HL Deb 24 June 1864 vol 176 cc236-53

, in rising to call the attention of the House to the present position of the Royal Academy, and to ask what further steps respecting it are in contemplation by Her Majesty's Government, said, that it would be in the recollection of their Lordships that a Royal Commission had recently inquired into the state of the Royal Academy. That Commission had presented an unanimous Report, and a largo blue-book of evidence. Since then there had been an answer from the Royal Academy, a proposal by the Government, and a decision, on one point, by the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, their Lordships would probably not think it out of place in him, having been the Chairman of that Commission, to address some inquiries to the Government on the matter, and to invite a discussion in their Lordships' House. There were two principal questions involved in the case of the Royal Academy; the first, the provision for better accommodation and more adequate space; and the next, the new rules by which the Academy was to be governed. At first sight these two questions might seem to be entirely separate from each other; but, in fact, they would be found to some extent connected. It would be found, too, that many of the defects of management imputed to the Royal Academy resolved themselves into a want of space. For example, complaints were justly made that the schools were closed to the pupils when they were most wanted—namely, in the spring and summer; but the reason of that great defect was merely this, that the apartments in which the teaching took place were then required for the exhibition of pictures, and there remained only a small chamber in the roof, where some few of the pupils still pursued their studies. Again, many artists com- plained of the manner in which their pictures were hung, in gloomy nooks, or almost on the top of the walls, where they could be but indistinctly seen. The position of these pictures reminded him of the saying of an artist described in a German play, who is boasting of the great skill with which he had represented the miraculous darkness of the land of Egypt. "So well have I pourtrayed it," said he, "that I defy any one of you to discover hand or foot in any part of my painting." This was very much the case with many of the pictures exhibited at the Royal Academy. Similar to this was the position of the sculpture, which, until lately, was consigned to a kind of cellar—for by no other name could he call it—where none of its merits could be discerned. All this was solely attributable to want of space. The Commission had examined Mr. Frith, who was at that time the head of the "hanging Committee"— an ominous name—and who told them that they were conscious of often doing great injustice to artists, but it was beyond their power to avoid it—many excellent pictures were inevitably hung in unfavourable positions. Besides, there were many excellent works which could not be exhibited at all. These were faults for which the Royal Academy were not responsible. It was the fault of want of space. The Commission had consequently found it impossible to disjoin the consideration of this question from the question of the National Gallery. There, also, was not space enough to accommodate the yearly accession of pictures, partly arising from purchase, and partly from bequests; and the Commission had therefore to consider the two questions together. In their Report the Commissioners state two plans by which this deficiency might be remedied. The first was that the National Gallery should be removed to a building to be erected in connection with Burlington House, and that the whole of the building in Trafalgar Square should be handed over to the Royal Academy. The other plan was that the Academy should receive from the Crown a site at Burlington House, on which to erect a building for themselves. Both these schemes were explained in the Report, but the Commissioners expressed no opinion as to the relative merits of either. It has subsequently seemed, however, that the Government preferred the former. They had proposed the plan of a new National Gallery, at a cost of £150,000, and the space at Trafalgar Square to be appropriated to the Royal Academy. Mr. Cowper, as First Commissioner of Works, brought forward an estimate, and asked for a Vote on account to carry out that object; but the opinion of the House of Commons was adverse to the proposition, and it was defeated by a majority of 174 to 122. He should refrain from saying a single word on the merits of that decision, for he held it to be a good rule in their Lordships' House, that what they could not interfere with they ought not to comment on. The House of Commons exercised its own discretion, and he did not deny that there were very strong reasons for the conclusion to which it came. But that decision being taken, the question now was, what plan ought to be adopted, and it was on this point he asked information from Her Majesty's Government. There was still open to them the second scheme which he had mentioned. It was the same which had been come to under the Government of his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Derby), under which the Academy undertook to construct at their own charge a new edifice in Burlington Gardens. It was much to be regretted that that arrangement, which was on the very point of its completion when Lord Derby retired from office, had not been confirmed by the present Government. The site, which was one of those which had been selected by the Commission, was of the value of £60,000, and by the grant of so valuable a property the Crown would have retained a very important power—the power to give weight and influence to its opinions as to the right management of the Academy.

