George Dunlop Leslie.

The inner life of the Royal academy, with an account of its schools and exhibitions, principally in the reign of Queen Victoria online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryGeorge Dunlop LeslieThe inner life of the Royal academy, with an account of its schools and exhibitions, principally in the reign of Queen Victoria → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE INNER LIFE OF THE
ROYAL ACADEMY



THE INNER LIFE OF

THE ROYAL ACADEMY

WITH AN ACCOUNT OF ITS SCHOOLS AND

EXHIBITIONS PRINCIPALLY IN THE REIGN

OF QUEEN VICTORIA

BY GEORGE DUNLOP LESLIE, R.A.

/!

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS




THK. OLD SCHOOL' HOURGLASS "



LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W,
1914



RfcH



rights reserved}



PREFACE

To my parentage, to my own long life, and to a variety
of other fortunate circumstances, I owe the fact that
I have perhaps enjoyed greater opportunities for an
intimate acquaintance with the Royal Academy, its
Schools, its Councils, its Assemblies, and all that may
be termed its " Inner Life " than most of my colleagues,
and it has been suggested to me by several of these
that I should undertake some such work as the present,
with a view to dispelling, in a measure, the ignorance
and the misconceptions that generally prevail with
regard to the work and usefulness of the Institution,
and to refuting, as far as possible, the accusations, both
open and covert, with which it it so frequently assailed.

Though what I have written must in no sense be con-
sidered as an authoritative work, issued with approval
or sanction of the members of the Academy as a whole,
I have endeavoured to make it, as far as facts are con-
cerned, as truthful and accurate as I possibly can,
aiding my memory at times by references both to the
Annual Reports of the transactions of the Academy
and to the books of reference in its library. As no
annual reports were issued until 1873, the account I
have given of the Schools and of the general manage-
ment of the Institution, during the earlier half of the
last century, is derived chiefly from my father's writings
and from what I heard myself from his lips. In remini-
scences concerning various members, I have confined
myself to those with whom I was either very intimate
or with whom I was associated on the Councils, and to
a few others, old friends of my father's, whom I knew
when I was young.

Whilst I have been engaged in writing these lines
another distinguished member has been taken from us,
the extraordinarily gifted and versatile Sir Hubert von
Herkomer. Want of time and space prevents me from
saying more of him here than that I became acquainted
with him when he was but eighteen years old, and that



vi PREFACE

from that time to the end of his brilliant career I enjoyed
his warm and unbroken friendship.

If some of the stories and incidents that I have
introduced may seem to my readers somewhat trivial,
my answer must be that trivial incidents very often
help to throw sidelights upon the life of such an institu-
tion as the Royal Academy. I do not pretend that
what I have written can in any way be considered to
be a history of the Royal Academy during the last
century, yet I have hopes that it may afford useful
material for a history to any one who may undertake
such a work in the future.

At the commencement of my task I had greatly
relied on assistance which had been promised me by
our late Secretary, Sir Frederick Eaton. He had
offered to revise my manuscript, and to verify all the
facts concerning the Academy, to which allusion might
be made. His illness and deeply lamented death
unexpectedly deprived me of his kindly help. The
severity of the loss suffered by the Royal Academy by
that death can scarcely be overstated. For forty years
he had fulfilled his duties with the utmost loyalty and
ability, beloved and esteemed by four successive presi-
dents and by all the Academicians and Associates with
whom he had to do during that long period.

Foremost amongst those to whom I am indebted for
assistance in the compilation of this work I have to
thank most gratefully my nephew, C. R. L. Fletcher,
for his careful revision and correction of my manuscript.
To Mr Briton Riviere I also owe my sincere thanks for
much kind advice and many suggestions. To Messrs
Smith, Elder & Co. I tender my best thanks for their
permission to reproduce the three illustrations from
"Dick Doyle's Journal." To Miss Lydia Spence I am
very grateful for being allowed to reproduce the sketch
of Turner, now in her possession, which was drawn in
1816 by her great grandfather, C. R. Leslie. I have
to thank my niece, Miss Kate Leslie, for allowing me
to reproduce the portrait of my father in her possession.
And, lastly, I beg to thank my publisher, John Murray,
and his son for the help they have afforded me in the
production of the book. G. D. L.

LlNDPIELD, SUSSEX,

April 1914.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY

The chief purposes for which the Academy was founded ; little
known by the general public Want of schools for Art-
teaching in the eighteenth century Opening of the
Academy Schools in 1769 Method of teaching adopted by
the Academy Members who were at one time students
Admission of students The Keepership Fuseli Sam
Strowger Strowger and Fuseli A student's supper
Fuseli's teaching 1-11



CHAPTER II

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

The Schools at Somerset House Decoration of the rooms
Joseph Severn Sir Edwin Landseer The Visitors
Benjamin West The lectures Professors of perspective
Turner's lectures J. P. Knight's professorship A lock
in Use of perspective teaching Sir William Orchardson's
knowledge of perspective 12-20



CHAPTER III

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

The Keepers George Jones, R.A. Sir John Millais as a
student Charles Laudseer Some Visitors William
Dyce, R.A. Unruly conduct of the students A scene
described A game of cricket in the Life School
Associates first elected as Visitors Abraham Cooper, R.A. 21-29



viii CONTENTS



PAGES

CHAPTER IV

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

The Schools in Trafalgar Square The students' entrance The
Barracks Plan of the Duke of Wellington Accident to
Mr Pickersgill Some contemporaries in the Schools
Anecdote of Sir John Millais Lectures on Painting by
C. R. Leslie Professor Partridge's lectures on Anatomy
Millais and Mike Halliday The Painting School Life
Students Mr W. de Morgan's description of one . . 30-39



CHAPTER V

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

Sad story of a French student The architectural students
Gradual change in the character of the students The
invasion of the Schools by females Reasons for the
diminution in the number of male students The Schools
in Trafalgar Square compared with those in Burlington
House The present School buildings Separate class-
rooms 40-47



CHAPTER VI

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY

Comparison of female with male students Pretty girl
advantages The age limit Heckling of Visitors by
students Deaf and dumb students Love affairs in the
Schools F. R. Pickersgill as Keeper P. H. Calderon as
Keeper Lord Leighton's influence over the Schools The
great number of prizes The annual distribution of prizes
The students' supper . . 48-56

CHAPTER VII

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

Proposals for the improvement of the School laws A Committee
appointed Trouble taken in reforming School laws A
preliminary class formed Curator with teaching power
appointed A second Committee ; changes effected by it
Hours of admission Electric lighting introduced Female
students and the nude 57-61



CONTENTS ix



PAGES

CHAPTER VIII

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY Continued

Sudden death of Lord Leighton His last attendance at the
annual distribution of prizes Death of Calderon Ernest
Crofts elected Keeper, 1898 Crofts as Keeper Attention
again turned to the improvement of the School laws
Falling off in number of clever students The author's
views on preliminary teaching Resolution for the abolition
of preliminary teaching carried The Author's suggestions
not fully carried out Monthly Reports by the Visitors
Complaints as to the inefficiency of the students Another
Committee appointed in 1908 Curators in 1853 The old
hour glass 62-69



CHAPTER IX

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS

Selection and arrangement of works The Council appointed
Advantages of the Academy's method Confidence of the
general body of artists in the Council's judgment The
annual changes in the Council Number of members on
the Council The Hanging Committee "The Line" Old
method of arrangement Present method Large pictures
above the line Advantages of old method . . . 70-78

CHAPTER X

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS Continued

Increased size of canvases Difficulty in finding purchasers on
account of size The "Gem Room" Present portrait-
painters' objections A different arrangement suggested
The work of selection described The " Pound" A newly-
elected member's first impressions Mistaken ideas as to
haste Accepted works Debateable pictures . . . 79-87

