Motion For An Address
DILKE, in rising to call attention to the position of Art Education in England, and to the constitution of the Royal Academy of Arts, and its neglect to carry out the reforms unanimously recommended by a Royal Commission, and to move—
said: I feel that I may be asked why the question should be handled by myself, rather than by any other Member of this House. I will not plead in reply a love of Art, which, though uninstructed, is nevertheless as real and as deep as that of any Member of the House, but will confine myself to stating that nearly half the Royal Academicians and a large proportion of the exhibiting painters of all England live in the borough which I represent, which gives me a special interest through my constituency in all Art matters. The old position of the Government of England towards Art—that of standing altogether aloof, has been given up, we now spend large public funds on Art, and we spend them through an obscure Department. At the same time, we recognize a body which was formed to do the work which that Department partly does. Those two establishments ought, at all events, to be brought into relation, and as the State has thought it right to foster the Art education of the people, the higher Art education as well as the lower should be brought under the view of Parliament. The present position of Art education in England is anomalous. Although the Royal Academy was founded for the promotion of the Arts of design, the Academy has never done anything in this direction. Government has undertaken entire control of the system of the instruction of students in the elementary principles of design, and it leaves the larger interests of the higher Art education to independent and irresponsible management. Ten days ago, when the Prime Minister went to dine with the Royal Academy, he spoke with great force and great truth of the progress which England had made in Art, and he gave as his instances the creation of the National Gallery, and the formation of Schools of Design. I think that the Academicians must have turned pale when they heard him. The creation of a National Gallery and the formation of Schools of Design were two of the objects which George III. had in view when he created the Royal Academy. Both of them have been magnificently accomplished. Neither of them has been accomplished by the Academy. The Academy never did anything whatever for the establishment of Schools of Design, and the State stepped in and founded, them. The Academy positively obstructed the formation of a National Gallery, and refused a great bequest which had been left it upon that condition. The State stepped in again and formed that National Gallery which the Prime Minister is right in saying is fast becoming the first collection in the world, a statement to which we may be allowed to add that which he could not add—namely, that the credit of the finest of its modern purchases belongs to the right hon. Gentleman himself. The Academy has never enforced upon the Government the wants of the nation in regard to Art. It has never taken the lead in any movement for the encouragement of Art. Its schools have been improved only after they had been surpassed by those of South Kensington. Its exhibitions of Old Masters have only been carried out tardily, after the British Institution had splendidly shown the way; the Academy, discouraged, as Mr. Watts well showed before the Royal Commission, all schemes for the decoration of public buildings; it held aloof from the establishment of Schools of Design; it retarded the establishment of the National Gallery; and it has at length undertaken the creation of a gallery of modern painting by native artists, which does not as yet exist, only when this matter has been forced upon it by a magnificent bequest. In no case that I can remember has the Academy ever come forward to champion the Art interest either of the public or of the artists of England. I do not wish to raise the question of the effect on Art of the existence of an Academy. There is much to be said upon that score, but I am not here to say it. It is true that Hogarth, Gainsborough, and Reynolds, the glories of the English school, learnt to paint when there was no Academy in England, and that their work has never been equalled since. It is true that Alma Tadema, Poynter, and Leighton, whose pictures this year occupy the first place in the estimation of the artistic public, were trained abroad, and that their talent cannot be claimed for the Royal Academy. Yet I wish it to be distinctly understood that I regard the Academy as a great fact; that I have no desire, even in my own mind, to contemplate its destruction; and that, as it exists and is what it is, I wish to see it reformed, strengthened, and improved. It is hardly to be expected that any one will now contend that the Academy is a body, the constitution of which ought not to be discussed in Parliament. As it will be seen by the Notice which I have placed upon the Paper, I do not propose to ask the House of Commons to definitely suggest any particular change. It is my hope that the result of the discussion, and of the evidence as to the systems which exist in the other European countries may induce the Academy to reform itself; but if it does not do so, Parliament has clearly a right to deal with it as it is this year dealing with the Universities. In his evidence before the Royal Commission, which sat in 1863, Sir Robert Collier proposed a very sweeping reform of the Academy by Parliament. When asked whether we had any right to transfer the funds of the present close Academy to a reformed body, Sir Robert Collier, speaking as a lawyer, said that the right of Parliament to deal with the Academy could hardly be disputed. One member of the Commission took the other view, and asked Sir Robert Collier whether there would not be injustice in touching that part of the property of the Academy which has been earned by itself through the annual exhibitions. Sir Robert Collier answered—"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to cause to be laid before Parliament, a Copy of a late Report on the direction of the Fine Arts in France, made by M. Edouard Chart on to the French Ministry of Public Instruction; and also praying that She will be graciously pleased to cause Her Representatives at the European Courts to report on the present attitude of the State towards the Fine Arts in the various Countries of Europe,"
The very appointment of the Commission assumed that the Academy was a Public Body; the Commission said so in their Report, and they founded that statement upon the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. What, indeed, is the present position of the Academy? It was founded by Royal Instrument. Its early debts were paid by the King out of funds provided by the country. For 100 years it enjoyed rooms rent-free from the nation. It now enjoys a magnificent public site at a nominal rent. It has to administer, on behalf of the public, the Turner Fund of £23,000, and the Chantry Fund of £100,000. It is regarded by the community as a Public Body of a national character, and that view is on firmed by the Report of the Committee of 1836, as well as by the evidence of the great majority of the witnesses before the Commission of 1863. The Committee of 1836 said—"I do not understand that this sum of money is money which the Academicians could put into their own pockets. It is clothed with trusts, and held by them as a Public Body….The Academy is sufficiently a Public Body, and these funds are sufficiently public funds to justify the Legislature in dealing with them as I have suggested."
Sir Charles Eastlake, who was President of the Royal Academy in 1863, distinctly and repeatedly stated to the Commission that the Academy was a Public and National Institution. He went on to say—"It possesses the privileges of a Public Body, without bearing the burden of public responsibility."
It is in a fair and not vexatious spirit that I now raise the question. There is only one further bit of the evidence upon this point before the Commission that I will quote. Mr. Westmacott, R.A., when he was asked—"Do you consider the Academy a public or a private institution?" repied—"The management of the Academy has been occasionally inquired into by Parliament in a fair and not vexatious spirit, and to such control the Academy must be content to submit, and will cheerfully submit."
In 1865 there was a correspondence between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), who was at that time Chief Commissioner of Works, and the Royal Academy. The Chief Commissioner offered the Burlington House site to the Royal Academy, but in making the offer added—"I find it rather difficult to answer that question. When we wish not to be interfered with, we are private; when we want anything from the public, we are public."
In a further letter dated November 18th, 1865, the First Commissioner of Works repeated his proposal. He wrote—"That the public interests required the enlargement of the Constituent Body, to which was entrusted the duty of electing the Academicians and Associates."
The Chief Commissioner went on to remind the Academy that, among other important reforms, the Commission had recommended a vast increase in the number of the Associates. He then wrote—"The gift of this site would be equivalent to the grant of a considerable sum of public money, and could only be justified on the grounds of the benefits conferred by the Academy in respect of the development of Art….It is the duty of the Government to consider, before making this gift, whether it is not possible by some improvement in the regulations and constitution of the Academy, to render it more conducive to the great purposes for which it was founded by the Sovereign."'
In a reply, dated February 26, 1866, Sir Francis Grant, as President of the Academy, "gladly accepted the proposed site." He said that the Academy had already, "before the appointment of the Royal Commission," resolved to carry out important reforms, "embracing the enlargement of the Constituency;" but these changes were "held in abeyance in deference to the communication of the Government." On the 26th of March, however, Sir Francis Grant and the Academy had changed their mind, and wrote—"Upon this question the Government concur with the Report of the Commission, and not with the observations of the Academy; and they consider the enlargement of the constituency, and the admission of some of the younger and rising artists to a share in the elections, as of primary importance. The Government have accordingly been authorized by Her Majesty to require, previous to the grant of a site, such modifications of the constitution of the Academy as will secure the objects above mentioned. There are other points on which alterations are desired, but they are of less importance than this one, and I am prepared to say that if I receive shortly an announcement on this subject that is satisfactory, the site in Piccadilly will be let on a long lease to the Academy."
