The journal of design and manufactures
[Original papers:] Drawing schools and mechanics' institutions., pp. 167-170
.Original Papers: Drawing Schools and Mechanics' Institutions. 167 cation. Suppose a student of ornamental art to enter the class of design, and to be required to produce an arabesque design for the wall of a room: - what does such a design generally consist of ? It consists of a certain arrangement of patches of colour in compartments, ornamented and variegated by scroll- work of leaves, flowers, fruits, animals, and one or two human heads, or half or whole figures, draped or naked, and so on. But how shall the student pro- ceed if-he has never drawn or painted animals I I will suppose him capable of drawing such scroll-work and foliage as he has copied in the drawing school from casts; but if he has never drawn and painted leaves, plants, and flowers from nature, how is it possible for him to design the forms of his scroll-work with reference to some beautiful and natural effect of form or colour 7 Or again, if he has not been taught to design or paint draped figures, how is he to proceed ? It is quite obvious, that before he can make a design for arabesque painting, he must have acquired a certain amount of skill in drawing, without immediate reference to nature, such objects as the arabesque is to consist of. You will perceive that the same reasoning holds good in the case of artists to a large extent. Of course, in neither case do I suppose that elementary study in the Academy will, in actual practice, supersede the paramount neces- sity of resorting to nature; but I say that the artist who has been made fa- miliar with the characteristic forms and colouring of the objects usually intro- duced into pictures and arabesques, and has acquired a certain exrtempore power of drawing them (and even of adding or supposing their colour, at least so far as to make allowance for it) will be able to design moref]luenl@, and to mak - better bs of nature, than one who is obliged to be indebted to his model for his design. As in historical or poetic art, there cannot be great unity and elevation where e artist's powers are nourished, as it were, from hand to mouth,- so in decorative art we shall have little of that wild and dashing exuberance of fancy (which constitute the chief charm of that sort of thing), if the decorator, in making his design, is stopped at every turn by the necessity of going to see what kind of a beast a lion or a fox is, or what is the colour of the flower or the form of the leaves of a scarlet runner, and so forth. A few words now with respect to the higher instruction in painting. The higher instruction of those who are to become decorators, &c., would, as I have already said, be given by the professor of ornamental design in the architec- tural school Those who intend to become painters would, of course, be taught the history and principles of the art by the professor of painting; and this, I imagine, would be done partly by lectures and partly by exercfses on the part of the students, under the guidance and criticism of the professor. If copying pictures be of any use (which I doubt), here would be the place for it ; but as a matter of course, the professor whom you appoint would draw up a plan of the higher instruction for his class, and submit it for approval to the governing body, so that I need not enlarge on that head. With respect to the School of Sculpture, the views I have advanced will have enabled you to anticipate all I have to say, though in this case the ex- tended means of the study of nature I have supposed would, practically, in the main be for the benefit rather of industrial sculptors than of those of a higher grade. DRAWING scHOOLS AND MECHANICS' INSTrIUTIONS. ie connexion with this subject, which we brought before our readers last month, we have received the following communication from a gentleman who has had iusual opportunities of acquiring information, and forming an opinion as to the effect which Mechanics' Institutions have had in helping the working classes to a knowledge of drawing and a taste for art : t "In th absence of public Drawing Schools open, at a reasonable charge, to theyouth of the working and middle classes, Mechanics' Institutions have, beyond doubt, done good service in being instrumental in affording facilities, however small, for the cultivation of the graphic art.
Based on the date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright