Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Trajan and the Antonines, raised in his mind an elevated stand. ard. Generally speaking, his conceptions were manly and appropriate; he seldom betrayed any low and vulgar conceits; and, properly rejecting the imitation of puerilities, bis compositions were impressive, and his mannerof execution wasequally striking. Yet, from whatsoever cause it may have arisen, his last great works, the two national monuments in St. Paul's Cathedral (especially the last,) have wholly deceived public expectation : a remark which we must extend also to the other monuments which have been recently placed in that edifice, and some of which, considered as compositions, are indeed contemptible, From the want of a more efficient mode of proceeding in the selection of designs for our public monuments, it is too probable that we shall lose the advantages which might hence be derived to our national character, and that they will be converted into a source only of wasteful expenditure and eventual contempt. So entirely have the ends and objects of those which are already erected been overlooked by the persons under whose direction they were ordered, that even the propriety of inscriptions seems forgotten; and the only index to the very names of the heroes who fell in the service of their country, and to whom that grateful country has devoted these monuments, is exhibited by the vergers in formidable charcoal! Is this omission intended to avoid remarks-similar to those of the judicious and refined Addison? Had that elegant crisic been alive to have observed the public Monument to General Wolfe, he would have pronounced it not less a salire on the employers than a libel on public taste ; yet for thi, vile production was the model of Roubilliac set aside, Nothing less will correct this evil than a general and candid ad, dress to liberal artists of every description, who are qualified to practise the imitative arts, from the managing committee empowered by the executive government to solicit the production of designs; under the condition that each unsuccessful candidate shall be handsomely remunerated, and that each design $0 procured shall be publicly exhibited with free admission, until the final decision takes place :-then, and not till then, can all suspicion of partiality subside. A few hundred pounds thus expended would be money well bestowed, and might save reproach in the expenditure of many thousands. The famed monument of Cardinal Richelieu was designed by Charles Le Brun, and executed by the sculptor Gerardon; and no person, however elevated his station by the accident of life, should con, sider it as beneath his dignity to correct past errors :

" The first of virtue, vice is to ablior,
The first of wisdom is to err no more,"

With regard to Architecture, Mr. H. thus remarks:

• Although the consideration of the national importance of ?rchi. tecture has not been made a part of the principal subj.ct of the fore. going chapters, yet in a general view of the present state of the Arts in England, it cannot fail to demand an equal a'tentio i

• The productions of Architecture are necessarily more obvious to general observation than those of the two former branches of art, but its progress is more difficult to be ascertained, on account of its multifarious operations, and of the great number of undefined degrees which it is capable of admitting both in works and artificers. The leading features by which it is to be distinguished in our country are few; the nature of our state, with regard to its financial regulations, renders the construction of great public edifices very rare in England. Projects are often discussed, and long deferred. Plans of a Residence for our Sovereign, and of a Senate-house for our Parliament, have been by turns proposed and neglected; new churches, and new mansions of our nobility, have been sufficiently numerous ; but amongst our recent buildings nothing is yet to be seen resembling the “sclemn temple," or "the gorgeous palace."

Thus far we agree: but we cannot acquiesce in many assertions made in subsequent pages. We allow and join in all the praises bestowed on the public edificis of Blenheim, the Bridges of Westminster and Blackfriars, N-wgate, and the late building in Oxford Street called the Pantheon; though why it was so named, we are at a loss to say.

Before undeniable praise is established respecting Somerset Place, be it noted that, in the designs and construction, every possible assistance from patronage, aided by the public purse supplied by a liberal Parliament, gave to Sir William Chambers opportunities rarely known in this country. The Bank affords a similar instance. The question is, whether Sir William Chambers, and others under nearly the same opportunities of following their own devices, have sufficiently availed themselves of every advantage that protection and accident flung in their way. Somerset House is composed of many imitations, and some not of the most approved examples: it is a jumble of the French and the Italian, the best parts being feeble imitations of Caprarola and the Papa Julia. As to the Bank, Goddess-like, it disdains comparison !

Mr. Hoare's comment on Inigo Jones having introduced Palladio into England, as he is pleased to phrase it,) as well as Hogarth's opinion, is almost unworthy of any notice. garth's remark relative to Palladio, as here quoted, is merely the sarcastic observation of a sensible and discriminating miod, that the best examples are liable to be abused in their application. The intelligent use, which Inigo Jones made of Palladio's works, will be readily seen by those who are qualified to decide on the 02

intrinsic

intrinsic merits of his celebrated labours; which will adorn this land as long as they shall be unmutilated by the numerous hosts of prevailing fashionable novelty-mongers: who, under the pretence of restoration, have obiruded their own false ideas of taste, to the destruction of order and of whatever was estimable in the designs of our great countryman. Properly to restore his works, the persons so employed must possess the energies of bis mind; a mind like that of Lord Burlington, happily characterized by a noble author, whose writings we have had occasion both to censure and to commend:-"Never was protection and great wealth more generously and more judiciously diffus-d; his enthusiasm for the works of Inigo Jones was so active, that he repaired the church of Covent Garden because it was the pro. duction of that great master."--Speaking of Chiswick House, as an illustration of its then characteristic, the same noble author remarks, “the larger court dignified by picturesque Cto dars, and the classic scenery of the small court that unites the old and the new house, are more worth secing than many frage ments of antient grandeur which our travellers visit under all the dangers attendant on long voyages." - The beautiful appendage of the small court, worthy of the best times of Imperial Rome for its chastity of design and barmony of proportions, is alas! no more. The classical ideas of Lord Burlington, which arose in his ennobled mind, enriched by study and matured by experience, have been superseded by a person whose competency and education are made manifest by the operations which he has been suffered to perform.

