26 FEBRUARY 1853, Page 19



The time ahould be approaching when we are to hear something in detail of the plan and management proposed for the future college or museum of arts and sciences contemplated by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition Fund, and announced in the last Speech from the Throne. Not, indeed, that any definite statement can be expected for the present ; but rumours and hints, such as precede all large public under- takings, may reasonably be looked for. We are inclined to construe a pamphlet * just issued by Mr. Dyce, sanctioned as it is by dedication to Prince Albert, as something of more weight than the mere expression of individual views. These it enforces, indeed, with great vigour ; and doubtless, in itself, it bears the stamp of a single mind, expressing its own unbiassed convictions ; but., practically, it may have the effect of a feeler as well.

A National Gallery, as understood by Mr. Dyce, should be something far other than "a selection of the best works of the best masters." It should be complete in an historic point of view ; exhibiting, both in its component parts and in its arrangement, the progress of Art from her be- ginnings to her most recent manifestations, and the peculiarities of each several schooL So also a collection of paintings alone is not the be-all and end-all of a national gallery of art ; but requires supplementing by galleries, ecjually comprehensive, of sculpture, architecture, and even ornamentation. As to the formation, custody, and management of such a collection, or of any collection of works of art, the experience of the present National Gallery is appealed to, and shown, with much solid sense and sound argument, to be an experience of warning, not of example. The nullity of the keepership-the embarrassments and virtual irrespon- sibility of the trusteeship of noblemen and gentlemen, acting in concert with or in subjection to the Treasury-the inborn inaptitude of any unpaid commission of similar kind-are pointed out with great clear- ness and force. The conclusion arrived at is, that, subject to the control of the Treasury, a single officer, in communication with a committee of qualified persons, is the proper head of such an institution. On this point, the examples of the Schools of Design, as originally presided over by Mr. Dyce himself, as subsequently conducted, and as now remodelled in the "Department of Practical Art," are cited; and the close connexion of this department with a true national gallery, and of both with the scientific sections of the proposed institution, is well brought out. Mr. Dyce indicates the defects of the present system with so much cogency, and his own views are so large and practical, that we hope we may not be mistaken in anticipating for his plan acceptation, at least to some considerable extent, among those with whom rests the final decision of the matter.

• " The National Gallery, its Formation and Management : Considered, in a Let- ter addressed, by permission, to H.R.H. the Prince Albert. By William Dyce, R.A." Published by Chapman and Hall.