LAST FREAK OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.
WnEx people read in the daily papers the formal announcement that on such a day the Academicians elected Mr. GEORGE JONES, MA., to be Keeper of the Royal Academy, in the room of the late WILLIAM HrzzoN R.A., they probably knew and cared about the matter as little as if Thomas Brown had been appointed porter in place of John Smith : how should they, being equally unacquainted with the nature of the office of Keeper, as with the pretensions of Mr. JONES? As regards the latter, indeed, we are ourselves unable to enlighten them, having in vain sought for some information on the point ; but with respect to the duties of the office and the qualifications requisite to their proper fulfilment, we are not wholly uninformed. The Keeper of the Royal Academy, besides being the resident Academician, and in this capacity called upon to regulate the internal arrangements and ordinary business of the institution, holds, ex officio, the most important post in the Academy viewed as a school of instruction,—namely, that of in. structing the pupils in drawing from the antique. A thorough know. ledge of the form and proportions of the human figure, and the beauties of the antique, and the power of drawing both with masterly correct. ness and facility, are essential to the performance of the daily functions of this office ; for if the master's science be imperfect, how can he point out beauties in the original and defects in the copy ; and if he have not consummate skill in art, how can he put the student right, and set him an example of correctness? That Mr. JONES cannot draw the figure, we have the evidence of his own pictures, which owe their attractive. ness to effect only ; and that his studies of the antique have been limited, we have the printed testimony of the Probe; whose knowledge of the penetralia of the Academy is far beyond ours. Speaking of Mr. Jon; in reference to his then probable appointment to the Keepership, our candid yet courteous contemporary says—" Urbanity, smooth manners, plausibility of address, stand in the stead of superior knowledge and talent ; " and in another place he expresses a "fear that many of the students would be better versed in these mysteries (knowledge of the antique, &c.) than their master:" and this is the opinion, reluctantly given from a sense of justice, by one who has evidently no unfriendly disposition towards the party in question. The Academicians, in this appointment have, as is their wont, shown a disregard alike for public opinion, the interest of the pupils, and the character of the school, that will earn for their body the contempt and reprobation which all their proceedings call down from those who know any thing of the motives that in• fluence them. As a specimen of these, let us again have recourse to the straightforward, plain-speaking Frolic; who, in a dialogue be. tween the Editor and an Academician, on the late election of member; -which reads very like an actual colloquy, puts into the mouth of the R.A. the notable avowal—" Our motives, you know, are our own in. dividually ; as a body we are not responsible; and with our own we do as we will." This is open and bold-faced impudence, certainly ; and what this one says, the rest do. Who shall hinder them ? The Academy trample on the artists, deride public opinion, defy Parliament, and cajole the Government and the Aristocracy : and so they will eon. tinue to do as long as the great body of artists submit to their tyrannical domination. Their plea about the importance of the schools is evi- dently sheer fudge—a specious pretence to keep possession of the
building in Trafalgar Square. Our headlong correspondent Amu thinks we treat this subject too scornfully, and urges that the election
of a Keeper is "a matter of great national importance :" unquestionably
it is, when viewed abstractedly ; but as the case at present stands, the va- garies of a select vestry are of more interest, for they may be checked
by public opinion. The Royal Academy, as we have before shown, is a mere club of artists, Nvho call each other "Royal Academician"; and having contrived to get possession of a public building, convert it to the purposes of profit, and exercise the power they derive from this source in any way they please, being uncontrollable and irresponsible. The only chance of their being made responsible, is in their outraging
decency in some very flagrant manner, and provoking the Queen's interference : this, however, they carefully avoid,—though their perti- nacious exclusion of the Queen's own Portrait and History Painter is ticklish ground.
"But surely there must have been some reason for the choice of Mr. Jones !" exclaims the attentive reader. We answer, yes : Mr. JONES wanted the office, no one else coveted it, and so he got it. A good house rent-free, and a position favourable to one who has a high opinion of his own merits and importance, are great considerations with the new Keeper : let him enjoy them by all means, but the Academy should also appoint a qualified teacher of drawing.