We turn from such sacrilegious improvements to the memory of a venerable, lamented, admired, yet neglected Architect, the virtuous Revelt; whose education was learned and extensive, in Literature as well as in all that regards the culture of the Arts, particularly Architecture, and whose knowlege was not inferior in Science. He was gifted also with many graceful, amiable, and manly accomplishments; his modesty and integrity were only to be exceeded by his intelligence; with his pursuit of knowJege, his mind imbibed the purest sentiments towards others; and his pleasing and unaffecied manners ensured universal es. teem. He may be said to have given, in a great mcasure, the profits and the fame of his labours to ozhers; of which the publications of the Athenian and lonian Antiquities are memorable examples. These drawings were made from accurate admea. surements, and are performances that have greatly contributed to enrich our stock of information regarding the small remains of Attic structures.-Revert was totally ignorant of those shrewd tricks which are but too successfully practised in corrupt society: he contented himself with saying little and performing much.

Mr. Hoare's statement of Revete's labours is just, but by far too concise. We are of cpinion also that the publication of Le Roy, though not worthy of the credit which should be given to several of Revere's admeasurements, deserved to have been mentioned in better terms than Mr. H. is inclined to bestow.– To Robert Adam, on the contrary, we think that he is too indulgent. No man, indeed, knew better than he did the advantages to be obtained by the introduction of novelty, which in his practice he endeavoured to realize; and he cer. tainly was a man of genius, taste, and ready wit: but, granting that he effected some good in correcting a false and contemptible system, especially in the interior ornamental decorations of our buildings, he also did much harm by opening the door to every innovator, who may be deficient in that education which must qualify a real judge, and in Mr. Adam's powers of application. Having closed his eulogium on our deliverers from a slavishness of taste in Architecture, Mr. H. thus mentions the name, and in his opinion the humble pretensions of William Kent: Something of a similar kind had been previously attempted by Kent, an artist of great celebrity, undir the patronage of the Earl of Burlington, in the reign of George II. but the attempt was at best but feebly executed.'. For this, thanks to Kent's better judgment. To the observation made by Mr.H. in the following sentence, -· Caste, however, unchecked by the existence of any great standards of art in this country, deviates hourly into numberless excentric paths, and our modes of buiding are now nearly as various as the humours of our minds; '--we call the fixed attention of the real lovers of Architecture ; since it contains a confession, the influence which is absolutely necessary to the advancement of the science. To this wise precept, for which we have been advocating throughout the whole of our review, we consider Kent to have been particularly attentive; and for his judicious conduct we cannot withhold nur tribute of respect. We see nothing of our modern vagtries in the Architecture of Raphael and of Angelo. We must think, however unfushionable may be the opinion, that the name of Kent should have occupied a more distinguished place in the pages of the volume before us; and that he should have been made a principal actor in the drama, instead of scene-shifter to Robert Adam, or any of Adam's cotemporaries. To the abilities of Kent, they and their country are much indebted for the examples which he left them in every department of the liberal arts; which he so successfully studied in Italy, and practised on his return, under the patronage of the Earl of Burlington. Painting, however, must be excepted; since in this branch we admit that his conceptions were very poor, and his

execution

03

[ocr errors]

execution was equally bad. By his regulating standard, he fixed the mark for a sure guidance to others in architecture and in landscape gardening, of a classical and very high cast; aided by enrichments of sculpture and other works of art, which are requisite combinations to the completion of splendor and magnificence. Kent made his own designs, and his own drawings; bis plans were well adapted to their several purposes; and a fitness and an unity pervaded the proportions of his apartments, which were impressively striking. He practised much in Architecture, and with deserved reputation. Among many o hers of his private buildings, we cannot particularize the façade of Devonshire House (towards Piccadilly) without commending the dignified and unaffected simplicity, and the harmonious proportions of the individual parts, as well as the whole display of the court of approach and offices.

To conclude : we regard Mr. Hoare as intitled to the thanks and commendation of all lovers of the Arts, for the present attempt to excite just attention to them, at a time when he seems to consider that their situation in this country is very critical, and that they are in danger of perishing for ever. Ardently do we wish that his efforts may produce a heneficial effect; and much are we inclined to applaud the salutary hints and cautions which his work occasionally presents. It is with regret, however, that we feel persuaded, and that we have felt ourselves obliged in the course of this long article to endeavour to'shew, that the work is not satisfactory nor conclu. sive; that many of the positions and deductions are merely theoretical; that it is not written with that boldness of impartiality and scrupulous observance of justice, which its title and its object demanded : but that, on the contrary, it is in too many respects calculated to promote the growth of flattery at the expence of fact ; that some names have been placed in too strong a light, and others have been kept too much in the shade, in order to produce stage effect; and that, altogether, the performance is better calculated to please the superficial observer, than to become a sure guide in the investigation which it professes to assist.

An establishment of recent date in our metropolis, called the British Institution, attracts much of Mr. Hoare's notice and of his praise. W siould williugly befriend any aid afforded to the ostensible object of this Society : but its arrangements are yet too incomplete and too mutable to be fairly open to decided approbation. The sale of performances already exhibited is a minor consideration. Let it afford to artists an opportunity of comparison with works that have stood the test of time and criticism, let a fair contention be thus

excited,

« AnteriorContinuar »