« EdellinenJatka »
The establishment of Mr. Morse's academy shews that the artists of the country are becoming sensible of their deficiency, and are willing to remedy it. This school embraces a system of instruction in the different branches of study connected with the arts of design, such as drawing, perspective, anatomy, painting, history and architecture. In this respect it differs materially from those institutions whose object is the general improvement of public taste by the exhibition of pictures and casts. They are called academies, but are not so in fact, having neither professors nor teachers, nor any plan of instruction for young artists. They are supported chiefly by persons not connected with the profession, but united by a liberal attachment to its interests. The benefit intended by them results incidentally to the artist, in proportion as their object is more or less promoted. The gentlemen who originate and maintain such institutions, have a right to govern them even to the exclusion of professional artists, who ought not on that account to be less interested in their success.
As this association, 'ycleped the "National Academy," is "a school for students in the arts," Mr. Morse contends, that after the manner of similar institutions in Europe, it ought to be entirely under the government of artists. We think so decidedly. We are at a loss to conceive under what management it could be placed, more in keeping with its character and design, and better calculated to give effect to its professed objects. Who are better judges of the immediate interests of a profession than they who practise it? Who more able to instruct than. they who are skilled in it? He claims for his brethren, in this instance, the common privilege (and nothing more) of regulating their own concerns, and deprecates the idea of introducing into their professional meetings persons not of their vocation, for the purpose, as it is said, of harmonizing their discordant tempers, and preventing dissensions among them. The disputes of artists (and there are occasional collisions in all professions) proceed rather from sensitiveness than malignity. Their jealousies are generally confined to their own halls, and disturb neither the tranquillity nor the interests of society. But it is not for us to indulge in a graver strain than our author, whose words on this subject, we here quote.
"If artists are such a quarrelsome, jealous class of men, as many would persuade us, so much so as to need umpires and protectors against each other's violence, I fear, that not many gentlemen would spare the time from their own professions, necessary to hear and adjudge all the cases of grievance that must come before them. Moreover, as such an experiment has never been made, we should be loth to de
viate from a tried model, until we had some ground for belief that so novel a measure would produce the good effect intended."
With this difficulty, therefore, in the way, and it appears to be one of no trifling importance, we are afraid that the poor artists must, after all, be left to their own feuds and family-jars—and "The injuries that they themselves produce Must be their schoolmasters."
We add another paragraph from Mr. Morse's pamphlet, in which he adverts to a danger, supposed to beset all schools, of falling into a system of errors and deviations from general
"The plan of our Academy, formed, as it is, on the English model, renders any such fears groundless. Whatever danger from this cause might be apprehended from any ill-managed Academies on the continent of Europe, the objection does not lie against the Royal Academy of London. The English school is not the school of Reynolds, or West, or Lawrence, or any other painter; it is a school pre-eminently diversified in talent and styles; and it may, perhaps, be attributed to that more perfect exemption from foreign interference, which in some respects distinguishes it from the continental Academies, that English art is so replete with various beauty. Is it not most reasonable to suppose, that the styles of the different artists, which are annually assembled in one exhibition, and submitted to popular judgment, should rather produce a diversity of styles, according to the diversity of popular tastes, than foster the errors of any single master? But the error of manner does not lie with Academies. Popular and distinguished artists, have always ⚫ had, and ever will have, their imitators, whether connected with Academies or not.
From the example of the English painters, we are encouraged to hope that the introduction of a system of errors will not be the necessary consequence of establishing a school of painting in this country. We have never heard of any errors common to Romney, Hopner, and Sir Thomas Lawrence-the three great portrait painters of the British school-nor of any mannerism peculiar to Fuseli, Stothard and Opie.
Never having seen the original discourse of Mr. Morse, we have lost the benefit of his arguments in relation to the purchase of old pictures. But we doubt whether it is become so great an evil as to be treated seriously. The emigration of these ancient and venerable strangers shews how rapidly art is peopling the habitations of men in other countries. Forced, in their old age, from the land of their nativity, and torn from those walls, of which their youth had been the pride and the ornament, how could we be so uncharitable as to refuse a shelter to those time
worn exiles. We are taught that hospitality is sometimes unconsciously rewarded in the visits of angels. Now, may we not perchance receive into our mansions, amidst a promiscuous throng of pretenders and impostors, some of those distinguished ornaments of departed days that have been deposed from their "high estate" by the chances of war and revolution, and entertain the former inmates of palaces, and the companions and witnesses of the revelry and splendour of courts-guests, that in spite of their years and decay, might still serve as models of the characteristic graces of the good old schools to which they belonged? Besides, ought it not to be a matter of triumph to us to find the genuine Claudes and Salvators, the Carlo Dolces and Correggios hung up in picture shops to tempt the purses of our Conoscenti, so far surpassed by our own modern cis-atlantic painters? We have seen many a Poussin and Wouvermans, with their brilliant skies, their mountains and rocks and waterfalls, and shepherds and shepherd's dogs, fading before the superior but unpretending beauties of a Doughty and a Cole. And we are very certain from such specimens of Sir Godfrey and Sir Peter, as have been offered to us, that our own Sully, under stars less propitious, is far more worthy of the patronage of kings. We ought to remember also, that taste is various and arbitrary. Some connoisseurs prefer old pictures as they do old wine, for having so long resisted the common destroyer, and reverence the very dust that covers the venerable objects of their devotion. Now, if the zeal of these antiquaries should betray them even into open and downright idolatry, it would surely be cruel to restrain the freedom of their conscience, or deprive them of their gods.
