Studio: international art — 35.1905

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The Lay Figure


“Do you know,” said the Painter, “I have
always envied you architects ? On the principle
that a country which has no history is happy, it has
seemed to me, an outsider, as regards your branch
of art, that the placid life for the last seventy years
or so of your governing body argues an uneventful,
and therefore a happy state of things amongst you.
Think of the storms that have swept over most of
our societies, and sometimes ended in their ship-
wreck, while the Royal Institute of British
Architects, on the other hand, preserves a heavy
dignity of demeanour, almost judicial—indeed,
episcopal, in its solemnity.”

“ Well,” demurred the Sculptor, “ I do not quite
know that. Remember there have been such
things in the architectural world as the ‘ Battle of
the Styles.’ ”

“ Quite so,” said the Architect. “ I think the
Painter’s congratulations are not deserved. For
we have only just heard the echoes of the noise
of a keenly-contested election die away. We have
been in the throes of a discussion and a fight that
have marshalled all of us architects as combatants
on one side or the other.”

“We have enquiring minds,” pleaded the
Sculptor, “ and would say to the architect, like the
pertinacious Peterkin, ‘ Now, tell us all about the
war, And what they killed each other for.’ ”

“ Well, to put it shortly, the question at issue—
a very important one—was whether the legislature
shall be asked to require that in future no one
shall be allowed to call himself, and to practise as,
an architect without passing a compulsory exami-

“ And a jolly good thing, too ! ” exclaimed the

“ May I ask why ? ”

“ Well, I should think that whenever you take
your walks abroad you see, in town as in country,
plenty of reason for wanting some winnowing
process to prevent the ignorant man from trading
as an architect. Surely the unlearned blatancy of
our city buildings and the cheap and-nastiness of
our suburban houses both shriek out at us for

“And now,” the Architect demanded, “tell us
how you mean to bring about that reform.”

“ I will. Insist on a man’s being properly
qualified before he practises as an architect.”

“What are your qualifications, if you please ? ”

“ Well, broadly speaking, they mean, first,
competency in construction, and secondly, ability
in design.”

“In other words, the man you ask to build
your house must be a practical man, and also an

“ Exactly so.”

“ Well, then, let us take the second of these first.
Now let me ask you if you do not openly avow
yourself an artist ? ”

“ Well, I do.”

“Then you also, no doubt, have certain creden-
tials substantiating your claim—say the passing of
an examination ? Something analogous to, though
naturally different in detail from, that you wish to
impose on us other artists.”

“ No, of course not.”

The Architect turned to the Sculptor :

“ And what about your examination ? ”

“ Never had one in my life.”

“ I am sorry to be so Socratic in my method 01
getting at my point. But, at all events, I have got
here, that you the Painter, and you the Sculptor,
have, qua artist, no examination, no registration,
by Act of Parliament or otherwise ? Yet you both
consider that the Architect, and he alone of us
three, ought to have a licence or a diploma of an
obligatory kind ! ”

“ I see your point,” said the Sculptor. “ It is
that you, an architect, feel that with regard to
yourself as artist an examination-test would be
futile, as it would be in the case of us other artists
from whom no one dreams of demanding it. And
you think we should all be content if we might rely
on an architect’s construction being sound, on his
knowing good materials from bad, and an exorbitant
price from a fair one ? ”

“ Yes,” said the Painter, “ I will look after his
art qualifications, and take very good care not to
go to a man from whom I do not expect to get the
artistic result I want.”

“ Well,” said the Architect, “ you both under-
stand my point of view as regards an examination.
And as to the broad question of Registration, I
think you would find most of the recently-elected
Council, on whom their opponents have affixed the
label ‘ Non-Registrationist,’ disown it. A large
majority of them would frankly own themselves
to be pledged neither for nor against. And the
rank and file of the R.I.B.A. members them-
selves have only said in electing them—Not the
proposed Bill, and, most decidedly, not last year’s

The Lay Figure.
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