The Art journal illustrated catalogue: the industry of all nations, 1851
Wornum, Ralph Nicholson
The exhibition as a lesson in taste, pp. I###-XXII### ff.
TILE EXHIB ITION AS A LESSON IN TASTE. gradually led to so great a neglect of the details, that eventually is scarcely represented, and in pottery it is still seemingly the all individuality was lost, and with it all study: hence, in the great prerogative of Messrs. Wedgwood to exhibit pure specimens absurd Rococo, the very natural result of this general neglect, we of th re tl;adsilfrtems atInthequie have designs made up of details so without meaning and indi- productions of Flaxman, which appear more beautiful than ever, vidtuality as to defy description, surrounded as they are by such endless specimens of the prevailing Such is a review of the great Historic styles of ornament, and, gorgeous taste of the present day,whc give teyenrsting- having thus defined the peculiar distinctions of the styles, we may place, and presents no idea to the mind, from the want of indi.. now examine in detail the various objects exposed in the Exhibition, vidtuality in its gorged desigs with a view-by critical comparison-to draw what lessons we The stall of Messrs. Battam.* is devotedto the, so-termedEtruiscan may from this great industrial competition of nations, taste, but so exclusively in one class of fabric, uniform in cha- racter and material, that it conveys only the notion of copying a design, not the revival of a simple and pure taste. The mere red III.-The Exhibition. and black are not essentials of the taste, but accidents of material; Once thle overwhelming impression of admiration and wonder the materials further might be applied to modern uses, and the at the unparalleled collection, and. the admirable arrangement of ancient forms and ideas expressed in other materials; this would the whole, subsided, the inquisitive mind naturally turns its be adopting a taste, a very different thing from merely copying attention to the details in the mass, and in classes more or less designs. definite according to its own objects and pursuit. In our instance, The Medieval Court is open to much the same obj ection, the mind intent on Art-manufacture, naturally turned its atten- though not so entirely so. We have in tis clecto no a tion only upon such objects as were of an ornamental character, evidence of the application of a peculiar taste to modern and The first general impression is one of bewildering magnificenceoriaywnsrpuoebtsmlyhecyofnodie; and ndlss ealt; a th paticuar lases ae gadullysepa- old things in an old taste. Byzantine or Gothic symbolism, 'in a's rated in the mind, a process of comparison commences between the faqsteueeae euiu omma li udiaionan objects before the eyes and the vague anticipations of the mindMrnrc'oal nili od hw htsc euti ute previous to entering the building, with results more or less satis- possible out of such materials. But where the thing is madeno factory according to individual knowledge and experience. for ts own sake or the use it may be of, but purely as an embodiment I Definite ideas now arise in the mind, of dissatisfaction or of the old bygone idea that originally caused it, it is only a approval as it may be, at the various impressions from the different cowl to smother all independent original thought or ingenuity, deprtens, ndthn te peatin f ritcim n dtal om and by preserving symbolism as principal in all efforts would mences, followed by individual comparisons of the relative display reduce Art much to what we find it in India, or rather China. of the various countries. Indeed, except in the most obvious forms of superstition, this court In examining minutely the results of these two last operations, already presents a striking similarity of taste to that of the Indian the olloing re te coclusons e mut drw frm thm : works, in its rude undefined details, and in richness of material; That there is nothing new in the Exhibition in ornamental asithsufs and carpet exhibited by Mr. Grace,; in the wood- design ; not a scheme, not a detail that has not been treated over carving of Mr. Myers ; and in the ecclesiastical vessels and robes ex- and over again in ages that are gone; that the taste of the pro- hibited by Mr. Hiardman: all showing the strong analog wth the ducers generally is uneducated, and that in nearly all cases where Oriental types, and the Byzantine origin of the style. This is the this is not so, the influence of