The acceptance of the site, it will be remembered, was in February, 1866; but on June 22, 1866, Sir Francis Grant wrote to the First Commissioner of Works, that the Royal Academy had, after very mature consideration, authorized him, in their name, to decline the proffered site. At this moment there was a change of Ministry. The noble Lord who is now Postmaster General (Lord John Manners) became First Commissioner of Works, and in the absence—so far as I can discover—of any published correspondence, I suppose that the noble Lord gave up every point for which his Predecessor had been struggling, and made over the other, or second Burlington House site to the Academy without conditions. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether any correspondence took place at all, or whether the matter was settled verbally in a conversation between himself and his distinguished Relative, Sir Francis Grant. If there was any correspondence, I should like to ask whether it can be seen. I have spoken of the neglect of the Academy to carry out the reforms proposed by the Royal Commission. I will give presently a list of those reforms, and show that not one of them has been carried into effect. One change has indeed been made. Votes have been given to the Associates, but this change was but a part of the particular reform to which it belongs, for the Commissioners recommended a vast increase in the number of Associates, and consequently, in the size of the Constituent Body; whereas, until my Notice appeared, upon the Paper of the House a month ago, no increase in the number of Associates had been made. The resolutions of the Academy upon this subject are full of interest. In 1866 the Associates were 20. The Academy resolved that the number should be "indefinite." "Indefinite" as it was, the number from 1866 to 1876 remained 20. A fortnight ago four additional Associates were elected, and there are now 24, and Sir Francis Grant has told us that at some future time there are to be 30. We have to deal with facts, and there are at present 24, and for 10 years, although the number was "indefinite," and there had been much talk of an increase, there have been but 20, until my Motion appeared upon the Paper. It will be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple) told the Academy, with reference to the increase of the number of the Associates, that the Government considered—"With regard to the question of largely increasing the number of Associates, the Academy at first very warmly entered into the scheme, but they found that it was beset with many difficulties…..The Academy, seeking to avoid those difficulties, and at the same time desirous to have it in their power to recognize all remarkable talent outside their walls, have passed the following resolutions, which they hope will be satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government and the country:—Resolved—(1) The members of the Royal Academy do not consider it expedient to increase the present number of Academicians. (2) That the number of Associates be indefinite, but that there shall be a minimum of 20—to be always filled up."
No effect has been given to the wish expressed in favour of giving a voice to a certain number of the younger men. The Associates elected in old days and up to a fortnight ago averaged 50 years of age at the date of their election; the four Associates who were elected a fortnight ago averaged 54. That is what has come of the admission of "the younger" and more promising men. One of the Associates then elected was aged over 60, and had not exhibited for seven years. I have been told that—a short time ago—attention might have been wisely called to the insufficiency of the reforms which have been introduced into the Royal Academy since the date of the Report of the Commission of 1863, but that, owing to the changes lately made, the position of the Academy is stronger than it was before. I have shown what those changes are. To me those changes present themselves in a very different way. They are too small to remove any of the grievances of which we complain; and, on the other hand, the making of them shows that the Royal Academy are aware that public opinion is against them. The changes are altogether insufficient, if not merely delusive. These small changes, too, have been made most grudgingly. In the Autumn of 1875 they were announced as immediately impending. They were, however, twice negatived by a majority of the Academicians, and the small addition to the Associates was only carried after it had become known that the constitution of the Academy was to be brought before the House of Commons. It has been rumoured that on all the occasions when reforms have been negatived, the great names of the Academy have been found in the minority, and I believe that the public would be indeed astonished if the division lists on those occasions were to be published by the Press. I am not complaining of the omission to elect any particular men. It is true that some great names in modern English Art are outside the Academy, in which Burne Jones, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Moore, whose pictures are so much praised this year, and Linnell have found no place; but this has always been so, and is, perhaps, inevitable. Girt in, Old Crome, Hay don, John Martin, David Cox, Prout, Nasmith, Copley Fielding, Müller, and many other of the first names in English Art, are not to be found in the lists of the Academy. With regard to some of these, and with regard to some of those who are now, late in life, Academicians, it may be said of the Royal Academy that men of genius have been kept out of the body, and opposed during all that period of their artistic life when their genius most needed recognition and support. Some have been driven out of the practice of the higher branches of Art; some have kept up the struggle until the ardour of youth has passed, but have ended by being offered membership of the Academy, and have consented to join it when the work of their life was done. What is the change which has been made 100 years after the foundation of the Academy. After a great revival of Art in England, and when, according to the evidence of the President of the Royal Academy, Sir Francis Grant himself, English Artists have increased fifty-fold in number, no addition has taken place to the members of the Academy, but four names have been added to the small body of Associates, which itself was called into existence before that great increase in the number of the Artists which the President of the Academy had before him when he spoke. What were the recommendations of the Commissioners in 1863, and which of them have been adopted. The recommendations were very many, and amongst them were these—That a Royal Charter should be granted to the Academy, with visitorial power given to the Crown; that the number of Associates should be greatly extended; that the then existing Academicians and Associates should be allowed to send four pictures only, as of right, instead of eight, and that new Academicians, not associated at the date of the Report, should not be allowed to send pictures as of right, but should stand on the same footing with other Artists; that the Exhibition should be open free on Saturdays. None of those changes have been made. With regard to the widening the basis of the Academy by the increase of its constituency, which is the largest question, during the investigation of 1836, Mr. Hay don, the great painter, said—"I think the present system of self-election most pernicious." That was also the view taken by many witnesses before the Commission of 1863—for instance, by Mr. Ruskin, by Mr. Holman Hunt, Mr. Layard, and Sir Robert Collier. The latter can certainly not be prejudiced against the Academicians who have always hung his admirable pictures, not better than their excellence deserves, but certainly very well. The Commission reported in favour of increasing the Associates to at least 50 with votes. If this were done, and if the Academy received a Charter giving visitorial power to the Crown, the Commission thought that election by "outsiders" would be unnecessary; but it is clear from what they said that they thought that even that would be better than the present system. If Sir Francis Grant is right in thinking that the Artists have increased fifty-fold since the creation of the Academy (while the Constitutency has increased only from 40 to 64), a constituency of 2,000 would not be a wider constituency in proportion to the whole body of Artists than was the original 40. If, as the Academicians say, a large educated constituent body cannot be created; if the materials do not exist, surely it speaks very badly for the Academy, who for 100 years have had the Art Education of the Nation in their hands. At the present moment the Academy, with its limited constituency, is a head, without a body. It shows all those evils which distinguish close Corporations. The average age at which men are elected Academicians is 50, an age at which, in painting, the hand and eye begin to decline, as Sir Edwin Land seer, in his evidence before the Commission most ably showed. One pledge, once given by the Academy, was that for the future Academicians should be elected from among the Associates, not by seniority, but for merit. In a late election the Academician elected had been for 30 years an Associate, and it is no reproach to him to say that at the time of his election he was far less capable than he had been in his past of producing good work. To return for a minute to the evidence given before the Commission upon this point, the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) did not agree in election by "outsiders," but he "thought that the Royal Academy could be very greatly improved," and improved in directions in which it has not since that date been touched. Mr. Watts, whose position as one of our foremost artists gives his opinions peculiar weight, also thought the Academy capable of vast improvement in directions in which no change has since been made. He said—"The admission of some of the younger and rising artists to a share in the elections to be of primary importance."
Mr. Watts was then asked, "Do you ascribe the facts you mention to some defect in the Royal Academy?" He replied—"Considering the position which the Royal Academy holds, it has displayed very great apathy. I do not see its influence on our architecture or our taste in any way whatever. The only National School which has grown up at all has grown up outside the Academy, and indeed in opposition to it—that is the Water-colour School; and the only definite Reform movement was certainly not stimulated by the Royal Academy, and even met with opposition from it."
