14 APRIL 1855, Page 12


Newcastle, 10th April 1855. Sin—Whatever Mr. Baron Alderson chose to say to the jury the other day at Warwick Assizes, there is no doubt that Mr. S. C. Hall occupied the position of defender of the artists' interests and of public honesty - while the plaintiff, however honourable a man or "pros perous gentleman" he mayjbe, stood there as the representative of a parcel of the greatest rogues in England. Living in a large provincial town, one of the centres of commercial wealth, and.necessarily observing all that transpires in fine-art matters, it affords me the greatest amusement to watch the dealers and their plans. While local artists scarcely hope to sell a single sketch, and our exhibitions are at- tended by losses, a succession of speciositiee, men of Hebrew cast of counte- nance, or with that indifference to the singular and plural in the grammar of their discourse indicative of the quondam valet, plunder the natives pe- riodically. At this moment there is exposed in a central coffeeroom a very bad copy of Martin's "Belshazzar's Feast," bought by a gentleman here at 1501. as the original, and a great bargain, now to be disposed of by raffle to a hundred guinea subscribers. The "British Merchant," who is a sorry creature sometimes, is thus trying to recover some portion of his money, and a dim suspicion of the genuineness of the picture is still suffered to hover over it. In another part of the town is a huge picture by Ansdell, to be presented to five hundred subscribers with prints of the same; the ballot, enabling the happy individual to claim the presentation, is "to take place in the town where the greatest number of subscribers are received." A fortnight ago, at a neighbouring exhibition, which took place on occasion of the local contributions to Paris being collected for public inspection, a pic- ture by myself appeared in the catalogue, which I immediately knew to be a forgery, but which had been bought by its proprietor as genuine. The truth is, accustomed to 2000 per cent in the trade in Old Masters now done for, dealers are not content with the 200 or 300 per cents they extort from artists, but by manufacturing copies they hope to keep up the old amount of "speculation." Every year they are becoming more restricted to " mo- dern " works, and every year they become bolder in forgery, venturing positively under one's very nose with their counterfeits. I recollect old Mr. Henning, the modeller of reduced copies of the Frieze of the Parthenon, being driven into ungovernable fits of rage by the itinerant vendors offering

his own copyright works for sale at his own door ; but it is positively be- coming nearly as bad in the trade in pictures! And it appears from the result of Mr. Ward's application and Mr. Hall's trial, that we are to have no protection.

Artiste ought at least to identify themselves with this question. It appears to me, if they were to clear Mr. Hall of costs in the matter of this trial, it would be very proper. For my own part, I would at once subscribe for such a purpose.