HC Deb 30 July 1844 vol 76 cc1571-3
Mr. Wyse

rose to present petitions from artists and friends to art, in London and Dublin, praying the establishment of galleries for the reception of casts, or the best works in sculpture, from the earliest period to the present, and to draw the attention of the House to the same. He was induced to espouse their cause from a strong conviction that a compliance with the prayer of the petitioners would be highly serviceable to the arts and to artists, as well as conduce to the improvement of society in general. It was proposed that exhibitions of art should be opened to the public in the different great towns by day, and confined to the use of students alone in the evening, the expense of the casts to be furnished by or through the means of the Government School of Design. He was happy to say that a most laudable desire to secure to the Irish people the benefits of these highly intellectual associations prevailed in all the well-informed circles of society there. Whatever might be their disputes upon subjects connected with religion and politics, the Government might depend upon it the germ of social improvement was comprised within this anxiety to promote the progress of the arts, and it would become the right hon. Baronet at the Head of the Government to lend these parties his powerful assistance to carry out their praiseworthy object.

Petitions to lie on the Table.

The hon. Member then moved— That a dutiful Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to take into Her favourable consideration the prayer of the Petitions of Members of the Institute of the Fine Arts, and the President and Secretary of the Society of Ancient Art in Dublin, praying for the establishment of Galleries for the reception of Casts of Sculpture and Architecture, Ancient and Christian.

Colonel Rawdon

warmly supported the Motion, and observed that the exhibition of works of fine art tended much to humanise and improve the minds of the people.

Dr. Bowring

bore testimony to the unwearied efforts of his right hon. Friend in promoting the cause of the fine Arts, and observed that there was no man in the country to whom the artists could more properly entrust their cause.

Mr. Escott

wished to know whether the decision of the Commission which had been appointed by the Crown to consider the best means of promoting the interest of the Fine Arts, in decorating the New Palace at Westminster, was a decision which must be considered final as regarded the merits of the competing artists whose works were at this time before the public in the exhibition at Westminster Hall.

Mr. Wyse

replied, that, the Commission had not bound themselves respecting the works of any artist whatever. They were now as free as they had ever been, and they had not committed themselves or the Government respecting any artist.

Sir T. Freemantle

observed, that the Motion was one of great public interest, but it was one which he could not expect the House to pronounce an opinion on at that period of the Session or in the present state of the Benches. He thought that the House had some right to com plain, that when they expected nothing but the presentation of a petition, the hon. Gentleman should take them by surprise and make a Motion for an Address of which he had not given notice.

Motion withdrawn. House counted out, and adjourned at half-past eight o'clock.