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those powers which, under more auspicious rays might have gilded, adorned, and informed mankind.
It is however the peculiar pride and the no less honourable distinction of the reign of George III, that some aid, at least, some fostering encouragement, is willingly communicated, wherever merit is satisfactorily demonstrated in any branch of any of the arts.
These at least are not the times, nor is this the country, when and where it can with justice be lamented that the great warmth of generous patronage is wholly withheld from the disciples of science and the muses.
For the truth of the assertion we might appeal to a long list of facts, and direct the reader's attention to a long catalogue of honourable names, but these, it may be presumed, every man's power of recollection will readily and easily supply.
For the present it may be sufficient to contemplate, what is the object and design of the establishment of the British Institution. A long list of noble and opulent individuals have associated themselves for the specific purpose of communicating effective aid and protection to art, in all its varieties of excellence. We see them determined to cheer and animate the young adventurer, to confirm, and smooth and enliven the path to those who with the advantage of experience are already proceeding towards wealth and fame and honour.
With such principles, and exertions thus directed, success can hardly be apprehended. Genius will not fail of its reward, and ingenious labour cannot be exercised in vain.
As I have nothing more anxiously at heart than the success of sculpture, painting, and engraving, I conceive no apology to be due for the insertion of the following letter relating to a proposed establishment for the fine arts. It comes from a gentleman who has had great experience in pictures, and who will be found to speak con amore upon the sub-: ject he has undertaken to illustrate.
To the Director.
Sir, Tuere are few things in which, in the present state of the world, Englishmen would wish to imitate the example of France ; yet there is one institution at Paris for the encouragement of the fine arts, which might be rendered so highly beneficial to the arts in this country, that
I trust you will join me in wishing to see something like it established here.
• Fas est et ab hoste doceri.' The establishment goes under the appellation of · L'Ami des beaux arts :' It consists of a number of members, who raise a sum of money by annual subscription; the whole of this money is laid out in purchasing the works of living artists, and the works, so purchased, are divided, at stated periods, among the subscribers, by lot. Thus, a sum of money is annually provided and laid out among the artists, which undoubtedly acts as a stimulus to talent and industry. But as far as I know of the particulars of the institution, it is by no means so extensive or so useful as the circumstances of this country would enable us to make it, if we chose to adopt it here.
This subject has so long forced itself upon my attention, that I have arranged a plan, the heads of which I now.send for you to publish, if you think them fit to
be recommended to the notice of your readers.
1st. That a society be established, to consist of an unlimited number of members; each member to pay an annual subscription of five or ten guineas; the whole of the money só raised, (after paying unavoidable expenses) to be laid out in purchasing the original works of living artists. from themselves only, or of artists lately deceased, from their legal representatives alone; the works so purchased to be disposed of in the manner hereafter described.
2d. That the work of any artist may be offered to the society in the following manner: The artist to fix his own price upon his workmany member may recommend it to the notice of the society, and if approved of by a majority, the society will immediately pay the price demanded; the member who proposed it engaging to conform to one condition that will presently be mentioned.