He now came to the second question—the recommendations of the Commissioners in regard to the management of the Academy The Royal Academy as a body was nominally composed of forty Academicians. There were two additional Academicians who filled rather an anomalous position, the nature of which he had never been able to understand. The only certain thing about it was, that it was not greatly relished by themselves. Practically, however, and apart from names, there were forty—two members. The Commissioners proposed that the number should be increased to fifty; and to that recommendation the Academy had declared they were willing to accede. But the Commissioners further proposed that to the fifty artists there should be added ten laymen, and they had not determined to make that recommendation without some important testimony having been given in its favour. Of all the witnesses examined who were not themselves artists, there was no person whose evidence the Commissioners valued more, or on which they laid greater stress, than that of his noble Friend whom he saw opposite (Lord Taunton), and what did he say?— I think very highly of the liberality of sentiment of the Royal Academicians generally speaking, and the manner in which they have discharged their duties; at the same time, in every institution of the kind, there is a certain narrowness which is always apt to produce an influence; and I think, as one might have expected, there are some points on which it may be said that some such feeling is not unjustly suspected by the public. Therefore, I think the infusion of the lay element would have a tendency in conciliating the confidence of the general public, and it might have some practical effect in improving the working of the system."— p. 421. So far Lord Taunton. That was also the view of the Commission. Then, as among artists, Baron Marochetti warmly approved the lay element. He said, from his knowledge of foreign academies, that in those the lay members "were always considered as more liberal than the others;" and being asked by Lord Hardinge— Would you willingly yourself accept a judgment upon your works of sculpture from a person who was not a sculptor and had not studied? He answered— With the greatest pleasure; it always comes to that. Mr. Watts, in like manner, said— I have heard it suggested that there should be certain lay members in the Academy, and I think that this would be very advantageous, as representing the opinion from without. Then Mr. Watts was asked— Do you not think that it might be distasteful to the artists themselves? He answered— I do not see why it should be; I do not think that any artist paints his pictures for his brother artists only; they are to be judged of by men of intellect. It was quite true—and he did not wish for a moment to conceal it—that several artists of great weight expressed an opposite opinion. But besides the direct advantage of lay members in the government of the Academy, the Commissioners thought that some gentlemen of taste and talent, not being themselves artists, would, in conjunction with the professional members, be of great value as a council of reference in matters of art. It had been a common complaint, and certainly not in all cases an unfounded one, that there was an utter want of taste in the designs from which many of the public buildings of London had, for many years past, been constructed; and it had also been remarked that, owing to the changes of the executive Government, there were fluctuations in respect of such designs which led to very unfavourable results in respect to public works. If there was a council of reference such as that to which he had just referred, its opinion must prevail with the First Commissioner, and a gentleman filling Mr. Cowper's official position would feel himself supported by the opinion of the Council of the Academy. At present, if Mr. Cowper stated an opinion, any other Member of Parliament was free to spring up and give his own opinion as in his view equivalent to Mr. Cowper's. That would not be the case, however, if Mr. Cowper were able on such occasions to speak in the name of the Academy, and not solely in his own. But the Academy looked with apprehension on the admission of laymen. The Academicians, he was afraid, thought that the lay members would be exactly like the connoisseurs described in the days of Goldsmith, and when, as Goldsmith said, only two things were essential to the character—the first thing was always to say—what certainly no man could contradict—that the picture then under judgment would have been still better if the artist had taken more pains, and the second was on all occasions to praise the works of Pietro Perugino. The Commissioners proposed that the lay members should be elected for only five years, with eligibility for re-election, and that the choice should be left—to whom? To the Crown? To Parliament? To any extraneous body? No; the proposal was that the choice of such lay members to sit in the Royal Academy should be left to the Royal Academy itself. His own opinion was, that it would be difficult to imagine a more innocuous or less aggressive proposal. The Academicians said— The artist element was wanting in the Commission, and we confess we do not see how it could have been easily supplied; yet we cannot refrain from remarking that the Commissioners who have come to the conclusion, justly or not, that a very moderate addition of the lay element might assist the judgment of artists, seem to have overlooked the tendency of their argument in an opposite sense, having apparently felt no want of professional judgment in their private and final decisions. Their views are, after all, those of unprofessional men. Now, the Commissioners certainly thought they had obtained these artistic opinions to the fullest extent by the large number of distinguished artists whom they examined. Bat how strangely inconsistent was that mode of reasoning on the part of the Academy! The Academy blamed the Commission as consisting solely of laymen without any admixture of the artistic element, and yet they were thoroughly I satisfied with their own position as consisting solely of artists without any admixture of laymen. Their argument, then, when it came to be examined, was directly in the teeth of their own conclusion. Under all the circumstances the question was one with which the Government would have to deal, and with them the final decision must rest. With regard to the Associates, they were at present twenty in number, and had no share in the government of the Academy. The Commissioners proposed to increase the number from twenty to fifty, and to give them a share in the management. The Academy was willing that