France is paramount in the European fact however which explains the similarity of the two developments, productions ; bearing exclusively in the two most popular tradi- their common source, the Byzantine symbolism ; the triangles, tional styles of that country-the Renaissance and the Louis trefoils, squares, and quatrefoils and various Romanesque adapta- Quinze-with more or less variation in the treatment and detail. tions of the old Byzantine Greeks : spread on one side by the There are few designs of any country that do not come within the Christians of the west, the Latins, and on the other by the rangeof tese wo sylesfromthe Ialia Renissace t theMoharnmedans of the east, the Arabs. Much scroll-work in I French Rococo, or debased Louis Quirize. The few Greek, or so- Iondian alndGtyhacvi gidentrica;en therByzsmiantineastaendad the called Etruscan specimens, and the Gothic examples, in the singu-honofpetavginrseoavryimlrramntn larly styled Medieval Court, are almost the only exceptions as both sides. As individual designs, however, this court offers some regards European design. The best understood style is that which very fine samples of Gothic, as the mantelpiece by Myers, with we have been obliged to designate the mixed Cinquecento or the clever adaptation of the dove and olive as a crocket.t i h Renaissance; the apparently most able designers of Italy, France,, Such being the relative proportion of the styles, what i h Austria, Belgium, and England, have selected this style for the exhi- general conclusion that we are to draw from this evidence ? We bition of their skill; if, therefore, the Exhibition can be considered have ventured to assert, that the best specimens of ornamental as a test of the favourite style of the day, it is evidently the Cinque- deinasacasaeoateRnasac, u ht h ratblk of cento Renaissance, or the style which was developed in the second the specimens are of the Louis Quatorze varieties; thatClsiaAr halfof te sxteeth entuy inItay. Te Luis uatoze arieiesis scarcely represented, and that the Gothic, is only very partially so. pehapso prevailteinthquantityi ItayThe Louis QuizandtheRoc: vaithes Setting aside the Gothic, which Owes what we have of it to senti- Gothic is evidently in little requisition in foreign countries, and is metitntfrmonmnw havonly theree;o dheie exprs-ial only very partially cultivated in this, as is evident from the very sions of taste, the Greek, the Italian, adteFec;oteCascl smhall number of exhibitors who have contributed to what is 'very the Renaissance, and the Louis Quinize. These three tastes are very strangely misnamred the Medieval Court, as if the Gothic were the distinct ; we have in the first a thoroughly well understood detail, only medieval style, or even the medieval style par excellence. The with a highly systematic and symmetrical disposition of these Romnesue Byantne an Saacnic ad sverl talan aretisdetails, always arranging them upon such forms and at such wReoinfnitqel yzmoenetiensv ind thenir anfluencerin Itheliddl vagies, intervals a's shall fairly display the article and its ornaments in due than he Gohicwhich wa's almost limited to the neighbourhood proportin;ifataaulesat:inheecdnte of te Rhne ad boderng cuntres, nd t enuredonlyforRenaissance, we have also a well understood detail, but a prevalence aompaheRativelshrpeid and iodrn ontpoiesntdoftimenscarcedoly beong of the bizarre, and a love of profusion Of parts; great skill of t om th ideae tal si a ot completely developed execution, but upon the whole a bewildering and fantastic effect, util the fourteenths ceturyl, and itwasn cotmoarlnywthtesl one more agreeable to the generality than the simple Purity of Renassan estylesnf taly,an whichhowteveornarlyeeyhr the Greeks : in the third taste, that best illustrated b h oi suerasednedi inthleso sIxtethlycentury. hwvrnelyvrQuinze, in every variety, we have a total disregard Of detail Withereegaditn tohclasixenhcaltor Gekad oa rnmni therefore exclusively a general effect; individuality Of Parts, Wisatonishing tofn soas ittle ofr t Thee tast soa oracetiveifty beauty of execution, anything that can possibly display any merit years aggo, in this country at least, appears to have spread no tefa nefrn ihaprl genera peieffectug is. notonly further than its Original Promoters could extend it;infriuei eCa.p.2. BOspceseg.p.1780
This material may be protected by copyright law (e.g., Title 17, US Code).| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright