1 APRIL 1848, Page 18



THE Society of Arts has opened its second annual exhibition of manu- factured works for purposes of decoration or furniture, and the collection displays a marked progress even at this early stage. Awakened to new vitality and action, the Society has revised its obso- lete and useless system of prizes for art, which resulted in nothing but as annual exposure of crude incompetence, and has directed its attention in that branch more in connexion with manufactures; pure art having ace quired, since the Society was established, many other channels of ex- hibition. In this branch the Society offers three classes of prizes--1, for studies from nature by youthful students; 2, for original designs applicable to the purposes of the manufacturer; 3, for the complete article of deco- ration or furniture as it issues from the hands of the manufacturer, whether as the embodiment of a design, as the application of a new material, or of a new process. The rooms of the Society, however, are only capable of re- ceiving comparatively small works, in limited numbers; so that a selection is made of such as display the highest style of decoration or the most finished art. But it is proposed to extend the advantages of this periodical array in two important modes. Selected specimens will be handed over to the official School of Design, and by that agency transmitted on a round to the provincial Schools of Design; so that country students and manufac- turers will have the opportunity of inspecting the newest samples of de- corative art. And it is proposed to have a larger exhibition, every fourth or fifth year, of a national scope, in some temporary building specially erected. We believe that the Board of Trade has signified a general wil- lingness to aid in that enterprise. The quinquennial exhibition would be of far greater extent and variety, and would comprise objects of greater size. Trafalgar Square has been suggested as a good site for the temporary building; since it is central, is easy of access by land and water, offers a supply of water for certain classes of models, a ready flooring, and great part of the four walls. The Society of Arts would collect the specimens and manage the exhibition. The admission would be partly by payment and partly free, as in the case of the National exhibitions at Westminster Hall.

It is as part of this general scheme that the present exhibition is to be viewed. It consists not only of prize specimens of manufactured articles, but of others sent in by manufacturers; who now cordially cooperate in the proceedings of the Society. A reason for their doing so might be found in the fact that twenty thousand persons visited the exhibition last year, which commenced the new series, and which exhibition, though necessarily imperfect, gave a marked impulse to the sale of some articles. But we be- lieve also that the manufacturers are actuated by a broader and more libe- ral spirit, of aiding in the operations of the Society now that their practical utility is manifested. Many specimens have been manufactured for this year's display. The general result is, that the array is far more numerous than the first was, far more varied, more brilliant, more distinguished by invention and ingenuity in design, material, and process. It marks a de- cided progress in the practical part of decorative art.

The collection comprises more than seven hundred specimens, in every material,—earthen-ware, china, glass of all kinds, metals, woods, artificial marbles, paper, leather; of infinite variety in design, from a teacup to a statue, from flooring to an historical picture. The general aspect of so many tasteful and brilliant objects symmetrically arranged is very agree- able and imposing. Of course it is out of the question even to mention any considerable portion of the whole; we therefore remain content with noticing a few of the greatest novelties.

In the anteroom is a large picture of Catherine Douglas bolting the door with her naked arm against the conspirators who cams to kill James the First of Scotland: it has been taken for Mr. Redgrave's original fresco, exhibited at Westminster Hall; but it is a new kind of paper-hanging, ex- cellently contrived for adapting the fresco style of historical painting to the English of house-building. Here is a fine field opening to the artist.

In the same room are some interesting examples of glass applied to use- ful purposes—water-pipes and curtain-rods.

In the large room are some splendid specimens of marqueterie, or inlaid work, in tables, screens, &a. Tables of enamelled slate, from the Pimlico Slate-works, mock the richness and brightness of inlaid marble. Three examples of terra eotta display the rival pretensions of England, Wales, and Ireland, to produce that material. The Irish specimen is very pleasing, from the softness of the tint and texture to the sight. To the touch the texture of this material, in all the specimens, is so hard that the knife can scarcely scratch it. The manufacturers are Beauclerc, Apsley Pellatt, and Willock and Co. A new style of tessera, devised by Mr. Scott Russell, is composed of a form that proves to be capable of the greatest variety of combinations—the half of the equilateral triangle. Among the china ware is a new and successful attempt to supply a desideratum—a turquoise bane rivalling that of the Sevres ware: the new colour is clear, even, and intensely bright. Side by side, we note three specimens of artificial stones for small statuary—Copeland's statuary porcelain, Rose and Co.'s Carrara porcelain, and Minton and Co.'s Parian. All are very good. Mr. Copeland exhibits a large number of elegant works: among them Foley's "In- nocence "—a pleasing figure of a girl; and a copy of a group in Sevres belonging to Lord Lichfield, " Returning from the Vintage "—full of a life and sharpness of action that shame our sculptors. The Carrara porce- lain is whiter than the statuary porcelain, and very sharp; rather too much like plaster of Paris. The Parian is the moat marble-like in its trans- parency. Mr. John Sylvester exhibits specimens of his new fire-grates, in which porcelain is combined with metal; the porcelain adding beauty, variety, and a faculty of retaining heat: one specimen in the large room is exquisitely rich and delicate.

" Felix Summerly " has a great number of articles into which he has introduced the handiwork of established artists; adorning the mere utility of each implement with a thought to engage the mind, taste- ful forms and living figures. One prominent object in this class is an arm-chair, ornamented with sleeping figures, lulling angels, and so- porific vegetation. The materials are opaque white, sub-inlaid with gilt, and cushioned with crimson silk: it is a domestic throne. Among other articles we notice—miniature statues surmounting decanter-stoppers; carved handles for table-knives; a bread-knife, with a good handful to hold it by in the shape of a spike of maize; dessert-knives adorned with native fruits; salad-knives, fish-slices; a clock-stand, teapot, wine-tray, salt-cellars, &c. The glass ware in the same collection is very numerous and ingenious. There are water-bottles and finger-glasses of clear crystal resting in enamelled leaves, transparent or opaque: two beautiful speci- mens are, a water jag rising from the pointed leaves of a water-plant, and a finger-glass resting on vine-leaves of a semi-transparent texture. The former we have before mentioned; the last is new, and promises a beautiful variety in table-glass. Another beautiful device is a champagne-glass, with a design representing the rising beads, and little embodied " spirits " i bursting upwards: the imps are modelled in relief in the transparent glass, and have an aspect at once forcible and unsubstantial: it is a very pretty conceit, very skilfully executed. Among several versions of Bell's sta- tuette " Dorothea," is a very successful endeavour to improve the colour of our bronzes: it has the deep even tone of the older bronzes. of the new processes, some of the more interesting are, a mode of silver- jog earthen-ware, and one of printing on slate so as to stamp it with picto- rial designs or give it the appearance of plain tesselated work. But we mast of necessity pass by many more samples of new processes. Reviewing the whole assemblage, two kinds of advance are very percep- tible,-an immense and highly successful activity in applying new pro- cesses or materials; and a general improvement in the artistic effect, with considerable merit in those parts which properly come within the province of painters or sculptors: real artists have been brought into the field of English manufactures.