there should be an increase in the numbers, but they did not state what number they were willing to approve. The Commissioners also recommended that the Academicians should each be entitled to send four pictures for exhibition, and they had further suggested that the Associates should not, as of right, send any. Upon this point the greatest interest was felt by artists; a memorial had been recently sent to him signed by several distinguished names; and having consulted: his colleagues, with the exception of Mr. Stirling, who was unfortunately absent from town on account of illness, they, the late Commissioners, had re-considered their former opinion on this particular point. He was enabled to say that they now concurred with him in thinking that if the Academicians were entitled to send four pictures, the right to send two should be extended to the Associates, There remained a very important point— namely, whether the Associates should or should not have any vote in the government of the Academy and in the election of Academicians. That they should have I votes was a point which was pressed in the Report of the Commissioners, and he looked upon this as a point of vital importance. On the other hand, the Academicians proposed that the Associates should have no votes, but that they should exercise a certain right of nomination. What was proposed in the paper of "Observations" by the Academy was this—that in case of any vacancy in their ranks every Associate should have the power to nominate a candidate; but that the entire right of election, without the smallest necessary reference to such nominations, should be vested in the Academicians only; and the Academicians went on to make this very extraordinary observation— The right of nomination which we propose, as distinguished from personal voting in elections, is an important privilege as such, but its great utility would be to put the Academicians in possession of opinions which might sometimes differ from their own. Was there ever a more extraordinary statement than that it should be considered a great privilege in persons not having votes to nominate a candidate, without the least right of electing him? Suppose the same principle were extended to Parliamentary reform, and it was proposed that the right of voting should be left with the £10 householders, but that those below them should be allowed to nominate a candidate, there not being the least obligation on the part of the £10 householders to elect this person! To the plan of the Academicians the artists, he believed, entertained the strongest possible objection, and thought they ought to have the votes which the Commissioners said should be given to them. If the Academicians had been determined still to regard the Association as inferiors, and to treat them as dependents, it would have been far better to reject the proposal of the Commissioners altogether. He should be glad to learn from the noble Earl (Earl Granville) some declaration of the opinion of the Government on these points; but whatever was his opinion respecting them, no site should be given for the Royal Academy, and no now building provided, until there was some understanding as to the reformation of the rules; and Parliament, he thought, had a right to require that no new rules should be finally ratified until they had been laid on the table of both Houses. On this point he hoped to obtain a special assurance. He had not made these remarks as an enemy of the Academy; on the contrary, he had always endeavoured to show himself one of its supporters. He thought that he showed himself its supporter now in urging these improvements, which he looked upon as most desirable for its own well-being. As to the advantage of an Academy, as such, he had no doubt at all. He did not know whether there were any in the House, but he knew there were some out of doors, who had formed a very prejudiced opinion upon the subject. Many appeared to think that the Academy was being supported solely for the sake of the Academicians, and Art for the sake of the artists. He maintained that such was not the case. They desired to support the Academy because, as an order of merit among artists, as combining in harmonious action the divers branches of painting and sculpture, of architecture and engraving, and as a great school of art, both by its example and its teaching, it was capable of rendering most important services. They supported art not for the sake of artists, but for the sake of the whole people, because the extension of art always tended to elevate and refine the people among whom its influences were at work. He would-ask their Lordships to look at the increased feeling for art which had been displayed in this country during the last thirty or forty years. Of the progress of that feeling during the last period, he could give one proof, which might be deemed trifling by many, but which, to his mind, was most significant. He referred to the different result of admission to show-places thirty or forty years ago and at the present time. It was forty years ago the common complaint of gentlemen who admitted the public to their gardens that all their best flowers were plucked, or their young shrubs pulled to pieces. If a gentleman admitted the public to view his galleries or saloons, he would find his panels soiled, or, what was still worse, scrawled over with a host of insignificant names. But was that the case now? Many of their Lordships were in the habit of opening their pleasure grounds to the public for one or two afternoons in every week, and he appealed to them whether it was not true that it seldom or never happened that they had any damage to complain of. Then, as to the behaviour of the people in the public buildings, there could be no stronger case than that of the National Portrait Gallery. Last year they admitted large crowds during the Easter week, while from the confined space there could be nothing like any efficient supervision. Yet the Secretary said, in his report to him, "Many young lads and factory boys were among the visitors, and I am happy to add that from first to last every one was quiet and well-behaved." He maintained, then, that in England the feeling for art was extending more and more. He believed that the question of art and of the Academy as an appointed means for promoting art might at any time without presumption be brought before their Lordships. It was a question which on all occasions might claim their sympathy, and which they might be certain would reward their care. He would now ask his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, what further steps respecting the National Gallery are in contemplation by her Majesty's Government?


