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Studio: international art — 10.1897

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It will be as well to meet in a few

the Victorian Gallery. That institution is to be
simply a monument; to remain, when once com-
plete, as a fixed and immutable thing. It will
concern itself with nothing that was produced
before the accession of the Queen, it will not

words of explanation certain possible objections to recognise anything which will come into existence
the scheme which we suggested last month, for the after the date, still far distant let us hope, when
establishing of a great art gallery by way of com- the destinies of this empire, which she has con-
memorating the Queen's reign. There is a chance trolled so wisely and devotedly, have to be
that the object and character of this proposed entrusted to other hands. There the Gallery will
gallery may be misunderstood and that it may be stand, a great memorial of an extraordinary
regarded as following too closely the lines of an epoch, and a magnificent tribute of respect
institution which will, appropriately enough, be offered by the nation to the ruler who witnessed,
opened in a few months' time. It may be that at and aided in directing, many of the most re-
first sight the objects of the Victorian Gallery and markable developments of British enterprise to
of the Gallery of British Art which has been, by which the history of this country can testify,
the splendid generosity of Mr. Tate, brought into To artists of other centuries the Victorian collec-
actual existence, will seem to be identical; and tion will serve as a reminder and example, showing
therefore no harm will be done by marking as them what vitality there is in art, and how it has
strongly as possible the points of difference between power to recover even from an apparently moribund
the two. When Mr. Tate, with almost unexampled condition, and grow, in but a few years, into a
public spirit, undertook to build and equip the healthy vigour greater almost than it had ever
art treasure-house which is now in process of erec- enjoyed before. And the persuasiveness of the
tion at Millbank, it was understood that the building example would be actually increased by the limi-
was to be used as a permanent home for our native tation of the collection to this particular period ;
school of painting. It was to be, as it were, a the lesson would be so complete and neatly rounded
British National Gallery, summarising and illus- off that it would never fail to be convincing,
trating the history of art as practised in this country; And there are other ways in which the Victorian
and it was to do for our masters living and dead Gallery will be unlike any other existing or pro-
what the Trafalgar Square institution does for the jected art institution. Its comprehensiveness is an
great painters who have in the past been the leaders essential part of its reason for existence. As a
of other schools. At first it must necessarily be to mere picture show there is really no need for it;
a great extent a storehouse of Victorian art only; but then pictures alone do not explain the progress
or rather, the collection it will contain at its opening in art which is to-day giving us such valuable
will show a predominance of work of this period, results. This national memorial must bear witness
But it will also include, if the idea of transferring to the manner in which art has become with us a
to Millbank most of the British pictures now in the matter of universal application. Sculpture, decora-
National Gallery be carried out, much that ante- tive work, design, black-and-white drawing, and
dates the Queen's accession; and as time goes on evidences of the application of aesthetic principles
it will, if only by the activity of the trustees of the in the making of useful objects, all have their
Chantrey Fund, rereive constant additions from places in the collection and their part in the com-
among the canvases painted during other reigns, pletion of the record. It is the art life of our
Therefore, whatever it may be at the outset, it will times that has to be represented, not the compara-
soon cease to rank as in any sense a gallery espe- tively small section of it which is limited to the
cially devoted to the representation of the pictorial studios of our chief painters. Nothing which has
production of the Victorian era. It will take up artistic merit is unfit to be preserved in the Gallery,
the function for which it is designed, of providing a if only a reasonably high appreciation of what con-
running commentary on the progress of British art, stitutes artistic merit is shown by the selecting
showing annually what are the changes of fashion body; and nothing can be excluded which satisfies
in the painting world, and keeping, we may expect, the primary conditions of real aesthetic importance
constantly abreast of the times. and production within the limit of years covered
But this is not at all the mission proposed for by the Victorian era. Certainly there is no other
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