Mr. Ruskin, in his evidence, said, "I should wish to see the election confided to other hands." He said that the present body—"It seems to me that there must be some defect in the Royal Academy. If they were extremely anxious to develope taste, or to encourage Art, I think that some means would have been found; but I do not see that the Academy has done anything whatever."
At a later period in his examination, the following question was put to Mr. Ruskin:—"Generally chose those who are likely to be pleasant to themselves; pleasant, either as companions, or in carrying out a system which they choose for their own convenience to adopt."
"No; certainly not," was his reply. Sir Robert Collier said—`"Speaking generally, have you, in the course of the last few years, been satisfied with the selection of artists into the Royal Academy?"
Mr. David Roberts, R. A., Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., and Mr. Maclise, R.A., said that the Academy was a self-elected Body, and was most unpopular, and that it was most desirable that great changes should be introduced into its constitution. Mr. Armitage, R.A., said—"The Royal Academy, as at present constituted, does not fairly represent the great artistic Body, and does not possess the confidence of that Body."
It is hardly likely that the Academy should command the confidence of the general body of artists. If there were in England only 64 recognized surgeons and physicians, who elected themselves for life, and took all the rich patients, it is not probable that the general body of unrecognized medical practitioners would have full confidence in their proceedings. The Commission also reported against the Academicians' privilege of exhibiting eight pictures as of right, and recommended that they should be allowed but four, and their successors none, as of right. This change has not been carried out. There is upon the point some interesting evidence of the present President of the Academy, Sir Francis Grant. He was asked whether there would be any injustice in diminishing the number from eight to four. He said—"We all think a reform is absolutely necessary. We consider the position of the Academy an anomalous one, and we think that either it should become a great National School, or else should sink into a private Body like the Water-Colour Society. Of course, the former change would be the more desirable of the two."
I have no doubt that Sir Francis Grant would be greatly relieved, for I notice that during the last five years he has exhibited six portraits each year. This year he has, in view of my Motion, contented himself with five pictures. The evidence in favour of the curtailment of the privilege was unanimous. Some of the witnesses were not asked any questions upon the point, but those who were all took strongly the same view—for instance, Mr. Ruskin, Mr. Woolner, Mr. Layard, Mr. M'Callum, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. Holman Hunt, and many others. Yet the privilege has lasted 13 years longer, and exists to this day. The French Academy have gone far ahead of us in this respect. They have lately abolished the privilege of sending in four pictures as of right, and have replaced it by the provision that two only shall be allowed. Leaving once more the Report of the Commission, I wish for a few moments to consider the general position of the Academy. In 1862, in a debate in this House, the First Commissioner of Works said that the duties of the Academy were three-fold—(1) To reward merit by granting honorary titles;(2) to manage the annual English Exhibition of Works of Art; (3) to conduct Art-teaching. I would follow a very able writer, who has been lately discussing the functions of the Academy, Mr. Comyns Carr, the Art critic of The Pall Mall Gazette, in adding a fourth head to the list—(4) the official representation of Art in its relations to the public and to the State. As for the first head, the distribution of honours, I have already pointed out that some men of acknowledged talent are confessedly and notoriously outside the Body, and that, under the present system, rising men are never admitted even to Associate ship until they are past the age at which the recognition of the Academy can be of service to them. I have been told that the recent election of Associates will increase the popularity of the Academy. I confess that I hardly think so. Three out of the four elected are, I believe, over 54;the average age of the Associates elected was, I believe, 54; the average of the Associates elected until then having been, I believe, 50. We have been told in the public papers, with what truth I know not, that there are two regular parties in the Academy, like the two regular parties in this House, and besides these a third party, which resembles the party of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), and which is known as "The Gridiron Gang," and that in the recent election of Associates an attempt was made to conciliate that body. If the election of Associates is well-conducted, the selection of pictures is badly-conducted by the Academy. If the selection of pictures is well-conducted, then the selection of Associates is badly conducted by the Academy, for one, at least, of the gentlemen recently made Associates had had pictures rejected last year, and after one of the new Associates had been elected the Council of the Academy had to fly to the heap of pictures marked "doubtful," and rescue for exhibition the picture of one of their new colleagues. The younger, or rising, painters have never been reached by the Academy at all, for the Associateship has never been used by the Academy in such a way as to make it a really different rank from membership of the Academy. The existing system is neither the one thing nor the other. There are 64 selected Artists. Now there are not 64, or anything like 64 artists of the first rank in the country. On the other hand, if you look to competency there are 300 or 400. The present system mixes together in an indistinguishable mass of 64, a certain proportion of the first-rate painters of England, with a certain proportion arbitrarily selected of the merely competent. The Associate body ought to be, not only a probationary body but a body equivalent to the French Medallists, who are hors concours. The Commissioners when they proposed a large increase of the numbers of the Associates intended to so widen the basis of the Academy as to make the election to the smaller body a satisfactory election. The addition of four, or even 10, to the existing number of Associates can be no real enlargement of the basis of the Academy, and can yield no real increase of its hold upon the public. As for the management of the annual Exhibition of Works of Art, I shall say but little. Both with regard to the selection of pictures, and the hanging of those selected, it would be easy for me to produce instances in which the Royal Academicians have mismanaged the task which is imposed upon them; but this would be an unpleasant and an invidious duty, and it is one from which I shrink. Of the past, and of dead artists, I may without impropriety speak: David Cox and Copley Fielding were always "rejected," or badly hung. Of the present I will only say that I have lately known a picture rejected for which a dealer has immediately given 1,500 guineas, and that Messrs, Danby and Alfred Hunt, distinguished members of the Old Water Colour Society, have had their pictures rejected this year. In France, also, until 1863, the selection and hanging of pictures for the Salon was in the hands of the Academy. The French artists revolted against this system, and a selection jury, elected by those who had at any time exhibited in the Salon, was substituted with the best results. The Academy have this year hung several pictures which they rejected last year, which shows caprice. It is also the general opinion of artists that a more interesting exhibition than that which is made might be made each year out of the materials in the hands of the Royal Academy. If I were going into detail upon this point I should have to speak strongly of the treatment of landscape Art. In landscape alone we have an "English school." Forty years ago landscape Art was represented in the Academy by Turner, Constable, Stanfield, Calcott, Roberts, Danby, and many more. At the present moment the only landscape painters in the Academy, so far as I remember, are Mr. Cooke, the marine painter, who is not a landscape artist proper; Mr. Vicat Cole, Associate; and Mr. Oakes, Associate. Mr. Millais was elected as a figure painter, and paints landscapes only in his leisure moments; and all the vacancies which have been caused by the deaths of landscape artists have been filled up by the election of figure painters. The natural result is that landscapes are badly treated in the selection and hanging; that rising artists are driven to neglect landscape for figure painting; and that the English Royal Academy for the promotion of the Arts in England has distinctly discouraged English Art in that point in which it best compared with the Art of other countries. Not only does there not exist in any other country a privilege corresponding to that possessed by Academicians, of hanging eight pictures as of right, but in all other countries the admission of pictures to the Salon is determined by a jury either partly or wholly elected by the general body of artists. The result of the English system is seen in successful proposals for rival exhibitions, and in the fact that some of the first painters in the country refuse to send their works to the galleries of the Royal Academy. One further suggestion was made by the Commissioners, with regard to the Exhibition, which has also been neglected by the Academicians—namely, that there should be one free day a week at the Exhibition. When the Academy was first established it was so distinctly regarded as a Public Body existing for the promotion of Art, and so little as a Private Body existing for the purpose of making profits by its exhibition, that a laboured apology was made by the Academy for even asking for payment for admission on any day. I wish that I could hope that the Prime Minister, who would, I am sure, sympathize with the Commission in this respect, would use his influence with the Academy to obtain the one free day a week. I come now to the functions of the Royal Academy in the direction of the Art education of the country. A subject which I can touch but in the most cursory