said, that he had read some time since the very able Report of the Royal Commission, and he had also seen the answer of the Royal Academy, and he was bound to say that, able as the Report was, the answer was also an able paper, and remarkable for the good taste and feeling which pervaded it. He believed, however, that his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope) was mistaken in the conclusions which he had drawn from the observations contained in the answer in reference to the introduction of the lay element into their government. He believed that the answer was urged more as a tu quoque argument. The Academicians argued that if the Commissioners, who were all laymen, without a single artist among their number, were competent to decide questions involving the interest of art, the Academicians, who were all artists, might not unreasonably be allowed to exercise their judgment without the interference of laymen. The introduction of the lay element would, he believed, give rise to great dissension. Undoubtedly, all art, and, therefore, all artists, must bend to the influence of public opinion, and therefore laymen would eventually decide upon the merits of the highest artists; but, at the same time, it was better that that influence should be felt from without than that it should obtain admittance within the walls of the Academy. He would remind his noble Friend that the Royal Academy had deservedly earned the confidence of the public, for it was an institution to which the country was greatly indebted. He was afraid, however, that his noble Friend had taken the Academy by surprise by the course he had taken in bringing forward the present Motion. The question between the Associates and the Academy was one requiring great consideration, and one upon which it was impossible for the House to give an opinion. The site was also a most important matter. After the decision of the House of Commons he believed they must consider the retention of the National Gallery in its present position as a settled point. Nobody would dispute that the Royal Academy must have a proper site, and it was no less certain that it could not remain in its present situation. Nothing would be left for the Royal Academy but to go to Burlington House, and a gallery fit for the reception of the national pictures could then be formed at Trafalgar Square. The Royal Academy had accumulated from the profits of their annual exhibitions a sum of £80,000, which they were prepared to expend as might best suit the Government, either at Burlington Gardens or at Trafalgar Square. He trusted the Government would consider well before it sought to impose terms upon the Royal Academy which that body was not inclined to accept. The Royal Academy was en-titled to expect, and he had no doubt it would receive, liberal treatment from the Government, such as was worthy of a body representing the artists of the country.


explained that he: had not taken the Royal Academy by surprise, as a week ago he had given private notice to the President of his intention to make a statement upon the subject.


