'THE NATIONAL GALLERY AN)) THE DIRRCTOR OF TICS ROYAL PICTURE
-GALLERY AT BERLIN.
lemptown, 7th October185O.
Bic—As the Director -of the ItoyarTioture 'Gallery at Berlinlias been.pdh- lielyintrodueed-to our countrymen, by-the Anglo-German clique, as a tom- petentjudge in-matters dart, moreparticularly witkrefereneetothecontlition and treatment of our nationalpietures,,we•may-therefore be:permitted Seim, veatigate the claims of thatgentleman to hemonaulted swan authority. The Picture Gallery at Berlin forms one department of the Royal Museum, -a .Whieh Iron 'Olfers is chief director, and in reality is managed by a board cif Whio7i'Dr. Waagen is only a member, as also is 'Herr Behlessinger—,a professor Mf the 'occult scienee .of picture cleaning and restoring— whose opinion, I was assured the -other day at Berlin, :has ,greel weight with his colleagues. The Gallery was originally formed of pis- tures selected from the Royal Palaces, and has been increased by the purchase of the Giustinkei Gallery in 1815, of -Mr. Solly's in 1821, and of Von Rumohr's very indifferent collection in 1828. Within the last few years many more pictures have been added bythe King, and 'Dr. Wa.•:en was-at one time employed to negotiate the purchases for this -Majesty ; =but theyproved to be so ill-judged, that, I am told, he will novenagain beeper- !rated to act independently of the board. These different -collections-.are distinguished'byyletters—G. for Giustiniani, E. for itamohr, (vox etpreterea nihil,) E. for the miseellanehus purchases: but Dr. W.aagen has modestly allowed ,his genius to be merged in the miscellaneous acquisitions ; neverthe- less, I have succeeded in tracing Jenne to,him some five-and-twenty- of those "hidden treasures," which with one single exception, -n dead lariat ;by Sebastiano del Piombo, are either spurious or worthless. Some small pietume in the second class of the first division, attributed to Titian, exquisitelyill- painted, scoured, and bedaubed, become important as evidences of his quelifi- eations as a connoisseur. The 428 -mortal pages of his Catalogue, moreover, teem with errors and blunders ; and it may be described as the worst- speci- men of its ekes in Europe. While a whole -page is devoted to the fragment of the Ancajani " Beadle "—the work of some inferior-painter of the-Um- brian school, and half a page to the Colonna "Bofselic"—the worthless production of some Obscure artist, the Sebastian del Piombo, a pearl of price, is dismissed in three unsatisfactory lines. Of three pictures attributed to Mantegna, numbers 27, 28, 29, not one has the slightest-claim to be considered genuine. The first is an indifferent -picture by-Orivelli, and-so on-through nearly every page of the Catalogue. At Berlin, as in our Royal Academy, the skinning and "restoring" of pictures occupies an im- portant place in-the resthetie, d,evelopment of alft, and siren to be indis- pensable to its-perfect enjoyment—the "principal aim of the collection, as we areirtfonned in Th. 'Weaken's -preface. Thus the elastic 'fable is re- versed, and Apollo flayed byhlarsyas Most of the pictures in the gal- lery have been scoured to the academic pitch, restored, and -then thickly smeared with varnish,---perhaps of less importance at Berlin, as nineteen- twentieths of the pictures might be scrubbed out with advantage to the pub- lic. I trust, 'hoWever, that the German syStem will never be tolerated this country ; and that the new plan of providing for foreign adventurers out of the public -purse, extending as it does even to societies professedly esta- blished for promoting the filet arts, will be thoroughly exposed teethe 'miry- imp influence- of-public opiwien.1
I have the hourinr.tolie, Sir, your obedient servant,