manner, for it would take hours to deal with it as it should be dealt with. A system of Art education, which ought to have grown up under the direction of the Royal Academy, has grown up outside of it, and the Science and Art Department has usurped the position which the Crown intended, in founding the Academy, that that body should take for its own. This has not been wholly the fault of the Academy. That body may have been apathetic and inert, but Government did nothing to rouse it from its inaction, and the new system was founded without the Academy having been consulted. At the same time, great public advantages have been conferred on the Academy on the ground that it is the national body for directing the instruction of English students in Art, although, as a fact, the Art education of the country has passed almost entirely into other hands. The teaching in the Art Schools of the Provinces is not of a high order; and it is of no use to go on raising 1d. rates and multiplying inefficient schools until we have set in order the directing bodies in London, connected South Kensington and Burlington House, and created some central authority capable of directing the wasted forces of South Kensington, and of stimulating the Academy to act with, or to supervise, those who are attempting to do for it the work which it should perform. The Schools of the Academy are taught by Academicians with public spirit, and for nominal pay; but in order that too much may not be made of this point, I must be allowed to state that, small as is the pay in England, it is smaller still in France, where the best men in the country are willing to accept it, and to give instruction. I do not wish to seethe pay so small for this Art teaching. At South Kensington they have a young and efficient man at a competent salary, and at the Slade School the same, and I think that this is the better plan. But that which is above all needed is central supervision. I do not wish to disparage the efforts which have been made under the direction of the Science and Art Department. There is nothing in the world finer than its Art collections. The Department has done much good in the circulation of Art objects in the Provinces. But its teaching in London is lacking in system, and in the country it is all but useless. The old position of the State in which it stood aloof from Art, in hostility or suspicion, is now forgotten. We vote large funds for Art each year, and we spend them through a Department which has other duties, and which is little known, while all the honour and glory of the protection of the Arts is given to a body which was established by the Crown to do certain work which it does not perform. Before a change is made I think that more information as to better systems is needed by us, and it is in that belief that I ask that information from foreign countries may be given. It is true that the Committee which sat upon the subject in 1836 took much evidence from abroad, but it is certain that since that date all the foreign systems have been changed. As for the fourth, and last, head under which we have to consider the functions of the Academy—namely, as the representative of English Art, appearing as the official exponent of Art opinion before the Crown, before the public, and before the general body of artists, I also think that the best means at my disposal to show the difference which exists between that which is and that which ought to be, is to ask that our Secretaries of Legation in the European capitals should be instructed to report upon the higher Art administration of these countries. I have clearly this much to justify me in moving in the matter; that a Royal Commission, of great authority, reported upon the Academy 13 years ago; that the Commission unanimously recommended the grant of a Royal Charter, with visitorial power given to the Crown; the widening of the basis of the Academy by a vast increase in the number of Associates; the curtailment of the privilege of each Academician to hang eight pictures as of right; the throwing open free of the Exhibition on one day a week. None of these recommendations of the Commission have been carried out. The Academy is still unpopular; it needs reform to strengthen its hold upon the general body of the artists and upon the public, and those of us who say this are not its enemies but its friends. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for the Address."None whatever. I should he very glad myself if it were so…..I should be greatly relieved by the passing of such a law."
seconded the Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to cause to be laid before Par- liament, a Copy of a late Report on the direction of the Fine Arts in France, made by M. Edouard Charton to the French Ministry of Public Instruction; and also praying that She will be graciously pleased to cause Her Representatives at the European Courts to report on the present attitude of the State towards the Fine Arts in the various Countries of Europe."—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
said, he would not have risen to move an Amendment to the Resolution which had just been proposed, if that Resolution had been confined to addressing the Crown, in order to obtain information with respect to the state of Art and Art education generally in Europe—matters on which information would be of value and importance. The hon. Member's Resolution and speech amounted to a vote of censure upon the present administration of the Royal Academy. The hon. Member had cleverly combined allegations as to the past with inferences as to the present, and had dealt with the matter in a way to cause some misconception in the minds of those hon. Gentlemen who were not well acquainted with the constitution and management of the Academy. What they had to do with was the present. The hon. Member alleged that the Royal Academy was torpid—that it showed no interest in the promotion of high Art education; that it was penetrated and permeated by a narrow spirit of coterieism and cliquism, and that it was, in fact, an exclusive institution. At no time had the Royal Academy derived any grant of funds from the nation. What it did enjoy was an equivalent which was given by the nation for the acquisition, on the part of the nation, of the site given to the Royal Academy by the Sovereign in his private capacity. There was an impression in many quarters that the Royal Academy was essentially a public institution, dependent for its support upon the public funds; and he must say a few words as to the history of the Royal Academy in order to show that Parliament had no control over the institution. The Royal Academy was founded originally by 22 artists of distinction, who came to the conclusion that it was a right and proper thing for the promotion of the Arts of design that they should combine themselves into a society and have an annual exhibition of pictures as a means of profit. In the memorial they addressed to George III. they stated—"We apprehend that the profits arising from the exhibition will answer the expenses." The King, therefore, in his private capacity, and not through his Minister or through Parliament, assigned to the Academy rooms in what was then his own palace; and taking an interest in the enterprize, promised that, in the event of the first year showing a deficit, he would supplement what was necessary out of his private purse. So close and personal was the relation between the Sovereign and the Academy that the King named the treasurer; because, as he had made himself liable for any deficiency, it was necessary he should have confidence in the financial management of the Academy. A document drawn up by Sir Joshua Reynolds, from which it appeared that the Academy occupied rooms as tenants at will in the King's palace, would be found embodied in a letter read in 1834 by Mr. Spring-Rice, when the removal of the Academy from Somerset House to Trafalgar Square was in question. When the nation desired to acquire the whole of Somerset House, the Academy, with the consent of the Crown, and under the presidency of Sir Martin Archer Shee, was transferred to Trafalgar Square, where it occupied a portion of the National Gallery, in return for the rooms at Somerset House, which it had given up for the nation. Ata more recent date, the whole of the building in Trafalgar Square being required for the National Gallery, the nation came to another arrangement, whereby a site was found for it as an equivalent to that originally given to the Academy. So that the relation between the Crown and the Royal Academy was exactly the same as if the Sovereign, out of his Royal bounty and munificence, had founded or supported a charity or public institution. He denied, therefore, that Parliament had any right of control either over the management of the Academy or of the disposition of its funds, which were not the result of endowment, but simply the earnings of its own labours. There were two aspects in which the Royal Academy presented itself—the first, as a body holding an annual exhibition of works of Art; and the second, as a teaching body engaged in the instruction of the Arts of design. The hon. Baronet, with regard to the first point, had made very grave charges as to the manner in which the Royal Academy had discharged its functions, which, he said, manifested a spirit not only of exclusiveness, but of favouritism. He also alleged that the Academy looked mainly to the hanging of the works of its own members, rather than to the interests of Art generally. The Royal Academy had, however, no monopoly in this country, but had to enter into competition with other institutions; and if it had acted all along in the spirit of favouritism imputed to it, the popularity of the Academy would have been impaired, and it would never have attained so large a degree of success. He challenged his hon. Friend to say that any greater degree of satisfaction existed with regard to the Paris Salons. A number of distinguished artists declined last year to send their pictures to these Salons; and, although he would not say that this was conclusive as to the favouritism of that body, it at least showed how difficult it was to satisfy artists who sent their works for exhibition. He was rather astonished to hear his hon. Friend state that a Royal Academician had a right hang eight pictures "on the line."
said, a Royal Academician had a right to hang eight pictures, as of right. He might have said "on the line" by mistake.