said, that no doubt the great question for consideration was the selecting a proper site and providing a suitable building for the national collection. He eared little whether that were done by transferring the old Gallery to Burlington House, or by retaining the old Gallery upon its present site, to transfer the Royal Academy to Burlington House. For himself he would prefer the first arrangement; but the House of Commons had not thought fit to sanction that arrangement. At present, all the operations of the Royal Academy were crippled, and undeserved blame was cast upon them, because the question of future site was left in uncertainty. It really was lamentable to find that many Members of the House of Commons were disposed to quarrel with every proposition that was made upon this subject. There appeared to be in that House great antipathies, and it seemed incapable of agreeing to any consistent plan. At present, the operations of the Academy were greatly crippled, and they were blamed because they did not make sufficient provision for the instruction of pupils and other objects; but he believed that the blame was undeserved, and that it was not in their power to do so. In his opinion, the only boon that Government could grant them was a site on which they could conduct their operations. He confessed that he was jealous of any interference on the part of the Government with the detailed management of artistic institutions; and he had no desire to see the Royal Academy made a branch of the public service, or submitted to the control of any Minister of the Crown, or the superintendence of any dilettanti connoisseurs whatever. Art, like every other form of our national life, ought to rest mainly on a feeling of independence. That was the feeling which would be most congenial to English artists, because they were educated English gentlemen. He certainly valued highly, and he believed the members of the Academy valued highly, the connection between them and the Crown which had existed since its foundation by George III. It was graceful to the Crown, and it afforded a most useful stimulus and encouragement to artists. But he did not think it was desirable that any more direct connection should exist between them and the State. He would strongly deprecate any Ministerial interference in the matter, and he hoped that his noble Friend the President of the Council would not give his sanction to any system of enforcing a series of minute regulations upon the Royal Academy. The Commission over which his noble Friend had presided so ably had made some very valuable suggestions, and those suggestions had been received in a fair spirit by the Royal Academy. For his own part, he thought that an infusion of the lay element into the governing body would be useful, as tending to counteract that narrow spirit into which all men, of whatever profession, if left entirely to themselves, were apt to fall, and it would also give confidence to the public. If, however, he found on the part of artists or of the Academicians a very strong repugnance to the introduction of the lay element, he would rather forego the probable advantages than force upon them an unwelcome change. The Royal Academy had now existed for nearly 100 years, and no one could deny that during that time the names of very few of our greatest artists had been omitted from its roll, showing that upon the whole their selections had not been unsatisfactory. He trusted that while the Government suggested to the Academy such improvements as they might think desirable, they would deal with them in a large and liberal spirit, and that they would not attempt to force upon them any conditions which would interfere with their independence. But if the Royal Academy was to be subject to some kind of Government authority, and if its affairs were to be continually interfered with by Parliament, because it happened to receive indirectly some contribution of public money, he thought the Academy would act wisely, and for the interest of the art which it represented, if it were to decline to receive such public assistance, and to fall back upon its own resources, retaining only that personal connection with the Crown which he trusted would never be terminated.


said, he shared in the regret which had been expressed at the temper in which this subject was usually discussed in the other House. It was quite unintelligible to him why the Royal Academy, which he believed had done its duty to the country for the hundred years of its existence, should be regarded by that assembly with a feeling which seemed almost to amount to dislike. The country in his opinion owed a deep debt to the Academy, and never was censure less deserved than the censures which had been passed upon it. He had seen with great satisfaction the temper with which the Royal Commission had been conducted, and he believed any difference of opinion that might exist with respect to the Royal Academy was very slight indeed. From the tone of this debate it was evident what they all wished was that the Royal Academy should exist in dignity and independence. He agreed with his noble Friend who had just sat down, that it would be most inconvenient and unwise if the Government should approach the Royal Academy in any tone of patronage, and he did not expect that they had any inclination to do so. The Academy felt no doubt that they were in a position of great independence, in which they could, if they chose, separate themselves from the Government, and even have no exhibition at all. This was not, therefore, a moment when hard conditions should be imposed on them. On the question of the introduction of the lay element into the governing body, he owned he thought the Royal Academy had been strangely forgetful of their own origin and history. The Royal Academy sprang from a society of persons of rank— many of them Peers— patrons of art some hundred years ago— called the Dilettanti Society, some of whose members went to Italy and brought over many treasures of art, many of which now adorned their Lordships' mansions. In early times a body of painters were associated with the society; it was agreed that from the members of the Dilettanti Society the President of the Royal Academy should always be taken. There then was a purely lay element; it did, therefore, seem strange that the Royal Academy should forget the fact, and he hoped they would not be unwilling to reconsider their decision in that respect. He was convinced the Royal Academy would derive great advantage from the admission of the lay element. He might be allowed to quote the reply given by Mr. Herbert, whose works they all so much admired, to one or two questions put to him by the Royal Commission with reference to this point. He is asked by the Chairman— I am to understand that you wish those eight gentlemen to be in your senate, some gentlemen being added who were not artists?—I think it would not be a bad thing at all. Do you imagine the artists and the non-artists would act cordially together?—I should think educated gentlemen who had a love for art would act well with the artists in such a body. Would not artists feel a little disinclined to see questions relating to art decided by those who had not the same advantage as themselves as regards artistic education?—I do not think so. I should like it rather than otherwise, for my own part. What is called art education I believe often shuts off from the free sight of nature, and is frequently in the artist's way of fixing upon the fit and appropriate thing to be done."—p. 517. It was the same with men of letters and men of public business— their association was most advantageous to all parties. The British Museum, whatever might be its defects, was on the whole well conducted by a number of gentlemen who were not professional men of letters, but dilettanti. In the interests, therefore, of the Royal Academy itself, he would urge upon the Academicians the reconsideration of their opinions in this matter. With respect to that other question— namely, whether equal authority should be given to Associates with Royal Academicians, he thought the Royal Academy was entirely in the right. If there was to be anything like a hierarchy in the Royal Academy, there must be some distinction of authority and power between the Associate and the Academician; and if it was desirable to hold out some continuing object of ambition to a rising artist, it was well that some material distinction should exist between the two ranks. If anything, he thought the Royal Academy was too large; he did not wish to increase its numbers; and the object of ambition held out to the young and ardent of admission to its ranks should not be too easily attained. He expressed his great admiration of the general conduct of the Royal Academy, and they well deserved everything that could be bestowed on them by the favour of their Lordships and the beneficence of the Crown.


