PATRONAGE OF HISTORICAL PAINTING.
AN ANSWER TO THE ARTICLE ON THAT SUBJECT IN THE "WESTMINSTER REVIEW," NO XXV.
[IT was said of a celebrated orator, that he was " great in reply"—he needed some sophistical argument, fallacious reasoning, or exasperating im- pertinence, to stimulate his energies, and then broke forth the thunder of his declamation and the keen lightning of his invective upon the hapless blunderer. Just so it is with our venerable correspondent, whose vigour and animation are aroused with the spirit of his youth at the mischievous fallacies of the critic in the Westminster. He writes with the experi- ence of age and the enthusiasm of boyhood ; and the thanks of all artists are due to him for his spirited defence of the necessity of patronage for art. We feel rather flattered at the SPECTATOR having been selected for the medium of such communications as those of AN OLD DILET. TANTE ; and we wish that he may live to see some benefit arising to the English School of Art from the adoption of the course which he so ably and earnestly advocates.]
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
Sm,—Since I had the honour of last addressing you, an article has appeared in the Westminster Review, on the patronage of Historical Painting. As the principle contained in it I consider most pernicious, with your leave, old as I am, I will do my best to controvert its paradox- ical reasonings and mischievous tendency. There is no bitterer enemy of any pursuit than the man who has failed in it, for he carries into his enmity sufficient knowledge to mis- lead the ignorant, and sufficient malice to gratify the malignant ; and however painful it may be to acknowledge the truth, disappointed men in general do their best to prevent the success of others, where they have failed either from want of talent or want of application. The critic begins by asserting he will devote a few pages to the no.. tion "that Genius is the child of Patronage." Now who but a weak man would ever assert such nonsense? What man of genius ever be. lieved or even asserted that genius was the child or the result of pa- tronage ? Genius is the gift of God, in poetry, painting, or music ; but the degree to which that genius can develop itself, I maintain, depends on the opportunity given it by patronage, that is by employment. I refer to painting and sculpture more particularly, because painting and sculpture require space and opportunity.
He proceeds to say, " there is a supposition afloat, that a vote of money is requisite for the encouragement of historical painting. Now, if this
'The argument of our correspondent, if not corroborated, is by no means weakened by the fact, that Daivar's paintings, and the materials of his art, down to his lay-liguse and plaster casts, are selling this week at Foster's Rooms In Pall Mall. be true, 'tis pity—if not true, pernicious : at all events, it teaches artists cannot attain eminence for want of something extrinsic and be.
yond themselves, or their unaided powers—that it is hopeless to strive, and therefore wise to yield the contest—that they should pray to Jupiter, instead of putting their shoulder to the wheel."
The supposition that money is the sinews of art as well as of war, does not teach the artist that he cannot attain eminence ; but it teaches
him that he cannot do all he ought as a great painter—that he cannot execute works to rank with the Vatican or the Parthenon, unless a Va- tican or a Parthenon be given him by patronage to adorn.
The painter in England does not, and never has prayed to Jupiter without putting his shoulder to the wheel ; but he has all along been
putting his shoulder to the wheel most lustily ; and he complains that after having rolled his load to the brink of the hill, Jupiter won't smile, in spite of his having prayed heartily for seventy years, and fasted often ; and thus, from mere exhaustion he is obliged to let his load go again and roll to the bottom.
" Who patronized Wzrocur " says the critic, in his minority of genius, when he eat his hasty meal in the back settlements of the Slaughter Coffee house ?"—Who ? I reply—Lord MANSFIELD; and but for Lord Mamma Ws commission, the picture of Village Politicians, which founded our domestic style, would, perhaps, never have been painted ; for at the time WILKIE received it, what was he doing ? Why, painting foxy portraits for bread and cheese !—And what had he undertaken to do ?- Why, to copy BARRY'S pictures at the Adelphi for bread and cheese! WILKIE is an unfortunate example, for if there ever was a man whose genius was developed by patronage, it is Wiliam—who would have painted anything, or that thing only, where most patronage would have ensued. Who fostered the feebleness of MARTIN ?" says the critic again. Who? —Why, Mr. HENRY HOPE, the Duke of Bucxmonara, &c.; and because nobody now steps forward to foster MARTIN, MARTIN has ceased to paint, and has taken to engrave his own previous paintings,—simply because his engravings are more fostered than his pictures. So much for MARTIN and Wirouz, as examples of the benefit of not being patronized—to prove the principle of our critic in the Westminster!