CHAPTER XI

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS Continued

Occasional disputes on the Council Members of Council at one
time fined for hindering Pictures recalled for considera-
tion Small pictures Architectural works The Sculpture
Foreign works Curious incident relative to a foreign
portrait Royalty during the hanging A picture's fate
Sir Francis Grant His character as President His
discourses to the students " 'The Bells of St Martin"
Sir Francis and his Council His election to the Presidency
His funeral 88-97



x CONTENTS

PAGES

CHAPTER XII

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS Continued

The work of the Hanging Committee Method of procedure
The pleasant luncheon hour G. Richmond,, R.A. ; his
skill as a hanger Fresh air J. C. Hook, R.A. ; his
character ; his friendship with Millais Millais's portrait of
him Hook's politics Four "working men" Hook's
home in Surrey 98-107

CHAPTER XIII

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS continued

Picture hanging continued The Sculpture The Architecture-
Use of a tricycle Liberties taken by hangers Linnell's
pictures in 1852 End of the work Facing the members
and outsiders on the varnishing days Press day . .108-14

CHAPTER XIV

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS Continued

The royal private view King Edward's last visit to the Academy
Royalty in early years King William IV. and the new
buildings in Trafalgar Square Queen Victoria's first visit
Visit of Royalty in 1840 described in " Dick Doyle's Diary "
Royal visit on 29th June 1887 Four kings in the rooms . 115-23

CHAPTER XV

THE ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS Continued

The Duchess of Teck The Duke of Cambridge The Soire'e,
1851 Close of the Exhibition Departure of the works
' ' Little George " Unclaimed Works Absent-minded
members The secretary's joke 124-28

CHAPTER XVI

LORD LEIGHTON'S PRESIDENCY

Changes in the character of the Exhibitions Patronage in the
'fifties Prosperous times Subject pictures Portraiture
Lord Leighton's influence on his Councils Whitby
Denationalisation of British Art Millais or Leighton . 129-37



CONTENTS xi

PAGES

CHAPTER XVII

THE VARNISHING DAYS

Social gatherings Proposals for abolitioii of the members'
varnishing days Turner's opposition Advantages of the
varnishing days Varnishing days in the 'forties Turner's
studio in Queen Anne Street Visit of Turner to the
author's father's house Turner at work " Rain, Steam,
and Speed " Turner's conviviality ; his later pictures ;
his method of preparatory work 138-48

CHAPTER XVIII

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

Daniel Maclise ; my youthful admiration for his pictures J. R.
Herbert in 1847 ; at work in the ' ' Dome " Herbert's
picture of Our Lord, as a boy, at work at Nazareth Possible
suggestion for Millais's "Carpenter's Shop" Stanfield
David Roberts Bald heads Privilege of varnishing day
extended to outsiders Whistler in 1860 ; always well
treated by the Academy ; his portrait of his mother, 1872
Whistler and the author's American cousins Priiisep
and a picture by Watts on a varnishing day . . . 149-57

CHAPTER XIX

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

A newly-elected Associate's first varnishing day Old friends
and new, 1868 Maclise ; his works C. W. Cope and R.
Redgrave Herbert ; his language ; his shrewd criticisms
Sir Edwin Landseer ; his misery over a picture Sir
John Millais ; his good nature ; his invaluable hints ; his
amusing conversation ........ 158-65

CHAPTER XX

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

Frederick Walker ; Millais's appreciation of his works ; his
friendship for him Lord Leighton's opinion of Walker
Walker's picture " At the Bar" Walker on the varnishing
days George Mason ; his spirits Mason at an election
The Scottish members Thorburn Calder Marshall John
Pettie ; his Diploma work Sir William Orchardson ; his
election on the same night with Tom Landseer and the
Author Tom Landseer Orchardson's painting Influence
of Pettie's work on Millais MacWhirter ; his last pictures 166-75



xii CONTENTS

PAGES

CHAPTER XXI

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

G. F. Watts "An Old Master "Watt's experiments in the
technique of painting His magnificent portraits Lord
Leighton " Amongst us but not of us " on the varnishing
days Leighton's kindness to all ; his amazing powers for
work Millais and Leighton at Henley Regatta Leighton
once disconcerted by the Author ; his mortification at the
Author's unpunctual habits 176-84