wished to make one or two remarks, particularly after the decision which had been come to elsewhere with regard to the question of site for a National Gallery. A national collection of pictures offered two objects of inspection to the public, the works of the Old Masters and those of the moderns. Now the public were much better able to appreciate the pictures in the Royal Academy than those in the National Gallery. They could understand the ordinary incidents of daily life which the painters of the present time set before their view; but the paintings of the Old Masters reflected the incidents of past ages which the ordinary public could not appreciate. On this account he highly approved of the recommendation of the Commissioners, that the Academy should be thrown open to the public one day in every week—Saturday— free of charge. Another object of a national collection of pictures which he thought in the late discussion had been lost sight of, was for the purposes of study by artists themselves. They were the parties most interested in the ancient pictures, and it was of the greatest possible importance that, whatever site was fixed, it should be one where artists could study quietly the great works of the ancient Masters. Whether the paintings in the National Gallery were to remain where they now are, or were to be sent to Burlington House, they ought to have more room given to them; for at present the pictures were crowded together in such a manner that they could not be seen. He hoped the Government would take good counsel with respect to the architectural requirements of the new building. When a manufacturer erected a building, if it were not a handsome structure, he might say that it answered very well for the business purposes for which he built it. But it was a very different case with a department of Science and Art, which might fairly be expected to have some regard to the architectural effect of the buildings it erected.


said, as a member of the Commission that had reported on the subject, he desired to express his obligation to the noble Earl who had called the attention of the House to this subject. It was one of great importance, and he hoped that the Lord President would be in a position to say that at any rate negotiations were about to be opened with the Royal Academy with a view to their removal from Trafalgar Square to the site of Burlington House. The works of the Old Masters in the national collection were now so huddled together that they could scarcely be seen, and some of the pictures were hung close to the ceiling. The same was the case with the Turner Gallery. The students, also, in the life school were packed together in a pepper box, in such a manner that it was impossible they could study to any profit. There was no doubt that the Royal Academy had a moral if not a legal claim to some accommodation at the public expense; while, on the other hand, it was right that the State should exact some conditions from them in return. The noble and learned Lord (Lord St. Leonards) said that the Royal Academy had put forth very strong arguments on the question as to the introduction of the lay element among them; but he had looked through the evidence on that point and had found, he would not say the preponderance of the artist evidence, but the preponderance of the general evidence to be in favour of the lay element. He thought that between the new Associates and the members of the Royal Academy there would be the most harmonious working, and that the admission of the Associates to a status in the senate of the Academy would remove the stigma which was supposed to attach more or less to a close corporation, and would take away the reproach which the enemies of the institution always threw in its teeth. It was, therefore, in his opinion, rather shortsighted in the Council of the Royal Academy not to have adopted that portion of the Royal Commissioners' Report. Besides the question of the lay element and the enlargement of the constitution of that body, there were several other important points that deserved the serious attention of the Government. The Government could not separate itself altogether from the Royal Academy, for it could hardly be suggested that it should agree to give them accommodation at the public expense, and yet retain no control over them.


