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THE ARUNDEL SOCIETY.1

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At No. 24 Old Bond Street is the habitation of a Society which for a period of nearly thirty-five years has had for its object to make generally known the purest and worthiest remains of the arts of former times, more especially the works of the most eminent early painters-Italian, Flemish, and German—and the most remarkable monuments of Italian sculpture, both of the Middle Ages and Renais

The chief aim of the society, however, has been to obtain and reproduce in a popular form correct drawings of those frescoes which are little known, and in danger of ruin either from neglect or miscalled “restoration. It has during that period been doing this work quietly and unostentatiously, but if anyone wishes to form some idea of what that work has been, and the wide area over which it has been extended, let him pay a visit to the Society's rooms and see its collection of water-colour copies from Italian fresco-paintings, illustrating the principal periods of the art, chronologically arranged on the walls, and ready for publication whenever opportunity and means allow. In two apartments--- now over a perfumer's shop, but formerly comprising the studio of Sir Thomas Lawrencemay

be found an exhibition wbich is but little frequented by the public, apparently because it is open gratuitously instead of at the charge of a shilling. This exhibition consists of a series of small but carefully-executed coloured drawings from various Italian frescoes, from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries, of which we can enumerate only the most important. First come the solemn and impressive, though rude productions of Cimabue in the Upper Church at Assisi. Then two series by Giotto: one from the same place, illustrating the life of St. Francis of Assisi; the other from the Arena Chapel, Padua, exhibiting the cardinal virtues and vices, painted in chiaroscuro. Then the works of Fra Angelico in a chapel of the Vatican, illustrating the mission and martyrdom of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence. Then several of Benozzo Gozzoli: firstly in the Riccardi Chapel, Florence, representing the journey of the three kings; secondly, at Montefalco, giving scenes from the life of St. Francis ; thirdly, at San Gimignano, illustrating the life of St. Augustine. Next follow specimens of Botticelli, from Florence; of Filippo and Filippino Lippi, from Prato and Rome, and some scenes from the history of St. Helena's discovery of the Cross, by Piero della Francesca, in S. Francesco at Arezzo. Then the series of frescoes by the Florentine and Umbrian quattro-centisti on the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Next the works of Mantegna in the Eremitani Church at Padua, the originals of which are wofully dilapidated, and in parts have even quite disappeared. Then the beautiful series by Ghirlandajo, illustrating the lives of the Virgin and John the Baptist, which adorns the choir walls of S. M. Novella at Florence. Then comes the Paradiso,' from the celebrated Last Judgment' by Luca Signorelli in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Lastly, examples from various localities of frescoes by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Razzi (Sodoma), Andrea del Sarto, Michel Angelo in the Sistine Chapel, Raffaelle in the Vatican Stanze, Peruzzi, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Tiepolo. At the same time, if the visitor desires it, he can be shown a large collection of the original drawings which have already been reproduced by chromo-lithography, and which are at present put aside or locked up from want of space; drawings which we would venture to suggest might not unprofitably be exhibited to the public, either at the South Kensington Museum or in some of the unused basement rooms of the National Gallery, when its enlargement is completed.

1 The writer is alone responsible for the statements and opinions in this article. The Council of the Arundel Society is not responsible in any way.

In addition to these drawings the visitor would find exhibited a series of fac-similes, in so-called “fictile ivory,' of ancient ivory carvings extending over a period from the second to the fifteenth century; and these fac-similes can be procured at a very moderate price by any one, whether a member of the Society or a stranger. Nor is this all. Shortly after the formation of the Society, in conformity with the catholic principles on which it was founded for assisting the study of all the best remains of art in whatever age or country, an attempt was made to illustrate ancient classical sculpture by bringing out for sale reduced casts from some of the Elgin marbles, superior in workmanship to any previously known. By the ingenious process of the late Mr. Cheverton, reductions were made of the Ilissus, Theseus, the horse's head from the eastern pediment of the Parthenon, and a slab from the Parthenon frieze. Specimens of these admirable reductions, exhibiting not merely the form of the originals reproduced on a smaller scale with mathematical exactness, but even the abrasions and dilapidations of surface which the marble had sustained by time are still to be seen at the society's office; though, unfortunately, casts are no longer to be obtained, the original moulds being worn out, and the smallness of the demand for such works not justifying the making of new ones.

In the year 1858 Sir Henry Layard wrote a very full and admirable article in the Quarterly Review on the aims and progress of this Society; but as a quarter of a century has passed over our heads from the publication of that article, it is not unfair to presume that many persons have grown up since then who, taking a deep interest in art, would gladly have much of the information contained in it re-conveyed to them, together with an account of the society's doings from that period. It is impossible to avoid a certain amount of plagiarism, but the writer has beforehand asked for and received plenary absolution from Sir H. Layard, and he also does not scruple to borrow verbatim from the “Account of Twenty-five Years of the Arundel Society,' published by Mr. Maynard, the late secretary.

Thirty or forty years ago the facilities offered for the study of art were far inferior to what they now are.