CHAPTER XXII

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

Sir Thomas Brock's bust of Leighton Portrait by Watts Val
Priusep ; his manly character ; his vigorous painting ;
his lectures ; his good nature An evening with the St
John's Wood clique H. S. Marks and J. E. Hodgson ;
education of the two compared Marks and Ruskin
Playfulness of Marks on varnishing days Hodgson,
librarian, linguist, and lecturer ; Leighton's appreciation
of him 185-93

CHAPTER XXIII

THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

Eyre Crowe Intimacy with Thackeray Crowe's work for
Thackeray Crowe's drawings and descriptions of the
novelist's " Haunts and Homes " Crowe and Gerome
The sculptor Dalou A dinner in Wardour Street Work
and play on a varnishing day Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Edwin Abbey ; his paintings ; his home and studio at
Fairford Cricket 194-99

CHAPTER XXIV
THE VARNISHING DAYS continued

Quiet members The Professor of Chemistry Frank Holl ;
his extreme devotion to work ; his early death Memoirs
by his daughter Henry Moore and his brothers Thomas
Sidney Cooper ; his great age ; level character of merit
in his works throughout the whole of his career ; his deaf-
ness ; drawings made by him at the Councils Cooper and
Leighton at a Council dinner Samuel Cousins Mezzotint
The Cousins' bequest T. O. Barlow Hard workers on
the varnishing days Picture of ' ( Celia's Arbour " ; story
of the model who sat for it 200-09



CONTENTS xiii

PAGES

CHAPTER XXV

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLIES

The General Assemblies and the Council Conflicting opinions
as to their relative duties Conflict between the two bodies
in 1877 Sudden death of E. M. Barry during a debate
The meeting on the 1st December Voting on the students'
work for the prizes Meeting on the oth December
Election of officers Reception of newly-elected members
The meeting on the 10th December The distribution of
prizes Contrast between the scene at the present time
and in 1858 Samuel Rogers and Sir Joshua Reynolds's
last discourse 210-16

CHAPTER XXVI

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLIES Continued

Annual election of the President Story of Fuseli ; its possible
truth Election of Members and Associates Associates and
the votes An ordeal in 1876 Method of procedure at an
election described A lady nearly elected in 1879
Regulations passed as to female members . . . 217-23

CHAPTER XXVII

THE ACADEMY DINNERS

Dinners at the Athenaeum Club The Arts Club on an election
night The Academy Club; Turner at this Club The
first dinner at the Royal Academy Regulations as to
the guests The dinners in the early years of the Academy
John Kemble and the Duke of Norfolk Sir Walter Scott 224-29

CHAPTER XXVIII

THE ACADEMY DINNERS Continued

Early recollections C. R. Leslie preparing for dinner A
dinner in 1868 The Associates in 1867 Arrangement of
seats The contracting circles The invitations The guests
The bishops Archbishop Tait's memory Dr Magee ;
his nervousness ; his brilliant speech Early arrivals
The guard of honour Lord Granville's dinner arrives . 230-37

CHAPTER XXIX

THE ACADEMY DINNERS Continued

Lord Dufferin's mistake The King of the Belgians The hour
before dinner John Bright and the Prince of Wales The
Cardinals The soldiers The doctors Charles Dickens's
last speech, 1870 The Cabinet Ministers Mr Gladstone
Lord Beaconsfield Two occasions when the audience
became impatient The singers The band The last of all 238-44



xiv CONTENTS

PAGBS

CHAPTER XXX

THE PROPERTY OF THE ACADEMY

The Committee of Inspection on the property of the Academy
Presentation Plate Reynolds's inkstand The library
Michael Angelo's Madonna Sir Joshua's easel and chairs ;
his tea-caddy Oggioni's copy of Leonardo's ' ' Last Supper "
Sketches by Constable Portraits of members Royal
Portraits Piece of tapestry ; its discovery by Mr Seymour
Lucas The Gibson Sculpture Sir John Soanes' sealed
boxes ... ... ... 245-63

