19 DECEMBER 1840, Page 17



'.FIts: rumour to which we adverted a few weeks ago, that CORNELIUS was engaged to decorate the new lionises of Parliament, we believe to be Well founded : certain it is, that the great Gennan painter is on his was to London, and we know of no Miner object sufficiently important to rail tor the services of an artist distinguished fur his Works in fresco. 'What share, if tumuv, CORNELIUS will have in making the designs, or what it It Inc the nature and extent of the decorations of the chambers, may probably be undetermined ; but sufficient ground exists for the assumption that pictorial ornaments will form part of them. It behoves our artists, thereffire, to be on the alert, atul prepare themselves, by stiely nut. a department new to them. in order to be ru,itly to meet the contingent demand for the exercise of their talents. It is to he regretted that the first intimation of an intention to introduee paintings into all important public building should lie made by au in- ference deduced front the ins itation to a foreigner to visit this country : it is scarcely fair to native talent to let it thuscte taken by surprise mid it may tend to no eate an ill feeling towards a ffireign professor, whose genints and eminnence in his own country entitle him to respect and deference in this.

We are far from being opposed to the employment foreigners, even upon national works. when their talent is superior to that of our nom countrymen : the stimulus of rivalrv is wholesome, and the study of the works or another school gives a new direction to art, either confirming a predilection for a style already formed, or correcting its defeets by emulating the exeellenves of :mother. As eve:ants the visit of Om- Nitidtts, it may be attended with the most ben eficial results or the most pernicious consequences, according to the w v mu w inch his talents are rug:feed. If he is to have any share in the furoishiog of designs, the influence of his dry, quaint angular style will lie injurious :dike to tlw pictorial effeet of the paimiugs and to the feeling and manner of the English artists who may be his coadjutors; but it' in is only to he con- sulted as to the arran -.vinous, and to direct the execution of the frescos, Iris advice and instructions will be extremely valuable, :old, from his long experience and eatenordinary skill, entitled to great weight. 'Pine hr;mctue'n ii free-o• rtiftting. is almost unknown in tltis country : indeed We. have not ii sit it it specimen of true fresco—the hall at Manchester being done in a bastard style called semi-fresco.

colours ou wet stucco. As the colours are instantly absorbed, and dry of a different tint to what they zumear when moist, and the stucco also dries so quickly that only a small part can be painted at a time, the process requires great manual dexterity, and a thorough knowledge of the materials. Fresco is generally executed by operative artists, if the term may be allowed, front coloured cartoons on the same scale, fur- nished by the designer ; who should therefore be able to calculate the effect of his work when seen at a distance. Thus it is evident the assistance of Coma:mos will be of the utmost importance as a director of the works.

It is possible, however, that the interior decorations may not embrace pictures on a grand scale, hut consist only of ornamental details in colour and blazonry, such as heraldic devices, arabesque scrolls, and em- blematical figures : for these the Gothic manner of CORNELIUS would be more suitable, and his intimate knowledge of the character of this peculiar class of art, in which the Germans excel, would give him an advantage over our artists generally ; the variety of his resources, and his facility in producing designs, being so much greater. Never- theless, we could name many of our countrymen whose aptitude for this branch of art is extraordinary, and whose taste in colour is rich and cultivated to a degree of perfection that no foreign artist could surpass, perhaps not equal : such men only want a little time for thought and research in order to produce designs of this kind where the quaint character of the old devices would be but as a crabbed root shooting forth an efflorescence of beauty ; poetic fancy and the splendour of modern colouring being united to give an effect of sump- tuous elegance of which no adequate idea can be formed front any ex- sting specimens of decorative art in this country. The occasion is so important. and the practice of combining the la- bours of artists so new in England, that we may be excused for sug- gesting a course of proceeding which appears caleulated to insure va- riety of style and harmony of effect. We will suppose that the architect has determined upon the prevailing character of the decora- tions fur each portion of the building, with a view to the easennUe of the interior ; it then remains with the artists to carry his views into effect, by producing ornamental designs in accordance with his plan : one horn in would perhaps be simple and severe, another rich and gorgeous, a third florid awl gay, in fourth chaste and light, and so on. sectional elevations of each suite of apartments, indicating the extent and distin- guishing style of the ornaments required, might then be distributed to the several designers. The selection of the artists ought surely to be made by public competition ; not one, but several being appointed. Mr. Banos., in his capacity of architect, would pro- perly be appointed one of the judges, in addition to the Commissioners who made choice of the design for the building. By such a course, would not only the best artists be secured, but an impulse given to the talent of the country in a direction hitherto untried: and the example of the Penn tomtit houses would be followed in other public and private edifices. 'Iles taste for coloured decorations is spreading in England;

but the education of our artists has not been favourable to their suc- cess, and the anisans have had no education at all. All that has been

done in England hitherto is the work of French i artists chiefly, who have a tendency to overlay ornament, and to make a principal featdre of what ought to be an aceessory conse merely we have gone from one extreme to another—from staeving poverty to sumptuous excess.

On the article of sculpture we have not retch, d, the examples of Gothic being rich in bosses. ealf;t..15, and string-courses but even if

the sculptured ornaments be limited to corbel-heads, why should not some scope he given to modern talent to prialtwe something better than the onemoli grimacing visages of old: The I of fst sh lies are

occasionally found on the walls nw oar cathedral.; mil though wry Ewes, soow ling, grinning, and damentin,r. ere f:r fsoin beiog inappro- priate in the I luuuot if Legislature. they onelit r, present petitioners to Parliament of the present day. The introdnetion of statues of emi- nent men is a matter for after coosideration.