius of the man,-a peculiar and un- is naturally considered as the princinatural standard of perfection is se. pal object of painting, and those which lected, which has no reference to the approach nearest to the reality which feelings or the capacities of ordinary they see before them are at first imaobservers,-and, by a deplorable mis- gined to be the best pictures. It is take, connoisseurs and professors of by slow degrees, and by the continual art imagine that they are superior to study of great models, that this unithe rest of mankind, because they versal and natural error comes to be have established for themselves a lan- corrected, -that men learn that paintguage, and created a taste, which ing cannot express every thing in nathose around them do not undera ture, and that many of its finest inci-.
dents are wholly beyond her reach, - approved molels of antiquity; of and that, from the limited extent of forming their style of drawing and her powers, she must arrange objects colouring upon those of the greatest in a different manner from that in masters who have gone before them, which they appear in real life, and and of inhaling, amidst the study of throw into a single moment the ex- their works, some parts of the spirit pression which is often diffused over by which they were animated. This many different objects, and spread is in itself a great and incalculable over a lengthened period of time. advantage. But besides this, there is
It is the study of the great models another effect less obvious, indeed, of ancient art, therefore, which is the but perhaps hardly less important. great means both of diffusing a taste This is in the check which it gives to for such productions among the well the presumption of modern artists, informed classes of society, and of pro-, and the necessity which it imposes ducing that admiration for their beau- upon them of exerting themselves to ty, and taste for their excellencies, the utmost, in order to rival the great which leads to the formation and im- works of ancient art upon which the provement of the national taste, and public taste is formed. through it to the advancement and Experience has shown, that of all perfection of art itself. It has often men, artists, or those who address been observed, that a traveller will themselves to the imagination or the meet with more real taste and unaf- taste, are those who are most apt to fected aclmiration for the works of art become vain of theirown performances. among the inferior class of artizans in Such vanity, with reference to the inItaly, than among the higher classes dividual, is ludicrous or contemptible ; in this country; and no one can tra- but when considered in relation to the vel for a single week in that country progress of art, its effects are too sewithout perceiving the truth of the rious to be overlooked.
When an observation. It is in this universal artist becomes vain of his own pertaste among the Italian people for formances, when he thinks he has got painting and music that we shall find to the summit of his ambition, and the cause of the unrivalled perfection that future labour can add nothing to to which they have arrived in both his skill or his reputation, there is an these arts; and if we examine the end of his improvement or of the adcause of this extraordinary diffusion dition which he is to make to the of taste among the middling classes, works of human genius. Nothing is we shall find it in the constant exhi- more certain, than that to make a great bition of the works of art in their painter requires a life of as great and churches and public galleries. The as incessant labour, as to make a great story of the poor woman at Athens lawyer or an accomplished statesman ; who corrected the Grecian orator for and that the moment when he first an inaccuracy in his expression is begins to relax in his exertions, or to universally known; and Quintilian cease to aim at improving his style, is ascribes to that precision and delicacy not only the termination of his exin the Athenian taste, their unrivalled cellence, but the commencement of excellence in poetry and eloquence. his decline. His observation is equally applicable It has too often happened, however, to tlie Fine Arts; and illustrates in that artists in this country, possessed the best manner the influence of the of real genius, and whose earlier works public mind upon the directiou of hu- gave the promise of future excellence, man genius.
have stopt, as it were, by common conBut it is not merely by purifying sent in their career, and so far from and exalting the national taste, and improving in their later productions, diffusing a love for the works of art, have sensibly declined both in the that the exhibition of the models of vigour of their designs, and the merit ancient times is instrumental in pro- of their execution. This melancholy fact moting the advancement of the Fine is to be ascribed, no doubt, in a great Arts. The effect of such an exhibic measure, to the want of that fostering tion is not less immediately beneficial encouragement from the public which upon the Artists themselves. Its first is absolutely essential to the advanceand most obvious effect is to give ment of art'; but it is to be imputed them the means of studying the most also, in a certain degree, to the vanity
of these artists themselves, who weak- themselves high," in order to keep pace ly imagined that they had already at- with it, that the Fine Arts arrive at tained to perfection, or that the force their merited perfection. Had not of their genius could compensate for Shakespeare, and Milton, and Virgil, the want of that unremitting toil formed the taste of the age, we should which in other pursuits is indispensa- never have seen in our times the imble to real excellence. They asso mortal works of Scott, or Campbell, or ciated with themselves, or with a small Byron arise. It is in the struggle circle of friends in clubs or little so- with ancient excellence, and by emcieties, and despising the rest of the ploying the weapons which it has furwould as incapable of appreciating nished, that the genius of living artists their performances, combined to praise is brought to maturity. A Scipio each other in a manner equally dis- never appeared in the Roman armies proportioned to their deserts, and fa- till they were brought to measure their tal to their future improvement. strength with the arms and with the