said, that the less the Government intermeddled with the Academy, with the view of forcing the lay element into the constitution of that body, the better; otherwise the result must be to bring about the state of things which would answer to the poet's description of chaos— …. corpore in uno, Frigida pugnabant calidis, humentia siccis, Mollia cum duris, sine pondere habentia pondus. He could bear testimony to the valuable services of Sir Charles Eastlake, in the formation of our present National Gallery. He had succeeded in obtaining a valuable and useful collection of pictures—not yet complete as a public collection, but selected with great discrimination and judgment— but they could not be appreciated till they were placed in a proper site. With respect to the removal of the National Gallery to Burlington House, he could only say that having felt it to be his duty, as one of the trustees of that institution, carefully to examine the plans for carrying out that scheme, he had come to the conclusion that, so far as space and light and the facility of providing for the public convenience were concerned, as well as other considerations of great importance, a gallery might be erected on that site with which no existing gallery in Europe could enter into competition. By a most unfortunate vote of the House of Commons, however, that scheme was rejected, and what course would now be adopted he was unable to say. He hoped, however, that the Government would, during the approaching recess, take up the matter energetically, and that they would give the country a building worthy of the collection of pictures which the nation now possesses.


said, he thought it impossible to have listened to the discussion without being convinced that the subject was one which might with advantage be discussed in their Lordships' House. The proceedings of the Royal Academy were, very properly, influenced by public opinion, and for the purpose of forming that opinion it was quite right that the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope) should have made the observations which he had done, characterized as they were by the utmost kindliness of feeling towards that institution. It was impossible, he might add, not to be aware that the Royal Academy, numbering as it did among its members so many eminent artists, held a very important position in this country, and exercised a great influence on art. That being so, the Government had deemed it advisable to issue the Commission of which the noble Earl was Chairman, and which made a very able Report last year. That Report was referred by the Secretary for the Home Department to the Royal Academy, that they might make on it any observations which they thought proper; and the Academy, availing itself of an undoubted privilege, had addressed, through their President, a personal communication to the Queen on the subject. Her Majesty, feeling as strongly as she always had done with regard to the privileges of the Academy, was glad to receive that letter, to which she deemed it right to return an answer through her responsible Ministers; and both the Report of the Commission and the observations made upon it by the Academy were under the consideration of the Government. The noble Earl, he might add, had put to him two questions, one being with respect to the plan which the Government might adopt for giving additional space to the Royal Academy; and in answer to that question he might say that everybody seemed to concur in the opinion that the Academy required more space. With the view of providing it, a scheme, which had been spoken of in different terms that evening, but which would undoubtedly give greater space not only to the Royal Academy but to the National Gallery, was proposed; but it was rejected by the other House of Parliament. It had been said that if the late Government had continued in office their plan would have been carried, but when he took into account that there was a majority lather of antipathies than of sympathies on questions of art, he could not help thinking that that plan would have shared a similar fate. Be that, however, as it might, the Government felt bound to submit to the decision of the House of Commons, and to endeavour to form another plan which would afford that accommodation which they had been precluded from affording in the way they desired. In reply to the second question of the noble Earl, as to whether, upon granting any new site to the Royal Academy, the Government would be prepared to insist on certain changes being made in the rules of the Academy, and whether they would pledge themselves that those rules should be submitted to the decision of both Houses of Parliament, he would observe that he believed the Royal Academy did not admit that the Government possessed any power with reference to the alteration of their rules. He bad gone over the Report, in which there were a great many suggestions made by the Commissioners, some of a nature so obvious as to be readily adopted by the Academy, others of an important character which had been rejected, and some which were more for the consideration of the governing body of the Academy than for the decision of the House of Commons. He entirely concurred with his noble Friend behind him (Lord Overstone) as to the inexpediency of the Government mixing itself up with the Academy; but there were, nevertheless, certain recommendations made by the Royal Commission which ought not, he thought, to be dismissed without consideration. If the Government gave additional facilities to the Academy, they ought, in his opinion, on grounds of public interest, to endeavour to render the governing body satisfactory, not only to the public at large, but to the artists themselves; and it was perhaps desirable, by means of negotiation between the Government and the Academy, to seek to secure a more popular representation of the artists in that institution. That having been done, he thought all other matters should be left to the governing body for their decision. But still, he repeated, the Government ought to reserve to themselves the power of influencing the Royal Academy in the first instance. With regard to the pledge to which the noble Earl bad adverted, he could only say that be preferred giving no pledge on the subject; but he had no hesitation in assuring him that it would receive the careful consideration of the Government.