said, that a Royal Academician might send in eight pictures, but any artist who chose might do that; and if any privilege formerly existed of hanging eight pictures on the line, it was no longer recognized. It was solely owing to the Royal Academy that many water-colour painters were able to exhibit their works at all. There were two Water-Colour Societies, but in neither could any one not a member exhibit his works; and it was only through the Royal Academy devoting a room to water-colours, that those who were not members of the Water-Colour Societies had an opportunity of exhibiting their pictures. His hon. Friend had said that interference on the part of the Examining Body caused great disappointment and discouragement to artists; but the true cause of the disappointment was the annually increasing number of exhibitors. The very fact of such increase was a test which showed that no such exclusiveness and partiality as had been spoken of really existed. Again, it was said that the recommendation of the Royal Commission that the consti- tuency of the Academy should be enlarged, had not been given effect to, and that the resolution in reference to the increased number of Associates was passed after Notice had been given of his Motion. According to his recollection, the resolution was passed before the Notice was given. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: The Notice was given a month ago.] The resolution to increase the number of Associates by four, to be immediately elected, and before two years to increase the number to 30, was carried on the 15th of February last. But the alteration of the constitution of the Academy was much larger than his hon. Friend seemed to be aware of. Not only was the number of Associates now 26, and soon to be 30, but the Associates were now admitted to all the privileges, rights, and franchises of the Academy, with this exception—that they could not sit on the Executive Board or Council. But not one resolution of importance could be passed by the Council, and not an appointment could be made by them. Every matter of importance must be submitted to and be decided by the General Assembly, a body which consisted of Academicians and Associates; and the latter were eligible for all appointments with the exception of Keeper and Librarian; they could be visitors, and thus perform a most important function. The hon. Baronet had omitted to refer to several recommendations of the Royal Commission that had been adopted—at least, in their spirit—by the Academy. Formerly, when an Associate wished to stand for the honour of being a member he had to subscribe his name and go before the Academy in the character of a suppliant. Now, on the other hand, they were elected without being subject to the old rules. Then, again, steps had been taken to prevent stagnation in promotion by the offering of inducements to retire to such Academicians as, from age or infirmity, might consider themselves no longer fit for the active work of the Academy, and among those inducements was one by which the retiring Academician retained the privilege of exhibiting one picture each year. There was another very important recommendation made by the Royal Commission—namely, that there should be an infusion of members who were not professional artists. They were to be lay members. That recommendation had not been carried out in form, but it had been in spirit, by the election of Honorary Academicians, six in number, men of high professional eminence in foreign countries, who, it was hoped, would exhibit the best types of foreign Art, which could not be without influence on the English School. In the face of those facts, could it be said that the Academy was insensible to what was necessary to put itself in accord with the spirit of the present day, or was indifferent to the recommendations made by the Royal Commission. His hon. Friend pointed to the importation of the element of Government control which dominated at South Kensington as the direction in which the reform of the Royal Academy should be undertaken, and said that the method and the manner in which the work at South Kensington was done should be the mode and type of how the work should be performed in the Royal Academy. There was a confusion of ideas in that analogy. South Kensington was a grammar school, and the Royal Academy was a University. To say that a University should be modelled upon that which was only sufficient and adequate for a grammar school would be the same sort of mistake as to say that Cambridge or Oxford should have no larger or higher professional staff than what would be adequate for the requirements of Eton and Harrow. His hon. Friend forgot to state that when the Report of the Royal Commission was made—and, indeed, the fact was alluded to in the Report—the Royal Academy was in want, owing to the conditions of its occupancy at Trafalgar Square, of those physical means and appliances which were necessary for carrying out a larger and more liberal system. The suggestion of the Royal Commission, that there should be a sufficiently-paid superior master, had been carried out. His hon. Friend had spoken rather slightingly of gratuitous masters; but the fact was the functions of the Keeper had been enlarged, and he now received £600 a-year. Since the Academy had been located at Burlington House a school of preliminary painting had been instituted under the supervision and instruction of an experienced master; and, quite recently, a special class for drawing heads from living models had been added to the preliminary school. Above the preliminary school they came to those masters of whom his hon. Friend had spoken so slightingly. These higher schools were open for 10 months of the year, and there were artists of the greatest eminence—men whose time was really money in a very large sense of the word—practically gratuitously devoting themselves to the instruction of pupils in those schools. Besides this system of instruction there were Professors and lecturers, and some of the lectures, especially those on anatomy, were attended by larger audiences than the rooms in the new building would accommodate. An arrangement had recently been made whereby ladies were admitted to the drawing classes, and also instructed in anatomy. There was a remarkable recommendation made before the Royal Commission by a gentleman who was well-known to many Members of that House, Dr. Percy, to the effect that the properties of pigments and the materials which entered into the manufacture of Art should be studied and applied; and, acting on that recommendation, a Professor of chemistry had been appointed. He would say a few words as to the curriculum required of the pupils who went to the Royal Academy. No person was admitted without a test examination; and, having passed that, he was not admitted to the full rights of a student, but was put into matriculation for three months, in order to ascertain that his test examination was bonâ fide. It was only then that he was admitted to studentship, and that for a period of seven years, with all the privileges of the schools, lectures, and the free run of the library, which had been enlarged with great judgment and skill since the appointment of the present librarian, and was now a valuable part of the Royal Academy. Without going into further details, he thought it would be admitted, from what he had said, that the picture which his hon. Friend had drawn was not quite to the life. He (Mr. Cartwright) was not enamoured of the Royal Academy; but it had the merit of being the least academic and pedantic of all academies. A complaint was made that many distinguished men had been unable to obtain admission within its walls; but no one who looked down its lists of members carefully could fail to perceive that they were a most Catholic body, comprising men of every variety of artistic mind, re- presenting very different currents of thought and style. For his part, he should be very sorry to see the system of self-administration which had made the Academy what it was superseded by the irresponsibility, and perhaps capricious directions of a Government Minister: and he therefore moved as an Amendment—
"That, in the opinion of this House, there is no ground for imputing to the Royal Academy neglect in adopting reforms with the view to promote the active development of higher Art education in England."
in seconding the Amendment, observed that the hon. Baronet was always attacking some body. At one time it was municipal corporations, and now it was a body which was not incorporated at all. Because certain recommendations were made by a Commission, that was no reason why the Royal Academy should carry them out. What was the constitution of the Royal Academy? It succeeded the Incorporated Society of Artists, which had grown so large as to be perfectly unmanageable, and was practically founded by George III. in 1768, who, as a free gift, granted it apartments in Somerset House. In 1771 the same King insisted, when Somerset House was in part rebuilt, that apartments should be set aside for the Academy. In 1834 Lord Grey, when the rooms in Somerset House were required by the Government, found rooms for the Academy in the National Gallery, and subsequently, when the National Gallery was taken possession of by the Government of Lord Russell, rooms were found for the Academy in Burlington House. During all that time it had been understood that in granting those apartments there would be no right of interference with the Academy. The present Prime Minister, when in office some 20 years ago, offered the Royal Academy not only the site of Burlington House, but a Vote of public money towards the new building. He (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) believed, however, that the Royal Academy refused the money, because they wished to preserve their entire independence. The site which was given, instead of the apartments they formerly held in the National Gallery, afforded no pretence whatever for interfering with the Royal Academy. The hon. Baronet suggested how little the Royal Academy had done for Art; but the best answer that could be given to such a suggestion would be the names of a few of the great men who had been Royal Academicians. To say nothing of the present generation of artists, such names as Smirked, Stothard, Lawrence, Reynolds, Flax man, Turner, Callcott, Wilkie, Mulready, West, West-macott, Stanfield, Maclise, Foley, Philips, and Landseer were a complete answer to the allegation of the hon. Baronet. It was said the number of Royal Academicians was only 42;but in the French Academy the number was only 15; in Munich, 15; in Belgium, 19; in Rome, 36. The Associates had been increased from 20 to 30, who would all have votes; so that, with 42 Royal Academicians, the constituency would now be 72. The taste for Art had greatly increased in this country. As a proof of it, the fact might be mentioned that this year no fewer than 5,000 pictures had been sent in for exhibition, as against some 1,500 a few years ago; and for this advance in Art and the growing taste for Art the country was greatly indebted to the admirable conduct, the zeal, and the generosity of the Royal Academy. He maintained that they had no more right to interfere with the management of the Royal Academy than with any other body of gentlemen in the country. Certainly, the hon. Baronet had made out no case whatever for any such interference, therefore he hoped that the House would agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House there is no ground for imputing to the Royal Academy neglect in adopting reforms with the view to promote the active development of higher Art education in England,"—(Mr. William Cartwright,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
referring to the Parliamentary document before them, was bound to say it appeared clear that the Royal Academy had behaved with that strict honour and integrity which one would desire to see in a body composed of gentlemen distinguished in Art. They had adhered strictly to the terms on which they received the grant of the site at Burlington House. The changes in the constitution of the Academy referred to by Sir Francis Grant in his letter of 1866 had been carried into effect. Though as a corporation created by the Crown, entrusted with the duty of developing and exhibiting the productions of painting and sculpture, it was a public body, yet in regard to its financial independence it was a private society. If the hon. Baronet wished the House to exercise a control over it, he would not find the Royal Academy on any page of the Estimates; and, as no public money was granted to it, there would be no opportunity for the House to direct or control any of its operations. The view of the Government of 1866 was that any suggestion which might be made for the public advantage and for the public objects for which the Academy was originally formed should be pressed on their attention. It was on account of the Royal Academy being a corporation for public purposes that the rooms in Somerset House were given to them on the first formation of the Academy; so, too, when their rooms in Somerset House were required for public offices, and the Academy was transferred to the National Gallery; and, again, when the national pictures increased so much that the space occupied by the Academy was required, it was on the same ground—the public purposes for which it was formed—that the offer was made to them of the site of Burlington House. Therefore, when the Government had to consider the propriety of granting this very valuable site in a convenient position, they had the advantage of the Report of the Commission which had been moved for by his noble Friend opposite (Lord Elcho). That Commission made several recommendations which did not appear of much public importance, and were not insisted upon. For instance, the recommendation that the number of pictures which might be hung by an Academician should be reduced from eight to four might affect the interest of the exhibition, but not the progress of Art in the nation. But the usefulness of the Academy might be promoted by an increase of the constituency, and by conferring on the Associates equal power of voting with the Academicians. This voting power had been obtained for the Associates, and the recommendation as to the widening of the constituency had been conceded, the number of Associates being increased to 30; so that, with the Royal Academicians, the constituency would be now 72. He did not agree in the suggestion for a closer combination between the School of South Kensington and the Royal Academy; but the teaching of the Academy should be to the other drawing schools what the Universities were to the classical schools of the country.
