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1. A NUMERICAL CATALOGUE OF THE PICTURES, AND
2. ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE PAINTERS, THEIR CHRONO.
LOGY, THEIR SCHOOLS, AND REFERENCES TO THEIR
AUTHOR OF HAND-BOOKS FOR WESTMINSTER ABBEY,
HAMPTON COURT, ETC.
THE WATERLOO VASE,
PLACED IN THE VESTIBULE TO THE
Is composed of three blocks of marble: they were quarried by Napoleon to form a vase illustrative of his victories, and proposed to be placed in the palace of the King of Rome, then erecting at Paris.
On Napoleon's abdication, these blocks were, at the instance of Lord Burghersh, then ambassador at the court of Florence, transferred to George IV., who carrying out the original idea of making it a triumphal monument, determined to dedicate it to our own great victory at Waterloo.
As the space would not admit any great display of sculpture, Sir Richard Westmacott, to whom his Majesty confided the exe
ution of the work, confined himself to the representation of the Duke of Wellington, attended by his officers, and giving orders for a charge of cavalry.
To mark the reign in which the battle occurred, an allegory (separated from the main design,) has been adopted, in which George IV. is represented on the throne, at which Europe has taken refuge. Peace, attended by Genii bearing her attributes, is presenting the palm branch to the King.
The bowl of the Vase is decorated with foliage, from which, forming the handles, are seen issuing on one side a figure of Peace, on the other a personification of Defeat.
The Vase was presented to the nation by William IV. It is much to be regretted that neither the site in which it is placed, nor the reflected light in which it is seen, are favourable to its display.
WITH ADDITIONAL NOTES.
The treasures of art laid up here drew around them, in the year 1840, above five hundred thousand living witnesses of their influence !* A blessed privilege is this—not lying barren, too—that all may enter the National Gallery at will, and share alike the enjoyment of the “ Blind Fiddler” of Wilkie, or the “Ecce Homo” of Correggio ! Even little children are free and happy proprietors of the National Gallery, as they are of Hampton Court Palace—where likewise unprotected pictures receive no injury,—but are excluded
* The number of visitors from the opening of the Gallery to the latest returns is as follows. The statement affords most gratifying evidence of the increasing interest in the Gallery and its consequent benefit to the people. 1826 ................ 110,051 1834
............ 466,850 1832
1840 ............ 503,011 1833
79,440 1841 to May 27, 227,885 For the gratification, not to say improvement, of half a million of persous, the annual cost of the Gallery (exclusive of pictures) does not exceed 1000l., or about a halfpenny each person admitted.
from the British Museum, where everything liable to damage has its safeguard.*
Throngs counted by hundreds of thousands belong far less to the ranks of wealth owning picture galleries than to poverty owning none but this; and that the lowly in station are the chief visitants, were there no other evidence, seems to be shewn in the small purchase of the official shilling catalogues. Out of every seventy-six comers only one buys a shilling catalogue. Such a scanty sale seems to prove that by far the largest proportion of visitors are those to whom the outlay of twelve-pence is the denial of a dinner, and that a cheaper catalogue is wanted. And a sort of intimation being given to a Committee of the House of Commons, by the Official Guardians of the Pictures, that the price was not likely to be lowered, I was
* The following is the evidence of the authorities in the Gallery on the behaviour of the public :
“ Nothing can be better than the conduct of the visitors; there has not been a single accident since the opening of the Gallery; women and children of all classes are admitted, soldiers and their wives ; nothing can be more orderly.”—Mr. Seguier.
“ The conduct of the public has been, as far as relates to the safety of the pictures, quite unexceptionable, and in other respects it has been quite as satisfactory as we could have wished and expected.”—Lieut.- Col. Thwaites.
Mr. John Wildsmith has found not the least inconvenience from chil. dren; a good number of the working classes visit the Gallery, and behave extremely well, and some of them take very great interest in the pictures ; many private soldiers visit the Gallery, and conduct themselves very well. (Evidence before the Commons' Select Committee on Monuments.)
† Mr. Seguier says the Catalogues were once sold for 6d.,“ but I mada it Is., in order that there might be no occasion to raise the price; if the Gallery was to be double what it is, the Catalogues would still be but 1s. There is a great sale of them; I have never found any objection to the price ; you could have nothing less than 6d.” They are now sold at 4d.! I have published three editions: the present one, first at 6d.,
prompted to set about making the present Hand-book, in the hope that it may be acceptable to a part at least of the seventy-five out of seventy-six, who have hitherto bought no catalogue at all.
Want of room forbade its being "descriptive or critical,” even had there been any wish on my part to make it otherwise than a Hand-book to the pictures, aiming to supply chiefly that information which no picture can itself give. A picture present to the sight is, without doubt, the best interpreter of its own meaning. A “description" seems superfluous. How very little even excellent critics assist us with their 6 descriptions,” the several catalogues of the National Gallery furnish many instances. Not to speak at random,- let the reader stand face to face with Ludovico Caracci's “Susanna,” (No. 28,) and say how much aid he gets from the following accounts of her-accounts, too, by three men having real pretensions to a knowledge of art: HAZLITT. OTTLEY.
LANDSEER. “ A mingled expres
“ The head of the “The expression, the sion of terror, shame, female is deficient in-not violent but deliand uncontrollable expression.”
cate expression of sweetness."
alarmed innocence.” Criticism is ground I am cautious of venturing on:
now at 4d., which contains, in addition to the Numerical Catalogue, similar in character to the Official Catalogue, short biographies of the painters, besides classifications—chronological and under schools, and of the pictures as gifts, bequests, or purchases ; another at 3d., and a third at id. Recently a competitor has started three Catalogues, at 6d., 3d., and 1d.; and I should welcome their appearance if they were other than plagiarisms, partly from Mrs. Jameson and partly froin my Handbooks; pirating, in the latter case, to the extent even of copying errors.