CHAPTER XXXI

CHARITABLE BEQUESTS BY MEMBERS

The trust reposed by testators in the Council as administrators
Chantrey's bequest to the Presidency The Turner,
Cousins, and Redgrave annuities Other bequests from
members The Artist's General Benevolent Institution
Pensions to distressed members and their widows Annual
donations to exhibitors in distress, to their widows and
children 254-58

CHAPTER XXXII

NATURAL ENEMIES OF THE ACADEMY

The rejected The critics The average of the exhibitions
Reasons for the hostility of the Press Extra opportunities
for abuse John Forster and Sir Edwin Landseer Whistler
and the critics Criticism easier in earlier times Tom
Taylor Sir John Millais and his critics . . . 259-66

CHAPTER XXXIH

NATURAL ENEMIES OF THE ACADEMY -Continued

Little harm done by criticism Sir Francis Grant's advice to
the students Value of the good opinion of a fellow-
artist Attacks on the Academy during Sir Martin Shee's
presidency Hume and Shee Haydon Parliamentary
attacks, 1839, 1844 Sir Robert Peel's defence of the
Academy Revival of patronage of living painters . . 267-73

CHAPTER XXXIV

NATURAL ENEMIES OF THE ACADEMY Continued

Question of the removal of the Academy from Trafalgar Square
Defence of the Academy by Lord Lyndhurst, 1859
The abortive Parliamentary Committee on the Chantrey
Bequest, 1905 Hard times and discontent The Academy
ever the scapegoat 274-81



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



GEORGE D. LESLIE, B.A. (Photogravure)

0. B. LESLIE, B.A

From a 'portrait by himself, 1820.

SIR CHABLES L. EASTLAKE, P.B.A.

THE OLD SCHOOL HOUB-GLASS .

THE PBIVATE VIEW IN 1787

PLAN OF NO. m. BOOM ....

SIB FBANCIS GBANT AND HIS COUNCIL

SIB FBANCIS GBANT, P.B.A.

BEDTIME

From a sketch by the author, 1876.

THE KNIGHT'S MOVE . . .

IN FBONT OF MACLISE's PICTUBE, 1840

"A TBANSPOSITION " .

From a letter of Dick Doyle's, in the possession of
C. R. L. FLETCHEB.

DICK IN FBONT OF LANDSEEB's PICTUBE .
THE BUSH ON THE OPENING DAY, 1840

J. M. W. TUBNEB, 1816 ....

From a sketch by C. R. LESLIE, R.A.
XV



Frontispiece
To face page 14

56

page 69

to face page 76

page 83

to face page 84

96

96

page 103

to face page 120

page 121

to face page 122

122

page 141



xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, BART., P.R.A. To face page 1 64
ART TRAINING, OR, A GLIMPSE OF THE

FANCY, Jan. 24 '64 .... 168

From a sketch by F. WALKER, A.R.A.

LORD LEIGHTON, P.R.A ,, 180

From the bust by SIB THOMAS BBOCK, R.A., K.C.B.

" INVITATION TO A CARD EVENING " . . page 189

From a sketch by P. H. CALDEBON, R.A.

THE AUTHOR to face page 192

From a sketch by H. S. MARKS, R.A.



THE INNER LIFE OF THE
ROYAL ACADEMY

CHAPTER I

THE SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY

IT is astonishing how little the general public
knows about the Schools of the Royal Academy.
An annual Exhibition of pictures which opens,
according to the almanacks, on the first Monday
in May, and closes on the first Monday in August,
for the admission to which a shilling is charged, and
which is managed by a President and a body of
artists, entitled to place R.A. after their names in
the catalogue and elsewhere, constitutes all that is
present in the minds of most people when they
speak of the institution in Burlington House as
"The Royal Academy."