said, he thought that the subject had been brought before the House in a very awkward shape on both sides. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) had called upon it to sit in judgment upon a body over which he had not shown that it had any equitable jurisdiction, while the form of the Amendment precluded the House from obtaining important Papers, the production of which was the ostensible object of the Motion. He admitted that the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea seemed to have digested very well the Report of the Royal Commission; but his acquaintance with the history stopped at that point, and he had strangely failed to see to what extent the recommendations contained in that Report had been carried into effect. The speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for South Hants had shown that upon almost all points the Academy had either already complied or was now on the high road to comply with them in the letter or the spirit, with the one exception of not having sought the society of that body of learned amateurs whose influence in this country marked the age. He thought it would have been wiser in them to have brought in from the outside world a few such men as Lord Elcho, Mr. Ruskin, and Lord Over-stone, under regulations and with limits as to numbers sufficient to obviate the risk of their swamping the Artists. The hon. Baronet's Resolution as it stood was one simply for Papers, and those Papers would, no doubt, be found to be very valuable; but the speech which preluded the Motion was one of censure, so hon. Members were placed in a dilemma of appearing to wish to condemn the Royal Academy in order to get the Papers, or in vindicating the Academy, of losing the chance of obtaining those valuable documents. If it came to a division he would vote for the Amendment; but he considered that both the Resolutions before the House ought to be withdrawn, and the Government would then, he hoped, consent to give the Papers as an unopposed Return. Having said so much, he must turn to his own grievance, and point out in what respects the debate, so far as it had gone, was defective. He did not hesitate to say that any stranger who had listened to the discussion from first to last would go away supposing that the House was dealing with an Academy for the promotion of painting alone, of one which had studied nothing but painting, and exhibited nothing but painting. The hon. Baronet was as guilty as any speaker in this respect. He had himself always protested against this theory, and he must remind the House that the Academy, whether it had always been in practice sufficiently mindful of the catholicity of Art, was, in name at all events, the Academy not of painting, but of Art—of sculpture and architecture as well as painting. While it was, in all its branches, on one hand the blue ribbon of the successful man, and on the other the corporation charged with the responsibilities of teaching and judging. The Art with which he was himself particularly identified—architecture—differed from the others in being not only an art, but also a craft, and as the Academy could only deal with it in its first phase, so the necessities of this double character had led to the foundation of the Institute of Architects which took cognizance of architecture in all its aspects. But the establishment of that Institute was no reason why the Academy should shuffle off that branch of its work; on the contrary, all who were deeply interested in it felt that the most fatal thing for architecture would be for the business element to strangle the artistic. Perhaps the direct aid which the Academy could give to Architecture might seem slight, but its effect in correcting materialistic influences was not so unimportant. Besides some teaching upon the artistic principles of that art, it provided what the other society could not do—namely, an exhibition. An architectural exhibition was not so easy a matter as one of pictures and sculpture. There the things themselves were shown, but here only the repre- sentations of buildings existing elsewhere, and he had rather unwillingly come to the conviction that an architectural exhibition must hang on the skirts of one of the other Arts. Even then, the number of persons who studied it would be few in comparison with the frequenters of the remaining galleries. This consideration showed how little hope there could be of a purely architectural exhibition standing alone. It also proved, he must add, how great the obligation was upon the Academy not to neglect its duty of providing for the need. He must, however, go further and repeat a suggestion which he had offered when he was examined before the Commission, and to which that body hadfavourably referred in its Report. We had in our days grasped, as it had not been done for generations, that Art was not merely the elaboration of certain exceptional processes but that it ought to pervade every process of civilized life. The Art workman, or rather the working artist, had asserted this existence and was every day more surely making his position good. We were at last realizing that there was art in pottery, art in glass painting, art in metal work, art in enameling, art in the carving of wood and stone, art in wall decoration and in the patterns of woven tissues, art in furniture. The Academy was taking steps to enlarge its Associationship. Why, therefore, could it not, as he suggested to the Commission, make special Associates out of the proficients in these subsidary Arts, as it had of old encouraged the engravers. He thought the Academy might and ought to come forward to meet the movement for the development of Art in all branches of domestic and civilized life which had been making such great progress in this country. Why should it not have its Associate in mural decoration, its Associate in glass painting, its Associate in metal chasing? As one who wished to see the title of artist not restricted to be the exclusive privilege of the producers in a few branches, and the enjoyment of Art not reserved as the exclusive luxury of the rich, but recognized, honoured, and enjoyed as the life-breath of a Christian and civilized nation, he thought it was the duty of the Academy to pronounce that all Art in its various types and phases was worthy of the highest encouragement, and therefore to make it- self the fosterer and developer of those subsidiary arts, as well as of the three great schools of Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture.