At that time few were the persons who cared to investigate it scientifically, but there were a certain few who loved it very dearly, and who were brought together on that account. The National Gailery was then a comparatively small collection of pictures, the South Kensington Museum did not exist. Of art schools, except the Royal Academy, there were none. Independently of all higher reasons for such teaching, it was not yet perceived that to hold our own with the foreign manufacturer we must be prepared to enter the lists on even terms with him. Constant intercourse with beautiful objects in galleries, museums, schools, corrected the foreign taste, but it was a hard struggle for Englishmen, whose eyes rarely rested on anything beautiful, to contend against these advantages. One man, however, the Prince Consort, stood forth at that time, and by his great influence laid the foundation of the art movement which has since attained such proportions in English society, and which, instead of falling off, is increasing daily and establishing in most of our larger towns museums, galleries, art lectures, and art schools. Long, however, before this general movement, a certain number of those persons to whom we have alluded, being deeply interested in and conversant with art, felt that it would be a noble object to introduce among their countrymen a knowledge of the great principles of historical and monumental painting as displayed especially in Italian fresco. Except to a few travellers in Italy, fresco was unknown; indeed, except from an occasional visit to a private gallery, and to the Exhibition of the Old. Masters at the British Institution, little was known of Italian painting by the mass of even the highest classes in society. It was the fashion, it is true, during the last century, for young men of high position to make the grand tour,' and many of them returned from Italy with noble pictures which still adorn the houses of their descendants; but the untrained taste of those days was directed to the works of masters of the later schools, rather than to the simplicity, earnestness, and reverence of the earlier masters. The purse-strings of the English traveller opened widely for the works of the Caracci, Guido, Domenichino, and fortunately also to Titian and to Raffaelle, while Bellinis and Cimas and Mantegnas, and even Fra Angelicos were but in slight

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request. They were not understood until a later period. At the time referred to, however, a purer taste was beginning to make itself felt. There were young men springing up of strong artistic feelings, to whom it was apparent that the history of fresco was the history of art. in its highest and most spirited development from the fourteenth to nearly the middle of the sixteenth century. They visited with eagerness and delight the various shrines throughout Italy in which these treasures were to be found. When once the Gothic spirit fully exercised its influence on Italian architecture in the thirteenth century, there arose soon after that long line of illustrious fresco-painters which may be said to have ended with Raffaelle and his contemporaries, and which raised the art to the highest eminence it ever attained. Architecture in all ages and countries is the forerunner of painting and sculpture. For two centuries and a half these painters laboured, following the architect over the broad face of the Peninsula. There is scarcely a church during that period built, from the Alps to the shores of Calabria, the walls of which they did not adorn with their pencils. In the stately cathedrals of the city, in the humble chapel by the wayside, in the silent cloister of the convent, in the busy townhall of the Republic, so many illustrated books were outspread before the multitude in which each one might by pictorial representation learn the truths and traditions of his faith, or his duties as a citizen of the State. The amount of work accomplished by the painter during the fourteenth and fifteenth century is truly wonderful. Age and neglect, the inevitable havoc of time and the wanton mischief of men, combined and exerted with extraordinary energy, have failed to obliterate the traces of his art, though they have destroyed for ever some of its most glorious results. But what is even more remarkable than the extent of the work is its almost exclusive object--devotional teaching. There is scarcely an important fresco of this period which is not of a religious or moral tendency, either representing a Scriptural story, a sacred legend, or an allegory inculcating the excellence of virtue and faith as the blessings of good government. Even when subjects from pagan mythology or classical history are introduced, as by Taddeo di Bartolo in the chapel of the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena, or by Pietro Perugino in the Exchange at Perugia, it is with a view to illustrate and enforce the truth and authority of Divine revelation and the doctrines of Christian theology. “Ye of gentle spirit," exclaims old Cennini in his quaint treatise on painting," who are lovers of this art and devoted to its pursuit, adorn yourselves with the garments of love, of modesty, of obedience, and of perseverance.” He wbo had to teach virtue and holiness to others was in the first place to lead a virtuous and holy life himself.'2

To make these works known and appreciated in England through some adequate mode of publication would be, it was felt, a noble enterprise. The materials were abundant but scattered, little accessible, and in some instances passing away. When beauty lies in conception rather than execution, the most exact reproductions would present but little of popular attractiveness, and there was but small hope of their being undertaken by the ordinary modes of publication.

2 Sir H. Layard.

Combination, which had proved so effective in the cultivation of literature, science, and archæology, had, previously to the foundation of the Arundel Society, been employed only to a very limited extent in promoting the knowledge of art. The productions, indeed, of ancient Greece and her colonies, their edifices and their sculptures, had been illustrated by the labours of the Dilettanti Society, and much light was thrown upon mediæval architecture through means of several institutions devoted exclusively to its elucidation. But no such body had attempted the systematic study of the monuments of painting or of the kindred arts in which the Middle Ages were so eminently succesful.

In the year 1848 several distinguished amateurs met together, and determined to found a society to supply these deficiencies. The originator of the movement was the late Mr. Bellenden Ker, a wellknown lawyer of that time, who had, in connection with Lord Brougham, taken an active part in the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and was anxious to introduce some similar agency into the region of art. He at first looked to literary rather than graphic publications, and proposed to bring together all who were most capable of writing on special branches of art hitherto little known to Englishmen, and chiefly to illustrate the history and remains of early Italian painting. The first meeting took place at Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Eastlake's house, and included Mr. Ker, Mr. Oldfield, who is still an active member of the Society, and the late Signor Aubrey Bezzi, who held for some years the post of honorary secretary, till he returned to his native land as a member of the Sardinian Parliament. Mr. Ruskin was then invited, and cordially joined the movement with Mr. Newton, of the British Museum. The Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Lindsay, Lord Herbert of Lea, and Mr. Samuel Rogers, lent their names to the new Council, and Sir John Hippisley, a well-known connoisseur of old engravings, became an active member. The council at once put themselves in communication with the late Ludwig Grüner, who had great knowledge of all the schools and productions of painting in Italy, of the literary and other materials which existed for illustrating them, and of the means of getting copies and executing engravings of such as it might be resolved to publish. The governing body of the society was soon after strengthened by important accessions : by Mr. Charteris (now Lord Wemyss), who has remained its steadfast supporter, and who generally does the duties of chairman at the annual meeting with his well-known skill ; by the late Tom Taylor; G. F. Watts, R.A.;

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