" How could patronage," says he again, "produce a Peter Martyr, or Paul at Athens ?" This is but half stating the question. Genius must exist—patronage can't create it; but genius may exist, and die without full development for want of patronage. This is the fair statement of the question. The Peter Martyr and Paul at Athens could not have been produced by the most splendid patronage, if TITIAN and RAPHAEL had not been adequate to the opportunity given ; but we know they were neither produced without positive order—that is, patronage, a promise of an adequate reward for the thing to be painted. " Why not patronize poetry ?" he adds. Have not the most splendid poets been patronized, either by the public or the people in power ?
Was not SHARSPEARE patronized ?—Was not MILTON ?—Dr. JOHNSON speaks of the great sale of Paradise Lost, though his immediate purchase- money was a trifle. The fact is, the genius and the patrons must exist together ; and they have always existed together in all the great mras of art. When patrons exist without genius, then patronage produces what Lours XIV. pro- duced; but when they exist together, then patronage brings forth what PERICLES and PHIDIAS produced—,Turous and MICHEL ANGELO—LEO and RAFFAELLO—CHARLES the Fifth and TITIAN.
" To begin with the beginning," says the critic, " Phidias was a great sculptor because Pericles was a great patron ; whereas," he adds," Phidias
had as much to do with developing the mind of Pericles as Pericles had
with Phidias." And then, my dear Editor, he talks of the marbles of the PANTHEON, and that the Olympian Jupiter was produced BEFORE he was patronized by PERICLES ;" and then he asks triumphantly, what had Pericles to do with the development of his mind 8 He says also, the MEDICI had nothing to do with the development of DA VINCI, MICHEL ANGELO, and RAFFAELLO. In the first place, PERICLES made PHIDIAS director- general of all public works of art.—This was something. In the next place, he employed him to adorn the PARTHENON (and not the PANTHEON, oh, learned Theban !) in the Acropolis. 'Would the genius of PHIDIAS
have been so developed, if this appointment had not been given ?—should we have had the Elgin Marbles !—In the next place, unfortunately for
our critic, PHIDIAS did not execute the Jupiter until he was banished to Olympia, and at the request of the authorities or patrons he exe- cuted that work ; and he was banished after he had been patronized by PERICLES and the Parthenon was finished !
With respect to the Italians—was not Menet ANGELO brought up from a child in the school LORENZO had established ? did he not mix with all the great men of the time, POLITIANO, BEMBO, and others, at LORENZO'S table ? was he not able, from being placed above necessity by LORENZO'S magnificence and patronage, to devote himself exclusively to high art ? Were not the gates of GIIIBERTI, the work of CIMABUE, of DONATELLO, GIOTTO, DA. VINCI, and RAFFAELLO, the result of patronage animating and rewarding their genius ? Did not the Capella Sistina proceed entirely from JULIUS the Second's positive orders ? Did not MICHEL ANGELO refuse and beg and pray to be excused, because he was a sculptor and not a painter :2 and did he not begin and obey his patron against his own will, and succeed to his own astonishment, and then proved because he found, in consequence of being employed, he possessed a power he did not know he had. There never was a more complete thunder-bolt of refutation to the critic's theory than Micerm. ANGELO, because he is the greatest of all geniuses, and yet but for patronage, and patronage alone, we should have never had the works which even give him the greatest claim to being called one ! His assertion, too, that the richest artists have been isolated men— that he could tell of Greeks and Italians who died in beggary—is equally absurd. The question stands thus—Were those who died in beggary greater men than those who died rich ? Did the art owe more to the former than to the latter ? Are the beggars in art, the men who are the most illustrious names in it ? No, no, certainly not : the greatest artists have all been the richest,—Pannas, ALCARNANES, PaexrrELEs, and LYSIPPPS as sculptors—Pouroxoros, ZEUXIS, PARRHASIUS, PAM- PHILPS, and LELLES, as painters—were all rich, well patronized, and independent in circumstances. PAMPHILUS took no pupil under a talent " docuit neminem minoris talento," says Proxy, lib. xxxv. These were Greeks. Among the Italians, Cl/LARUE, DONATELLO, Grunnwri, MICHEL ANGELO, RAFFAELLO, TITIAN, JULIO ROILi.NO, PAOLO VERONESE, TIN. TORETTO, RUBENS, VANDYKE, CLAUDE, were all rich ; DA VINCI Would have been rich, but was too capricious ; Gurno and PARMEGIANO were rich, but gambled. In short, Sir, the greatest artists have always been the best patronized, throughout the world—no doubt of it—in this I defy refutation.