I quite agree with my hon. Friend who has just sat down that, whatever be the efforts, and whatever the successes of the Royal Academy, in the discharge of its important duties, there will always be ample room for the further development of those efforts. The work of Art, as my hon. Friend has shown, is a very wide work, involving very much more, perhaps, than the general public suppose; but I think the question we now have to consider is not so much whether there is a broad and extensive perspective which the Academy may contemplate for the work of future generations, but whether a case is brought before Parliament which calls upon us at this moment to interfere by passing the Motion of my hon. Friend (Sir Charles Dilke), with something in the nature of an implied censure upon the Academy. My hon. Friend who last spoke says, and the House will agree, that we are placed in a difficulty with respect to the nature of the Motion, and I think we are in the same difficulty with respect to the Amendment. My hon. Friend (Sir Charles Dilke), who brought forward his Motion, as was to be expected, with great ability, has placed on his Notice a distinct charge against the Royal Academy that it has failed to carry into effect the reforms unanimously recommended by the Royal Commission. But this charge, which appeared in full view in the Notice of my hon. Friend, is not embodied in his Motion. Now, there is some inconvenience in this method of proceeding. If a public body is to be censured by a Motion in this House, well and good; but let us know that upon which we are about to vote. But it tends to prejudice the position of the House, and of others outside the House, if a Notice of Motion is given involving distinct terms of censure, while the Motion itself when proposed does not involve censure, because it remains a matter of dispute and ambiguity whether the House has intended to cast reflections upon that body or not. I am sure my hon. Friend would be the last man to wish to avoid raising the issue directly. Still we are placed in a difficulty, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Cart- wright), by his Amendment, has called upon us to say that there is no ground for imputing to the Royal Academy neglect in adopting reforms with a view to promote the active development of Art. My hon. Friend, therefore, calls upon us to pronounce a positive judgment as to the imputation upon the Royal Academy, and my hon. Friend has been obliged to do this, although he commenced his speech with an argument to show that we had no jurisdiction in the matter at all. If we have no jurisdiction in the matter it is quite plain that there is a certain amount of incongruity in passing judgment upon the merits, even though it be a favourable judgment. Now, I hope that my hon. Friend (Sir Charles Dilke) will be disposed not to press his Motion to a division, but will allow his request for Papers to stand upon its own merits, and to be dealt with as a Motion for Papers simply, without any implied or ambiguous question of the merits of the procedure of the Royal Academy. Then, I have no doubt we should be relieved from the Amendment, and I think our position would be a much better one. The grounds on which I come to this conclusion are these—I am not able to agree with those who maintain that this is a case in which the House is entirely without jurisdiction. It seems to me that it is not necessary to enter—though I should be prepared to enter were there occasion—into the history of the precise relations as to property—the proprietary relations—between the Royal Academy and the Government. What I should rather stand upon is this—that the Royal Academy has from time to time been in former years—certainly for 20 years—a subject of discussion in this House; that Committees and Commissions have investigated its affairs; that recommendations have been offered under those authorities for the consideration of the Academy; that these recommendations have been the subject of regular negotiations between the Executive Government and the Academy; and that when all this has occurred, and a very noble gift of a most valuable and costly site has been made to the Academy in connection with those recommendations, it is too late to say—and I greatly doubt whether the Academicians themselves would thank us for saying—that Parliament has no jurisdiction in the matter. But, on the other hand, I cannot help feeling that interference by Parliament with bodies of this kind is attended with great inconvenience, and ought not to be resorted to except upon a very strong and clear case of necessity being shown. We claim a right to interfere with the Universities, and we have interfered with them; but if, by Motions in this House, we were to point out precisely what specifications as to lectures, or even as to endowments, were to be laid down for the guidance of Tutors and Professors, there would be very serious risk of our aggravating whatever evils we were endeavouring to reform. In the same way it would be very unwise for this House to interfere with the Academy, except on the very broad grounds of its failing to fulfil implied engagements, or of a gross departure from its duties in respect to the promotion of Art. Now, are there any broad grounds of that kind at all? My hon. Friend has found fault with the Academy because they have failed to carry into effect the unanimous recommendations of a Royal Commission. Well, I hope this House will never have Votes of Censure passed upon it, because there have been unanimous recommendations of Royal Commissions which this House has entirely failed to carry out. I apprehend that even the unanimous recommendations of a Royal Commission are not final authorities, that they are not binding decisions, but that they are only important propositions raising a presumption that they deserve a great deal of consideration. But in this particular instance the recommendations of the Commission were subjected to the further ordeal of negotiation and scrutiny between the Government of the day and the Royal Academy, the result being that a considerable proportion of those recommendations was agreed upon by those two bodies as the basis of the proceedings of the Academy. We have learned in detail from the Gentlemen who have spoken in this debate, and especially from the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple), who then acted on behalf of the Government, what the proceedings of the Academy have been. I hardly think my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea can now be of opinion that there is sufficient breadth of ground on which to urge upon the House the adoption of a Motion which is ever so slightly or ever so inferentially connected with a vote of censure on this body. For my own part, I may say, in passing, I have no doubt that improvements may be made in the constitution and the proceedings of the Academy; but whatever room there may be for criticism exists not through the fault of the Academy itself, nor through any illiberality of spirit in its members—for I must say that I know no profession the heads of which are animated by a more diffusive liberality towards the other members of it—but because the nature of the case is extremely difficult, and because you have to depend on voluntary means and upon measures which are always open to the action of public opinion and criticism among a class of persons who are necessarily and by their profession full of the highest and most refined sensibilities, but therefore likewise of such feelings as are peculiarly liable to be wounded by imaginary slights. The task is an extremely difficult one, and the very best efforts of the very best and ablest men can only approximate to a satisfactory fulfilment of it. But we are now trying them, not by an ideal standard, but by certain arrangements recommended to them by the Royal Commission. My right hon. Friend has shown that those arrangements, as they were agreed upon by the Government of Lord Palmerston, have been faithfully and honourably executed, and he has shown that there are not many points on which matter for debate can arise. Lay members of the Academy have not been added to the body as professional Academicians, and my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who has given an honourable testimony to the Academy in general, regrets that they did not adopt that recommendation. He says it would have been wise for them to have made for themselves friends among the patrons and non-professional students of Art. Certainly; but is my hon. Friend quite sure that they would not have made a great many more enemies than friends? The body of non-professional students and lovers of Art are a body not at all easy to agree with. A great many gentlemen consider themselves entitled to bear that designation although the world generally is not quite sure of their claims to it. If there be a great number of persons claiming to belong to that class, and who are qualified in their own estimation, the Academy might, by electing five or six of them, make five or six friends, but I am by no means certain that at the same time they would not make 50 or 60 enemies, whose enmity would probably be more active than the friendship of their friends. I have great respect for the recommendation of the Commission, but I cannot deny that that recommendation was not in the letter complied with, although a disposition to enter into the spirit of it certainly has been shown. With regard to the question of hanging the pictures, I cherish the hope that some further progress will be made. The list is not so great as would have been gathered from the speech—the exclusive privilege is not so marked as would have been gathered from some of the expressions used by my hon. Friend. I am by no means convinced it is desirable that it should be wholly abolished, but that it should be confined within narrow bounds I have no doubt whatever. My hon. Friend would probably say that the main question is the question of the constituencies. With regard to that I can quite understand that the difference between a limited constituency of 70, 80, 90, or 60 Academicians and Associates, and an election by the entire body of the profession is a very broad difference of principle, and it is a difference on which I can easily conceive my hon. Friend would be likely to ask for or to challenge the judgment of this House. That, however, is not the question raised by my hon. Friend. It is only a question whether the constituency of 72 is to be a constituency of 20 or 30 more members. I hardly think any one would be disposed to maintain that a question of that kind is one which can properly call upon us to interfere in the concerns of the Academy, or that therefore it can warrant the pressing of my hon. Friend's Motion to a division. For my own part, having long been in the habit of personal communication with many members of the Academy, I believe that the Academy will hail with welcome suggestions from whatever quarter they proceed, especially when they come from the benches of this House, and necessarily carrying with them considerable authority in regard to the improvement of that institution. But I confess I do believe that on the whole, although it is quite impossible for them to avoid those jealousies and causes of offence which are almost inherent in the nature of their functions, no body of men have laboured more zealously, more honestly, or more ably in the discharge of a public duty. It would be a great pity if this House were to take a step which would be even capable of having the construction put upon it of a vote of censure, until we are well persuaded that there is ground for such a proceeding; and I would even appeal to the speech of my hon. Friend himself and to the statement of facts by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire, to say that, whether the Academy be right or wrong in regard to the precise amount of change they have made in one or two of these recommendations, there is no real ground whatever which can make the slightest case to warrant the interposition of the House.
