VI
THE AGE OF WILKIE

THE opening years of the century were full of plans for the encouragement of the arts, often with a side glance at their possible influence on manufactures. Benjamin West brought forward in 1802 proposals to form a 'National Association for the Encouragement of Works of Dignity and Importance in Art', and in 1805 Archer Shee Rhymes on Art, which enjoyed a considerable vogue, urged the claims of the arts on national consideration. One result of these exhortations was the opening in 1806 of the British Institution in Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall. It aimed at showing and selling modern works, awarding premiums, and also holding exhibitions of old masters, largely drawn from private collections, for artists to copy. The control of the Institution was in the hands of a committee of subscribers, of whom none was a professional artist and amongst whom Lord Strafford, Sir George Beaumont, and Richard Payne Knight were prominent. Valentine Green, the engraver, was Keeper, and his design for the 1811 catalogue, 'an ass in the Greek pallium teaching', was a manifesto of the Institution's support of national and contemporary art against the more traditional approach of the Royal Academy.

The press naturally enough proceeded to play off one body against the other; The Times, for instance, backed the Institution and did not begin giving notices to the Academy till 1824; but others soon found the Institution equally open to criticism for partiality and exclusiveness. The formation in 1823 of the Society of British Artists1 was the scheme of a dissident group, using James Elmes's Annals of the Fine Arts as their main organ and supported by Haydon, Martin, and other well-known opponents of the Academy. It had a chequered career in its rooms in Suffolk Street, for the standards achieved were never wholly convincing: 'We

____________________
1
For the Society of British Artists see Whitley, iipassim and European Mag. lxxxiv ( 1823), 150; for criticism of the Academy, Annals of the Fine Arts, iii ( 1818), Preface.

-149-

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English Art, 1800-1870
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Plates ix
  • List of Figures xxi
  • Abbreviations xxiii
  • I- Romanticism 1
  • II- Painters in Water-Colour 29
  • III- The Regency Style 65
  • IV- Turner and Constable 97
  • V- Statuary 128
  • VI- The Age of Wilkie 149
  • VII- The Battle of the Styles 176
  • VIII- State Patronage 203
  • IX- Restoration and Revival 223
  • X- The Great Exhibition 254
  • XII- Memorials, Portraits, And Photography 299
  • Bibliography 321
  • Index 331
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