The truth is, that a really good picture, however fresh from the hands of the artist, has as little to fear from these faded and smoky relics as a beautiful girl, in all the bloom of sixteen, has to dread from the simpers and affectations of a rival in her eighth lustre. One thing is very certain, which is, that the remedy is not in argument. The learned artist may denounce, in the strongest language, the pernicious and vitiating influence of old pictures upon public taste; but he cannot prevent the cargoes of trash that are daily consigned to our dealers. They come for a market, and will find one. The remedy is in the pencil, and in the superior claims of its productions. And we are happy to think that our ingenious author has it in his power to contribute so effectually to the application of this remedy. To suit our language to the cant of the day, let us adopt the American system, and drive out of the market these foreign importations by substituting for them our own manufactures. In establishing the
National Academy of Design, Mr. Morse has taken the most effectual means of improving the young artists of the country. After having initiated them into the principles of the profession, and enlarged their minds with the collateral studies necessary for its successful practice, let him impress upon them that the art, in its fullest extent, is but a means, whose end is character and expression in the representation of nature.
While the example of his own manners convinces them how naturally the characters of the painter and the gentleman harmonize, and while he qualifies his students to cultivate the future interests of their profession in a spirit of fraternity and mutual concession and respect, we hope that their solid acquirements, aided by the daily improving taste of the country, will enable them to triumph even over their gigantic enemy-"Old Pictures."
ART. IV.—1. A Tour in Germany, and some of the Southern Provinces of the Austrian Empire, in the years 1820-18211822. By JOHN RUSSELL. Edinburgh. Boston, reprinted, 1825.
2. Travels in the North of Germany, in the years 1825-1826. By HENRY E. DWIGHT. New-York. G. & C. and H. Carvill, 1829.
As nothing is so important to society, especially in free countries, as the education of its members, we shall never make any apology for devoting some of our pages to this topic. Indeed we rejoice to believe that the feelings of our fellow-citizens, in accordance with the spirit of the age, will uphold our efforts; that on this great subject a general interest is excited among them, however inadequate to the wants of the country may, as yet, have been their exertions, or however thwarted by the state of our society, or by circumstances arising from our peculiar_ position. In the fields of literature, we have been but humble gleaners. In the instruction of our children, our preparations have hitherto been confined to that which seemed absolutely necessary. All that is elevated and commanding in letters, and nearly all that is useful in science, we have left to other nations
and other climes, content to borrow from their treasures, and to be guided by their labours.
If this is the age of revolution, we hope it will also prove the age of improvement and reform. While the attention of man is occupied in discussing the principles, the operations, and the results of all systems, we trust that those, which, like education, affect the welfare of the human family, will not be disregarded, but that our speculative inquiries will lead to prompt and efficient action.
Under these impressions we feel always solicitous to examine the arrangements of foreign schools, their modes and processes of instruction, that comparing the opinions and practices of distant and different nations, we may profit by their experience, and incorporate into our own plans all that is excellent and successful in theirs. Of all the nations of the globe, Germany may, at present, be considered as the one where education is most varied, most extensive, most profound; where most means have been prepared for the communication of knowledge, and most care taken that those means shall be skilfully applied; where the "materiel" of learning has been most abundantly provided, and the master-workmen who are to employ these implements, are, themselves, most thoroughly instructed, and cautiously selected. We, therefore, feel gratified with the opportunity of presenting, to our readers, a fair view of the system of educa-v tion as now pursued in Germany, exhibiting its merits and defects, and enabling us to compare, on this subject, the state, condition and opinions of that country with those of our own. If this comparison should show great deficiencies in our methods the patriotism of our countrymen will, we trust, induce them to apply such remedies as are within their power.
The works which we have prefixed to this article are the latest that we have seen, which treat of this subject, and one of them, at least, deserves a careful perusal.
Mr. Russell, who visited Germany in 1820-1821-1822, appears to have carried with him all the prejudices of his countrymen. He views every thing with the supercilious feelings of an Englishman. No fault escapes him. The errors which he perceives, or thinks he perceives in the systems of that country, are all detailed and exaggerated-the good only remains unnoticed. While the quarrels and the riots of the students occupy very many of his pages, their zeal, their literary enthusiasm, their wonderful acquirements are passed over in silence. When obliged to acknowledge the attainments of the professors, he accompanies it with a sarcasm on the dull, plodding character of the nation, and ascribes to them no other merit than patient