said, that as the Royal Commission of 1863 was appointed on his Motion, and as he himself served on that Commission, he wished to make a few remarks on the subject under discussion. He was glad his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had called attention to the fact that this was not merely a painter's question. The Royal Academy was not merely an academy of painting, but of sculpture and architecture also, and the Royal Commission recommended, amongst other things, that there should be two Vice Presidents appointed with the view of having both sculpture and painting represented. They had also recommended, what he thought would have been of great advantage—namely, that there should be some recognition of Art workmen, to whose skill we were so much indebted. With regard to the speech of the hon. Baronet opposite, he thought the cheers with which it was greeted showed that the House believed he intended, as he had said, to treat this matter "in a fair and not in a vexatious spirit." He had listened with great interest to his speech as he himself had been anonymously invited to make last Session a similar speech, and he had also received a pamphlet which no doubt his hon. Friend had likewise seen. He thought the Academy did not deserve the cen- sure which his hon. Friend asked the House to pass upon it. No doubt the Academy had not followed all the recommendations of the Commission, but this was a fault which, as pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, attached to legislation in general. On the other hand, the House had heard from his right hon. Friend the Member for South Hampshire (Mr. Cowper-Temple) that when he had to negotiate with the Academy he picked out those parts of the Report which he judged to be most essential and important. The Academy accepted those parts and honourably fulfilled the conditions. He thought his right hon. Friend might have gone further, for that was the time for obtaining the assent of the Royal Academy to reform. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) dissented from the recommendation to add lay members. He himself was strongly in favour of making that addition. Those who approved that view were not influenced, as had been suggested, by the idea that the Academy might thus make friends out of the Mammon of unrighteousness, in the shape of patronage. But they wished to see the Academy built on a wider basis, and to form in it a body from which great assistance might be obtained by Government as a council of advice in forming an opinion as to public buildings and other works, and which should also be a security to the outside artists. It would be a security to the outside artist by guaranteeing, through there being non-professional men on the Committee of Selection, that there would be no favouritism or cliquism with regard to the reception and the hanging of their works. These were the reasons why the Royal Commission recommended the addition of 10 lay members. There were several matters in which there was room for improvement, and which should, be considered by the Academy in spite of the bettered condition of things. For instance, with regard to the number of pictures which Academicians could hang. Every Academician was entitled to send in eight pictures, but no artist who was not an Academician was certain that his eight pictures would be received, and that four would be suspended on the line. Practically an Academician would have the eight suspended on the line, for, as an artist had said to him—"I would like to see the man who would sky the pictures of an old Academician." In Paris an artist, no matter how distinguished, had no right to exhibit more than two pictures, and he thought it would be desirable to reduce the number which Academicians were now entitled to exhibit. The objection against doing so came, it was said, mainly from the portrait painters, because there were persons who got themselves or their wives or daughters painted, and would not do so unless on the assurance that their portraits would be exhibited in the Academy. No doubt in passing judgment on some 6,000 pictures injustice must necessarily occur, even with the utmost care. It could not be otherwise, and he said so from the experience he had had in the selection of pictures for the International Art Exhibitions at South Kensington, where they had not the dread of the lay element which the Royal Academy felt. At the same time, he might remark that the Royal Academicians did not appear to entertain the same distrust of lay taste and judgment when laymen gave £2,000 for their portraits, or £10,000 for a picture; but he would like to give an assurance to the artist outside the Academy that he would have something approaching the nature of a jury to decide on his pictures. He had alluded to the improvements which had been made in the Academy; the main improvement was in the school. He did not think full justice had been done to the Academy. They had no grant of money from the State, and yet they spent £5,000 a-year upon their schools in teaching the higher branches of Art. The Kensington schools were no doubt admirable; but the Academy was working before them. The House, therefore, ought to feel grateful to a body which spent £5,000 a-year on the highest Art instruction to be had in the country. As to the question of dealing with the Royal Academy the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had spoken as if this House had complete control over it. His right hon. Friend who had spoken last did not speak so distinctly on that point. But how was the House to deal with the Academy? They could not take its money, they could not get at its funds. Suppose the Academy said—"We won't move on," he doubted very much whe- ther Parliament could make them. At all events, when this question was before the Government in the negotiations which had been referred to, the First Commissioner, writing on the 18th of November, 1865, said it was very far from his wish to establish a precedent for any future interference on the part of the Crown or Parliament—"I desire," said he, "that any change which is now made should be by the willing and independent action of the Academy." And the Academy, in reply, referred to that view with satisfaction, and objected to the site being considered in any way as a gratuitous gift, and to the idea that they had in any way forfeited their independence. His hon. Friend (Sir Charles Dilke) bad referred to the opinion of Sir Robert Collier, then Attorney General, now a learned Judge, and a very accomplished artist. But the opinion given was that the body existed under what was called an instrument which defined its constitution, but did not give the public outside any power over it, but only the members of the body the power of requiring the Academy to satisfy the conditions of their instrument. He therefore thought that the House would find more difficulty in dealing with a living Academy than with the defunct "pious founder." With respect to the Motion before the House, he thought that it would do a considerable amount of good, for the reason that all corporations were better for being stirred up. A speech such as that the hon. Baronet had delivered must be productive of benefit, clear and temperate as it was, and stating as it did the views of the outsiders. It would have still greater effect if what fell from the hon. Baronet in the early part of his observations attracted the notice of the Government. He referred to that part of the hon. Baronet's speech where he said that what was wanting in this country was some great central authority to deal with Art. This, no doubt, was one of the greatest needs, and they might hope that under the reign of the present Prime Minister it would be secured, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman took the greatest interest in the subject, and that his noble Friend who held the office of First Commissioner of Works (Lord Henry Lennox), in his first speech which attracted attention in the House, had advocated the appointment of a responsible Mi- nister to superintend all our Art Institutions.
said, he quite agreed with the noble Lord that all corporations were the better for being stirred up, and that certainly held good in the case of a large body like the Royal Academy, who gave the public a large amount of intellectual enjoyment and received in return a very large amount of money for doing so. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Charles Dilke) had drawn attention to the shortcomings of the Academy as compared with the Museum at South Kensington. In one small but important respect he thought the Academy might take a leaf out of the book of the Museum. The examination and enjoyment of the pictures at the Museum were greatly facilitated by the addition of the names of the artists below the pictures. If the Academy would do the same, it would prevent the visitors from getting so tired as they did, and enable them to pass through the rooms and galleries more quickly and with greater satisfaction. There was a practice growing up year after year of the best pictures not being sent in to the Academy, and in illustration of this he would refer to Mr. Holman Hunt, M. Gustave Doré, and Miss Thompson, who did not send their pictures in to the Academy.
said, the House would agree with him that everything that could be said on the past or present management of the Academy had been said most incisively by the hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Dilke), and that the defence had been well sustained. Without going into the abstract question of the right of the Government to interfere in the internal affairs of a great and independent organization such as the Royal Academy, he could not conceive anything more inconvenient than such interference. In 1866 his Predecessor in the Office of Works was most guarded, and the tone adopted he most cordially concurred in. The hon. Baronet mentioned that the negotiations to which he referred did not form part of the Parliamentary Papers; he was surprised to hear that statement; but if it were correct, he was sure his noble Friend the First Commissioner of Works would be happy to produce them. That being the view he ventured to take, and the House having clearly expressed its opinion that the charges brought by the hon. Baronet against the present management of the Academy were not really or substantially founded, the Motion for Papers was open to the objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). The Government could not grant the Papers prefaced by such terms, and he could not consent to imply agreement in those terms. He had the same objection to the Amendment; it was not their duty to enter into the internal arrangements of the Academy with either a favourable or an un favourable expression of opinion. On a subsequent occasion the hon. Baronet might move for Papers. He would place before the House the view which Lord Derby's Government took of the conduct of the Royal Academy when the present site was granted to that body. On the 21st of August, 1866, he wrote as follows on behalf of the Government—
He had reason to believe that those proposals had been substantially, literally, and satisfactorily carried into effect. He would suggest to the hon. Baronet that it would, under the circumstances, be best to withdraw the Motion, and also to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment that it too should be withdrawn, so that the House might not be committed in any way."The Government have noticed with satisfaction the improvement in the constitution of the Royal Academy contained in your letter of the 28th of March last, and in making known to you, as President of the Royal Academy, their present decision, I have pleasure in believing that it is calculated to enlarge the Academy's sphere of usefulness and enable it to pursue with increased vigour and success the admirable objects for which it was originally established."
in reply, remarked that although it was said that the 10 suggestions contained in the letter of March, 1866, had been carried into effect, some of them had been only formally adopted and not practically carried out. He would not attempt to repeat the statements contained in his speech, but would simply state that he adhered to what he had said in his opening remarks.
Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.