They talk of having seen the Royal Academy
or of not having seen it. The goodness or badness
of the pictures, the dresses worn by the ladies of
the " Smart Set " who were present at the private
view, the question, which is "the picture of the

1 A



2 SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY

year " ? these things afford useful topics for ligh t
conversation during the spring season ; but what
becomes of the place when the Exhibition is closed,
or what is done with the shillings taken at the
doors, I feel certain that not one person in a
hundred either knows or cares.

And yet it was expressly for the use made of
this money and of the funds and for the work
carried on when the Exhibition is over, that the
Royal Academy was founded in 1769. Schools for
the teaching of Painting, Sculpture, and Archi-
tecture were the objects, the Exhibitions were
really only a happy afterthought, the profits of
which could be employed for the use of these
Schools.

The want of adequate schools for Art-teaching
was badly felt during the first half of the eighteenth
century. Several attempts were made to supply
the want, most of which ended in failure owing
to the difficulty of obtaining the necessary funds
for their support. Sir John Thornhill, and after
him William Hogarth, carried on schools for
several years in St Martin's Lane ; the Dilettante
Society afterwards made an abortive attempt to
start a school, but the question of money sooner
or later proved fatal to the existence of these
foundations.

The great success which attended an exhibition
of the works of living painters, in aid of the funds
of the Foundling Hospital, at length suggested to
the minds of the exhibitors a means of supplying
the desired annual funds ; and after sundry pre-
liminary wrangles and disagreements the Academy



METHOD OF TEACHING 3

was founded under Royal patronage, with Sir
Joshua Reynolds for its first President.

On the 2nd January 1769 the schools were
opened in some temporary rooms in Pall Mall ;
and on this occasion Sir Joshua delivered the first
of his celebrated addresses. These schools have
been carried on ever since by the Royal Academy,
and have afforded a free art-training to all who
could pass the qualifying examination.

Although the method of teaching in the Royal
Academy Schools has from time to time met with
severe criticism, not only from various outside
authorities but from several Royal Academicians
themselves, it has seemed wise to the majority of
the members to adhere to the principles adopted
by the original founders. The teaching is given in
the most important of the Schools, that for the
study of the " Life," by an annually elected body
of members, called Visitors, each of whom acts as
sole master of the School for one month. The
opponents of this system assert that the students
would derive far greater benefit in their training if
it were carried on under one master of ability than
under the system by which they are passed on from
one teacher to another every month. No doubt
there is much to be said on either side of the
question, but, if a tree is to be judged by its
fruits, I think it cannot be denied that the
Royal Academy Schools, carried on as they
were originally started, have been very success-
ful in their results.

Between the years 1771 and 1913, 207 Royal
Academicians have been elected, 129 of whom



4 SCHOOLS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY

were at one time students of the Academy.
Amongst these 129 members it is satisfactory to find
included the names of such distinguished artists as
Cosway, Stothard, Lawrence, Hoppner, Beechey,
Flaxman, Turner, Wilkie, Jackson, Collins,
Constable, C. R. Leslie, Etty, Landseer, Hook,
Millais, Watts, and Holl. There have been many
other artists of distinction who, although they did
not become members of the Royal Academy, were
at one time students in its Schools, and in this
category may be mentioned the names of Haydon,
Linnell, Holman Hunt, and Albert Moore.

During the first half of the eighteenth century
very few alterations were made in the laws which
regulated the teaching in the Academy Schools.
My father on entering as a probationer in 1813 had
to pass the same tests as 1 had to pass in 1852, viz.,
a drawing in chalk from an antique figure, a draw-
ing of an anatomical figure, and a drawing from
the skeleton ; these had to be sent in for the
approval of the Council, together with a letter,


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryGeorge Dunlop LeslieThe inner life of the Royal academy, with an account of its schools and exhibitions, principally in the reign of Queen Victoria → online text (page 1 of 17)