In literature, poetry, or philosophy, fortune of Hannibal. such a ridiculous self-sufficiency on It may be mentioned as the last and the part of modern authors could not perhaps the most important effect of obtain ; because the public have their such an exhibition, that it tends, hy performances in their own hands, and increasing the taste for the Fine Arts have an opportunity of comparing among the wealthy classes of the comthem with the works of the great men munity, to promote the purchase of in former times, whose compositions the works of modern artists. Nothing have stood the test, and formed the can be more apparent, than that, withopinions of ages. A club of literary out this effect following, all attempts men or philosophers who should to create a school of painting in this praise themselves and each other, till country must be entirely abortive. they relaxed the vigour of exertion, But experience has shewn that the and the desire of improvement among effect of such an institution is decidedtheir members, would certainly fail ly favourable to the encouragement of of success; because the rest of the living artists. The direction which world would form an opinion for it- it gives the public mind towards such self, and judge of their works by a objects,--the interest which it occacomparison with the authors of an- sions in the conversation of fashiontiquity. But in a country in which able society,—the momentary distincthe love for the Fine Arts is confined tion which it bestows upon the proto a narrow circle, and the knowledge prietors of fine paintings, -all contriof their beauties to a still smaller, it bute to create a desire to possess them. is quite possible for a set of artists and Could such a desire, however, be renamateurs to set the public opinion at dered universal, or even general, it is defiance, and to persuade themselves incredible what an encouragernent into a belief of their own excellence, would be given to the Fine Arts, and in which they never will be followed how great a school of painting would by any succeeding generation, and immediately arise amongst us. The which is the surest means of destroy- quantity of superfluous wealth which ing such merits as they in reality pos- is annually devoted to the purchase of
articles of mere ornament for the furIt is a most important advantage, niture of houses, is very great, protherefore, ofan exhibition of the works bably greater than ever yet was diof ancient art, that it brings the great rected io the same objects in any other works of antiquity at once into nation. If a small part of this wealth collision with the productions of mo were to be devoted to the encour:gedern artists, and thus both creates in ment of the fine arts, it would be anthe public a power of judging of their ply sufficient to secure their progress, comparative excellence, and stimulates and to lay the foundation of their the artists to strenuous exertion to ri- perfection. If the sums which are val those who have gone before them. annually expondel upon a single arIt is by these means, and by these ticle of drawing-room furniture, as, mcans only, that modern art can be for example, upon mirrors, marble brought to perfection. It is where chimney-pieces, paper for the walls, the national taste is set upon a high or ornamental window-curtains, were model ; and when artists have “tacked devoted to the purchase of statues or
paintings, Britain would soon become finest specimens of art, in one great the greatest school for painting in the Museum, which is open to public inworld. If, however, it could once be spection. They are so obvious, and made fashionable to have such orna- have been felt in so remarkable a maninents in the furniture of a house, as ner, in all ages and countries, that init is to have fine mirrors, or handsome stitutions of this kind have, at one peequipages, the effect would be secure. riod or another, been established in The institution of such an exhibition every city where the attention of the as has lately been established in Edin- public has been turned towards the burgh, is more likely than any other Fine Arts. The Brera of Milan, the circumstance to give such a direction Academy of Venice, the Gallery of to the public taste. And, when it is Florence, the Studio of Naples, the considered how great a part of the Academy of Bologna, are all institucelebrity of a nation depends upon its tions of this kind, intended to exhi. excellence in the Fine Arts, how ma- bit, in a small compass, the greatest terially it tends to purify and exalt the works of art, in situations where they public feeling; and how much more are not, as in the Louvre of Paris, permanent the superiority which is and the Vatican at Rome, collected in established on such a basis is, than one splendid museum at the public that which rests on victory, or mili- expence. Wherever they have been tary renown ; it is difficult to ima- established they have been attended gine any institution whose success is with the greatest advantages. In the more earnestly to be wished for by Brera at Milan, a large edifice is deevery friend to his country.
voted to the works of art, in one diNor is it to be apprehended that vision of which the works of the ansuch an institution, by creating an cient artists are displayed, while in excessive admiration for the works of another the productions of the students ancient masters, should occasion an of the academy are exhibited, and in yndue partiality for their performan- a third, casts of all the celebrated ces in preference to those of modern statues of antiquity are preserved. times. ' If the taste for the Fine Arts We understand it is in the contemplabecame at all general, the ancient tion of the directors, if the present paintings would become of such va- institution succeeds, to establish a silue, that they would be wholly be- 'milar institution in this city, and ceryond the reach of ordinary purchasers, tainly no plan can be devised more who would be compelled to content likely to be conducive to the advancethemselves with the works of living ment of the Fine Arts. artists. The taste for the Fine Arts, There is no country, indeed, where when it is once created, becomes quite the want of such an establishment has insatiable, and creates a demand which been so severely felt, or in which its requires the perpetual supply of fresh existence seems to be so essential to productions. It is mentioned by Gib- the growth or encouragement of paintbon, that, on the sack of Rome by the ing as in Great Britain. The habits Goths, upwards of a million of statues of country life to which its nobles and existed in that city; and those who principal landed proprietors have long have seen what numbers have been been accustomed, while it has been discovered in the few places where productive of incalculable benefit 10 excavations have been made, will have the nation at large, and has, without no difficulty in crediting the state- doubt, been the great cause both of ment. Experience has shown, in mo- the national virtues and freedom by dern times, that, whenever the admi- which it is distinguished, has contriration for the works of ancient art is buted, in a most important manner, the greatest, the demand for modern to retard the progress and improvepictures and statues has been the ment of art. Proprietors who live greatest also.
There is no city in always in the country, naturally enwhich the Grecian sculpture, and the deavour to embellish the place of their Italian painting, are held in such es- permanent residence. The pictures timation, or are to be found in such which they possess are hung up in numbers, as in Rome, and there is their state apartments, and perhaps are none where modern artists meet with not studied by six persons during the such permanent encouragement. whole year. To a few of the imme.
Such are a few of the advantages diate friends of their possessors they which attend the collection of the furnish the highest gratification; but
to the nation in general, they are as cessively presented to the public, and completely lost as if they were placed an exhibition of paintings by modern in a foreign state. * It is in great masters, and models of the statues of towns, and in great towns only, that antiquity, shall be connected with the the arts ever have, or ever can flourish. same institution, it may fairly be said But, from the cause which has been that an impulse will be given to the mentioned, the numbers of fine pic- progress of the Fine Arts, which noturės or statues in our great towns, thing will be able to obstruct. The not even excepting the metropolis, is genius of Scotland may then become exceedingly small To artists who as distinguished in painting and sculphave not travelled into foreign coun ture as it now is in poetry, history, tries, the great works of art are en- and philosophy; and the same nation tirely unknown. To the public in which has produced a rival to Arigeneral, even the slightest acquaint- osto, and a successor to Guicciardini, ance with the merits of the different may emulate the genius of Michael schools of painting is rendered almost Angelo and of Raphael. If such 2 impossible. Nothing is more com- period shall ever arrive, the world will mon, accordingly, than to meet with know how to appreciate the exertions persons possessed of the most culti- of those patriotic men, who risked vated taste in literature or poetry, and their most precious possessions, and who are alive to all the beauties of na. lent their valuable time, to the forture, who yet are utterly ignorant of mation of an institution for their the object, or the importance of the country's benefit; and impute to their Fine Arts. This must continue to taste and public spirit, the first step be the case till great collections of which Scotland has made towards the pictures are formed in the metropolis, attainment of excellence in the Fine and the national taste is formed by the Arts. continued study of the works of anti
We have heard that some of the quity. But there is no probability inferior artists in this city (for our that any of our great collections of first artists are far above such a weakpictures will ever be removed to Edin- ness) have expressed some disapproburgh from the country seats of their bation of the institution, and their proprietors; and it certainly is not to doubts of the beneficial effects which be wished that our great landed pro- it will produce. There cannot be a prietors should come, like the Italian surer indication that it already has or Spanish noblesse, to spend their done great benefit, and is in the course time in cities and courts, to the ne- of working a salutary change in the glect and ruin of their country pos- public mind. In proportion as true sessions. This, however, renders it taste and good feeling gain ground, the more essential, that an institution will artists feel the necessity of unsuch as the present, which forms a ceasing efforts to keep pace with the great collection from the accumulated improving taste of the age. The contributions of many different and querulous language of such men is distant proprietors, should be en- like the tears of a child for the discouraged by the public, and be en- cipline which is to lay the foundation abled to extend its beneficial exer- of a strenuous and manly character. tions.
Among the pictures which are exShould the time ever arrive when hibited this season, we decidedly give 2 great institution shall have arisen the preference to the Claude Lorraine. from the present infant establishment; Not but that other pictures may exwhen all the works of art which the hibit greater genius, or a truer copy country possesses shall have been suc- of nature, or a bolder conception;
but there is none which shows so fine The case is quite otherwise with the
a mind, or in which the beau ideal is collections on the Continent. The foreign his scene, and in the choice of his co
so perfectly represented. In selecting nobles living almost exclusively in great lours and his light, this great painter towns, their palaces and galleries are all brought together, and exhibit, at one coup
seems to have aimed at expressing d'oeil, the whole riches which the nation the most enchanting object in nature, possesses. Whatever may be the moral the rising of the sun, in a clear mornor political effects of such a style of man- ing, and the diffusion of his light over vers, it is unquestionably eminently fa. the romantic towers, and wooded Tourable to the progress of art.
hills, and trembling sea of an Italian