26 MARCH 1859, Page 19

put arts.


The question of the National Gallery is settled. The finest site in Europe is not to be appropriated to an hotel, but is to remain in posses- sion of the national collection of pictures ; the present building, which so ludicrously burlesques the opportunities of the site, is to be converted into a truly handsome and dignified structure. The whole is to be ac- complished at the official estimate of 34,0001. At the first blush, what we have said would appear to be a promise too large for performance ; but a comparatively slight explanation would show how it is to be done. The present site may be described generally as a very long parallelogram. The building is bisected, the eastern end being given to the Royal Academy, the northern to the National Gallery ; but as it is henceforward to be devoted exclusively to the public collection the bisection will be removed. There is a square portico in front, a semi-circular projection in the middle at the back; and at the front a square oblong piece is cut out of each corner. On each side of the central vestibule is the hall of the separate institution, and each half of the whole range is cut up into many smaller rooms.

The plan proposed by Captain Fowke immensely enlarges the en- tire space by simplifying the form. The ground plea of the National Gallery will now present the aspect of a long strip, say of riband with ends perfectly square and broader than the rest of the building. There will be a square portico in front, with the central projection behind ; and at the middle, the whole breadth of the building corresponding to the por- tico including the semicircular projection, will be thrown into one spa- cious hall, on a level with the " first floor," approached by great stair- cases leading from the entrance hall below. Instead of double side en- trances and divided rooms, each side of the buildingiwill be divided into three rooms with a fourth great square room at the end, the entrances of all the rooms being opposite to each other and to the staircase, so that the three compartments will form but one great saloon, divided as it were, into stalls ; while the vista from the top of the staircase will pre- sent one gallery along the whole length of the building, spanned by arches on columns. The view along the vista will call to mind the gal• leries in the Vatican.

Still looking down upon the ground plan of the new design, we see that the present labyrnth of intersecting walls is entirely removed,—the space is cleared away ; the economy of room is such as to give a virtual extension to the amount of nearly 130 per cent. The total space for pictures and drawings at present, amounts to a little less than 15,000 square feet. The space proposed would be just short of 34,500 square feet.

The improvement externally is effected with much economy and a large result. The dome and cupolas will be removed, together with the small secondary four-columned porticos which cut up the space and de- stroy the effect of the building. In justice to Wilkins, who is said lite- rally to have died of mortification at the effect produced by his work, it may be observed that he was not a free agent in the design, and never intended to place at the top of Trafalgar Square what we now see there. The facade designed by Captain Fowke gives us a central portico ele- vated on a basement, with eight columns and a pediment above them. This part of the building will be elevated by an attic story, but that will be concealed by a square parapet, forming the actual centre of the building. At each end, in place of the present broken facade, there will again be a square entablature, supported by seven columns standing on a basement. fho top of the edifice, the windows, the columns, the base- ment, presenting level lines along the whole length. The effect is simple, graceful, and dignified. Since the plan and estimates were first coneameted, the details have been more strictly examined ; and we have reason to believe that an edifice which will hold three times the present collection of pictures, drawings, and sculpture, can be completed at a cost decidedly less than the 34,0001. stated.