CREATION OF A WORLD-CENTRE.
As a rule the wide apses at the two ends of the gallery would suffice for
paintings and drawings. As will be seen at a glance, these Temporary
Exhibition Galleries were planned upon colossal lines designed for large
international exhibitions of art, with every arrangement for ample space and
light, and for uniting the many smaller rooms into a harmonious whole.
Broad staircases and spacious lifts connect the ground-floor with the upper.
There is a restaurant, as well as tea-rooms and smoking-rooms, and no pains
have been spared to create a Salon worthy of becoming a permanent world
centre for temporary exhibitions of the art of all nations.
These three divisions : for Music and the Drama, Painting and Sculpture,
and for Temporary Exhibitions, unite under one roof all branches of the
highest creative arts, that bring before the eyes and soul of man, as it were
the body and voice of his own spirit, in so far as he has hitherto succeeded
in embodying it in perfected form. The Temple of Art was thus conceived
in order to draw from humanity the grandest works of genius and in the course
of planning its spacious halls, monumental auditorium and dome, surrounded
by columns of polished granite and coloured marbles, the idea of expansion
naturally grew up, and took the form of Schools for practical education.
Separated from the Temple by a wide avenue, like two wings majesti-
cally leading up to it, and folding between them the Fountain of Life, we
find upon the plan, on the right : a Conservatorium of Music and the Drama,
with a neighbouring Art Library; on the left : a School of Painting, Sculpture,
Architecture, Engraving and Decorative Design, with an adjoining Museum
of Casts. The monumental fagades of School, Museum, Conservatorium and
Library form a continuous line, decorated by colonnades and small domes
culminating in the great central Palace, whose exterior and interior correspond
in their strong simplicity. A colonnade almost surrounds it, and each column
is intended to support, above the cornice, the statue of one of the great creators
in any of the branches of art, the whole thus constituting a silent company
of the great men of all nations, who by their genius have contributed to what
there is of harmony and beauty in the world. Wide steps lead up to the
great front entrance under the sculptured pediment; above it, the curve of the
huge dome over the rotunda rises lightly against the sky. The firm line of
the cornice above the columns surrounds the building, swells in a semicircular
arch over the central entrance of the rear fagade, and gives to the whole a
strong sense of unity. The two wings of the Picture Galleries project forward
towards the Conservatorium and School. The entire group is treated as a
single whole, spreading from the Fountain of Life, and set in the midst of a
variety of gardens presently to be described.