In taking up English art, the critic does not make the distinction of the portrait-painter from the other painters ; and because REYNOLDS died worth 100,0004 and LAWRENCE made 8,0001. or 10,0001. a-year, he infers there is no want of patronage in the enlarged. sense. Whereas the reverse is the fact—there is no patronage for high art ; nor will there be, till the authorities in England do as the authorities did in Egypt, Greece, and Italy ; and nothing but the most malignant and mischievous spirit can animate any man who comes forth at this critical moment to do his best to nip the budding conviction which is daily gain. ing ground in the minds of the rich and the powerful, that a fair oppor- tunity has never yet been given to the English historical painter, and who are willing to give him that opportunity as soon as it can be brought to bear. Every one who has seen Sir A. HUME'S model will, and must admit, PROCTER. was a man of great genius;—he gained both prizes for sculp- ture and painting. Well, for a long time Mr. WEST never heard of PROCTER • he inquired for him, and found him living in a garret in Clare Market, on one roll a day and drinking at the pump ! This is a fact. Affected at this condition, Mr. WEST applied for, and got for him his allowance to go to Italy, to which he was entitled in consequence of his getting the medal. Mr. WEST invited him to dine, and com- municated his good fortune : PROCTER, too much affected, died from the over-excitement sudden success produced on a frame exhausted from suffering ! According to our critic, this was the true patronage—nothing like your roll and water to produce great works. BARRY lived in filth, PROTOGENES eat lupins, and PROCTER a penny roll. RAPHAEL lived like a prince, RUBENS like a king, MICHEL ANGELO in comfort, and TITIAN luxuriously : does our critic think your penny roll would have made those heroes produce greater works than they have produced ?
We heard a patrom say once " Good prices were bad things !—MILTONhad but ten pounds for Paradise Lost!" The question is, ought MILTON to havehad no more ? This is a fine theory for thepersonwhopays—but not very agreeable for him who is to be paid. Would MILTON have produced Paradise Lost, if he had been harassed by bailiffs, tortured by want, or been forced to live on a roll and go to a pump !—No, no ; MIr.TON knew better—he liked to "help waste a sullen day" with wine and nuts—he liked a cheerful glass—he had no objection to a tasty ragout, and burst forth once with ' Gad a' mercy, Betty," when his wife (as cook) had pleased his palate ! All the nonsense about the poverty of genius is cant. Poverty never helped any man's powers, painter or poet. Many painters, and poets too, have done great things in spite of poverty : but would they not have painted better, have written better, and conceived with more fertility, had theynot been poor ?—Let our critic try the roll for a month, and then write another article for the Westminster. I'll be bound to find symp- toms of the water system in the first ten lines—instead of the vinegar now apparent. But I must cease. A man is never tired on a favourite subject, but he may tire his readers. Vale ! vale 1 _ AN OLD DILETTANTE.